By: Jared Yost
I’ve been hearing a lot of hum drum recently about how we’re in a bear market for Magic cards because Modern prices seem to be dropping right in the middle of Modern season. This is also happening in light of Starcity’s recent announcement about adding Modern to their tournament circuit. Even so, during this time of downward trends Standard is just starting to pick up steam for the fall. I think it is a good time to look over Standard cards and figure out some good picks for the future Standard season. I’ve recently liquidated some of my Modern holdings and plan to start targeting some cards I’ve had my eye on for a while. As you might guess, these are all going to be Standard picks because over the next few months we have a lot to gain from correctly guessing which cards in Standard are going to make the most impact on the new format once Khans comes out.
In addition to this, we can’t rule out any potential long term picks. Casuals are one of the greatest forces in Magic and I plan to see that any cards flying under Spike’s radar are well within my Worldspine Wurm scope. Some cards from the the Theros block are pretty nice targets for casual players and I want to make sure that I am getting them to hold onto for the future.
Things that I’m going to target this month involve only Theros block as M15 is just a wee bit too new to fully understand which cards are the best targets. At this point, we’ve also reached the lowest prices for many of the cards from Theros block. Let’s get cracking.
I think that Hero’s Downfall is a great pick up right now because it will be the premier removal spell once Return to Ravnica block rotates. Even though mono black devotion is taking a huge hit with the rotation of Pack Rat, Desecration Demon, and Underworld Connections, I still think Hero’s Downfall is going to see a lot of play because it can take care of pretty much anything at instant speed. The risk here is that tokens might eventually be a thing since Convoke has made a comeback and Khans might continue to support that strategy. I still think Downfall is great anyways because it hits planeswalkers, so even if tokens surfaces I still feel like this card will hold utility across matchups. For $5 retail I think this is a fair price and I will try to pick up several copies in anticipation of people using it.
Speaking of black cards to pick up, you can’t go wrong with Thoughtseize. It will be an important player in Standard, but even better you are investing in your future with this card because I believe it is an even more important player in the Modern format. Thoughtseize is hovering around $15 retail which I think is this card’s bottom. I have picked up several copies of this card and I will continue to pick them up for around $15 whenever I get the chance. They will be very easy to trade away in the future as well, since in the upcoming year both Standard and Modern players will be looking for them.
Theros Temples & Mana Confluence
Pretty much all the Theros temples are fair game at this point. Wiser men than I might suggest going after the BNG and JOU temples but I say why stop there? You may need a wide variety of lands depending on what you want to play. There are plenty of available color combinations that could exist in the future, and with the addition of the enemy painlands, Mana Confluence, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth there is going to be plenty of color fixing available in the future. There is a strong case for picking up Temple of Malady and Epiphany though due to the enemy painland spoiler so I believe you have the most to gain if either of those lands winds up in a top table deck.
On the other hand, we’ll still have Nykthos to support mono colored strategies. Speaking of which…
Wizards is pushing devotion hard and this land is poised to be a nice addition to mana hungry devotion decks. It currently does some work in the mono blue devotion decks yet who is to say that other more prominent devotion decks won’t pop up?
I have a hard time believing that Nykthos can go much lower than the $5 it is currently sitting at. Being reprinted in the 2015 Clash Pack stabilizes the price for the time being but I am a believer in this one. I especially like foil copies at $15. This is one of those specs that if it doesn’t pan out over the next year in Standard I would still recommend that you hold onto them because it will be a casual all star for years to come.
Theros Block Gods (especially Phenax)
I really like Phenax in the long term. As we’ve been told by Travis before, Consuming Aberration is quite expensive for something that is generally seen as really, really bad. Why? Because there are a subset of players that exist that salivate over great mill cards. Phenax right now is almost the same price as Consuming Aberration, which is nuts! This guy is basically the God of Mill and is a mythic rare to boot. In the long term, I can’t see Phenax staying down so low especially considering the fact that so many players prefer to make mill decks.
The other gods that I like that are hovering around $5 are Erebos, Purphoros, and Kruphix. I think that each of these gods are amazing Commander additions and will hold value long term due to this. I doubt that any of them will see any significant Standard play yet in the long term like Phenax I think that they can only go up from here.
Higher priced gods to watch out for include Thassa and Athreos since they are the cheapest gods mana-wise to cast. Thassa is the easiest god to play with since she only requires a single blue mana color requirement and I like Athreos because he feels like an engine waiting to be started. We just need a key to stick in the ignition to get it running.
I really like Master of Waves for the future because he is just so strong if you can combine him with +1/+1 effects from cards like Hall of Triumph or Paragon of Gathering Mists. Unfortunately due to devotion this restricts the amount of pump effects you can play though Obelisk of Urd seems to be synergistic with the master as well. He’s only about $4 retail right now which is low to me for such a powerful effect.
Similar to Phenax, I think that this pick is for the long term rather than for the upcoming Theros Standard. Players may continue to brew with Ashiok in the short term but long term mill players will be salivating over this planeswalker. Normal copies are around $6 retail and foils are $20. I think that both types of Ashiok will be a good pickup.
Other Odds and Ends
Many people have been harping on Prophet of Kruphix and now is as good a time as ever to pick them up. They could potentially be played in Standard if a decent midrange strategy is formed after RTR block rotates. The risk is that she gets the banhammer in Commander which would be quite devastating to everyone who has a pile of these things sitting around, especially if they are foil.
Anger of the Gods is a bargain right now at $1. It is one of the best sweepers in the Modern format and could also be an amazing sweeper during the first part of Theros block. I can only see this card going up from here so pick up your copies now while they are on the cheap.
Soldier of the Pantheon has some good things going for it now as well. Also being a $1, it is cheap. A one mana 2/1 is also nice for all of those aggro decks I’m predicting are going to show up once RTR rotates. In addition, he is a rare and has two relevant abilities – protection from multicolored and allowing you to gain life from multicolored spells, which are going to matter from time to time. If he does spike, it won’t be for long though so as soon as he starts buylisting for $3 or more I am going to get rid of any copies that I have.
I like Hypnotic Siren because it has a potentially backbreaking end game effect tacked onto a 1/1 with flying that can be played in the early game if you manage to draw her in your opening hand. Combining Nykthos with her will be what you are looking to do because it will enable the Control Magic ability much quicker than waiting until turn seven. She is currently hovering around bulk rare status which I think is cheap enough to pick up at least a few copies and see where that goes in September.
There are plenty of good pick ups right now from Theros block, whether you are a competitive or a casual player. I think that many of these cards have a very good chance of going up short term with the added bonus of being casual all stars long term.
This summer is when Theros block cards are going to be cheapest, so no matter what your strategy if you want something from Theros I would recommend picking it up throughout July or early August.