The final major event using Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block Standard came to a close in Kansas City this past weekend, and with only a month remaining in this summer’s Standard PTQ season, it’s time to turn our attention to Post-Lorwyn standard. Frankly, the values of Shards block cards are not where they ought to be. Since current deck archetypes are based on cards like Cryptic Command and Spectral Procession, these archetypes are all going to disappear come Zendikar’s October release.
A fresh, clean view is the most important aspect of re-evaluating a set that’s been out for some time. Magic players are notoriously biased when it comes to “good cards” and “bad cards”. How many times has a player won a major event using “bad cards”? Maybe if someone’s winning with them, they’re actually "good" cards. While some cards may be more powerful than others, the line between good and bad is a lot less black and white than most people imagine it to be. We can all agree that Accursed Centaur is far from an All-Star, but there might be a deck out there that can abuse his…ability. It’s not likely, but the fact of the matter is that cards never operate in a vacuum. This means that when re-evaluating Shards of Alara, Conflux and Alara Reborn, we need to look at them as we would a brand new set. Otherwise, our perceptions of card power and synergy will be irreparably tainted by Lorwyn-Shadowmoor.
The first place to look when trying to gauge what cards are potential sleepers is the most recent Block Constructed season. In this case, we only have the samples from PT Honolulu to go with, so let’s start there. Adrian Sullivan can usually be counted on to number crunch every major event, and Honolulu was no exception. The corresponding article can be found here, on Star City Premium. Without reproducing his work verbatim, we’ll just take a look at a few of the numbers he came up with. Looking at the decks that made top 64 more frequently than expected, we see that the following archetypes are all well above average in some capacity.
Something’s very clear here – aggro decks are everywhere! This has a two implications. First, that means that the aggro cards are going to be in high demand at the beginning of the season, when metagames are less developed and usually favor aggro decks. Second, that means that there is room for both Combo and Control in the metagame, and until successful decks in those archetypes are created, the cards for them will be undervalued.
Over the course of the coming week, there will be a series of articles focusing on these archetypes and the cards from Alara Block that deserve a higher price tag. Remember, this is being done without a single piece of information about Zendikar! Any suggestions rendered idiotic or outright wrong by Zendikar’s spoiling should be ignored and forgotten. Tune in and read about how Uril the Miststalker was a $25 card for a period of time, why Open the Vaults is going to be awesome in an aggro deck, and plenty of other speculation about the value of new standard.