Going Mad – Pro Tour Magic Origins

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By: Derek Madlem

So we had a Pro Tour this last weekend and we’re all wondering which cards were amazing and how much money we’re going to make off of them.

Our first instinct is to look at the top 8 decklists and place all of our bets there… but that might not be the best method here because of the Pro Tour’s tournament structure. The Pro Tour’s split format results in a number of scenarios where a slightly above average constructed deck makes the top 8 based on a player’s strong draft record or situations where decks that are extremely successful in constructed don’t make the top 8 because their pilot was terrible at drafting. Luckily for us, Wizards provides us with a list of all decks that finished with 8 wins or better.

The Winners

For this article we’re just going to focus on the Magic Origins cards because their prices are still in a state of flux

9-1
Red Green Devotion – 0 cards
Mono Red – 4x Abbot of Keral Keep, 4x Exquisite Firecraft, 2x Scab-Clan Berserker
Green White – 4x Hangarback Walker, 2x Evolutionary Leap, 2 Tragic Arrogance, 3x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Mono Red – 4x Abbot of Keral Keep, 4x Exquisite Firecraft

8-1-1
Blue Black Dragon Control – 2x Languish, 3x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 4x Chief of the Foundry, 4x Whirler Rogue, 4x Thopter Spy Network
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 4x Chief of the Foundry, 4x Whirler Rogue, 3x Thopter Spy Network
Abzan Control – 2x Languish, 3x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Abzan Control – 3x Languish
Jeskai Aggro – 4x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, 2x Clash of Wills
Abzan Control – 2x Languish

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8-2
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 4x Chief of the Foundry, 4x Thopter Engineer, 2x Pia and Kiran Nalaar, 1x Whirler Rogue, 3x Thopter Spy Network
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 4 Chief of the Foundry, 4x Whirler Rogue, 4x Thopter Spy Network
Mono Red – 4x Abbot of Keral Keep, 4x Exquisite Firecraft
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 4x Thopter Engineer, 3x Chief of the Foundry, 3x Thopter Spy Network, 2x Ghirapur Aether Grid, 1x Whirler Rogue
Mono Red Goblins – 4x Goblin Piledriver, 4x Subterranean Scout, 4x Goblin Glory Chaser
Mono Red – 4x Abbot of Keral Keep, 4x Exquisite Firecraft, 1x Fiery Impulse
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 4x Chief of the Foundry, 4x Thopter Engineer, 4x Whirler Rogue, 3x Thopter Spy Network, 1x Foundry of the Consuls
Jeskai Heroic – 0 cards
Red Blue Ensoul Artifact – 4x Hangarback Walker, 3x Chief of the Foundry, 4x Thopter Engineer, 1x Whirler Rogue, 3x Thopter Spy Network, 2x Ghirapur Aether Grid

Go ahead and take a moment to digest that list, notice anything missing? I’ll give you a hint:

Demonic Pact

There was a lot of hype about Demonic Pact this weekend, the price went as high as $15 Sunday night (and has since come crashing back down hard and fast). The problem with investing in Demonic Pact was that it looked neat on camera and deck techs but didn’t necessarily put up a strong performance in the event. While we don’t have access to the 7-3 and worse decklists to see where the best Demonic Pact deck finished, we can see it didn’t crack the top twenty decks.

The problem with Demonic Pact (and cards like it) is that it almost always requires you to have something else to go with it. We had similar issues with Abyssal Persecutor during it’s time in Standard… you had to kill your opponent AND kill your Persecutor to win. The chief difference here is that when you can’t get rid of Pact, you actively lose rather than just not winning. While Demonic Pact is clearly a powerful card, there will also be some percentage of games where you lose the game because of it.

Let’s say that you only lose to Demonic Pact 1 in 10 times you play it. That’s still a 10% swing on your results, which is often the difference between a winning record and a losing record. When you spread that out over the course of a long tournament, like a Grand Prix or SCG Open it’s going to likely cost you at least one round over the course of the weekend, and likely more. How many tournaments would you sign up for knowing that you HAD to start 0-1, because that’s essentially what you’re doing playing cards like Demonic Pact.

Demonic Pact is a card that can comfortably and reasonably hold around $5, but anything higher than that is probably not a realistic number long term. The only situation where this changes is if we see a widespread mechanic that involves sacrificing your own permanents to fuel more powerful spells, something that is unlikely within the current state of design.

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AbbotAbbot of Keral Keep showed up in numbers across a number of mono red decks, including all three that eventually made the Top Eight. I’ll take a moment here to thank all of you that told me this card was garbage over and over again, that only makes calling this card a winner that much sweeter.

Exquisite Firecraft

But realistically, any conversation that includes Abbot also has to include Exquisite Firecraft. Both of these cards showed up in the same numbers in the same decks. I’m still not wild about Exquisite Firecraft as a long term hold as it does almost nothing outside of Standard but the pair of these cards are both hovering in the $9 range today and I’m fine with advising to sell either.

While I still believe that Abbot of Keral Keep has great potential in Modern, I’m also fine with taking the gains now as this card is likely to plateau for a while until we see further innovation outside of just mono red decks.

Thopter Spy

Thopter Spy Network feels like a “win more” card, but it’s likely going to be the crux of the mirror match between these Red Blue thopter decks going forward. It’s only a matter of time before green or white are slotted in for enchantment removal to combat opposing Ensoul Artifacts, Spy Networks, and to a lesser extent Ghirpur Aether Grids, especially considering we already have the land base in place to accommodate Jeskai and Temur builds of this archetype.

Spy Network seems like the less exciting of the two marquee rares in this deck as it’s relegated heavily to the sideboard and Hangarback  Walker can slot into any color deck easily as a colorless creature. If you’re going to play this card – hold onto it, if you’re not looking to play Thopters for the next couple months, then now is probably the time to cash out as only so many rares can hold the value of a set.

Hangarback

When I look at this card, I’m filled with disappointment in myself for missing it initially and then denying it’s quality when Jeff Hoogland put up solid results with it at the first SCG Open. Hangarback Walker is pure card advantage, it’s almost always going to take at least two cards to rid the world of this creature and it has the bonus of being colorless so it can slot into any colors.

Hangarback is already closing in on the $20 mark, which should pretty much be the ceiling on this card for it’s time in Standard as it’s hard for rares these days to pass that mark. Since the inception of Mythic rares, the only rare that I remember passing $20 is Snapcaster Mage, and this is no Snapcaster Mage. If you bought a big pile of these to cash in on, this is your time. If you’re looking for a Standard archetype to carry you through the next year+ I might look elsewhere as this deck is losing a lot in Ensoul Artifact, Shrapnel Blast, and Darksteel Citadel this October.

Jace

I’m still in shock at the success of any of these flip-walkers and if I had to place my bets, I would not have placed them on Jace. Hovering around $30, Jace’s price is probably a little over-hyped at the moment partly because he’s a fan favorite character and partly because of we saw some pretty high prices on the hot lists two weekends ago at GP Dallas. I don’t really think this price is real or sustainable, but I said the same thing at $20. Realistically there’s going to a slow unwinding on this price of this card as many vendors had to pay so high just to get these in stock the last couple weeks and they’re unlikely to be anxious to lose money on those cards, expect buylists to creep down as Jace only appeared in two out of the top twenty decks.

Nissa

Nissa appeared in the same number of decks as Jace, but with one less copy total. Nissa did not show up in any of the Green Red devotion decks but did make an appearance in Sperling’s Abzan Control deck and in Kibler’s Green/White deck. Nissa was another card that came out of the gate strong and went on a bit of a run but has since cooled. Sitting at $26, we’re already North of any kind of price this card can maintain. We’ll see how the format settles out over the next few weeks but I’m doubtful that Borderland Ranger is where we’re going to want to be in what appears to be a very aggressive format.

Languish

Traditional Control decks did not fare well at the PT this weekend. Languish showed up across a handful of decks that included Abzan and Dragon control decks. Languish showed up as a 4-of in zero of these decks with each of the decks running 2 or 3 split between the main deck and sideboard. These are not the numbers that create a $10 board wipe card. Take a look at any board wipe from the last seven or eight years and you’ll see the same thing, a peak at $7+ while supplies were low and then a significant decrease in price from there. I think the price of Languish is going to…well, languish. Ship these now if you’re not playing them, there isn’t any real upside from here.

Flash in the Pan

My overall suggestion for any Magic Origins cards that saw action this weekend is to get rid of them. The price on all of these cards is at or near enough to their peak that there’s just not much room to make money on these cards, but plenty of room to lose.


 

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6 thoughts on “Going Mad – Pro Tour Magic Origins

  1. As usual, I agree with a lots of points in this article, but disagree in some, too.

    (1) TSN is no “win more” card IMO, as it is an engine on its own and really nasty with multiple copies. The loss of Darksteel Citadel at rotation is really bad, but (and this applies to other statements made as well) rotation doesn’t only mean cards will disappear, but also others will replace them. What hinders this card is its restrictive mana-cost.

    (2) HW is not only playable in Ensoul Artifact or Thopter-Strategies, but in Token Strategies as well. This may be an option after the Devotion builds exit the stage.

    (3) I really really hope for Abbot to make a debut in Modern, but I am not sure, if this will happen in the next time. Since you and Guo Heng both see potential, I’m holding on to my copies for now.

    (4) I agree with the Flip-Walkers, but since Zendikar was all about lands, I can see Nissa getting better there. She doesn’t directly enable Landfall, so this might still be too much to hope for (for the record, I really hope she and Lili lose value, as I’d like to pick up a copy of each for my collection).

    (5 [and last]) Demonic Pact may or may not be a good target. It is very hard to evaluate IMO, because its fringe playability and great casual appeal may just make it happen. Converting the lose-effect into an auto-win via donating? Awesome, but this is definitely not going to happen in Standard. And in Modern a 4CMC (with double B) card which doesn’t impact the board immediately doesn’t seem that sought after. I feel pretty safe with my foil copy, though.

    Thanks for reading 😀

  2. 1. The reason I call Thopter Spy Network a “win more” card is that if you have an empty board and you cast TSN it literally does nothing for you. This card is a terrible top deck if you’re behind.

    2. Hangarback Walker is clearly good in a lot of scenarios, but historically Standard rares just can’t push past the $20 mark: Thragtusk and Courser of Kruphix are great examples of this phenomena.

    3. I’ve already given Abbot a try in my Naya Zoo deck and was never disappointed when I drew him. It won’t take much to push this card to Modern playability.

    5. Demonic Pact is down another $1.50 since writing this article, the writing is on the wall with this card. Also the casual appeal for this card is probably fairly low as it does say “lose the game” on it.

  3. Hey Derek, good read again. I’m surprised by how many incorrect calls I made regarding Origins cards but it’s because I played it safe with preorders. You talked up Abbot so much and a friend had great success with him at prerelease that I jumped on the bandwagon and I have to thank you for that. I’m floored that Firecraft is as expensive as it is. In a vacuum a 3 mana sorcery for 4 damage seems terrible when we’ve had Boros Charm and Stoke, but I guess it’s all about context and the current environment. I stayed away cause as you said there’s little upside for me being right as no red player I know will spend or trade for a $10 burn spell and it has 0 applications outside of standard.

    Hangerback Walker is another one I missed but in an Abzan world it’s either amazing or horrible. Vs Languish…Amazing. Vs Abzan Charm(exile ability) and Siege Rhino(trample)…mostly garbage . I just find it hard to believe still that an XX creature is so “valuable”. I’m not completely sold but it’s already too late from a financial standpoint so moving on.

    I personally am going to be dusting off GR dragons (my version, no Atarka) with Draconic Roars to punish and out race the red decks (something I routinely do on moto). I’m glad the mono red decks punished players for playing Jace and Nissa by main-boarding a bunch of Searing Bloods. I have some Jaces so I don’t mind his success, but I’m kinda sick of all the experts raving about him like a 0/2 is the second coming.

    There’s a few cards I’m eyeing post rotation and I’d like your opinion:
    Honored Hierarch – I’m under the assumption it’s a rare for a reason after play testing by Wizards. I think this on turn 1 followed by a turn 2 Draconic Roar, Wild Slash, or Ultimate Price is the future of the next Standard block for Green Ramp strategies. The down side is on any other turn he’s fairly terrible, but that’s true for all mana creatures. Thoughts?

    Rattleclaw Mystic – I’m deep on him and am not sure if I should keep buying him up or if he’s no Caryatid and I should stop now. I know he’s the buy a box promo but there’s only so many of those, and he synergizes beautifully with Raptor and to an extent Den Protector. The negative is that he isn’t hexproof and doesn’t slot into Abzan. So is he the next Caryatid and jumps or is he going to just be an average creature?

    And is Blue White (or esper) control dead?? I expected a lot more counterspells, Celestial Flares, Nyxfleece Rams, Arashin Clerics, and Ojutais at the Pro Tour. Is Languish that big a threat that even a turn 6 Ojutai with Stubborn Denial back up isn’t worth it? More importantly, is Ojutai going to Plummet in value cause of Languish?

    I’m not surprised mono red did well, it’s always good or amazing with the right draws and the right meta. If people aren’t playing Courser and Caryatid mono Red can dominate. I think players have forgotten about too many simple cards like Nyxfleece Ram to help Abzan and UW(B) control make it to the late game. Or maybe this is the Standard Wizards wants where decks are balanced vs the meta and players have to just hope to avoid certain match ups that they are soft to in an event.

    Also, what happened to the Rally decks? I was working and didn’t get to watch any coverage. Thanks as always man.

  4. I’m not excited about Honored Hierarch… best case scenario you stick him on one, attack on two, and then he adds mana on turn three. This is roughly the same time you’d be tapping your Rattleclaw Mystic or Leaf Gilder that you played on turn two only less reliable.

    Rattleclaw Mystic – everyone seems to be all over this card, but I’m just sitting on a single playset. While this does two-fold in that it ramps AND returns Deathmist Raptor, I’m still not THAT excited about it. The reality is that this is a rare from a set that was opened to the point of excess AND the buy a box promo. I can see this spiking to $4 or so briefly at rotation, but it does rotate six months after that so will have a short window to cash out. The other side of this coin is that there are a lot of players sitting on a lot of these and they will all flood the market with them at the same time so the price is going to come right back down. I’m also betting on some heavy elf support from BFZ which is likely where we’re going to get our one drop mana dork.

    Control decks typically don’t do well at Pro Tour events because they are tuned against a certain metagame. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the traditional control decks, they just needed time to make clear what their enemies were and the Pro Tour made that clear. That said, I still think Ojutai doesn’t have a whole lot of upward room. If it was played as a 4-of we’d see it more susceptible to spikes, but the bulk of people interested in playing Ojutai already own them.

    Mono Red – with pain lands and fetch lands in the mix, red gets a free 3-5 damage per game which is more than enough of a push to tip the scales in red’s favor.

    I think the Rally decks were deemed “too cute” by most of the teams and they also had a huge target on their backs from recent success. Abzan decks simply needed to throw a couple Anafenza the Foremost to their decks (already a solid card) to hate this strategy out.

    1. thanks man. Your example of hierarch in play does make me question why they made the card a rare. I hope you are wrong about Rattleclaw but I’ve gotten in so low a modest jump to $4 will be fine, i’m still hoping for $8-10 non-foil. I guess they will put a real one-mana mana dork in Battle but I don’t understand why they just wouldn’t reprint elvish mystic one more time in Origins. They gonna reprint Deathrite Shaman in Battle??? hahaha. “that would be too good”

  5. The meta will change. I love Mono Red but this will likely be the best it has it until rotation.

    The Languish’s and Jace’s will start to get a bit better now the format is defined.

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