Standard Rotation can be pretty daunting if you are unsure what to keep, what to buy, or what to ignore. Since the release of Zendikar Rising, Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, Core Set 2020, and War of the Spark have left Standard, which grants the opportunity to pick up Modern staples on the cheap. Usually, when rotation occurs, cards fall in price before rising again due to their application in Eternal formats, in this case, Modern and Pioneer
This article is for players who are looking to pick up freshly rotated Modern staples or don't know what to keep post-rotation. This is not an attempt to encourage buyouts or manipulate the market in any way, but more guidance to bolster your Modern collection.
Reprinted in Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance, the shock lands are always an excellent pickup. Naturally, there will be a dip in price before they creep back up again as these are staples in both Pioneer and Modern.
If you are looking to pick these up for your collection, I suggest starting with the white-based shocks (Hallowed Fountain, Sacred Foundry, Temple Garden, and Godless Shrine) as these are often cheaper. Otherwise, focus on the ones you need for your deck, then fill the gaps if you wish. These will always see play, and are the safest investment you can make.
Let's begin with Guilds of Ravnica, which had a few Modern-defining cards.
Arclight Phoenix has fallen from grace in recent times since the banning of Faithless Looting. However, it has the potential to see relevance in Modern once again. Like Vengevine, all it takes is one powerful spell to reinvigorate the strategy. Copies of Arclight Phoenix are cheap at present, and I'd be willing to be that these will be harder to come by in the future.
One of the most significant cards to come from the set is Assassin's Trophy, giving Golgari Rock and Jund players headaches on what to trim from their builds. Even Dredge uses the spell to deal with Leyline of the Void. It's a versatile answer to the various threats in Modern that will remain a staple years from now.
Other Notable Pickups
Ravnica Allegiance was less exciting compared to Guilds of Ravnica, but there are some reliable options.
Despite being a Vedelkan, Deputy of Detention sees frequent play in tribal strategies such as Bant Spirits and Five-Color Humans. Extending this, it can see play in Azorius Death and Taxes or even Azorius Control builds using Restoration Angel to leverage its enters-the-battlefield ability. As long as tribal strategies remain a feature of Modern, Deputy of Detention will be a valuable addition to these strategies and your collection.
A nuisance in Standard from the day it was legal, Wilderness Reclamation is a powerful card that spawned its own archetype in both Modern and Pioneer. It saw a reprint in the Ikoria Commander decks, but its price continues to rise as it offers a unique effect at an affordable price point.
Cards like Wilderness Reclamation will only improve the more cards are printed, so it's a good idea to acquire a set if you are looking to play green-based control archetypes. Plus, Wilderness Reclamationwill see play in Commander, which can also influence its price in the future.
Other Notable Pickups
Probably the best Core set we have seen in some time, there is a swath of reprints which are worth picking up for Modern.
One of the biggest positives to come from Core Set 2020 was the highly desired reprint of the Leyline cycle, in particular, Leyline of the Void and Leyline of Sanctity.
During the height of Hogaak Summer, Leyline of the Void was a key tool in disrupting the dominant strategy. Despite Modern falling into a board-state-matters metagame, Leyline of the Void remains an excellent and potentially cheap answer to the graveyard.
Leyline of Sanctity sees infrequent play but plays a crucial role in Bogles, Ad Nauseam, and any other combo-orientated archetype. Similar to the shock lands, these are safe pickups for Modern.
Casting a Cryptic Command always feels good, but what if it was one mana instead?
Veil of Summer is interesting as it saw a Standard and Pioneer ban last year, yet the card continues to increase in value. It sees lots of play in Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage, as it does so much for one mana. Veil of Summer is the second most played spell in Modern behind Lightning Bolt, which should give you an indication of how it has warped the format as a whole.
The price of Veil of Summer will continue to rise due to its inherent power, and picking up a couple now will save you money long-term. Admittedly it's not a budget option, but it will be a desirable card, as an effect this good won't see print for some time. And no, Veil of Summer doesn't only hose black or blue countermagic, but any countermaagic. Pretty good, right?
It's not quite the same power level, but it follows Veil of Summer as one of the best color hoses we've ever seen. Aether Gust can dance around uncounterable clauses such as Veil of Summer, or bounce a green or red threat cast off a Cavern of Souls. It's a versatile card that can be back-breaking in the right metagame, and grabbing a couple of copies for your collection is a reliable investment.
One neat play is to cast Aether Gust targeting a red or green permanent in response to a fetch land activation, tucking the card away for good. There are plenty of other lines with Aether Gust, and I suspect the instant will see more play with the rise of Gruul Midrange and Mono-Red Prowess in Modern.
Other Notable Pickups
War of the Spark is an unusual set for various reasons. From a design perspective, it was a nightmare with the number of planeswalkers with powerful passive abilities. On the other hand, the set proved to be popular as the typing is a casual favorite amongst players. As a result, I expect a handful of these planeswalkers to creep up in value, given their usage in Modern.
Karn, the Great Creator is a fantastic card that will see continued use in Modern. Not only does Karn, the Great Creator offer a one-sided Stony Silence effect, but it also extends your sideboard for game one. It's a solid answer that appears in Tron, Prison, and Amulet Titan archetypes, and other strategies can include the card given the flexible casting cost. Lastly, new artifacts will only bolster Karn, which will increase its value later on.
Perhaps the most disliked card to come from War of the Spark, Teferi, Time Raveler is a potent threat that sees frequent play in Pioneer, Modern, and Standard until its banning back in August. As a result of that Standard banning, the price of Teferi has fallen to an affordable rate. But I expect its value to creep up given its effect. Teferi's passive ability is incredibly unique and ideal for hosing control archetypes. If you are looking to pick up Azorius Control or any other strategy within those two colors, I highly recommend picking up Teferi before the price creeps up again.
Lastly, Ashiok, Dream Render and Narset, Parter of Veils are excellent pickups for your collection. I would prioritize Ashiok, Dream Render first as they slot into so many existing strategies, whereas Narset, Parter of Veils is best in blue-based control archetypes. Ashiok is one of the better graveyard hosers around with additional utility that will see continued play for a long time. Planeswalkers tend to hold their value as they are challenging to reprint in other sets, making these desirable for casual players.
Other Notable Pickups
One of the biggest pulls to playing Modern is that there isn't a rotation cycle so you get the most mileage out of your cards and purchases. Even if you're coming from Standard, this is a great opportunity to jump into one of Magic's most-loved formats by using your existing cards. When powerful cards make an impact in Standard, they usually translate well into Modern also.
Next week, I'll be crafting budget Modern decks using freshly rotated Standard cards to give you a foot into Modern.