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Speculating on Recent Metagame Trends

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The Pioneer Players Tours are behind us, and it left behind a metagame and market that looks stable for the time being. Both will break out in a frenzy if bans of cards like Inverter of Truth and Lotus Field eventually happen, but for now, there is not much happening and the Pioneer market has been relatively quiet in terms of big movers. While there are still some moves to be made in Pioneer, I have noticed increased attention on other formats like Modern and Standard, which was highlighted by last weekend’s World Championships. 

I’m always looking for the next breakout card, usually by studying what’s happening on the Magic Online world that tends to precede paper, and I’ve noticed a few online trends that seem to translate to strong paper buys.


A great example is Archmage's Charm, which was released among many other great cards that stole attention, but was always an obviously strong card, and is finally coming into its own. It’s being used heavily in the Dimir Urza deck that has replaced the old Oko and Mox Opal version, and its price is starting to spike. It was just 2 tickets online two weeks ago but now sits at nearly 6, while the paper price has grown around 50% in the same period, from $2 to over $3. Most of that growth has been in the past few days, and I only see it going higher as it grows into a true staple.


Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger hasn’t done much of anything in Standard, but it has somewhat surprisingly been picked up as a two-of in Modern Jund, where its ability to generate value from the graveyard is a nice addition. That has helped to double its price on Magic Online over the past week or so, from under 8 and peaking over 16 tickets and surpassing Heliod, the Sun-Crowned as the second-most expensive card in Theros Beyond Death online. Its paper price has nearly broken the $10 level, but it’s still #5 in terms of price. It’s possible that over time, paper prices will mirror online and it will be second only to its fellow titan Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.



With Primeval Titan decks like Amulet Titan at the top of the Modern metagame, there’s been a resurgence in Blood Moon effects, including Magus of the Moon as part of new style of Red-Green Midrange deck that emerged with the printing of Klothys, God of Destiny. Unlike Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon can be found by Once Upon a Time, still one of the most broken cards in Modern, and leads to incredibly consistent access to the card when it’s needed. Its online price started growing over the past few weeks, and its paper price is starting to follow along and rise from a two-year-long slump after its reprinting in Iconic Masters, with both versions showing clear growth of about $1 in February and likely kicking off more to follow.


The Dimir Inverter deck winning the Players Tour in Phoenix has brought attention to the power of Thassa's Oracle in other formats, including Legacy. That format has not only Paradigm Shift,  but also Thought Lash, which is actually even more powerful because it can remove the entire library. A deck with both of them posted a league 5-0 and drove up their price online, and while Paradigm Shift has already spiked in paper, Thought Lash has lagged behind. As a Reserved List card it’s a fundamentally solid spec in terms of a low downside, and I expect its price will start creep higher as more players catch on. 


 

I haven’t noticed it online, but it seems like every day Zur the Enchanter shows up on paper price movers as it continues to gain. There are no obvious competitive applications, so I suspect this is due to Commander and casual demand driven by Theros Beyond Death providing a wealth of new enchantments to tutor for. The original Coldsnap printing has grown from $3 to nearly $5 since its release, so the Modern Masters 2017 version that’s still under $3.50 looks especially attractive. 


This same concept of buying a cheaper alternative printing could also apply to Languish, which has grown into its own as a staple sweeper of Pioneer. The Magic Origins version sits around $1.5, up from 0.7 before the format began, but alternative Commander printings still sit at about $1 despite starting around the same price. Holding the distinction of the biggest Pioneer price gainer on MTGO since the format started, currently over a ticket and peaking over three, from somewhere in the realm of thousandths of a ticket, I think its current paper price is a bargain.


The second biggest online Pioneer winner was Pack Rat, which saw most of its growth in the past month due to sideboard play in the Dimir Inverter deck. Now a proven staple of the format, It’s one of the most powerful one-card engines available that has a lot more play in its future. While its price online has plummeted along with cards like Inverter of Truth itself, its paper price shows very clear signs of growth. Sitting around $4.5 for months, it grew to $5 after the Players Tour, and a $0.50 jump on Wednesday reveals it could be on the edge of truly breaking out as supply dries up.


Another strong Pioneer prospect that broke out at the Players Tour  is Ishkanah, Grafwidow, used in the Brussels-winning Sultai Delirium. It’s a very attractive spec because it will grow even better if the format sees a ban, which would make the deck even better and maybe the best in the field. Both its online and paper prices have been increasing since, but the paper graph starting to incline in the past week and break $2 leads me to believe it’s going to truly spike before long. 

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