Tag Archives: Accumulated Knowledge

GAME DAY DECK TECH: Aether Revolt

ADVERTISEMENT:


Players new and old tend to approach the concept of Magic finance as “how can I make my hobby cheaper or free?”, only to realize that most of the conversation in that sphere is between vendors. In honor of Game Day Weekend (and a month of [NEW SET] singles pouring into the market), I’m going to tell you which Standard deck I recommend for the upcoming format. This is for the people who want to play in FNM, PPTQ, and 5k level events but don’t have the time, energy, or resources to learn and buy-in to the entire format. These are not going to be “budget” decks, but a key component in my selecting them is that they are cheap enough to give you a good shot at breaking even. I’m also going to mention at the end what cards from the newest set belong in previous iterations of this series that are still Standard legal.

Standard is in a pretty strange place at the moment. Despite the fact that Saheeli combo didn’t have the dominant showing at the Pro Tour that it had at previous events, it still feels like the deck only has a few weeks left to live. Mardu Vehicles, which comprised 75% of the PT Top 8, is a powerful deck, but one that is still within the bounds of reality. Some previous archetypes (Eldrazi, Aetherworks) feel like they just haven’t been “figured out” yet, while BG has morphed into a series of varietals. Missing from the environment so far is one of competitive Magic’s proudest mainstays- Red Deck Wins. In truth, Mardu Vehicles is perhaps a more sophisticated take on this strategy, although it leans heavily on the eponymous new mechanic.

Red Deck Wins has a proud history of tournament success, stretching back to the earliest days of competitive Magic- although it has won multiple recent Pro Tours as well. The original recipe of 20 Land, 20 Creatures, and 20 Spells is somewhat present, although formats tend to skew more towards creatures or spells depending on the relative strength of the card pool available. Currently we are in a format where the creatures are better than most of the spells, so those even thirds get rearranged by necessity. Additionally, some of the better creatures and spells on curve for red pull towards black.

ADVERTISEMENT:


This is definitely a rough draft, although the beauty of RDW (and aggro, to a large degree) is that you get to highly value consistency rather than individual impact. I think a finalized list probably doesn’t have as many 4x, but it’s also possible that you just shave a few lands to add a card or two you like. While there isn’t a 15 card sideboard, Kari Zev’s Expertise is a must, as well as Transgress the Mind and Tears of Valakut. It’s also possible to cut something like the Bloodhalls to make room for a small Energy package, including the Lathnu Hellion, Harnessed Lightning, some Aether Hubs, and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner.

The point of a deck like this is to get in 20 damage as quickly as possible, which means limiting the number of dead cards in hand. Typically playing Terminate effects in these decks is a trap, but Unlicensed does 3 most of the time as well, so that makes it infinitely more viable. Additionally, the deck as is can be built VERY cheaply (because we aren’t playing Heart of Kiran!), so this is a perfect way to ease into MODO or get a quick Game Day win. We’ll talk about MODO next time. Until then, good luck at Game Day!

ADVERTISEMENT:


Best,

Ross

LOOKING BACK: I still REALLY like the RG Energy deck– I think it presents a very real threat in a way that a lot of budget-friendly decks don’t typically have access to. Obviously I like today’s new deck, but I still heartily endorse Electrostatic Pummeler. I don’t have a finalized list that I like (I’ve started to splash blue, although that raises the price tag when Spirebluff Canals get involved), but the only MUST HAVE playset from Aether Revolt so far is Invigorated Rampage. Some decks seem to prioritize Rampage over Larger than Life, both of which are basically tied for second place behind Blossoming Defense (which isn’t actually better, but protects your combo). Try some different iterations and see what you think! RG Energy might be the perfect FNM deck, especially if we see some seismic action with the second B&R announcement.

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

ADVERTISEMENT:


Please follow and like us:

PROTRADER: The Best of the Rest

There is a narrative structure to Magic releases, and although it has changed a bit over time, the major points are all largely the same. As in:

  • Spoiler Season
  • Prerelease
  • Release
  • Pre-Pro Tour Environment
  • Pro Tour
  • Post Pro Tour Environment
  • (NEW!) Post Pro Tour B&R announcement

In this system, interest, excitement, and (most importantly) attention are directed at the new release. The last few weeks of a lame-duck Standard format tend to see drops in participation and innovation, and prices on existing cards soften (even more on cards rotating out). One of the most important (and simultaneously, most difficult) things to do during the first few steps of that cycle are to pull OUT OF the gravitational pull of a new set, and focus on which existing cards may be undervalued. Margins are hugely important when it comes to Standard, so its vital to pull the trigger when the time is right. Some of what we discuss today will be informed by what happened at the Star City event over the weekend, as well as expected responses and metagaming course corrections. I think you’ll see what I mean as we get started.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Please follow and like us:

PROTRADER: Week 1 Plans

Before anything else, sell your Saheelis.

…Like, right now.

…As in “Stop reading, open a new tab, and go to your preferred buylist”.

…I’ll give you permission to wait until FNM if you prefer to stay local, but THAT’S IT.

You good? Okay cool. So now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about our gameplan for the next couple of weeks. For those of you who are newer (or are self-taught) in the realm of modern-day Magic finance, this is a somewhat volatile time. We are right now in Week 1 of a new Standard (despite no old sets actually rotating), meaning that we don’t know the shape of format in full. We have a couple weeks until the Pro Tour, which has traditionally been the first key definition for a format, despite the tendancy of PT metagames to be very clearly standalones. I’m not going to try and predict the Pro Tour this early, but I want to try and key in on everything prior.

There are two kinds of new format spikes- ones predicated on speculation (Saheeli! Did you sell those yet?), and ones informed by the format as it shapes and develops (Boros Reckoner). The former tend to be planeswalkers, which probably speaks more to the difficulty in evaluating the “new” card type. Finding the next Boros Reckoner is more difficult, but there has historically been a longer window of time for discovering it- Aetherworks Marvel could probably fit into this category also.

Since we aren’t losing any cards, the evaluation process is a little more concrete- we know what most of the playable removal spells are, meaning we only have to compare new ones to preexisting options. Of the new class, Shock and Fatal Push are probably the only new cards that see significant play in the future- other than maybe Battle of the Bridge. With that in mind, we have a slightly easier time figuring out what threats can get past the existing removal- knowing now that there’s an upside to having a converted mana cost of 5 or more.

One of the cards I like, that will serve as an example of what I’m talking about, is Herald of Anguish (the only thing that I don’t like about this card is its current $9 price tag). The toughness is higher than 3, the converted mana cost is above 4, and it has both a free incremental effect and an activated ability. While we don’t know yet how much Improvise will reduce costs, we can assume that Herald will not often cost the full 7. This feels like one of the better finishers in the format, even in a deck without a heavy artifact theme. I’m not saying that Herald is the only good card, just that it is important to go through all of the stats when evaluating a card. I will say also that this set has been underwhelming to me personally, but if you see a card you like let me know in the comments.

This is not a Boros Reckoner, but it sort of is.

Looking through the set as a whole, I don’t see much else that can’t be evaluated entirely in a vacuum. One of the reasons why Revolt as a mechanic is appealing in older formats is the compatibility with fetchlands, something we don’t really have access to currently. If Thopter tokens (or, for the time being, Clues) are something that have a wide proliferation, then some of the fringier options may rise in stock. Likewise, a seemingly bulk option like Aethergeode Miner could very sneakily be an engine for Revolt or energy. Clues feel like the missing piece of the puzzle in that they are artifacts that can die at will, so start to watch for Tireless Tracker to have a late career surge.

My last piece of advice for this weekend is to be aggressive starting Saturday night or Sunday. If you watch the prices on Friday you’ll see them start to come down as stores flesh out their inventories and smaller shops and individuals try to undercut each other on TCGPlayer. They are doing a 3% kickback this weekend, so if you find something you like, wait until early Sunday (as in, before the Falcons beat the Packers) and pull the trigger then. It’s likely that the SCG event this weekend features mostly old decks (as well as some amount of Saheeli Combo), so I don’t expect a new card to blow up on coverage this soon. As the weekend goes along I’ll post what I’m seeing on the forums, so look for that. Til next time!

Best,
Ross

PS- The reason you REALLY need to sell Saheeli is that the card has basically tripled in price before this deck has had any play time- the strategy will need to basically occupy the entire Top 16 of this weekend’s event to justify the increase. If the deck is somehow that good (and can maintain a high level of success), then a piece gets banned in a few weeks anyways.

Please follow and like us:

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Aftermath

Holy.

Crap.

Bannings are tricky things. A ban in Standard is different than one in Modern or Legacy, both in terms of tone and player response. “Older” formats inherently carry the risk of bannings as a check against unforeseen interactions between new and old cards (this is the essential crux of the Golgari Grave-Troll re-banning, new cards like Cathartic Reunion just made Dredge “too good”). It’s possible that this is because formats like Modern are created with some bans already in place, so some of the bloom is off the rose from the get go. Standard, however, is a much more volatile situation. Standard is sold in part as a balanced environment, and bannings, even intended to preserve the greater good, are considered in part a failure.

BRIEF COMPARATIVE ASIDE: The immediate aftermath of a Standard ban kinda feels like when an interim head coach takes over a football team. Yes things are different with Umezawa’s Jitte gone, but nobody thinks that Dan Campbell is really going to stick around. Then again, the Jags hired Doug Marrone, so who knows?

My guess is that bannings in Standard ultimately take some of the romanticism away- players (bad ones) assume that THEY will find the missing piece of the puzzle and vanquish the scourge of whatever deck they keep losing to at FNM and then some how win a Pro Tour. I want to get to the meat of these particular bans (the Standard ones, mostly), but I will say that the addition of a second B&R announcement is an early check against Saheeli Combo disguised as a good idea. I don’t know how the Magic population writ large will respond to the idea of a more policed format philosophy, but I do think it will help prevent player bleeding in the event of a broken format.

Emrakul, the Promised End: This is quite possibly my favorite ban- Emrakul was the de facto top of the format in terms of size and effect, and it warped card choices and game plans towards it. Killing Emrakul (or rather, imprisoning her on the moon) opens up endgame opportunities for cards like Ulamog, Kozilek, or new cards like Herald of Anguish. More importantly, decks that were homogonized in certain forms can now branch out and specialize- Green Black doesn’t NEED to be Delirium anymore, if they find a finisher better than Traverse for the next best thing to Emrakul, although that’s still an option. That trickles down to mean that early game plans don’t have to be the “self-mill while trying to stay alive” tactics that they were before. I don’t know if there is a clear best winner in this situation, but there are several smaller ones.

My personal favorite finisher.

Smuggler’s Copter: Actually, this might be my favorite ban. Copter had the same deck-building effect as Emrakul, but on the exact opposite archetypes. There will continue to be decks that want to include a mix of Vehicles and creatures, but I don’t expect there to be a 1-for-1 replacement (not even the impressive-looking Heart of Kiran).

Golgari Grave-Troll: Dredge is tough to balance, and GGT is just way too good to exist in Modern. Early impact has been a spike on Golgari Thug, although that card doesn’t have the potential to close out games like Troll does. The only Dredge cards that should be allowed in Modern are Life From the Loam and Moldervine Cloak, as they are the ones I like best.

There’s now way this card is coming back. Plan accordingly.

Reflector Mage: The UW decks have a lot of congestion, and so losing Reflector Mage makes the construction of those decks more streamlined. That’s to a degree the opposite effect that the other bans are expected to have, but it also eliminates some of the weird issues that Reflector Mage had on the formats it was in (namely, Eldrazi Displacer). I think UW is still a deck after losing Mage and Copter, but I don’t think it’s a major player.

Gitaxian Probe: I can’t pretend to know everything about how this impacts Modern, but I definitely get that it’s a big deal. I’m going to pass on this as there’s way too much contextual determination on what replaces it where, and I’m not sure that there is much financial upside given that most of the replacements are things like Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand. Combo decks get some degree worse, although mostly because they can’t have a Peek before attempting to go off.

To close, here are my favorite cards ahead of this weekend’s prerelease!

Yahenni’s Expertise: I think there is a real possibility that the next few months are dominated in part by Liliana, the Last Hope. That’s not to say that there won’t be other decks (we know Saheeli Combo will be a possibility for at least the first eight weeks), but I do think that Lili could stand to serve as a pillar of the format. In that situation, Yahenni’s Expertise seems INSAAAAAANE. Planeswalkers are graded in part on how well they can defend themselves, and having the opportunity to package a Languish in for [1] seems incredible. At $6 I still really like these, but I would rather trade for them than buy them outright.

I really love this card. “Free” is the most dangerous word in Magic.

Sram, Senior Edificer: Big IF here, but if Puresteel Paladin Combo is a deck, then this feels like a critical 4x. Definitely a high-risk situation, but Modern has been shaken up considerably. I don’t think THIS is the card that sees a tremendous price spike, but I think this is the card that makes the deck work. Key pieces that COULD see an increase include Mox Opal, Monastery Mentor, and Puresteel Paladin itself.

Greenwheel Liberator: I read this a few times to make sure that it counted my Windswept Heaths. It does! Definitely going to try this in Modern with Experiment One and Burning-Tree Emissary. Hidden Herbalists and Narnam Renegade are interesting options also- although these are all pretty narrow.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary (foil): These feel like a sneaky-good pickup, but definitely for the long term. Most of the decks that want this have access to green already, so color identity isn’t an issue. Long term hold.

I love this long-term.

That’s all for today, good luck at your prerelease!

Best,

Ross

Please follow and like us: