About the Author
@ElAguacateMagic     -     Email     -     Articles Michael is an avid Magic player who often prefers the trading and economic aspects of the game. He once completed a "Pack-to-Power" project in nine months, finishing with a Beta Timetwister. He travels to Magic events, generally in the Midwest, every few months.

Weekend Review April 4-6

Last week I was excited about Standard Magic.  For the first time in months, it looked like the face of Standard was changing. This is great for the game, because players who have gotten bored and haven’t shown up to the LGS in a while pop in to try out some new brews.  I was ecstatic about the Black Blue Heroes decklist:

[deck title= Black Blue Heroes Ken Yukuhiro]
4 Agent of the Fates
3 Artisan of Forms
2 Nivmagus Elemental
4 Pain Seer
4 Tormented Hero
4 Xathrid Necromancer
2 Springleaf Drum
3 Boon of Erebos
3 Mizzium Skin
2 Retraction Helix
4 Triton Tactics
1 Ultimate Price
4 Hidden Strings
4 Island
5 Swamp
3 Mutavault
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Watery Grave
3 Desecration Demon
2 Bile Blight
2 Dispel
2 Doom Blade
2 Negate
2 Duress
2 Thoughtseize

This deck showed up at Grand Prix Beijing following the previous standard Grand Prix’s Green Black Dredge list from Ari Lax which I wrote about in my last article.  Yes it looked like things were starting to shake up – until this week, when Standard Magic players shit on my hopes and dreams, and we went back to the SSDD of standard.Pain seer


SCG Standard Open Milwaukee Decklists

Grand Prix Phoenix Decklists

I think what we are beginning to see with the emergence of the Heroic deck and the dredge deck, is that while players continue to brew and try to find new ways to attack the meta-game, post Return to Ravnica rotation archetypes are going to begin to identify themselves.  The B/U heroes deck may be an excellent example of this.  Only 17 of the main deck cards will leave Standard come rotation and 28 only of the 75 will rotate.  That being said, some of the four-ofs that the deck builds around such as [card]Pain Seer[/card] and [card]Agent of Fates[/card] demonstrate their power level in this shell.  This is worth considering as these cards are at very low price points now.  Agent being a bulk rare, and Seer, at $1.70 on TCG Player.

I don’t think it is too early to be considering Standard rotation at this point, and cards that are already popping up in the metagame here and there are worthy of considering as speculation targets now.  [card]Nighthowler[/card] and [card]Herald of Torment[/card] out of the G/B Dredge deck both stand out to me.  While some cards such as [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] may initially appear innocuous, and later creep up in value, some cards are more obviously powerful, such as [card]Desecration Demon[/card].  Speculating and picking up a bunch of copies of either would have been lucrative before Theros dropped.  [card]Desecration Demon[/card] wasn’t heavily sought after prior to Theros, but enough players were trying to break the card that it wasn’t hard to imagine a world in which [card]Desecration Demon[/card] was everywhere.  Good speculators do that, and get in front of the price spikes.  If you make a pick and it doesn’t hit, you don’t want to be so heavily invested that you lose your shirt.

Mono Black ended up winning both the Star City Open and the Grand Prix this weekend.  Both players were maindecking a copy of [card]Whip of Erebos[/card]. I don’t expect the price of this card to fluctuate much if at all. I do like this “tech” better than [card]Staff of the Death Magus[/card].  It may not be as great an answer to the R/W Burn strategy as it is significantly slower than the Staff, but it is infinitely more applicable in almost any other match-up imaginable.


Star City Milwaukee Legacy Open Decklists

Young PyroDuring coverage, Eric Rill called [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card] the best card in Legacy, and fittingly this week FNM promo copies on TCG Player jumped to $10. They sat at $5 a week or two ago when I last wrote about the card and suggested it as a pick-up.  A card that Eric demonstrated works in tandem with “free” spells really well is [card]Young Pyromancer[/card].  As a Standard legal uncommon it hasn’t made much noise, but this is clearly the kind of effect wanted in Legacy.  Its a cheap threat that replaces itself and has excellent synergy with [card]Cabal Therapy[/card].  Between [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card], [card]Young Pyromancer[/card], and [card]Cabal Therapy[/card] one can see how this deck could do some pretty sweet stuff.  I like picking up both foil and non-foil copies of [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] from Standard players who don’t want or need these guys.  They’re throw-ins in trades now, and the financial potential of this card is real.

Last week I saw a few cards in a number of decks that caught my attention I still wanted to mention:

MUD is not a particularly popular archetype, but any time a well known Legacy deck runs anything as a four-of, its worth taking note.  [card]Kuldotha Forgemaster[/card] is a bulk rare.  Cards from all over Scars of Mirrodin block are hitting astronomical price points.  What can be said about this card is, in the right shell, the power level is there.

[card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card] has only been printed once and shows up all over the Legacy landscape, from MUD to Death and Taxes.  $2.50 seems too low for this card.

Finally, Wizards has announced that they will make the 2013 Commander decks more readily available.  Specifically retailers can choose to add two copies of the Mind Seize deck, (the one containing [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card]) per box substituting it for one of the others. In a secondary print-run.  I will be watching what happens to the value of that card as a result.  The other chase rares from the set might be more desirable at the moment.  [card]Toxic Deluge[card] is an aggressively priced sweeper that I’d be snagging copies of in trades right now.

I am planning on heading off to the Star City Open in Dallas this upcoming weekend.  I’ll be hanging out, trading and playing some Legacy on Sunday  If you happen to be out there, don’t hesitate to come say hello.  I don’t know what I’ll be playing at this point; I am quite compelled to play the four color Delver strategy that took down the Open this weekend.  Three and four color Delver decks seem well positioned in the meta game at the moment.  Hopefully I don’t party too hard in the days leading up to the tournament and I manage to show up; preferably on time to register and play. Remember, whatever the focal point of your interaction with the game of Magic, it’s supposed to be fun.

Weekend Review March 21-23

“Well that was fast,” is something I’ve never heard before. Vidianto Wijaya, on the other hand, likely heard that exact phrase entirely too frequently in the last few days. Vidianto ran Red-White Burn this weekend to a fourth-place finish. The burn list is a pseudo-budget list, as most burn lists tend to be, but is also an entirely reasonable deck choice. Outside of the required [card]Mutavault[/card]s, the deck is pretty darn cheap, but it still sees plenty of play, especially on Magic Online.  Unfortunately, I don’t particularly see any room for immediate growth in any of the cards in the deck.

Standard is beginning to stagnate again, and we just haven’t been seeing much innovation.  One list that caught my attention this week was the Black-Green Graveyard list Ari Lax ran at Grand Prix Cincinnati.

SCG Open Standard Decklists

Grand Prix Cincinnati Decklists

[deck title=Ari Lax Grand Prix Cincinnati 2014 – Standard – Top 16]
2 Deathrite Shaman
4 Elvish Mystic
3 Herald of Torment
2 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
3 Lotleth Troll
4 Nemesis of Mortals
4 Nighthowler
4 Satyr Wayfinder
2 Shadowborn Demon
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Commune with the Gods
4 Grisly Salvage
9 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
7 Swamp
1 Devour Flesh
1 Golgari Charm
4 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Shadowborn Demon
4 Thoughtseize
2 Whip of Erebos

This deck seems awesome and I’d love to see Ari publish a primer on the deck at some point. One of the most attractive things about it is that it is ridiculously cheap to build.  Just grab those [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s and [card]Overgrown Tomb[/card]s that you have lying around and sleeve ’em up.  Throw in a little bit of [card]Thoughtseize[/card] action and get to cracking skulls!

Don’t have a few [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s and [card/]Overgrown Tomb[/card]s lying around?  Well, I believe that you should.  I don’t think the price tag on Shaman will skyrocket in the next week or month, but this guy is a grower, not  a show-er.  Long-term, I can see Deathrite do what [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] did before him.  We all see the eternal playability in this guy. It’s no question that it will remain an actively-played card long after it rotates, and as copies gradually become more scarce, the price tag should only climb. Shock lands across the board are also a safe long-term buy right now.

If this particular deck picks up in popularity, I like [card]Herald of Torment[/card] and [card]Shadowborn Demon[/card]. [card]Nighthowler[/card] is all but a bulk rare, so it’s potentially a great low-risk, high-reward target.  I have seen similar lists showing up on MTGO daily results, and the fact that Ari bothered to pick up this 75 is a heavy indication that the rares and mythic rares that aren’t seeing heavy standard play right now should be on your radar too.


From Born of the Gods, both the aforementioned [card]Herald of Torment[/card] and [card]Pain Seer[/card] seem to have essentially bottomed out and I’m cool with actively seeking out a few playsets in trades right now.  I see [card]Pain Seer[/card] sneak into a handful of deck lists enough that it seems to be several players’ pet card.  Sooner or later, this guy will find a home.


SCG Open Los Angeles Decklists

I am really excited about the BUG Control list piloted by Phimus Pan at the Legacy Open this weekend.  Drew Levin had written about the BUG Delver list that has been doing well as of late and described it as “a bit kludge.” I mention this because, first of all, that is an awesome adjective that I intend to incorporate into my vocabulary, but also, it fits the experience that I have had playing the deck quite well.

Following the shift that the Legacy metagame has experienced, BUG has picked up in popularity but moved away from [card]Shardless Agent[/card] and [card]Baleful Strix[/card], which is a shame because both of those cards are incredibly efficient designs and cards that I am quite fond of playing with.  Phimus’s list is the big brother to the BUG Delver list.  It answers it, which is a desirable trait right now, and also eliminates the bipolar tendencies of the BUG Delver list. You no longer have to decide whether you want to play [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] or [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] on turn one.  Your role is more clearly defined.

[card]Baleful Strix[/card] has [card]Plummet[/card]ed since being reprinted in a Commander deck alongside [card]True Name Nemesis[/card].  I believe this card is near its floor. [card]Baleful Strix[/card] available at $6 is not a price that I anticipate will be around for too long.

[card]Surgical Extraction[/card] is present in the sideboard of the BUG Control list, and also in the U/R Delver sideboard as well. Jacob Kory experienced a fair level of success utilizing [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] alongside [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card] to attack his opponents’ grips while managing to keep them from cantripping through their decks or shuffling away useless spells.  I highlight this because these two New Phyrexia spells are becoming ever-present in eternal formats.  [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] is quite a versatile utility card, and it would be quite difficult to find a way to print a more mana efficient card for this effect.Misthollow Griffin

Mono-Green 12-Post made an appearance at the top tables this week as well.  This deck leans heavily on the utility of [card]Expedition Map[/card]. The same is true of many of the “Tron” strategies in Modern.  Although we are talking about a common, with Modern season around the corner, this card could climb up a couple of bucks, which would mean that it would essentially double in value.

Finally, I’ll ask the question, is this [card]Food Chain[/card] deck real?  The world may never know, but enough people believe that this is the case that currently all of the copies of [card]Misthollow Griffin[/card] have been exiled from Star City. The card is currently priced roughly at $1 on TCGplayer.  It will take a significantly higher amount of success to convince me.  But who doesn’t want to make infinite mana and cast their 3/3’s from exile.

Have comments on today’s article or on this weekend’s eventts? Let me know in the comments below!

Weekend Review March 7-9

“Leave the last 10 percent for the next guy.”  This sound line of reasoning has been promoted by the guys from the Brainstorm Podcast and I tend to agree, although it may seem counter-intuitive initially -“Why give up profit margins on my speculation targets that hit?”  Because cards are ultimately only worth what someone is willing to pay for them and while the value of a card may still be on the rise, it’s easier to move a card while it is still on the rise as opposed to trying to move it once it has peaked and is beginning to show signs of decline.  If you are holding Modern staples right now and considering whether or not to move them, I think that we are now in the time frame to make that sale.  Between now and the beginning of Modern season you’ll have the best opportunity to unload Modern staples at the best profit margin.Land Tax

At this point it is certainly unclear how much more valuable [card]Scalding Tarn[/card] and [card]Misty Rainforest[/card] can possibly get.  We are clearly nearing the top of the price point for these cards with Modern season looming and the hype following Grand Prix Richmond this weekend. We may in fact be nearing the top for all the fetch lands.  After all, Wizards has to be salivating at the incredible draw that the Modern format has become.  With the outlandish turn out at Grand Prix Richmond this weekend, any product Wizards produces with the word “Modern” on it will undoubtedly fly off shelves.  The Modern Event deck that is to be available on May 30, 2014, continues to demonstrate that Wizards will increase the supply of Modern staples as long as the demand remains.


Grand Prix Richmond Decklists

With five of the top 18 finishers of Grand Prix Richmond running Affinity, most of the contents of the deck have already increased in value.  While there is still room for growth, the card from the deck I am most bullish about is a repeat call from last week.  [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] is a multi-format staple, being a 4-of in most decks that chose to run it as an alternate win condition.  Sitting at $10 on TCG player, as well as most other major retailers, I feel that this card has not seen the exponential growth that some of the other major players in Modern have seen.  I think this means that this is still a card worth targeting and perhaps even purchasing despite its recent growth and success.  Given the number of decks capable of infinite life, or padding their life total through [card]Phyrexian Unlife[/card] and [card]Angel’s Grace[/card], having an alternate win condition is perhaps undervalued at this juncture.  By the way, if you want to go long on a spec, [card]Phyrexian Unlife[/card].  If you can still find them.  Go to your LGS and buy them up out of the bulk box.   They’re disappearing across the internet.

Affinity faced off against Kiki-Pod in the finals of the Grand Prix this weekend, pod strategies also managed five of the top 18 finishes.  While Affinity has already shown moderate gains, [card]Birthing Pod[/card] is selling for almost double what it cost Friday.  Many of the cards from the deck have also experienced similar astronomical growth in the past weekend.  One card that I feel strongly still has room for growth is [card]Restoration Angel[/card].  The gradual growth that [card]Restoration Angel[/card] has experienced encourages me to target it in trades, as they are occasionally still present in casual binders, you can often get rid of standard cards in exchange for this card that is still trending upward.

The Innistrad land cycle sees play in Modern, and although they don’t see play in incredibly high numbers, both this cycle of lands as well as the Scars of Mirrodin fast lands are all worth acquiring.  [card]Sulfur Falls[/card] and [card]Hinterland Harbor[/card] are likely the most popular Innistrad lands at this point, but they are all probably safe targets.Woodland Cemetery

Snapcaster Mage had climbed to $40.00 from some retailers as early as a week or so ago.  Any blue based decks that aren’t running [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] likely have to question why they aren’t.    Copies can be had on TCG player at $30.00.  This is a card that will likely not see print in standard ever again, relegating any reprints to smaller sets.  $30.00 is likely the new floor for the foreseeable future.

[card]Blood Moon[/card] was such a successful strategy across several archetypes that for the Grand Prix this week, many shifted their entire mana bases so they could fight through a resolved [card]Blood Moon[/card].  This card is still punishing for so many greedy mana bases, that despite the handful of printings, [card]Blood Moon[/card] is well situated in both Modern and Legacy, and is a good trade target right now.

[card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card] remains a highly-selected  and diverse sideboard card in both Modern and Legacy.  Foil copies are selling at $18.  I think the way in which foil copies are out pacing non-foil copies is indicative of the direction that this card will trend in the future.  Both clauses are relevant in both Modern and Legacy.

One of the major barriers to the entry to Modern not so long ago was the lack of availability of shock lands.  With Return to Ravnica having resolved that issue, shock lands took a [card]Plummet[/card], but keep an eye on shock land prices.  It is quite possible that they are currently as low as we will see them for some time.  While other cards may dip when they cycle out of Standard, many players will be waiting to swoop up all of the shock lands as they rotate, and I don’t expect much, if any of a dip in their price.  Now is likely a good time as any to pick up shock lands.  While [card]Steam Vents[/card] has been one of the least played during its stretch in Standard, and therefore the cheapest, it is highly played in Modern, and it’s future price will reflect this.

Modern cards are going to continue to fluctuate in value based on results from Modern tournament results, the next Modern Grand Prix the weekend of May 9-11 in Minneapolis.  As I said last week, Modern cards will remain the most financially-volatile assets in your collection.  Treat them as such.

Weekend of February 28-March 2 Review

You see, I’m a bit of a cynic.   While many if not most players believe that Wizards has been looking for the proverbial, “Sweet Spot,” with the banning and un-banning process in Modern, I believe that what is and will continue to actually happen is that Wizards will ban and un-ban cards as they see fit in order to keep the format fresh. Why, you ask? You see whenever a format is “solved” players begin to lose interest.  Wizards becomes pressured to print newer, more powerful cards, in order to maintain players’ interest. They then have to introduce these new cards, with the power level to change the face of Modern, through Standard. This is not an ideal world for Wizards because not every new set can contain the next [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] or Standard becomes incredibly one-dimensional, and “solved” infinitely quicker. So how does Wizards accomplish keeping Modern exciting for the foreseeable future without being forced to inject new cards into the Modern format through Standard?
Faithless lootThey ban the crap out of the current most powerful thing, or unban something, or just ban island and see what happens for the season and then un-ban it for the next. You see, as long as Wizards keeps Modern fresh, they can continue to sell you more premium product, (think Modern Masters), which they can continue to print, because unlike Vinatge, Modern has no restricted list. With this model, Modern can continue to be a revenue generator for Wizards, and players will feel safer with their larger investment on their decks because Wizards can chose to ban or un-ban cards at a pace so that players don’t lose confidence in their investment, but still nuke enough decks per season that the format still generates a sizable revenue for Wizards of the Coast. I live in this cynical world and my mindset toward cards whose value is largely propped up by the Modern format is that they are and will continue to be the most financially-volatile assets in your collection. Treat them as such.

While Modern cards have been volatile in anticipation of Modern season, a number of cards that have already returned to earth([card]Bitterblossom[/card]) as the Modern format has started to shake out again following last weekend’s Pro Tour.  While many speculators continue to try and capitalize on the Modern format, perhaps the safer, if not better money can be found elsewhere.  There are undoubtedly fortunes to be made on the price volatility of cards played heavily in the format; however, as a speculator, Modern can be a rather risky endeavor.  Wizards can and will reprint any card on a whim.  I think many were somewhat blindsided by Wizard’s willingness to throw [card]Remand[/card] into a Duel deck.  But Wizard’s ability to reprint Modern staples will inevitably be a double-edged sword.  After all, this is one of the underlying rationales that Modern players will point to when supporting the long term viability of the format.  Meanwhile, holding on to original dual lands continues to be a lucrative, and more importantly, safer long-term choice.  As a speculator, it is important to remember these aspects of card values when trading.


SCG Open Atlanta Decklists

Grand Prix Melbourne 2014 Decklists

And Mono-Black devotion wins again.   Seriously?  This week Mono-black devotion managed to win both of the major events of the week.  What is of note is that both decklists have shifted what removal they are utilizing, both trimming copies of [card]Bile Blight[/card].  People over-hyped the versatility of this card as a removal option and the meta-game has also shifted.  The increasing popularity and winning ways of Red/Green and Jund strategies typically have four targets for [card]Bile Blight[/card] in [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] and that’s about it.  What is bothersome, is that in order to put its foot back on the format’s throat, all Mono-black had to do was change its removal suite.

The moment I saw Naya Hexproof pop up on stream this weekend I knew I had to mention it in my article.  Sporting quite the greedy mana base, this deck capitalizes on some of the tools that the past iteration of Hexproof decks ran.  Maybe it’s just a flash-in-the-pan, but this deck seems pretty explosive. I wish there were more to say from a financial standpoint, but outside of perhaps [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] its hard to be bullish on any particular card in the deck.  The life gain that this deck is capable of gives it a lot of game against another strategy that I think might be poised for a resurgence.

Mono-Red managed a Top 8 at the Open this weekend.  I think that this type of strategy is due to spike a tournament simply due to the existence of [card]Burning Earth[/card] while it is counter-intuitive to be talking about this card while so many Mono-X devotion decks are running around, but with the prevalence of [card]Mutavault[/card] and scry lands, every other match-up seems to get infinitely better with this card coming in from the board.  Even Blue White control strategies are running extra scry lands in place of basic lands for the extra utility.  Red Green monsters has added black for [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card], which is coincidentally not a bad acquisition right now, either.


SCG Atlanta Legacy Open

Inkmoth imageTom Ross has been fine tuning his Infect list for Legacy for a little while now, and even wrote about it here.  I really like this list from a financial aspect because [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] hasn’t made any drastic financial gains lately.  This new decklist may push the card to the front of people’s minds.

Another card that shows up in the Tom Ross list this week was [card]Mutagenic Growth[/card]  I think we’re reaching the end of the timeframe where, [card]Mutagenic Growth[/card], [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card], [card]Dismember[/card], can be swooped up by the arm load for virtually nothing.  Target foil copies and FNM promos in trades.  You can probably still get non-foil copies as throw-ins.

BBD ran a pretty sweet UWR Miracles list.  Unfortunately almost every card in the deck is already priced according to the high levels of play seen in similar decks.  Two cards in the list that I would target in trades would be [card]Terminus[/card] and [card]Sword of the Meek[/card].  Yes the latter is an uncommon, but it has only been printed once, in Future Sight. the combo with [card]Thopter foundry[/card] is just cute enough to drive players of all types to seek this card out giving you an [card]opportunity[/card] to trade up in value.

Despite my cynical mindset toward Wizards swinging their “ban-hammer” around.  If I am right, then a few things should follow.  Modern should remain a healthy and fresh format for years to come; by doing so will generate Wizards an additional revenue stream as they provide product to the Modern player base, this also allows for the Modern player base to grow, which means that Modern will be yet another reason why Magic the Gathering will continue on a path of success for the foreseeable future.

Weekend of February 7-9 Review

This weekend marked the first in the tenure of Born of the Gods in Standard.  That being said, every Standard deck that managed a top-eight finish this weekend belonged to a preexisting archetype.  While I have no doubt that Born of the Gods will have a significant impact on the Standard landscape, it seems that one week was not enough time for the new brews to break into the upper echelon of Standard play.  The winning mono-blue list had a total of zero cards from Born of the Gods.  The same is true of the other copy of Mono-Blue Devotion that managed a top-eight finish this week. While mono-black pilots are in the process of modifying their 75 in order to better combat the new, often self-imposed hate in [card]Bile Blight[/card], mono-blue has seemingly supplanted mono-black as the current “best deck.”  While we can anticipate a significant amount of change in the coming weeks, mono-blue seems quite viable as is.


SCG Open Nashville Standard Decklists

If we want to find innovation from the results from this weekend, it begins with the second-place green-red list piloted by Ken Ketter.  This past week, I read several articles attempting to assess the power level of [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card].  This card was initially very polarizing—players either felt that it was strong or overrated.  I feel that the outcome of this week’s tournament points out the power level of this card, and as I feel this archetype will have a place in the format, [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] looks as it will become a real format staple.  Without getting too deep into an assessment of the card itself, if the G/R deck continues to play [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] as a four-of, then expect it to increase in price.Courser of Kruphix

Another card that is played in the G/R shell that is trending upward is [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card].  Scavenging Ooze hasn’t necessarily gotten any better in Standard, but due to the Modern banning of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] stands to gain in value as a result. Foil promo copies are significantly cheaper than the M14 or Commander set versions, and those may be the copies to target right now.

Although it didn’t post particularly impressive results, finishing in 31st, Brian Braun-Duin’s Bant Walkers decklist, from a pure power level, is staggering.  I think the cost of the deck is equally impressive and this may actually prevent too many players from building this deck, at least in the short term.  That being said, as a financier, I really don’t see any room for upward movement in virtually any card in the deck.  This deck is one of several jamming [card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card] this week, and while I think he is a fine man, I think that the current price point is partially due to hype.  Unless you intend to play them and are willing to pay a premium, or are looking to trade them very quickly, I don’t recommend acquiring this card right now.  It is certainly near, if not at the top of the price range for this card during his run in Standard.  Even [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] capped out near the current price for the legendary cat soldier.  That card was printed in a set that was opened and redeemed in very small numbers with very few other chase cards in the set.  Time will tell, but I do not believe that the same factors will apply with Born of the Gods.  Finally, this deck is lacking some degree of synergy.  While it plays perhaps the most powerful cards in Standard, the deck as a whole could potentially become more effective swapping high-cost threats for cheaper, more reactive spells.  Of course, following the old adage, “There are no wrong threats, only wrong answers.”  It is probably more effective at this juncture to be more threat dense.


SCG Open Nashville Legacy Decks

With [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] running around, life has gotten pretty difficult for the RUG Delver player.  But somehow, despite the hostile environment, Taylor Scott was able to win the Legacy open.  I don’t think that this will be the deck we see win the next open, but isn’t that the beauty of Legacy?  There are just so many viable decks in the format.  If I were to play a [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] deck next weekend, it would be something better equipped to deal with [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].  BUG Delver would be my personal recommendation, one similar to the sixth-place list piloted by Scott Tompkins.  The 25th spell in BUG Delver is more or less interchangeable, and Tompkins optioned for a single copy of [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card].  Scoop all the copies of the FNM promo that you can find, this is a can’t miss.  Long-term, this card will appreciate.  Legacy players love to pimp their decks.Spirit of the lab

Andrew Shrout frequently pilots Death and Taxes in Legacy.  I was curious to see how [card]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/card] performed, and Shrout did not shy away from the challenge.  Running four copies in his main deck, Shrout was the only Death and Taxes pilot to post a reasonable finish at the open, so the jury is still out on the card.  I would initially assess the card through the same prism as [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card].  The initial/current price for this card is likely a little high for now, and there will likely be a better time to buy in.

I am looking forward to seeing more innovation with Born of the Gods.  I am also looking forward to seeing the impact that Born of the Gods has on Legacy, Modern, and Standard.  Let me know what you think about this weekend’s results in the comments, and follow me on Twitter!





Weekend of January 17-19 Review

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a Star City Invitational Qualifier event at a local game shop, Spanky’s Card Shop in Kansas City, Missouri.  There were upward of 60 players in attendance and there was a fairly diverse meta-game represented despite the continued success of the mono-colored decks.  One deck in particular put up very impressive results at this particular tournament.  Designed by Team Como, this unique build of RUG devotion put 2 decks into the top 4 of the IQ, both going undefeated through the swiss portion of the tournament.

[deck title= RUG Devotion Eric Schreiber 3rd place Star City Invitational Qualifier Spanky’s Card Shop 1/19/2014]


*4 Elvish Mystic

*3 Voyaging Satyr

*4 Sylvan Caryatid

*4 Burning Tree Emissary

*3 Nylea’s Disciple

*2 Polukranos, World Eater

*2 Nylea, God of the Hunt

*3 Prophet of Kruphix

*1 Prime Speaker Zegana

*2 Sylvan Primordial

*2 Progenitor Mimic


*3 Jace, Architect of Thought

*4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts


*4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

*4 Temple of Mystery

*4 Temple of Abandon

*4 Breeding Pool

*4 Stomping Ground

*2 Steam Vents

*1 Forest



*2 Sylvan Primordial

*3 Mistcutter Hydra

*1 Bident of Thassa

*1 Nylea’s Disciple

*1 Polukranos, World Eater

*2 Xenagos, the Reveler

*3 Mizzum Mortars

*2 Cyclonic Rift

Granted a tournament of roughly 60 players is a small sample size, I really think that there is some excellent potential from this and similar builds.  This deck capitalizes on the explosiveness of [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card].  This deck also demonstrated the power of [card]Prophet of Kruphix[/card].  A similar list was showcased this week on the Star City “Deck tech.”  That deck did not run Prophet, and I think by doing so missed out on some of the most explosive potential that the deck can have.  Prophet is kill on sight, and with [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card] as well as [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card] providing plenty of ammunition, you frequently have threats to dump into play with all the extra mana.  Prophet may never be a huge role player in standard, but even so, I recommend picking up an extra play set or two in trades if you have the opportunity. At $2 on TCG right now, its a low risk.  With foil copies going for four times that much, its obvious that casual players have found ways to abuse this card already.  The power level of the card is there and with the right environment, and/or shell this card could be a real role player.Prophet_of_Kruphix


SCG Open Columbus Standard Decks

I had to double and triple check.  Not a single copy of Mono-black in the top 8 of the Open this week!  Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a sign that the deck is going away.  Perhaps just evolving.  We did see two copies of Black/White Midrange in the top 8, which is basically the same shell, with [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] and this week featuring [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.[/card]  I think main deck [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card] is a pretty effective way to win the [card]Pack Rat[/card] war as well and something many decks of this ilk are moving toward.

A new champion was crowned this week in Big Boros.  While the deck is quite impressive in it’s own right, holy cow Batman! Is Star City seriously asking $40.00 for [card]Mutavault[/card] right now?  What is the ceiling on this card? When is the madness going to stop?  In my opinion, very soon.  I believe that we are nearing the top of this wild ride for [card]Mutavault[/card] at least during its run in standard.  Right now there are many one color, and two color mana bases.  When that ends, and people start playing more colors than one, Mutavault should see a decline in the number of copies decks can get away with playing.  Furthermore, M14 is still in print, and if this card goes any higher, the amount of the set that gets opened and redeemed on magic online should begin to drive the price point back down.

Big Boros clearly has some very effective tools and combos, [card]Assemble the Legion[/card] plus [card]Purphoros, God of the Forge[/card] for example seems like a good place to start.  While the deck runs two copies of the aforementioned [card]Mutavault[/card] it doesn’t run a single copy of [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card].  Coincidentally, the second place deck this weekend also had access to multiple copies of both Purphoros and [card]Assemble the Legion[/card] in its 75.  Both decks have access to four copies of [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card].  Some are selecting to play Stormbreath in place of [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] in Modern.  It is unclear at this point which is a better choice, the protection from white Stormbreath has being quite relevant in the format, but both are viable options.  Nonetheless, Thundermaw is climbing in price as are most modern played cards right now.  [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] likely has room to grow in price.  Last year at this time [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] was valued at $40.  Different format, different card, but there is definitely room for [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] to move up in value.

SCG Open Columbus Legacy Decklists

Legacy for the last few weeks has been a showcase of ways to go over, through, or completely ignore [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].  This weekend was no different in that regard. Reanimator is an excellent way to ignore the existence of [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].  One card to note from the list, as well as the second place Sneak and Show list is the addition of [card]Ashen Rider[/card].  Although this card is still going for $1.50 at TCG, one retailer is already asking double that.  Foil copies are $11.00 on TCG and I anticipate that long term this card will experience a steady increase in value.

EngineeredExplosivesMy condolences to Joe Bernal following the epic top deck in the semifinals.  But check out the decklist.  [card]Engineered Explosives[/card] on three kills [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card], EE is Modern legal, and its still selling for $5. The From the Vault Twenty [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] can still be picked up for $85.  I do not anticipate that this will continue for very much longer.  The entire FTV 20 can currently be purchased on ebay for roughly $125.  This is criminally low and seems like an excellent long term investment.

Jund Depths cracked into the top 8 again this week, and although the deck itself is somewhat a fringe strategy, Jund is not.  Jund leans heavily on [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] and the card is gradually climbing in value due to its play in both Legacy and Modern.  Grab copies now because unless [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] sees a reprint, it will continue to climb in cost.

With Modern season still months away, several cards are spiking rapidly in cost.  If there is a deck you want to build for the season, do so early.  Like last month.  Modern cards across the board are only going to continue to climb with [card]Grove of the Burnwillows[/card] and [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] being the latest examples.  There will be more.  Enjoy the Born of the Gods spoilers!

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Weekend Review January 10-12

This weekend marked the first major Modern event of the year: Grand Prix Prague.  As we creep closer and closer to Modern season, Modern staples are beginning to ascend in price almost across the board.  If you don’t believe me, go TCGplayer and search [card]Birthing Pod[/card].  It’s already almost a $10.00 card, and Modern season doesn’t technically start until June.  I will be selling my copies of [card]Birthing Pod[/card] at $10.00 if and when we get there.  While it will very likely climb to higher heights, I am quite content with the profit I’ll be making at that point.  As the guys from the Brainstorm Brewery podcast like to say, “Leave the last ten percent for someone else.”  With that being said, Wizards just announced a new deck product for Modern.  We don’t know what will be printed in the deck, and I won’t speculate on its contents.
Liliana of the Veil Wizards would like to capitalize on some of the Modern hype and this product will assuredly be in high demand despite the MSRP.  I am still
quite bullish on almost all Modern staples, (the more recent the reprint the safer bet).  If you aren’t already, I recommend targeting Modern staples in trades.  Many casual players are still out there who cracked Modern Masters packs in hopes of living the dream and ended up with a handful of Modern playable cards sitting in their trade binders.  A couple of cards that haven’t seen reprint in awhile that I am a little more hesitant to acquire as speculation targets: [card]Remand[/card] and [card]Noble Hierarch[/card].



Grand Prix Prague 2014 Decklists

I am happy to report that Jund is alive and well.  Four of the top 8 decklists fit the description (at least loosely) of what modern Jund has evolved into following the banning of [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card].  Meanwhile, not a single copy of [card]Birthing Pod[/card] managed a top 8 finish with one copy in the top 16.  Going into day two, each of the following archetypes, U/W/R midrange, Merfolk, Urza-tron, Splintertwin, and Jund had at least one pilot that remained undefeated.  Birthing-pod strategies are surprisingly missing from that list, but a number of factors may contribute to this and we are only examining the results from a single tournament.  Consider the following decklist:

[deck title=Emanuele Giusti Grand Prix Prague 2014 Top 8 – Modern]


*4 Dark Confidant
*4 Deathrite Shaman
*1 Olivia Voldaren
*3 Scavenging Ooze
*4 Tarmogoyf


*2 Abrupt Decay
*3 Inquisition of Kozilek
*4 Lightning Bolt
*2 Maelstrom Pulse
*2 Terminate
*3 Thoughtseize
*4 Liliana of the Veil
*4 Blackcleave Cliffs
*1 Blood Crypt
*1 Forest
*3 Marsh Flats
*1 Misty Rainforest
*2 Overgrown Tomb
*3 Raging Ravine
*1 Stomping Ground
*2 Swamp
*2 Treetop Village
*4 Verdant Catacombs


*2 Ancient Grudge
*2 Grafdigger’s Cage
*2 Jund Charm
*2 Obstinate Baloth
*1 Olivia Voldaren
*2 Slaughter Games
*1 Sword of Light and Shadow
*1 Terminate
*1 Thoughtseize
*1 Thrun, the Last Troll

I would consider this particular Jund decklist relatively “stock” in the sense that there are no big surprises.  Liliana of the Veil is a four of in almost every Jund deck I have seen as of late, and I don’t believe that her current price point reflects her current popularity.  I could easily see price correction moving her price to $50.00 and higher during Modern season.  I saw copies earlier this week as low as $40.00 and she is trending upward as I write.  When did Olivia Voldaren become the four drop of choice in Modern Jund?  She has been showing up in recent MODO daily decklists as well, but I am under the impression that the general population of magic players would not think of this card as an auto-include in Modern Jund.  I might try to target a few copies now in trades as the casual appeal alone for this card can potentially drive its value upward. At less than $5.00 it feels pretty safe.  The versions of Jund splashing white tend toward Ajani Vengeant, and there were numerous copies of this card in a variety of archetypes.
Ajani Vengeant


SCG Open Orlando Standard Decks

At the Star City Standard Open in the top 8 there were three copies of Mono-Blue Devotion, one copy of Mono-black, two copies of pseudo-Mono-Black plus [card]Blood Baron[/card] and [card]Sin Collector[/card] (otherwise known as B/W midrange).  Seems about par for the course.  Standard is clearly stagnate. [card]Liliana’s Reaver[/card] did make its way into the 11th place B/G devotion deck that Shawn Ellis ran.  I don’t really see any financial implications for the card, but it did seem like a reasonable card choice both contributing to devotion, strong on offense and defense, and a nice little upside.  I think that the four drop spot isn’t really contested and still belongs to [card]Desecration Demon[/card], but the hand disruption element to an unchecked reaver may be something worth trying out.


SCG Open Orlando Legacy Decks

Yet another unique deck chock-full of answers to the [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] showed up and took it down this week in BUG Delver.  This deck can proactively fly over [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card], with [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] or [card]Tombstalker[/card] or just kill it.  Not by coincidence we see another three copies of [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] in this deck.  I see a trend here.  She’s everywhere.  Another card that shows up in the sideboard of the winning BUG list is [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card].  This card is also showing up in a number of places, and it’s incredibly versatile, with one or the other clause of text being very relevant in numerous match-ups in Legacy as well as Modern.
With the amount of discussion of True-Name Nemesis being an unfair card as of late, it is quite pleasing to only see four copies throughout two decks in the top 8 of the open this weekend.  The winning list did not have a single copy, and no one archetype had more than one pilot in the top 8.  One could argue that [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] is an archetype in and of itself, but I would argue that it is more of a super-type.  What is clear is that Legacy is incredibly diverse, rewards good play, and would appear to remain rather healthy despite the addition of [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].



Michael Cuevas – Weekend of January 4-5 Review

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 [card]Stifle[/Card] 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.


SCG Open Indianapolis Standard Decks

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 [card]Mutavault[/card], as do many of the other top-tier decks in the format. As discussed on this past week’s Brainstorm Brewery podcast, [card]Mutavault[/card]’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 [card]Mutavault[/card] 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 [card]Mutavault[/card] you own, you need to dump them.  I am only referring to non-foil, non-full art copies.  Foil copies of M14 [card]Mutavault[/card] 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 [card]Elvish Mystic[/card]. He added four copies of [card]Soldier of the Pantheon[/card] and is now running a full eight one-drops.  The deck is also slightly less pre-boarded for blue decks, running fewer [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card]s and fewer [card]Skylasher[/card]s in the main deck.  Shrout also moved the copy of [card]Last Breath[/card] 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 [card]Flesh // Blood[/card] 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 [card]Xenagos, the Reveler[/card] is underrated right now.  At the current price point, it’s likely a safe acquisition.


SCG Open Indianapolis Legacy Decks

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.  [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] is more effective in a shell that has access to [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and equipment.  Specifically, [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card].

The new year also brought us a spike in the price of [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card].  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 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] 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.  [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] has put [card]Diabolic Edict[/card] 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 [card]Dark Depths[/Card] and [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] combo.  While [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] 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.  [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] 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. [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] 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 [card]Dark Depths[/card].

It is quite exciting to see the Legacy metagame contort to answer the presence of a card like [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].  While this card initially seemed too good, and many [Card]Ponder[/card]ed 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!