Five years ago, when it was first released, Modern Masters 2013 felt like a masterstroke.
Modern was itself only about two years old, and accessibility was already becoming an issue. The format's top staple, Tarmogoyf, had just broken the $100 barrier, and nobody believed that WotC would ever reprint that card in a Standard-legal set-it was just too powerful for the format. But here was a brand new expansion that promised to act as a release valve for expensive card prices, and it came complete with an excellent Draft format and its own signature event: the very first Grand Prix Las Vegas.
Modern Masters 2013 helped lower prices for a couple of months, but the excitement surrounding the set caused so much additional demand for Modern cards that its effect on the market was relatively short-lived. The format was growing in leaps and bounds back then, and hype was high by the time Modern Masters 2015 rolled around. Some people grumbled about the price increase from $6.99/pack to $9.99/pack, but most stores had been charging about $10/pack for Modern Masters anyway (the original print run was very small) and lots of folks were just grateful that they didn't have to wait in line to buy packs this time. Modern Masters 2015 was also a success, it also came attached to an excellent Grand Prix Las Vegas, and we couldn't wait for the next Masters set to drop in 2017.
But then something unexpected happened. 2016 came with a surprise off-cycle Masters set, Eternal Masters, and it had all sorts of absurd $100+ cards in it, like Mana Crypt, Force of Will, Karakas, Wasteland, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Eternal Masters was the first Masters set that left a bad taste in some players' mouths. A lot of people who didn't play much Vintage or Legacy bought packs anyway because of how expensive many the cards in it were, and, well, all the staples in the previous Masters sets rebounded pretty fast, so it would have been stupid NOT to buy, right?
Only the rebound didn't really happen. Vintage and Legacy demand is far lower than Modern demand, and many of those cards were only expensive because they hadn't been printed since 1995 or whatever. Plus, for the first time, it seemed like WotC had printed more boxes of this Masters set than they could sell. Instead of having to jump on a waiting list for a box at your LGS and shell out full retail, you could snag one online for well under MSRP over a year after its released date.
Then came Modern Masters 2017, right on schedule, and the set was fine. It had fetchlands! Everybody loves fetchlands. The set didn't really feel special since it was now the third Masters set in as many years, but Modern players were still grateful to snag key staples at a discount.
And then, six months later, came Iconic Masters. Oh boy did people HATE Iconic Masters. It had most of the same issues that Eternal Masters did, only worse. Not only was the initial value of the set lower, but supply was FAR higher. By selling packs in big box stories, WotC created so much supply that even the good cards in Iconic Masters-and there WERE good cards!-didn't feel like they were all that exciting to open.
Six months after that, we got Masters 25. When it was initially teased, it seemed like it was going to be the Masters set to end all Masters sets, but it ended up somehow being the worst of them by far. Want to pay $10/pack for a shot at Jace, the Mind Sculptor? No? Oh well.
It was clear at this point that something had to give. WotC was churning out Masters sets every six months, and they were getting worse and worse.
Why did this happen? Well, the increasing frequency of Masters sets doesn't feel like much of a mystery. Hasbro's executive team probably saw how much money WotC brought in by printing sets full of old cards that didn't have to go through an expensive R&D process and said, "more of that, please!" Trying to increase that revenue stream as much as possible-going from once every 24 months, to once every 12 months, to once every 6 months-is the exact sort of thing that large corporations like to do. "Oh, you like this thing? Great! How much of it can we sell to you before you get burnt out?"
Well, if you're printing Masters sets every six months, you're going to run out of exciting cards pretty fast unless you dole them out carefully. Think about Cascade Bluffs, which was a $30+ card before Masters 25, and it's just $6 now. Print it again, and it'll be down to $3. Obviously it would take longer to tank a card like Mox Opal or Liliana of the Veil, but no Magic card is immune to the effects of supply and demand. And while you can certainly make an argument that all cards should be cheap, that argument isn't going to help WotC sell $10 (or $14) booster packs.
I had assumed that WotC would continue to allow Masters sets to shamble on for years, disappointing us every six months or so, but Iconic Masters and Masters 25 must have wildly underperformed their expectations, leading to the end of the series. Remember that it takes quite a long time for WotC to develop and print sets-even Masters sets-so Ultimate Masters is likely a response to the community's reaction from a year or so ago, when Iconic Masters was making us all feel grumpy.
So we get one final, amazing Masters set, and then no more.
Which begs a very interesting question: what happens next?
Spoiler alert: WotC is not going to stop reprinting expensive cards.
For one, I honestly think they care about making sure that Modern is at least a halfway accessible format. Magic is (and will continue to be) an expensive game, but it doesn't do WotC any good to have Modern be so frustratingly out-of-reach that nobody but its richest, most entrenched players can participate. After all, a format that nobody can play doesn't sell booster packs.
More importantly, reprints are still essentially free money for Wizards of the Coast. The same incentives that existed for WotC when they ramped up Masters set production still exist, and "no more Masters sets" is certainly not the same thing as "no more reprints." It's simply an acknowledgment that their old method of reprinting cards wasn't working anymore.
But what form are these new reprints likely to take?
For starters, I'm sure we'll continue to see yearly (at least) casual sets like Battlebond and Conspiracy. Combine these with the yearly Commander 20XX releases, and we've still got a major pipeline for casual and Commander reprints to hit the market with just as much regularity as before. It was already dangerous to go too deep into long-term Commander speculation due to the frequency of these sets, and the end of the Masters sets isn't going to change that.
As for the higher end reprints, I feel like we're going to see more promotions like Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition being sold through the Hasbro Toy Shop. By focusing on premium releases of premium cards, WotC can essentially act as their own secondary market without further undercutting the prices of Modern staples, satisfying investors and super-fans without diluting the card pool even further.
This won't help make the format more accessible, but I doubt that'll be the main focus over the next year or two. After all, they've practically reprinted the entire Modern index over the past two calendar years, as I'm going to show you in the next part of this article. And, yeah, maybe they'll just find a brand new way to inundate us with hundreds more reprints in 2019 and 2020, but I feel like we're far more likely to see a sharp pullback. If WotC is thinking long term, they're going to want to wait for more of Modern's mid-level cards to become expensive before they're printed again. That way, when they bring Masters sets back in 2021 or whatever, we're all going to be tearing through those packs trying to get our copies of Liliana, the Last Hope, Kolaghan's Command, and Collected Company.
This is why it's time to take a look at Modern's most played cards right now. Normally, my Modern-buying advice can be boiled down to, "wait until a Masters set is released, then wait another 2-3 weeks, then buy a playset of everything good." But with Masters sets going away, we could be looking at some pretty serious gains over the next year or two. This winter might be the last time to get a lot of these cards at a discount for quite some time.
Ready for one of my patented deep dives into the Modern card pool?
Looking At Modern's Most Played Cards
MTG Goldfish does an excellent job tracking the most played cards in each format. It's one of the most useful tools for financial analysis, because we can use it as a non-biased yardstick to measure current tournament demand. There are some expensive Modern cards that aren't on this list, but we're going to ignore them today because we have to draw the line somewhere.
In order to parse this data, I'm going to organize all 150 Modern staples based on the year of their most recent reprint. The idea is that cards that haven't been printed in a while are the most vulnerable to price increases and should be your main speculation targets going forward.
These cards used to be riskier buys because they could show up in a Masters set at any point and fall off a price cliff, but if WotC really is done making reprint sets for a while, there should be a nice window for you to flip these cards at a profit before that happens.
Let's get to the cards!
December 2018: Ultimate Masters
- Liliana of the Veil - $80
- Karn Liberated - $70
- Snapcaster Mage - $70
- Tarmogoyf - $60
- Cavern of Souls - $60
- Noble Hierarch - $50
- Engineered Explosives - $45
- Gaddock Teeg - $25
- Life from the Loam - $18
- Fulminator Mage - $12
- Lava Spike - $4
- Sleight of Hand - $3
- Celestial Colonnade - $3
- Desperate Ritual - $3
- Faithless Looting - $1.50
- Gurmag Angler - $0.50
- Fiery Temper - $0.25
Ah, the most recent set of Modern staples. You probably shouldn't buy these quite yet, because I'm still seeing some price erosion on cards like Engineered Explosives, which is down $5 from last week. A bunch of people will open their boxes and sell their singles right away, though, so there might be some nice deals to be had in about two weeks. The initial rebound will likely come in mid-to-late January, so you'll want to act before then if you can.
October 2018: Guilds of Ravnica
- Arclight Phoenix - $26
- Assassin's Trophy - $15
- Steam Vents - $13
- Watery Grave - $10
- Sacred Foundry - $8
- Overgrown Tomb - $8
- Temple Garden -$6
- Knight of Autumn - $3.50
- Creeping Chill - $0.75
- Narcomoeba - $0.50
Look at all of these Modern-playable cards in the most recent Standard set! While I wouldn't worry about buying expensive cards like Arclight Phoenix right now unless you have an immediate need, $6-$10 is a pretty solid price for the shocklands even if you don't care about their Standard playability. It's probably time to think about snagging your foil copies of cards like Creeping Chill and Narcomoeba, too.
July 2018: Core Set 2019
- Supreme Phantom - $2.50
Here's a solid card that I haven't really thought about since finishing my set review. Nobody's opening Core Set 2019 anymore, and Supreme Phantom is both a casual and a Modern favorite that'll end up over $5 at some point.
April 2018: Dominaria
There isn't much to worry about here other than the fact that Damping Sphere has proven itself to be every bit the Modern staple that we all thought it would be. It'll be $5+ at some point, so you might as well start thinking about socking a bunch of these away.
March 2018: Masters 25
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor - $100
- Blood Moon - $25
- Thalia, Guardian of Thraben - $13
- Rest in Peace - $8
- Eidolon of the Great Revel - $6
- Street Wraith - $4
- Lightning Bolt - $4
- Ancient Stirrings - $3
Several of these cards have already rebounded from their initial post-reprinting lows, but Eidolon of the Great Revel, Rest in Peace, and Thalia are still pretty cheap. As with most of the cards on this list, it's hard to see most of this stuff getting any cheaper as long as it keeps seeing play. With the reprint pipeline shut down, your risk of taking a bath on cards like this is so much lower now.
2018 Commander and Supplemental Sets
Some low-end commons and uncommons were also reprinted this year. You can continue to ignore them if you don't need them.
November 2017: Iconic Masters
- Horizon Canopy - $60
- Aether Vial - $45
- Cryptic Command - $25
- Bloodghast - $18
- Thoughtseize - $18
- Death's Shadow - $13
- Primeval Titan - $10
- Grove of the Burnwillows - $10
- Inquisition of Kozilek - $5
- Mishra's Bauble - $4
- Monastery Swiftspear - $1
- Nature's Claim - $0.30
We've already missed the first round of rebounds on these cards-Horizon Canopy was just $35 for several months in early 2018, and Death's Shadow was well under $10 for a while-but there's still a little more room for these cards to grow, especially if they aren't in danger of being reprinted again for a while. Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize both still feel underpriced to me, and Aether Vial always seems to end up over $50 no matter how little play it actually sees.
The issue with Iconic Masters is that there still seem to be packs hitting the market from somewhere, likely due to how poorly its initial sales figures were. Thus, it might take longer than average for these cards to hit their second rebound phase.
September 2017: Ixalan
Make sure you've got at least a set of each of these uncommons socked away at some point before set rotation. They're all going to be good in Modern for a while.
July 2017: Hour of Devastation
These cards just rotated, so it's not like the price is going to get any lower, but they're not terribly exciting, either. There are plenty of copies of Hollow One kicking around for every person who wants to play that deck, so its upside is never going to be all that high.
March 2017: Modern Masters 2017
- Scalding Tarn - $90
- Verdant Catacombs - $60
- Marsh Flats - $50
- Misty Rainforest - $50
- Arid Mesa - $45
- Goblin Guide - $22
- Phantasmal Image - $18
- Path to Exile - $9
- Stony Silence - $9
- Grafdigger's Cage - $6
- Serum Visions - $3.50
- Scavenging Ooze - $3.50
- Anger of the Gods - $3
- Thragtusk - $2.50
- Ancient Grudge - $0.40
It's hard to argue that the Zendikar fetchlands are going to keep going up in value since they've already more or less rebounded to their pre-reprint prices, but they still feel like fairly safe buys. This is the most important cycle of lands in Magic, full stop, and people will always need them, no matter what else happens. I can certainly see a Guilds of Ravnica: Mythic Edition style fetchland promotion at some point, but that probably wouldn't cause these prices to drop much, if at all.
On the lower end, Phantasmal Image, Goblin Guide, and Stony Silence all seem like solid buys to me as well. All three cards see a ton of play, and are among Modern's "middle class" of staples that are easy to reprint in the context of a Masters set but which are more difficult to bring back in other ways. These are the sorts of cards I'm always happy to take back in trade and hoard for a bit.
January 2017: Aether Revolt
Oh, hey, it's two of the most important cards in Modern! I've written enough about how you should be holding on to a bunch of each over the past couple of months, so I won't belabor the point here. Needless to say, both of these cards still have lots of room to grow.
2017 Commander and Supplemental Sets
- Remand - $8
Remand was reprinted in a duel deck last year. You probably didn't notice.
Before we continue on, I just want to take a moment and fully appreciate just how many of Modern's most expensive cards we've seen on this list so far. That's what I meant when I said that WotC has more or less reprinted the entire Modern index over the past two years. That's awesome, but it's also completely unsustainable.
September 2016: Kaladesh
- Spirebluff Canal - $8
- Blooming Marsh - $7
- Inspiring Vantage - $3.50
- Botanical Sanctum - $3.50
- Cathartic Reunion - $0.25
Let me repeat another point I spent a lot of time covering during my pre-rotation articles: the Kaladesh lands are super underrated (and underpriced) right now relative to how much Modern play they see. Spirebluff Canal will hit $20 at some point, and the others will easily hit $10. Buy these while they're still readily available.
August 2016: Conspiracy: Take The Crown
- Birds of Paradise - $10
Birds of Paradise is one of those cards that can handle a near-infinite number of reprints due to how much demand there is from all sides of the market, competitive and casual. The issue here is that Noble Hierarch is better most of the time in Modern, which keeps this as a high-floor, low-ceiling sort of card.
July 2016: Eldritch Moon
- Collective Brutality - $18
- Spell Queller - $8
- Bedlam Reveler - $6
- Selfless Spirit - $6
- Mausoleum Wanderer - $3
Now we're getting somewhere. These cards have been out of Standard for a while, are good in Modern, and have only been printed once. Once upon a time, before twice-yearly Masters sets, these were the sorts of cards I loved to speculate on because they usually enjoyed at least a couple years of steady gains before showing up on the reprint docket. If Masters sets really are gone, maybe it's time to start thinking that way again. At the very least, Collective Brutality seems like it could end up at $30+ for a while, like it did on MTGO. Heck, it was $25 in paper as recently as last April.
June 2016: Eternal Masters
- Relic of Progenitus - $4
Yeah, Eternal Masters really didn't have much for us Modern players. Relic of Progenitus seems like it could sneak up toward $7-$8 if it isn't reprinted, but those margins aren't good enough to interest me much as a spec target.
April 2016: Shadows Over Innistrad
If you're wondering why Thing in the Ice is so expensive right now, that's because it actually spiked earlier this week. I'll be discussing it in depth during This Week's Trends, but needless to say, cards from this era are starting to become ripe for future gains.
January 2016: Oath of the Gatewatch
Oath of the Gatewatch looked like it had way more juicy spec targets back when there were Eldrazi flying around all over Modern and Legacy. That's not so much the case these days. Thought-Knot Seer is still going to break $10 at some point, though.
2016 Commander and Supplemental Sets
- Tolaria West - $6
Tolaria West was in From the Vault: Lore. That reprinting, as narrow as it was, almost certainly kept this uncommon from being a $12-$15 card right now.
July 2015: Magic Origins
I'd like Hangarback Walker more if it hadn't been printed in a Standard Event Deck, and those additional copies have kept the price lagging behind its compatriots for years. Even still, it's a solid card that's always on the verge of seeing quite a bit more play.
May 2015: Modern Masters 2015
- Mox Opal - $120
- Dark Confidant - $65
- Surgical Extraction - $35
- Eldrazi Temple - $7
- Dismember - $3.50
- Expedition Map - $3.50
We're finally at the era of Masters sets where the fact that a card hasn't been reprinted again feels like an omission. Mox Opal was the most glaringly obvious card missing from Ultimate Masters, to the point where I kind of feel like WotC has another product ready to go.
Surgical Extraction was another major omission, and it jumped another $10 once people realized that it wouldn't be returning. The only reason why Dark Confidant didn't do the same is because there isn't quite as much demand for the card right now. The next time Jund wins a tournament, I expect it to hit $80.
March 2015: Dragons of Tarkir
For whatever reason, these two cards have had a really hard time breaking past the $20 barrier. Every time they've briefly jumped above it, they've settled back down to $20 again. It's possible that there are simply enough copies kicking around to satiate demand, but it's equally likely that there's just a strong price memory effect in play here: these cards are $20 because they're $20. At some point, that is going to change. You're going to want to have your playsets when it does.
2015 Commander and Supplemental Sets
- Ghost Quarter - $2
Ghost Quarter was in Commander 2015, and these products continue to not be amazing sources for Modern reprints.
October 2014: Khans of Tarkir
- Bloodstained Mire - $26
- Wooded Foothills - $25
- Flooded Strand - $20
- Polluted Delta - $18
- Windswept Heath - $15
- Mantis Rider - $1.25
We've finally reached the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands! Boy, it feels like these were just reprinted yesterday, doesn't it? It's actually been more than four years. At any rate, I don't think these things are ever going be printed in a Standard-legal set again, and I don't even think that a Masters set reprinting would cause the price to drop. With no more Masters sets on the horizon, these become even safer buys at current retail. I'm snapping these up whenever I can.
Also, how is Mantis Rider still under $2? It's a four-of in the most popular deck in Modern! It's gotta hit $5 at some point, especially without a reprint.
2014 Commander and Supplemental Sets
- Wurmcoil Engine - $20
I'm still shocked that Wurmcoil Engine never showed up once in a single Masters set. That's kind of wild, right? This one's been on the downswing for the past couple of months, but it'll end up back around $30 again at some point.
July 2013: Magic 2014
- Mutavault - $10
I'd like Mutavault a lot more if it saw play outside of a couple of fringe decks, like Merfolk and Azorius Spirits. It's certainly one of those cards that can hit $30 overnight if the metagame changes even a little, though, so I've got my eye on it for sure.
June 2013: Modern Masters 2013
These are the only two major Modern staples from the original Modern Masters set that haven't been reprinted yet. Manamorphose was one of the biggest early gainers after the end of Ultimate Masters preview season, jumping from $11 up to $25 in a matter of hours before settling back down a bit. It sees quite a bit of play in the Arclight Phoenix decks, though, so it should stay above $15 at least.
As for Arcbound Ravager…well, isn't it interesting that two of the biggest omissions from Ultimate Masters are Affinity staples? Maybe it's sheer coincidence, or maybe it's a hint as to WotC's next major supplemental product. We shall see.
February 2013: Gatecrash
These two shocklands will be reprinted next month in Ravnica Allegiance. Nothing to see here.
October 2012: Return to Ravnica
Ditto for these two shocklands. See you in a couple of days, old friends!
February 2012: Dark Ascension
- Drogskol Captain - $3
This uncommon jumped from $1 to $3 once the Bant Spirits deck took off, and it has been more or less stuck there ever since. It might make another small leap, but uncommons in a tier 2/3 decks don't interest me all that much as spec targets.
September 2011: Innistrad
This one's another shock to me. I guess Humans has so many expensive cards already? Even still, a four-of in Modern's most popular deck that hasn't been printed in seven years should be at least $5, right? The issue here is that this card only sees play in the one deck, so there's not a ton of market beyond Humans players.
July 2011: Magic 2012
- Grim Lavamancer - $12
Technically, Grim Lavamancer was reprinted in Archenemy: Nicol Bolas, but that was an expensive set that I don't think people are picking up just for this little guy. At any rate, Grim Lavamancer is in a surprising number of decks these days, and it spent a good portion of 2018 sneaking up from $5 to $15, though it has come back down a bit since then. It's on my list of cards that might break $20 in 2019 regardless.
February 2011: Mirrodin Besieged
- Inkmoth Nexus - $17
Oh, hey, another Affinity staple that hasn't been reprinted in a while! (I'm not counting the RPTQ promo, since that was so limited.) Inkmoth Nexus hit $50 for a hot minute back when Infect was at the top of the format, so there's certainly room for growth here.
October 2010: Scars of Mirrodin
With Kaladesh, WotC proved that they still feel like this cycle of lands has an appropriate power level for Standard play. I agree with them. These cards might surge in the short-term, but don't hold them for too long because they could show up in a Standard-legal set again as soon as we leave Ravnica.
July 2010: Magic 2011
Another Affinity staple! And also another piece of top-tier graveyard hate! Boy, WotC sure has a type of card that they aren't interested in reprinting, don't they? It's hard to see Leyline of the Void going too far past $50, but the card is great and stranger things have happened. Steel Overseer is a better bet to gain value, but that would require Hardened Scales to start capturing a larger share of the metagame.
October 2009: Zendikar
Valakut has been stable in the $20 range for a while now, and I don't expect that to change much without a reprint. I suppose it could shoot up again if TitanShift ends up taking down a major event, but there are ton of release promo copies of this card out there still, and TitanShift hasn't been tier one in Modern for a while now.
April 2009: Alara Reborn
- Meddling Mage - $26
Much like the other Humans cards we've talked about today, Meddling Mage still feels somewhat underpriced to me relative to its scarcity. After all, 2009 was almost a full decade ago now! All the cards in a given deck can't be expensive, though, and Humans is already the most expensive tier deck in Modern. So far, that has been keeping this card from going through the roof.
February 2009: Conflux
- Ancient Ziggurat - $12
Another Humans staple! Huh-is it odd to anyone else that a lot the cards that seem to have dodged a reprint in 2017 or 2018 are either from Humans or Affinity? Could we be setting up for a pretty serious set of Modern Challenger Decks, or is this just a coincidence?
July 2007: Tenth Edition
- Chromatic Star - $8
Now we're into the random stuff that really should have been reprinted before now. It would have been easy enough to stuff Chromatic Star into a Masters Set, but instead we've got an $8 uncommon. Humph.
October 2006: Time Spiral
- Gemstone Mine - $13
If Gemstone Mine were more than a one-of in Modern Dredge, we'd be looking at a $30+ card. Instead, it's still kicking around in a pretty similar range to where it's been for the past several years. There's some upside here, but it probably requires a metagame shift of some kind.
July 2005: Ninth Edition
How have they not reprinted the Urzatron lands yet? Thank goodness these were in Chronicles, which has kept the price nice and low. I don't see that changing anytime soon, either. There's still A LOT of Chronicles out there.
October 2003: Mirrodin
- Chromatic Sphere - $1
We've finally reached our oldest Modern staple that needs a reprint-the Mirrodin common Chromatic Sphere! It's hard to complain much about this one not being reprinted since it was just a common, but it sees enough play at this point that it should be worth more than a buck. I just don't think it'll end up more than $2-$3.
And that's it! While this list obviously isn't exhaustive-cards like Krark-Clan Ironworks and Goblin Lore didn't show up, for example-I think it's safe to say that we've covered at least 75-80% of the Modern metagame in today's article.
From a big picture perspective, you can make a pretty reasonable argument that the Masters series had one major goal that was more important than all the rest. See, all the sets that were released before Return to Ravnica seem to have had far smaller print runs than all of the sets from Return to Ravnica forward, and the pre- Zendikar sets had especially tiny print runs compared to current expansions like Ixalan and Guilds of Ravnica. That's how we ended up with sideboard cards like Gaddock Teeg and Runed Halo hitting $50.
If you look at the Masters sets as a five-year plan to reprint all of the relevant cards from before Return to Ravnica at least once, then WotC has more or less accomplished their mission. Even a year ago, this list would have been littered with random stuff from Lorwyn and Shadowmoor-cards that were expensive just because they hadn't been reprinted. Heck, I pretty much did write that article a year ago . Almost all of the cards that seemed like they sorely needed a reprint ended up in either Masters 25 or Ultimate Masters.
Regardless of what comes next, though, I can't imagine WotC reprints almost the entire Modern index AGAIN over the next 24 months. And that means that prices are about to go up. Take advantage of the Masters sets while you can, because it might not be long before you start looking back on this era with fondness.
This Week's Trends
The Standard market was fairly slow this week. Treasure Map was the only card to make significant gains, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the Standard market. The powerful Ixalan artifact has been showing up more and more in recent weeks, though it's the fact that Treasure Map is a four-of in most current builds of Jeskai Control that really put it over the top from a financial perspective. Unless the metagame speeds up again, this one's heading for $10.
A lot of the key Izzet and Jeskai cards had a solid week as well, including Niv-Mizzet, Parun, Arclight Phoenix, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and red/blue lands like Sulfur Falls and Steam Vents. While most of these gains were only in the $1-$2 range, it reflects the fact that Izzet Drakes and Jeskai Control are both ascendant strategies in the current metagame. At a time of year when Standard cards tend to start dropping in price, these decks are still doing well.
On the other side of the ledger, it wasn't a great week for cards in Golgari Midrange or Boros Angels. Both versions of Vraska lost a couple of bucks this week, which isn't all that surprising since the current iteration of Golgari Midrange doesn't run either planeswalker, even in their sideboard. But Jadelight Ranger and Doom Whisperer also ticked down a bit this week, and those cards do see play. Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice and Lyra Dawnbringer also dropped about a buck each this week as Boros Angels continues to fall into the lower half of Standard's second tier.
Overall, though, the Standard market still feels fairly robust for late November/early December. As I suspected, this format continues to draw interest in a way that most post-Pro Tour iterations of Standard rarely do, and that has kept prices from falling off a cliff. It'll be interesting to see if we'll get the same great buying window that we usually get during the holidays-after all, the year's major tournaments are almost all in the books-or if prices will remain steady into the New Year.
After our discussion today, none of the movements in the Modern market should come as much of a surprise. The cards that were reprinted in Ultimate Masters continue to fall, with Snapcaster Mage, Liliana of the Veil, Runed Halo, Goryo's Vengeance, Life From the Loam, and Engineered Explosives taking the biggest tumbles this week. Meanwhile, Surgical Extraction, Misty Rainforest, Verdant Catacombs, Amulet of Vigor, and Liliana, the Last Hope all ticked up a bit.
The most interesting Modern gainer of the week was Thing in the Ice. The card had been slowly gaining all year long, and it finally hit a breaking point where it jumped from $8 up to $13 in a matter of hours. It sees play in pretty much every Izzet-colored deck in the format, and the recent success of Izzet Phoenix finally caused demand for Thing in the Ice to outstrip demand. Since we're not getting a reprint anytime soon and I don't think any buyout shenanigans were afoot here, I don't think this one's dropping below $10 again for a while.
There was one buyout shenanigan last week, though: Tolarian Entrancer, a Reserved List card from Weatherlight, which jumped from $2 to $8. StarCityGames still has several copies in stock for $4, though, and I don't think I've ever actually seen this card played before. It doesn't seem completely unplayable, but not all Reserved List cards should be worth $10+. Don't expect this spike to stick, and I don't even think there's a way to sell this one into the hype.