Reading the Runes
An important skill in FoH-style acquisition, is the ability to see a decklist at a marquee event, and know the cards to pick up. At U.S. Nationals, we had a really cool field which broke into an unorthodox Top 8.
Dredgevine (2x), Mythic Conscription, Naya Force, Pyromancer Ascension, RDW, Mono-effing Green Eldrazi Ramp (with Strap!), U/W Control. When is the last time you saw a Top 8 in the U.S. that was this diverse?
Roughly 2-3 nevers ago, that’s when.
There has been a dynamic shift in the metagame here, and while it can only likely last until Shards rotates (and hokey smoke, Bullwinkle – NO BLOODBRAID ELF IN TOP 8!) it can certainly be an indication of strategies to watch out for in the Standard format which will develop with the introduction of Scars of Mirrodin (I’m looking at you Mono-Green). So the question becomes not what to pick up now (a good quick flip of Serra Ascendant notwithstanding), but what to pick up while you can for its “mobility” in the upcoming Standard. What card or cards am I talking about?
Serra Ascendant, ain’t that card.
Before I venture into additions to our portfolio, I’m going to posit a guess on cards you need to be picking up right now so you aren’t left broke and alone, crying over a tub of Chubby Hubby ice cream sobbing “Why?!” as you recall this very paragraph in a month.
- Eldrazi Monument – are you effing kidding me? Get these while you can for less than $10. Trade for ‘em, whatever. It’s unreal powerful, and it’s going to only get more powerful.
- Eldrazi Temple/ Eye of Ugin – Kolos’ deck is one of the only decks which (almost entirely, save Rampant Growth) survives rotation. The same conventional wisdom as before the release of Rise applies: one-to-two Eye’s, and a playset of Temples. Just remember the prices of Eye of Ugin before Rise came out, and we can anticipate the prices being fairly astronomical; the card is finally, you know, playable.
- Legendary Eldazree – these bros are exceptionally cheap right now, due to everyone’s collective disappointment in the absurd costs of Kozilek Butcher of Truth, Ulamog the Infinite Gyre, and Emrakul the Aeons Torn. Though I don’t see an insanely high value on any of them, I wouldn’t want to pay $10 for something in a month that I can get for $4 today. Pick up the Eldrazi as throw-ins to even out trades while you still can.
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor – I shouldn’t need to throw this in here, but all of you herp-derps out there who are complaining about J.B.’s stupid-high price should consider the following: his price won’t drop when he rotates from Standard (he’s played in every format), and he’s like 100 tix on MODO, and he’s the freaking best card printed since Standard was a format. He’ll be $100 IRL when there is literally only one removal spell which will kill him after rotation (Vampire Hexmage – okay, okay – Lightning Bolt and other burn spells sorta – but you lose Maelstrom Pulse, Oblivion Ring, et al). Planeswalkers will be harder to deal with in Scars Standard, presumably, and so the best (by a margin of not-even-kinda-freaking-close) should endure. I don’t want people to complain to me when they didn’t pick him up at $70 and he’s $106, and don’t trade or sell your Jaces. Seriously. That would be stupid. And you don’t want to be a dummy, do you son?
- Lotus Cobra – I don’t think this will stay under $20 for long, and a playset is what you need. Just get these, who knows what kinda chicanery we’ll want to be ramping out after rotataion. Lotus Cobra is a rockstar, it’s a rugged mother-effer, and you’ll need ‘em like you need a valium when your girlfriend wants to see the new Nicholas Sparks flick.
- Vengevine – Sewiouswy stwong bad. Green is the most powerful color right now, thanks largely to Lotus Cobra, and this guy is one of the better green cards. (For the record, thanks to Cobra, Jace is green).
That’s what you need now, for later to play. There’s obviously a lot of differentiation in what you need to pay. There are some big events coming up: The SCG opens as well as the Open Series Championship, The TCGPlayer opens, and any local stuff on the backside, it’s time to get the stuff you need to sling with the dealers, because if you follow my advice above, you won’t be short of cards to sling with fellow mages.
Some of the cards that people have been picking up are Serra Ascendant, which is cute, and probably worth owning, but absolutely unlikely to be a power-house following rotation – we lose Soul Warden and the deck was really a metagame choice – sort of a glass cannon, and not one we are likely (I feel) to see ad infinitum in the interim.
There is another though. While Dredgevine will be unlikely to survive rotation (at least in its current iteration – we lose Extractor Demon and Sedraxis Alchemist), the sneak-up on you all-star from the tournament is Renegade Doppelganger. This card is under $1 almost everywhere, and you can probably get ‘em as bulk. I’ll tell you what – Joey Pasco of YO! MTG Taps! called it. It’s a hasty version of any non-Legendary creature you put onto the battlefield – for 1U. Vengevine plus this seems fairly absurd, and we’re only scratching the surface. Add in 187 abilities, and a Jace the Mind Sculptor, or some other high-quality bounce and you have doubled your effect. I dunno if Pasco was the first person to say this (or it was someone who said it at Nationals) but I’ll give Joey the credit, because he’s one of the greatest and nicest human beings on the planet – It’s the best creature anywhere on any curve, because it’s already there, doubling the output of your more expensive cards, especially those with abilities. Pick these up. If you can get them for $0.25, get 10.
It’s the savvy trader who was able to make money this past weekend on Serra Ascendant, and that’s the kind of skill set we want to foster in my column. I think by now most of the people who read me repeatedly are starting to develop this skill set. If you have specific questions on how I manage (or attempt) to make these predictions, please post them in the comments. The best reward as a writer is getting feedback on what I say (no matter how harsh it gets), so I encourage you to get down there, and post.
Current Performance: Static, but Goblin Guide has allegedly gone up a little bit.
Thanks for reading, see you next week and in the comments. Until next time, may your favorite color be green