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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Modern Tech from Pro Tour Philadelphia

The first official Modern tournament has come and gone, and already there's one HUGE obstacle to playing in the format.

You've gotta get around Combo decks in order to have a chance.

Yes, Pro Tour Philadelphia featured a metagame very short on Control, very high on Combo, and few aggressive decks to be seen.

That's not to say combo didn't attack. By all means, the combo decks I saw must attack to win the game. But that's usually for a one-hit kill. Opponents usually concede if they have no answers to the combo as it's being played.

That said, what may or may not reach the top of the value charts after Pro Tour - Philadelphia?

1) Shadowmoor/Eventide "Filter Lands"
These innocuous lands were seen in some of the big combo decks, including the one that ended up taking the Championship title for the Pro Tour. Splinter Twin seems to run not only the Ravnica shock land Steam Vents but also Cascade Bluffs, the U/R "Filter Land" that lets you turn a Blue or Red mana into 2 Reds, 2 Blues, or 1 of each.

However, some of the others have been going up too without notice. Sunken Ruins (U/B) is up to nearly $7. Cascade Bluffs (U/R) is at $9. Fetid Heath is at $7, while Flooded Grove is around $6. If you can find these kinds of lands cheap, I'd suggest you pick them up, because in place of actual Ravnica Shock Lands these are the next best thing.

Keep an eye on him and some of his friends. Ravnica shocklands aren't cheap anymore. ;)
2) Blazing Shoal and Disrupting Shoal
Anyone remember a cycle of Instants from Betrayers of Kamigawa that let you pay X plus 2 of a certain color or exile a card in your hand with converted mana cost X in order to get some potentially large benefit? Like Nourishing Shoal was either XGG or exile a green card from your hand with converted mana cost X in order to gain X life.

It seems the 2 big ones now thanks to Modern are Blazing Shoal and Disrupting Shoal, the Red and Blue Shoals.

Sensing a Theme Yet? Well, R U? ;)
So you're wondering "Okay, I can see the filter lands since they're an alternative to Ravnica lands and aren't as bad as the original Painlands. But how in the WORLD did these pop up!?"

Blazing Shoal is actually found in a U/R Infect deck, utilizing Blighted Agent as the Poison dealer of choice.

"Wait...I still don't get it. So you pitch, what, a Searing Wind? Seems a bit slow to me."

Well, first of all, remember you have 4x Ponders, 4x Preordains, and 4x Slight of Hands you could use for extremely cheap Sensei's Divining Top-type of effects.

But then you also have Summoner's Pact.

"Okay, I'm lost. Just spell it out."

Okay. Look at Reaper King and Progenitus. What do they both have in common? They're Green creatures and can be searched for by Summoner's Pact, and they're Red cards to be pitched with Blazing Shoal.

Get it now? :) :)

So anything that's associated with this form of the combo deck is probably on the rise. Right now Blazing Shoal can't be had at retailers for less than $13 before shipping while Disrupting Shoal and Summoner's Pact are around $8 each.

Will the bubble on them burst? We'll see...

3) Bridge From Below
Dredge may be dead due to some of the Modern bannings, but that's not stopping people from speculating on Bridge from Below.

Innistrad seems to be providing a viable self-Mill strategy. If that strategy works just as well as Dredging in Legacy, expect Bridge from Below to possibly maintain its currently $18+ value. However, this is purely speculative, in my humble opinion. There have been no tournament results I've seen suggesting that Bridge from Below got another lease on life thanks to Modern. Back on life support? Maybe. But as a competitive strategy? Only Innistrad will tell for the near future.

4) Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
By now you know about the Standard combo involving Splinter Twin and Deceiver Exarch. It was born out of the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Pestermite combo.

So what would be better than either combo?

Try BOTH in the same deck.

I don't know if anyone was expecting Splinter Twin's father to show up in Modern.

The deck that won Pro Tour Philadelphia featured 2 Kiki-Jikis along with 4 Splinter Twins to copy either infinite Pestermites or infinite Deceiver Exarchs. Kiki-Jiki wasn't the main plan, he was actually the backup and there for redundancy (what's better than 4 Splinter Twins? How about "6"?)

Kiki-Jiki is around $8 right now, but if Control doesn't come back after a ban list update I wouldn't be surprised to see him higher.

5) Storm and Through the Breach Combos
Remember the days of Dragonstorm? Of a player trying to use Ignite Memories, like, 7 times to kill their opponent off just to wind up just short of the goal?

Anyone remember an attempted Legacy deck that tried to use Through the Breach combined with Protean Hulk to pull out 3-4 Hedron Crabs, 1-2 Sakura Tribe-Elders, and a few Dryad Arbors to mill your opponent down to 0?

Both are back with a vengeance. :)

Have any Rite of Flame? You're looking at a $2.50 or so CommonSeething Song? Working on $1. Desperate Ritual? $.50, and I wouldn't be surprised to see $1 if either of these decks stays hot in Modern.

On the storm side, you're seeing a pairing up of Grapeshot and Pyromancer's Swath or Empty the Warrens with Pyromancer's Ascension. The Swath is running around $4 now, while Pyromancer's Ascension hasn't come much above its $2 Standard format price. Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens are so easy to get they're still just regular Commons.

The BIG winner on price gains, though, is Through the Breach.

WINNER: Sleeper Hit of Modern

Through the Breach has seen a radical price hike. Once a dollar bin Rare from Champions of Kamigawa, now it's a legitimate force in the Modern metagame.

Is it being used with Protean Hulk? Possibly. But that wasn't the focus.

How about getting some cheap Eldrazi Titans or 3 Beast Withins on a creature?

Of course, this deck is Blue/Red, so it gets some help from another friend in Champions of KamigawaPeer Through Depths, giving Through the Breach upwards of 16 spells to dig for the right combination of cards.

Other cards that could have been mentioned were left out because they'd already gained so much and will most likely hold where they are. Noble Hierarch, Vesuva, Ravnica block Shocklands, Vendillion Clique, etc. are some of the most obvious from the announcement, either leading up to it or pretty immediately after the fact.

What do you think? Are there any cards that are undervalued in your opinion? Overvalued? Will the ban list change on the first Banned/Restricted List announcement since Modern became legal? Leave your opinions below. I look forward to seeing them.

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