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Angels Waiting in the Wings

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"I’m actually going to win," I thought excitedly. "My first Constructed tournament."  My opponent is down to 8 life, and I’ve got a Boggart Ram Gang in play, a Ball Lightning and some burn in hand. He draws his card for the turn. “Please just be a land,” I pray silently. He taps one pile of lands. 4 mana. He reaches over and taps another. It’s a Plains. That familiar feeling of dread creeps over me. Sure enough, my demise soon lands on the table.

Baneslayer Angel.

We all know her and we all remember the outcry when she was selling at $50 apiece. We decried the unfairness of it all. The card’s power level, her insane price, the existence of Mythics, the blatant power creep, MaRo’s lies about Mythics, and just how boring it is to watch the Enchantress deck play a match (wait, that one was last week). At the time they printed Baneslayer, I was just getting into Constructed Magic (and trading) and couldn’t believe how unfair it was to lose to $50 cards when all I had was my homebrew RG beatdown deck.

Little did we know how good we had it. $50 Angels seem downright quaint compared to Benjamin Franklins masquerading as Jace, the Mind Sculptors.

But why do I bring up the (former) Walletslayer?

For starters, her price is at an all-time low, even as she begins to see competitive Constructed play once again. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the latest SCG Top 8 – 8 copies of Baneslayer. LSV ran 4 in his CawBlade deck last week. While 8 copies of the Angel in the Top 8 isn’t groundbreaking, it does signal a metagame shift that presents us with a solid investment opportunity.

So why is Baneslayer so good right now after falling out of favor for more than a year? Let’s break it down.

Swords

In particular, Sword of Feast and Famine, and the Squadron Hawks that come with it. Titans, the toast of Standard for the last year, don’t do much about a Hawk carrying a sword (in its talons?) overhead. In addition, until Sword of War and Peace (my name) gets printed, no sword grants Protection from White, making Baneslayer the perfect blocker to fight against CawBlade.

Speaking of Swords, Baneslayer holds one pretty well, and embarrasses any Titan (except for the Frost variety) in combat once she’s holding a Sword. Before, if someone went over the top of your Angel with a Titan, you were in trouble. Now you just throw a Sword on her and go to town.

The Rise of Aggro

After the Fall rotation, aggro pretty much disappeared from the metagame outside of the occasional Boros appearance. When people are fighting to resolve their titanic 6-drop, 5/5s don’t do much, even when they are the Angelic kind. In addition, the dominance of U/B Control made it much easier to kill the Angel than it was before.

But since Mirrodin Besieged released, we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of Aggro decks floating around. Kuldoltha Red, Aggro CawBlade, Elves, and Boros all struggle mightily against a Baneslayer, and in many cases literally can’t beat it. Even the CawBlade decks splashing Red don’t get very far against Baneslayer with their Lightning Bolts.

Creature-Centric format

While this is somewhat connected to the amount of aggro decks out there, it goes farther than that. Superfriends is no longer a deck, and everything these days (Except for Valakut) plans by winning through the combat step, making Baneslayer a house. When the “control” decks plan on winning by equipping equipment to tiny creatures and attacking you, 5 power and First Strike is a good place to be.

Putting it all together

So what does this mean for us? It means it’s time to buy in on Baneslayer. I’ll tell you up front I don’t know how long she’ll see play as the metagame continues to evolve, but I think it’s safe to say she will played at least until the next set, with the (assumed) addition of a Protection from Red and White Sword.

The market doesn’t seem to have caught up to the metagame, as her price hasn’t begun to spike yet, but the natural evolution of the metagame is toward more Angels. As both a Mythic and an Angel, she is always going to hold some value, so the risk to buying in now is not high. Depending on her level of usage, I think it’s reasonable to see a 50 percent spike in the next month, and possibly more if the card starts to be even more heavily included.

The fact that Baneslayer was reprinted doesn’t even hurt her price all that much. Remember when Jace Beleren was a $4 card? He’s been reprinted three times now and has been in Standard for going on four years, but it recently hit its highest price since the Summer of 2009. That’s a good sign for Baneslayer.

I will be aggressively trading for Baneslayers in the next few weeks, and I don’t see myself having a hard time flipping them one way or another.

That’s it for this week. Standard is in a very interesting place right now, as the format’s actually way more open than it has been in recent years. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

3 thoughts on “Angels Waiting in the Wings

  1. good tip Corbin. I've been keeping my playset in the, "i'm not ready to give up on these yet" section of my rare box, and while its only speculation, i'd gamble we see baneslayer reprinted, and the titans probably wont be. While that may hurt the slayer's price, the reprinting of a mythic really won't affect the price nearly as much as the standard metagame.

  2. @Tutor
    I agree, though really I think the price spike will come before M12 releases. At the very worst, it's a low-risk investment that could easily pay off.

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