Modern Questions & Legacy Answers

This week Chas takes a look at the top decks from Grand Prix Paris and talks about how they might affect Legacy card prices moving forward. Don’t miss the next great spec!

Let’s start with what’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind: Pro Tour Born of the Gods.

Unfortunately, all y’all in the future have a much better sense of how the event shook out than I do back here in the stupid old past. The first day is still underway as I write this, so my analysis of the event will be based on the information I have so far, which is two days out of date. For now, this is what I know:

Matthias Hunt is running a combo deck based on Amulet of Vigor that turned heads early on. Here’s the list:

The first card that moved was Amulet of Vigor, which shot from $2 to $8 very quickly. If Matthias makes the Top 8, I wouldn’t be shocked if the card settles near $10-$12. If he does not, it should stabilize closer to $6 retail. I had enough interest from non-speculators on Friday that I doubt this card will fall off completely.

Summoner’s Pact jumped a bit as well, though not as much because the Modern Masters copy is keeping supply pretty high. Again, if the deck continues to do well, this card could end up in the $7-$8 range. If not, it’ll be $4-$5.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking is a requirement in this deck, but she’s already fairly high thanks to casual play. Copies were still available at $15 midday Friday, but by the end of the day they were selling fast at $25. Think $25-$35 long term depending on how well the deck finishes.

Primeval Titan already had a spike (it sees play in several decks) and is sold out everywhere at $20. This card could hit $30 fairly easily if Matthias or the Scapeshift deck finishes well. It might anyway.

Birthing Pod came to play again this weekend, and it brought a new friend: Knight of the Reliquary. Check out Conley Woods’ list:

There’s not a lot of new stuff going on here, but Pod as an overall archetype seems to be doing pretty well so far. Knight is back up to $10 on the back of this and Zoo, and it seems like the card has recovered from its Deathrite Shaman based malaise.

It’s currently impossible to buy Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir anywhere under $20 thanks to an appearance on the stream in the U/R Control deck "Blue Moon" coupled with a relentless buyout. It’s a one-of in a sideboard, so the buyout was probably due to how clutch the card was on video, not underlying metrics. Teferi is a decent casual card, though, so I wouldn’t be shocked if the price stays high—just not that high. I’m staying away until the hype dies down.

If you want one for yourself, consider buying a From the Vault: Legends set and piecing it out. It’s one of the worse From the Vault boxes, so it’s still fairly cheap in places.

Blood Moon is also making a move after absolutely crushing Zoo on camera. I heard rumors that the card was being bought out up to $20, but I still see plenty for sale on SCG at $10 right now. It is worth noting that this card has been printed five times, including Chronicles and Modern Masters, so there are tons of them out there. It’s still a great metagame call right now, so I wouldn’t be shocked if the price goes up a bit. It’s situational enough that I’m staying out as a speculator though.

Past in Flames has been creeping up in price for weeks, but Storm’s appearance at the Pro Tour lit a fire under the spec. SCG is sold out at $6, and I expect a restock closer to $8. The price on this is probably going to stick for a while, as the card has been selling near $10 online for months now.

Not showing up much yet: Jund and Faeries. It’s possible one of these decks will still squeeze into the Top 8, but based on what I’ve seen so far I’m selling Bitterblossom and Liliana of the Veil.

Other than that we’re just going to have to wait and see as things unfold. I will wrap up coverage of the Pro Tour in next week’s article, and I’ll be discussing the Top 8 in the comments this week as well.

Luckily, there’s another format that I can talk about this week with a lot more authority thanks to the results from last week’s Grand Prix Paris.

A Detailed Look At Legacy

With the latest Grand Prix in the books, I want to take a look at what the Legacy metagame looks like now. Legacy events on the Grand Prix level are rare, so players will be using the results from Paris as a deckbuilding guideline for the next few months at least. Expect many of the top-performing cards to rise in price slowly as people continue to discover the format. It’s also worth looking at what didn’t do well in hopes of identifying some cards that might be on the downswing.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

Several cards in BUG Delver have already started to climb. Tarmogoyf is up $5-$10 on most sites, and SCG’s $150 retail price may soon be going up. A lot depends on Modern season, of course, where Tarmogoyf has yet to dominate to the extent it has in Legacy. I would not be shocked if Goyf hits $180 retail in April or May.

Foil copies of Delver of Secrets spiked recently as well. For several years you could pick these up for $5 each, but they’re sold out at $12 now. Long term I see Delver of Secrets as a $15-$20 foil with a ceiling at $25. The card’s double-sidedness makes it nearly impossible to reprint in a Commander or Modern Masters set, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing a new version any time soon.

The next card from BUG Delver to spike may be foil copies of Abrupt Decay. These started fairly high when Return to Ravnica was spoiled, but market saturation has kept the spell stable near $35 for a while now. Abrupt Decay will only get better, though, and at some point the premium version will spike. The only question is whether or not it’s worth tying up your money in these while waiting for demand to increase. Personally, I’m happy to trade for these at SCG retail but am not paying cash—yet.

As for Deathrite Shaman, he’s still on a downward trend since the Modern banning. The price may rebound soon, but it hasn’t happened yet. Not everyone is on board with the dip though—SCG hasn’t lowered its price at all probably because the folks in charge probably believe (as do I) that the drop is temporary. I’m still not buying any of these personally, but I’m happy to trade for them at a discount if I run into someone who doesn’t want them anymore.

Legacy might not be a "build it and forget it" format, but some variant of both top decks have been doing well at GPs and Opens for years now. While BUG may have taken the crown this time, Miracles saw the most copies placed in the Top 8. No other deck saw its stock rise as much thanks to this event.

Snapcaster Mage has already gone up $5 this year based on Modern play, and most of the savvy folks in the finance community are in agreement that this card is a nice pickup right now. With Deathrite Shaman gone from Modern, a card that is already considered a staple has a shot to become utterly dominant. The fact that it’s good here as well is a nice bonus. It’s possible that Pro Tour Born of the Gods has propelled this card above $30 already (it’s showing up sporadically on the first day), but if not, I like it as a nice mid-to-long-term target. I’m happy to trade for these at retail, and I’d buy any copy at $20 or less.

Entreat the Angels was on an upswing already, but this Grand Prix helped solidify those gains. Available for $5 earlier this year, it’s very difficult to find copies of this staple below $10 now. If Miracles continues to do well in Legacy, this card should slowly climb toward $20 over the next year. If anyone ever figures out how to abuse it in Modern, it could go even higher.

Terminus has also gone up a little, jumping from $2.50 to $4. This sweeper may stay in the shadows of Entreat the Angels for now, but it still has room to grow toward $8 as Avacyn Restored fades into the past.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is another card from this deck that I’m bullish on over the long run. This time last year it was impossible to find a copy under $160. Today it retails for just $100. While the From the Vault printing will keep the price down for now, it’s important to remember just how limited this release was and how iconic Jace, the Mind Sculptor continues to be. I doubt we’ll see another printing for a long time either. I called this card a buy last August, and I’m sticking by that call, especially considering how much play Jace saw last weekend.

As for Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top, there’s a chance that both could see marginal growth as demand continues to grow. They’ve both got a solid track record, which is nice, but they lack the freshness that usually leads to a jolt of price growth. Most serious Legacy players already have their sets. It will probably take a buyout or a couple of retailers raising the price and pushing the issue for a spike to take place. I’m trading for these, but I’m not buying.

It’s nice to see one of my favorite decks back at the top tables. This Reanimator build isn’t much different from the version of the deck that was dominant several years ago, though the number of Show and Tells always seems to fluctuate.

There aren’t too many spec targets here unfortunately. Entomb didn’t go down in price very much when Reanimator fell out of favor last time, and the new judge foil should keep the price from rising again now. The Graveborn foil saturated the market for this card several years back, and it hasn’t fully recovered.

Ashen Rider, even as a one-of, is a nice long-term grab. $15 for the foil seems especially low to me, and I expect it to hit $25 at some point. The fact that this card is a house in Commander helps too.

The biggest gainer here is Griselbrand, which is on its way toward $60 like I predicted in December. The fact that this is the reanimation target of choice across all legal formats will keep the price very high. Expect the spike to continue if any sort of big graveyard deck does well at Grand Prix Richmond.

Between Griselbrand and the miracles, expect an upswing in Avacyn Restored sealed box prices. You can still find these under $100 if you look hard enough, and the price should settle in somewhere closer to $150. If this wasn’t a historically awful Draft set, the price would already be up near $200. But sometimes it doesn’t matter—look at the prices for boxes of Future Sight and Worldwake.

It is also worth noting here that six of the Top 8 decks ran a full playset of Force of Will. This card recently jumped from $80 to $100, so I don’t expect any further movement, but if you can get a set at a discount or if the price comes down, I suggest buying in. The card is always in demand no matter what.

SCG is already aggressively pricing their Painter’s Servants at $12 each. The trade value is much lower right now, so this is a nice target in binders and small stores over the next few weeks if you think the new price will stick. I’ve never been able to trade these, though, so I’m not a buyer.

Ancient Tomb is another card that has long been due for a bump. It’s sold out at $15 on SCG, but most people know it by the old price memory number of $9-$10. This is a card I’m actively looking for in binders thanks to its versatility in many big mana decks.

Grindstone is perhaps the juiciest target here. It’s a Tempest-era rare (though not on the reserved list) that’s been stable between $15 and $20 for years now. If demand really picks up for this deck, that card could jump as high as $50. The issue of course is that this GP is a small sample size. I don’t think Grindstone decks are too much better now than they’ve always been, and I don’t know how much this finish is going to drive prices. The deck still requires a decent number of staples like Imperial Recruiter and City of Traitors, so it’s not a budget build.

It’s possible that it’s finally time for Painted Stone to be in the spotlight, so keep an eye on the Open Series results in both St. Louis and Atlanta. Until it shows me some consistency, though, I can’t recommend buying in on any cards exclusive to this deck.

True-Name Nemesis finally makes an appearance here, though its presence was certainly felt throughout the tournament. Now that we’ve seen several events occur since the card’s introduction, it’s safe to say that TNN is a format staple and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. At the same time, it isn’t degenerate enough to require a banning, which means that the price shouldn’t drop much if at all.

A few Commander 2013 decks are still trickling out in some places, but the supply is drying up fast. Based on the Target clearance drops, it seems that the product was a commercial flop. Esper and Grixis are must buys at retail, Band and Jund provide fair value, and Naya brings up the rear. All unique cards from these sets may be risers going forward, which is what happened to the cards from the last Commander precons.

As for True-Name Nemesis itself, I wouldn’t be shocked if it sticks it out in the $50-$60 retail range. We’ll get a judge foil at some point in the next few years, but otherwise you’re missing out on your last window to buy a personal set while the supply is the highest.

Hey, look at that—Birthing Pod has made the leap to Legacy! Take note if you already have this deck in Modern, as you’re basically just six dual lands and one Onslaught fetch land away from a very good Legacy deck.

Financially, there are a few cards worth noting here. This deck is keeping the price of Baleful Strix high, making the Mind Seize Commander 2013 deck even more of a windfall. True-Name Nemesis helped get the price of this card down, but it should rise again over time.

Veteran Explorer is card I see all the time in quarter boxes and bulk collections. It retails for $3. Don’t leave it behind—it’s a four-of here.

The success of this deck also helps boost Birthing Pod’s long-term prospects. I already liked this as a $15 card for Modern season, and being a three-of in a Legacy deck can’t hurt. It’s an excellent casual card too. The ceiling is probably more like $20 now.

Lastly, it’s worth taking a quick look at Pernicious Deed. This sweeper fell out of favor a bit before the large Legacy spikes in 2010 and 2011, and the price hasn’t really changed in years. If enough people want to upgrade their Modern Birthing Pod deck for Legacy play, expect this card to be one of the biggest gainers due to how scarce it really is. There’s $40 upside here, and I’ll happily trade for these at current retail.

There isn’t much to say about Sneak and Show that I haven’t covered many times before. The deck is more or less the same, and it’s still excellent. I don’t expect much movement here—the deck did reasonably well in Paris, but it didn’t dominate.

This is one of the cheaper Lands lists I’ve seen. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale used to be a must play, but this deck doesn’t require one. I wouldn’t be shocked if people who already own duals and Forces give this a whirl.

Other than those multi-archetype staples, the heavy hitters here are Intuition and Exploration, both $40 cards. Considering how pricey and narrow both of those spells already are, I cannot recommend buying in unless you’re building the deck yourself.

The best spec opportunity here is Living Wish, a card that’s still fairly cheap and hasn’t done much in Legacy to date. It’s sold out on SCG at $6, but there are still SP and MP copies available for $5 and $4. Considering how old it is and the fact that it’s a four-of, there’s a reasonable shot of the price rising over the next few months.

I also pegged Sylvan Safekeeper as an intriguing spec after hearing about it doing good work in this deck on Twitter. At the time I didn’t know if it was a maindeck four-of or a sideboard one-of. While the card’s time hasn’t come quite yet, it’s a pretty powerful one-drop creature that could break out at some point in the future. The sub-$1 this card was at was just too low based on seeing any play at all in a format as powerful as Legacy.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is an intriguing addition to this deck, but there’s no room for growth—it was printed too recently and is just too narrow. It’ll likely go from $0.50 to $2 at some point, but it won’t be soon.

Craterhoof Behemoth is up to $15, and I keep running out of it for Commander because it’s so good in that format as well. Its ceiling is something like $18-$20 so I’m not buying in, but the price memory on this card is certainly lower than $15. Feel free to target these in trade if you can get a deal.

The biggest decks missing from the top tables? Dredge, Storm, and Death and Taxes all failed to show. The last one is the biggest shocker considering the deck was supposed to benefit from the addition of Spirit of the Labyrinth. I doubt we’ve seen the last of any of those decks, but it might be time to temper your expectations for cards like Lion’s Eye Diamond; Ad Nauseam; and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben over the short term.

This Week’s Trends

  • Mono-Black Devotion is heading back toward B/W Midrange territory, which is what the deck was doing back in the fall. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Blood Baron of Vizkopa could both rise.
  • Courser of Kruphix is a huge short-term gainer after proving its worth in G/R Monsters. It’s up to $8 and is selling even higher overseas. This price may stay higher than I predicted due to how unpopular Born of the Gods is, but it’s still okay to sell into hype if you want. It’s also worth noting that this deck runs Xenagos, God of Revels as a one-of.
  • G/W Aggro is back in Standard! It’s possible that many of these staples will make small gains over the next few weeks.
  • Ross Maynard rode a Mono-Red Aggro deck to sixth place at an IQ. It runs four copies of $0.75 rare Oracle of Bones and seems both cheap and awesome. People love decent decks that can be thrown together for a total of $30-$40, so expect to see this one around a lot.
  • Reaper of the Wilds has started showing up in a few Standard Junk builds. I like it, and it seems like a fine trade target at $2 retail.
  • Corbin Hosler pointed out that Kitchen Finks is primed for a rise due to how good it is against Zoo. I agree. Buy your playset now.