All posts by James Chillcott

WEEKEND PRICE UPDATE: OCT 25TH/14

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By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week. This week, the story is much more about what’s falling than what’s rising as the overinflated EV (estimated value) of Khans of Tarkir packs starts to fall back to earth.

5 Winners of the Week

1. Waves of Aggression (Eventide, Rare): $2.15 to $4.49 (+109%)

Format(s): Modern + EDH

The upswing on this card is squarely rooted in it’s appearance in a new Modern combo deck that uses Goryo’s Vengeance to bring back Narset, Enlightened Master and take extra attack steps to demolish the opponent as early as turn 2. The card is likely to fall back a bit before enjoying a slow but steady increase as additional uses are found, but I would be a seller on any stray copies I happened to have lying around.

Verdict: Sell

2. Hushwing Gryff (M15, Rare): $1.31 to $2.72 (+108%)

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Format(s): Standard + Modern

It pulled some Top 8 camera time at the Pro Tour a few weeks back and word has slowly been spreading that this card might be one of the best answers to cards like Siege Rhino, Wingmate Roc and Sidisi by blunting their comes-into-play abilities. With Rabblemaster already proving that M15 rares carry strong gain potential, the question now becomes whether Gryff can find multiple homes and set up shop as a staple or fall back toward bulk on limited top table play. I stored 12 copies at $1, but I’m in no rush to unload now as a future home in Modern seems likely and the post-fee profits aren’t very compelling as of yet.

Verdict: Hold

3. Perilous Vault (M15, Mythic): $6.93 to $8.66 (+25%)

Format(s): Standard

The big gainer’s fall off pretty quick this week, but the big Vault shows it still has some gas in the tank as an M15 mythic with applications in multiple control builds in the new standard that have interest in wiping boards completely.  This card needs some top table finishes in the near future to push over $10 and towards $15 so I’m now comfortable holding until we see how the format evolves, with an eye to getting out if things shift heavily toward aggro.

Verdict: Hold

4. Shivan Reef (M15, Rare): $7.49 to $8.65 (+15%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern

The price on this heavily reprinted rare dual land is being pumped up by the widespread adoption of Jeskai Wins and Jeskai Ascendancy decks. You had a shot at picking these up this summer under $3, so now is a good time to get off the train if you’re holding. Otherwise, you can reliably wait until next summer to get back in for your personal collection.

Verdict: Sell

5. Thoughtseize (Theros, Rare): $16.24 to $19.49 (+20%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern + Legacy

Thoughtseize is to Theros block as Abrupt Decay was to Return to Ravnica, meaning that it’s a multi-format all-star you should have been snapping up by the dozen when the card as under $10 during the summer lows.

Verdict: Hold

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Jeskai Ascendancy (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $4.42 to $2.61 (-41%)

Format(s): Standard

This combo bad boy is dropping for a few different reasons. Firstly, it hasn’t been posting enough top table results to make people really respect the card in Standard. Secondly, there’s the general downtrend of KTK rares that is finally kicking in as more product floods the market. Finally, there’s the fear that the card will be banned in Modern this winter for degeneracy. For what it’s worth I think it’s much more likely that Treasure Cruise gets banned in Modern instead of Jeskai Ascendancy as there simply aren’t enough high profile Modern events between now and the next ban list release to prove the combo is too dominant to live.  At $4-5 this was a hold, but if we can get copies under $3 I’m a buyer as the card has applications in many formats and the Standard deck could easily improve with help from forthcoming sets.

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Verdict: Buy

2. Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $10.29 to $7.82 (-24%)

Format(s): All Constructed Formats

This drop has nothing to do with the power and reach of this card, and everything to do with the general decline in KTK card prices that will unfold into the holidays. Over $10 I was a seller, but in the $5-7 range I’m a buyer for long term holds since the card is an all-time all-star , with the caveat that a slight ban potential in Modern could injure the spec in a big way.

Verdict: Buy

3. Wooded Foothills (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $13.06 to $10.98 (-16%)

Format(s): Standard, Modern, Legacy, EDH

All of the KTK fetchlands are headed south as expected, and should settle into the $8-14 range depending on Standard usage by the holidays. Interestingly Polluted Delta is still holding the highest price of the five, a situation that should correct itself in favor of Foothills and Windswept Heath, ie the two lands that are actually seeing the most standard play. I’ll be buying a couple of full playsets of these lands, but I’ll happily wait until they bottom out to snatch them up.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

4. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic) 36.56 to 31.51 (-14%)

As predicted a lack of dominant play and the downtrend for KTK is pulling Sarkhan down a bit. If you’re going to play him, feel free to hold, but if not, I’d be looking to trade into fetches at their lows, since their long term potential far exceeds Sarkhan, who won’t be a great target for gains until he rotates. For him to bounce back this fall, the Mardu planeswalkers deck that Brad Nelson and crew ran back at GP Los Angeles last weekend needs to post some big results across a few important tourneys to unseat Jeskai Wins and Abzan as the assumed dominant decks.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

5. Nissa, Worldwaker (M15, Mythic) $40.59 to $36.94

Is she powerful? Of course she is? Is she owning top tables? Nope. Price memory should keep her over $30 for a while longer, but she’s really not winning enough games to justify this price.

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • See the Unwritten is my pick for one of the few undervalued cards in Khans of Tarkir. Easily available around $4, this card has major short, mid and long term upside potential in Standard, Modern (possibly) and EDH.
  • Russian boxes of KTK are sold out across Russia. Think about that for a second. An entire country is old out. They’re drafting English KTK because they’ve cracked everything they could get their hands looking for foil fetch lands. If you’re local LGS is holding foreign Japanese, Korean or Russian boxes, you should be pouncing all over them. Throw them in the closet and smile hard in 2 years when you flip them for 150+% upside.
  • The 2014 SDCC Black Planeswalkers sets are available online below $325 and many vendors are offering above $400 for the 6 cards contained within. I traded a set for $465 in store credit last week. This makes no mathematical sense so get on it.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Weekend Tournament Coverage: GP Los Angeles + SCG Worster Open

by James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

10:15pm UPDATE: Daniel Scheid takes down GPLA with G/R Monsters, beating Mono-Red Aggro, and proving that Stormbreath Dragon is far from being obsolete in the new fall Standard format. Daniel reports that he went 7-0 against Abzan during the tournament to nab the win. Anger of the Gods also looks better in the face of a likely upswing in Sligh style decks since it’s already so solid against Jeskai, Mana Dorks and Mardu early plays.

6:30pm UPDATE: Here’s the GPLA Top 8 Decks:

  • 2 Abzan Aggro
  • 2 Abzan Midrange
  • Mono Red
  • Boss Sligh
  • Mardu MidRange
  • GR Monsters

Another week of KTK Standard is nearly behind us and the story is a fairly exciting one. Despite cries of dismay at the possibility of a new binary Standard format composed of Jeskai Aggro & Abzan Mid-Range, this weekend has unfolded across North America with a clear signal of diversity.

Several new archtypes have emerged at the top tables of Grand Prix Los Angeles, including Mono Red Aggro (Eric Pei) and Temur Mid-Range (Brian Kibler).

In terms of the total metagame on Day 2 of the tournment, the promising breakdown was as follows (Decks/Percentage):

  • Abzan Mid-Range: (47/24%)
  • Jeskai Wins: (44/23%)
  • Abzan Aggro: (16/8%)
  • Green Devotion: (15/8%)
  • Mardu Mid-Range: (12/6%)
  • R/W Aggro: (8/4%)
  • G/R Monsters: (6/3%)
  • Sidisi Whip: (6/3%)
  • Temur Aggro: (5/3%)
  • U/B Vault Control: (5/3%)

Sure, the two best decks from PTKTK represented 47% of the field, but the next 40% was broken down across 8 different archtypes.

Decks hunting for Top 8 at the Grand Prix currently include:

  • Temur Mid-Range (Brian Kibler)
  • Mono-Red Aggro (Eric Pei)
  • Jeskai Wins (Austin Bach)
  • Mardu Tokens (Brad Nelson)

Over at the StarCityGames Standard Open held in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Top 8 broke down as follows:

  • 1st: Jeskai Wins (Trevor Humphries)
  • 2nd:  Mono-Red Aggro (Dylan Murphy)
  • 3rd: Abzan Mid-Range (Andrew Boswell)
  • 4th: Jeskai Wins(David Shiels)
  • 5th: Abzan Mid-Range (Scott Robins)
  • 6th: Abzan Mid-Range (Elliot Wolchesky)
  • 7th: G/B Devotion w/ See the Unwritten (Steven Jack)
  • 8th: Temur Mid-Range (Andre Batista)

Regardless of how the GP plays out, the sheer number of different deck archtypes (with many builds varying by as many as 12 cards), mean that we are facing an open season where skill, careful testing and sideboard planning are likely to be rewarded as the weeks unfold.

So where does this all leave us from an #mtgfinance perspective?

Well, despite the broad play seen by a plethora of KTK rares and mythics, the fact remains that the expanding supply from cracked packs should continue to drag down the overall set value as we move closer to the holidays. We’re likely to see mild spikes this week on some of the freshly proven performers this week including Butcher of the Horde, Savage Knuckleblade, See the Unwritten and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, all of which are clearly viable as top tier cards in Standard for the season. Butcher and Knuckleblade can easily hit $4-5 and as undervalued mythics Sidisi and See the Unwritten should be possible to challenge $8+ in the near future, despite only having homes in one archetype.

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Crackling Doom, Whip of Erebos, Doomwake Giant and Eidolon of Blossoms are all also live to hold or increase value slightly based on their expressed viability.

It’s also possible that inertia and price memory will force a milder curve until they redouble their results at upcoming tournaments.

It’s worth noting that though several new archtypes and their banner cards have proven themselves, Jeskai Wins and Abzan Mid-Range are still all over the top tables and clearly still circling the podium. Heck, even devotion and heroic sub-themes did far better than anyone imagined throughout the weekend. With no clear losers, it will be tougher for the new cards to drain value from fallen soldiers.

Budget focused players will be happy to note that strong finishes by the relatively cheap Mono-Red Aggro deck makes affordable Standard a real possibility for the budget conscious this fall.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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WEEKEND UPDATE FOR OCT 18TH

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week. Overall, with the release of Khans of Tarkir still echoing through a refreshed and dynamic standard metgame, most of the movers and shakers are found in that format.

10 Winners of the Week

1. Astral Cornocopia (Born of the Gods, Rare): $.39 to $.88 (+208%)

Formats: Standard + EDH + Eternal Potential

I would love to claim I saw this one coming based on my 50+ copies, but in reality I only snagged them as a bulk rare with clear combo potential in early summer without any clue they would be playable in the scariest combo deck of the season (Jeskai Ascendancy). The Jeskai combo deck plays this card as a zero casting cost artifact with the slight potential upside of being a mana rock if necessary (it never is). It’s worth noting that the card can easily be swapped out for Briber’s Purse in standard, which should limit it’s short-term price below $3 unless it makes a showing in an eternal format in some random combo deck at a top table.

Verdict: Conditional Sell (on entry points below .$50)

2. Perilous Vault (M15, Mythic): $3.54 to $5.13(+145%)

Formats: Standard + EDH/Casual

Put simply it is the emergence of the U/B Control builds at the Pro Tour that is driving the resurgence in this card.  As a sweeper that can clear the board of everything but lands, the card gives control builds game against both creatures and planeswalkers out of the mid-range deck as well as stray enchantments and artifacts out of Jeskai Ascendancy.  Expect the future of this card to depend on how many control decks keep making top tables over the next few months. A faster field will put it to sleep and leave it as a spec to look at next summer for future EDH and casual interest.

Verdict: Hold

3. Pearl Lake Ancient (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $2.31 to $5.13 (+124%)

Format: Standard

As with Perilous Vault, Pearl Lake Ancient is under the spotlight as a somewhat reluctant finisher in various Jeskai and Dimir control builds for standard. The combination of Prowess, Flash and some resiliency to 1-for-1 removal makes PLA a reasonable top end for decks that can survive to that point. I have been a seller at the new price, having bought in to 20+ copies around $1.50, mostly because I think the card is merely good rather than great, and could easily fade from memory if the format shifts. It has no future in other formats and I wouldn’t want to be caught holding a bunch beyond the peak. On the other hand, if it posts a prominent finish at GP Los Angels this weekend, it does have upside potential similar to Wingmate Roc given it’s mythic rarity. Keep an eye on our wrap up coverage of the major tournaments Sunday night for clues.

Verdict: Sell

4. Rakshasa Deathdealer (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $1.63 to $4.09 (+66%)

Format: Standard

Initially speculators held off this card on the assumption that it would follow a similarly unexciting trajectory to Fleecemane Lion, another solid beater from a fall set that peaked over $10 in Nov ’13 only to fall to the $2 range later that season. Ironically the Deathdealer made a strong debut at PTKTK alongside the lion with both cards offering major coordinated offensive power in Mike Sigrist’s aggro Abzan build.  Despite the flexibility of the Abzan deck builds, I’m a seller of this card in the $5-6 range as we still have a ton more Khans product to be opened and the card isn’t likely to cross the border into older formats.

Verdict: Sell

 5. Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $8.16 to $12.58 (+54%)

Format: Standard, Modern, Eternal.

If I had to pick a card to be the Snapcaster Mage of Khans of Tarkir, this would be it. Initially overshadowed by the more hyped Treasure Cruise, it was soon revealed that Draw7/Pick2 is actually more powerful than Draw3, especially in control/combo decks that need specific answers or combo pieces to close out games. It’s so powerful, it’s popping up in pretty much any Standard or Modern deck that can cast it and wants the effect, and that’s a lot of them. As a rare in a heavily opened set it will have trouble holding a price point above $10-12 this season, but it deserves the better than average price curve and will be a definite spec once it floats lower on available copy volume heading into spring and summer. As an eternal and EDH gem, I’m holding multiple copies, English foils, Japanese foils, and multiple foreign copies. It’s a card worth trading into and acquiring wherever you find it. The only real question is whether the new delve cards will be too powerful in modern and lead to fresh bannings but we’ve got time to see how that plays out this winter.

Verdict: Sell (Short Term), Buy (Mid-Term/Long-Term)

6. Siege Rhino (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $7.40 to $10.50 (42%)

Here is your leading candidate for the best creature in Standard and a virtual swiss-army knife in the current format. It’s an efficient beater, blocker and de facto counter spell against burn spells. It helped multiple Abzan builds dominate the Top 8 of PTKTK, it reverses starts against Aggro and Tempo that look unwinnable, it tramples over green ramp creatures, and it’s up 40%+ this week as Abzan takes the early mantle as the deck to beat. As a KTK rare it’s current level leaves little room for growth, so I’m a seller, looking to cash out from $4 pre-orders and reinvest for further profit potential elsewhere.

Verdict: Sell

7. See the Unwritten (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $4 to $5.62 (+41%)

This is a card to watch. There is a strong legacy of green cards that leverage early ramp into massive creatures on board, and it’s easier than ever right now to push an early 4 power creature into 2 behemoths given the plethora of ramp creatures and mid-range power creep. The growth this week was based on some Green Devotion play at the Pro Tour leading into Hornet Queen, but with a strong possibility of Eldrazi and/or massive Dragons showing up in Standard later this year, there is definitely runway left for this undervalued mythic. I’m a buyer under $6.

Verdict: Buy

8. Wingmate Roc (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $14.88 to $20.12 (+35%)

Format(s): Standard

With Abzan (WGB) decks dominating the top 8 at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir last weekend, Wingmate Roc has had plenty of camera time lately. The card has more than proven itself as a solid role player in any mid-range deck that can afford the mana cost of 3WW. In a standard format where folks are generally trading 1-for-1 against removal, adding two solid threats to the board for the cost of one can be big game against an exhausted hand. The card’s price is definitely vulnerable to metagame shifts, and it has no future in older formats, but it’s also seeing play in Jeskai Control and Mardu builds so it should be able to hold $15+ for most of the season.

Verdict: Sell

9. Glittering Wish (Future Sight, Rare): $15.99 to $19.36 (+21%)

Easily found for as little as $2 just 6 weeks ago, Glittering Wish was always a strong card waiting for the right deck. As a Future Sight era rare it is basically a Super Mythic, and the 1000% increase isn’t that surprising given the trajectory of other rares from that set in recent years once they found a home. Driving the trend is the pivotal nature of Glittering Wish in the modern version of the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck where it serves as an extra 3-4 copies by fetching the central combo piece from the sideboard as necessary. So long as it’s Ascendancy rather than Wish that gets banned this winter (a result most consider likely), there is more room for upside here, so long as another deck finds a use for it. Even still, I’ve been a happy seller at this price point, because the upside from here is unlikely to outpace other options.

Verdict: Sell

10. Blood Moon (9th Edition, Rare): $16.24 to $19.49 (+20%)

Format: Modern + Legacy

At a time when many Modern cards are floating lower, the utility of Blood Moon in shutting down the increasingly complicated mana-bases in Modern and Legacy is still gaining traction. The card hasn’t been printed for a while and the recent boost is attributable at least partially to the increased prominence of Burn and U/R aggro strategies in older formats made possible by the emergence of Monestary Swiftspear. This is a card that’s fine to hold if you’re looking to play it and easy to sell if you see a chance to reinvest elesewhere.

Verdict: Hold

Noteable Losers

1. Savage Knuckleblade (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $4.31 to $3.21 (-26%)

Format(s): Standard

The Estimated Value of a box of Khans of Tarkir is still too high at present, and with such a highly opened set, something has to give. Prime candidates will continue to include powerful but under-performing cards like Savage Knuckleblade that aren’t showing up at enough top tables to hold their value. Pending a strong finish of note, this card is headed to $1-2.

Verdict: Sell

2. Rattleclaw Mystic (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $5.85 to $4.64 (-21%)

Format(s): Standard

Despite showing up as a four-of in the Jeskai Ascendancy standard deck, the Mystic is largely unrepresented compared to stronger rares found on the upswing this week from Khans of Tarkir. As such, expect it to settle in around $4 and look to snap copies up quickly if it posts a strong finish, since a metagame shift could easily see this come back up in the $6-10 range.

Verdict: Hold

3. Empty the Pits (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $5.34 to $4.30 (-19%)

Format(s): Standard, Modern + EDH/Casual

The power isn’t in dispute, but it’s unclear whether Empty the Pits can find a home in a powerful graveyard centered deck in Standard that can put up great results. Even when it shows up, it’s often just a 1-2 of. As a long-term pickup this card has strong potential as a mythic in the $5 range that could easily hit $15-20 in a few years.

Verdict: Buy

Quick Hits:

  • Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Surrak Dragonclaw and Butcher of the Horde are all down 15%+ this week because they aren’t showing up in top table decks yet. All three can easily reverse course on better news. Keep an eye out for bargains, especially on the mythics.
  • Fetches have been a “sell” since the pre-release and will continue to be until they fall under $10-12 broadly as befits their status as fall set rare dual lands that are only seeing limited play in standard. Look to buy a ton of these next summer during fal set discount season.
  • I recommend selling boxes of Modern Masters which can be unloaded in the $360-400 range right now. Unknowns around the potential release of Modern Masters 2 as a global release make possible reprints from the 1st set a distinct possibility I don’t want to hang around to see proved wrong. The profits are solid for a 16 month hold, so I’m all out, saving only one box for way down the road.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

ADVERTISEMENT:  Grimoire Beta Edition – A stylish storage for your cards. Everything in magic is about favor and style. Your deck is cool, your mat is sweet, so should your cards. Check out our awesome deck storage – The Grimoire Beta Edition.

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The Lessons of Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

It was a weekend full of great decks, plenty of drama, and an excellent showing from many of the world’s best players. In defeating Shaun McClaren’s Jeskai Wins burn/tempo deck, Ari Lax claimed his first Pro Tour trophy and put Abzan mid-range on the map as the deck to beat this fall. Perhaps most importantly, this Pro Tour has also put Khans of Tarkir on display as one of the most influential fall sets in recent memory.

More than ten KTK rares and mythics made it onto the top 8 stage today, including such notables as Savage Knuckleblade, Clever Impersonator and Rakshasa Deathdealer. But with 6 of our Top 8 decks featuring either Abzan or Jeskai builds, it was really the following  cards that defined the weekend and now threaten to define the standard metagame heading towards years end:

The New Staples

If there was a single creature heralded for key wins this weekend, it was certainly Siege Rhino. The life draining beat stick was instrumental in multiple Abzan victories over aggressive Jeskai hands that had trouble putting games away in the face of one or more 6 point life swings. Easily found as low as $5 last week, this format defining threat has spiked to $10+ per copy this weekend and may gain a few more dollars before the inevitable general downtrend in KTK rares kicks in due to ever expanding product openings.

Dig Through Time has arrived. Initially overlooked in all the hype around it’s cousin Treasure Cruise, DTT was virtual TNT all weekend, blowing up end games with the incredible power offered Combo and Control players when they get to find answers amongst their next seven cards. Spiking from $5 per copy to $40-45/playset this evening. I’d expect a solid $10-12 plateau now as more players explore how best to put this game winner to use.

Wingmate Roc was a big question mark heading into PTKTK, but it comes out the other side with feathers intact. Never a bomb, but frequently a solid roll player, the giant bird twins did work all weekend as an efficiently costed clock that often required more than one answer to escape. Expect the gains towards $15 to solidify through the early part of the week.

Despite being objectively less powerful than Sarkhan or Nissa, Sorin’s ability to slot neatly into the dominant Abzan decks and to help grind out games through life link bonuses or double bat activations was frequently a key strategy in pushing past the last few removal spells and on to victory. Now proudly uttered in the same breath as Elspeth, and often found boosting her soldiers, Sorin, Solemn Visitor should have little trouble heading towards $30 this week.

Speaking of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, she’s not going anywhere quite yet. The format isn’t quite as aggro as expected in the early weeks, and she’s still doing good work even without Sphinx’s Revelation backup.

Mantis Rider drew blood over and over again at PTKTK and should easily hold $7-8 as a central soldier for the variety of Jeskai brews.

THE INCUMBANTS

Any uncertain about the dominance of the best cards from Theros block must now be put aside, or at least for this group of powerful staples that made up 4 of the top 6 most popular cards in the Top 8. All of these cards clearly deserve their current price tags and should be neutral to rising heading out of the weekend:

Thoughtseize might have been bad had dedicated aggro decks made a stronger showing, but paying 2 life to get rid of key draw spells, planewalkers and heavy hitting mid-range creatures was good all weekend long.

Though green decks were less dominant than many feared coming into the event, Sylvan Caryatid still did a ton of work all weekend fixing mana problems and setting the stage for victory in the hands of  both Green Devotion and Jeskai Combo players.

With so many powerful mid-range creatures and planeswalkers on display, Hero’s Downfall stood strong as the de facto kill spell of standard this weekend.

Siege Rhino might have won the tournament, but Goblin Rabblemaster still scored thousands of points of damage across the event hall this weekend. With Jeskai blends emerging as a powerful and flexibility cluster of archetypes across the top tables, we can expect the best Goblin printed in years to hold his role as a $15+ staple.

 

THE CHALLENGERS

These cards made their presence felt all weekend and are on deck to be a big part of the evolving metagame despite not having the full spotlight this weekend:

Sarkhan, Dragonspeaker was all over the top 64, despite now showing up in vast quantities in the top 8. His power now confirmed, we can expect Sarkhan to maintain a $40+ price point as Jeskai Wins, Jeskai Control and G/R players all find ways to put him to use at various levels of standard play.

Coming at ya straight out of Theros Block events, Prognostic Sphinx shared on camera time with Pearl Lake Ancient as the control finishers of choice in a world without Aetherling and a cadre of top pros who refused to go Esper to make use of Elspeth.

Pearl Lake Ancient: Despite UB Control’s inability to close out key games on camera this weekend, it will surprise few if PLA manages to find a home in a retooled control build at some other prominent tournament this fall. It’s no Aetherling or Elspeth, but the big body, resistance to point removal and potential for life gain shenanigans has proven the mythic is likely worth closer to $5 than $1.50.

It may have fizzled out in Top 8 but Jeskai Ascendancy based combo decks actually performed reasonably well across the tournament. Though the deck is clearly more fragile in Standard than it is in Modern, enough turn 4 kills were still thrown down by the likes of Lee Shi Tian, Dave Williams and other top pros to ensure this deck’s centrepiece holds value in the $5-8 unless the metagame shifts away.

Coming out the other end of the Pro Tour tunnel, we’re facing a diverse and grindy metagame that rewards careful deck construction, flexibility and well considered play. In short, this is a skill testing format, and the stage is set for further innovation as the season progresses. Think you’ve got what it takes to crack the secret formula? First you need to get past my Super Villain (Villainous Wealth Ramp) deck…..bwahahahahah!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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