So a couple weeks ago, I talked about why I really didn’t like Mayor of Avabruck as a spec target. Back then, my logic was based on the extremely small space for werewolves as shown on the checklist card. If we put ourselves in the shoes of the player type that we’re not, then we can try to shine some moonlight as to why this tribe that’s seemingly dripping with flavor and non-competitive appeal has been so much of a financial letdown over the past four and a half years.
I’ve seen a decent number of people suggesting that the puppy patrol will see a rise in popularity in the wake of a potential new legendary werewolf creature to lead the Commander deck. Now that the second checklist card has been proven to be a reality, we have a bit more clues to narrow down the possibilities of what can and cannot be in the set.
With two of the white and blue slots being taken up by Archangel Avacyn and Marit Lage, she’s on Innistrad and going to fight Emrakul in a 1v1 duel to save the Multiverse, we only have one red, one green, and one gold double-faced card at rare or mythic. I’m going to go out on a limb here and take a guesstimate that the werewolf ‘walker takes up one slot there, and the legendary werewolf Commander is the other.
That makes the total number of double-faced werewolves in Shadows Over Innistrad an approximate grand total of fifteen. Yep, fifteen flip doggies, give or take one or two (I can’t really tell if Breakneck Rider is the name of a werewolf or not, and it’s possible that the mono-red double faced card is not a werewolf). Let’s compare that to the number of Allies in Battle for Zendikar that managed to spark a couple of the decks’ core components.
As you can see, Allies got a lot more support in BFZ than Werewolves are likely to get in SOI. There are a couple explanations for this; the word Ally got slapped on at least a dozen or so random creatures that would have likely been the exact same without it, and BFZ wasn’t really competing within itself for any other non-Eldrazi tribes. Innistrad is full of Angels, Vampires, Zombies, Humans, and Spirits, all fighting to get a piece of the tribal pie.
Instead of the new Allies being any good at all for the competitive player, they managed to spark a fire in the casual players heart. People started to look back at some of the older (and better) Allies that they could combine with their pack-fresh durdles, and we saw a lot of the reasonably powerful ones creep up in price. The mana dork, clone, and protection engine are the most prominent of that group. The kind of player who enjoys Magic without sleeves eats those cards up, and you should always be happy to find that person and do business with them.
I said something important back there. Remember that all-important article by Ross Lennon that I always reference, called Mastery of the Invisible? You know that they exist, which is good. You also have a general idea of what kinds of cards these players enjoy playing with. Mill. Angels. Demons. Dragons. Zombies. Relentless Rats. All deck themes that are time-honored favorites in the unspoken majority of the player base. Why aren’t werewolves a part of this? Well, my friend; I have a theory (and it’s just that, a theory) that one of the reasons for the unpopularity of werewolves is the requirement for additional hardware; either in the form of checklist cards or protective sleeves.
“But DJ! Checklist cards are only like 25 cents on TCGplayer, or 10 cents on SCG!” Yep, but they’re an additional hoop that the player has to jump through to build their deck. While anecdotal evidence is far from fact, I thought about this while at the shop one day when a customer came in to buy one of the 1,000 count boxes of commons/uncommons that I sell for $7. He pulled out one of the double-faced werewolf cards and questioned how you were supposed to play in in the deck if you could see it coming, which is a fair question if you’ve been playing Magic for less than a month. I explained the concepts of both checklists and sleeves to him, and was met with the following response:
“Oh. That seems like would take more work to keep track of if I had a deck full of two-sided cards. Can I just trade it for a different card in another box?”
So what are your thoughts on casual players disliking a high volume of double-faced cards in their deck because of the requirement of additional checklists/sleeves? I’ve had no trouble selling Bloodline Keepers in the past, but maybe that’s because it is usually the only DFC in the deck. I’m curious if anyone has had a similar experience as I have, and if the need for a high volume of checklists has had an effect on the suppressed demand of werewolves as a casual archetype.
Were Else Should we Look?
If we’re not buying into werewolves as a casual spec, what kind of cards should we be looking into? Well, I like Vampires and Zombies as a starting point. Contrary to our furry friends, we can put our hard-earned cash dollars into cards that, like the werewolves, won’t be reprinted anytime soon, but also have the benefit of already being proven over time.
Now that the windows are broken, this card is practically on the reserved list. There is no way that the cathars of Avacyn can rebuild with all those undead walking around. All jokes aside, this has managed to shamble its way to a solid $3 over the past few years, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hanging around the $7-8 mark in a few months. If all else fails, this will be a much easier sell at the $3ish it’s at now than a pile of 47 Mayor of Avabruck.
Let’s wrap all that up in a neat bow; Even though there will likely be a double-sided werewolf planeswalker and legendary werewolf creature in Shadows over Innistrad, I do not expect werewolf cards to increase Mayor of Avabruck or any of his werewolf buddies to increase in price significantly enough such that it would be worth buying in now for profit. If you’re one of the few Invisibles that keeps their finger on the pulse of the finance market by reading these articles, and you want to build werewolves, then I don’t think there’s downside in buying now because you plan on playing with them.
Rest in Peace is fighting the good fight against the undead hordes, and wants a bigger paycheck because of it. He’s not arguing for a $15 minimum wage, just a $2 raise per copy. What a goddamned socialist hippie. Even at $4, I don’t think this card is a bad buy if you need copies or expect to require them in the future. Remember all those players who thought Stony Silence had reached its’ peak at $5? Exactly, you don’t remember them because they shut up real quick.