Less than a week after the bannings, there’s lots of things to be said. Most of them however, are already becoming old news just a few days after the announcement. It’s now time to find the card that hasn’t already realized all its potential gain. A strategy I’ve used, and am applying to these next few weeks, is to look at the top 3-4 possible ‘ways’ this format will shake out. If you find a cheap card to speculate on for each of the scenarios, you can hedge your chances of making a call.
With Jace around, creatures simply weren’t that exciting. But, I think creatures will come to the forefront of the format in his absence. How will decks answer creatures? How will they answer Splinter Twin? This is going to affect what creatures become desirable in the format. There are really only a handful of possibilities.
Dismember, Lightning Bolt, and other Spot Removal:
I don’t see Dismember being viable long, due to the implied resurgence of Valakut/Primeval Titan, but it is certainly in the realm of possibility. Creatures strong against Dismember include, Mirran Crusader, Thrun, Titans, Wurmcoil Engine and fast-aggro plans. It’s likely that Primeval has already realized his potential gain, especially with a reprinting near. Thrun has yet to see any real play, but should see at least Sideboard play in Valakut decks. I’ve had him on my watch list, and I’m not ready to bite yet, but I'll keep watching. Fast aggro means Tempered Steel, Vampires, RDW or Elves. Dismember is better suited against Tempered Steel than most removal, but really 1-for-1’s simply don’t do the trick here. Some cards worth picking up are cheap, non-rotating, rares and uncommons. Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Tempered Steel, Spikeshot Elder are decent examples. Some higher ticket items worth keeping an eye on are Koth, Inkmoth Nexus and Mox Opal. I intentionally left out pieces from the Vamprie deck, because I’m not willing to trade for any Zendikar Block cards. Bolt is better against the fast Decks, but lacks the oomph to kill the Titans. It also fails to kill Baneslayer Angel, Hero of Bladehold or Wurmcoil Engine. Hero of Bladehold is in the pricerange where I’m comfortable trading for it without much risk. The format can only get better for her. Baneslayer may see some play, but if you do pick them up, be ready to dump them on the spike if one happens. My assumption is she’s rotating. Other spot removal includes Journey to Nowhere, Go for the Throat,Dispatch, and Into the Roil. The Exile option is strong against Vengevine, but most of the other choices are not. Creatures with protection like the Crusaders can spike up if spot removal is required to be able to deal with both creature decks and Splinter Twin flexibly.
Day of Judgement et al:
If U/W control, or even Mono-W control, will exist, thenDay of Judgement will have to come back. Likely involving a reappearance of Gideon as well. This will hate on all the fast aggro decks, and make cards like Fauna Shaman, awful. Similar things can be said of Black Sun's Zenith and Slagstorm. Thrun and Molten-Tail Masticore can survive the red and white sweepers, but the black one would take 6 mana to do the trick on them. I have my eye on these to be anti-control trumps in a variety of matchups, while Thrun is definitely better in that department, he’s awful against Phyrexian Metamorph and opposing Thruns. So his long term gain isn’t too high. Masticore could see play in a non-Jace environment, and his price is so low as a mythic, it seems like a pretty safe pickup. A reader in last weeks comments mentioned Masticore as being a post-rotation option, but with the bannings, I think it’s safe to push that timeline up. Slagstorm does great work against most aggro decks, so it could be a good card to pick up if one finds a way to beat Valakut as this will be Valakut’s answer back.
Gaea's Revenge and Thrun are go-to ‘Can’t be countered’ options, as well as Summoning Trap and Vengevine. Fast aggro decks also typically can run creatures out fast enough where they are trying to race the sweepers not the counters. And if control decks are shaped to be counter-heavy, to replace the loss of Jace, Fast decks will have openings to win those matchups. While I’m not as high on Spikeshot Elder as I once was, with the news of the Grim Lavamancer reprint in M12, he’s still a relatively safe pickup.
Phyrexian Metamorph and Act of Aggression are both likely to be around for a while, and they are a great answer to Titans of all varieties. Again, small creatures stand to gain as poor value for your opponent to copy or steal.
I’m not saying to invest your whole bankroll in all of these options, but pick a card you like in each possible scenario and try to trade for them. Watch the format, and as you see shifts in the metagame increase the portion of your speculation portfolio that stands to gain in that shift. I’m focusing on Scars block cards, because we don’t want to have trouble dumping these cards if they spike. There will come a time when you simply cannot get rid of your rotating rares, and you’re stuck.
Most of this ties into your overall gameplan with trading. So if you’re trading to maintain your collection, then I would be slowly trying to get playsets of any of the above listed Scars block cards you don’t already have. You don’t want to be buying in on these cards once it’s too late. If you’re looking to simply maximize your profits on some quick movements, be selective in your spots, and keep your eyes on prices shifting. I highly recommend looking at daily price movements on Blacklotusproject.com.
On the tracker:
I updated a handful of my existing postings, and removed some outdated ones. I also threw up some things seen here, as well as added Sword of Feast and Famine to my Ditch list. I’ll admit, I expected huge things out of this card when it was spoiled, and it proved itself throughout Extended Season and Stoneforge-Standard. It’s time has passed. If you want to hang on to one for other format play, keep one, but certainly no more than that. I also put Inquisition of Kozilek on my ditch list. My LGS is still selling this card for $4, and the primary purpose of this card was stopping Stoneforge. I think Duress will just be a better option. Batterskull gets hammered the worst, we’ll see if it sees any play at all. This is a true ditch.
There are some pretty interesting moves on there this week, not all of which I’m on board with. I hope we can spark up some debate in the forums as we try to tackle what’s going to happen in the weeks following the banning. There will still be Standard PTQ’s, StarCity Events and more, so I’m interested to see how quickly this format gets solved, and how M12 spoilers come into play. If the new Jace, Chandra and Garruk are exciting, I’m going to be prepared to pre-order if the price is right. It’s probably safe to assume the new three will be around for at least a 2nd trip next year too.