Hey everyone, and welcome to another edition of Whinston’s Whisdom on Quietspeculation.com. Today, I’m going to look ahead to the States and Champs tournaments on September 9th, and what cards you should be looking for. Also, we have the first installment of Pack to Power. No trades yet, but I’ll list out the pack and start planning for a few weekends of trading at Illinois States, and then the Pastimes PTQ the next week.
So thankfully, this year’s State tournament series is very close to the release of Scars of Mirrodin (unlike last year’s travesty of a gap), meaning this format is completely new. Other than the TCGPlayer Champs in New York this weekend (which given the results at previous TCGPlayer tournaments, will not be an accurate depiction of the metagame), States will be the first major opportunity to explore this virgin format. While this is important for players looking to get a jump up on their FNM competition, it is as, if not more, critical for speculators. The results from these tournaments will set the baseline price of staple cards through the Standard format. While there’s not really a way to gather all the tournament results faster than anyone else, predicting the most heavily played decks and the key cards in them will go a long way towards helping you turn a profit. In this article, I’m going to focus primarily on cards NOT in Scars of Mirrodin, because these have the highest potential for a jump, due to the reduced spotlight on them with a new set on the shelves.
The first archetype we have to look at is White Weenie. While not a previously good archetype, Scars has done much to boost Cedric Phillips’ and Wizened Cenn’s love child back into contention. Chief among these additions is the Quest for the Holy Relic+Argentum Armor combo. Essentially, the deck plays eight 0 mana artifact creatures, along with ways to bounce them, such as Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher. With Quest for the Holy Relic, you can easily activate it by turn 3 or 4 at the latest, and sacrifice to tutor and equip an Argentum Armor, attack for an extra 6 damage and Vindicate something, something very reminiscent of a certain Eldrazi Enchantment we’ve seen before. The cards for this deck are the aforementioned Argentum Armor and Stoneforge Mystic.
A slight variation on this is G/W, still playing the Argentum Armor package, but also supporting Vengevine with Fauna Shaman and Squadron Hawk, making for a stronger and more resilient deck, if slightly slower.
Then we have the favorite of the unprepared: the Red decks. But in this format, will Red decks occupy the same stereotypical role? At the moment, there are 3 different kinds of Red that I’m a’lookin at.
The first is the typical and well-loved RDW. Nothing complicated, just a bunch of dudes and burn. While most of the Ball Lightning type creatures are rotating out, this simply means the deck must transform to a different type of aggressive deck, focusing more either on creatures that stick around (Kiln Fiend, Kargan Dragonlord, etc.) or burn spells (Staggershock, Galvanic Blast, etc.) personally, the creature plan seems better to me because of its increased consistency, but it remains to be seen what will be more successful.
Next up we have Goblins. At the moment, I would highly recommend GerryT’s build of this deck to those wanting to experiment with it. It is essentially Mono-red, splashing Blue for Trinket Mage. You play 4 Memnites, and 4-6 other atifacts that cost 1 or less, to combo with Kuldotha Rebirth. Pumping out 3 goblins on turn 1 and then following that up with a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker for 8 damage is a very good start, and not an uncommon one for this deck. Throw in some Goblin Chieftains, and Goblin Guides for when you don’t have the Rebirth to start, and you have one of the fastest goldfishes in the format. Unfortunately, the deck is a little inconsistent, but if you’re willing to place your fate in the shuffler’s hands, then this is the deck for you. Look to pick Brittle Effigys.
Finally, we have Big Red, or Red Control. This deck is probably the best use of a card that goes into all of these decks, Koth of the Hammer. In the more aggressive Red strategies, Koth’s second ability is usually irrelevant, but in big Red, you can use Koth to power out a turn 4 Destructive Force, Inferno Titan, or Wurmcoil Engine. While I think the right list is still undiscovered, keep an eye on this archetype, and Koth, as States approaches.
The final deck for today is U/W Control.
Playing goblins at FNM this last week, I tested beforehand against a friend with U/W Control. He demolished me. I think I won maybe 20% of game 1s, and those involved multiple Kuldotha Rebirths and Goblin Bushwhackers in my first 3 turns. U/W Control is a great choice for States, because it has good matchups against the Red aggro decks, which will be great in a field full of, what else, aggro. 2 cards in UW that have a high potential to go up are Ratchet Bomb and Wurmcoil Engine. The Ratchet Bomb gives UW 2 more mass removal spells that can also deal with random equipment or enchantments sitting on the battlefield. While right now at $10, I could see the bomb going up $15 if it continues to see play in UW and Ramp decks. Wurmcoil Engine, on the other hand, is being criminally underrated. This guy is the 6th Titan! To be honest, he’s probably better than Frost Titan. There’s no reason this guy should be worth anything under $15. While the Prerelease copies increased the supply enough to depress the price, that hasn’t held back cards like Figure of Destiny overly much. Some of you may be wondering why I’m not talking about Elspeth Tirel here. Basically, I believe that Elspeth is absolutely amazing in UW, and should be at least a 3-of. However, she is way overvalued at her current $45 price tag. She is worse than her previous incarnation, and that did not have the same price that the new one has. Sell as many as you can at $45 or $50 before they come down to a more reasonable price.
That’ll be all the decks I cover for today. While Ramp variations are also popular, they don’t use much from Scars other than Ratchet Bomb, and I cant cover EVERY deck here.
Just some quick things before I sign off. First, I happily picked up my first box of Scars on Friday, and proceeded to open up one of the most ridiculous boxes I’ve ever seen. I opened 3 Mythics, and they were Elspeth, Koth, and Mox Opal. These, along side Ratchet Bomb (more on this one later), and 3 Scars duals, brought me a nice 50% profit on the box. While my 2nd has not been as promising (18 packs in and I’ve gotten a foil Precursor Golem, with Platinum Emperion and Skithiryx, the Unspellable as my Mythics, I could always just pull some more cash out of what’s left.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for….
Pack to Poooooooooweeeeer (dum de de dum dum dum duuuuuuum)
My first question before starting the Pack to Power, was what set should I use. Scars was obviously the newest set, but the variance in the value of the packs was so high that I could be left out in the rain. “Heck”, I thought, “if Jon Medina can do it with a Bear Umbra, I can do it with a Scars dual.
The contents of my 1 Scars of Mirrodin pack:
1 Gold Myr
1 Iron Myr
1 FOIL Darkslick Drake
Not bad, but obviously I opened a Koth in my next pack. Such is life.
Wish me luck,