Eternal Warrior #20: A Change of Seasons

It’s sneaking up on us. Less than two months from now, Vintage Masters will be released. Will it herald a rebirth of interest in Vintage? Maybe, maybe not. But at a minimum, it will result in nearly all of the current Classic community becoming the new Vintage community online. It should draw significant numbers from the Legacy player pool as well. MTGO Academy’s own enderfall has written about the cards to target for Legacy players looking to prepare for Vintage. Today, I want to take a look at the current prices for Vintage staples online, and speculate a bit about where they might go. Is buying in now a good idea, or a bad one?

We expect many reprints in Vintage Masters, but there’s a new wrinkle this time around: mythic rarity. Master’s Editions did not contain mythic rares. Vintage Masters, on the other hand, is modelled after last summer’s Modern Masters. With Modern Masters, the product team made an effort to protect card values by putting the most expensive reprints at mythic rare. Online card prices, even more so than paper card prices, saw the ordinary rares take serious price plunges. The mythics, however, retained much or all of their value, and have since rebounded.

It was also speculated that, to some extent, Modern Masters created increased interest in the Modern format, and that this may have helped some cards maintain or quickly rebound in price. Vintage Masters could be seen as doing the same thing, but even more so, as the set is actually creating a new format online.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the specific cards that will be essential for Vintage play, and whether you should jump in now or hold off a bit.

*Mana Drain. Current price: $26.90. This card was printed as a rare in Master’s Edition III. This set was released nearly five years ago, in the fall of 2009. Thanks in part to the inclusion of enemy-colored dual lands, the set generally exceeded the value of the first Master’s Edition, which was more or less a Force of Will lottery. The set was drafted in a number of configurations, from triple-ME3 drafts, to ME1/ME2/ME3 “block” drafts, and even 4-pack sealed events featuring all Master’s Editions from 1 through 4. Right now, most of the demand for this card comes from Commander players. It isn’t particularly popular in Classic, because blue control is more rare in Classic than in Vintage. The current Classic Quarter Qualifier (which is the subject of the latter half of this article) features some blue control decks, but the versions including Mana Drain are often aggro-oriented.

This card is almost certain to be reprinted in Vintage Masters, but I strongly suspect it would be placed at mythic rarity. In Vintage, the card appears in blue control decks with between 2 and 4 copies. This is an iconic card, and if the art or border is different in Vintage Masters, the original will easily retain value. That said, it is still far less common than Force of Will in Vintage decklists. People usually seem to want to play blue in Vintage, and they typically find a way, even when Shops are suffocating the format. I think you are probably safe buying in now, though I would guess the card is unlikely to ever go much above $35-40, assuming a reprint at mythic.

*Bazaar of Baghdad. Current price: $14.18. This card was also printed online at rare in ME3. So everything I said about the distribution of Mana Drain holds true for Bazaar as well. Bazaar is played as a 4-of in the cheapest Vintage deck. Magic Online players are notorious for locking onto the cheapest competitive option, and the rarest card in the cheapest deck always enjoys a significant price bump. If Bazaar is printed at rare, I would still expect it to maintain $10+ because of this effect. If it is printed at mythic rare, which seems more likely, this one could easily top $30 later this year, assuming competitive Vintage catches on. If you have any desire to play Dredge in Vintage, I think you should strongly consider buying your set of these now.

*Mishra’s Workshop. Current price: $31.22. The ship has already sailed on these. Given the popularity and dominance of Shops in Classic, and a history of periodic dominance in Vintage, players have already been buying this up in anticipation of Vintage’s arrival. The card was originally released in ME4, which fired reasonably often during it’s initial run in Spring of 2011. The set contained all ten dual lands, and featured desirable Commander staples such as Demonic Tutor and Sol Ring, cards that had very limited availability prior to ME4‘s release. The set has been revisited in flashback drafts on a couple occasions, but overall the set’s value has been trending upward over the past year. Assuming a reprint at mythic rare in Vintage Masters, I suspect that $30 is about where the card ought to be. If Shops proves to be the top deck, it could be slightly higher. Other cards, such as Wasteland, also exist as bottlenecks for the deck. If most or all of the Vintage player pool online is made up of current Legacy players, Workshop is one of the pricier cards a Legacy player would need to add to their collection. Still, I think the current price of this card already reflects future Vintage interest, and would be inclined to wait until the Vintage Masters setlist is announced.

Back to the present, the final Classic Quarter Qualifier league began play two weeks ago. For Classic’s swan song, I chose to revise and update my Noble Fish deck. The deck has previously earned me two top 8′s in qualifier leagues, including a win last summer. I also top 4′d last summer’s invitational with the deck. If you’ve been following my Legacy columns, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Bant aggro-control. The deck looks a bit different in Classic than it does in Legacy because of the overwhelming need to combat artifacts. One big question was whether or not I wanted to add True-Name Nemesis. I chose not to do so. I’m a big fan of the card in Legacy, but it’s not really a force in Classic. In Classic, there’s much less creature removal, and less creature combat in general, so protection from your opponent isn’t quite as big of a deal. It nicely blocks a Lodestone Golem, but it isn’t immune to Tangle Wire so it may never get the chance. I’m willing to play Tarmogoyfs, which many Classic players won’t do, but I have much higher expectations for 3-drops than 2-drops. Goyf does nothing but have a big body and present a fast clock, and at 2 mana I’m okay with that. At 3 mana, I want something that gives me more options, generates card advantage, or disrupts the opponent.

You can see the updated decklist here, and check out the deck tech video below. I finally caved and cut the Cold-Eyed Selkies, which just weren’t getting it done against the current Classic metagame. To keep the blue card count high enough for reliable Force of Wills, I went up to the full playset of Trygon Predator and added a couple copies of Meddling Mage.

Here is the list I played:

The first two rounds are complete, and I’m in pretty good shape. I had a great matchup in Round 1, and caught a huge break in Round 2. I’ll have the rest of the tournament for you in four weeks from now. Until then, I’d love to know what you think of the deck. I’m also curious what cards you folks are targeting in your preparation for Vintage’s arrival. So drop me a line in the comments section!

You can find RexDart on Twitter @cjwynes.

  1. I believe G1M2 out was to loop SDT until Key, then get a surplus card in hand by stacking draw triggers (untapping Top), then Vault.

  2. Enjoyed our match. Yes, it’s durdley, but it is fun, and can sometimes come out of nowhere (that said, were I not already qualified, I certainly would have brought something else). Never could find that second top or a tutor in game 1. Game 2 I would have needed 1 more mana for the storm kill or 1 more card in hand for infinite golems even if I found the second top that final turn. Oh, and I’m pretty sure packing 4 stony silence in your sideboard is illegal in several states…

  3. Thought about this some more, and for any folks who enjoy magic puzzles, there is still a theoretical way for me to win game 2 from that final board state before you ever get another turn…although it requires me getting ultra lucky. Let me know if anyone is Interested in hearing how.