Week in Review (as seen on the Starkington!)

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Every Monday night/Tuesday morning, QS publishes the Week in Review over at the Starkington Post. To read this when it comes out, check the Post around midnight Pacific time every Tuesday morning.

Welcome to Quiet’s Week in Review on This week we’ve got a whole boatload of Zendikar spoilers to discus. It's the policy of to only discuss confirmed spoilers but, luckily for us, PAX has given us plenty to talk about!

It’s a great time to be a Magic player. The 2010 Pro Tour stops in Southern California, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, and Japan, Wizards just released the most influential Core Set since Alpha, and Zendikar is shaping up to be one of the most dynamic sets the game has seen in a long time. Magic sales are up all around the world, Magic Online just released Masters Edition III, and Duels of the Planeswalkers will be adding to its repertoire by offering Xbox Live DLC (DownLoadable Content) in the near future. All these things prove in a big way that it’s an excellent time to be a Magic player!

When Mark Rosewater announced that there would be a long-anticipated cycle of cards that players have been begging to see for years, the hopeful speculators wondered if enemy fetch lands would finally see print. Well, in a move that shows just how in-tune WotC is with their market, those speculators were completely and totally correct. Arid Mesa, the red-white fetch land, was previewed in grand fashion at PAX, and showed us that these new kids on the block will be able to hang with their older siblings from Onslaught. No one needs to be told that these lands are good, but they may not reach full value until Christmas time. Why? Simple – the PTQ format for San Diego is Zendikar Sealed and Standard won’t be a PTQ format until tax time comes around.

That means the major demand for these fetch lands will stem from the Extended qualifier season starting January 2nd, at which time you and your Mesas can compete for a slot at Pro Tour-San Juan! It is the Extended format that will truly leverage the power of the new fetch lands, as Ravnica duals will be legal there for two more years. As such, it might be prudent to wait on trading for your fetch lands until the initial hype dies down. If they’re going for under 10 dollars where you play, then by all means scoop up every copy you can, but if they’re $15+, hold off.

Speaking of Extended, get your cards for the upcoming season over the next few months. The Ravnica duals are much harder to get in the middle of a PTQ season and will remain a staple of the format for their entire tenure. Now is also a good time to get cards for decks like Mono Blue, since many of the cards in that deck are losing value with the Standard rotation. It’s difficult to predict where things like Thoughtseize, Mutavault and Cryptic Command will settle, but all three are high quality cards that have a chance to see a home. If you don’t have them already, let them rotate before you trade for them. If you’ve got them, just hold them. It’s not worth the effort to attempt a short-swing profit.

Moving on to post-Zendikar Standard, it seems like everyone’s losing their collective minds over the new Goblins. Warren Instigator’s potential is completely insane, and he’s backed up by’s own preview, Goblin Guide. These two pals form one of the most impressive 1-2 punches the format has seen in a long time, but the tribe as a whole suffers from a medical condition known as Diestofalloutitis. Most commonly seen in aggro decks, Diestofalloutitis is characterized by a severe vulnerability to instant speed board sweepers and is often fatal for the infected deck. It seems like there are a great deal of early drops in Zendikar so far, many of which have more severe drawbacks than we saw in Shards of Alara. Black has a Carnophage wanna-be and green got a 3/2 Rogue Elephant with shroud. Unfortunately, it seems like all of these cards are great at dying to Volcanic Fallout and the new Day of Judgment, so be careful when building new aggro decks or buying into the hype of something like Warren Instigator.

The prevalence of all these under-costed beaters would normally be terrible for control players, but today’s control decks have the tools to handle even the most aggressive starts. While mana bases will certainly be weaker with the loss of Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool, we have tri-lands, fetch lands, and M10 duals with which to create great mana bases. Fetch lands and M10 duals are not as synergistic as Ravnica duals are, but they still work very nicely together. The biggest challenge facing control players is the mana base; when 5 Color Control figures out its post-Zendikar mana base, watch out. A deck that can run Path to Exile, Volcanic Fallout, Day of Judgment, and Cruel Ultimatum is a force to be reckoned with. Quest for the Gravelord is a great enchantment to play when you’re developing your early mana, and it can turn a timely Volcanic Fallout into a blowout of epic proportions and end the game extremely quickly.

So far, it looks like the chase cards will be the Fetch Lands, Warren Instigator, Day of Judgment, and any planeswalkers – as always. Day of Judgment should be your priority come the Prerelease, as it looks like the format is about to get seriously aggressive. The fetch lands might be over-valued at first, but when they fall back to earth, load up on them. Warren Instigator is a risky play because the hype is as high as it can possibly be. They’re pre-selling around $15 a piece on eBay, which is probably lower than they’ll start out at places like StarCityGames, but the risk of a Goblin deck never taking off is very real. If you absolutely must have a set of them, be careful and keep a sharp eye on how viable the tribal deck truly is. Unlike Goblin Guide ($5 or less on eBay), which is insane in any aggressive deck and should be picked up while it’s cheap, Warren Instigator is only really good in a dedicated Goblin deck. The existence of Whiplash Trap alone should be enough to make a player want to shy away from aggro decks, but sometimes the allure of the Goblin is too strong. As long as the Goblin hype continues to
rage, demand for the peripheral cards like Goblin Chieftain and Siege-Gang Commander will remain high. Pick up some copies of each if they’re inexpensive in your part of the world.

Planeswalkers are difficult to assess early in a format. In a vacuum they always look fantastic, but a planeswalker’s value is heavily correlated with the other 56 cards that surround it. Sorin Markov and Chandra Ablaze both have valuable “small” abilities and spectacular game-ending ultimates, but it remains to be seen if a tournament deck will hold either. With the exception of Elspeth, no Planeswalker has passed the 20 dollar mark yet, and it looks like neither Sorin nor Chandra will break that trend. In most cases, Cruel Ultimatum is more deadly, more immediate, and significantly harder to stop.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and glamour of new cards, but you can’t get everything right away. It’s very important to prioritize new acquisitions at a Prerelease, and adjust your strategy according to your local “trading metagame”. Once the full set is revealed, we’ll do our customary review of studs, duds, and sleepers and get you prepared for one of the most exciting sets in years! Keep an eye on Quiet Speculation as the Prerelease draws closer, and we’ll see you next week!

Kelly Reid

Founder & Product Manager

View More By Kelly Reid

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9 thoughts on “Week in Review (as seen on the Starkington!)

  1. I agree on the parts concerning Warren Instigator for sure. I don't think Goblins will have a break out tribal deck for several reasons. Besides dying to board sweepers, Instigator will also have a lightning rod tied to his back. All of the spot removal ranging from Path to Bolt will be aimed solely at him. Additionally, one of the primary reasons that Goblins has been successful in a format like Legacy is because it has Matron for tutor and Ringleader to refill the hand. Without those two, Goblins drops into top deck mode and can't get the explosive restarts that help it overcome the board sweepers.Nissa Revane looks like the planeswalker with the greatest potential value to me. It has appeal to nearly all aspects of players. Timmy and Johnny like her because she combos well and is an Elf based planeswalker. Spike might like her because of the double wellwisher effect and the ability to tutor out Elvish Warrior every turn seems like a powerful ability. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen seems like junk with the first once over. But landfall on a five cc isn't terrible. Plus, with fetchlands. You can get +6/+6 and an 11 life swing all for the cost of playing a fetchland… Not too shabby.

  2. I don't agree with the falloutitis statement since goblins will probably be played with black to include duress and terminate and maybe something new zendikar provides. Goblins also have post wrath game with Siege-Gang Commander.

  3. I think it could be worth while regarding picking up the Vampires, but the spoiler isn't even half done yet. I think you might have a better chance to pick up some of those cards that will likely go up in value shortly. However, when we only have 73 cards spoiled including basic lands, its still hard to make good investment calls unless we have cards like the fetchlands or cards that will have an impact on Eternal formats or Extended. In this specific instance with a Vampire tribe, they haven't had a previously strong showing as a tribe in a format so the spoiler would really have to show a strong tendency to make them worth picking up imo…

  4. Re: GoblinsBoard sweep is good against aggro – Duh!? But that hasn't stopped Kithkin and Elves from becoming tier 1 decks. I think that it's a bit short sided to say that Goblins will not reach Tier1 because of board sweep.With the RW fetchland we could see a RW Goblin build with Harms Way and or Mark of Asylum.. Those cards cure any case of "Diestofalloutius" I mean Baneslayer suffers from "Diesfromeverythingitus" but still see plenty of play and is packing close to a $30 price tag.The fact that Goblins have tools like Lightning Bolt, Siege-Gang (DOJ Recovery), and other thing depending on the splash (we could see a UR splash for Levitation and counter magic – Remember Counter Elves! LOL)is a strong case for the deck. Personally I think we will see a Tier 1 Goblin deck. Jonathan Medina

  5. Elves could T3 a Primal Command and had Burrenton Forge Tender main deck. Kithkin sided them and could boost their guys out of range w. crusade effects very quickly. Kithkin also only needed 1-2 cards to generate a board position and had Windbrisk Heights as a card draw engine. Elves had Primal Command, Ruel, and Regal Force.As of now, Goblins has nothing to refuel once it goes all-in on its initial push. Its god draw puts you pretty low on the play ( -2, then -2, then -9), but on the draw it just begs to be blown out by VF.Baneslayer is not an appropriate comparison – it's a control finisher, not an aggro deck archetype, and can be backed up with a suite of countermagic and card draw. All it takes to beat Goblins (RIGHT NOW, if they spoil something awesome this could change) is a fallout or any combination of spot removal. Path, Bolt, Doom Blade, Etc all work well. As aggro decks are concerned, I still like Jund Aggro over Goblins. Losing Ram Gang is going to suck hard but we get another stupidly good 2-drop in that landfall first striker. He's really friggin good.

  6. LOL – I played elves for the last couple of months and a T3 Primal Command is not a common occurrence. What does a T3 Primal Command have to do with not loosing to Fallout anyway? BFT was definately the card of choice against fallout, but toward the end of the season Mark of Asylum started to see play in Elves sideboard. If you splash white in Goblin – you get Ruel (Ranger of Eos) and Mark of Asylum. You also have access to Harm's Way and Safe Passage. Siege-Gang and Ruel – Give you resilience, much like Ruel and Cloudgoat in Kithkin.You are ignoring the splash options to support your statements. You can splash White, Blue or the Traditional Black. All of these colors have answers for Fallout and other Board Sweepers. These options set the stage for the deck to climb the constructed ladder. It may take a while even for the other set to be released, but when the deck becomes Tier 1, you don’t want to be scrambling to get Instigators.I used Baneslayer as an example of how the fan-boy-group-think mentality can cause people to under estimate cards and strategies. I wasn't saying Baneslayer Angel the creature is like Goblins the Archetype. What I was saying in more words was something like this:Statements like "All it takes to beat Goblins is a fallout or any combination of spot removal." are very narrow minded. This was the argument against Baneslayer Angel "It dies to everything.", that frame of thinking falls apart when you are sitting across the table from an army of goblins or a 5/5 flying lifelinking first striker and you don't have the “savior” card in hand. I suppose if you could guarantee what cards you would draw every turn then this line of thinking would be solid. The bottom line is that you don't know anymore than I do. We both made guesses; I say we have enough information to say that the deck will be rocking! Time will tell. Peace!Jonathan Medina

  7. Primal Command gives you tempo in a deck that needs it. Tutor up a guy and time walk them. Mark of Asylum is fine, and with R/W fetch lands could be a viable SB card to keep GOblins from scooping to Fallout. Unfortunately without a good way to reload, dedicated Goblins can't afford the tempo loss.Splash options are something I'll look into when I know more about the set. I actually love the idea of some sort of Zoo deck – R/W Fetchlands, Ruel, and the 2/2 Haste guys alone make me want to try the deck. You have to go all-in Goblins and I just plain don't care for Instigator that much without more tribal support.Baneslayer dying to everything isn't "fan boy group think" so much as it is a material fact of the card. That doesn't mean it's bad. It just means that before you go all in on Baneslayer, you need to be prepared to protect her. Goblins as a tribe can't afford to protect itself since it operates on turns 1 thru 3. It needs tempo to win. Think about Jund Aggro – it doesn't protect its guys – it runs them out there and lets them trade and die . It just ALWAYS has more. That's the kind of deck that wins games, not a cute tribal strategy without the proper support yet.For the record, Goblin Guide its totally insane with Ruel and I'm thinking both should be more expensive than they are…I'll say it again. All a deck like Jund or 5CC needs to beat Goblins is any combo of 2 of these cards: Fallout, Bolt, Pulse, Doom Blade, Path, DoJ, Pyroclasm. That's the short list. Basically, any 2 of those can keep you alive long enough. That's because they have no way to refuel right now. Blue's card draw isn't that great right now, getting BB for Sign in Blood is already challenging in post-ZEN Jund which has a tight mana base, and the other options just aren't that attractive. Long story short, if Goblins uses Bloodbraid Elf and other such cards and functions more like Jund Aggro, then I'll buy it. I just think that Instigator is way too "live the dream", and it will be overpriced at release. If material information about the Tribe or metagame changes or is released in a second set, this can change, but for the pre-release and the first month, Instigator is not worth getting.

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