With Doug Linn out of town this week, I’ve stepped in to fill his usual Monday slot. His column from last week has been provided for free to the general public, but we wanted to make sure you still got a new Insider article, so you get a bonus edition of the Revenue Review this week.
I’ll still have my regular column up on Thursday, but today we have major metagame changes coming out of Washington D.C., where the Star City Games Opens shook up both the Standard and Legacy formats.
Top 16 decklists can be found here.
We expected a format full of Caw-Blade (ala PT Paris), and that’s exactly what we got. Nine of the top 16 decks were some form of Caw-Blade, though the sauciest of the bunch was definitely the version splashing Red that Gerry Thompson navigated to victory.
But digging beneath the surface, there is definitely a financial impact from the tournament, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect with Caw-Blade dominating as anticipated. We’ll start with the most entertaining surprise of the tournament, Mono-Blue Grand Architect control, piloted to a Top 8 finish by Ali Aintrazi. You can find the deck here.
Let’s look at the most interesting card from a financial perspective.
Looking at Grand Architect’s price (courtesy BlackLotusProject) we see it at a mere $1.42, while it is selling at $3 or $4 on most major sites. I don’t think you’re going to break the bank if you buy these, but I would begin trying to pick them up in trades, for a few reasons. In addition to the small jump they might see from this deck’s performance, it seems to me that decks such as this one are only going to proliferate (see what I did there?) with time. You shouldn’t have any problem getting these at $2 apiece in trades, and I think you are going to be able to get $5 in trade for them after rotation, if not before.
The other thing this deck brings to the table is Treasure Mage and a full set of Enclave Cryptologist and Thrummingbirds. They’re a trio of uncommons that don’t fetch much but can be frustratingly hard to track down for players. These players don’t want to pay an inflated rate to get them from a dealer, but you can easily get $1-2 rares from these players if you keep some of these cards with you in your binders. Just an advantage of keeping playable uncommons around.
I’m going to move into some more speculative territory here, but I’m pretty confident in my perceptions about the current Standard metagame.
The Titan cycle has really rewarded those who can easily and cheaply move the Titan of the Week. First it was Frost Titan that made the jump, then Inferno Titan. Since then, the card has fallen about 20 percent on Ebay.
Gerry’s winning list had one in the sideboard, and the second-place deck (that put two players into the Top 8) RUG, carried three main. What’s the one thing in common with all the Swords in Standard? None of them carry Protection from Red (until, presumably, the third set). This means the Red Titan is one of the best answers around to the full Squadron of Hawks, and Inferno Titan is likely to pick up play because of it. If you can easily move these, you can make a little money off of these in the next few weeks. I want to stress that the Titan cycle has been, well, cyclical, in Standard, so the window to move these could close very quickly, but for now they’re a solid pickup.
This guy is starting to see more and more play, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the post-rotation aggro decks to top out at this guy. He’s been cropping up more and more and his price is moving upward on Ebay, a trend I expect to continue. I think now is the time to pick these up, it’s a Mythic that I can see holding a $9-10 price tag moving forward.
This guy seems to be popping up more as well, and is making a splash in Extended decks as well. As a rare, I don’t think you’re going to make much money off these in a pure buy-and-sell, but I’m actively trying to pick these up in trades right now. Double Strike + Equipment isn’t getting any worse.
That’s really all the insight I think I have into Standard at the moment. One thing I do know is that all these Caw-Blade decks are going to be absolutely terrifying when the next set comes out and likely includes a Protection from Red and White sword. This is going to give these decks access to whatever protection they need, and imagine a Mirran Crusader equipped with a Sword of Flame and Air, or whatever they name the RW sword. I think cards like Tumble Magnet are the best way to answer the Swords package at the moment (as Aintrazi did), rather than more narrow hate cards, if you have a deck that can use the three turns it buys you to actually accomplish something, but that’s just my take on the format.
The Legacy Open turned in the most interesting Top 8 all season. Team America won the event, and Doomsday combo took second. You can find decklists here.
The most interesting thing to note is that Little Blue Men are nowhere to be found. Neither is Counterbalance, which just won the last event. Countertop put one copy into the Top 16 and none into the Top 8, while Merfolk didn’t break the Top 16 at all, a stunning development considering how ubiquitous both those decks have been recently. The MUD deck that Michael Bumholt piloted to second place at the last Open did post a Top 16 finish, indicating that the deck may have some staying power moving forward, making it reasonable to hold onto those Grim Monoliths you should have picked up when Doug gave us all advance warning on the card. It’s still climbing on Ebay, by the way.
While the Top 8 decks themselves were very interesting, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about their card choices, so instead I want to focus on why some cards aren’t going to increase in price, despite their strong finish.
The guys on the SCGLive cast did a great job, but the pros need to leave finance to the finance writers. This is something of a pet peeve of mine, but unless you put in the work to understand how the secondary market works in Magic, don’t talk about it. You’re just going to lead people astray. The first thing Alex Bertoncini said when he saw that Enchantress had made the semifinals was that “these cards are all probably going to increase in price now,” and that's just not necessarily true.
While some of the cards, such as the Enchantress herself, might see a bit of an uptick in price, the fact remains that you have to have Moat to play this deck. Period. Even players who switch decks regularly and are willing to sleeve up a new deck after one strong performance aren’t going to drop $300 on one card so they can spend a couple hundred dollars more on some other cards to switch to a deck that Top 8’ed one event. And that’s not even going into the fact that just about everyone watching the deck play out was desperately looking for something else to do because the deck is duller than watching… well, there’s no good comparison here, because it’s about as dull as it gets. Also, the deck just straight up loses to Back to Nature if it starts performing well over a few events.
What all of that adds up to is very few players switching to Enchantress, very little new demand for the cards in the deck, and ultimately very little change in the prices of the cards involved. If you’re still determined to invest in this deck, your best bet is Serra's Sanctum.
I also want to touch on the differences between this situation and that of the MUD deck that Top 8’ed at the last event. While MUD has some expensive cards in it, it’s nowhere near the level of Moat. It’s a whole lot easier for players to justify spending a few hundred dollars on a dozen cards to fill out a deck than it is for them to spend $300 to pick up one card that is sideboarded out in half your matchups. In addition, the MUD deck uses “engine” cards like Grim Monolith and City of Traitors that are viable in more than one deck, making them much more attractive to buyers than narrow cards like Argothian Enchantress.
That’s it for today. I hope I did all right filling in for Doug this week, and you can find my regular column on Thursday.
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