All posts by Travis Allen

Travis Allen has been playing Magic on and off since 1994, and got sucked into the financial side of the game after he started playing competitively during Zendikar. You can find his daily Magic chat on Twitter at @wizardbumpin. He currently resides in upstate NY, where he is a graduate student in applied ontology.

The Jolly Green Giant

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By; Travis Allen

A week or two ago I posted on Twitter about a Genesis Wave deck I’ve been playing in Modern and about how much I’ve enjoyed it. I am confident in saying that this is the most fun I’ve had playing Modern since the format’s inception. I got a lot of requests for the list and discussion, so this week I thought we could take a break from the B&R fervor and do something a little different. This article will be much lighter on the finance info than it normally is. Instead, we’ll be looking at the “NyxWave” deck. Hopefully this is far enough off the beaten Modern path to be interesting to most. Next week we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming.

Let’s start with my latest list:

Spells
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Genesis Wave
1 Harmonize
3 Overgrowth
2 Primal Command
1 Sylvan Scrying
4 Utopia Sprawl

Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
4 Arbor Elf
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Eternal Witness
1 Kitchen Finks
2 Primeval Titan
3 Voyaging Satyr

Lands
8 Forest
5 Green Fetches
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden

Sideboard
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Firespout
1 Harmonize
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Nature’s Claim
2 Rest in Peace
3 Spellskite
2 Stony Silence
1 Vexing Shusher
1 Wurmcoil Engine

If you’ve been following this deck online at all, you’ll see it’s sort of a hybrid between early Genesis Wave builds that ran the full set of BTEs and Elvish Visionarys and Woo’s recent list that focused more on establishing Primal Command locks. I’ve chosen a middle ground that I feel encompasses the best components of both lists.

Our mana ramp comes from the Utopia Sprawls, Overgrowths, Arbor Elves and Voyaging Satyrs. I think I’ve reached a point where my favorite three cards in an opening hand in Modern are Forest, Arbor Elf, and Utopia Sprawl. Why is that so powerful?

T1: Land, Arbor Elf
T2: Land, Utopia Sprawl on untapped land. Tap Sprawl land for two, untap with Arbor, tap for two more, for a total of four mana on T2.

That means turn two Garruk Wildspeakers (which untaps both lands for another three mana) or Harmonize. You’re in great shape after doing that, and even if you don’t manage to win, at least you had a ton of fun losing. Utopia Sprawl

Four Arbor Elves and four Utopia Sprawl are untouchable. They form the backbone of the deck’s mana acceleration, and are part of why Garruk is so good in this list. The Overgrowths and Voyaging Satyrs are also very powerful, but their numbers are more flexible. I feel that four and four is probably too many, but I haven’t figured out what the correct number is yet. I liked three and three, but I could see possibly dropping a Satyr.

Garruk Wildspeaker is amazing, and casting him reminds you of why he was the best Planeswalker in Lorwyn. Untapping two naked lands is reasonable, but when one of those lands has three enchantments on it and the other land is Nykthos, his +1 is just silly. Garruk is almost always behind the silly mana counts that reach into the mid and high teens. Then when you don’t have a use for more mana this turn, his beast token is way overpowered for the cost. It’s great at threatening opponents with lots of removal and plays solid defense on the turns where you don’t have any of your mana sinks. What’s more, a single +1 from his starting loyalty puts you in Overrun territory. It’s not uncommon to cast him, tick him up once, then just Overrun them to death the next turn. It’s not as flashy a win, but it’s efficient. Don’t ever cut Garruk. He’s one of the best cards in the deck, and he pays you in spades for all those auras.

Sylvan Scrying is an excellent 5th Nykthos. I’ve been pretty pleased with the card, having run as many as three copies in the past, but space is limited. I’m still not sure where the correct number is, but I know it’s between zero and three. Even if you already have Nykthos in play, it’s far from a blank. For two it fetches a second shrine to really make your mana explode. When you’re not in need of more shrines, go get a Kessig Wolf Run and just trample them to death with an Eternal Witness. Or perhaps you’ve got all the mana in the world but need to do something big this turn and KWR isn’t going to cut it? Find your Horizon Canopy and draw another card. That line sounds expensive, but with a few auras, an elf or two, and a Garruk, it really isn’t. It’s completely conceivable to generate sixteen mana, fetch Canopy, use it to draw a Primal Command, Command a land to the top of their deck and grab another Witness, Witness back the Primal Command, and then cast it again.

Speaking of which, Primal Command is half engine, half win condition. You’re never upset to cast it, although it is admittedly never stupendous. All the options are solid, and I’ve used each and every one of them several times. Having outs to random enchantments and artifacts are great, as is the life if you only need another turn to go off. Most of the time you’re flipping lands and fetching Witness to do it again next turn, as it locks their draw step while allowing you to keep advancing your board. Command provides a useful way to slow your opponent’s development in the mid-game while continuing to push towards a critical mass board state, and can also function as a semi-win late in the game when you can cast and recur it more than once in a turn, blanking your opponent’s draw step for a turn or two while you add more threats and either draw into a Wave or just fetch a Prime Titan.

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Harmonize

Harmonize is awesome every single time, and my next revision to the list will probably involve playing more copies. If this deck has taught me anything, it’s that I severely wish this card was legal in Standard. When you can cast it on turn two and Witness it back the next turn, you know you’ve got something special. The biggest tension is between this and Primal Command. Primal Command *does* more, but it’s occasionally lower impact than you’d like, and typically your true win is Wave, which Harmonize finds and Command doesn’t. On the other hand, Harmonize can draw you two lands and an elf while Command can start a chain that leads to you taking complete control. I’m not sure yet what the proper split is here, and I’d love input from others who have experience.

Genesis Wave is the true engine of the deck, and is a sight to behold when it works. You typically want to hit it for at least eight so that your Craterhoof comes into play. Often the first wave won’t flip him, but instead will give you some combination of lands/Garruks/Witnesses that will allow you to cast a second Wave immediately, typically for much larger. Remember that when you flip a second Nykthos or Garruk, you can sac the old ones so you get fresh activations out of the new copies.

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Beyond Arbor Elf and Voyaging Satyr, BTE acts as a mana source too, although less obviously so. She adds double green for devotion which really helps power up your Nykthos fast, and is part of all your most broken draws. I’ve had seven card hands that I unloaded with on T2 because they included a few BTE and Nykthos. Even the simple hands allow you to go BTE into Satyr, which typically sets up a big T3 unless your opponent does something quickly.

The downside is that she’s obviously not a great topdeck. Sometimes you just need the devotion so you’re happy to see her, but more often than not it’s a pretty dead draw. Other options here include Elvish Visionary, Strangleroot Geist, Fertile Ground, Wall of Roots, more Sylvan Scrying, or something else entirely. All of those reduce your bananahands, but have their own upsides. I recommend goldfishing a few hands to see what BTE can do before you condemn them though.

Eternal Witness allows for some of the best value plays in the deck. There are games where you play her on T2 to get back a fetchland just so that you’re putting mana symbols on the table and keeping the spice flowing. Other games she enables your Command chains. When you Wave for six or seven, a single Witness in the pile returns a Wave to your hand so that you can do the time warp again. When you’re behind on board you can Witness returning Garruk, then play him to make a beast, going from no board presence to threatening. Witnessing Harmonize feels spectacular. There’s just no shortage of jobs for a 2/1 Regrowth.

Acidic Slime is a one-of down from the four Woo plays. The card is strong, for sure, but it’s easy to end up in games where it’s just too low impact. I like having the single copy to be able to command for it where it’s necessary, but in general I’d rather draw cards that more directly advance my Wave plan.

Craterhoof Behemoth

Prime Times are Prime Times, I feel there isn’t a lot to say here. As vulnerable as he is against some decks, the KWR he fetches is rarely useless, and plenty of times they simply don’t have an answer. If you untap with Prime Time, you’re probably swinging for twenty or more damage on him alone. The Craterhoof is your “I win” off of Waves, and very rarely disappoints. Even if you only have two untapped creatures you can attack with when he comes into play, typically your wave(s) dumped a lot more bodies into play that turn and you can still swing for lethal. Hardcasting him isn’t out of the question either. I’ve beaten RG aggro decks that were at eighteen life by not blocking an attack for twelve, untapping, hardcasting Craterhoof and just killing them out of nowhere with a few Elves and a Witness. Your opponent is usually so concentrated on worrying about your combo that they overlook your ability to just Hoof them to death on the spot.

The manabase isn’t anything noteworthy, and I’m quite happy with it at the moment. I tried it with only three Nykthos, but I’m pretty sure that’s completely wrong. Drawing a second copy isn’t bad in this deck, because you’re often going to completely fine trading a land drop for a boost in mana on a critical turn. Activate the first Nykthos, play the second, then activate that one for megabonusjackpotmana.

If the sideboard changes significantly it may require mild tweaking, but for now it functions just as it should. It’s possible you could go up to twenty-two lands, but that should only happen if you’re adding more velocity to the main.

Your sideboard with this deck is mostly trying to proactively answer a few things: Robots, Graveyards, Deceiver Exarchs, and counterspells. Mine is geared for my local meta, so feel free to tweak yours as necessary.

Playing this deck is a blast. Your goal is typically to generate giant piles of mana and spend them on everything possible as fast as you can. Make sure you’re counting your potential mana on each line of play. Oftentimes you’ll be faced with situations where one line nets you five, another six, and a tricky-to-see third line will find you seven or eight. Remember to do things like cast Arbor Elf or Utopia Sprawl before activating Nykthos, as they’re a free roll, and they’ll even add mana if you can use Nykthos twice. Be wary of Tectonic Edges. Tec Edge can only destroy nonbasics and only if you have four or more lands. This means your auras should be on basic forests, and feel free to hold your fourth land in hand until you absolutely need it. Holding the Nykthos as your fourth land until you draw the Wave when playing against Tec Edge is almost always the right play.

One thing I’ve seen asked is “why not Tooth and Nail?” It’s a pretty similar spell. Pay nine mana, kill them on the spot. Genesis Wave involves all the triggers, can whiff, etc etc. I’ve been pondering this a good bit, and I believe Wave is (narrowly) the better option.

Flame-Kin Zealot

My issue with T&N is that it requires you to play dead cards, and occasionally will lose even if you resolve it. There are two basic routes you can take; Emrakul + Flame-Kin Zealot or Triskelion + Mikaeus. Trike and Mike looks like the best option on the surface, until you realize it gets hosed by graveyard hate or Path, which is definitely not what you want in an all-in win condition. That leaves us with Emrakul + Flame-kin. I’d guess that 97% of the time you put those two into play you’re going to win, but there are still those times you won’t. Your twin opponent may just Exarch the Emrakul before attacks, then untap and kill you. There will also be games that you draw the Flame-kin (or whatever haste enabler you opt for) and wish it was anything you could actually cast. Emrakul isn’t technically a dead draw, as fifteen is certainly viable, but I wouldn’t want to lean on that. Fifteen for Emrakul is a far cry from eight for Craterhoof. There are of course the games you’ll be able to pay seven for just the back half of T&N and slam Emrakul + whatever into play and dare your opponent to answer it in a single turn. I’m not sure how often those come up, or how often they win, but it can and will happen.

The knock against Wave is that it seems more expensive, and won’t always win you the game. I agree that paying nine for T&N seems more of a lock than with Wave, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually lost a game I Waved where X=6. If in those six cards you don’t find the tools necessary to recur and cast the Wave again that turn, you probably at least put some very relevant permanents into play. With only twenty-one lands, it’s not often that you’re going to flip six dead cards. You can also wave for less than six and often get the help you need. Four will put nearly all your permanents into play, and even three will get you most of your creatures, including any Witnesses to get back the Wave again for next turn. Waving for less than eight isn’t exactly preferable, but it’s still often going to be enough. You also aren’t required to keep any dead cards in your deck. Every card in your list is completely castable without Wave. Finally, Wave attacks on a multitude of vectors. You’re filling the board with threats, massive amounts of mana, enabling a Command chain, and presenting a hasty lethal threat that turn. Even if they can deal with the Craterhoof, they still have to worry about the fifteen creatures in play, the Garruk, the KWR, and the thirty+ mana you now have to loop Command three times.

Ultimately I’d say the difference between T&N and Wave is only going to matter on the margins. I am pretty sure Wave is slightly stronger, and I know for sure it’s more fun. Both get hit by different hate cards out of boards, so they’re a wash there. With a deck like this, you can really just pick whichever one is more fun to you.

I’ve spent 2500 words telling you how awesome this deck is. Now I’m going to tell you what’s a bummer. I’m pretty sure one of the worst cards in the format for this deck is Cryptic Command. It bounces aura’d lands, it counters everything you do without letting you pay your way out of it (unlike Mana Leak), and it fogs your Craterhoof turn. You also don’t want to see piles of Lightning Bolts, Helixes and Paths, since disrupting your small dudes early will typically disrupt you long enough for your opponent to beat their way in with Tarmogoyfs and Wild Nacatls. Deathrite Shaman and Liliana were actually not at their best against you, so you weren’t terribly upset to play against them. Now, instead of those, you are more likely to face some very bad matchups. I’ll be watching the format closely to see if I can tweak the deck to handle the impending changes, but a sharp rise in Cryptic decks could put this on the backburner. In the meantime, I encourage you to give this a whirl at your local Modern tournament. You’re definitely going to draw a crowd when you say “add seventeen mana to my mana pool, cast Genesis Wave for fourteen” out loud.

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Brave New World

By: Travis AllenCapture

You don’t get a much bigger shakeup than this.

All three of those were recognized as possibilities, but not a single person dreamt that all three would occur. This is going to result in sweeping changes across the format, and prices will (and have) followed quickly. We’re going to look at what has happened so far, and what may happen in the future. Bitterblossom

We’ll start with the most obvious change: Bitterblossom. BB doubled in price in the last few weeks ahead of the B&R announcement, up to about $30. Immediately after the announcement went live and the market was drained, the first to hit TCG again were $100. They’re now in the $55-$60 range as of Tuesday afternoon, and they may slip even more by the time you read this Wednesday.

What’s the new “real” price for Bitterblossom? I’d guess it’s somewhere between $40-$50. What are the factors at work here?

  • It’s from Morningtide, which was six years ago this month. Remember how much the playerbase has increased in just the last four years. To give you an a sense of scale, I’d guess there are roughly 1/6th to 1/7th the number of Bitterblossoms as there are any of the Theros temples.

  • The card has a legacy, and with it, a bit of a price memory. People remember how powerful Fae were the last time around, and they remember how good this card was in that deck. Regardless of how good it actually ends up being now, it has quite a history backing it.

  • Many players, especially spikes, loved playing Fae. There’s a reasonable chance that anyone you know who played when BB was legal is going to want to run the deck again. Playing that type of deck is very appealing to certain personalities.

  • It was an auto-4x in every single deck that wanted it.

Given all of that, I really doubt we’ll see Bitterblossom below $40 before the Pro Tour. And given how popular the deck is with players like PVDDR, along with how good it was in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see it sub-$40 for a long time, barring a reprint. (There’s a lot of speculation around what the Modern event deck will be, and BW tokens is a popular theory. I wouldn’t expect it to have more than one BB, and even if it has two the price would likely only be suppressed in the short-term.)

So Bitterblossom went nuts. What else? As I’ve talked about in the past, Mistbind Clique went wild as well. It looks like NM copies are just under $20 at the moment, up from about $3. I was hoping people wouldn’t have caught on quite that fast, but maybe it means people were listening to me? Wishful thinking, probably. Secluded Glen

Mistbind is a Time Walk stapled to a 4/4 flyer, and is going to be a big part of the first wave of faeries. If it doesn’t pan out it will likely stabilize around $8-$10, but if its good, expect prices closer to $20. Remember that regardless of what we see at the Pro Tour, it’s entirely feasible that PVDDR and co. don’t figure out the optimal Fae build in time.

Secluded Glen is now about $15, up from the roughly $1.50 it was last week. I am seeing a lot of people talk about how this is absurd and the card is bad and blah blah blah. Why? Because none of the other ones are currently useful? Take a look at the last PTQ format Bitterblossom was legal in. There are four Glen in basically every single list. It’s essentially a painless dual land in a deck that A. wants to cast Cryptic Command and B. minimize bleeding, as it’s already playing Bitterblossom and Thoughtseize. As long as Fae is real, so will be Secluded Glen. The real price for this will be between $6 and $15, depending on how the deck does. Start digging through that bulk!

Fae may even want to add white for Restoration Angel and Path to Exile. Resto was already a good medium-term pick, and her ascent may come sooner than later depending on how the format shakes out. Meanwhile, start watching out for Darkslick Shores, Sunken Ruins, Sower of Temptation, and Sword of Feast and Famine. Those all stand to benefit as well.

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River of Tears seems awful to me, by the way. That doesn’t mean it won’t see a spike, but I can’t see Fae ever actually wanting this, especially more than a single copy.

Alright, so the Bitterblossom unban had a lot of immediate impacts on the market. How about the Deathrite Shaman ban? Well, Noble Hierarch is $55 now. Part of this is probably people “realizing” that Pod is about to be amazing, and hopping on the train.

Knight of the Reliquary too has moved a bit as a result of DRS and Wild Nacatl switching places, although not by much. This feels like a ‘tense’ card to me. The market is wary, but a good showing at the Pro Tour will push Knight hard. That Modern Masters reprint will only keep her in check for so long.

Foresight

Let’s look past the immediate impacts and try to get ahead of the market.

What does it mean if DRS is banned? Well, GB/x/x decks clearly take a hit. Straight GB is probably gone. DRS allowed the turn two Liliana as well as put insane pressure on your opponent four turns later. Without that, GB simply won’t have the power to keep up. Doran, the Siege Tower

Jund hasn’t been without both DRS and BBE before, so this is new ground for them. The core of Tarmogoyf / Dark Confidant / Liliana of the Veil / Thoughtseize is still going to be strong, but the question is what to do with it. Without Bloodbraid Elf, it feels like Jund will probably turn away from red for the time being. Red was only ever really popular for BBE and Bolt anyways, both of which can’t or don’t need to be included.

Those core four cards (“the core”) aren’t going to stick to two colors because for at least the time being there isn’t enough power there. We’ve still got fetches and shocks, so the question is what color to head to next? I’m guessing white. With Fae being an anticipated popular deck, the core will be looking for a way to deal with the flying menace. (An apt way to describe them, I assure you.) Voice of Resurgence and Loxodon Smiter are both going to be powerful threats against Fae, and white provides the best sideboard in Modern. The core will also get Path to Exile and Lingering Souls, both great cards in their own respect. They could even toss in a Blood Crypt if they still want to cast Ajani Vengeant. This puts Stirring Wildwood, Doran, Tidehollow Sculler, and Murmuring Bosk on the table as cards of interest. Don’t forget that extra pressure will be placed on Scavenging Ooze as well, as it’s now solely responsible for graveyard duty in game one.

DRS missing has quite a few other impacts on the format. There are a lot of cards that are suddenly worth considering now. Vengevine, Demigod of Revenge, Life from the Loam, Worm Harvest, Goryo’s Vengenace, Unburial Rites, and Raven’s Crime are suddenly worth checking out, along with every support card they bring with them.

I think Goryo’s Vengeance is particularly noteworthy here, as that card is way faster than the format is supposed to be, from a very underprinted set relative to the current market, and the type of card that really hates GY disruption. Meanwhile, my thirty second analysis is that Fae and Zoo are both favored against Tron, a deck that has four maindeck RelicsMagus of the Moon

The absence of DRS presents another vector that was previously weakened as well: Blood Moon strategies. It used to be that you’d cast Blood Moon, they’d float GB, and Abrupt Decay it after it resolved. When they didn’t have the Decay in hand, DRS would get them whatever color they were missing when they finally drew it (or Maelstrom Pulse). But without DRS, if the core moves into a three (or more) color build, they will be considerably more vulnerable to a resolved Moon effect. Fae also probably doesn’t want Moon effects around either, as they typically play a lot of nonbasics to ensure they can cast Cryptic Command.

If Blood Moon is good against the core, Fae, Tron, and maybe even Pod and Zoo, that opens up space for a deck that mains the effect. A card I’ve always felt wants some number of maindeck Moons is Through the Breach. That’s the type of card that doesn’t necessarily need to kill you immediately and is happy to play under a Moon. I already consider Through the Breach a spicy target, and this shift in the format seems like Breach may benefit.

Breach loves it some Simian Spirit Guide, a common from an old winter set with one printing. Are we going to see $6 Apes in the near future?

By the way, you know what pairs well with Through the Breach? Goryo’s Vengeance.

The return of Wild Nacatl has had the least impact so far, at least financially. Sacred Foundry and the Naya shocks stand to gain a little, and we already talked about Knight of the Reliquary. I think the biggest gainer here is probably Geist of Saint Traft. Zoo was already leaning towards Domain for Tribal Flames, and Geist is a heck of a three.

It’s tough to see what else stands to gain beyond that. Baneslayer Angel, maybe? Thalia? I’m no Zoo expert, and the deck could look a lot different this time around than it did last time. I’d wait for the Pro Tour to see what Kibler is casting and go from there. (Also, those $10 Wild Nacatl FNM promos are absurd. Don’t buy them. The art isn’t even that good.)

This B&R change is probably going to be responsible for the largest change in the Modern metagame since the format’s inception. There are going to be pitfalls and springboards all over the place in the coming weeks and months, so tread carefully and think critically. As for me, I’ll just be over here quietly casting Genesis Wave for fourteen.

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Born of the Gods Financial Review: Well, There’s Always Journey Into Nyx

By: Travis Allen

In a few days we get to play with Born of the Gods, perhaps one of the worst winter sets in quite some time. There’s very little in this set to be excited about. Brimaz is awesome, and some of the gods may be decent, but overall there just is not a lot here. It’s being called the second Dragon’s Maze, which is Voice of Resurgence, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and 154 cards on which to proxy. Overall, there’s not much here to work with, either financially or playably. Grab a set of Brimaz, maybe some Xenagos, and call it a day.

We’re still going to check it out though, so let’s see what BNG has in store for us. Any rare I don’t mention I perceive as total bulk, and has no need to be discussed here.

 

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

Brimaz, King of Oreskos
We’re starting with the hottest mythic of the set. Admittedly, the first time I parsed the card I was unmoved. I’m not a white weenie player, and this guy seemed exactly fine. LSV’s review caused me to upgrade my expectations. There’s a good chance the lion king will be pooping tokens out for his entire tenure in Standard, and could pretty conceivably cut it in Modern too. He does a fantastic Hero of Bladehold impression for one less mana, and while he doesn’t battle cry your team, he starts attacking earlier and plays solid defense in races. In addition, Bile Blight doesn’t kill him, which is going to matter a whole lot real soon.

Preorders for Brimaz are around $25 at the moment. This is still in the prerelease honeymoon period, but out of all the mythics, Brimaz is the clear front runner. I would guess that he won’t manage to get much lower than $10 ever, if even that low. If he sinks as low as $15 I wouldn’t hesitate to start grabbing copies, and under $15 go hog wild. If you are dying to play with him right now I think you could do worse than buying a set and accepting the fact that you’re losing $40 on the purchase. If you’re the only guy in the room putting Simba tokens into play he could very well make up that $40 pretty quickly.

There’s a very real chance we could see Brimaz go north from here as well, as everyone and their mother is aware of both his power level and how unimpressive the set is as a whole. I can’t recommend buying copies right now with the intention of making profit, but there exists a non-zero chance someone will do it and succeed. Just know that the odds are not favorable enough to make it worth it.

 

Eidolon of Countless Battles

Eidolon of Countless Battles
It’s apparent from Sam’s article that they are pushing Eidolon a bit more than Keldon Warlord. Creatures of this nature historically haven’t been quite good enough, and even if they are, they’re probably not being played as a four-of. There isn’t any money to be made here at the moment, but when it hits bulk rare in a few weeks, I couldn’t fault you for grabbing copies. It’s one heck of a way to follow up an Ajani. The art is pretty cool too, so that’s something.

 

Fated Retribution

Fated Retribution
Unlikely to do too much in Standard (see Planar Cleansing,) but it’s got EDH written all over it. Like most cards of this type, normal copies will be $.15 and foils will be a few bucks.

 

Hero of Iroas

Hero of Iroas
A cool casual card that is almost definitely not going to make it past FNM. He could sneak up to a dollar or two once Theros rotates, so if you can get them for basically free, go for it. Don’t expect anything out of him in Standard though. The reason Bant Auras was a thing last season was because your two targets were hexproof, and the reason Kor Spiritdancer is good enough in Modern is that she draws cards before they can kill her. This particular hero has neither of those going for him.

 

Plea for Guidance

Plea for Guidance
Idyllic Tutor is a $10 card, but that was in Morningtide, not BNG. There will be probably five to six (or more?) copies of Plea in circulation than Idyllic. It is likely to do well, but in a span of time measured in years.

 

Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spirit of the Labyrinth
If you weren’t already convinced Death and Taxes is a real Legacy deck, this ought to do it for you. I’ll leave the card evaluation to the more qualified on this one, but suffice to say it’s definitely powerful.

From our perspective, the outlook is less exciting. It will be passable in Standard, but it’s hardly more than a Daring Skyjek. Maybe 10%-20% of the time you cast it the rules text will be relevant, but that’s about it. In Modern the forecast is similar, where there isn’t really a huge amount of card draw going around. Combo decks like Pod and Twin don’t need to draw many extra cards if any at all, and Dark Confidant gets around it. Spirit is ultimately at her best in Legacy, which is never really capable of driving prices much on Standard rares. It’s unlikely this will see any more play than Thalia does, and she’s still barely $3. Ship yours now, be on the lookout for foils, and don’t bother acquiring for speculation purposes until it’s under a dollar.

 

Fated Infatuation

Fated Infatuation
Remember Cackling Counterpart? Yeah, me neither.

 

Mindreaver

Mindreaver
This card already exists in Grimoire Thief. Grimoire Thief is from Morningtide, one of the modern sets most likely to see extraordinary price tags. Grimoire Thief is $1.50. Don’t buy Mindreaver.

 

Tromokratis-BNG-Launch-Day-Promo

Tromokratis
This guy is pretty cool, and may actually make it into Standard, but the prerelease promo is going to crush any potential value he had. Fantastic art on the promo, but then I’ve always been a sucker for monsters in the mist.

 

Whelming Wave

Whelming Wave
The coolest sweeper nobody is really going to play. How often are you going to want this over Supreme Verdict? The odds of a deck with creatures wanting to play it is awfully slim, since you’d need enough sea monsters to make it worth it. Perhaps Grixis could use it as a sweeper type effect, but they’ve already got Anger of the Gods, Infest, Bile Blight, etc. I just don’t see this cutting it, and in a world where Spirit of the Labyrinth is a $3 card, this is $.10.

 

Bile Blight

Bile Blight
How expensive can an uncommon get? We may find out this set. With how underwhelming BNG is, there won’t be a rush to crack packs. Given that black is both the best color and deck right now, there’s going to be a lot of demand on Bile Blight and not enough supply. $3-$4+ seems plausible. If you find people selling them for $.50 or less, buy them all.

 

Champion of Stray Souls

Champion of Stray Souls
I find this guy real interesting. He’s obviously excellent in EDH and foils will command a premium for this reason, but I feel like he maaaay be good enough for Standard. He’s expensive, sure. No argument there. But a deck with cards like Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid, and Lotleth Troll along with Ashen Rider and Grisly Salvage could possibly exist. Is it probable? No. But it’s possible.

$3 is a bit much right now, but when he inevitably sinks to $1, I’ll probably trade for a few playsets and stash him. At the very least, he’s guaranteed to climb back up to a few bucks a ways down the road.

 

Fate Unraveler

Fate Unraveler
Complete trash in Standard but a popular casual effect, especially in the wake of Nekusar. If this was printed in Shadowmoor, it would have been subjected to the routine price spike we’ve all become accustomed too. Having been printed in BNG though, there will be more Unravelers than those looking to summon her.

 

Gild

Gild
An acceptable answer to gods for Black (which obviously needs the help,) but will probably never become more than a one or two-of type of thing. The closest comparison is Sever the Bloodline. Sever managed $2 or $3 for a brief window, but that card was pretty much completely better. The flip side of that is that we work with what we’ve got, and there weren’t indestructible Gods begging to be exiled in Innistrad. This card has gotten panned, and as unexciting as I find it, it may have enough of a place in the format to hit $2 or so. Gold tokens are certainly unique at the very least.

As an aside, this card art is seriously heinous. Anyone remember that old ReBoot cartoon from the mid-90’s? It’s been twenty years and apparently CGI hasn’t made any strides. Rich Wright also did Kraken of the Straits this set, which makes it clear he has exactly one art style: Garbage. Instead of putting this 7th-grade quality shlock on cards, WOTC should take the opportunity to step outside their comfort zone with two or three cards each set by giving the commission to slightly more exotic artists that can produce something without a Wacom tablet.

 

Herald of Torment

Herald of Torment
I have trouble seeing a deck ever wanting this over Nightveil Specter. It does slightly more damage, yes, but being able to steal cards from opponents, especially if you can generate black mana, seems way more valuable. I can’t imagine this doing anything at all until the fall, but perhaps once we lose Nightveil he’ll have a place. I’m not personally wild about him, but if you are, at least wait until June when he’ll be a dime.

 

Pain Seer

Pain Seer
Anyone remember Blood Scrivener? Remember how that card was like $8 at preorder? It’s a quarter now. Pain Seer is better than Scrivener, but not by enough. If you hadn’t noticed the pattern yet, Wizards loves to print “almost” cards that are similar to some amazing card but different enough that they never live up to the legacy left for them. Visions of Beyond, Temporal Mastery, Reforge the Soul, etc etc. Pain Seer is just an “almost” Dark Confidant.

The amount of work you need to do to make this good is just not worth it. Anyone that has cast Confidant knows that more than half the time he’s in play you aren’t turning him sideways, and unless we see some bonkers 1-drop inspiration enablers, Seer won’t be any different. I can imagine someone putting him into a slower Esper humans deck next to Xathrid Necromancer, but that won’t be enough to keep his price up. Avoid at all costs and ship ASAP. Take a 30% loss if you need to, because getting $7 in trade for him at prerelease weekend will be better than $.70 two weeks later.

Think of it this way: How often would you rather cast Pain Seer than Pack Rat?

 

Fated Conflagration

Fated Conflagration
I talked about Buy-A-Box promos in my Theros review, and the long and short of it is that they’re typically quite playable. Fated Conflagration definitely seems to follow suit, but that triple red seals its fate. It will get played, but the price will never climb above $3 or $4, and that’s pushing it. There’s just not enough decks that can cast this card. Ship now and put your dollars elsewhere.

 

Felhide Spiritbinder

Felhide Spiritbinder
The most intriguing Minotaur I’ve seen yet. With how popular 187s have been lately, and how cheap that trigger is, there’s a chance he could make it to the sixty card leagues. The trigger could have easily been 2R or 3R, at which point I wouldn’t even be writing about it. 1R is affordable enough to be worth discussing. Making copies of Reckoner isn’t terribly exciting, but I’m sure there are other bodies that will be.

Having said all that, can he climb above $1? Probably not. Rares have to see some serious play to make it above a buck, and even if Spiritbinder is good, I doubt he’s that good.

 

Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

Flame-Wreathed Phoenix
This card is awesome. Here’s the thing about punisher cards. The kitchen tabler looks at Vexing Devil and says “holy crow that thing is amazing!” The FNM/PTQ player looks at it and says “It’s worse than it looks, because you always get the worst mode of the card.” The wise player looks at it and says “What if I’m happy with the worst mode every time?” That’s where we are.

Sure, you’re going to get the worse half of this card 90% of the time. But if the bad half is still very playable, then the card is completely fine. Four mana for a 3/3 flying haste is a rate we’ve never seen on a monocolored creature that stays around. The only other 5/5 flyer for four in Red made you sac two mountains when it came into play. When you cast this your opponent is going to pick the mode that’s easier to deal with, but they very well may be unable to deal with either, especially after you’ve curved out.

Red is always looking for a good four drop, and they’ve got it in Phoenix. Don’t buy in at $10, but if it slips to sub-$5, feel free to trade. I’ll be putting cash in if it makes it below $2. I’m fairly confident this thing gets below $5 at some point, and then hits $10-$15 before it rotates.

 

Satyr Firedancer

Satyr Firedancer
This is a curious card. It’s hardly an aggressive creature as a 1/1 for two. But what it does do is reward players for pointing burn at their opponent’s face. I’m sure you’ve all played against the guy with the unsleeved burn deck that shocks you on turn one. With Firedancer, it’s no longer a necessarily bad play (after turn two.) He’s kind of like a two mana personal Furnace of Rath. Allowing your burn to do double duty is nothing to scoff at, and he may be able to put more pressure on a life total than you realize. I expect him to hit bulk rates pretty quick, but I’m not certain he’ll stay there. Between him and Young Pyro, that’s eight two-drops that reward you for playing a lot of instants and sorceries. At the very least, I expect him to be reasonably popular with casual players.

 

Searing Blood

Searing Blood
How many $2-$3 uncommons can a single set support? I think we’re going to find out in BNG.

 

Courser of Kruphix

Courser of Kruphix
Courser was a real heartbreaker. At first pass I was certain I’d never cast anything else, and then I realized it didn’t allow me to play extra lands each turn. Once I got over my sudden and severe depression, I re-evaluated the card. I can see her being popular in a lot of green decks, both in Standard and more casually-oriented tables. She survives Bile Blight, blocks for days, adds double devotion, and helps ramp decks stay ahead on life against anything terribly aggressive. I feel like she’s probably a $2 card, but given how much I love casting cards like this, it’s hard for me to separate my bias. Use your own judgment on this one.

 

Hero of Leina Tower

Hero of Leina Tower
Even Rancor, the hallowed savior of green aggro, would have trouble saving her. If Wolfbitten Captive couldn’t make it, neither will this.

 

Chromanticore

Chromanticore
Imagine someone has been playing Magic for six months and decides to design a card with Bestow. This is what it would look like. The real kick in the teeth is that it isn’t even Legendary for the subset of EDH players that would want it. I can see this being a few dollars down the road just because of how silly it is, and foils will probably command a bit of a premium, but that’s about it. Look for the person at your prerelease you’ve don’t recognize that has no playmat and no sleeves. Trade it to him.

 

Ephara, God of the Polis

Ephara, God of the Polis
I think I’m a little blinded to how good Ephara is because once I thought about her alongside of Prophet of Kruphix, I couldn’t think of much else. Regardless of how good she ends up being in Standard, as with most demigods I expect her to sink towards $5 before (if) she manages anything more. UW valuable guys always seems to do well at some point in a format though, and Ephara would be a pretty solid payoff. Detention Sphere is also in these colors, which is going to be an excellent way to remove threats while boosting your devotion. I doubt she’s Thassa good, but she’s better than several others. All in all, I’m pretty up on Ephara.

 

Karametra, God of Harvests

Karametra, God of Harvests.
The only decks Karametra should be fetching from are the 99-card type. I’m guessing she’ll end up being the cheapest God in the medium term, but feel free to grab cheap copies when she bottoms out, because every God will rise after they’ve been out of Standard for a bit. There’s a sliver of a chance she sees play as a one-of in Standard, but I highly doubt it.

 

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Kiora, the Crashing Wave
Pat Chapin said more and better words about Kiora than I can, so read that. As of the 27th there are 40 copies for $25 on SCG, so it’s obvious there isn’t hot demand yet. I’d stay away until she is around $12 or so. Watch to see if she shows up anywhere, and then consider picking some up. For why that is, read my Planeswalker Curve article.

 

Mogis, God of Slaughter

Mogis, God of Slaughter
Anyone who thinks this card is bad has never played against Sulfuric Vortex. Mogis is going to be hitting for two damage almost every turn, because sacrificing a guy will almost always result in more than two getting through. You can’t think of it as “Oh it’s only taking me from twenty to eighteen.” It’s going to be taking you from ten to eight, and they’re going to have more attackers on the board, and next turn they may play Fanatic. The pressure Mogis is capable of creating is going to be nigh insurmountable in plenty of games. Don’t underestimate him. I consider him in the same ballpark as Phoenix goes in terms of punisher cards. Yes, punisher cards are worse than they look. But whether your opponent is sacrificing guys or taking two damage, either one is probably going to be just fine. A large Master of Waves is the worst-case scenario, and there’s plenty of black removal that solves that problem nicely.

The absolute cheapest God is still about $5 right now, so that’s a pretty firm floor. I’d be happy to trade for Mogis at $5 all day, and sell as soon as he hits $10.

 

Phenax, God of Deception

Phenax, God of Deception
If you’re looking for a win condition for your control deck, Fat Jace is a better choice. That means Phenax will be relegated to more combo-oriented builds that aren’t looking to play a long game, but rather load up on creatures with huge butts that can mill for gigantic quantities at once. Remember that if you’re seeing people talk about how amazing he is, mill is very popular with more casual types that would overvalue Phenax. I’m not saying it’s impossible we’ll see a decent Phenax deck materialize, but I’m not holding my breath.

Phenax will drop to $5-$7, although it may take slightly longer than the other gods. He also stands to see the most sustainable growth in the long-term. I’d mostly avoid for the time being, and revisit this option next summer.

 

Xenagos, God of Revels

Xenagos, God of Revels
Man does this thing just smash face. Xenagos apparently is much more impressive as a God than a Planeswalker. The first turn he comes into play, he puts some intense pressure on with the Boon Satyr or Polukranos you already have in play. They’re just going to be chumping, but you can’t be too upset about that. The turn after you’re swinging with your entire board every turn with Ghor-Clan Rampager mana up, which is absolutely where GR wants to be. Xenagos will put a premium on trampling creatures, so watch for any that look spicy.

Like the other gods, his floor is around $5-$6, but realistically it’s probably $7 or $8. I’d be comfortable trading for him at $12 or less, because I definitely expect him to make appearances in Standard.

 

  

Scrylands
The RTR block structure saw a 5-5-10 model of shocks, and a 3 RTR / 3 GTC / 1 DGM – 1 GTC – 1 RTR draft structure. Theros is going 5/3/2, and the draft will be 3 THS / 1 BNG – 2 THS / 1 JOU – 1 BNG – 1 THS. The difference here is that the shocks were evenly spread through the whole RTR block, and no one shock saw considerable more copies printed than the others. The Scrylands will function differently. The first five will be opened constantly for an entire year, with Theros being a part of every draft. The BNG scrys will be considerably less available, as they’re in less packs being opened for a lesser amount of time. These three lands should end up having enough less stock that their price will reflect that. Meanwhile, the Golgari and Izzet lands in JOU will be way underprinted relative to the other ones. Keep this in mind as you’re trading. A simple “one scry for one scry” trade practice could be very lucrative in the future.

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Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

By: Travis Allen

Born of the Gods is nearly upon us, and all of you should know by now not to trade for cards during their prerelease period. It has been repeated a hundred times before, with greater elucidation than you will find here today. The tl;dr is that 98% of cards will lose value over time, so even if you get lucky and connect on the 2% that rises, you’ll probably lose way more money gambling on the rest of them.

In the process of X-0ing all your local release events, you’re going to end up with a bunch of singles. You’ll jam them in your binder ready to pawn them off on some amateur trader who thinks that Chromanticore will definitely see play (he’s quite certain.) But what exactly should you be taking in return? If you’ve read my recent article, you’ll know that I’m pretty down on a lot of Standard cards at the moment. If your trade partner doesn’t have any sweet, sweet Modern staples to trade for, then what should you take? You’re standing there with binder credit in hand, flipping through pages, wondering which two dollar cards you should be picking out. Let’s take a look some Standard cards that have probably gotten pretty comfy in binder sleeves that owners may be willing to ship away for very reasonable rates. Our goal here is to identify cheap Standard cards that are going to be in a lot of binders, that while rather uninspiring right now, have solid middle or long-term prospects that you can trade inflated BOG product for.

 

Angel of Serenity

Serenity is now available for under $4 from some vendors, which is kind of amazing given what things looked like seven months ago.

serenity

She hasn’t gotten any less powerful though, and making your opponent scoop up their Master of Waves or Desecration Demons is still just as good as when she was doing it last season. She’s even got a shot to see some solid play in Standard again before rotation, and if that doesn’t pan out she’s still an angel with an awesome effect. Angels are quite possibly the most popular casual tribe out there. A constructed-grade angel is going to be a great gainer long-term. If she shows up again in Standard you’ve got a winner, and if she doesn’t, as an angel there’s no doubt of a slow trend upwards over time.

 

Aurelia, the Warleader

Aurelia, the Warleader
Basically what I said above. Less likely to see play in Standard, but still an Angel with a cool ability at rock-bottom prices.

 

Chromatic Lantern

Chromatic Lantern
A $2-$3 card without any play in Standard whatsoever, Lantern is as low as it can be. You won’t lose money taking them, and a year from now they could make it to $5.

 

Crypt Ghast

Crypt Ghast
Cards that double mana are popular with the casual crowd and the EDH crowd. (Those are separate groups, by the way.) For $2, he’s a safe bet. He can’t get any lower, and with the extort keyword, his reprint options are considerably limited.

 

Darksteel Forge

dark forge

Forge used to be a bazillion bucks. It’s not anymore, but it could definitely work it’s way up there again. An easy choice at a dollar or two.

 

Deadbridge Chant

Deadbridge Chant
Chant hasn’t changed price in about six months, but that just means it won’t be going any lower. As a mythic from a relatively unpopular set, there’s plenty of possible upward growth. Even if it doesn’t start to climb, you probably won’t have any trouble trading away copies a year or two from now for $2. There’s basically no risk here, and while it may not be the best place to put your Magic money, if there’s only one guy in the room taking your Pain Seers for $12 you’ve gotta get something.

 

Galerider Sliver

Galerider Sliver
$1 for a strict upgrade over the previous iteration. Slivers didn’t do much of anything this time through Standard, but they were never for us anyways. After how little people cared for them, I’m guessing it will be quite some time before we see them again. As a core set rare, Galerider could easily be $4 in a year or two. With how well the Modern can support a 5-color manabase for a tribal deck, Slivers have a non-zero chance of showing up there in a semi-competitive fashion. The ability to give your entire team evasion for one mana is pretty great in an aggro deck.

 

Master Biomancer

Master Biomancer
He will never not be several dollars, and could easily climb to double digits within two years. He’s hanging right around $5 right now, and I bet you could get them for $3 or $4 in trade. Plus, Biomancer is probably the coolest creature to pair with Master of Waves. (A man can dream.)

 

Necropolis Regent

Necropolis Regent
A mythic vampire with a big body and a tasty ability that reads well to new or casual players. She’s also under a $1. There’s no way this doesn’t grow, even if only to $2.

 

Plasm Capture

Plasm Capture
I’m still a big fan long term. Mana Drain is no joke. Two for a dollar is the best rate you’ll see on this for a long, long time. If you don’t believe me that it’s popular, did you know foils are $4? That’s a good sign for long-term growth.

 

Prophet of Kruphix

Prophet of Kruphix
Currently $2. Seedborn Muse is $10 and has been printed three times. Prophet has the bonus of potentially showing up in Standard too!

 

Savageborn Hydra

Savageborn Hydra
I bet you did not know this card is $3. That’s ok; most won’t. Hydras have historically been pretty popular, and Savageborn is in the upper half when it comes to power level. It could easily double within a year or so, and will probably be $10 in about two. You’ll be glad you had 15 or 20 sitting around at that point.

 

Sylvan Primordial

Sylvan Primordial
There’s no way this doesn’t start rising after rotation and not stop until its reprinted. If your EDH deck makes green mana, you’re probably casting this. At under $1, this is one of the safest choices on this list.

 

Worldspine Wurm

Worldspine Wurm
A humongous trampling creature that leaves behind three humongous trampling creatures when it dies. At $2, I don’t see this ever being cheaper. Stash it and be happy it’s $8 in a year or two.

Join me next week when I do my Born of the Gods full financial set review!

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