Oh, what a good day this is. We’ve had a few weeks since the announcement that Standard is back to one rotation per year, and I couldn’t be more excited.
It’s not exactly the same as it was, and that’s going to be an issue going forward. Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon are going to rotate at the same time as Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch. My tendency is to assume that things are the same as they were, and that’s not the case. Rotation is not equal, some are 18 months and some are 24 months.
Gideon’s gained more than $10 since then, and I love seeing this curve come back. About a year after a card came out, there would be something to happen to trigger demand on the card, and here we are, seeing that increase in demand.
The increase in time really benefits Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, which gained six months. So today I want to look at some cards from those sets which have some potential and can give us some strong gains. One of the things I really look for is a low buy-in price. If I’m not spending much, that means I’m at a low risk of losing value if these speculative picks don’t pay off.
Regrettably, some of these won’t pay but the ones that do are really going to make me look good and make my wallet happy.
Part the Waterveil – $3.64 – Every kooky blue deck tends to play this as a finisher. Chaining them together is generally good enough, but I think there’s going to be a Metallurgic Summoning deck eventually, and this is going to be the top end of that deck. If nothing else, it’s an extra turns card, and those have proven to have some long-term casual appeal. With the exception of Temporal Trespass, at least.
Ob Nixilis, Reignited – $4.58 – I don’t care that it’s a Duel Deck card. It’s got room to grow. It’s incredibly effective at any point in the game, it’s powerful, and it’s still got nearly a year to make a splash. People are resisting it, but remember how well it did at the Pro Tour.
Ruinous Path – $1.74 – Black decks have all the removal. Being able to spend mana and solve a problem on the board is incredibly powerful. I’ve touted this card before and while it’s not as good as Hero’s Downfall, it’s one of the best solutions to problems on the board. To the Slaughter has popped up in decks, and this is better by far.
Linvala, the Preserver – $2.42 – This small-set mythic isn’t going to be a four-of, but if Panharmonicon decks really take off, this would be a super fun addition, capable of three creatures and ten life! It’s good in control decks, as a top end and a card that can take a game you’re losing and turn it into a game you win.
Thought-Knot Seer – $5.85 – We haven’t been lacking for colorless lands, and with Aether Hub being one of the most popular lands around, colorless mana is going to remain a useful thing. Thought-Knot is one of the most powerful things you can do with this mana, and as a popular card in Modern, there’s a lot of value to be had still.
Chandra, Flamecaller – $7.04 – Don’t forget, there was a time that she was $35! She’s got the perfect first curve, as she was adopted initially. She has a problem where she doesn’t play well with the newer Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but that card is dropping fast and I think there’s good room for growth with the big-sister version. Imagine that at Pro Tour Aether Revolt, there’s a red deck that tops out at three of these. A double-up to $15 is the low end.
Eldrazi Mimic – $.91 – I have some high, high hopes for this card in the Metalwork Colossus decks. Barring that, as I’ve written before, I am optimistic about the Eternal potential of this card.
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So Shadows over Innistrad Preview Weeks haven’t officially started but we’ve already got some tasty tidbits flowing in from last weekend’s Grands Prix. Aaron Forsythe basically stated that the Eldrazi will be put into a more reasonably place (although not abolished) in April. All Modern fans rejoice in unison!
But let’s talk about Standard. How do I prepare for the upcoming rotation? Analyze the new cards and the leaving cards and make some playability predictions.
Oath of the Gatewatch
Right now with mana being so unreasonably good a lot of cards are being pushed to the sidelines because they’re just not better than playing a 4 color deck. There will probably be a bigger emphasis on two color decks which is a big boon for double-casting cost cards. My Oath of the Gatewatch picks are:
Right now most decks can’t get to turn 6 reasonably but this card is primed to be a house. It has a relevant tribal creature type for Innistrad and with the rotation of a lot of it’s biggest enemies gives Linvala, the Preserver a chance to spread her wings. At under $3 per copy, I can’t see a world where you have much to lose. Linvala also holds a good amount of casual value being a giant mythic angel. I foresee the rotation of Abzan Charm, Crackling Doom, and Murderous Cut as a big reason more expensive threats will become better.
With the rotation of the best lands in the game, our fixing gets a lot less and people will likely need to play a lot more copies of newer duals. With all 3 of these lands comfortably under $3, I think it’s a pretty great pickup now because the best ones will get very expensive very quickly.
This guy I think will be one of the sleepers of the new standard. It has a reasonably priced body with a good defensive ability. It incidentally pumps the creature lands (that are likely to get more popular) while providing some flood insurance. At a few bucks this one may not really move in price but it’s already proven to be solid.
Battle for Zendikar
Sunken Hollow and friends are due for their “first printing” tick up as fetches leave and 2 Sunken Hollow is no longer enough for your blue/black deck. There is no guarantee we get a new or a reprint dual land cycle in Shadows over Innistrad so I would recommend buying into the ones we know are good. They last for another 12 months so spending about $60 to get a playset of all of 5 is an easy investment. The creature lands here are the same as above.
Another black mythic that can be played as a 4 of is a paltry $7.50 on TCGPlayer. She has a relevant tribal creature type and is aggressively costed. With it’s brick wall nemesis, Mantis Rider leaving Standard, she is primed to shine.
Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins
These sets have less time in Standard but I will focus quickly on some cards that could become format staples for the next 6 months.
These guys have seen a little resurgence lately in the Bant Collected Company deck but you might remember when Deathmist Raptor commanded a premium price tag for mythics. Their abilities have good synergies with self mill (an important theme in the previous Innistrad block) and discard. At $7 I think it’s a good time to get Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector if that’s your jam.
With the rotation of the most powerful gold cards in Standard, these extremely versatile instants will need to pick up more slack. Ojutai’s Command and Kolaghan’s Command synergize well with graveyard strategies which can’t be understated.
Amusingly enough, Ojutai’s Command can return this “thing” people are really excited about. It’s already up to a $12 pre-order on SCG in it’s first day so I have to assume this card is 100% hype. It is a lot of investment for something that at the end of the day can get Reflector Mage‘d.
I want to quickly talk about these two. I wouldn’t advocate buying into them now if you’re not totally sure you’re going to play them. Risen Executioner has already seen a sizable jump from his bulk mythic price after a “good” mythic zombie was spoiled. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is very close to closing on the Jace, the Mind Sculptor levels of pricey. I don’t think he will be banned but I also am not sure how much longer he can sustain such enormous prices. Theoretically Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy will hit his peak at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad as Standard cards tend to peak approximately 6 months before rotating. Where will he go? I’m not sure but this 7 year old photoshop might be relevant again.
Standard on a Budget
I will take a quick second to discuss some spoilers and probably not the most exciting ones.
These three cards tell me there will probably be a pretty powerful and very budget friendly deck available to newer Standard players. These cards remind me a lot of these few from 15 years ago.
These cards were part of the insanely inexpensive U/G Madness deck. While it’s unlikely to be nearly as competitive (due to the nature of powerful Mythic Rares), it is sufficient to beat down at your local FNM. My suggestion if you’re short some cash is to invest in Smoldering Marsh, Avaricious Dragon, Exquisite Firecraft, Zurgo Bellstriker, and Thunderbreak Regent. There is probably a deck somewhere in there and all of the cards are cheap now.
Greetings! We’ve got a sweet new set in Oath of the Gatewatch, and lots of potential cube cards to cover today, so let’s get right into it.
A couple quick notes: First, I’m saving everything with the new colorless mana symbol for the end, because that’s going to require some extra words. We’ll start with the traditional stuff. Second, while I might mention foils for commons and uncommons, my goal with my Cube articles is to keep costs down as much as possible, so the object here is not to find the cards that are going to go up the most, but to find the best time to buy the cards that we actually want to play with in our cubes. Got it? Let’s go.
This is a powerful card, but I’m not sure it beats out cards like Sun Titanor Elesh Nornat the top of white’s curve in Cube. It’s definitely one to test, but I’m not convinced it will make anything but the most expansive lists.
As for its financial future, Standard could bring its price up in the short term, but there’s no way it sees play in any eternal competitive formats. It’s probably fine in Commander, but it doesn’t seem insane. While it could surprise us in the short term, this should be way less than its preorder price in the long term.
(Note: All TCGplayer mid prices cited in this article were pulled on the day of writing, January 15, 2016. They may have definitely changed since that date.)
TCGplayer mid: $7.49 Likelihood to get a cube slot: Medium-low Verdict: Wait to buy
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I’ll talk a little about Modern because it’s all the haps these days. You know them hip kids and buying out the internet and whatever.
The worst part about these graphs is that the Grove of the Burnwillows one isn’t even as high as it should be. Almost every store that MTGPrice.com pulls price information has stagnated because they are out of stock (it is common practice not to update the prices on sold-out cards). Let’s look at the less steady but technically more accurate TCGPlayer prices.
You know what’s really bad about this? Convergent Mid and Low pricing. With big shakeups like this even though the mid pricing seems to dip a little, copies are still being bought. A steady price between mid and low indicates supply and demand are satisfied at this price point. At the end of November that all changed and we haven’t settled since then. It’s insane to think that the most expensive dual land in a pair of colors is not the ABUR dual. Hence the title of my article, Grove of the Burnwillows is strictly better because of the formats it is legal in and it’s interaction with Punishing Fire. Which brings me to my first point.
A Lot of F***ing People Play Modern
Excuse my French but that is the truth. A lot of people are picking up Modern decks and playing them because of great strides to reduce the cost to play.
Do you remember the time when Hallowed Fountains were $45? Modern was in it’s infancy and barely anyone played it. Do you know how bad had they not reprinted them with such vigor 3 years ago? If you think Modern is expensive now, let me tell you, it could have been so much worse. Fetchland reprints in Khans of Tarkir also brought some needed reduction to the cost of Modern but that also made cards more expensive.
Bans and unbans make stuff more expensive
People knew the writing was on the wall for Bloom. The deck defied some ground rules for the Modern format but getting blindsided by a Splinter Twin ban is causing some really bad panic buying. Scapeshift is the easiest deck you can port Twin into (most of the shell is similar) but Scapeshift isn’t a card that got reprinted 6 months ago. The original printing is from Morningtide which is even older (and smaller print run) than the original Splinter Twin printing. The ripple effect will continue until probably a month after the Pro Tour as people try to figure out what to play now. The security knowing the “pillars of the format” is lost in Modern now and we might see a cascade of price changes as people adjust their strategy. At this point unless you need to play in a Modern event until Shadows over Innistrad, I would just stop buying Modern cards.
But this ban brings new brews!
Yeah, maybe? To be quite honest, the Eldrazi deck is already bringing enough of a shake up to Modern I’m not sure we needed to ban Splinter Twin. While it’s true the boogie man that was Twin allows for other decks to flourish, if you couldn’t beat Twin what makes you think your brew can beat the remaining decks? I think people think that removing one of their bad matchups all of a sudden makes their deck playable. What I am expecting is the opposite. If your brew couldn’t beat a 3 mana 1/4 blue creature it probably can’t beat a lot of the decks in Modern. While this is a finance column, I can not advocate people go out and buy a new deck right now because the format will be very unsettled.
Rise of the Rise of… Wait no – Oaths of Oath of the Gatewatch
These two are likely to become a dynamic duo in Standard in the coming months. They have both seen non-stop upward movement since their very early spoiling. If you got in early you are probably feeling great but at this point I think I’d rather trade for them than buy copies. Baring an unusually high finish (or large percentage of the top 8/16), they will likely not see a big jump next weekend.
This guy has been gaining the past week also. He probably won’t see as much play as Ulamog (Kozilek is much worse in multiples) which means he probably can’t maintain a $18-20 price tag for very long. I expect him to dip in the coming months and I’m a buyer at $10-12. Kozilek, the Great Distortion (like Kozilek, the Butcher of Truth) will likely retain a higher price tag than he should due to being a casual favorite. The only thing I can think that may change this course is if some Tron team at the Pro Tour adopts a large number of Kozilek in the main deck. That will probably lead him to disappear from the internet in a few hours.
The best card in the set. I regret not pre-ordering these at $4, $7, or $8 because the internet thinks they are worth $15. I’m not interested at that point. I’m not sure it’s good enough for Standard and Modern demand likely won’t push it close to the price of the rares of the Eldrazi deck. My rule of thumb is it can’t be more than Ulamog or Eye of Ugin. If you need them for a deck, I’m sorry but you probably wont find a better deal at $15 so good luck.
This is a potential “sleeper” of the set. I’m not sure how much upside there is at $5 but if you like the cut of his jib I wouldn’t fault you for getting yours. Outside of Cracking Doom, nobody is really set up to kill this guy.
I’m totally on board buying all of these lands. They’re $2-3.50 each which is in the ball park that the lower man land (Lumbering Falls) from Battle for Zendikar dropped to. If these get a lot of play in Modern and EDH… Well I guess really it’s “when” they get a lot of play, they will go up. There are not a lot of choice of good enemy colored dual lands.
Some people swear by this guy, and on paper he looks pretty good. The reality is he’s actually pretty difficult to cast unless you reshape your mana a lot to support it. I’m not sure people will and I’m not on board buying into a $7 rare. This is one of those “I have to see it to believe it” kinda cards. But I’m not always right, I felt that way about Collected Company before that was $15.
This is the last card I’ll touch on. He’s great. He’s $2.75 but he’s the buy a box promo. I would not fault you for buying or trading for some. I may have done it myself. While this unlikely another Goblin Rabblemaster, he’s got enough value on a sturdy body to be around for a bit.
One last bone to pick
So you guys know I used to advocate Pucatrade. It was a fantastic service. Was.
This is the current Pucatrade plan page. They have tripled the bonuses you get for signing up for paid plans and have the same bonus for new referrals. That’s a huge amount of additional Pucapoints flowing into the market that will cause more inflation. At this point I don’t think there is an upside to using Pucatrade because there is such a large possibility people just stop sending you cards. The fact that at this point, your entire Puca subscription cost turns into pucapoints is VERY concerning. Without a way to take them out of the market it’s possible pucapoints just turn into Zimbabwean Dollars. It is just a really bad way to get caught with your pants down. I don’t know if the new website will fix these issues but it should be pointed out as something to watch.
Thanks as always for reading, hopefully if my weekend goes to plan and you’re watching the StarCity open in Atlanta you will see me on camera! Gotta keep up the facade that I play more Magic than every other writer on this website, right?
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