MTGO: Modern is On the Horizon!

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Welcome back folks, and happy New Year!

Today I'm going to discuss a much-requested topic - Modern speculation targets.

As you can see, Modern has been recovering for quite a while now. Like all of Magic Online, prices in Modern took a dive with the release of the Open Beta of Magic Arena, and then as panic waned and players came back to Magic Online, prices have been recovering ever since.

What many might not know is that Magic Online finance is often cyclical, with Standard more popular in the fall and winter months and Modern more popular in the spring and summer months. The price index of Modern staples peaked in September at around $1,150 and dipped to $869 after the release of Throne of Eldraine. The calendar is starting to swing back and, as one would expect, Modern prices are beginning to climb again. The much-needed bans probably helped spur interest too!

So, now is a good time to invest into Modern. Players should consider buying the staples they want to play with, and investors should look to put in the capital now and sell in three to six months.

I. Modern Horizons

In the fall, I counseled against investing into Modern Horizons because we were told that cards from the set would begin to be included in treasure chests after the release of Eldraine. Only three cards from the set ended up being included, and only at low frequencies. Consequently, the set's overall value has trended upward in recent months, and we can expect that trend to continue. Below are some of the cards I expect to go up in value over the next several months.

1. Urza, Lord High Artificer

Wizards has made clear, for better or for worse, that it is willing to sacrifice busted format staples from Magic's past at the altar of new sets, especially new premium sets like Modern Horizons. Urza's value got cut in half when Mox Opal was banned, and undoubtedly it will take some time for players to create a new shell around him. As a mythic from a set with small supply, it won't take much for Urza to climb to $20, with as much as $30 to $35 possible. I like, too, that the floor on Urza is high (around $7 I'd say) due to Legacy and Commander demand.

EDIT: When composing this article, Urza was $9, and it has now spiked to $14. I still think it is a good (but no longer amazing) spec at $14. The card is just too powerful to not feature prominently in a top tier deck in Modern.

2. Waterlogged Grove & Silent Clearing

Sunbaked Canyon has climbed to $14. Nurturing Peatland and Fiery Islet have climbed to $10. Yet Waterlogged Grove and Silent Clearing are still stuck at $5.50 and $2.75 respectively. These lands are just too useful to not see more play, and undoubtedly will go up in value as more and more players turn their attention to Modern. Don't expect to triple your money on these, but I'd wager that they will both be 50% higher at some point during the spring or summer.

3. Hexdrinker

I considered discussing a few other cards in this slot, but as a powerful mythic that fits into a prominent archetype and can slot into several others, Hexdrinker gets the nod. I like that it is a relatively cheap buy, and as a mythic it has a high price ceiling. It saw a sizeable amount of play until Urza and Oko took the format over by storm. Now that the format has been reset by bannings, we should expect Hexdrinker to find more homes than it had in November and December.

For players, I would feel safe buying playsets of most Modern Horizons cards. The only card I might feel a bit queasy about is Wrenn and Six, mainly because it has nothing back to fall on outside of Modern playability and because it is so expensive. With that said, if you'd prefer to own it rather than rent it, it isn't in the treasure chests so there will be no external downward pressure exerted on it.

II. A Brand New Format!

1. Past in Flames

One of the best parts about overpowered metagame-hogging decks getting banned is that it frees up room in the meta for other decks to enter the top tier of competitive play again. Gifts Storm has already shown signs of life in tournament results this week, and that success has begun to be reflected in the price of Gifts staples, as Gifts Ungiven, Past in Flames, Goremand, and Aryia of Flame have all increased in price.

While I got in at the absolute floor of $2.50, there's no shame at getting in at a low price of $3.25. As long as Modern is balanced with a healthy meta that ebbs and flows, there's no reason why Past in Flames won't reach $6 again. The other aforementioned pieces of this deck are also worth considering if you wish to diversify or focus on cheaper cards.

2. Aether Vial

Aether Vial is one of Modern's hallmark cards and one of several that separate Modern from Pioneer. Aether Vial stands to benefit from the ban of Mox Opal and Oko as decks like Humans can reemerge.  Aether Vial is an attractive speculation as well because it has a history of reaching a ceiling during Modern season more than double the current price. For those scared that Pioneer will destroy Modern, that Aether Vial is starting to climb again should reassure you that Modern is still a format that players want to play.

In general, while the staples in Amulet Titan variants have spiked already, cards from other decks are still acquirable at prices that will likely go up. It is better to buy into Modern now than to wait until March or April to do so.

3. Light up the Stage

Investing into Modern is not just for those with a lot of capital! There are some cheap attractive options as well. As Red's most premium pure card draw spell, Light Up the Stage is widely used in Pioneer and Modern. It's also sitting at $0.14, practically an all-time low. There are a lot out there, but fewer than you think since Ravnica Allegiances was not drafted much on MTGO. This feels like a $0.50 card to me even if it never sees Standard play, and I think it could spike higher. But at the very least, if you enjoy playing aggressive Red decks, now is a good time to pick up this staple.

IV. Signing Off

I've received a few questions about whether it is better to invest or speculate on certain days of the week. To date, I've not noticed card prices being higher or lower on the weekend contra during the week. At the very least I can say that demand is relatively stable, and I think it prudent to focus on other things when making buying and selling decisions. For formats as fluid as Pioneer and Modern, it could be prudent to study which cards broke out or over-performed on a given weekend (like Niv Mizzet, Reborn did recently).

Thanks for reading! As always, please leave your questions and comments either here or on Discord. Next week I'll be back with my Financial Power Rankings for the Theros Beyond Death mythics, so stay tuned for that!


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