A Step-By-Step Guide for Buying into Modern


Looking to buy into your first Modern deck? Don't know where to start? You're in luck because that's exactly what we're talking about in this week's article! Hans explains the step-by-step process of buying your first Modern deck for someone who's starting from close to scratch – take a look at what he has to offer!

Buying into Modern is no joke. Card prices are slightly coming down from an all-time high, but without a substantial reprint anywhere in sight, it wouldn't take a whole lot to drive up the prices of the format once again.

Having bought a gaming PC recently, I get how daunting a big purchase can be, especially if it's something that you're not necessarily familiar with. For those of you that might not be starting with a Modern-relevant collection (or a collection at all), you might not know where to turn when it comes to making the big dive. In today's article, I want to break down the steps of buying a Modern deck and how you should go about doing so in a way that's best for you.

1. Choosing the Deck

Ludevic's Test Subject

An entire article could be written about how to go about choosing a deck, but for the time being, I'm going to assume that you already know which deck you would like to buy into.

One thing that I would highly recommend is proxying up the decks you're interested in and playing against your friends with them. Even if you are pretty sure about the deck you've chosen, it doesn't hurt to take the deck out for a test ride to see how it functions, and there might some hiccups that you didn't expect when you were lovingly staring at it in your shopping cart on Cardmarket. Doing this will save you from wasting your money, and for anyone jumping into the format, I cannot recommend doing this enough. It might be an extra hour or two of your time printing and cutting everything out, but trust me – it's worth it.

Anyway, for this article, let's take a look at Grixis Death's Shadow, a highly-customizable deck that is both powerful and plays cards that have overlap with other decks in the format.

Grixis Death's Shadow by Scott Markeson, SCG Modern Open Minneapolis, 17th Place

2. Setting a Budget

Careful Consideration

According to MTGGoldfish, our particular list of Grixis Death's Shadow costs $1289.70, and here on Cardmarket, 71 out of the 73 cards (excluding the basic lands) can be bought for €1084.70, granted that cards are in English and their minimum condition is "good." In other words, we should expect to spend around $1300 or 1100 euros for our seventy-five cards.

This means that we should think about how we want to go about paying for these cards. Assuming, once again, that we're buying into this deck without any cards available to be traded or sold, it's imperative that we set a budget based on how quickly we want to start playing with our deck. For some, that might mean in three months, while for others, that could mean nine (or more) months. In our hypothetical scenario, let's shoot for six, which would put us at spending a little over $200 or 170 euros per month.

3. Identifying the Key Pieces

Seismic Spike

If we are going to end up ordering cards over an extended period, we want to order the cards that are the most important to the deck. There are a couple of reasons for this: the first is that, if prices of the cards fluctuate, we want to make sure that we have the cards we need instead of being punished by a spike in prices. This is a phenomenon that Legacy players are probably well aware of, since prices of Reserved List cards have seen astronomical increases due to speculation and players' fears of missing out on buying a card before a spike. While Modern cards aren't affected by the reserved list, there are many staples that have seen wild fluctuations in their prices due to the shift in the metagame throughout the history of the format.

The second reason we want to identify the key pieces is because key pieces of the deck tend to be cards that are transferrable to other decks or are highly liquid when it comes to trading or selling them. Thoughtseize is a card that is an example of the former, for example. The life-loss is integral to Death's Shadow strategies, but the disruptive one-drop sees so much play in Modern that finding a home for the sorcery is no difficult task. If you want to play a different deck, decks that play Thoughtseize are a dime a dozen. Even if you decide that, in the middle of buying into your deck, you no longer want to play Grixis Death's Shadow, a card like Thoughtseize is highly liquid, and this is why it's so important to identify key pieces of a deck - there will always be people looking to trade for or buy your Thoughtseize. By doing your due diligence and figuring out which cards are important, you can save yourself from trouble and money in case your deck-building process goes awry.

When it comes to Grixis Death's Shadow, this is an example of how I would label pieces of the deck:

Tier 1: Must-haves

Snapcaster Mage


The Lands

Tier 2: Deck Staples

Death's Shadow

Inquisition of Kozilek

Lightning Bolt


Tier 3: Replaceable, Depending on the Meta

Street Wraith

Kolaghan's Command

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Tier 4: Sideboard

4. Ordering Priorities

Long-Term Plans

Now that we've decided on a budget and have identified the key pieces of the deck, we need to ask ourselves this question: Which cards do we want to purchase in which order?

This is as subjective of a step in the purchasing process as any of the others, but you really have to think about which cards you want first. If you go ahead and order the big-ticket items such as Snacpaster and Scalding Tarns, you won't have to worry about having to buy them in the case of a potential price spike. Even if they are reprinted, these cards have shown to historically hold their value (if not go up in the long-term), so there's very little worry associated in any case.

However, you might feel that certain cards are in line for a reprint and you want to hold off for a few months in anticipation of a new Masters set or another kind of supplemental product. Kolaghan's Command, while a good card, could easily make its way into Commander pre-cons, Masters sets, and core sets. If you're comfortable waiting things out and the stars align, there's a chance that you can snag the copy for much cheaper than its current price. A corollary to this idea, on the other hand, is that if you feel that a card is currently underpriced and is poised for a price spike, you want to prioritize getting that card as soon as possible.

Another point you have to consider if you have serviceable replacements for certain cards is whether or not you want to buy cards in such a way so that you'd be able to take a budget version of Grixis Death's Shadow to your FNM. Cards such as Death's Shadow don't have replacements, whereas Lightning Bolts and Kolaghan's Command can be trimmed. You could throw in Mishra's Baubles and Opts if you don't have the necessary interactive staples to make the deck linear and get away without playing Snapcaster Mage. Don't get me wrong – a card like Snapcaster Mage is a four-of in this deck and there's no question whether you should include the playset or not, but if your priorities are such that you want to buy the cards in a way that will let you play a watered-down version of the deck as soon as possible, that is a consideration you should make. All in all, it's up to you to decide which cards you prioritize.

5. Spend Away!

Once you've figured out these steps, the hard part is over. Make sure to be patient, stay aware of the changing prices of cards, and you'll be on your way to a Modern deck in no time.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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Karnigel(23.08.2018 11:49)

The Problem in purchasing buget decks or buget variants of better decks. Even on a FNM are many t1 dekcs and maybe you lose fun playing the deck or modern. So you left te tabel befor the tinks really start to make fun. If you buy on a buget version be aware of this. I took my budet version to the tournaments and the "full" deck with proxys too. If i hat time i played against the decks with my proxy so i can see the differenz and get the fealing of the full deck potantial

Anomen(29.07.2018 14:17)

In my opinion getting a budget version, playing at local events, getting hyped and enjoying the deck is a way to go, then gradually upgrade it over time.

sluggy10(18.06.2018 15:36)

I would say, to save money, first, get a cheaper modern..., second, you can save a lot of money with a cheaper mana-base, and you can upgrade in from time to time.
It's the moest expensive part and you can play without (slightly less effective, but still, you have your deck quicker than in 9 month)