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Winners and Losers (and a banning?) from Dallas

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Last weekend was the Grand Prix, and it was quite a trip. I’ll have a tournament report in the next few days talking about my tournament (and deck choice), but today we have results to analyze… or at least we would, if there was anything of note to happen. Instead, we had 15 of the Top 16 decks running Jace, and I think we can all agree that PV basically willed Boros to the top tables more than anything else.

With that said, there are a few things to dig into from the weekend. Let’s start with what will be the weekend’s biggest gainer, Inferno Titan.

I’ve been suggesting picking up the card for the last month or so, and it proved this weekend why it’s been steadily climbing. It’s showing up in more and more decks, from its traditional home in RUG, to appearing in Valakut, Big Red (control), Naya and even some Boros lists. Until New Phyrexia (hopefully) shakes up the format, Big Red Titan is going to trade heavily, and you should be in a great position to profit.

Staying with Red, it’s worth noting that Koth of the Hammer is at the lowest he’s ever been. Koth has held an interesting position in the metagame, at times being very strong, but at other times being completely hated out. It seems that more and more Kor Firewalkers are making their way into decks, and RDW has fallen out of favor. The Channel Fireball crew was rocking four Koths in their Boros lists, and now seems like a good time to try to pick up your Koths.

If he doesn’t rise in the short-term, we can look ahead to the rotation when Firewalker leaves, which, combined with the rotation of a smaller format, should leave Koth in a strong position.

From the Dallas floor

If you were following the coverage last weekend, you know I was on site and following the top tables for QS. I was really hoping there would be more innovation, and therefore financial information, to report on, but that didn’t pan out quite as we all hoped. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some interesting decks floating around the room.

Given the run on Inquisition of Kozilek on Friday, I expected the room to be full of DarkBlade (UWB Caw), but the deck just did not perform. It appears that, for the time being, sticking to straight UW is the strongest choice for Caw players. Inquisition and Creeping Tar Pit are still going to command some solid prices, however, because not everyone is off of DarkBlade and there are still UB Tezzeret or Infect decks running around. But I would move the card now while you can still command a $5-6 price tag on it.

The next surprise from the weekend was the resurgence of Elves. My team included four players on Primetime Elves, and while none of us Day 2’ed, we didn’t have anyone finish worse than X-3 on the day (I just missed Day 2 at 6-2-1). With a better sideboard plan to combat a Turn 2 Lotus Cobra, I probably would have made Day 2, since my only losses on the day were to said Cobra-into-ridiculous Turn 3 and 4 plays.

There were two more traditional Elves lists floating around the top 10 tables late into Day 2, and one player sporting the deck almost snuck into the Top 8 before losing to professional fish Alex Bertoncini in the last round to fall into 17th place. The reason why the little Green men made such a strong run? A strong Caw-Blade matchup. I went 6-1 in games against the Bird Menace, with my only game loss coming in the match to the guy with maindeck Mirran Crusaders that he played on Turn 3 like clockwork in every game of our match.

While the deck is pretty under-the-radar right now (and rightfully so), look out for it if a better list is found that can handle Cobras while maintaining its strong Caw matchup.

Conley Woods and Zaiem Beg came sporting UB Control. As did the Japanese. Nothing too out-of-place about their lists, but be aware there were Abyssal Persecutors seen flying around.

Next up is Mono-Red control from the group of guys who designed it and piloted it to a ninth-place finish at the last tournament in Dallas. I’m not sure if any of them ended up making Day 2, but they were in the running up until the last round of Day 1.

Finally, I want to touch on Aggro Valakut, a very saucy list that retains the monster late game of Valakut and Titans while leaning on cards like Hero of Oxid Ridge and Bestial Menace to push an aggressive strategy. The combination put five of its six players into Day 2, and it marks a really interesting direction for a deck that not very long ago ran very few creatures.

There you have it. Four decks that aren’t RUG or Cawblade that had very reasonable showings, despite what the Top 16 would seem to suggest. While I wish there was something to knock off the two clear-cut best decks, the format is, in fact, a little more open than the #BanJace crowd would lead you to believe. Speaking of that….

#BanJace

The trending Twitter topic of the week, there have been numerous calls for the Big Bad’s banning after it showed up as a 4-of in every Top 8 deck. I’m not going to get into whether or not I think he should be banned, since that’s of very little financial value, but I am pretty certain of a few pertinent things.

1. Jace is NOT going to be emergency banned.

Wizards has not banned cards in Standard since the last time we were on Mirrodin, and I don’t expect it to happen now. While it sucks to see Jace in every deck, the fact is they are different decks. The last time such a banning happened there was exactly one deck dominating the field.

2. The next round of bans doesn’t happen for months.

Bannings occur four times a year. The next one isn’t scheduled until after New Phyrexia arrives with Hex Parasite (hereafter known as Jace Eater) and whatever else it brings to shake up the metagame. Having a colorless Jace Eater that every deck has access to is going to reduce his overall power. If it doesn’t turn out that way, we’ll be just a few months out from the rotation, and there is little to no chance Wizards is going to want to take the public relations backlash over a card’s last three months in Standard.

3. Is Preordain going too? What about Valakut?

What many people are missing in all this #BanJace talk is that there were also 32 Preordains in the Top 8 of the GP. Is that on its way out too? Does the fact Jace costs approximately a billion times more than Preordain make it a better target for banning? I’ve also heard that if Jace goes, then Valakut goes unchecked, and that would be even worse for the metagame. Then do we ban Valakut? Or is Primeval Titan the problem? You see what I’m getting at with this. It’s just too much of a slippery slope and too much risk for too little reward if the DCI decides to start banning cards.

Financially, this means you don’t have to worry about your Jaces losing their value overnight. That said, as many writers on here have advocated, you should have unloaded your Jaces by now. It seems to have peaked about three weeks ago, and it isn’t going to get any more popular or expensive as the Standard season goes on. Pitch them while you can still get full value out of them and set the money back to buy them on the cheap after they rotate.

That’s all the room I’ve got for this week. While the GP was a disappointment as far as shifting the format is concerned, there was some innovation making its way around the tournament, and I hope New Phyrexia shakes up the metagame.

If you didn’t catch my coverage on MTGCast.com, you should definitely check it out. I got in some good podcasting with Robert Martin (@TheBeme), and interviewed a few players throughout the tournament. When I did my first podcast, a guest role on Mana Screwed, I had no idea I would enjoy it so much or get further into it, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. The podcasting community is great, and I encourage you to listen to a few if you don’t already.

Next week I’m considering providing a detailed history, complete with links, to the Legacy crisis we find ourselves in the middle of. Let me know if this is something you are interested in, or if you are just tired of the whole thing and want me to focus my attention elsewhere.

Until then,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

10 thoughts on “Winners and Losers (and a banning?) from Dallas

  1. Good stuff! The Aggro Valakut deck in particular has me intrigued. Twitter has been quite busy with brewing something up – has any list from Dallas been posted anywhere?

  2. Great article. Once question about Koth. What's a good price to get him at? Speaking of that, what are your thoughts about the other two scars planeswalkers?

  3. @Benk – I'm looking at Koth below $20. He's $24 on SCG and $16 on Black Lotus Project, so I think the best strategy is to use retail prices in your trade, and value Koth at $20ish because he is trending down. Most people are willing to accept that $2-3 dollars since he's on the way down, but you should still be able to trade him at that price or higher, either in the short-term or post-rotation.
    As far as the other two, there is no reason to not pick them up at current prices in trades, but I don't think there will be much profit potential on them until post-rotation. The difference between them and Koth is that Koth is very good in a new metagame, since he's pretty easy to build around, whereas the other two take more work, and therefore hold more risk. But at the low prices they're currently at, you might as well try to pick them up since they are still subject to the "Planeswalker rule," where they will always retain some value.

  4. @Dylan – I'm actually pretty excited by the list as well, and might turn to running it if I can't figure out how to beat Cobras with Elves.

    1. Me too, I'm sleeving up proxies right now (and finding awesome trade loot in the process). Probably going to run this or similar at Regionals this weekend.

      I think I'll be starting from the assumption that Precursor Golem > Bestial Menace in that slot?

      Dylan

  5. Great article Corbin! I had been thinking about Koth for a while now, he seems like a good pick up at or below 20. As for Legacy, the more information we have, the better our decision making will be as to pick apart a little profit during this price spike.

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