Breaking Into Modern

We’ve established that modern is an awesome format. This doesn’t help solve the problem of what the best way to get into the format is, especially with any sort of budget. The sheer variety of decks and number of powerful cards that are possible to play can make for what seems like an insurmountable amount of research before you can even begin playing. Here’s my advice as to how to get into the format, and going forward you can expect to see a new modern deck featured each Monday. While not every deck will be super budget friendly, I also will not be looking to jam Tarmogoyf into each and every one.

Setting Expectations

The first thing you need to know is figure out just how deep into modern you want to go. Do you plan to build a single deck and keep with it? Are you fine with picking up expensive cards that will retain value? What kind of budget are you looking at? If you decide that the sweet Tron deck you saw last weekend is the deck for you, will you be able to afford the $650 price tag for the deck?

Making the Jump

One of the nice things about making the jump to modern from standard is that you likely have cards already for both formats. When new sets come out I always evaluate based on what cards I can pick up for standard that will also be playable in modern. Here’s a breakdown in regards to what’s out right now:

  • Fetchlands (Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Bloodstained Mire, Wooded Foothills, Windswept Heath): The foundation of mana bases in modern. Picking up just these 5, plus the shocklands from Return to Ravnica, will enable you to build a mana base for almost any deck you may want.
  • Thoughtseize: If you are playing you will want this card somewhere in your 75.
  • Tasigur, the Golden Fang: Tasigur is the Tarmogoyf. Hands down the most powerful card to be printed in the past year as far as non-rotating formats are concerned.
  • Brimaz, King of Oreskos: The king of the felines is a super powerful card that is seeing limited amounts of modern/legacy play. Demand is not really being driven by standard, and he’s likely a safe investment if you plan to use him.
  • Eidolon of the Great Revel: One of the reasons burn has exploded to becoming a tier one deck.
  • Siege Rhino: If you plan to play this guy is amazing. 4 drops in modern generally come with value attached, and this guy certainly does. Trample is much more relevant in modern as well. While spirits from Lingering Souls can jam up the board against Tarmogoyf, this guy just stampedes right over them.

Of course there are other cards that will see play in modern, it’s impractical to try to make an exhaustive list. There have been a ton of commons and uncommons printed in the last few sets that are very good even in the older formats (Become Immense for example), plus some cards with great sideboard potential (Anger of the Gods) that are pretty cheap.


Right now is a slightly awkward time to be looking to get into modern. The big reason for this is Modern Masters 2015. At this point we have no idea what will end up being in the set, though a lot of people have already started to speculate. If a card sees a reprint in the set it will drop in price at least in the short term. This means if you think the cards you are after may be reprinted in the near future you should certainly hold off unless you need them for an upcoming event. We already know that anything newer than Scars of Mirrodin block is safe from being reprinted right now, and my gut says that most of the cards printed in the original Modern Masters will not show up again soon. I do not think (m)any of the rare or mythic rare cards from Modern Masters will show up in 2015, I would not be surprised to see see some of the commons and uncommons show up. I am, however, speculating that Tarmogoyf will show up in a standard legal set in the relatively near future (namely Magic Origins/M16, we will see if I am correct). As far as cards that I am fairly confident will show up in Modern Masters 2015….

  • Serum Visions: Honestly $8 for this….
  • Noble Hierarch: Makes sense as the chase rare of the set.
  • Karn Liberated: We will likely see one planeswalker in the set. With Liliana of the Veil not being on the table, Karn makes the most sense. Honorable mention goes to Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.
  • Damnation: Reinforced by this card not being in From the Vault: Annihilation.
  • Mox Opal: We already know metalcraft will show up in MM2015, this just makes sense.
  • The Titans (Sun Titan, Frost Titan, Grave Titan, Inferno Titan, Primeval Titan): Makes sense as the mythic cycle of the set, much like we had the Champions of Kamigawa dragons in Modern Masters. Alternative would be the Praetors from Scars of Mirrodin (such as Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite).
  • Fulminator Mage: The price on this guy is so high because he’s such a great sideboard card against certain decks.
  • The Liege Cycle (Wilt-Leaf Liege, plus the rest being less relevant): Great commander appeal from this rare cycle, while also helping bump up the value of the rare slot as half of them carry respectable price tags.
  • Linvala, Keeper of Silence OR Iona, Shield of Emeria: There will only be 2 white mythics in the set. I imagine one will be part of a cycle. I would be shocked if one of these was not the other one.
  • Griselbrand: Second black mythic of the set.

Once we start getting previews for the set it will be a bit easier to decide what to buy now and what to hold out on for the release of Modern Masters 2015. May really can’t come soon enough….

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.