Sphere of Influence: July 5, 2024

Steve Heisler • July 5, 2024

Welcome to Sphere of Influence, a pre-FNM look at some potential movers and shakers that are worth picking up before their prices increase.

The Pro Tour for Modern Horizons 3 is complete, with Simon Nielsen piloting his Bant Nadu build nearly perfectly to triumph over Sam Pardee’s Bant Nadu build—each of them having beaten a Nadu deck or two along the way to reach the finals. Yes, there was little variety in the higher echelons of the tournament; it seems even at the professional level, Magic players love drawing cards.

If the deck continues to put up results, it’s likely Wizards of the Coast will have to lay down the ban hammer and guide the meta towards the healthier direction of degenerate Eldrazi decks, at which point other Modern archetypes will see a resurgence. Here are a few key cards from those decks to pick up now in preparation for incoming winds of change.

Primeval Titan

It’s never a bad time for Prime Time, and the key piece of that deck has literally never been cheaper. Primeval Titan has seen a bit of ebb and flow in its lifetime, but spent most of its existence at the $5 range or above. For $4 each, you too can get in on the ground floor of this resilient ramp deck and its bounce land shenanigans.

Leave aside, for a moment, that Amulet of Vigor has never been more expensive, clocking in at $35 each. Or that Primeval Titan is banned in Commander and, therefore, unusable outside of Modern and Legacy. No matter. Facing off against an Amulet of Vigor deck can be a more harrowing and intimidating experience than seeing your opponent shuffle up their Tron lists. And with your new playset of Primeval Titans and an inevitable neutering of Nadu, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the player the local game store patrons fear.

Geralf’s Messenger

Undying, like persist, is an ability we’re not likely to see outside of Masters and Horizons sets. It’s simply too powerful and abusable, and it’s far easier for Wizards to print enablers without the payoff than it is to keep minting new payoffs that enhance the number and strength of enablers we already have.

Geralf’s Messenger is already one of the go-to undying abuse cards because it doesn’t require an accompanying Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat to start draining opponents directly. Outside of dedicated Nadu decks, the Messenger has become a necessary part of any Modern toolbox package. It's also only seen one meaningful printing outside of a Secret Lair an an inclusion on The List, and is beginning a price climb from its $3 spot. Decks only need one or two, making Geralf’s Messenger a worthy and easy pick-up.

Aether Vial

It’s been awhile since Aether Vial ran rampant through Modern and Legacy, as it usually supported Merfolk or Death and Taxes decks that have been taking a knee for the last few years. Still, of those strategies, and possibly others to be discovered, Aether Vial is of paramount importance in unlocking those decks’ abilities to keep pace with the rest of the metagame. There is truly no better feeling than Vial-ing in a Flickerwisp during your opponent’s end step to remove something important, even a land, from contention for your entire turn.

Aether Vial’s price has seen plenty of fluctuation in its time. At one point a few years ago, the card was up to $60 but sits now at a cool $6—its all-time low. There hasn’t been a better time to pick up a playset, especially since the price will likely start to climb if the out-of-control Modern meta requires a bit more White Orchid Phantom or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben love.

Nadu Not Do?

What do y’all think is the future of Nadu? Will Wizards ban the Bird Wizard itself, or Shuko, or nothing? If so, any decks you’ve got your eye on to build post-ban? Let us know!