Your Post-Ban Modern Finance Questions, Answered

A triple banning has shaken up Modern! What buys should you make to stay relevant, and what should you do with your Mox Opals?

Mycosyth Lattice, illustrated by Anthony S. Waters

Holy cow! I figured Wizards of the Coast (WotC) would shake things up in Modern at some point, but I still didn’t see this week’s Banned and Restricted announcement coming. Not only has Oko been kicked out of his fourth straight format, but Mox Opal was finally given the axe after a decade of dominance. Mycosynth Lattice was banned before it even had a shot to take over. These are some pretty seismic changes, and the Modern metagame of tomorrow is going to look a lot different from the Modern metagame of yesterday.

Modern has taken a bit of a backseat to both Standard and Pioneer lately, but this shake-up should bring it right back into the limelight. These bannings should also help put an end to those silly social media rumors about WotC deliberately letting Modern “die” so that they could better promote Pioneer. Modern isn’t going anywhere — it was just slightly less popular for a while due to Oko shenanigans as well as the excitement of a brand-new eternal format to mess around with. Now that Oko is gone and the Pioneer metagame has stabilized, folks will flock back to Modern.

Because of this, I expect Modern prices to rise over the next few months. They are almost historically low at the moment, primarily because of the factors we just discussed. Now that Modern is wide open again, demand for its expensive staples should start to increase all across the board. The best time to buy is now.

But which Modern staples will benefit most from these bannings? And which cards should you sell now that Oko, Mox Opal, and Mycosynth Lattice are gone? My goal today is to answer these questions as well as the others I’ve come across in the wake of WotC’s announcement. In fact, let’s start with the question I’ve been asked the most over the past 24 hours:

What should we do with our copies of Oko, Mox Opal, and Mycosynth Lattice?

Whenever a card is banned, we’ve got two choices with how to proceed: sell our copies ASAP while price memory is still somewhat high, or put them aside and hope that some other format will help prop up their value later on.

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to this question. When Golgari Grave-Troll was banned in Modern for the second time, its price continued to slowly erode over the next several years. On the other hand, Oko jumped $20 the day after it was banned in Standard. We’ll just have to look at each card individually, on a case-by-case basis.

Golgari Grave-Troll Oko, Thief of Crowns

Let’s start with Oko. The card’s current (pre-ban) price tag is $29.99, which already had some potential ban risk priced in. Since Oko was the most-played card in Modern, its price tag should have been up in the $70+ range. The fact that it was selling for less than $30 should tell you that most people saw this decision coming sooner or later.

At this point, Oko has been banned in Standard, Pioneer, Historic, and now Modern. That doesn’t leave much. Oko sees some play in Vintage and Legacy, but neither format really drives prices these days, and it definitely isn’t enough demand to prop up the price of a card in a Standard-legal set. If Oko is ever going to be expensive again, it’ll have to make waves in Commander.

I don’t see that even happening. Oko might spike a bit once WotC inevitably allows us to use planeswalkers as our Commanders, but a lot of Oko’s power is neutered in a casual setting, especially when multiplayer is taken into account. At this point, I suspect that Oko will begin a slow and steady decline toward $10-$12 and will probably never spike above $20 again. If you can get more than that for your copies, you should do so.

Mox Opal

Let’s move on to Mox Opal, where things get a bit stickier. Mox Opal was selling for a whopping $109.99 prior to the ban, which means that some of you likely lost quite a bit of collection value due to the banning. That really stings, regardless of how good or bad the ban itself ends up being.

Mox Opal was already ineligible to be played in Standard and Pioneer, so we’re stuck looking at the same triumvirate of potential post-ban homes as Oko: Vintage, Legacy, and Commander. Vintage and Legacy demand are likely to matter a bit more in the case of Mox Opal. It hasn’t been widely printed since 2015, so the overall supply is lower. It also sees quite a bit more play in those formats than Oko, so overall demand is higher. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Mox Opal coasts on price memory for a little longer than Oko, since the card has been so expensive for so long.

Unfortunately for its future price tag, Mox Opal is merely okay in Commander. Dedicated competitive artifact decks are going to play Opal, but you can’t just throw it in any old deck and expect it to work like you can for most of the artifacts that are expensive due to Commander demand. When I take the Mox Opals out of my Modern deck, I’ll only be able to find room for one or two of them across the twenty-plus Commander decks I own, which doesn’t bode well for its future price tag.

The historical value (or lack thereof) of foil Mox Opals backs up this assertion. The Judge foil actually doesn’t hold a premium over the normal version of Mox Opal — both currently sell for $109.99 — while the set foils are only worth slightly more. If a card is terrific in Commander, the foil tends to hold a greater premium. That isn’t the case here.

At this point, however, I’d expect foil copies of Mox Opal to hold their value better than non-foils. Most competitive demand for Mox Opal has evaporated, while the folks that need copies for Cube or Commander are likely to prefer foils going forward. I’m probably not going to sell my foil copies of Mox Opal, especially since WotC isn’t likely to ever print the card again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the non-foil drops to $40 before slowly trending down toward $20 over the next few years. As with Oko, selling these ASAP (if you can find a buyer) while price memory is still high seems like the best call.

Mycosynth Lattice

Mycosynth Lattice was a $15 Commander staple before War of the Spark was released, but it currently sells for $49.99 primarily because of the play it saw in Modern alongside Karn, the Great Creator. As with the other two cards we’ve talked about, Mycosynth Lattice is probably going to tank, and tank hard.

That said, Mycosynth Lattice is the banned card I’m most bullish on over the long haul. For starters, you can still play the Karn/Lattice combo in Commander, where it is just as strong as it was in competitive play. And lest you think this card is simply going to drop back to $15, that price tag was from before Karn was printed and it doesn’t include all the additional casual value created by the Karn interaction in casual Magic. Plus, the Karn/Lattice combo also sees significant play in Legacy — and just like with Mox Opal, the available supply of Mycosynth Lattice is a lot lower than it is for Oko, Thief of Crowns.

Lastly, Mycosynth Lattice is the only card in this list with the potential to be unbanned in Modern someday. Oko is never getting set free, nor is Mox Opal, but Mycosynth Lattice will be a sexy unban spec if the Tron lands or Ancient Stirrings are ever booted out of the format. Mycosynth Lattice was mostly banned as a way to preemptively prevent Tron from taking over in the wake over the Oko and Opal bannings, and at some point WotC might want to let folks have access to that angle of attack again.

Putting it all together, I don’t think Mycosynth Lattice will drop below $20. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if it remains closer to $30 with room to grow in the future. You’ll still want to sell ASAP if you think you can get anywhere near that current $50 retail price, but I’d prioritize dumping Oko and non-foil Mox Opals if you can. And if this card does drop all the way back to $15, I’d consider buying in.

What other Modern cards are likely to tank in price due to the bannings?

Let’s start with the Mycosynth Lattice fallout, since it’s the simplest issue to tackle. Karn, the Great Creator is probably not going to be played in Mono-Green Tron anymore, though it will probably still be played in Eldrazi Tron. Karn itself is only just $6.99, so there’s not much value for it to lose, but its long-term potential has now been greatly reduced. You probably don’t need to worry too much about selling your copies of Karn since we’re essentially just talking about a $7 card dropping to $5, but it still seems worth bringing up.

Karn, the Great Creator Trinisphere Ensnaring Bridge

I suspect that Karn’s other top sideboard targets will also drop in price. Both Trinisphere and Ensnaring Bridge were integral parts of the Tron decks that liked to fetch things with Karn, the Great Creator, and both cards spiked when Karn began to see significant play in Modern. Trinisphere sees less play now than it did over the summer, and it has actually dropped in price by quite a bit since its initial spike, but demand for the card is still likely to decrease even further now that fewer people will be playing with Karn.

Ensnaring Bridge still sees a lot of play, though, and its price tag has remained high. It’s a more useful card than Trinisphere right now, even without as many Karns running around to fetch it, but both cards still seem destined to drop in price by at least 15%-20% over the coming weeks.  

As for Mox Opal, I’d expect the banning to have some pretty far-reaching implications. Let’s start with Affinity, the only Modern deck from the format’s inception to actually make it into the 2020s. Its run should be all but over now, and even the Hardened Scales variant is probably a turn too slow for Modern without Mox Opal. It might struggle on as a Tier 3 or Tier 4 option, but that’s the absolute best-case scenario. After all, it’s not like Affinity was doing all that well before this round of bans.

Arcbound Ravager Mutavault

Luckily, Affinity doesn’t have too many expensive cards. In the classic build, the priciest cards (other than Mox Opal) are Arcbound Ravager and Mutavault. At this point, Mutavault has become a top-tier Pioneer staple, and the Mox Opal banning is unlikely to have any effect on its price tag. This is going to be a $20+ card for the foreseeable future, and you shouldn’t sell your copies right now unless you really have to.

The future is less rosy for our old pal Arcbound Ravager. The card sees a little bit of play in Legacy and Vintage, but it’s mostly expensive due to Modern play. With Affinity becoming an even less viable deck than it already was, you can expect Arcbound Ravager to drop in price by at least 50%. Current retail on these is $16, and it’ll be under $10 by February.

Walking Ballista Hangarback Walker

Metallic Mimic Inkmoth Nexus

Hardened Scales has a few other cards worth discussing. Walking Ballista, Hangarback Walker, Inkmoth Nexus, and Metallic Mimic are reasonably pricey, but I suspect that only one of those cards will actually see a significant drop in value this month. Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker see more play in Pioneer than Modern, while Metallic Mimic is primarily a casual card. That leaves Inkmoth Nexus, which is basically just a staple in Hardened Scales and Infect. It’ll rebound in price at some point if Infect ever starts really taking off again, but I suspect it’ll lose at least 20%-30% of its value over the short-term.

Puresteel Paladin

Mox Opal’s banning is going to hurt a lot of other fringe decks as well. For example, I fail to see how Puresteel Paladin is ever going to see much play in Modern without access to Mox Opal. The good news is that Commander demand for Puresteel Paladin should remain high, so expect a drop in price, but probably not by more than 20%.

It’s hard to say how many other decks are going to be wiped out by this banning, but you can reasonably assume that any expensive card in a Mox Opal deck is going to see a downtick in value. Of course, Mox Opal wasn’t banned to neuter lower-tier payoffs like Arcbound Ravager and Puresteel Paladin; it was banned to help put an end to the three- and four-color monstrosities running around at the top of the Modern metagame, most of which were only overpowered because of Oko, Thief of Crowns. Let’s take a look at some of the staples from these decks that’ll be dropping in price over the coming weeks.

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza, Lord High Artificer could have easily been banned alongside (or instead of) Mox Opal, and it has been showing up alongside Oko, Thief of Crowns in countless top-tier Modern decks over the past few months. This round of bannings was clearly designed to deal a considerable blow to Urza decks in Modern, and its price on Magic Online (MTGO) started tanking the instant these bannings were announced.

That said, I suspect Urza will land on his feet. Urza was one of the most-played cards in Modern before Oko was printed, and the Mox Opal banning should do a pretty decent job of slowing him down without stopping him entirely. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Modern index’s overall resurgence almost entirely negates Urza’s potential drop in value and its price doesn’t actually fall off all that much. Urza is also a top-tier Commander card, so don’t expect the price to completely tank even if he’s no longer good in Modern. I’m not selling my copies of Urza, and I’d suggest that you don’t, either.

Ice-Fang Coatl

I’m a lot less bullish on Ice-Fang Coatl. Unlike Urza, Lord High Artificer, Ice-Fang Coatl didn’t see a ton of play in Modern before Oko, Thief of Crowns was printed. It’s possible that Arcum’s Astrolabe is good enough by itself to keep the Coatl in business, but decks will have much less of an incentive to base themselves in Simic now. I’d expect it to end up back around its pre-Oko price tag of $4.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor Force of Negation Plague Engineer

Most of the other staples from these Oko/Opal decks are going to be more or less fine. Cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Force of Negation, and Plague Engineer are dropping off a bit on MTGO, but they’ll rebound at some point later in the year. These cards all see play in a variety of decks, and the biggest problem with Oko in Modern wasn’t that it turned a bunch of bad cards into a playable deck — it was the fact that it turned a jumble of mostly unrelated control cards into the best deck in the format. Those cards are all still good — they just won’t be seeing play together as the heart of the best deck in the format.

One nice thing about the current Modern market is that we all sort of collectively agreed not to invest too heavily into any of these cards. Urza staples like Ice-Fang Coatl should have spiked a lot higher than they actually did, in large part because the Oko-centric meta wasn’t all that fun. This means that fewer cards will lose value due to the bannings than you might suspect, and there are only a handful of Modern-legal cards that I’d actually consider selling right now.

Which Modern cards benefit most from these bannings?

Finally, let’s talk about today’s most exciting question: which Modern cards are going to see an uptick in value now that Oko, Mox Opal, and Mycosynth Lattice have been banned?

Mox Amber Emry, Lurker of the Loch Sai, Master Thopterist

Let’s start with the most obvious Mox Opal replacement: Mox Amber. Urza, Lord High Artificer is a legendary permanent, so it’s possible that the Urza decks will pivot in that direction in order to generate fast mana. Those decks will also need a full four copies of Emry, Lurker of the Loch, and we might also see more of Sai, Master Thopterist show up from time to time.

I have no idea how good this pivot will actually end up being, but Mox Amber is already spiking on MTGO and I’d be shocked if its paper price doesn’t follow suit. If you’re interested in building this deck, I’d get in ASAP.

Teferi, Time Raveler Archmage's Charm Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

I’ve also seen some forums chatter about using Teferi, Time Raveler in the Oko slot as well as increasing the number of copies of Archmage’s Charm and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer in certain builds. I have no idea if the Urza decks are actually going to survive the loss of Mox Opal, and I’d look into Mox Amber as a first-level spec, but I’d at least consider picking up some of these other cards if you’re personally trying to regroup from the bannings and rebuild your Urza deck for the new metagame. If the deck does survive, it’ll probably end up utilizing some number of these cards, which will in turn cause the price to go up.

Karn Liberated Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Speaking of rebuilding decks that were hurt by the bannings, I’d be shocked if Karn Liberated doesn’t see a moderate surge in price over the next couple of days. Even though I suspect that Karn, the Great Creator will still see a lot of play in Eldrazi Tron, some number of Tron players will be swapping out their smaller Karns for bigger ones. Also, one of the general narratives coming out of these bannings is “Karn Liberated is back!” which should help drive demand even if its overall impact isn’t that big. I don’t think Karn Liberated will double in price or anything, but I bet it’ll gain somewhere between $10 and $20 over the next few weeks. If you’re after a copy, I’d pick it up ASAP.

Tron players should also take another look at Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Ugin peaked in popularity just after War of the Spark was released, but it’s been slowly dropping in value since then because Karn, the Great Creator began to muscle it out of maindeck slots in Mono-Green Tron. Ugin is also legal in Pioneer, and it’s starting to see quite a bit of play in that format as well. That makes the planeswalker a pretty safe spec even if it doesn’t ultimately end up seeing a lot of play in post-ban Modern.

Wrenn and Six Liliana of the Veil

Moving on to other decks, Modern Jund should be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the banning. The deck was mostly squeezed out of the metagame due to the fact that it couldn’t run Oko, and now it’s back.

This is going to cause some pretty significant price movement, especially from Jund stalwarts like Wrenn and Six and Liliana of the Veil. These two cards were among the biggest gainers on MTGO in the hours after the banning, and I expect their paper prices to follow suit. Both cards were more expensive before Oko was printed, and they should each gain at least $20 apiece over the coming weeks.

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician Geralf's Messenger

Of course, some Modern players are going to use the bannings as an excuse to try something entirely new. Luckily for them, Aaron Barich won SCG Knoxville last weekend with a rogue deck that doesn’t run any of the banned cards. People were already excited about this brew prior to WotC’s announcement, and I suspect the bannings will only serve to increase demand for Golgari Yawgmoth:

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is the key card here, and it has gone up by about $10 over the past 48 hours. Expect that price to keep increasing, especially if the deck continues to perform well. Geralf’s Messenger has also begun to spike, which makes sense — the card has a solid track record, and it was only printed once, back in Dark Ascension.

Chord of Calling Eldritch Evolution

I haven’t seen movement from any of the deck’s other enablers yet, but Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution would be next to spike if Golgari Yawgmoth proves to have staying power. This is a pretty risky deck to invest in right now since it has such a limited track record, but the potential payoff is quite high.

Seasoned Pyromancer

I’d also like to highlight Seasoned Pyromancer, a card that has lost about two-thirds of its value since August. You can’t just blame this on the Faithless Looting ban, either; Seasoned Pyromancer hit $30 again in mid-September, just before Throne of Eldraine hit shelves. Hmm—I wonder what Throne of Eldrane card might have caused Seasoned Pyromancer to tank?

I have no idea which Seasoned Pyromancer deck will break through in the new Modern metagame, but this card is simply too powerful to be kept down for long. It sees play in strategies as varied as Mardu Pyromancer, Gruul Midrange, and Mono-Red Aggro. I’d be shocked if Seasoned Pyromancer doesn’t hit $30 again at some point in 2020, and it feels like one of the safest post-ban pickups out there right now.

Primeval Titan Once Upon a Time

Lastly, Primeval Titan decks should remain a cornerstone of the new Modern metagame. They won’t necessary be Simic-colored now that Oko is gone, but the interaction between Field of the Dead and Modern’s best six-drop still puts these decks well ahead of where they were in the years before Core Set 2020.

Primeval Titan decks are also well-equipped to take advantage of what is probably the most powerful card in Modern now that Oko is gone: Once Upon a Time. I’m a little shocked that this enabler survived, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s on the shortlist for a ban next time around. In the meantime, expect Once Upon a Time’s continued legality to help benefit Primeval Titan decks as well as Mono-Green Tron. We may see a few other green-based decks pop up in the interim as well.

Primeval Titan and Once Upon a Time aren’t all that expensive right now, nor have they seen any big spikes in price recently. I’m not expecting that to change, though I still think they have room to slowly begin climbing in value. It’s not like their power level is going to come as a surprise to anyone, but they’re going to remain pillars of the format moving forward. At the very least, these two cards are solid buys at current retail. Even if Once Upon a Time is eventually banned, I suspect it’ll be after a few months of slow and steady gains. Just keep an eye out, and you’ll be fine.

This Week’s Trends

I don’t have a lot to talk about here since we’ve already chatted once this week, but please don’t forget to check out the second part of my Theros Beyond Death set review. I put a lot of work into it, and there are loads of lucrative spec opportunities in the set that most people are still sleeping on right now. At the very least, you should start snagging personal playsets of some of the new cards while the community is still focused on the fallout from the Modern bans.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Ox of Agonas Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

Speaking of Theros Beyond Death, early returns have Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath on an steady upward trajectory. Uro is currently out of stock at $24.99, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s re-stocked somewhere closer to $30. Ox of Agonas has also gained value since I wrote about it, jumping from $6.99 up to $9.99. Lastly, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove has also gained a couple of bucks, though I still remain a bit skeptical of that card.

Heliod, Sun-Crowned Walking Ballista

WotC didn’t ban anything in Pioneer this week, but they did indicate that they’re going to be closely monitoring the interaction between Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista moving forward. That doesn’t mean that you should avoid buying into either card, but you should be aware of the risks. If that combo ends up enabling a top-tier Pioneer deck, chances are WotC will not allow it to remain legal. And with Walking Ballista losing some of its best interactions in Modern due to this week’s bannings, a Pioneer ban would really devastate that card’s price tag. If you really want to play it safe, you might want to sell your copies now.

Fractured Powerstone

Lastly, Fractured Powerstone appears to have been bought out over the weekend. It’s a very low supply card from Planechase 2012, and it’s really only useful if you’re playing with the planar die. The spike looks pretty artificial to me, but the card is both scarce and unique enough that I can imagine it remaining in the $5+ range regardless. Feel free to sell into the hype if you’ve got them, and feel free to ignore the card if not. At the very least, however, ensure that you’ve picked these out of your bulk. The card was worth less than a dollar as recently as last October.