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Casually Infinite – Out[fetch]landish Predictions

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This normally isn’t my thing, but I figure that making some outlandish predictions about the future is something I’m occasionally good at, so I’m giving it a try.

After GP Richmond’s massive 4,300-person attendance, it’s clear that Modern is really a force in the market. I think that Wizards will continue to show a lot of love to the Modern community simply because the entire format is reprintable. Any card that becomes too scarce or causes too much of a barrier to entry can easily be reprinted in a Modern Masters set or supplemental set.

The last two big sets have included notable reprints in the form of Scavenging Ooze and Thoughtseize. Modern Masters showed that reprinting cards without tanking them is a real option. In the future, I think we can expect to see continued reprints keeping prices at a reasonable level, and occasionally crashing sections of the market temporarily.

Modern Barrier

The current barrier to entry in Modern lies primarily in the lands. The reprinting of shock lands in Return to Ravnica block showed the effect of bringing needed lands into the format. Prices for shock lands dropped from around $30 to about $10 due to the reprinting, with values slowly gaining back some of that ground as print runs on RTR ended. Because of this, I’m sure they’re going to reprint fetch lands—the only question is how.

Here are some options they have on how to do it:

1) Reprint Zendikar Fetch Lands in Modern Masters 2 (2015?)

This is currently the most common idea being bantered around, probably because it seems so easy. Clearly Modern Masters was a success in getting many needed Modern cards into the hands of players. Another round of Modern Masters, with a second batch of reprintings, as well as including the cycle of Zendikar fetch lands would clearly be a quick seller.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t really work. Tarmogoyf is back toward $200 after the Modern Masters printing. As a four-of in multiple decks, it’s clear that the recent reprinting wasn’t enough to make the card accessible to everyone. Imagine if we faced the same situation with the primary dual land in the format. We’d quickly see the cost of Modern clashing with the cost of Legacy and pushing new players out of the format. I don’t feel a Modern Masters reprint will work, and I also don’t feel that over 50% of the cost of a deck should be tied up in the lands. That just doesn’t feel good.

2) Reprint Zendikar Fetch Lands in an Expert Expansion

It’s already been proven that this would work to get lands into players’ hands with the success of reprinting the shock lands. They’ve dropped significantly in price and been made very accessible to newer players. I’d expect a quick dip in price when shock lands rotate out of Standard, but I don’t think they’ll stay down for long. All the new players will want them for Modern, and they’re already headed for a steady climb back up. The downside here is that Wizards has already stated it doesn’t like excessive shuffling in Standard, and it would clearly tank prices from current levels. We’d probably be looking at lows of $5 to $10 for fetch lands, which should scare the crap out of anyone who’s seriously invested in them.

However, the current storyline seems to be heading in this direction. With Elspeth going to Theros in order to find help to fight the eldrazi, as well as the clear need for fetch land reprints, Return to Zendikar seems like a likely block. The past several years have alternated between introducing a new plane and returning to an old one. After Theros, we’re up to return to a plane, but Zendikar seems a little early to come back, so it may be up to a couple sets out. But I don’t think we can see reprints of fetch lands waiting that long. The fall 2015 set is the latest I can imagine.

3) Reprint Onslaught fetch lands.

The cutoff point for Modern rules out allied fetch lands, as those came from the block before original Mirrodin. While reprinting Zendikar fetch lands seems the obvious choice, leaving them in Modern while ruling out allied fetch lands doesn’t sit well for me. Reprinting Onslaught fetches would solve a number of the fetch problems. This would have to be done in a block in order to make them Modern legal, since putting them in Modern Masters wouldn’t technically allow them into the format.

The result of this would be pretty impactful. First off, fetches are pretty interchangable. Decks running four Scalding Tarns and three Misty Rainforest would be just as happy to run Polluted Deltas instead. While Twin decks would still want Scalding Tarns and B/G Rock Verdant Catacombs, this would open up the Modern field to some more innovation. We might see some previously missing archetypes when the lands available allows more freedom.

From a financial perspective, we would still see a significant drop in Zendikar fetch lands but not as significant as if they themselves were reprinted in a core set. The ability to fill in decks with a random off-color fetches for an affordable price will keep Zendikar fetches low. I’d expect to see them drop to anywhere from 25 to 50% of their current prices if Onslaught fetch lands get reprinted. This seems like a good option compared to reprinting the enemy fetches outright and crashing the market completely.

4) Don’t reprint fetch lands.

I don’t see this as a realistic option to preserve Modern as a format. The recent spike in Modern staples is going to price a number of people out of the market. Current Standard decks run $200 to $400, Modern $500 to $2000, and Legacy around $2500. If the price of Modern decks continue to rise, we’re likely to end up playing Legacy instead.

In order to keep Modern a viable format, Wizards needs to use the primary resource it has available to it: reprints. For Legacy, this simply isn’t an option. Too many cards sit on the Reserved List for them to be able to keep Legacy alive through reprints. Eventually the cards that can’t be reprinted would either need to be banned or their costs would rule out a large number of players. Meanwhile, Modern allows them to fix the problems of past formats through reprints. Nothing in Modern is on the Reserved List. If Wizards is careful, it can essentially use the format as a reboot for the Magic tournament structure, with powerful-but-reprintable cards allowing for a second-tier eternal format that remains accessible to new players.

Most-Likely Scenario

Personally, I’d be very surprised if we see a Zendikar fetch land reprinting before an Onslaught reprinting. We could very well expect to see a Return to Zendikar block in the future, but I think that there will need to be more than just the five-year gap between Zendikar and Return to Zendikar blocks. I do think that Return to Zendikar is in the works, but I see it three to five years out rather than in the next year. I don’t think fetches can wait that long. A tribal Onslaught-ish block could be in the future, with heavy tribal not being a tool that was recently used (besides Innistrad). It would provide a solid place for the lands to be reprinted. My bet is on seeing Onslaught lands reprinted in the next two blocks.

What do you think? Will we see the Zendikar or Onslaught reprints first?

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Marc DeArmond

Marc DeArmond

Math Teacher at Coupeville School District
@Masticon     -     Email     -     Articles
Marc DeArmond is a currently a Middle School Math Teacher and the host of the Casually Infinite podcast. He started playing Magic back in Unlimited during 1993. His interests are trading up in value and playing limited on MTGO. He is the author of Casually Infinite, which discusses how to continue to play Magic Online without spending money. He is currently a Level 2 Magic Judge.
Marc DeArmond

About the author

Marc DeArmond

@Masticon     -     Email     -     Articles
Marc DeArmond is a currently a Middle School Math Teacher and the host of the Casually Infinite podcast. He started playing Magic back in Unlimited during 1993. His interests are trading up in value and playing limited on MTGO. He is the author of Casually Infinite, which discusses how to continue to play Magic Online without spending money. He is currently a Level 2 Magic Judge.

10 comments

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  1. Chris

    It’s also viable to reprint in the next core set. This would also help core set sales, much like Mutavault and Scavenging Ooze. The counter argument to that is that you would have 3 months of insanely good mana. I think the PT for that season is Block Constructed though so that shouldn’t have too big of an impact

    1. Marc DeArmond

      If we see fetchlands reprint in a core set, I’d expect not to see them until M16. Having Shocklands and Fetchlands in standard, even for just three months, seems highly unlikely. I could see a Return to Zendikar set followed by reprinting Onslaught fetch lands in M16 though. Even if the Pro Tour is Block, there’s still Standard GPs taking place and I see that much speedy mana as a very odd direction for wizards to take.
      With M14 moving away from core set dual lands for the first time in years, we saw a much slower format which was hugely popular. There may be a shift to keep duals out of core set. There’s also an obvious move to slow down standard which fetch lands don’t really help out with. This leads me to believe that the fetch lands will end up in a block. The only real advantage of putting them in a core set is that they would only be in standard for one year which is a significant positive from Wizards point of view.

  2. TM

    The Core Set M15 Pro Tour is a Standard Pro Tour since PT JOU is the block constructed one. That standard with RTR block would be incredibly slow and awful to watch unless UW or Esper is no longer a deck by then. So it will either be M16 or a full block.

  3. Tantarus

    While I agree that fetchs will see a reprint in the next 2 years I really wish they would go a different way. Such as Banning the 5 in modern and all 10 in legacy. The amount of time you spend Shuffling over the course of a large event is kinda silly. It would be a shame to see that in standard. I was at SCG Seattle this weekend and when in the first 5 turns both players have shuffled there decks 5-10 times from fetches/stoneforges/ponders and so on. It really grinds the pace of play down. I have been looking at the insane prices as of late, like Zend blue fetches being at 100. And been tempted to sell my play sets. SCG was paying 75 bucks cash for them.

    The other issue I have with fetchs is they make 3 color decks the normal. Many times splashed with a 4th color. Assuming you will have your colors is a free roll with fetchs combined with duel/shocks. Also holy crap when did Underground sea hit 250ish dollars. Maybe I will sell my duels at this rate. I feel like in magic the prices are way inflated and there is a bubble that will pop. SCG has run the market for the last few years and they have pushed it to a crazy place.

    1. Marc DeArmond

      Perhaps another option would be to reprint them but restrict them in Standard and Modern. There’s currently no cards restricted in modern. I don’t see the ban hammer coming down on fetches because of “too much shuffling”. But a restriction might be a nice change of pace.

      I don’t know if we’re at the top yet, with modern season right around the corner, but I’d hate have them in my binder when they take the hit if something is announced for the next block.

      1. Tantarus

        I think they only ban in formats other then vintage. Too much shuffling is a real thing because it drains alot of time out of the match. Also it makes Brainstorm and tops amazing, and time consuming. I find it unlikely they will ban them. But it would be a nice time saver and it would make playing 3+ colors a risk again.

        Yeah I considered bailing on my fetchs. But I got them when they where under 20 in trades mostly so even if they drop to 30% of current value I am okay. People paying 100 for them are nuts. SCG has really abused the market and cause them to go up 30bucks twice by buying out a large bunch of inventory then upping the price. I feel like modern is getting too spendy to play. V-clique and cryptics at 50 bucks… really… Gofys and bobs are even worse.

        This is the appeal of edh to me. I can just have 1 of stuff. Also weird themes. I have a cthulhu deck with a bunch of horrors, slims, and dark gods. And another Religion themed deck with angels, paladins, clerics, Wrath of god, greater good, etc style of cards.

        But back on topic, I am guessing we will see fetchs in some form in the next 2 years. Probably much less. It is weird to only have off color fetchs in modern.

  4. Shaun

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to reprint all ten fetchlands within a single block, similar to how they’ve handled shockland reprints in Return to Ravnica block?

  5. Matthew Crocker

    I don’t really see what’s stopping them reprinting ZEN fetches outside of a Return block – they’re not massively flavour-tied to Zendikar.

    1. Anonymous

      I agree 100%. Onslaught had no land flavor, in fact the opposite with all that tribal goodness.

  6. James Chillcott @MTGCritic

    Your analysis of a potential Modern Masters release misses a key point: namely that it’s a near certainty that Modern Masters 2 will be a global release in multiple languages with a much higher print run? As such the comparison to the price impact on key cards from MM is not on target. On the contrary, the fact that the low MM print run did not properly address market demand and therefore failed to move key card prices lower for very long is a key signal that MM2 will be handled differently. WOTC made quite clear at the original MM launch that their methodology was experimental with that set and they wanted to err on the side of protecting the collectors. With the ongoing growth in the game in general and the clear growth in Modern as a format this year, MM2 is the most likely home for reprinted fetches. There is however another possibility that is being underestimated by the community as a whole: the printing of strictly superior or analogous lands. This is not an out there possibility and if you look at the recent land cycles outside of RTR, it is clear WOTC is on the hunt for better land templates. If this is their chosen angle of attack on modern land pricing, I think we’ll see it in the fall set ’14 AND almost certainly see fetches next summer in MM2 in case plan A doesn’t work out. The goal would be for at least some deck types to gravitate towards another land type.

    I’ll even float a possible template: T, Reveal a card of color X or Y: Add X or Y mana to your mana pool. You may not play the revealed card this turn.

    Anyone have a better template for us to consider?

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