Modern Times - Tales of Middle-earth
Hello everyone! Today on Modern Times we’re taking a deep dive into
This direct-to-Modern set is turning the MTG finance community on its head with the infamous 1-of-1 serialized
Stern Scolding is the one-mana blue counterspell tailor-made for Modern that counters any creature spell that has a power or toughness of two or less. Given how creature-centric the format is, a counterspell such as this serves to neutralize the vast majority of threats in the meta for a single blue mana.
What cards can Stern Scolding hit, you might ask? Oh, where to start…
A better question is what doesn’t this counter? In terms of the big name main-decked creatures in the meta:
Izzet Murktide decks usually play a full set of
Pricewise, this card is pre-ordering around $3, with foils around $5. Ordinarily I would never mention foil prices in my articles. However, given that the demand for the serialized The One Ring along with the demand for the set in general is pushing Collector Booster boxes well above $350 (and climbing), as more Collector Boosters are opened to reveal empty promises of serialized Rings, so too will foils of almost every card in the set. I wouldn’t be surprised to see foil prices from this set, particularly for the commons and uncommons, be worth as much (if not slightly less) than the non-foil versions in the long run.
Abstracting from this, so much product is going to be opened for this set that this card will probably fall to $1.50 if I had to guess today. This could of course change, but it’s tough to imagine this card staying at its current price point. At the same time, it’s also tough to imagine it falling below $1.
So what does this mean in terms of playability? Sadly, probably not as much as one would hope. Reprieve is simply too slow at times in Modern, particularly in white decks that want to build up steam quickly. Leaving mana open usually means slowing your roll, which can be the difference between winning and losing in the current meta. Having said that, decks like Hammer Time and Azorius Control, which have been popping up in top finishes at SCG CONs and other high-profile events, do run
There’s not much else to say. Reprieve is just a white version of Remand with a small upside. As such, its adoption in the format will depend on how well it slots into Hammer Time, and Azorius Control (which can already play Remand but usually doesn’t). The market price is around $2.50 and looks to be falling further. This card will likely be less than a dollar a week or so after release. Easy and cheap playset to pick up for a unique counter that could see play now and in the future, depending on other white decks on the margins of the format.
This card has received the largest amount of discussion in the Modern community. It’s incredibly powerful, and well-crafted specifically for the existing Modern meta. Its color choice makes it unplayable in top meta decks like Izzet Murktide, but works perfectly to counter their gameplans. A black card with flash is also an oddity in-and-of itself, giving much needed versatility to decks like Golgari Yawgmoth, Rakdos Scam, and Grixis Death’s Shadow. At instant-speed, for two mana, Orcish Bowmasters comes in, Amasses you a creature, and deals one damage to any target. You can block with the 1/1 Orc, sac it, or attack with it on the back swing the next turn. What's more? Its ETB effect, which is already solid, is also a triggered ability that activates each time your opponent draws an extra card outside of their draw step and for every additional card, dealing more damage, and amassing a larger Orc Army.
Orcish Bowmaster is Ragavan’s worst nightmare, and stands toe-to-toe with some of the best low-cost creatures in the format. Furthermore, dealing the one damage it does when it enters and upon extra draws is incredibly relevant for taking out cheap planeswalkers in the format. Your opponent plays a turn two
This is just one of many scenarios where Bowmaster creates some complex decision trees for your opponent to consider and play around. That’s the real value of Bowmaster. It won’t win you games per se, and on its own won’t put immense pressure on your opponent like some of the heaviest hitters in the format, but it complicates gameplans considerably and is the single most disruptive black creature card to be seen in Modern in years - or at least since
Overall, Bowmasters is a punishing and pushed card. The preorder price reflects the expectations the market has for it - both in Modern as well as cEDH (
A good starting point for speculating on this card is to consider its potential upper-and-lower bounds. Ragavan serves as the top-end for Modern creatures, so naturally we must ask if this card will exceed Ragavan in price ($50). The answer is no. I don’t see Bowmasters exceeding Ragavan, despite being the most pushed Modern-legal card since Ragavan. So how low can it go? Well, the only other comparable card in the meta now is Ledger Shredder, which is around $16 (peaked at $26). Is Bowmasters worth more than Ledger Shredder from a gameplay standpoint? Probably (ironically, Bowmasters is also the perfect counter to Ledger Shredder and can be flashed in as a response to its Connive ability).
The big problem with Bowmasters and its long-run potential is the fact that it doesn’t slot into Temur Rhinos, Izzet Murktide, or
|Orcish Bowmasters (Borderless)|
The cards discussed today are all very powerful, and playable at some level in Modern. Interestingly, beyond these cards, there aren’t nearly as many Modern playables as one would expect in a direct-to-Modern set. Some honorable mentions include the legendary lands cycle in the set,
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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.