Over the holiday break, on New Year’s Eve, I was fortunate enough to get married to a beautiful woman I love very much, who has been supportive and encouraging, and without whom I would not be writing this article. Nika was the one who suggested that I take the opportunity to write for Brainstorm Brewery when I mentioned the possibility. She allows me to play and write about Magic: The Gathering and chooses not to Stifle my passion for the game. Although she would generally prefer I don’t spend hours on end at my LGS, she understands that it is important to me. For her love and support I am forever grateful. If you take away nothing else, my one piece of advice this week is to surround yourself with people who support you in pursuing your passion and are quick to let you know when you are wrong. I am quite ecstatic to have married my best friend to start 2014 and our life together.
This weekend was the first of the new year, and also brought us the first Star City Open of 2014. The weekend was marked by yet another victory for Mono-Black Devotion. I find it quite telling that Owen Turtenwald showed up running a decklist full of four-ofs. There wasn’t any new “tech” or any dramatic changes from the typical build. He just showed up with the biggest, baddest deck in the format and won the tournament. Not all that exciting. But the mono-black list itself isn’t all that exciting, or complicated to play. It just wins games.
Mono-black runs four copies of Mutavault, as do many of the other top-tier decks in the format. As discussed on this past week’s Brainstorm Brewery podcast, Mutavault’s outlandish price right now reflects its prevalence in the format. It’s also quite a powerful card in its own right. However, its price is likely unstable, and I doubt seriously that Mutavault can maintain this price point for its entire run in Standard. It was printed as a rare, not a mythic. I think that unless you are actively playing every copy of Mutavault you own, you need to dump them. I am only referring to non-foil, non-full art copies. Foil copies of M14 Mutavault are only $20 lower now than the Morningtide foils were before the reprint.
Mr. Andrew Shrout showed up to the Indianapolis open with a decklist that varied in a few notable ways from the decklist we saw him run at the Las Vegas Invitational last month. It seems that he has modified his creature suite, lowering his curve and eliminating the need for Elvish Mystic. He added four copies of Soldier of the Pantheon and is now running a full eight one-drops. The deck is also slightly less pre-boarded for blue decks, running fewer Mistcutter Hydras and fewer Skylashers in the main deck. Shrout also moved the copy of Last Breath from the mainboard to the sideboard. While some of these choices were metagame calls, I think the list Shrout chose to run this weekend is overall a better build against an unknown metagame. With the manabase for this deck getting better, look for it to continue to be a contender following the release of Born of the Gods.
Every week, it seems like there’s a group of players who show up with a new brew. This week those players were Brian Braun-Duin and Chris VanMeter. Inspired by Keisuke Sato’s decklist from GP Shizuoka, BBD and CVM ran a GR Monsters list stacked with planeswalkers and the Flesh // Blood tech that Brad Nelson previously championed. This deck is resilient to the current metagame of control-based strategies because it runs eight main-deck planeswalkers and two in the sideboard. As VanMeter suggests, I feel that Xenagos, the Reveler is underrated right now. At the current price point, it’s likely a safe acquisition.
Delver remained quite relevant this weekend. Only one RUG Delver pilot managed a top-eight finish, but several UWR Delver decks were in the mix. I think it’s safe to say that at this juncture, UWR is the better deck against an unknown field of Legacy players. True-Name Nemesis is more effective in a shell that has access to Stoneforge Mystic and equipment. Specifically, Umezawa’s Jitte.
The new year also brought us a spike in the price of Stoneforge Mystic. The kor artificer began a price spike with foil copies disappearing first, followed by non-foil copies. This feels to me like a permanent price shift, rather than one of the more fleeting price changes that we have seen in recent months. While the card may still see some price settling, I imagine there will be a new floor for copies of Stoneforge, although perhaps slightly lower than the $27 we see NM copies moving for at the moment, but $25 Stoneforge Mystic is likely here to stay.
One of the most interesting decks from this weekend is the Jund Depths list that bullied all the other fair decks to a first-place finish. True-Name Nemesis has put Diabolic Edict effects at a premium in Legacy. I personally prefer my decks to win faster than paint dries, but this deck showed that it is quite viable. It is unclear how this deck manages to beat traditional combo decks and it is likely quite weak in those types of match-ups. The “Depths” portion of the deck’s namesake comes from the Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage combo. While Thespian’s Stage isn’t exactly a new speculation target, this card could pick up quite quickly in value as applications for the card continue to be found and created. Thespian’s Stage is an interesting target, because at 65 cents a piece, it has almost reached bulk-rare status. No one is paying much attention to this card at the moment, and it can be acquired in large quantities for a relatively small amount of money. While this card may never be anything but a bulk rare, the long-term potential for it is quite high.
When selecting speculation targets for the long-term, one should look for a card that provides a unique effect that will only get better as the card pools for eternal formats grow. Thespian’s Stage fits this definition, and has already begun creeping into the Legacy format in decks such as Lands and Twelve-Post. This weekend, the card showed its efficacy in combination with Dark Depths.
It is quite exciting to see the Legacy metagame contort to answer the presence of a card like True-Name Nemesis. While this card initially seemed too good, and many Pondered whether or not it should be banned altogether, it appears that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what decks might come to the fore-front.
Have thoughts on this weekend’s events or my picks here? Please share in the comments below!