As Khans of Tarkir continues to showcase itself across all of Standard, more results keep coming in that will solidify the decks we will continue to see over the next year. Last weekend Star City Games: Worcester (MA) and Grand Prix Los Angeles added more excitement to Standard by showcasing the power of new decks and twists on existing archetypes. In addition, results at the Legacy Open at Worcester will show how [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] and [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card] have shaken up Legacy. Let’s go!
Grand Prix Los Angeles, US (GP LA)
Format – Standard
Not surprising was that Abzan decks were dominating the Top 8 of the tournament. However, the finals were a match between G/R Devotion and Rabble Red. Something notably absent from all the lists? The color blue! Does this mean that blue is dead? Certainly not, as we’ve seen that players at the Pro Tour are able to do quite well with Jeskai. At this particular event, the linear strategies seemed to be key in pushing through 1700+ players in order to launch players into day two of the tournament and ultimately the Top 8.
The winner of the event was Daniel Scheid playing G/R Devotion. Included in the deck were four copies of [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]—a card that I claimed was undervalued last week after I wrote about what happened at PT Khans. Stormbreath is the real deal, and with Jeskai Tempo and Abzan still running rampant everywhere (and Mardu popping up from time to time), it only stands to gain as the winter months go on.
Other cards to watch from the winning deck include [card]Crater’s Claws[/card], [card]Xenagos, the Reveler[/card], and [card]Temple of Abandon[/card]. Based on comments from Emostarcraft on the /r/spikes subreddit, the deck has real power:
“In playtesting, we had what seemed to be a 70% win rate against abzan, 55% against jeskai, and control was just a joke (you have to try to lose). The only somewhat difficult matchup is ascendancy combo.”
The format is still pretty open and the dominant decks will slowly show themselves over the next few months. Based on this win, it looks like G/R Devotion could be one of those top decks. More results will need to come in before any conclusions can be made, but if you want to play G/R Devotion, you should pick up your Theros and M15 needs sooner rather than later, including [card]Hornet Queen[/card] and [card]Genesis Hydra[/card]. Even [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] is looking pretty good right now, as Star City Games is sold out at $5 and the buy list price on the card seems to be going up.
The second-place deck was Rabble Red, which as everyone knows is this Standard rotation’s version of mono-red aggro. The one thing I noticed about this deck is the land count—I play more than 17 lands in my Legacy decks, yikes! Guess it was fine, though, since Dennis Ulanov got second place and all. Nothing financially relevant here barring [card]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/card], which has creeped up to $8 per copy on TCGplayer. If you want copies on the cheap, you are going to have to wait until rotation next year for them to go down.
You wouldn’t know this from my first paragraph in this section, but the Abzan decks were split into two camps—Abzan Aggro and Abzan Midrange. Both decks might seem similar at first glance if you just read the posted deck names, but looking at the lists tells a different story. Midrange does what Ari’s deck did to win the Pro Tour, which is to grind out the games long enough to drop a critical mass of planeswalkers to overwhelm the opponent. The aggro list runs cards like [card]Anafenza, the Foremost[/card], [card]Rakshasa Deathdealer[/card], and [card]Herald of Torment[/card] in order to establish a faster clock while casting [card]Siege Rhino[/card] as the upper end of the curve.
Both types of Abzan lists shared three copies of [card]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/card] across both the main decks and sideboards, which means that he seems to be the real deal for Abzan players. Based on these results, I’m not sure how far he is going to drop, but I can’t imagine he will be below $20 again if he continues to be included in the Abzan decks.
Finally, another Rabble Red deck and Mardu Midrange deck rounded out the Top 8. Brad Nelson’s version of Mardu Midrange included four [card]Butcher of the Horde[/card], which means that Butcher is certainly powerful. However, Mardu is unfortunately in an archetype that seems to be trailing Abzan, Jeskai, and Temur in terms of popularity. I’ve heard that Sidisi showed up the at the GP, though like Mardu, the Sultai don’t seem to be putting up an impressive showing—at least not yet. The format is in the process of being solved and Butcher could still shine as more cards are added to the Standard card pool.
Star City Games: Worcester, MA (USA) – Standard
Format – Standard
If you check out the #SCGWOR Twitter feed you will see that the finals of this tournament are quite controversial. The winner, Trevor Humphries, allegedly cheated on camera by shuffling nonland cards to the top of his opponent’s library. Players believe he never changed the top ten cards of the deck and forced his opponent to mulligan to five cards on game one to play one land off the top in the second game. See this reddit post for more details. I’m not here to comment either way, I just wanted to point out that ultimately the result of this situation could be a change in the tournament results.
Anyways, back to the cards—the “winning” deck was Jeskai aggro, which also placed fourth in the tournament getting two of them to the Top 8. What’s the difference between Jeskai Aggro and Jeskai Tempo? I’m not sure, but besides [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] and [card]Narset, Enlightened Master[/card] appearing, [card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card] appeared as a 3-of in the “winning” deck, which will further stabilize his price for now (with future increases down the line if he continues to show up in top Standard lists).
Again, we have three Abzan midrange decks that don’t really offer any insights besides that [card]Ajani, Mentor of Heroes[/card] is still looking pretty good to me right now.
Some different additions to the Top 8 include G/B devotion and Temur Midrange. G/B devotion plays a strategy that revolves around [card]Doomwake Giant[/card], [card]Eidolon of Blossoms[/card], and [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] in order to constantly kill [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] tokens and other annoying creatures turn after turn. The deck also featured a playset of [card]See the Unwritten[/card], which was a card that spiked during PT Khans due to the camera time it saw when Finkel was playing with it. [card]See the Unwritten[/card] could still do some work going into the Standard season, so watch out for it.
Temur Midrange featured all kinds of interesting cards, including a playset of both [card]Savage Knuckleblade[/card] and [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]. Two copies of Kiora is also something to note, as she hasn’t budged from $20 (even without a lick of Standard play!). I don’t think this one Temur deck getting eighth place at an SCG Open is going to change that price, but if you’re thinking of playing Temur Midrange and including her, you may want to trade for your copies. Xenagos also appeared here, meaning his $15 price isn’t going down.
Star City Games: Worcester, MA (USA) – Legacy
Format – Legacy
Ben Glancy took down the Legacy portion of the SCG Open piloting Esper Deathblade, a spin on the popular Stoneblade variants. His version opted to play three copies of [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] in the main deck, which got me thinking—how many Treasure Cruises are there in this Top 8? My count was fourteen copies, which is plenty. However, this also means that not every blue deck opted to play [card]Treasure Cruise[/card]. What I’m trying to figure out is if the $20 foil price tag of the card is worth it right now. It appears that many decks don’t bother running it and seem to do okay, but the results of the last few major Legacy tournaments have indicated that decks that run Treasure Cruise seem to take down the event. We haven’t had many results to confirm this yet, as Khans has just come out, but right now it looks like Treasure Cruise has added power to Legacy that hasn’t been seen before. Still though, Delver foils were $5 for the longest time and are still less than Treasure Cruise foils at $15—and this is with a deck named after the card. Common sense tells me to stay away from Treasure Cruise foils for a while until the release hype dies down.
Counting up [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card], there were eight copies in the Top 8—certainly a card that is powerful, though not format-defining. For now, it is restricted to U/R Delver solely. The other Delver variants opted to play [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card], [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], and other more established cards over it. She is certainly making waves, but not totally dominating yet.
Elves is still putting up results, with two people getting into the Top 8 of this tournament with the deck. Nothing new was offered from either version, so if anything goes up due to these results, it will be long-standing staples like [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card], [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card], and [card]Natural Order[/card]. I don’t expect any to spike overnight, though as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Elves seems to be really popular right now, and with GP New Jersey coming up in a month, it will be a great time to liquidate any Legacy staples you have.
Along with Delver variants and Elves, Miracles rounds out our Top 8—because hey, it wouldn’t be a Legacy tournament without the most popular control deck placing well in addition to the aggro and combo decks. No [card]Treasure Cruise[/card]s to be seen here, just a solid build based on the existing archetype.
Something to note is that Reanimator is still popular, as it got second place at SCG Edison and placed 10th, 12th, and 15th at Worcester. [card]Entomb[/card] could be something to look out for since it is one of the backbones of the deck and is around $25 now. With a win at GP New Jersey, that could easily spike.
For Standard, cards that are stabilizing in price include [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] and [card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card]. These are mythic rares that are starting to see play now that Theros block is the majority of the card pool in Standard and should become better as the format stabilizes. Speculations right now include [card]Butcher of the Horde[/card], [card]Doomwake Giant[/card], and [card]Rakshasha Deathdealer[/card] (if Abzan Aggro becomes more played than Abzan Midrange).
In terms of Legacy, I will give you the advice I’ve peddled in the past: go for Elves pieces. Many have stabilized in price without budging for basically the entire past year. Eventually, if the deck becomes popular enough, I believe one of them is bound to spike as we approach GP New Jersey.
Thanks for reading!