Monday’s banned and restricted announcement completely exceeded expectations. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis was banned as expected. Along with it came Faithless Looting, which besides Hogaak’s Bridgevine deck took Arclight Phoenix decks and Dredge along with it, as well as various fringe graveyard strategies like Grisshoalbrand and even Mardu Pyromancer. It’s one of the largest routs of archetypes in Modern’s history and has left a huge void in the metagame.
Much of this void, however, will be immediately filled by the surprising unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic. I expected that Wizards would take more conservative action and stick with just bans, since they were already so significant, but Stoneforge Mystic is now in Modern for the first time. The hype is real, and my social media feeds are flooded with people sharing their Stoneforge Mystic decks and screenshots from games. It’s a Legacy playable that literally won the last Legacy Grand Prix in April, and it’s going to be more than good enough for Modern.
Stoneforge Mystic’s impact on the market has been immense, spiking its price along with the prices of associated cards like Batterskull and Sword of Feast and Famine. So far just the most low-hanging fruit has spiked, but there will be plenty of cards on the rise once we start to get an idea of what the best Stoneforge Mystic decks look like.
I’ve also found that the best way to peer into the future of the metagame is to just look on Magic Online, where players have already been grinding with Stoneforge Mystic since Monday night. Its impact on the Magic Online market has been severe, and I believe it holds clues about where the paper market will head once Stoneforge Mystic proliferates.
For example, in terms of raw price increase the biggest winner this week on MTGO has been Force of Negation, growing from around 30 tickets before the announcement to over 50 now. Force of Negation is slated to become the Force of Will of Modern, and it’s going to go alongside Stoneforge Mystic in all of the White-Blue decks where it’s found. History and initial reports show this is likely to be the premier archetype for the card.
Hogaak and Bridgevine have had the metagame completely warped since Modern Horizons was released. With them out of the picture, we’ll see a lot more of the set's other staples like Force of Negation take over, with according price increases. It looks to already be trending upwards and is now firmly over $35.
Another major spike was A-Teferi, Time Raveler, up from around 28 tickets before the announcement to over 44 now, and still rising. This massive rise in demand is due to the planeswalker being a fantastic card in the White-Blue Stoneforge Mystic decks, which further cements it as a Modern staple. I assume that its $15 price tag is mostly held up by Standard and Commander play right now, with some Modern play in White-Blue Control and Urza Whir decks, but a surge in Modern play should drive its price significantly higher.
On the topic of Urza, Lord High Artificer, its price has grown to 24 tickets, nearly twice its price a week ago. It started increasing before the announcement because of the anticipation that the Whir Urza deck would become one of the best in Modern after a Hogaak ban. The unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic makes its prospects even better. It has become apparent that Stoneforge Mystic is a great way to find Sword of the Meek and help set up the Thopter Foundry combo which Urza makes go infinite.
Another major Modern Horizons winner since the announcement is Giver of Runes, a perfect way to protect Stoneforge Mystic, which has more than doubled since the unban to around 9 tickets. I’d also take note of Eldrazi Displacer, which saw its price double to 2 tickets on Thursday on the back of White Eldrazi, which as a natural home for Stoneforge Mystic is suddenly back in the metagame picture.
All of these cards associated with Stoneforge Mystic should start growing in paper, and in terms of market timing now seems like the ideal time to buy Modern Horizons cards. Supply should now be near peak. Prices should be at or near a minimum, especially after mass quantities of the product were opened at Magic Fest Las Vegas. As well, player focus will soon be shifting to Throne of Eldraine in October.
Stoneforge Mystic won’t be the entire metagame, and there are certainly other decks on the rise that present opportunities. What really stands out is the sudden movement on Fulminator Mage on MTGO, which saw all of its printings grow around 50% on Thursday, to around 11 tickets. It’s a clear indication of the rise of Jund, especially next to a 10% rise in Wrenn and Six. Jund is especially well-positioned because it’s one of the best homes for Kolaghan's Command, which will be one of the best cards in the format against Stoneforge Mystic decks.
The spike in Fulminator Mage also indicates the strength of Urzatron, which is widely believed to be one of the best decks after the changes. This could help explain the spike of Blinkmoth Nexus, up around 25% Thursday to over 5 tix. Both Infect decks and Hardened Scales Affinity have the ability to race Tron decks, and are also among the greater beneficiaries of these banlist changes.
One interesting card to start rising this week is Collector Ouphe, which is actually a decent hoser for Stoneforge Mystic. It doesn’t stop Batterskull from coming down, but it does stop it from being recycled and turns off all of the other typical equipment. Along with being a strong hoser in general and green’s version of Stony Silence, it’s a true staple with strong prospects.
There are plenty more cards out there that will start to rise once the new Modern metagame shakes out, so the best plan is to stay informed and keep track of results. Most players are clueless right now and desperate for someone to show them the way, so early results and lists will be widely copied and could set off some significant price movement.
The premier event to watch will be SCG Dallas-Forth Worth this weekend, which will be looked to by players around the world, as well as the results of MTGO events like a Mythic Championship Qualifier on Sunday.