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Pro Tour Fate Reforged Preview: Ten Decks, Ten Cards


It's Pro Tour time once again, and this one is special not only because it is the only Modern Pro Tour of the year, but we are fresh off the format shaking bannings of Treasure Cruise and Birthing Pod. While I will be covering the big event all weekend for MTGGoldfish, I wanted to put out a preview today. Many other writers have been publishing great pieces about cards that could benefit from this weekend festivities, and I agree with a lot of what has already been said. As such, instead of just rehashing everyone else, I decided to take a bit of a different approach. Here are ten deck that I am looking out for this weekend, and also ten cards (one from each deck) that I think could benefit from having a good showing at Pro Tour Fate Reforged.

1. GB/x

BGx (Junk or Jund) was one of the defining decks of Modern before Khans of Tarkir unleashed Treasure Cruise. When Treasure Cruise was banned, Tarmogoyf strategies were one of the first places people looked when trying to figure out the new Modern. Since it offers the flexibility pros love — one of the long-standing benefits of playing BGx is that you're pretty much 50/50 against the field, which in theory allows a superior player to grind out percentage points and victories — it seems likely to be among the most played decks in DC. 

Most of the big pieces of BGx spiked in response to the B&R announcement, so many of the most obvious speculation targets are no longer attractive. Liliana of the Veil is about to be reprinted as a PTQ promo. Tarmogoyf is pushing $800 a set. Dark Confidant is already $70 and, like Tarmogoyf, is a likely include in Modern Masters 2015. Any of these cards represent a lot of money tied up in a spec that is far from a slam dunk. However, one GBx card does have some appeal. 

Scavenging Ooze

The bad news about Scavenging Ooze is that is has been printed multiple times: first in Commander, then as a Duels of the Planeswalker promo, and finally in M14. The good news is that it is seeing a bunch of play in a lot of different decks. It has a solid spread in the low twenties and is one of the only main-deckable ways to deal with graveyards in the format. While I'm far from convinced that Dredge will be a thing in Modern (more on this later), if it is, then Scavenging Ooze is a good place to be. Even if it's not, Scavenging Ooze is still a solid card in most matchups. While I think the supply is too high for a major spike, I expect Scavenging Ooze to grow over the next months leading up to Modern Masters 2015. 

2. Affinity

Affinity is the default aggro deck in Modern and has been for quite some time. It's pretty much always playable, although if things ever start to go too well for the robots, players up the number of Stony Silences, Shatterstorms and Creeping Corrosions in their sideboards and send it back to earth. It's guaranteed that some players will be on the artifact deck in DC and it would be far from surprising if a skilled Affinity pilot like Frank Karsten made it to the top eight. 

Financially Affinity is in a weird place. Before the spoiling of Etched Champion, I thought that the deck might dodge Modern Masters 2015, but now that seems less likely, so buying for the longer term is questionable. This means we are looking for a card that has potential to spike based on its performance this weekend, rather than the slow-growth potential of a card like Scavenging Ooze. Using this criteria, the best option might be Inkmoth Nexus.

Inkmoth Nexus 

Blinkmoth Nexus was about $17 before it was reprinted in Modern Masters, and today it manages to maintain nearly $10 — almost exactly the same price as the one printing Inkmoth Nexus. This is despite the fact that Inkmoth Nexus sees more play. While Blinkmoth Nexus is exclusively an Affinity card, Inkmoth Nexus is a 4-of in Infect as well. If someone gets really ambitious, it could even be a backup win condition in Bloom Titan with Kessig Wolf Run like the old Standard Wolf Run deck. The list of lands that Inkmoth Nexus sees more play than is actually quite impressive and includes Celestial Colonnade, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, and all of the Urza's lands. I'm not sure why this card isn't $15 dollars already other than the uncertainty of a possible Modern Masters 2015 printing. 

3. Tarmo-Twin

 

Thanks to Patrick Dickman, the Tarmogoyf build of Splinter Twin has become pretty much the default build, which seems to be another vote for Tarmogoyf as the best blue card ever printed. Splinter Twin is a UR Combo deck; it's playing every horrible cantrip in Modern all the way down to Peak in an effort to put together its two-card infinite combo on Turn 4. And Tarmogoy manages to make this deck better. I was working on a UWR Control build with a Gifts Ungiven package the other night and posted my list on Twitter. What was one of the first responses I received? "You probably should be playing Goyf." Anyway, Tarmogoyf is good, very good, but by now we all know it, so I'll just shut up and talk about something else. 

Financially, there are a couple appealing targets in the deck. If you playing on Magic Online, Sulfur Falls is near the bottom of its cycle at 1.2 tix. It has a history of dropping to 1, then spiking back to 2.5 or 3. With a good showing this weekend, I expect it to be back over 2 tix next week. In the paper world, Splinter Twin still has room to grow. It was pushing $25 not long ago, and is closer to $16 currently. However, Modern Masters is a concern, the spread is weak, and buylist prices have dropped recently. The slam dunk, though, is Snapcaster Mage

Snapcaster Mage

Now, the appeal of Snapcaster Mage isn't from Twin alone. It sees play in quite a few decks, but with Treasure Cruise gone and being safe from a reprint in Modern Masters 2015, it's hard to imagine a world where Snapcaster Mage isn't pushing $50 by the end of the year. Of course nothing is for certain in MTG finance — for all we know he will be reprinted at uncommon in M16 — but the odds of this, or any other reprinting happening this year are so slim, Snapcaster Mage may be the safest bet in all Modern at the moment. Even beyond speculation, if you think you might want to play with Snapcaster Mage in the next year, buy him now. 

4. Burn

Burn in Modern comes in three flavors: Mono-Red, like the list above, Boros (splashing for Boros Charm, Lightning Helix, and sideboard cards), and Rakdos/Mardu splashing for Bump in the Night and maybe even Dark Confidant. I'm unsure how many pros will pick up the deck in DC because there really isn't much flexibility — your major decision every game is when to Lightning Bolt your opponent's creature and when to Lightning Bolt their face — so it's likely that Burn will be played less in an all-pro metagame where budget is no concern than in other events or online. 

Financially, there is't a whole lot to look at. 1/3 of the deck is Mountains and more than 1/3 is common burn spells, which are relatively inexpensive. However, if you are buying collections or digging through bulk, keep your eyes open for Lava Spikes, Rift Bolts, and Shard Volleys because they are each worth a dollar or two and are very easy to move. Goblin Guide is already $16, and while it has been over $20 before, it's also a likely include in Modern Masters 2015. So unless ChannelFireball or some other major team shocks the Modern world and brings Burn to DC, I would expect the hasty one-drop to stay put before crashing when reprinted. This brings us to Eidolon of the Great Revel:

Eidolon of the Great Revel

 

Eidolon of the Great Revel only recently fell from ~$10 to $5. Without a random reprinting, it should be back to $10 again soon. Unlike most Standard cards, rotation doesn't scare me in regards to Eidolon of the Great Revel simply because it hasn't been Standard players driving demand — it's been the eternal crowd. If you look back through the tournaments since Journey into Nyx was printed, you'll find that Eidolon of the Great Revel has shown up in 90 Standard decks, 160 Modern decks, and 36 Legacy decks. This is despite the fact that Standard has nearly twice as many events in the database than Modern, and magnitudes more than Legacy. So it's primarily Modern that is driving demand, which means rotation should hurt less, if at all. Being an enchantment creature makes Eidolon of the Great Revel more difficult to reprint, it has a solid 5x foil multiplier, and could be a staple in aggro/burn strategies in the emerging Tiny Leader format where every card your opponent casts will trigger Eidolon's ability. $10 in the immediate future isn't out of the question, and a slow-and-steady climb to $20 over the next year or two is possible. The card is a legit eternal staple.

 

5. Tron

There are three reasons to play Tron in Modern: The most obvious is that while casting a turn three Karn Liberated isn't quite GG against every deck, it's close enough. Even a turn three Wurmcoil Engine requires your opponent to specifically have a Path to Exile or it will run away with the game. Second, it's the only non-green deck that gets maindeck graveyard hate in the form of Relic of Progenitus, which is played mostly as another artifact that cycles from the battlefield, but can also gain the deck some percentage point if someone shows up playing Dredge. Finally, the deck has more inevitability than any other in the format. Barring something like a maindeck Blood Moon, if you give Tron enough turns you will die to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I've definitely had games with my UWR deck where I Tectonic Edge three times, resolve a Sphinx's Revelation for six and still die to the flying spaghetti monster on turn 13. 

Financially, Karn Liberated almost has to be in Modern Masters 2015. It's creeping up among the most expensive cards in Modern, and with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon running around in Standard, it seems unlikely Karn Liberated returns to Standard for at least the next year. Wurmcoil Engine was just reprinted in Commander 2014 and still has pre-release promo copies out there, so his status as a mythic isn't really indicative of his supply. Even most of the commons and uncommons like Sylvan Scrying and Expedition Map are already a few bucks, so this leaves us with Oblivion Stone

Oblivion Stone

 

Oblivion Stone could be the card that spikes if Tron puts up a good showing at in DC. Considering it has two printings, it's supply is relatively low, with just over 100 vendors combined selling on TCGPlayer and several major vendors are currently sold out of both versions. Buylist prices have ticked up since December, and the sell-price has yet to follow. The spread is right at 30%, which isn't amazing, but not bad either, so I think it really comes down to this weekend. If Tron performs well more people will play it and Oblivion Stone could be sold out come Sunday. Given the apparent low-supply, I don't think a spike to $20 is out of the question, but again, it's all dependent on the Pro Tour results. 

 

6. Bloom Titan

So maybe Bloom Titan would be more aptly named as Speck.dec? Mr. Goldfish Richard asked a good question yesterday when we were working on the podcast, "Is Bloom Titan good? Or is Speck just really good at Bloom Titan, like Tom Ross is with Infect?" I don't know the answer. What I do know is that if I tried to pick up Infect in Legacy, rather than casually crushing tournaments like Ross, I would probably 0-3 drop from every event I entered. While I don't think Bloom Titan is quite as hard to play well (I mean, if all else fails, just attack with Primeval Titan, right?), I do think it probably is one of the harder decks to master because there are a lot of moving pieces, tutors, and Hive Mind is just a strange card. 

Financially, I think the above question is very important. If you think the deck is actually good in the hands of non-Speck players, there are a few attractive targets. Amulet of Vigor has been creeping up over the last week, but is still only half of its $7 peak. It could get there again with a good showing. Online prices have really spiked in the past few weeks, and so far, the paper world has not caught up. I like Gemstone Mine. It sees play as a 4-of not only in Bloom Titan, but in Phyrexian Unlife/Angel's Grace combo, Goryo's Vengeance reanimator, and Jeskai Ascendancy as well. The problem is, the numbers don't back up a spike. Supply is high and the spread is average. Primeval Titan was $20 this past spring, and is only $12 or $13 now, so there could also be some potential here. One card I do really like is Hive Mind.

Hive Mind

Full disclosure: I picked up a few foil Hive Minds yesterday, because the spread was low (best sell price was $5, best buy was $4). While I'm not sure this deal still exists, you might be able to find some cheap copies if you scour some of the smaller sites. 

Everyone has been on Amulet of Vigor and rightly so, but I think there are some good arguments that Hive Mind is just as good of a pickup. Unlike Amulet of Vigor, it has seen Legacy play in the past, and could again, although Show and Tell into Hive Mind has lost some appeal with Griselbrand and Omniscience being printed in the past couple years. As far as Bloom Titan goes, at this point Hive Mind is locked into the deck just as strongly as Amulet of Vigor. I have no idea if or when this card will be reprinted. It doesn't seem like the type of card that Wizards is really looking to reprint, just because it plays so weirdly and is hard for new players to understand. Doubling up to $5 isn't out of the question with a good weekend.

 

7. UR Storm

If I had to pick one "lock" for DC, it would be that Finkel plays UR Storm and makes the Top 32. When you're Jon Finkel, you are good enough to not care how many cantrips and rituals Wizards bans from your deck. You just replace your Ponders with Serum Visions, replace your Preordains with Sleight of Hands, replace your Seething Songs with Pyretic Rituals and go to town. Financially, there are only two non-land rares/mythics in the deck: Past in Flames and Pyromancer Ascension. While the enchantment may be a fine target, it's only commanding $5 compared to a previous high of over $8. The real winner from the deck is likely Past in Flames.

Path in Flames

 

Currently, the best buylist on Past in Flames is $2.05 and the best sell price is $2.89, putting the spread on Past in Flames at less than 30%, which is where you want to be. There are less than 100 vendors selling the card on TCGPlayer, which is also fine. At $3 each, supply could dry up very quickly. Perhaps even more important is that Past in Flames is past the cutoff for Modern Masters 2015 and is pretty difficult to reprint in Standard barring yet another return of the Flashback mechanic. This means that like Snapcaster Mage, the sorcery seems like a safe place to be for the next year and there is plenty of time for this card to hit $10 on the slow road. If Finkel hits the top eight, it could happen even quicker. 

 

8. UWR Tempo/Control

While the above build is more tempo-based, featuring Geist of Saint Traft and Young Pyromancer, other UWR build are more on the control side, featuring less creatures and more sweepers. I'm not sure which build is better as each have their own pluses and minuses. Geist of Saint Traft is a very powerful card when backed up by cheap permission and tempo plays. 

Financially, you already know how I feel about Snapcaster Mage, but there are some other juicy targets in the deck. Restoration Angel sees play in UWR along with Hatebears / Death and Taxes and some Junk builds. She also has a solid spread at 27%. Furthermore, like Scavenging Ooze, you can buy foil promos for about the same price as AVR non-foils, and there is no risk of a Modern Masters 2015 reprinting. Celestial Colonnade is one of my favorite cards in Modern, and it's almost $10 lower than its $25 high of a year ago. However, the Worldwake manland cycle could definitely make a Modern Masters 2015 appearance, which limits my interest. This bring us back around to Geist of Saint Traft.

Geist of Saint Traft

I wrote about foil Geist of Saint Traft a couple weeks ago. With its recent reprinting as a foil promo, the fact that Innistrad redemption recently ended, and its safety from Modern Masters 2015, it's likely all the foil Geist of Saint Traft that will be in the market for the next year or two are already there. Unfortunately, since then the price on the promos have spiked from $40 to $60 and even now they are pretty much gone from TCGPlayer (ChannelFireball has two copies for sale at $60 and that's it). Pack foils haven't moved as much, which makes me think people prefer the promo to the pack foil. Thankfully, you can still pick up regular copies for $20, even with the recent post-banning increase. I'm uncertain how high Geist of Saint Traft can climb, but with a good showing this weekend and an increase in play heading into Modern Masters 2015 hype this summer, $30 or even $40 doesn't seem out of the question. Plus, if Tiny Leaders becomes a thing, he is pretty clearly the most powerful commander in the format. I don't know how much demand Tiny Leader can generate, but it certainly can't hurt the Geist. 

 

9. Eternal Ghostway

This deck caused quite a stir earlier this week, and in some ways seems like a rebuild of the now extinct Birthing Pod decks. The problem is, all we have is one list in one Magic Online daily. For all we know, Miro83 had all three opponents mull to four every game while he beat them down with a Kitchen Finks. I'm not saying the deck is bad, but it's hard for me to get too excited with such a small sample size. On the other hand, it could be a darkhorse this weekend. Financially, it there is one card in specific that is worth talking about.

Chord of Calling

 

Admittedly, my love of Chord of Calling is based more on my gut and price memory than the numbers. The spread is weak and a ton of copies entered the market with M15. On the other hand, in just the past week, two Modern decks prominently featuring the instant have been getting a bit of hype. Along with the Eternal Ghostway list above, there is also a new Ezuri, Renegade Leader Elves deck running around which is looking to use Chord of Calling like a Natural Order to find Craterhoof Behemoth. Both lists are relatively cheap and seem like the type of deck semi-competitive players will try to build. Casual players love their infinite combos and their elves, so it seems like there will be increased demand for Chord of Calling in the coming weeks. Whether or not this demand can outweigh the massive supply is yet to be seen, but it was only six months ago that the Ravnica version of Chord of Calling was commanding $40. With this in mind, it seems unlikely that players will grumble too much about paying $10 a piece.

 

10. Dredgevine

I almost left dredge off the list all together, but there has been a crazy amount of hype around the deck ever since Golgari Grave-Troll came off the banned list a couple weeks ago. This was bolstered by not one, but two Dredgevine lists showing up in the top 16 this past weekend at SCG Indianapolis. There are a few reasons why I think that Dredge, at least for the Pro Tour, is more smoke and mirrors than a real contender. 

First, as I've mentioned before, Dredge in Legacy and Vintage is about Bridge from Below and I just don't see enough enablers in Modern to make Bridge from Below work, at least without playing some pretty bad cards. Second, the main reason to play Dredge in Legacy/Vintage is you are an overwhelming favorite in game one (something like 90/10 in a lot of matchups). Your goal is to always, always, always, win game one, and then hope that in either game two or three your opponent doesn't draw their backbreaking sideboard cards like Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, and Relic of Progenitus. Modern Dredge doesn't get this advantage. Sure, maybe you're decent in game ones, but I would bet something like 60/40 rather than 90/10. Without Bridge From Below, all it takes is a couple of well-timed Path to Exiles to clean up Vengevine and you're left beating down with 2/1's like Gravecrawler and Bloodghast. Third, a good portion of the players at the Pro Tour play Legacy or Vintage, so they know how powerful Dredge can be. I have to imagine that the pros have tested against the deck, and if they think its good enough to see play, will come packing hate. If you build your Modern sideboard like you build your Vintage sideboard, Dredge is very unlikely to win. Finally, in true eternal formats, Dredge is primarily a tournament stealer. The typical cycle is Dredge wins a big event, everyone then starts packing their graveyard hate, then Dredge sucks for a couple months. Eventually, people start dedicating those Dredge sideboard slots to something else because they haven't played against Dredge in a while. Then Dredge wins again. Rinse and repeat. With Golgari Grave-Troll just being unbanned, everyone is on high alert regarding graveyard strategies. If this Pro Tour was six months from now, and no one had been playing Dredge, maybe I could buy the argument that Dredge could be the right choice for the event. But right now, Modern is pretty much in the "week after Dredge just spiked a Legacy event" stage, which means it's a bad time to be playing Dredge. 

Financially the hype is real, and in #mtgfinance, hype is enough to move the market. Anything that is good, could be good, or even very clearly isn't good (*cough* Magus of the Bazaar *cough*) in Dredge is being bought, and in some cases being bought out. Personally, I'm staying away from all of these cards because I just don't think the demand will be there at higher price points. Sure, buying out foil Magus of the Bazaar and seeing the price jump from $2 to $16 is fine and dandy, but who is going to pay you $16 for your copies? Not me.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Tasigur, the Golden Fang is the Fate Reforged card most likely to see heavy play this weekend. Given that Fate Reforged is barely two week old and supply is still low, so a big performance could lead to a big (but short term) spike. While Monastery Mentor and Soulfire Grand Master as less likely to show up in Modern, if either one hits the top eight, the same thing could happen to them, except the impact would be even more pronounced since being mythics limits their supply even more. I'm not saying this will happen, but it is something to be aware of as decklists start rolling out over the next couple of days. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. I plan on being around all weekend watching and writing about the Pro Tour, so expect more discussion over the next three days. What are you looking for this weekend? What cards do you think have a chance to spike? Did you buy anything earlier this week in preparation? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @SaffronOlive. 


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