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A Wave of Changes

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I originally planned to dig a little deeper into the advantage and disadvantages of store credit this week, but the SCG Opens this weekend at Kansas City changed my mind.

With there actually being some innovation in Standard (more on this to come), and the first large Legacy tournament since the banning of Survival of the Fittest, it seemed like a better idea to break down the results of those tournaments. The fact that I split the finals of the Legacy Open on Sunday was pretty cool too, but this is a financial column, so you can find my (hopefully entertaining) tournament report later in the week.

Standard

The top 8 decklists are posted here, but there is really only one deck that shakes up the format at all. That deck is U/G Genesis Wave Ramp, which has the potential to affect the prices of a few cards, not just the Wave.

Prior to the tournament, it was hard to argue that the best three decks in the format weren’t Valakut, U/W or U/B Control (take your pick), and B/R Vampires. What Conley and Chris VanMeter brought to Kansas City trumps each of those decks through a combination of land denial and a plethora of must-answer threats.

If you follow me on Twitter (@Chosler88) you know that I suggested picking up Genesis Waves Saturday night as soon as I found out that Conley had locked up Top 8. When he brings a deck to play, other people want to build it. If you were quick you could have picked up some great deals on Genesis Wave (I traded for 6-7 at $1 during the tournament). While these aren’t going to see a huge jump in price because of the tournament (First-set rares in today’s world can only go so high), they currently go for under a dollar on Ebay, so it doesn’t take much to profit on these.

But you know that already. I’m here to talk about the other cards affected by the breakout U/G Wave deck.

We know the best way to speculate on Magic and succeed at this juncture in the game is to bet on Mythics. The problem with the Wave deck is all the mythics in it have already gone through their price spikes, and none offer us much opportunity.

But we can go a step farther. It stands to reason that with Wave emerging as a natural foil to three of the best decks in the format, it will become a larger part of the metagame and demand its own trump. That trump exists, and that is where we’re going to make our money.

While Conley’s deck has been grabbing the headlines of the Open, it is Boros Deck Wins that actually took down the tournament, in large part to its terrific matchup with the Wave deck. Right now Boros occupies only a relatively small position in the metagame and has been very off-and-on in regards to its performance. Many people are still using Worlds 2010 as their baseline for decks, and Boros had no showing in the Top 8 of that tournament, and only three copies on the Top Performing Standard Decks section.

If Wave becomes a larger part of the meta as expected, expect to see Boros grow as well. Boros also has more to gain from the last two Mirrodin sets thanks to Stoneforge Mystic.

With that in mind, the next step is to look at Boros to find out where we can profit.

The Rare and Mythics Rares in Boros

-       Goblin Guide

-       Stoneforge Mystic

-       Scalding Tarn

-       Arid Mesa

-       Spikeshot Elder

-       Sword of Body and Mind

-       Koth of the Hammer

-       Basilisk Collar (Sideboard)

The first step is to examine the one rare from Scars of Mirrodin, which just is being opened at too high a rate to see much of an increase, even if Boros picks up steam.

-       Spikeshot Elder

Next we’ll look at the rares from older sets that are in the deck.

-       Goblin Guide

-       Stoneforge Mystic

-       Arid Mesa

-       Scalding Tarn

-       Basilisk Collar

Looking at the Zendikar cards on Black Lotus Project, we see that Goblin Guide steadily climbed from last summer (when it hovered around $3) to nearly $7 today. But the Guide has been dropping over the past two weeks, and I don’t think it’s going to eclipse $8 any time soon, making it a poor investment.

The fetchlands are each around $9, and are so ubiquitous in every format that it’s going to take a lot more than a moderate uptick in the number of Boros players to mess much with its price.

Transitioning to the Worldwake rares, we see Stoneforge Mystic and Basilisk Collar. Let’s start with the Collar. It’s about $4.50 on BlackLotusProject and might climb a little, but again, it’s not going to make you any real money.

The Mystic, on the other hand, has more of an opportunity. It’s nearly $7 apiece on Ebay and also is played in Quest decks. The ship carrying wads of cash has sailed, but there is a small freighter with loose change hanging around. With more Equipment coming from Mirrodin, expect this to tick up some in the next few months. I don’t think it will eclipse $10 apiece on Ebay, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get close. It also dodges the normal dilemma facing Rares because it was printed in Worldwake, which was drafted in small numbers for a very short amount of time. I have more to say about the Mystic when we get to the Legacy section, but that does it for now.

This leaves us with two cards out of Boros to look at, Sword of Body and Mind, and Koth of the Hammer.

We’ll start with Koth. I don’t think he’s a worthwhile investment at this point because he is already used in a number of decks, will be opened for some time to come, and is a Planeswalker. Planeswalkers are amazing cards to make money off of, but only when they come out of nowhere. Koth is a known entity, and Boros isn’t going to push his stock much higher than it already is.

That leaves us with just the Sword of Body and Mind, and this is where I see the most opportunity. It started out at $8 on Ebay and dropped to about $6.75 before starting a tiny climb back up in the last five days. This is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon. With more equipment-enabling cards on the way, in addition to the probable rise in Boros decks, this card can make you some money. Most importantly, it’s a Mythic.

Not only does it give a creature protection from the entire Wave deck, it also prevents Jace from bouncing the creature and Frost Titan from tapping it down. It swings through Overgrown Battlement and mills Mountains from Valakut players. There’s nothing to not like about finding Swords around $6 to invest in.

By this point (Wednesday, four days after the Wave deck broke), you’re already behind on the cards in it. What I hope I’ve accomplished today is to show you how we can stay a step ahead of the pricing metagame. This coming weekend’s SCG Open will likely see more U/G, and if it continues to perform well, and I suspect it will so long as players sleeve up Valakuts, then Boros becomes the go-to answer deck and Sword of Body and Mind will benefit, as will you.

Legacy

My suspicion that the metagame would shift back to the pre-GP Columbus days proved correct, making Merfolk a great choice.  Also, it was the only deck a friend had available to loan me, so that’s what I sleeved up (Figuratively anyway; I was actually handed the deck pre-sleeved at 2 a.m. on Sunday to pound out three test games before we crashed).

And just like Columbus, I think Merfolk was one of the three best decks at the tournament, the others being Lewis Laskin’s Green and Taxes or Gene Richtsmeier's BW Tempo. Alas, I managed to punt the finals, so Goblins is your winner.

Looking at the financial side of the tournament, there are a few decks that draw our interest. The first is Spring Tide, piloted by Jacob Baugh to a Top-16 finish. It’s the first High Tide, Time Spiral deck to make an impact, but I doubt it will be the last. Obviously most of the cards in the deck jumped in price immediately following the unbanning of Time Spiral, but I wanted to bring it to your attention that the deck did perform well in case you’re invested in the cards or can trade for them cheaply.

Next up is B/W Tempo and Green and Taxes, and the two share a card that keeps finding its way into this column: Stoneforge Mystic. The Mystic is in an interesting place because I think it can be a decent medium-term investment, but is a bad long-term investment right now. Why?

I explained in the Standard section why we can expect to see the Mystic trend upward in the medium-term. But its price is going to tumble when it rotates out of Standard, even if its playable in Extended, making it a bad long-term investment right now.

With that said, you want to pick these up as soon as the price drops following its rotation from Standard. I realize I’m telling you that way in advance, but I fully expect the card to continue to make appearances in Legacy decks, and it’s not going to become any less powerful as time goes on. Pick these up around that time, and you’ll see its price slowly begin to come back up.

That’s all the space I have for this week. I hope you enjoyed this week's column, and you can look for my tournament report later in the week.

Thanks,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

2 thoughts on “A Wave of Changes

  1. Corbin, another great article… thanks! I love that your hypertexting the decks to allow us to check them for ourselves to evaluate some of the cards. I think that we could have expanded a little bit re: the pickups for some of the legacy decks (ie: Laskin was already saying he wants more Candelabra, and Karakas making a detour from typical Death and taxes may bump it up), but I really like how you evaluated the Stoneforge and explained why you feel it's a "mid-term" pickup. This kind of "theory" is an important lesson in evaluating ANY new cards. Cheers!

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