By now you’ve heard about the boogeyman. The deck that pushes other decks out of the format. The deck so oppressive that nothing you do seems to work against it.
Yes, Valakut is quite the beast.
That’s the line of thought that seems to be running rampant right now, after the banning of Jace and Stoneforge. You’ve heard about all the creatures that are playable again with Jace gone, and you know that maindeck Divine Offerings are probably a bad choice.
If you took the advice of the QS team, you could have gotten in on Primeval Titans for less than $16, as I did (they are now about $25 on Ebay). If you were quick on MTGO, you made an even bigger profit than that. Tezzeret has also seen a bump, as have a number of other cards that figure to rise in playability moving forward.
News travels fast around the Magic community, and the locals at your FNM tonight are going to know that Primeval Titan is rising and that Jace and Stoneforge have applications other than Standard. You’re not guaranteed to get sick deals on those cards. Most people know enough to value their Titans, Valakuts, Tezzerets, and Vengevines higher.
But hope is not lost to the savvy trader.
In the old days (just a couple years ago), you could show up to FNM and get Primeval Titan on the cheap, with people not catching on to the fact that Valakut has become the de facto Enemy No. 1. These days, everyone thinks they’re Jon Medina, and you’re not going to pick up any cheap Titans.
I know that most of my readership consists of already-knowledgable traders and speculators. You know about Valakut, and Titans, and Tezz and so forth. I don’t need to write yet another column pointing out the obvious cards to you. That means it’s time to take the next step. We’re going to “next-level” the trading market.
Yes, even though the bannings of Jace and Mystic are not even technically in effect yet, the best way to profit this week is to pick up cards to pick up the cards that are good against the decks that aren’t even good yet.
In short, I’m going to walk you through some cards today that I think are going to see increased demand in the coming weeks, the cards that foil the “best decks” post-banning. Though I expect these cards to see price increases, I think the true opportunity comes from getting these into your trade binder, as people are going to need these to answer the best deck after their first FNM. In addition, many of these cards are rotating soon, so you don’t want to put too much into these since their prices will be dropping in the next few months.
Here’s where I see the metagame going, listed in order of expected dominance.
The Miami Heat bracket
Apparently today is a day for sports references. The Miami Heat are a very good team, yet nearly universally hated (mostly due to LeBron James).
Valakut occupies this territory nearly by itself. It’s the best deck coming out of the gate, but nearly no one likes it. But the deck is not impervious to hate, as CawBlade was.
The Los Angeles Lakers bracket
You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. That seems to describe Splinter Twin pretty well.
A lot of people think Twin will just become the dominant deck, but I think the loss of Jace hurts this deck much more than people think. It’s one less answer to Spellskite, not to mention that it hurts the deck’s consistency. I think the deck will adapt and survive, but I don’t think it’s going to be as amazing as some people think.
The Boston Celtics bracket
Old but reliable. Vampires and RDW probably fall in here, as does whatever Control turns out to be. Vampires isn’t too well-positioned against Valakut, due to the number of sweepers available. RDW is strong, but as always there is hate available.
Control has the tools to be very powerful, but it needs a metagame to form to react to. Whether this turns out to be UB, UW, or some other combination, I think control is more likely to succeed than aggro. I don’t see Aggro performing well, especially a few weeks into the metagame (outside of RDW, which is going to be insane), because Valakut crushes Aggro for stumbling.
The Oklahoma City Thunder bracket
The young but up-and-coming.group. I’m mostly thinking of the Birthing Pod and Puresteel Paladin decks. Tempered Steel also fits in this category, as does Tezzeret. These decks all have the ability to become very competitive, but it might take some time for them to adjust to the metagame.
I think that more or less sums up the way the metagame is going to form. Here are some of the cards I’m keeping an eye on. I’ve tried to highlight some cards that aren’t immediately obvious following the bans.
Cards to watch
This card is going to be vital both for and against Valakut. It’s a catch-all answer against Valakut, Splinter Twin, and whatever random decks pop up. Against CawBlade, Beast Within had too many targets to go after, since any deck able to play Beast Within was already in trouble against CawBlade.
Not that Tec Edge has every really come down in playability, it’s going to be more important than ever now that Valakut is rearing its ugly head again.
This pretty much is the definitive card that will get you far in trading, but not in a strict buy-and-sell. Seas is very good in a Valakut/Vampires metagame and you’re doing yourself a favor by including these in your binder.
A creature that receives a huge bump from the removal of the “Jace test.” Oracle is much more likely to stick around, and with Rampant Growth coming back in M12, Oracle receives another shuffle effect. Pick these up cheap.
Back with a vengeance. Avenger is mythic, representing a much greater potential price rise.
I’m not sure if this will become better than Inferno Titan or not in this deck, but it’s one of the few ways to gain true card advantage left in the deck. We all know Sphinx’s story, but believe it or not, not everyone has caught on, and it’s still got some room to rise.
Urabrask, The Hidden
I can see Valakut adapting this, as it slows Twin down a turn and makes curving a Turn 4 Urabrask into a Turn 5 Titan lethal damage.
This deck doesn’t gain anything in particular, but it’s addition by subtraction since the format became less powerful overall. It only takes a few good performances or a reprint of Ponderfor this deck to take off again.
IF aggro or midrange becomes popular, this guy will be a go-to again, since Batterskull has been so weakened. Being a release card hurts its price, but these will likely increase in demand again, so be aware of that.
The popularity of this card depends on the presence of Tezzeret decks. I don’t know if the card would catch on at the highest levels of play, but I see a card like this being very popular on the FNM level, where regulars can pick it up to beat their friends and their hated Tezzeret decks.
Those are some of the cards I’m keeping an eye on that I think will give you a very nice opportunity to pick up value when trading. It’s always good to keep an eye on the future of the metagame rather than reacting to last week’s news. That’s how you get ahead of the market and keep your profits flowing even through uncertain times like these.
Prediction Tracker Update
Lots of cards moving around on here due to the bannings. Keep an eye on the Tracker moving forward, as this information can change very rapidly based on the results in the coming weeks.
[iframe https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AqV8zg-4f2ehdDlPQm1vOEVNcU9iTWdycGRsTHRocHc&single=true&gid=2&output=html 925px 1000px]
[iframe https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AqV8zg-4f2ehdDlPQm1vOEVNcU9iTWdycGRsTHRocHc&single=true&gid=10&output=html 925px 700px]
[iframe https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AqV8zg-4f2ehdDlPQm1vOEVNcU9iTWdycGRsTHRocHc&single=true&gid=11&output=html 925px 700px]
[iframe https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AqV8zg-4f2ehdDlPQm1vOEVNcU9iTWdycGRsTHRocHc&single=true&gid=12&output=html 925px 700px]
@Chosler88 on Twitter