Going Mad – “A Sure Bet”

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By: Derek Madlem

There’s no such thing as a sure bet in Magic finance, though there’s a lot of cards that are pretty close. Looking at Magic Origins from a financial strategy perspective rather than a nostalgia perspective makes me feel like this set is mostly a trap.

Soulblade DjinnWe have the obvious turds like Soulblade Djinn, a rare that you might be excited to pick up in draft, but you’re going to be disappointed to see in a booster pack. Even a FOIL version of this card is never going to break $1 unless they put some serious effort into Djinn tribal.

 

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The Sky is Always Gray

Yeah, I’ve got a habit of that with the last few sets released into the Standard habitat. There’s a lot of simplified designs that strike a chord and keep Standard a relatively balanced format. But that’s the issue isn’t it? If Standard was a more diverse ecosystem with more unique strategies, we wouldn’t be in a world where any card with a powerful design automatically floats to the top. See: Den Protector + Deathmist Raptor in Standard right now for examples of cards being significantly above the power curve.

So what are the standout cards that will rise above the rest? Which cards will make their mark on Standard and possibly go deep into Modern?

Evolutionary LeapEvolutionary Leap is preselling for a whopping $7, which may or may not be a reasonable price. Would I buy in? I just did. This is a card that you’re going to want to catch onto before it takes off. Cards like Evolutionary Leap just needs a talented deckbuilder and a few events to hone a rough idea into a working archetype. This card doesn’t slot into any obvious places, thought I expect it’s only a matter of time before this card shows up in a big way in Modern. Strangleroot Geist and Kitchen Finks are obvious places to start, but there’s probably even a world where this card shows up purely as a defensive spell to negate your opponent’s creature removal.

Picture this card in Modern Elves. The ability to sacrifice your elves in response to removal or simply to move up the food chain is going to be extremely powerful.

This doesn’t even take into account decks built around sacrificing tokens to quickly assemble a combo or search out a single copies of creatures. Hell, I’ve got no problem throwing this into a Naya Token strategy alongside Goblin Rabblemaster or Monastery Mentor.

Evolutionary Leap is the exact kind of card I look for when I’m picking out cards to speculate on.

Sword of the Animist

Sword of Animist is a card that’s gotten a lot of hype, but you also have to consider the source. Sold out at the $5.99 preorder price with the added footnote of being a card that Ben Bleiweiss predicts “could be a chase rare.” I’m always skeptical of the salesman that tells me their product is a good investment, but in this case it might be. We’re almost a lock for Landfall to return as a mechanic in Battle for Zendikar as I’m sure the plane is still a home to “powerful manas” and all that nonsense, but will it return as something more than overpriced creatures getting +2/+2? That’s hard to say.

Sword of the Animist is not going to push out cards like Umezawa’s Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice in Legacy and is likely to be a third or fourth choice at best in most Commander decks that utilize equipment shenanigans. BUT…it does provide continuous ramp which could be a real powerful effect going forward as Wizards has telegraphed that they want to slow things down a bit by bringing in Leaf Gilder over an Elvish Mystic reprint.

Sword of the Animist is a card that I’m going to watch closely going forward; I don’t think it can really be worth much more than the current price of $5.99 over the next few months, but if prices slip into the $3-4 range, you can bet I’ll be picking up a few.

Abbot of Keral KeepHey Abbot!!! Abbot of Keral Keep might be one of the most underrated cards in the set at $2.99. This is an Elvish Visionary for red aggro decks, except it has two power and Prowess. Even in a cruel world where you hit a land with this card, you’re still not going to feel too bad about as a 2/1 Prowess creature for two mana is not a bad rate at all.

This card is clearly not the red Snapcaster Mage that we’ve all been waiting for, but it fits into a variety of archetypes ranging from the Sligh decks to the red/green big mana decks. I know I can’t wait to sleeve this card up in Modern Zoo.

Erebos's TitanErebos’s Titan is an interesting case. The obvious place to go following this guy is the Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but a mono colored deck has to be extremely powerful in a world full of readily available dual lands and I just don’t know if Mono-black has that kind of arsenal right now.

So that leaves us with a semi-difficult to cast 5/5 for four mana that features some awkwardly powerful abilities. The conditional indestructible clause seems like a pure “win more” scenario, but it makes your opponent unable to top deck removal in those instances where you are slogging in the last bits of damage. The return clause seems pretty easy to trigger in a world where people completely ignore the text boxes of things in opposing graveyards, Deathmist Raptors, and delve.

But the real question we have with ET is whether or not the card is just another evolution of the unplayed four mana 5/5 creature that black has become so accustomed to seeing. At the $12.49 preorder price that SCG is offering, I am not a buyer. Erebos’s Titan is a card that greatly benefits from a few of the peripherals, as those Devotion cards and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth rotate out that casting cost becomes a major liability and this card begins to look a lot more like a mythic Vengeful Pharaoh. I expect this card to spend most of it’s Standard life in the $4-6 range rather the $10+ we see right now.

If we somehow get filter land reprints in Battle for Zendikar, then anything becomes possible.

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Woodland BellowerWoodland Bellower is at risk of succumbing to an illness that I’ve long called “Ranger of Eos Disorder”. Ranger of Eos was not an exciting card for a very long time, and then they printed Goblin Bushwhacker, Steppe Lynx, and Goblin Guide and we all of the sudden had a deck.

There’s another card that suffered from Ranger of Eos Disorder: Stoneforge Mystic. This card dipped all the way down to just above bulk status before Scars of Mirrodin was printed, but all it took was one or two good search targets to put it on the radar, and at the moment Batterskull was spoiled, the writing was on the wall.

Woodland Bellower is priced like a Titan but comes with none of the bells and whistles we’ve become accustomed to beyond being a largish creature that gets to bring a friend, so he needs a good friend to be of any real value. Who are currently the best friends this Bear/Deer (Beer?) can bring to the battlefield?

As you can see, there are PLENTY of very powerful targets for our Woodland friend to befriend. This doesn’t even take into account Commander decks looking for another tutor to help assemble a convoluted creature-based combo. I’m just sad that I’ll never get to run this guy in a Modern Birthing Pod deck.

I don’t see many universes where the Beer doesn’t see constructed play. At $5.99 for this Mythic beast, there’s plenty of room to grow as soon as it makes a strong debut, we also have two full blocks worth of new creatures to give this card the boost it needs for a big payoff.

Archangel of Tithes“It doesn’t die to Languish” is one way to describe this card. Another card that might be too mana intensive for it’s own good, Archangel of Tithes provides you with a whole lot of text-box for a low low price of just four mana.

At $20 I’m required to do the usual song and dance about this being a Mythic Angel and explain that “casuals” love angels and that there’s a ton of players that just collect angels and angel angel angel.

That said, is this the usual preorder exploitation of our wing-fetished friends or is this actually a good card? While putting the thumbscrews to your opponent by taxing their every maneuver is powerful, it’s much more powerful when you’re casting creatures that are mana efficient and aggressive… something that doesn’t really include four mana creatures with three power.

Archangel of Tithes is a creature that could excel in a world where white-weenie strategies were genuinely viable and that has not been the case for a very long time, no matter what Craig Wescoe tells you. The casting cost is going to be incredibly burdensome and this card gets better only as you overcommit to the board… but it survives Languish! This card, like most angels, has a tax placed on its preorder price, I’d advise against paying it.

The Bulk

A lot of this set is just going to be pure bulk; cards like Dark Petition look shiny and new, but then you realize there’s nothing you want to cast for three mana that you’d pay five mana to search up. There’s the “premium” bulk like Exquisite Firecraft that are preselling for $4, but ultimately follow the path of Crater’s Claws right into the gutter.

 

Many of the mythics have great casual appeal, so ship them on day one or at the prerelease to the players that are salivating for them. Long term, if you want to pick up the Alhammarat’s Archives of the world, wait until they take their hit. Casual cards usually have the advantage of being popular BEFORE their prices goes up, because the players are more… err, casual about picking them up.

If there’s any other cards you’re interested in my thoughts on from this set, feel free to ask in the comments section below.


 

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17 thoughts on “Going Mad – “A Sure Bet””

  1. I think you’re actively wrong about Dark Petition. I don’t believe the card will ever be expensive, but it will see play in Legacy with a chance for it to be played in Modern.

    In legacy ANT (coming from a storm player) this card replaces Grim Tutor. Flipping it to Ad Naus nets you one life over Grim once you’ve cast your tutor. Additionally Petition is a net -2 mana tutor as opposed to a -3 mana tutor like Grim.

    There also remains the possibility that this card provides more gas to the Ad Naus-less “Grinding Station” version. Of the deck that eschews ad naus and grim and excess discard for more copies of PiF and Tendrils.

    Dark petition likely hovers around 2-3 dollars for a long time, mirroring Ad Naus’ price and likely maintains a ridiculous multiplier in the x6-x10 range (it’s already preordering at x6)

    1. The above is a very good point. I also play AnT in Legacy and Dark Petition has me intrigued. It also has the advantage of not being $300, as Grim Tutor appears to be. If anything this is a cheap replacement for budgets, but it could also be flat out better. I’ll probably give a try.

      That being said, it will just be a 1-of. Ad Naus also was basically a buck for its entire time in Standard, so it may dip below $2-$3 in the short term. Foils definitely worth considering.

  2. “Evolutionary Leap is the exact kind of card I look for when I’m picking out cards to speculate on.”

    This is EXACTLY what I thought too! I’m glad someone else that has a little more “cred” than I do finally mentioned this card. This is the only card in the set that I had no problems pre-ordering. Not only do I plan on brewing and playing some copies in multiple formats, I also plan on making some money off of the extra playset I ordered.

    Evolutionary Leap started at $2-$4 pre-orders and then quickly got adjusted to $5-$7. In my opinion $5 is a fair price if this sees no standard play because it will be popular regardless. $7-$10 is a fair price if this sees standard play. If this makes it to Modern and beyond I see this card hitting $15+ just like Collected Company. I realize that Evolutionary Leap probably won’t be a 4-of in decks, but I think it will end up in more archetypes than people think.

    I could be wrong, but I really don’t think I am. Either way I’m more than willing to bet Evolutionary Leap sees play than betting that it doesn’t. I really like grabbing this card under $5 if you can! I don’t think waiting for a Top 8 result is wise before buying in on this one.

    I think WotC knew this card would be good all along and the only reason they didn’t make it mythic is because they didn’t want it to be a $30 card once it “broke-out”. I think the same could be said for Collected Company. Both cards are meant to inspire new archetypes and decks and drive MTG into a new age. (How about that bit of glorious speculation?)

    1. The more I think about this card, the more ideas I come up with to try out. It’s the first card in years that has me excited to brew again and I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can come up with. I preordered a FOIL playset and a regular playset, and in a worst case scenario, I’m fine with owning both for the rest of my life.

  3. A small correction. You listed Fleshbag Marauder as a card Woodland Bellower could hit, Bellower only tutors for green creatures.

  4. I really like Exquisite Firecraft as a replacement for Stoke the Flames. A big problem for red decks is that the big finisher spells are usually getting hit rather hard or countered, and having a turn 4 of this+wild slash or collateral damage will hopefully seal the game.

    Not having Convoke hurts it, but in most cases you were tapping a token anyways, losing one combat damage in exchange for 1 mana. Given that theres no lightning strike in origins, I think this is Wizards toning down reds damage slightly.

    And besides, what red deck won’t have two spells in the graveyard by turn 3/4?

    1. the card is fine, i just think financially it’s going to be hard to hold a price above $1-2, much like Crater’s Claws or basically any red rare burn spell ever printed outside of Bonfire of the Damned

  5. I thought Evolutionary Leap was preordering for way too high and thought it would fall back down in price. I think it is more of a casual appeal card because of the clause “Put that card INTO YOUR HAND”…not onto the battlefield like CoCo. However in those Modern CoCo/Pod-like decks (as u mentioned with Finks) there might be some value to it, but my big concern is that you get no immediate payoff and the card requires 3 mana and another creature just to get a random creature into your hand. I agree the brewing process can be fun, in Amulet Bloom u can sac that Saproling to get your Prime Time, Finks and Voice synergy seems solid, I just feel like the card is too slow to see top level play since the creature comes to your hand. For Standard it could be extra Sideboard protection against control…in the short term you could sac your Caryatid or elf to find a relevant creature, but Whisperwood is already your Wrath protection in green decks.
    I’m interested in the card, but Assault Formation also had a lot of excitement and even posted a few modest results in Standard. Obviously I could be totally wrong, but this is a spec I’m going to wait on or just hope to randomly open through course of limited play as it’s only a rare.

    I also am not a fan of Abbot except for some possible deckbuilding synergies with just his prowess trigger and cards like Swiftspear, Dragon Fodder, Hordeling Outburst, and Ascendency. Maybe in Legacy with Ponder and Brainstorm you can stack the top of your deck to make sure the card u exile is playable..but is the creature relevant enough to warrant play in Legacy?? I know from playing Swiftspear that Prowess can be very powerful but Abbot seems like a step slow for the format. I think he’s a balanced card, just that exile top card ability has consistently underwhelmed me except for Chandra Pyromaster and Outpost Siege.

    I do like Sword of the Anamist…not at it’s current price like you. And I was so underwhelmed with the Bellower at first and then I remembered See the Unwritten is a card, and Battle for Zendikar upcoming, and Genesis Hydra is rotating out soon (I love that card vs Control). The Bellower feels like a baby Gen Hydra although the back breaking potential isn’t there like the Hydra possesses. However the Bellower will probably be combined with Raptor (and Den Protector) for it’s life in Standard. That whole green non-legendary clause got me too Derek and at first really soured me on the card.

    What is your opinion on Harbinger of the Tides??

    1. Harbinger is a fine card, I’m really disappointed / surprised by the lack of Merfolk support these last few core sets (Master of the Pearl Trident with basically no other merfolk). Harbinger is going to be underwhelming at first, but there’s a good chance we get serious Merfolk support in Zendikar because the plane features legged Merfolk so it’s easy to have them wandering around on land.

      The card will see some play, but I imagine it’s price is going to go down before it goes up.

  6. Here’s what I meant about Bellower and See the Unwritten: You can have Savage Knuckleblade or Surrak out (how broken would Bellower into Surrak be? if only, lol) cast See the Unwritten, hit Bellower and creature X (hopefully an Eldrazi, we r living the dream here), get Raptor, another Knucks, or who knows what else with Bellower, and have 3 (mythic) creatures on the battlefield. Easy game right? lol. But people will try that out I’m sure.

  7. Best finance review I read so far on Origins. To the point, strong reasoning, and clears up a lot of clutter. I suspected that Woodland Bellower could end up being the Chase mythics since all the other mythics were bleh.

    Agree on abbot. Abbot might actually be the rare that every slept on until it’s too late. People keep saying it’s not a good card bc it only gets good in mid to late game, which is silly bc at its worse, it’s a 2/1 prowess for 2 cc. Solid pickup to me and can’t wait to pick more copies up if and when it might possibly drops lower than its current pre-sale price of $3 a pop.

    1. Plus, most cards in this set seems like they are heading to the bulk bins which from what finance writers have told us, the value of the box has to go somewhere. I’m liking the Woodland bear and Abbot more and more

    2. Abbot seems to be a polarizing card, which I see as a great opportunity. Everyone looks at it and sees garbage, but if it ends up being strong, it’s going to blow up big. I’m looking forward to grabbing a FOIL playset as soon as they’re back in stock because I’m sure the card will also look fairly amazing.

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