The Rivals of Summer

It’s a Pro Tour, no, a paper Pro Tour, no, wait, a tabletop Mythic Championship #1 2019 next weekend.

If you follow the same sorts of folks I do on Twitter, you’re familiar with the jokes about names and awful branding and why does the 2019 MagicFest shirt have a design that echoes genitalia and so on but really, the change in the event names is the biggest fail of all. I could handle “Pro Tour Nagasaki 2017” pretty well but that failed to convey what the Standard metagame was like. In contrast, Pro Tour Dominaria will immediately call to mind how Teferi, Hero of Dominaria came roaring onto the scene. I will miss naming PTs after sets.

Last week I brought up some Ixalan cards that are buys or holds going into this summer and the rotation in the fall. There’s one subset of cards I wanted to mention, and then we’re into the Rivals of Ixalan cards I’ll be watching, plus a touch of PT spec.

I was remiss in not bringing up my favorite speculative pick of Ixalan: The buy-a-box/treasure chest promo versions of the Ixalan flip cards, which Travis Allen taught me to call Mapsterpieces, are fantastic pickups, especially the cheap ones. Search is about $60 and that’s a good price for a card seeing the Legacy and Modern play that this one is, Rites at $20 is a solid pickup as a budget Gaea’s Cradle, and the rest are super cheap, relatively niche, and a wonderful set to have put away for their inevitable spike. I have a soft spot for Conqueror’s Galleon, mainly because the flipped side is everything you ever wanted in Commander.

Rivals of Ixalan, as the last small set we’re going to have until they decide to bring back small sets, is in a smaller circulation than every other set that’s Standard-legal. This has not translated to a lot of expensive cards, but there are some sweet ones to look for.

The Immortal Sun ($16 nonfoil/$30 foil): Buy

I love this card in both versions but I’d so much rather have the foils. This is a card that goes in just about any Commander deck, is very one-sided, and shuts down all planeswalkers. Yes, that’s yours too, but that’s the price for the many other benefits you get. I think this is a very strong candidate to get reprinted in a future Commander deck, and so I advocate foils.

This saw a bump about the time that Guilds of Ravnica came out:

It’s seen some play in Standard, only 2000 decks over on EDHREC, and that’s why it’s $15 to pick up and not $10 or even $7. Still, I’m hoping it’ll come down in price, but I’m not holding my breath. If the price falls that means a good amount are still circulating, but my main thought is that most of the copies out there have been picked up and put into decks, never to come out unless they add more planeswalkers.

Jadelight Ranger ($9/$14): Sell

This is going to be a dollar by Thanksgiving, if it’s not bulk. It’s seen zero Modern play, it’s in less than 400 decks, the foil is 1.5x the nonfoil, instead of the two-to-three multiplier we’d prefer. It all adds up to a card that has no chance once it rotates. Please don’t keep a single one a moment longer than you have to. I respect if you have been playing with it for 18 months, and you want to hang on to the end, but even if this does well at the PT, I want no part of it.

Hadana’s Climb ($6/$11): Sell, then buy after it drops

Frankly, this applies to all five of the enemy-color flip cards from Rivals, as they are mostly very very powerful when flipped and run a wide gamut before then. I like cards with a low buy-in and low chance of reprint, and you’ll be able to get these dirt cheap. Again, I like foils a lot more and they won’t cost you that much more to get.

Azor’s Gateway ($5/$15): Sell

There was a point that this was a $15 card:

And that ship has sailed, friends. Yes, the land is amazing and a half, and if they ever print a card that allows you to transform target permanent this will be among the first to take off, but for now, I just can’t recommend it. I want to love this card, given that it’s two to play and just one to loot, but we can do better in Commander and the big payoff takes forever. I’m just not in on this card unless it drops to near-bulk prices, and then I’ll listen.

Now, as for the Pro Tour, and what to buy ahead of time, I’ve got some quick hits.

Kaya’s Wrath is going to have a good showing. River of Soot had a chance, I thought, but with both Cry of the Carnarium and Kaya’s Wrath, the control decks are pretty set. I don’t think it’ll win it all, but we’ll see a lot of boardwipe effects.

I really like having a few Venerated Loxodon at cheap prices. Don’t bother with the foils, but we’re going to see some impressive games on camera for this card, pumping a team before something else pumps the team.

I’m also a fan of picking up Expansion/Explosion before someone reminds us that it’s an instant and does sick things with Wilderness Reclamation. It’s $2 now, but it was $5 not long ago and that’s when it was being opened. Now that it’s at peak supply and lowest price, is there a bigger instant to cast?

Finally, if you’ve been holding Vivien Reid, I’m previewing myself a bit here but I think the best time to sell will be during the PT weekend. I foresee a spike for her, as she answers so many of Standard’s current problems quite effectively. I’m not buying her, not at this price with only two sets till she rotates, but if you’ve got spares, get ready.