Hello, all! If you don’t recognize me, my name is Jared Yost and I am an active member of the Magic finance community. I graciously received my first weekly column over at MTGPrice.com and have been writing for those folks over the past year. Now I have been added on to the great team here at Brainstorm Brewery and have been given another weekly column. I look forward to bringing you my new weekly article series which will cover the decks played over the previous weekend and what effects, if any, they will have in the market moving forward. If any of you are familiar with Jason’s Alticle, the now-discontinued series of free articles from Quiet Speculation, this article format will follow in the same vein. Lastly, my Twitter handle is @gildedgoblin, so if you like what I write, follow me.
Okay, with introductions out of the way, let’s dive in and check out the events from last weekend.
Haters gonna hate. We all have to acknowledge that, yes, Vexing Devil is indeed a card. I can’t believe I actually wrote that, but there you have it. I’m sure it is a hard pill for many to swallow to see that it was featured as a playset in the winning deck of the GP. I can’t tell you how many Reddit threads I’ve seen defending and bashing this card since it’s release. Teruya Kakumae finally gave the ultimate fuel to the defender camp fire by taking down the GP with a Burn deck featuring it. He also proved by doing this that Burn is probably a tier-one strategy in Modern, especially since another Burn deck made Top 8 in Kobe. We’ll have to review the results over the next few months to be sure, but after putting two people into the Top 8 of a GP, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more Burn in the future.
The winning deck was unexpected. However, I also think it was expected in a way—if you follow the Japanese Magic scene. My own thoughts on the matter are that Japanese Magic players are what I like to call “avant-garde.” What I mean by this is that the Japanese prefer to be as unique as possible with their Magic playing rather than just copy what the current best decks are in a format. The definition of avant-garde specifically mentions the utilization of unorthodox methodologies and experimentation. I think we can all agree that exhibit one for evidence here is Vexing Devil in the winning deck. It worked in Kobe, but Devil may not catch on now that people know to expect it and thus can fight better against it. You can do well without it, as evidenced by the inclusion of another Burn deck in the Top 8 that did not run Devil. It was an experiment that worked for the winning Burn player in Kobe, but might have much less success in other tournaments.
Looking at Devil specifically: in the past we’ve seen that Vexing Devil has maintained its price based on casual demand. There will continue to be demand for the card in the future from casuals. The tournament results only continue to boost desirability. I won’t say to stay away, yet I don’t think Devil is going to $15 or more any time soon. The cost of entry is too high to make a profit at this point, especially since I could easily see it being included in a Duel Deck or other product as a reprint. If you want to play Burn in Modern, pick them up, but don’t expect to make a killing profit-wise on these any time soon.
Other notables from the deck include Goblin Guide (which just experienced a huge spike), Eidolon of the Great Revel, and the tech of Leyline of Sanctity coming out of the board to deal with the Burn mirror match. Leyline is already pretty pricey at $20 per copy—could it go higher from here? Without a reprint, I’m afraid it might. But again, like Devil, the ceiling on Leyline of Sanctity is very close to being reached. I don’t see how it could ever go to $40 or beyond.
Exhibit two for avant-garde deckbuilding evidence would be trying to throw Tarmogoyf into an Affinity build in the second place deck and taking out…Arcbound Ravager!? Sacrilege, I tell you! What’s next, are we going to see Goyf-Pod? Wait a sec, that actually sounds pretty kickass…
It was clearly a good call for Affinity because the deck did very well for itself by getting second place. It seems Ensoul Artifact is also making waves across the ocean because a full playset was included in the second-place build. It looks like Ensoul Artifact is the real deal. Trading for foils around $15 seems fine. Also note that Mana Confluence was used to help smooth out mana in the deck. With the potential Modern and Legacy demand for Confluence, I can only say to get your copies sooner rather than later.
SCG Open Washington, DC
The winner here was Steve Rubin with BU Devotion. Not a huge surprise, since this is the deck to beat in Standard and has been for quite some time. With the introduction of M15, however, many new brews have appeared on the scene—the most notable being GW Aggro, Jund Walkers (which put two people in the Top 8 here), and a close ninth and tenth place finish for Mono-Red Aggro and Rabble Red, respectively. After reviewing the numbers of the decks in the Top 8, the following cards that will not be rotating once Khans of Tarkir releases appeared in the numbers noted . I noted cards with more than four copies, since this means that a card was definitely played in more than one deck in the Top 8.
12 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
12 Hero’s Downfall
11 Temple of Deceit
8 Courser of Kruphix
8 Elvish Mystic
8 Sylvan Caryatid
8 Temple of Abandon
8 Temple of Malice
7 Llanowar Wastes
6 Bile Blight
6 Nissa, Worldwaker
6 Xenagos, the Reveler
Including ninth- and tenth-place mono-red strategies:
Unfortunately, for the currently existing mono-red strategies, most of the deck will rotate come September. To me, this doesn’t bode well for the current price of Rabblemaster at $4. Unless we have goblin strategies thrown in with the wedge set dynamics, I don’t see a strong case for mono-red unless people start main decking Eidolon of the Great Revel. Red will most likely be paired with at least one other color for the upcoming rotation’s aggro decks.
Things are looking good for Nissa and Xenagos based on these results. The SGC commentators couldn’t stop talking about how good Nissa is whenever she had screentime. They said that the untap ability is irrelevant most of the time, but permanently turning your land into a 4/4 with trample is the key ability since she can target any land. A similar planeswalker is Koth, and he was great in Standard. I think Nissa’s price has a good chance of sticking if she continues to see play. She has already gone up to $36 on TCGplayer and I don’t see that changing much unless we have a super large paradigm shift in September.
Xenagos is also a solid walker and has already seen a double up in price from players picking up copies for the new Standard. I don’t see him moving much from the current price for some time. Trade for copies, but do not buy in. Xenagos has room to grow a bit more, but it is not worth buying in cash at this point.
SCG Open Washington, DC
Shardless BUG took home the win here with a range of tempo decks based on similar strategies (tempo/control) taking up the rest of the Top 4. Council’s Judgment made an appearance in Todd Anderson’s deck (along with Zealous Persecution tech in the sideboard, which I think this is a good pickup at $0.50 or lower) but other than this, there wasn’t much innovation in the lists.
Dredge made a decent showing, putting two copies in the Top 8. Surprisingly, only one version played the full playset of Mana Confluence. Eric Copenhaver opted to play a full playset of Cephalid Coliseum and an extra Gemstone Mine instead of a playset of Confluence. Regardless, this confirms what many of us predicted—Confluence made waves in Legacy in addition to Standard and Modern, because it provides Dredge extra copies of City of Brass for better color fixing. Outside of Confluence, the lists were pretty similar—no Griselbrand or anything like that, just a straight Dredge build of classic components that opts to win with with Ichorid and Bridge from Below and to speed up that win with Lion’s Eye Diamond and Faithless Looting.
Metalworker was able to come in a decent fifth place here. White’s is a classic Metalworker list that is pretty similar to ones we’ve seen in the past. I noticed that there were a combination of two Mox Opals and two Mox Diamonds in the list, which combo well with Goblin Welder later in the game if your artifacts are countered or destroyed. I’ve been an advocate of Goblin Welder for quite some time and I really like the card at the current $7.50 price it is sitting at on TCGPlayer. The only issue is that Metalworker is what I consider a pet deck, i.e. it is a deck that doesn’t usually do very well at tournaments but it sometimes makes a Top 8 due to the huge amount of variance in Legacy. It can be hated out pretty easily, which dissuades a lot of people from playing it. However, similar to Modern, Legacy is a format that rewards someone for knowing their deck really well. If you pick a deck, play with it a lot, and know the various outs your deck has to other decks in the format, you can usually do pretty well with it regardless of of the hate. I think you have to really know the Metalworker deck well in order to pilot it to the Top 8.
It sure was an action-packed weekend, with Standard, Modern, Legacy, and even Sealed Deck being played at GP Sydney. It seems the popularity of Magic knows no bounds. The biggest shakeups included some Modern innovations from the Japanese, which I appreciate since they seem to be the only group of Magic players that likes to shake things up on a consistent basis, even in a format like Modern, which everybody assumed was solved. Hopefully next weekend will be just as exciting.