I really dislike the set release schedule Wizards is following. It seems the the last set of a block really gets screwed, and then overshadowed by the new Core Set. This impacts drafters and, in turn, traders in ways that can be mitigated. Constructed players that don’t draft much, don’t realize that many of the singles they buy or trade for, are being pushed into the marketplace by packs being cracked at limited events. When a set first drops, there are certainly some number of people who are busting open cases, but after that initial rush, the product is cracked in limited events worldwide. The third set in the block gets shafted here. Not only does it appear as only a single pack in a draft, but the draft format changes to Core Set after only 2 months. For these 60 days, New Phyrexia is cracked at the snails pace of one pack per drafter, and for the shortest lived limited season of the year. This means the bottom is near for many of the staples of the set, and you need to make sure you’ve got what you need for the next season, before a card starts creeping back up.
New Phyrexia Wrap-up
Dismember is one that I’ve been hoarding as much as possible. I heard this week from someone that they’ve reached as much as 4 tickets on MTGO. Once this set is not opened as much, we’ll see this card become the Path to Exile of years past. Trade, buy, hoard. I think Despise fits in this same category, it just won’t truly shine until after rotation. Most of the desirable rares and mythics should already be on your radar, but be sure to get at least your set of the key cards for standard before the M12 release in a couple weeks.
The M12 spoilers are coming along swiftly now, and we can begin to speculate on what cards will have value, but also what cards from Scars block gain value. We’re still missing confirmation on the new Chandra and Garruk [Editors Note: This article was written before Mike Flores Debuted Chandra, the Firebrand. Discuss it in the forums!], and those are likely to shape what Green decks will look like in the future. When Valakut rotates, will a ramp deck still be viable? If so, Valakut players will naturally shift to it, so they can continue to play their [cardPrimeval Titan[/card]s. If not, expect cards like Thrun to shoot up quickly. He’s been on my watch list for quite some time, but if ramp is not a viable strategy, green will go back to what we’ve seen in the past. Mid-range beats. There won’t be a 3-color manabase available, unless Innistrad brings in some goodies, so either G/R or G/W are the options that fit the dual lands from both Scars and M11/M12. Thrun is likely to gain the most here. It’s also no question to me that the newly spoiled Skinshifter will likely play a role in such a deck. The little green shapeshifter is already sold-out at $4 on Star City, and will likely be selling for 5-6 bucks out the gate. Unfortunately, not many of the cards spoiled thus far seem to be at a value worth pre-ordering. Keep in mind, that Oblivion Ring is now confirmed, so I wouldn’t be shelling out $35 for the new Jace, even though I think he’ll be a powerful ‘walker.
There is one exception. I think the Sphinx of Uthuun is likely a good investment. It currently sits at $2 pre-order on Starcitygames.com. Everyone here at QS, including myself, has been speculating on the value of Consecrated Sphinx shooting up over the next season. While going from 6->7 mana is certainly a non-trivial issue, this guy does provide some pretty unreal value. In case you haven’t seen the card yet:
Sphinx of Uthuun
When Sphinx of Uthuun enters the battlefield, reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other one into your graveyard.
Yeah, that’s Fact or Fiction attached to a huge beatstick. If you thought doubling your opponents draws with Consecrated Sphinx was card advantage, this is unreal. Not only do you get the ability immediately, you do get a slightly bigger body attached as well. I think this guy will be played along side the Consecrated Sphinx, reducing the number played in most decks. I’m picking up a set of 4 of these on pre-order because I’m not willing to go all-in on a 7-drop. This guy would shine in a more traditional counter-heavy control deck, and with the reprinting of Mana Leak, that’s not an unrealistic leap. He also would pair well with Venser to net you a Fact or Fiction every turn. There was once a time when resolving a Fact or Fiction meant game over, and while you can’t cast this guy at the end of turn, digging 5 cards deep is nothing to scoff at. It’s unlikely he’s going to be a 4-of in any deck, so I don’t expect him to get above $5, but I equate him to the [card]Sphinx of Lost Truths[card] with more power, and less flexibility.
Over the next weeks, we’ll be digging at the Standard metagame more, to figure out what to target at the Pre-release and release events.
Normally, over-extending in Magic is not a good thing, but I’ve found it to be untrue. Recently, I’ve been testing the Over-extended format for the global “game day” this weekend. If this format picks up speed, cards like Shock-lands are really going to be in demand, as well as already inflated legacy cards like Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, Sword of Fire and Ice and many more. If you’re interested in this format, I’d invest in the cards that overlap with this format and the Modern format. Both formats are in their infancy, and any pickup is certainly at a risk that either the format changes, engines are banned, or it never comes to exist. It does seem that the community is behind a new “eternal-lite” format, at least more so than current Extended, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see major events scheduled for later this year morphing into a new format. Some key cards that will appear in both formats are the infamous Stoneforge Mystic and Jace the Mindsculptor, waiting until these cards bottom out to pick up your set is a wise move. I strongly suggest doing so.
Go out, get your last drafts in of the Scars block, and start dealing away your Zendikar stuff you haven’t ditched yet. You’ll be sorry in October when no one has Dismembers, Koths, Vensers or even Argent Sphinxes to trade you.