The State of Your Wallet

Hey everyone, and welcome to another edition of Whinston’s Whisdom on 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 Galvanic Blast

1 Chrome Steed

1 Tel-Jilad Defiance

1 Golem Foundry

1 Golden Urn

1 Oxidda Daredevil

1 Gold Myr

1 Plated Seastrider

1 Iron Myr

1 Carrion Call

1 Trigon of Rage

1 Lifesmith

1 FOIL Darkslick Drake


1 Ratchet Bomb

Not bad, but obviously I opened a Koth in my next pack. Such is life.

Wish me luck,

–Noah Whinston

Post categories: Finance

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36 thoughts on “The State of Your Wallet

  1. I attempted to start a pack to power but opened… wait for it… Kuldotha Forgemaster, which is basically worthless at this point in the block.

    I did manage to trade a Volition Reins and Poison Counter for a Mind Shatter and Foil Tireless Missonaries on MOTL but its not looking too good at this point.

    Good luck to you all the same.

    1. I wouldn't give up yet Hawaii. Like I said, Jon Medina did it with a Bear Umbra, and it seems like you're already off to a good start. I would go back and read the first few trade s from his series as your guidelines

  2. Nice read. I have to agree with you on the subject of the Wurmcoil engine, its really undervalued. good luck with the P to P.

  3. Noah- I honestly think it will be harder with MTGO don't you think? Prices are so much more defined there and so few people just trade. It would be easier to just write "how to exploit bots for tix" and buy a FoW.

    Hawaii – Look at deck ideas for the forgemaster and try to flip him to a casual player for some playable uncommons then trade those up. The hardest part of this whole exercise is to expand your collection where you have stuff to trade. Just like toddlers, binders have to get fatter before they get taller.

  4. I agree with Corbin and thecardfather on keeping Pack to Power offline. MTGO Academy did an online Pack to Power (actually foil Force of Will) and it was incredibly dry. That said, in person trading seems like a much better demonstration of all the lessons being advanced here on QS.

  5. I don't mean to bombard you with the same things people are saying, but I'd love to see your P2P be one conducted in person, not online. Nevertheless, if you do go on MTGO, or if you do it in persono and somehow make your way to Oklahoma, I'd love to trade with you 🙂

  6. ah, but how can i deny this outpouring of emotion from my fan base? 😀
    very well, p2p will stay offline. I had thought it would be better because of the ability to do screenshots, but, like I said, your wishes always come first

  7. Tip to readers out there. If someone comes up to me to trade, and mentions they are doing pack to power, I almost immediately cut the trade off as that tells me right off the bat they are looking to increase their value. I don't recommend telling your trading partner you are doing pack to power unless you think they might actually admire you for doing it and benefit you. Trade a pack up to power is a pretty rediculous notion and usually involves either big favors or ripping people off. To do it fairly would require a lot of time. I'd admire the quest if that were the case.

  8. Seriously… Pack to Power HAS BEEN DONE! It is lame to try and repeat the original attempt with the intention to publicise the process. Pack to Power = How many more suckers can I rip off today?

    1. I think that Pack to Power, having been done, is an excellent example of a way that traders can try to develop their skill-set as a trader. Just like playing Magic makes you better at it, the more you trade, the better you are at trading. So I would consider a pack to power more like an exercise in skill building.

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