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Magic Online Finance: Digging through Last Year's Modern Prices

The banning of Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Birthing Pod resulted in massive price spikes for Modern staples that had previously been held back by the dominance of Pod and Delver. Liliana of the Veil went from low-60s to low-90s, Tarmogoyf went from 65 to 85, Dark Confidant and Cryptic Command both went from the mid-teens to the high-20s, Snapcaster Mage hit its new high at 12 tickets, and Geist of Saint Traft — which had been trending upwards with people targeting it as a good speculative pick-up since it won't be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 — continued to climb.



Why is this happening? A big reason is because Modern feels like it is being reset to last year's metagame (with the noticeable exception of no Birthing Pod). With the banning of Treasure Cruise, Delver has been knocked back down to Tier 2 and Modern looks very similar to the pre-KTK metagame. The new prices reflect a belief that old decks (including BGx midrange and UWx tempo/control decks) will rise back to prominence. The metagame won't be set until after the Pro Tour, but players (and vendors) don't want to be left out in the cold. 

What others cards might also show an increase? Here's a list of four cards (plus a bonus) that have been at a higher price point in the past. If Modern does revert back to a pre-KTK metagame, these cards could be seeing a return to their previous highs:

Thundermaw Hellkite

Current Price: 7.7

Previous 12 Month High: 22.1

Abzan is likely to be the more popular BGx variant than Jund. One reason is because Anger of the Gods, one of the better Birthing Pod hosers, is no longer as important. Red mainly offers Lightning Bolt and strong sideboard options vs. Affinity (Ancient Grudge) and Tron (Sowing Salt). White, meanwhile, adds real power to the maindeck with Siege Rhino, which is the premier 4-drop that BGx decks have been looking for since Bloodbraid Elf got banned. Additionally, Lingering Souls is extremely strong in a format full of midrange creatures (and nicely deals with opposing Liliana of the Veils).

Thundermaw Hellkite both goes over the top of Siege Rhino  and trumps Lingering Souls. When Jeskai decks were making more of a splash in Modern, it was often featured as a 2-of finisher in decks centered around Geist of Saint Traft. It might be powerful enough to keep some players in Jund for GBx decks. That doesn't make it a sure bet to show up again, but the metagame is shaping up nicely for Thundermaw Hellkite to be an impact card. It won't be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 and Magic 2013 does not seem like a likely show up as a flashback draft, so the supply is likely fixed.


Thrun, The Last Troll

Current Price: 9.9

Previous 12 Month High: 18.7


Thrun, the Last Troll was a staple in GBx sideboards this past year, and if those decks are making a comeback, he is likely to be found again as a major obstacle to UWx decks (which ended up running Wrath of God in their sideboard over Supreme Verdict in part so that they could answer Thrun, the Last Troll).

Two things are possibly holding back Thrun, the Last Troll: Siege Rhino blocks him all day and already occupies the four-drop slot in Azban decks. However, most of Thrun, the Last Troll's value comes vs. UWx and not the mirror, so I still believe that if GBx and UWx shape up to be the major decks in the format, Thrun, the Last Troll will return to sideboards. Secondly, Thrun, the Last Troll might be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015, and there is always the possibility of flashback drafts for Scars of Mirrodin. If he is reprinted in Modern Masters 2015, it would likely be at mythic since no mythic was downgraded to rare in the first Modern Masters, and mythics from the first Modern Masters held their prices fairly well. 


Restoration Angel

Current Price: 6.5

Previous 12 Month High: 10.5

I was actually surprised Restoration Angel did not see an uptick in price along with the "staples" of the format. It went down a bit since it was mainly being played in Pod decks, but Restoration Angel has shown up in a variety of UW lists in Modern before. If Cryptic Command, Snapcaster Mage, and Geist of Saint Traft are on the upswing, it seems likely that Restoration Angel will fit in somewhere.

Even if a UWx deck doesn't become popular after the Pro Tour, buying into Restoration Angel at its six month low seems like a safe bet. Avacyn Restored won't be in Modern Masters 2015 and it already had a Magic Online promo. Restoration Angel is a powerful card that might slot into the right metagame and there might be more cost-efficient creatures with enter the battlefield effects printed in a new set that push it back into the spotlight. On the other hand, Avacyn Restored might come back as a flashback set (though it is one of the least liked draft formats in recent history), and it's also possible that the current price might continue to decline if it doesn't find a home. There's never a sure thing when speculating, but the pros here seem like they outweigh the cons.


Kataki, War's Wage

Current Price: 1.1

Previous 12 Month High: 5.5


A lot of cards from Modern Masters are at low prices right now because there were several weeks of Modern Masters flashback drafts during the holiday season. Whether or not Modern Masters cards will regain value will be interesting to see. Interest in Modern as a format might rise with Modern Masters 2015, but there might also be more Modern Masters flashback drafts to keep prices low — we just don't know.

Like a lot of Modern Masters cards, Kataki, War's Wage's crash coincides with the flashback drafts with a steep curve from 3.5 to the current price over the course of a couple of days in early December. Kataki, War's Wage has a decent shot of rebounding because he is white's best Affinity hate, which makes it an ideal sideboard card for both the resurgent Jeskai tempo and Azban midrange decks. Affinity will remain popular for the foreseeable future, and with White being paired with GB in a top tier deck instead of Red, Kataki, War's Wage might become the top anti-Affinity card in the format.


Dig Through Time

Current Price: 2.1

Previous 12 Month High: N/A


I want to take a step back and consider what might happen to Dig Through Time. Immediately after the banning it dipped below 2 tickets, which I found interesting because Dig Through Time wasn't even seeing much play in Modern; the ban in Modern was a speculative ban. However, the price has dropped over 50% because of the ban "taint."

Dig Through Time is still an amazingly powerful card and I think it still has a big opportunity to become a Standard staple. Blue (and control in particular) is underplayed in the current Standard, but it doesn't take much change for Dig Through Time to become a 4-of in a lot of different decks. The first SCG Open post-Fate Reforged was won by a Sultai deck playing 4 Dig Through Time. One major factor working in favor of Dig Through Time is that it is mono-colored. Dig Through Time might not get there, but it is such a powerful effect that if the format slows down, or if Blue in general gets better cards in Standard, it could end up in a lot different decks. 

I'm not sure of a comparable card that is versatile, mono-colored, and a Standard-only staple from a large set. Thoughtseize hit nearly 9 tickets, but that's playable in Modern and Legacy, not just Standard. Goblin Rabblemaster settled at 18 tickets based on Standard play alone, but Magic 2015 was opened much less than Khans of Tarkir. It's hard for me to peg an exact price if it got popular, but 2 tickets seems low for a proven, powerful, and mono-colored rare.


That's all for today. If you any questions or comments, please do leave a comment below!

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