Procrastination's picture
By: Procrastination, Christopher Giovannagelo
Jan 09 2014 1:00pm
Login to post comments

Welcome back to The Modern Perspective! As we embark on the journey that is 2014, the Modern format is poised to make some very exciting strides. In the last few months of 2013, many new and interesting brews started surfacing in the MTGO Daily Events. Cards that hadn't seen the light of day in years were suddenly gracing the results page. Cards that were known quantities in other formats finally found the magical build to make them dangerous in Modern too. The possibilities promised by the Modern card pool were finally hatching. With a Grand Prix just around the corner, the landscape of Modern has never seemed so promising!

Embracing the unknown, yet positive, future, I decided to make a few educated guesses at cards that have potential for long lasting success in the new year. Some of them are cards that have been around since the beginning while others are cards that are listed simply because we need to be wary of the changes they might cause.

I give to you, The 14 for 14!

Part I. The 14 for 14
Part II. The Modern Land Prices

Part I. The 14 for 14
The cards aren't listed in any particular order, so don't read into it. The numbers only mean "Hey, look, there are 14 of them!"

Delver of Secrets

#1. Delver of Secrets

While Delver of Secrets was a powerhouse terror in Standard, and even worse in Legacy, it hasn't made a lasting impact in Modern yet. In 2014, that may finally change. The printing of Young Pyromancer, combined with a renewed interest in making the Delver work has finally lead to results for the Flip-Common that could.

While the U/R Delver decks are accumulating more numerous wins, recent fan favorite deck Ninja Bear Delver has also proven that Tempo Decks can get wins in Modern. An early flipped Delver back up with Counters, Burn and Bounce is tough to stop, even in a format where Lightning Bolt is one of the most played cards.

As more players hop on the Delver Band-Wagon, it might finally be the year where Modern players start groaning about the "T2 Blind Flip" as well.

Here is a sample U/R Delver list that did well in a Modern Daily Event: 

The deck is around $100 online; not a bad budget option for those looking for a way to break into the format. Plus it looks like fun. 

#2. Goblin Charbelcher

With the work of a devoted player base, the Charbelcher deck has finally found a configuration that can blast game winning damage into an opponent as early as Turn 4. Built around as many cheap land searching cards as possible, the deck quickly rips all of the lands it can out of the library while digging like crazy for the namesake card.

How low is the land count for the deck?

Is 7 lands low enough for you?

Yes, the determined Belcher players have gotten the deck down to 7 lands. Not too shabby.

The second that another 1cc spell comes along that digs a land out of the deck, I'm sure they will get it lower.

While the deck is still fragile and a touch inconsistent, expect to see more players pick it up just because it's so unique to win with. If enough people can start winning week-in and week-out this way, Charbelcher could be the real deal.

If you'd like to read more about the deck, fellow PureMTGO writer Oliver Law wrote an article about it last week. You can check it out here: Becoming a Modern Man - Belcher


#3. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

A card that I personally can't get enough of, Nykthos has really started to make a believer of the Modern player base. One of the most powerful mana producers printed in years, Nykthos can lead to explosive plays as early as turn 2 with the right support.

Nykthos Green is still the deck bringing in the most wins for this Legendary Land in Modern due to the synergistic power of Garruk Wildspeaker. What's better than using Nykthos once a turn? Using it twice a turn. 

Mono-Black is the next best Shrine deck in Modern, but the other colors have potential if people are willing to put in the testing time. It's a powerful card and I'm actually hoping to see it do well at Grand Prix Prague this coming weekend.

I'll be talking a lot more about Nykthos in a few weeks when I write about my Nykthos Green list that contains a fun twist.


#4. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

Another card with a loyal fanbase, Tezzeret is just brimming with power. While both versions of Tezzeret have an artifact theme, AoB screams "Build around me!" much more than the Seeker version does.

We probably won't see an abundance of new artifacts printed between now and the end of 2014 (unless there is a return to Alara block lying in wait for the fall), but it wouldn't take more than 1 or 2 interesting new ones to give Tezz some new kick. That doesn't mean we should rule the Agent of Bolas out just yet.

There is a large variety of Artifacts legal in Modern. It could take several more months of testing before players find the correct combination of them that help make an optimal deck for Tezz, AoB. Could this be the non-Affinity deck to use Mox Opal? Is Ensnaring Bridge the tool needed to slow down other decks long enough for Tezz to blast them? How about Chalice of the Void? Or is a 5/5 Darksteel Citadel all that's really required?

Tezz is a strong Walker if players can just find the right combination. If the fans keep trying, I get the feeling they could find it.


#5. Aether Vial

The Vial is a card that is known to be powerful, but also wasn't making much of an impact in Modern. While it saw some use in specific builds of G/W Hatebears, all in all, it was under the radar.

Now that Merfolk decks are becoming a force in Modern, Vial is also on the rise. In addition to Blue's Aquatic Tribe, there has been an increase in Mono-White "Death and Taxes" builds putting up results as well.

The ability to put creatures into play "for free" can't be underestimated. The Vial throws off one of the fundamental rules of the games; you can only do as much as your mana allows you to. With a Vial on the table, a free creature here or there is easy to achieve. Plus, Counterspelling is starting to see an uptick in Modern and Vial lets you play around those as well.

Vial may only see use in 2-3 decks now, but it is open to any color or creature strategy to use. We may be seeing a lot more of Vial in 2014.


#6. Burning-Tree Emissary

It immediately made an impact in Standard and soon after the Emissary made its presence known in Modern Gruul decks.

Then it just vanished out of thin air as far as Modern was concerned. It appeared briefly in the "Creature Storm" deck a few months back, then was gone again.

Thanks to Nykthos, BTE is starting to make a comeback in Modern. It helps generate some of the most explosive early turns the decks can have (although some of the builds are starting to reduce their numbers).

For me, I think it's important to remember how it fits as a piece of the Gruul Aggro strategy. BTE lets the deck jump from 2 creatures on T2 to 3-5! That is a big difference, even if the BTE's themselves are only 2/2's. In combination with Experiment One and some select creatures, the BTE can help that lowly one drop swing like a 3/3 Nacatl.

If Wizards prints some other strong Green and/or Red creatures in the next few sets, we could see the Aggro deck that Modern deserves. It might depend heavily on early draws coming together with the synergy of a combo deck. If so, Emissary will be part of it.

#7. Suppression Field

The Field is one of those cards that offers so much useful hate but without a means of properly focusing it. It hoses Fetchlands, the Twin Combo, the Pod decks, Planeswalkers, Deathrite, Lavamancer, Aether Vial, plenty of cards in Tron and Affinity and more.

It is super hateful.

However, it doesn't always hit the targets you want, when you want, or how you want.

Still, if a proper home could be found, the card could help offset the power of many of the higher Tier decks. If we see some actual strong Enchantment support for White throughout the year, then the Field might fit into a new strategy.

Will 2014 finally be the Great Suppression? We will have to wait  and see.

#8. Zur the Enchanter

Another card that players attempted to succeed with since the Modern format was announced, recently Zur has seen a nice pile of victories.

There's a lot to like about Zur. He has 4 Toughness so he can live through 'Bolt, he flies to help get in damage and most importantly, he has the extremely potent ability to tutor a great many Enchantments from your library.

Every time Zur attacks, you could do anything from buff him with Steel of the Godhead, banish a permanent with Detention Sphere or even just, you know, summon a god named Thassa. More, if you do find an Aura, it doesn't even have to go on Zur; Geist of Saint Traft likes wielding Steel too.

In case you were wondering what a 4-0 Zur deck looks like, behold!:

This isn't the kind of deck that you can just pick up and win with. Well, I suppose if you cast Geist into Steel it plays pretty easily...


#9. Volcanic Fallout

A trend you may have noticed in some of the above decklists, or Modern in general, is that a lot of the creatures have something in common.

They have 2 Toughness.

For one extra Red mana over Pyroclasm, Volcanic Fallout can deal with all of these creatures at Instant speed. As an added bonus it can even hit Players/Planeswalkers.

What really makes Volcanic Fallout worthy of consideration is that it can't be countered. As more Blue decks start rising up against the field, VF may be the only card that stands in their insidious path!

It's a useful card that can clear the field in a hurry and there is almost nothing anybody is going to do to stop it.

That could come in handy.


#10. Deathrite Shaman

I know what you are thinking:

"Uhm, Gio, I hate to break this to you, but Deathrite Shaman has already left a huge footprint all over this format."

That's actually why we need to keep an eye on it.

I hate to say it, but Deathrite is probably the card that is most likely to be banned if it keeps doing so much to the format. It's a mana accelerator, a re-useable burn spell and a source of renewable life, while also being a 1/2 hybrid mana one drop.

Personally, I think it is fine. Don't get me wrong, it's insanely good. But, I've used it and played against it enough to know that it isn't unstoppable.

Just insanely good.

Still, I'm sure the folks at Wizards are keeping an eye on it; so should we.


#11. Cavern of Souls

Much like Volcanic Fallout, with the increased usage of counterspells, the abilities on Cavern of Souls merits a look.

The Cavern makes sure that the creature type of your choosing WILL be cast, regardless of how many Blue Sources your opponent has open. When you just need that creature to make it to the field, CoS delivers.

However, the uncounterability isn't the only good part of the Cavern. Producing any color of mana to cast the selected creature type is a really sweet perk as well. For tribes that are spread throughout the colors, such as Slivers or Allies, this card does a lot of work to smooth out your mana base. (Those aren't the strongest examples of Tribes in Modern, but they are the best examples to get the point across.)

Tribal strategies have room to develop in Modern. Further explorations will probably start to include the Cavern more often than not.


#12. Ad Nauseam

A card that has been helping end games in Legacy for years, Ad Nauseam is a more life threatening, and thrilling, card in Modern. Our format doesn't have as many 0 and 1cc cards that work so well in a combo frame the way that Legacy does.

What the means for Ad Nauseam players is that they may wind up dying from this card. If they don't outright die, they may lose more the life than comfortable. This lack of certainty has made folks shy away from AN.

In 2013, Ad Nauseam saw a resurgence in combo decks combined with Angel's Grace and Phyrexian Unlife. If you can't die, then why care how much life it drains from you? It takes a hefty chunk of mana to pull these turns off (6 mana for the AN/AG combo), but once you do, say hello to the rest of your deck.

Earlier these combination achieved victory by swinging with a very large Death's Shadow. (If you go into negative life, the Shadow can actually get larger than its starting size. Thanks, Math!)

Later on, players started using a lesser known card, Lightning Storm from Coldsnap, to throw a gigantic bolt of pain at the opponent.

These combos are just the tip of the iceberg; Ad Nauseam's vampiric embrace could unlock more trouble down the line. (Ok, Lightning Storm Combo may be at least 50% of the iceberg, but still!)


#13. Leyline of Sanctity

The Leyline is probably one of the best defensive cards ever printed since it can pop up to defend you before the game has even begun! Able to thwart everything from Burn to Discard, it is the champion of Sideboards everywhere.

Could 2014 be the year it finally sees Main Board use?

Defensive decks haven't had much success in Modern, but now that players have had time to see the format reach a state of semi-stability, this may be when a proper defensive plan can be formed. Leyline is rock solid against many aggressive targeted abilities and seems perfect for a new era of defensive decks.

It is a coincidence that both of the mono-white cards I chose were Enchantments, but there could be something there? We will have to wait and see.

Waste Not

#14. Waste Not

By virtue of having the new card frame, Waste Not will almost certainly make an impact on this format. It would like to accept the award on behalf of every card printed from M15 onward.

"Thank you for this award; it is a very glowy skull." - Rag Man on 'Waste Not'

Seriously though, Waste Not has potential and a built in fan base. There are a lot of players that are devoted to making 8-Rack decks in Modern. 8-Rack is overflowing with discard spells and then wins the game off the back of cards like The Rack or Liliana's Caress.

Waste Not might be exactly the card these decks needed to have enough solid, redundant 2 mana victory conditions.

Or it might be a hot mess.

Is 2 mana actually too slow for this effect? Is that possible?

Either way, I expect to run into Waste Not often on MTGO once it is released. The players that love 8-Rack will find out the old fashioned way if it is good enough.

Those are my 14 picks to watch over the coming year.

Agree? Disagree? Have some picks of your own?

Be sure to leave your thoughts in the Comments section!

Part II. The Modern Land Prices
All prices are from The version linked was the cheapest when the land was added, but be sure to check for the best available price!

The Zendikar Fetch Lands
The Fetch Lands are the lynchpin of most mana bases in Modern. Being able to fix your colors by finding a Ravnica Shock Land is critical to the various top tier multi-color decks. The Fetchlands also have great synergy with the best one drop creature in the format, Deathrite Shaman. The price of Fetchlands is often considered the defining cost barrier of Modern, however, on MTGO, they are usually cheaper than many high demand Mythics.

Fetch Lands SET 31DEC13 07JAN14 Change %
Arid Mesa ZEN 13.96 13.08 -0.88 -6%
Marsh Flats ZEN 13.49 13.50 0.01 0%
Misty Rainforest ZEN 22.28 23.89 1.61 7%
Scalding Tarn ZEN 23.63 23.74 0.11 0%
Verdant Catacombs ZEN 17.86 20.87 3.01 17%

Misty and Tarn are neck and neck in the price race. The results of this weekend's GP will probably help determine next week's winner. Over all the Fetches keep going up.

The Ravnica Shock Lands
The Shock Lands, with their dual basic land types, are very important pillars of the Modern format. The nickname is derived from the 2 life paid to put the land into play untapped compared to the 2 damage from the card Shock. After being reprinted in the Return to Ravnica block, the prices dropped dramatically and it is now much easier for players to acquire these lands with a modest budget.

Shock Lands SET 31DEC13 07JAN14 Change %
Blood Crypt RTR 3.39 3.27 -0.12 -4%
Hallowed Fountain RTR 4.26 3.52 -0.74 -17%
Overgrown Tomb RTR 3.35 3.09 -0.26 -8%
Steam Vents RTR 3.12 3.42 0.30 10%
Temple Garden RTR 3.50 3.48 -0.02 -1%
Breeding Pool GTC 4.12 4.30 0.18 4%
Godless Shrine GTC 5.51 5.11 -0.40 -7%
Sacred Foundry GTC 5.80 5.49 -0.31 -5%
Stomping Ground GTC 3.59 4.06 0.47 13%
Watery Grave GTC 3.78 3.80 0.02 1%

The Shocks continue to hover in the same price range. Born of the Gods can't get here soon enough to help shake up Standard.

The Scars of Mirrodin Fast Lands
The Fast Lands are a great way to ensure two colors of mana in the first few turns of the game. Only available in allied color pairings, they see the most use for colors that have strong aggressive themes that are not affected by the drawback. The Fast Lands have a relatively low price threshold and are an inexpensive way to add mana consistency to a deck.

Fast Lands SET 31DEC13 07JAN14 Change %
Blackcleave Cliffs SOM 2.39 2.68 0.29 12%
Copperline Gorge SOM 1.11 0.84 -0.27 -24%
Darkslick Shores SOM 1.20 1.21 0.01 1%
Razorverge Thicket SOM 1.30 1.30 0.00 0%
Seachrome Coast SOM 1.05 0.69 -0.36 -34%

Cliffs continues to rise while a few others lost their recent gains. It will take some consistent results for Coast and Gorge to hold value.

The Worldwake Man-Lands
The ability to produce two colors and provide a creature with an ability makes these lands rather attractive. More useful in mid-range and control oriented decks that don't mind the drawback as much. Currently only one of these lands appears as a '4-of' in a deck; so while they have a moderate price threshold, keep in mind that you usually only need about 1-2 copies of each per a deck.

Man Lands SET 31DEC13 07JAN14 Change %
Celestial Colonnade WWK 8.71 8.36 -0.35 -4%
Creeping Tar Pit WWK 4.38 5.30 0.92 21%
Lavaclaw Reaches WWK 0.43 0.43 0.00 0%
Raging Ravine WWK 3.40 3.73 0.33 10%
Stirring Wildwood WWK 0.89 0.89 0.00 0%

Thanks to the Zur Decklist above, I finally know what is actually using Creeping Tar Pit! Hooray. Still, is that one deck really causing the price increase? I've seen some mention of it in a Legacy deck, but I'm not sure if that is even true? Either way, Tar Pit continues to increase while most of the others stay the same.

The Core Set/Innistrad Check Lands
While they do not provide mana on the first turn of the game, the Check Lands still have enough potential to see use in Modern. When combined with the Ravnica Shock Lands, the Checks are an inexpensive way to create reliable 2 color mana bases. Now that the Check Lands have rotated out of Standard, their prices are extremely low. Newer players to Modern, as well as those with very tight budgets, may want to start with these extremely cheap lands.

Check Lands SET 31DEC13 07JAN14 Change %
Clifftop Retreat ISD 0.30 0.38 0.08 27%
Hinterland Harbor ISD 0.45 0.41 -0.04 -9%
Isolated Chapel ISD 0.30 0.40 0.10 33%
Sulfur Falls ISD 1.31 1.30 -0.01 -1%
Woodland Cemetery ISD 0.34 0.46 0.12 35%
Dragonskull Summit M12 0.13 0.13 0.00 0%
Drowned Catacomb M12 0.15 0.19 0.04 27%
Glacial Fortress M12 0.11 0.13 0.02 18%
Rootbound Crag M12 0.11 0.09 -0.02 -18%
Sunpetal Grove M12 0.12 0.11 -0.01 -8%

No surprises here. Sulfur Falls is still the priciest of the bunch thanks to decks like Splinter Twin, U/R Delver and U/R Storm.

The Utility and Deck Specific Lands
This section covers Utility Lands, off cycle mana fixers and Deck specific lands that you might need if you want to build a Modern deck. Whether it's the Urza Tron Cycle, Affinity or you just want to know how much the most used lands that blow up other lands cost, this should give you some idea of what you are working with.

Utility & Deck Specific SET 31DEC13 07JAN14 Change %
Grove of the Burnwillows FUT 24.10 27.76 3.66 15%
Horizon Canopy FUT 15.66 15.66 0.00 0%
Tectonic Edge WWK 1.24 1.08 -0.16 -13%
Ghost Quarter ISD 0.15 0.15 0.00 0%
Urza's Mine ME4 0.14 0.14 0.00 0%
Urza's Power Plant ME4 0.08 0.08 0.00 0%
Urza's Tower ME4 0.13 0.13 0.00 0%
Academy Ruins MMA 0.41 0.50 0.09 22%
Gavony Township ISD 0.10 0.12 0.02 20%
Treetop Village PRM 0.34 0.34 0.00 0%
Blinkmoth Nexus MMA 2.27 2.62 0.35 15%
Darksteel Citadel DKS 0.98 0.77 -0.21 -21%
Glimmervoid MMA 1.53 1.66 0.13 8%
Inkmoth Nexus MBS 4.46 3.25 -1.21 -27%
Mutavault M14 27.16 28.10 0.94 3%
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx THS 2.04 1.74 -0.30 -15%
Eye of Ugin WWK 4.63 4.91 0.28 6%

There goes Mutavault again! I remember $30 'Vault like it was yesterday, even though Lorwyn Block's time in Standard was many years ago now. Eye of Ugin has a slight bump up; Tron decks incoming!

Here we are at the end of the article! I hope you enjoyed this gaze into a crystal ball that promises no true answers. A little speculation is always fun, but I think the variety I pulled from shows that there is an increased trend in players attempting cards and decks outside the safety zone of "Tier 1" status. As more players innovate, the format will see surprising twists and turns.

This weekend is Grand Prix Prague and I can't wait! I'm hoping for some of these new decks that have popped up in the last few months to have break out performances. Excited chatter would be great for the format right now! As has become my tradition, next week I'll give my wrap up of the Grand Prix results. From Trial Winning decklists to the Top 16 Break down, be sure to come back for a look!

Battle of Wits

Until next time,

- Gio

The Modern Perspective Archive


Modern Times - Thursdays at 19:00 GMT

Overdrive! - Mondays at 22:30 Eastern Standard Time


I love Volcanic Fallout. The by BlippyTheSlug at Thu, 01/09/2014 - 13:24
BlippyTheSlug's picture

I love Volcanic Fallout. The "can't be countered" clause makes it an all-star in my book, and I always wonder why it doesn't see more play.

I think it was because Blue by Procrastination at Thu, 01/09/2014 - 22:03
Procrastination's picture

I think it was because Blue was so frowned upon in the format that the "can't be countered" clause didn't matter much. I always felt that the Instant speed should have been useful enough, but usage to this point disagreed.

Thanks for the reference to by olaw at Mon, 01/13/2014 - 16:51
olaw's picture

Thanks for the reference to my article.

An interesting list to be sure. I feel like Zur has a lot of room to grow with the potential for some very exciting Enchantments to come out of the subsequent Theros Block sets. Nykthos also has the potential to be a real game changer.

I'm not convinced that Waste Not even fits into the Rack decks that currently exist in Modern, which seems like a fairly damning indictment for it. I think two mana is just too slow but I'm sure people will try it.

Delver seems like it might be seeing a bit of a resurgence in popularity which is interesting.

You're welcome! The Belcher by Procrastination at Mon, 01/13/2014 - 21:19
Procrastination's picture

You're welcome! The Belcher deck was one of those ones I was thinking of getting around to someday, but since you had already done it, why not give the curious some immediate gratification?

I originally had The Rack or Shrieking Affliction as that slot in the article, then they showed Waste Not with the new frame and all, so I felt it was a neat way for me to show the new frame off in an article. Waste Not will be tested but probably not pan out. (I was going to go with Shrieking Affliction over The Rack since Enchantments are usually harder to remove).