Buying season for Modern is here. Or long past, as some would like to say, as prices of perceived staples have already quadripled or more.
To say that there has been a cataclysmic shift in the Modern metagame due to the B&R announcements would be an understatement. Modern prices are shooting through the roof as speculation opportunities abound. The pro tour has yet to happen, but players have already begun to make their moves in getting into the archetypes they want to play, or the ones they think will do well.
But as speculators who are reluctant to stay on the sidelines, what are some of the possible changes that we are looking at?
Today, I’ll go over the current players in Modern, the up-and-coming players, and some of the less-playable decks, including guesstimates on what the effect of the banned list update will be. I will also name the speculation opportunities, if any, that may have emerged from the changes.
Due to the introduction of Bitterblossom as a tier-one contender, slower clocks and more attrition-based strategies have become worse in Affinity. Etched Champion will remain as valid a card as ever, but Thoughtcast might just be a bit slow. Shrapnel Blast and Galvanic Blast are looking like the better meta choice to punish life loss.
Speculation opportunities: I don’t see any real speculation opportunities here.
Tron takes a huge hit in the new meta, being weak to both Zoo and Faeries. Mainboard Relic of Progenitus is likely a plus due to the many graveyard strategies that will spawn. At the same time, Pyroclasm is likely to be replaced by Firespout because Pyroclasm misses all of Zoo’s creatures.
Speculation opportunities: Firespout is likely to be highly relevant in Modern, foil copes are already hovering around $5.
Some argue that Melira Pod improved through the ban because half of its combo involved the graveyard, while others argued that it was already strong against Deathrite Shaman decks anyway. Either way, Melira looks to contend for tier-one status in the new meta because of key cards like Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence that are well positioned against expected strategies.
Speculation opportunities: Birthing Pod reached $10 earlier in the year, but since then NM copies have fallen back down to $7 on TCGPlayer. Voice of Resurgence seems great in the new meta, there is no way that foil Voice of Resurgence, a third-set, barely-drafted mythic, should be much lower than foil Snapcaster Mage, a first-set, heavily-drafted rare, if the cards are only one block apart.
Unlike Melira Pod, Kiki Pod is not reliant on the graveyard to combo off, although it did benefit from Deathrite Shaman being banned since it still plays Kitchen Finks, Murderous Redcap, and Glen Elendra Archmage. Not having to replace any cards in the deck is nice, and so is the option to Pod into Magus of the Moon.
Speculation opportunities: Magus of the Moon looks to be a house against all the poor mana bases in Modern, and it will also prey on Faeries which lacks the Polluted Delta to fetch for on-color basics. Restoration Angel’s body will be much more relevant, as will be Voice of Resurgence in the new Zoo/Faeries meta.
Jeff Hoogland is optimistic about the future of this deck because of a suite of strong burn spells and the power boost that Snapcaster Mage received due to the Deathrite Shaman ban. While control is likely to weaken due to the introduction of Bitterblossom, aggro is strengthened, which improves the position of tempo strategies.
Speculation opportunity: Sword of Light and Shadow may become more relevant in the Modern meta if Bitterblossom takes over the format, and decks playing it can benefit in mirror matches from the life gain and creature recursion.
Splinter Twin remains powerful because it can end the game at will, regardless of how many faeries tokens are on the other side of the board. Because of the boost to Snapcaster Mage, I can see both the tempo and the combo variant being successful.
Speculation opportunity: I am a huge fan of foil Steam Vents and foil Sulfur Falls for the long-term, both of which look to be mainstays in the Modern format. The price of Threads of Disloyalty has already jumped.
Tokens is likely to become one of the new tier-one archetypes due to the power of Bitterblossom. Coupled with cards like Zealous Persecution, Intangible Virtue, and Auriok Champion, the deck is very hard to take down early and will grind out wins over time.
Speculation opportunities: Windbrisk Heights is way too cheap for a card in Lorwyn that will likely be played as 3-4 of. Do be wary to sell non-foils into any hype as they will most likely to be printed in the Modern Event Deck.
If Corbin Hosler is to be believed, Merfolk is still a viable strategy, although weak to variations of Zoo. Threads of Disloyalty and Kira, Great Glass-Spinner are strong out of the board. Master of Waves will continue to be a powerhouse if left alone, and Aether Vial is a strong way to get around any form of control.
Speculation opportunities: I think Corbin got them all.
I don’t like how the deck is positioned against Bitterblossom decks. This deck relies on the opponent to make the first move, whereas the player with Bitterblossom in play does not have to do anything to win the game. Geist of Saint Traft just seems bad against Zoo and Faeries because of its 2/2 body, while Restoration Ange is just big enough to stop all the creatures in Zoo and play around Faeries.
Speculation opportunities: Restoration Angel looks to be on the rise due to its relevant body. Geist of Saint Traft looks to be on the rise because of Bant and Tribal Zoo, although I don’t know how relevant it’ll be in Modern. Promo Lightning Helix is a good pickup because of how many potential decks will be playing it.
As with all decks that cannot end games in a quick fashion, Bitterblossom is likely to generate enough advantage over time to eventually overrun the other player. Control strategies have not been as successful in Modern due to the vast variety of decks, and I don’t expect the new format to be solved quickly. Wall of Omens is awesome in the new meta against Zoo and Faeries, though.
Speculation opportunities: Lightning Helix is critical for stabilizing; the promo version looks like a sure bet to double because the card is likely to be played in multiple decks. Wall of Omens also has a promo that may be promising if the card becomes more relevant.
Losing both the card Deathrite Shaman and the efficacy of Liliana of the Veil due to Bitterblossom is a huge blow. That being said, Abrupt Decay is now the best removal in Modern precisely for the reason that it deals with Faeries, Affinity, Tempo, and Zoo efficiently. Tarmogoyf will also get a bump in power/toughness now that enchantments are likely to be played in a good number of Modern decks post-board (Blood Moon, Threads of Disloyalty, Bitterblossom). The archetype is likely to remain a mainstay in Modern, although less dominant at the top tables compared to before the update.
Speculation opportunities: Foil Abrupt Decay should not be worth less than foil Deathrite Shaman if it sees more play in both Modern and Legacy. Others would argue for [card]Scavenging Ooze[/cad], but if everyone is speculating on them, it’s probably not a good spec.
Speculation opportunities: Boseiju, Who Shelters All, may become the answer to the disruptions in Faeries. The supply is running low
I daresay that Burn might now be a legitimate tier-one archetype with Deathrite Shaman no longer being a card. Burn is also one of the few strategies that benefits from Bitterblossom being widely adopted,
Speculation opportunities: Is there ever any speculation opportunity with Burn? Rhetorical question.
Losing public-enemy Deathrite Shaman bodes well for the deck, but Spellstutter Sprite and Remand keeps the deck in check. The fact that other graveyard strategies will rear their heads mean that there will be more sideboard cards dedicated against the graveyard. Based on consistency, the deck will likely be top-tier since it can also beat graveyard hate.
Speculation opportunities: I don’t see any speculation opportunities here.
Domain Zoo is either the smaller version with Kird Ape, Loam Lion, and Wild Nacatl or the bigger version with Lingering Souls and/or Geist of Saint Traft. Personally, I feel that the smaller version is better positioned because it is able to run more burn spells, which will likely be very effective in the new meta because of various cards that cause life loss. Naya is bigger than Zoo, but where it lacks in speed it makes it up in having a greater resilience to Lightning Bolt and a more stable mana base.
Speculation opportunities: Promo Lightning Helix appears yet again alongside [card]Voice of Resurgence.
Storm is likely to make a return due to absence of Deathrite Shaman, which eliminates the need for Lightning Bolt in the board. As Craig Wescoe said on his stream, Storm is one of Zoo’s worst matchup, and he was playing Small Zoo with a curve that stops at two.
Speculation opportunities: Past in Flames is a mythic that has yet to make any movement.
With Deathrite Shaman out of the way, half the enablers are more playable than before.
Speculation opportunities: Goryo’s Vengeance can reasonably return to its previous peak at $15 and go on to do more if the deck performs well.
Like it or not, Dredgevine will now be a real archetype, although a shaky one, due to its issues with consistency. While Dredgevine is better positioned against Faeries, Four-Color Gifts is better positioned against Zoo.
Speculation opportunities: Copies of Vengevine are running low and will spike should the deck see any success, a likely scenario. Another card that is seemingly disappearing into thin air is Bloodghast, which is both a Vampire and a recurring creature.
Turn-threeGifts Ungiven into turn-four Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is enough to win most games. However, the deck is weak to counter magic and Path to Exile. Where it loses to disruption, though, it wins against aggro because of the ability to Gifts Ungiven for four different wrath effects. You can bet that players will be brewing to break this card with insane card advantage, like the Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas variant seen on Channel Fireball.
With Zoo and Faeries being a part of the meta, Infect will change quite a bit and likely run Phyrexian Crusader in its 60 cards. Whether the deck will survive as an archetype is questionable, although I can see the mono-black version succeeding if Zoo becomes a major player in Modern.
Speculation opportunity: Phyrexian Crusader seems like an absurd card against both Faeries and Zoo.
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