17, Aug, 21

MTG's Modern Format is the Most Expensive It's Ever Been, and it's Our Fault

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Article at a Glance

Modern has been one of Magic: the Gathering‘s most beloved formats for a long time. It was a format of incredible depth and power. The format was responsible for record attendance Grand Prix events, and Wizards of the Coast even created sets designed to get reprints of popular cards into players hands with the Modern Masters series of products. The downside to the format is the cost. Right now, Modern is the Most expensive it’s ever been, and it’s our fault.

Modern’s History

Five Zendikar Enemy Fetch Lands
Wizards of the Coast

It’s no secret that Modern prices have been on the rise in the past 5 years. Back in 2017 and 2018, the price of most top tier modern decks were under $1,000, with a few outliers being above that. While a $1,000 is still a lot of money, many top decks could even be had for half that price with no compromises. Despite the printing of Modern Masters sets, the prices still stayed relatively high. Fetch lands Thankfully with additional printings and metagame shifts, many of these staples have come down in price. But one overwhelming sentiment that echoed across the community, a calling to Wizards to print a set that would inject new cards directly into the Modern format, would be the harbinger of our time today.

Enter Modern Horizons

Modern Horizons Banner with Serra
Wizards of the Coast

Modern Horizons, a brand new product unlike any before, is a set that was comprised of brand new cards, and previously non-modern legal cards, to be injected directly into the Modern format. This would bypass Standard all together, and usher in a new era to the metagame. Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a steady increase in price of Modern over time.

Yes, Modern Horizons accomplished the goal set out by Wizards of the Coast, and was a very well received product. It printed new, powerful cards to the Modern format, and shook up the metagame, but at a steep cost. The 3 cards listed here, Force of Negation, Wrenn and Six and Urza, Lord High Artificer are the 3 most expensive cards in the set. Upon release, Force of Negation and Urza saw reasonable prices, but have steadily rose to rather high numbers today, with Force of Negation being almost $90 a copy, and Urza around $60. Wrenn and Six saw an immediate spike in price and for the past year has been hovering between the $75 – $100 range per card.

Modern Horizons 2

Ten Most Expensive MTG Cards From Modern Horizons 2
Wizards of the Coast

Off the Success of Modern Horizons comes Modern Horizons 2. The sequel set released a couple months ago, and once again, accomplished a similar goal to it’s predecessor. It brought new, awesome cards to the format and is definitely dominating the meta right now. But one thing that it did I think even more so than MH1 was drive the overall price of Modern up.

MTGGoldfish Modern Meta game

Here’s a breakdown of the Modern Metagame at the time of writing. As we can see, there’s more decks that are around $1000+ than decks that are below $1000. What cards from MH2 are contributing to this?

The 6 that we have listed here are the most expensive cards in the set at the moment. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is already $80 a card and is seen in many decks across the format, especially the more expensive ones. The fetch lands being reprinted is great and while Scalding Tarn is the lowest that it’s been in a while at ~$40, unless Wizards keeps reprinting these fetch lands, it will creep its way back up again as it has done in the past. Endurance and [/tooltips]Urza’s Saga[/tooltips] are most likely meta dependent pricing so those may fluctuate a bit more than others. This set is only a couple months old, and it’s very likely that many of these powerful new staple cards will only go up in price as time goes on.

RELATED: Ten Most Expensive MTG Cards From Modern Horizons 2

We Got Our Cake, and Now We Have to Eat It

It’s not surprising that the state of Modern’s cost is in a bad place. We asked for this as a community back in the day, and we got what we asked for. The quality of these sets is unmatched to be sure. We aren’t really complaining about that, but it only makes sense that Wizards would print cards like Ragavan, and Force of Negation, because these cards help drive sealed product sales. Modern Horizons 2 was far and away the most successful selling set printed ever. Sadly, even the price of some of these cards on Magic Online is astronomical too, so trying to play Modern online isn’t as big of draw. Ragavan is over 100 tix, and Force of Negation and Wrenn and Six are at least 60 a piece.

READ MORE: MTG Lead Designer Reveals Biggest Failures in 2021

What’s the Solution?

Wild cards
Wizards of the Coast

So what is the solution to the price problem? First off, I think that Wizards needs to bring back Modern Masters sets each year. This would help give an avenue to reprint some of these highly sought after, expensive cards while still keeping Modern Horizons line of products for new printings and non-modern legal reprints. This could also translate over to the Online environment and help bring those prices down. For Online specifically, the Modern Horizons chase cards need to appear more in Treasure Chests, which ultimately can will bring those prices down a bit more and make Treasure Chests more worth opening.

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Lastly, I think that if Wizards wants to grown Modern, adding it to Magic Arena would go a long way. While the economy of Arena is far from good, many of the cards in the Modern meta are on Arena already. Also, many of the top decks don’t require any more wild cards to craft than current Standard decks.

What are your thoughts on the state of Modern? Is Modern too far gone to where it’s going to become the new Legacy, or is there a chance of the format becoming accessible again? Let us know in the comments.

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