You see, I’m a bit of a cynic. While many if not most players believe that Wizards has been looking for the proverbial, “Sweet Spot,” with the banning and un-banning process in Modern, I believe that what is and will continue to actually happen is that Wizards will ban and un-ban cards as they see fit in order to keep the format fresh. Why, you ask? You see whenever a format is “solved” players begin to lose interest. Wizards becomes pressured to print newer, more powerful cards, in order to maintain players’ interest. They then have to introduce these new cards, with the power level to change the face of Modern, through Standard. This is not an ideal world for Wizards because not every new set can contain the next [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] or Standard becomes incredibly one-dimensional, and “solved” infinitely quicker. So how does Wizards accomplish keeping Modern exciting for the foreseeable future without being forced to inject new cards into the Modern format through Standard?
They ban the crap out of the current most powerful thing, or unban something, or just ban island and see what happens for the season and then un-ban it for the next. You see, as long as Wizards keeps Modern fresh, they can continue to sell you more premium product, (think Modern Masters), which they can continue to print, because unlike Vinatge, Modern has no restricted list. With this model, Modern can continue to be a revenue generator for Wizards, and players will feel safer with their larger investment on their decks because Wizards can chose to ban or un-ban cards at a pace so that players don’t lose confidence in their investment, but still nuke enough decks per season that the format still generates a sizable revenue for Wizards of the Coast. I live in this cynical world and my mindset toward cards whose value is largely propped up by the Modern format is that they are and will continue to be the most financially-volatile assets in your collection. Treat them as such.
While Modern cards have been volatile in anticipation of Modern season, a number of cards that have already returned to earth([card]Bitterblossom[/card]) as the Modern format has started to shake out again following last weekend’s Pro Tour. While many speculators continue to try and capitalize on the Modern format, perhaps the safer, if not better money can be found elsewhere. There are undoubtedly fortunes to be made on the price volatility of cards played heavily in the format; however, as a speculator, Modern can be a rather risky endeavor. Wizards can and will reprint any card on a whim. I think many were somewhat blindsided by Wizard’s willingness to throw [card]Remand[/card] into a Duel deck. But Wizard’s ability to reprint Modern staples will inevitably be a double-edged sword. After all, this is one of the underlying rationales that Modern players will point to when supporting the long term viability of the format. Meanwhile, holding on to original dual lands continues to be a lucrative, and more importantly, safer long-term choice. As a speculator, it is important to remember these aspects of card values when trading.
And Mono-Black devotion wins again. Seriously? This week Mono-black devotion managed to win both of the major events of the week. What is of note is that both decklists have shifted what removal they are utilizing, both trimming copies of [card]Bile Blight[/card]. People over-hyped the versatility of this card as a removal option and the meta-game has also shifted. The increasing popularity and winning ways of Red/Green and Jund strategies typically have four targets for [card]Bile Blight[/card] in [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] and that’s about it. What is bothersome, is that in order to put its foot back on the format’s throat, all Mono-black had to do was change its removal suite.
The moment I saw Naya Hexproof pop up on stream this weekend I knew I had to mention it in my article. Sporting quite the greedy mana base, this deck capitalizes on some of the tools that the past iteration of Hexproof decks ran. Maybe it’s just a flash-in-the-pan, but this deck seems pretty explosive. I wish there were more to say from a financial standpoint, but outside of perhaps [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] its hard to be bullish on any particular card in the deck. The life gain that this deck is capable of gives it a lot of game against another strategy that I think might be poised for a resurgence.
Mono-Red managed a Top 8 at the Open this weekend. I think that this type of strategy is due to spike a tournament simply due to the existence of [card]Burning Earth[/card] while it is counter-intuitive to be talking about this card while so many Mono-X devotion decks are running around, but with the prevalence of [card]Mutavault[/card] and scry lands, every other match-up seems to get infinitely better with this card coming in from the board. Even Blue White control strategies are running extra scry lands in place of basic lands for the extra utility. Red Green monsters has added black for [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card], which is coincidentally not a bad acquisition right now, either.
Tom Ross has been fine tuning his Infect list for Legacy for a little while now, and even wrote about it here. I really like this list from a financial aspect because [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] hasn’t made any drastic financial gains lately. This new decklist may push the card to the front of people’s minds.
Another card that shows up in the Tom Ross list this week was [card]Mutagenic Growth[/card] I think we’re reaching the end of the timeframe where, [card]Mutagenic Growth[/card], [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card], [card]Dismember[/card], can be swooped up by the arm load for virtually nothing. Target foil copies and FNM promos in trades. You can probably still get non-foil copies as throw-ins.
BBD ran a pretty sweet UWR Miracles list. Unfortunately almost every card in the deck is already priced according to the high levels of play seen in similar decks. Two cards in the list that I would target in trades would be [card]Terminus[/card] and [card]Sword of the Meek[/card]. Yes the latter is an uncommon, but it has only been printed once, in Future Sight. the combo with [card]Thopter foundry[/card] is just cute enough to drive players of all types to seek this card out giving you an [card]opportunity[/card] to trade up in value.
Despite my cynical mindset toward Wizards swinging their “ban-hammer” around. If I am right, then a few things should follow. Modern should remain a healthy and fresh format for years to come; by doing so will generate Wizards an additional revenue stream as they provide product to the Modern player base, this also allows for the Modern player base to grow, which means that Modern will be yet another reason why Magic the Gathering will continue on a path of success for the foreseeable future.