Modern Times - Former Wallet Sculptors

22 Mar
by Corey Williams

Hello everyone! Today we’re taking a look at three former Modern planeswalker staples that have slipped under the radar, and, in some cases, have bottomed out without a second glance.

 

Liliana of the Veil

Originally released in Innistrad back in 2007, Liliana of the Veil at one point was the single dominant planeswalker in the Modern meta. Today, her niche hasn’t gone away, per se, rather planeswalkers have altogether just grown much, much more powerful. In fact, it’s still common to see some antique Jund builds pop up in high profile events here and there sporting Liliana of the Veil alongside Tarmogoyf and other former format staples.

 

Liliana of the Veil

 

Power notwithstanding, the diversity of the Modern format today makes seemingly unplayable planeswalkers have a home that Liliana might otherwise fill. Take, for instance, Grist, the Hunger Tide, which is a staple in Golgari Yawgmoth builds. One could easily imagine Liliana functioning fairly well in that deck in the same manner that she would in Jund (boomer Jund, that is), however, Grist synergizes almost too well with Golgari Yawgmoth making it difficult to slot in Liliana despite being compatible with her. Furthermore, the power level of planeswalkers has crept up considerably over the past four years. Cards like Wrenn and Six and Teferi, Time Raveler both push other low mana planeswalkers to the margins of the format. Unfortunately, Liliana is one such planeswalker to find themselves in that limbo.

Looking through the time machine, the original Liliana, at one point, was demanding an asking price as high as $120. With her decline in the demand in the format coupled with a recent reprinting in Dominaria United, Liliana’s price has all but bottomed out, making the here and now an excellent prospect for speculation, and, at the very least, picking up a playset, should she service your needs in Modern or similar formats.

Liliana of the Veil (Borderless)
Dominaria United: Extras
Dominaria United
Innistrad

 

Karn Liberated

Karn. Good ol’ Karn. No, not that Karn. Yes, Karn Liberated. Originally printed in New Phyrexia, Karn was an easy four-of in any and all colorless decks in Modern, especially Tron. Unfortunately, Tron’s prevalence in the format has been outshined by other Urza's Saga-based builds and Hardened Scales Affinity.

 

Karn Liberated

 

There are some Tron builds seeing occasional Modern play, however. In fact, when Tron does see play, Karn Liberated is almost always played at four along with .

Many (Eldritch) moons ago, the New Phyrexia copy of Karn fetched as much as $80. Today, thanks to the decline of Tron in Modern alongside plentiful reprintings, including as recent as Jumpstart 2022, one can pick up a Karn at a nice unit price of $20, making a playset of Karns less than $100. Looking at price trends in both the copy of Karn from New Phyrexia and Jumpstart 2022, it would seem that it is bottoming out. Once more, this makes now an excellent time to pick up a playset for all your MTG needs.

Karn Liberated (Showcase)
Double Masters: Extras
Jumpstart 2022
New Phyrexia

 

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Jace, the Mind Sculptor, in some circles, was referred to as "Jace, the Wallet Sculptor" due its hefty price tag of $150 back in 2013 and again in 2018 after it was unbanned in the format.

Back in its prime, Jace was a centerpiece in Caw-Blade decks, which were so dominant that both Jace and were placed on the banned list. However, as the format matured, the once oppressive presence of both Jace and Stoneforge became inferior to its meta counterparts. The ever-increasing power level and pace of Modern at the time brought Jace back off the banned list in 2018.

 

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

 

For the current meta, Jace does not reign superior like it did in its prime, being overshadowed by Wrenn and Six, and Teferi, Time Raveler. However, the attractiveness of all of Jace’s abilities coupled with a competitive mana cost makes splashing it in midrange or control builds that leverage blue fairly easy. Variations of decks like Indomitable Creativity, Four-Color Jund, and Tribal Elementals can all capitalize on Jace. Furthermore, it seems like Hammer Time decks are today’s Caw-Blade, thus it’s not impossible to imagine variations on Hammer Time that lean more midrange than aggro and start to assimilate Jace into their builds to emulate older Caw-Blade decks, but only time will tell if such if such a speculation will become true.

Today, Jace from its original set, Worldwake, sits at about $50 while reprints from Double Masters and Masters 25 sit slightly below $40. In all cases, Jace’s price seems to have mostly bottomed out. Would I pick up a full playset at $40 each? Personally, no, but that’s just me. A good strategy for planeswalkers like Jace that are played sometimes at four, but not always, would be to pick up two, toy around with it for your brews, and if you like what you see, pick up two more. Either way, it seems like the current low for Jace is here to stay a while, so there’s no urgency in picking up 2-4 copies in one sitting.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
War of the Spark: Mythic Edition
Worldwake
Double Masters

Wrapping it All Up

Lorwyn was the first set to introduce planeswalkers into Magic: the Gathering. Since then they have become a mainstay presence across all formats in the game, and have, in many ways, become the brand image associated with the game. Jace was the poster child for MTG for well over a decade, but today shares that image with Teferi, Liliana, Ajani, Elspeth, and so on. Modern, in particular, tends to rely on planeswalkers in its meta more so than even Legacy, making them incredibly ripe for speculation and brewing.

Given how specific planeswalker abilities have become, with cards like Jace, the Perfected Mind slotting mostly into Mill decks alone (but doing so spectacularly), there is a lot of value to broader-stroke planeswalkers that can slot into many decks without issue. The planeswalkers discussed today, while antiquated in some ways, can still conceivably assimilate into most meta Modern builds. Given that all planeswalkers discussed today have largely bottomed out, now is the best time to pick up your copies and service all your deck building needs!

If you like what you read here, go check out my last article which looked at some legendary lands from the original Kamigawa block. We'll see you again in two weeks for more Modern Times!

Corey Williams
Corey Williams

Corey Williams is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. He considers himself a macroeconometrician with his research body reflecting work in applied macroeconomics and econometrics. Corey is an L1 Judge who started playing Magic around Eighth Edition. He enjoys Modern, Commander, cEDH, and cube drafting. Outside of Magic, he loves running, teaching, and the occasional cult movie.


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