The Return of Modern: How Competitive Play Is Good for All

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A couple of months ago I wrote an article about the shift in interest of the market due to the incoming resurgence of in-store play. I wrote about the profound impact that the reappearance of in-person Modern formats would have, the new interests that might pop up, and the possible impact of the upcoming Modern Horizons 2 set that was about to be released. I made some predictions about certain Modern staples and some of the possible effects of Modern Horizons 2 on the format. Let's talk about the past few months, and examine the effects of these past few months on the Modern metagame.

The Metagame

The current Modern metagame is a very interesting phenomenon. The aggro decks are fast, the midrange is efficient, and the control is brutal. Some of the strongest aggressive decks include “Hammer Time”, which utilizes the once useless card Colossus Hammer, or "Rhinos", which is a cascade deck that uses the card Crashing Footfalls to go in for a quick win. There are the usual control lists, ramped up by a splattering of new value cards like Hall of Storm Giants, Shark Typhoon, and Memory Deluge. With these new additions, control decks are able to grind out value much more efficiently than previously possible. The midrange decks are efficient and powerful, packing just as much punch with high power, efficient creatures like A-Dragon's Rage Channeler, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and powerful curve toppers with Murktide Regent. The overall power level of the format is very high, and the metagame changes constantly. A responsive player base adapts to new brews, and room for improvement is ever abundant.

Some New Things

Some new cards have just been absolute home run hits. The ones everyone expected is easy, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Murktide Regent, Urza's Saga, and the Evoke Elemental cycle from MH2 just to name a few. The less hyped ones are really exciting as well. Careful Consideration, Prismatic Ending, and Expressive Iteration are all cards that aren’t crazy out of the park value but are overall very powerful cards in the common and uncommon slot. It’s honestly great to see the value of these newer sets shift slightly to the common and uncommon slot, as it generally raises consistency on the expected value of sealed product, and tends to make sealed prospects quite better.

Some Old Things

There are some old cards that seem to have resurfaced or found a new home in a new deck, and it’s great seeing all of these old cards find homes in the format. The cards I’ve selected to take a look at are Sigarda's Aid, Crashing Footfalls, Flusterstorm, Torpor Orb, and Violent Outburst. These cards have all drastically climbed in price and demand recently, as they have discovered a place in some of the format’s most popular and powerful decks. Violent Outburst had seen play in the Living End combo deck but hadn’t seen any real financial value until the new Crashing Footfalls deck made waves. I remember picking up a few copies for my Greater Gargadon Restore Balance deck I had made a while back pennies on the dollar, and the next thing I knew they were sitting at almost $5 apiece. Same thing with Crashing Footfalls, which was a secondary threat in my Greater Gargadon brew, which is around $3-$5. Just goes to show that neither the payoff nor the enabler is always the most expensive one. Sigarda's Aid is the combo enabler for the popular Hammer Time deck. It allows you to cheat the equip cost for Colossus Hammer, while also allowing it to be cast at instant speed, making it perfect as a combat trick. Flusterstorm has always been a very powerful piece of countermagic, making it perfect for both mainboard and sideboard plans depending on the deck. Torpor Orb is a very effective sideboard card against some of the main plans of some of the best decks in the format like Yorion Control, Elementals, any deck using the Evoke Elementals from MH2, and some of the older decks in the format like one of the Primeval Titan. All of these cards are performing well in tournaments, and the price reflects that. There likely was lots of time for all these to be speculated on, as they all are pretty no-brainer moves when you looked at the developing meta just a couple of months ago.

Better Luck Next Time

My evergreen advice for finding new specs is simply to play more. Seeing more cards, understanding the metagames, and experiencing more card interactions is the best way to find cards with potential in a format. Analysis is no substitute for experience. Being ahead of the curve usually means you have to be the first one on the road. No amount of web surfing, charts, or forum exploration will yield quite the same results.

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Kai Haas

Kai has always had a profound connection to the game of MTG, and as time went on, the allure of the financial aspect took hold. They spend most of their spare time looking into the ins and outs of the bizarre and erratic world of MTG finance. When they aren't speculating, they mostly play Commander, CEDH, Draft, Cube, and more recently, Standard. The most important thing to Kai is the pursuit of knowledge, because it's not what you know, it's knowing where to find what you don't.

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