Scalding Tarn (Zendikar)

I love the Modern format. But the trouble is, who wants to pay $100 for a fetch land? That’s what Scalding Tarns are fetching (pun intended) on the open market right now. Since it was spoiled that the highly-anticipated Modern Event Deck will be Black/White Tokens, fetch lands have skyrocketed in value as both speculation and demand have increased dramatically.

To be fair, you can probably get your hands on a Scalding Tarn for about $75 or less, but expect it to be in rough shape most likely. Besides the possibility of Marsh Flats being reprinted in the Event Deck (and that’s not even confirmed), fetch-lands continue to dwindle in supply. Misty Rainforest recently hit $90 a copy. Marsh Flats are even about $50 a copy. Arid Mesa is about $60 a copy.   Verdant Catacombs is the cheapest at about $40, and that’s mostly because it was included in a Event Deck a few years back and the supply is a tiny bit higher.

In my personal opinion, I actually think it’s the Onslaught fetch-lands that should be re-printed. Having white-blue (Flooded Strand), green-white (Windswept Heath), red-green (Wooded Foothills), blue-black (Polluted Delta), and red-black (Bloodstained Mire), gives access to all color combinations. With only the “enemy” color fetch-lands available in Modern, the demand is insane. But having access to the ally color fetches from Onslaught in Modern will allow for those colors to rely less on the off-color fetches more than a bit. That will relieve the pressure more than a bit. Of course, that means the fetches would have to be reprinted in a Core Set most likely. With the looming possibility of a scry land only Standard format looming, it’s likely that some sort of fetch-land will become available.

If they decided to instead reprint the Zendikar fetch-lands, that’s fine, too. The price will drop in the short term (as have Ravnica shock-lands) but remain great investments in the long-term as they’ll obviously continue to be played in all Eternal formats (unlike shocks which will be only played in Modern and Commander). But I think that the Onslaught fetches are long overdue for a reprint, and while a lot of collectors won’t be happy about it, as we’ve seen with a card like Mutavault, the prices will eventually rise back to former levels simply because of the massive demand.

Also, with all ten color combinations available for fetch-lands, more deck archetypes will become viable in Modern (and far less expensive). Esper Control really needs the Flooded Strands and Polluted Deltas to keep up with the other three-color decks in the format. Blue/White Control can be consistent without having to rely on the Red elements quite as much. Bant becomes a bit more consistent by playing the Windswept Heath over Verdant Catacombs (which allows searching for Hallowed Fountain to be a bit easier). RUG decks would gain some consistency with Wooded Foothills added to the mix. A lot of the improvements would be incremental, but significant. It would help deck play-ability as much as price point.

On Magic Online, fetches are obviously much less (between $15-25 a copy), which is why Modern is so much more accessible in the online environment. Add to that you only need 4 copies of each fetch-land online and don’t need extra copies around for multiple decks as you likely would in paper, and the supply is far greater. But paper is where most people want to play nowadays and if the Modern format is to thrive, fetch-lands need to be increased in supply. Otherwise, Modern will become just like Legacy, too pricey for most ordinary players to play.

Then again, there’s always Merfolk, Goblins, and White Weenie/Death and Taxes decks…

~ Elspeth for the Win

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