Josh Rayden has enjoyed mild success on the SCG Open series, with Top 8 and 9th place Legacy finishes. He has played Magic since Ice Age and worked for Pastimes, Inc., the Premier Tournament Organizer out of Chicago for three years. A dedicated Eternal fan, Josh recently finished 10th at the 2011 Vintage Championships.
This week he shows us how to be prepared for a prerelease. Find out which thirty-three cards you should pay attention to at your local prerelease and why some cards may not be worth picking up quite yet.
Here are thirty-three cards you should be aware of come the Innistrad prerelease this weekend. More than just being aware of them, you need to make decisions about your opinion and potential uses of them. All these sites produce set reviews and buying guides prior to the prerelease and they seldom seem to touch on an important aspect of this. What are your personal needs?
As an example, I’m headed to Indy for the SCG Open on Oct 1st. This is the release weekend for Innistrad. I need to be sure I have the cards I want to use for that tournament. I’m a control player, so I paid closer attention to the blue, white and black cards. I also went through the other colors looking for cards that might take control decks in a new direction. With factors such as these, I needed to come up with a list of cards that were more important to me in the short term regardless of possible long term ramifications.
I also try to play exclusively with foils, so I can often offer some insight into pricing there as well. Innistrad, as all sets do, already has interesting things going on with its foils. I’ll demonstrate how this can inform some of your decisions about the non-foil versions of the cards and vice versa.
So which cards are worth picking up this weekend? Which ones should you keep an eye on? Which ones should you pick up in two months? Hopefully I can help a bit. I’ll give you my cheat sheet and then touch on some specific cards that are interesting.
Here’s the cheat sheet that I’m printing off and keeping with me this weekend:
This is MY guide, which means it is catered specifically to my desires and may not be of much full use to you. I recommend you create one as well.
A bit of explanation is necessary. The “Future” column is referring to the future price of the card and is based on my perception of percentage increase or decrease in the card’s price. If an uncommon is going to go from $.25 to $.75 then that is an “UP”. If a rare is going to go from $6.99 to $5.99 then I probably consider that a “Same”, as is the case with Hinterland Harbor. It really means that I could see Hinterland Harbor being $5-$8 so their $7 price is fine with me.
“Sleeper” just means that it’s not getting much attention and I think it will likely see play over the course of the block or that I think it’s a legitimate sleeper card along the lines of Spellskite. I made a boatload on that card for myself and fellow QS columnist Mike Hawthorne.
“Overrated” is pretty straightforward. That price will go down, I guarantee it. At some point in the next three months there will be an opportunity to pick these up for much less. They might not stay there (hi, Consecrated Sphinx and Abyssal Persecutor), but they will certainly drop.
“Foil” cards are the cards I personally want to look for in foil that I think won’t be difficult to pick up or that will simply be worth trying to pick up.
On to the cards! I’ll be stating my opinions here. Please try not to hate me, even if you disagree. Well-reasoned arguments and comments will be read, considered and responded to. I’m not unreasonable and I love talking about Magic cards just like you.
Champion of the Parish, Elite Inquisitor and Mentor of the Meek
Champion of the Parish, Elite Inquisitor and Mentor of the Meek make up this block’s white aggressive cards worth keeping in mind. They may need to be paired up with another color to be playable, but someone is going to try and it might be decent. These cards seem pretty good. If Puresteel Paladin can be a deck then Mentor of the Meek humans likely can be as well. The most likely color pairing is with green to include Avacyn’s Pilgrim and Hamlet Captain. Even if these cards aren’t going to be featured together in a Standard deck, they will likely still be worth picking up. Elite Inquisitor might go into white control decks for their two slot defensive creatures out of the board. Champion of the Parish will be a card that casuals and Johnnies and cubers will want to have.
Midnight Haunting is the first instance where the foil watchers learn something neat. This uncommon is out of stock at triple the non-foil price and one of only two uncommons to meet these criteria. Perhaps some people know something we don’t since this doesn’t really look like it will make a huge splash in Eternal formats, Cube or Commander. Is this the new Squadron Hawk? No, obviously, but it is interesting to keep in mind. With an instant speed card drawer (Think Twice), a new instant Impulse (Forbidden Alchemy), a new flash creature that people are drooling over (Snapcaster Mage) and a potentially slower format this card could be a roleplayer. It can surprise block a Signal Pest and Glint Hawk or pick up a Sword. Perhaps we will see a return to control decks that don’t tap out (Probably not, but think about it). Shove a couple of these in your box and hang on to them. Get foils for cheap.
Nevermore is the second instance of the foil telling the story. People seem to like these effects. This might be a sideboard roleplayer. It could go into Legacy Enchantress sideboards as well.
Purify the Grave
Purify the Grave is Coffin Purge in a world where no one likes Coffin Purge anymore. There’s no graveyard hate in this set, though. This seems odd to me, but the “graveyard matters” cards all seem terrible so far. It’s possible that R&D just realized you don’t need graveyard hate when your graveyard set is really bad. People may want this card at some point, so I’ll look for them in foil and hopefully at $.25.
Stony Silence is good. It’s good like Torpor Orb was good, but different. It shuts down Birthing Pod and Swords before they matter. Possibly more importantly, it’s Null Rods five through eight if you’re into that sort of thing. Or Null Rod number two in Commander, if that’s more your speed. This might be a relevant standard sideboard card, if Blade/Crusader/Snapcaster/Stalker Blade, Puresteel Paladin and Birthing Pod start dominating the format. The foil price is likely being driven by Vintage, Commander and weirdoes. I’ll be looking to pick up foils for much less than $10 or regular ones on the cheap ($.50-$1).
People love Dissipate. I’m one of those people. I have oldschool DCI foils already. It will be in my Standard control deck if I’m playing more than four counterspells.
Forbidden Alchemy seems great to me, but it has no home… yet. I think it will and I want my foils now. The foils are $5.99 on Star City right now so some people agree with me. It was $4.99 two days ago, by the way. Tuck yours away for now.
Invisible Stalker isn’t good. Really. I promise. It’s not. 1/1s for 2 aren’t good unless they bring three friends and people didn’t even want to play with those for a very long time. I know what you’re thinking, “BUT JOSH, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EQUIP A SWORD OF FEAST AND FAMINE TO IT!?” For some reason you think in all caps, but still use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Okay, sure. How many Swords are you playing? What happens when you don’t draw one? What deck are you playing this guy in? Caw Blade? Puresteel Paladin? This card is not good in those decks. Invisible Stalker can’t block Signal Pests or Vault Skirges or Hawks or Nexi. It doesn’t draw you a card when you cast it. It’s just a 1/1 for 2. Even with a sword it’s not all that AND a bag of chips, just one or the other. I might be okay with you playing it in your Caw Blade sideboard, but when I saw them I think I’d point at them and ask why they weren’t just Azure Mages. Sell these to suckers for too much money and laugh at them.
Laboratory Maniac and Memory's Journey
Laboratory Maniac is a card that people will love. It’s an alternate victory condition card that wins when you do that stuff that everyone loves to do, draw cards or mill your library. People love that stuff. I want to Hermit Druid or Oath of Druids this guy into play so badly, you have no idea. “Hermit Druid?”, I hear you asking (for some reason this time you’re not doing it in caps). I mentioned Hermit Druid to someone recently and they had never heard of it before and a small piece of me died. You build a deck with Hermit Druid and no basic lands. Then you mill your whole library. Back in my day you’d Reanimate a Sutured Ghoul with a Dragon’s Breath and two Krosan Cloudscrapers in your yard and win on the spot on turn two or three. Nowadays that card isn’t legal in the same formats it once was, but I’m tempted to try it in Vintage just to upset people.
Turn 1 Hermit Druid. Turn 2 Memory's Journey a Reanimate back into my library, draw it, cast it on the Maniac, cast Brainstorm. Brb, need to build this deck and play it against a goldfish for a few hours. Hi again, where was I? Oh yeah, people will want this card and want it in foil. Memory's Journey is a straight upgrade to Krosan Reclamation in any deck that would have wanted it. Grab a foil or two if you play Eternal formats or have some in your trading community.
Skaab Ruinator isn’t good…yet. It very well may be after another six months, but I just don’t see it now. If you love this card wait another two months if you can. This card is not Tombstalker. This card isn’t even Myr Superion. It may find a home in Birthing Pod, but I’m skeptical. Just hold off for now.
Snapcaster Mage is not worth $30. Don’t try to sit there and spout Econ 101 at me about what something is “worth”. This card will go back down in price. Patrick Chapin clearly hates me personally and wanted me to have to shell out a bunch of money on the off chance that someone actually does come up with an awesome deck with this guy in it in time for Indy. Just look at Stoneforge Mystic in its prime to see what a rare can demand in price over an extended period. This is no Stoneforge Mystic. Do yourself a favor and wait patiently. Alternatively, please break this card in half and ship me a list for Indy. This can apply to Standard, Legacy or both. I’m not picky. Thanks in advance. This card has climbed steadily over the past week and is probably at its all-time peak right now. If you open one this weekend, sell it immediately. If you need one, try not to pay more than $20 right now or pray to all that you hold dear that you can still get rid of them for whatever you paid as soon as you’re done with your tournament on Oct 1st. He’s not good in Standard right now. I don’t think he’s good in Legacy anymore (he was until Monday at midnight, fyi). He’s probably fine in Vintage. Wait on this card.
Army of the Damned
Army of the Damned is a mythic rare that is 2.99 or 5.99 for a foil. I think it will go up on both. Commander players will want this as will casuals. And it’s a mythic.
Bloodline Keeper // Lord of Lineage is the new Emeria Angel. It can fill a similar role in a control deck and it’s better than the angel when it goes unanswered. It’s definitely worse than Emeria in the deck you want it in, but it’s still a sweet card and underrated. I think it will see play in a control deck in the near future. Try to get them for $2 and hang on to them until Gerry plays it in a UB control deck.
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana of the Veil is Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, but better. I mean this in terms of pricing. She is pretty high now and while she may spike in the near future she will go down and then stay there. Tezzeret started at $30-40. He jumped up to $60 at Worlds. Now he is $20. I think Liliana might settle higher than that, but you can probably get her for cheaper than the $34.99 she’s at now.
Victim of Night
Victim of Night is great. It kills Grave Titan and Glint Hawk Idol. It also kills Tombstalker, Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf. This card will likely get worse in Standard over the next year, but for now this is a great removal spell if your deck can support BB. Once again, a card I want in foil ASAP.
Past in Flames
Past in Flames is a card I’ve heard a few people gush about. Stop it. Please. This card is only good in Commander and even then it’s not actually good at all. How this card is worth more than Olivia Voldaren I have no idea.
Reckless Waif // Merciless Predator may very well see play in the coming year. Grab yours now, find foils if you want them.
Bramblecrush is a good card. People will want it for Commander and possibly cube. It may see some Standard play. The $2.99 out of stock foil price at Star City is likely driven by Commander so keep it in mind if you have that community in your area.
Olivia Voldaren is $7.99 on SCG. The foil price was $9.99. It’s sold out. Derp. It probably would have sold out at $15.99. Not really sure what was going on there. This card is sweet and is sure to be a popular Commander. Ps, open this in your sealed pool and play it. That’s a pro tip right there, free of charge. Some of these rares and mythics seem absolutely unbeatable in sealed. This PTQ season makes me very nervous.
Geist of Saint Traft
Geist of Saint Traft makes me angry. People keep talking about how awesome this card is. I disagree strongly. A friend of mine had two words to say about this card, “I’ll block”. That about sums it up. In my UW deck I’d rather have any one of three other creatures instead of this guy, namely Blade Splicer, Hero of Bladehold and Mirran Crusader. Even Snapcaster is probably more to my liking and that’s assuming I have no cards in my graveyard. This will be a Commander card and probably nothing more. I see it settling lower than its current prices and probably land somewhere around Olivia.
The lands I’ll do in batches, starting with the M10-style enemy duals.
These are probably priced fairly. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’d rather have enemy colored fetchlands, but these will have to do. These will likely see play during their time in Standard. People love UG lands, so that one will be the standout. GB is another popular color combination and WB needs duals desperately when it sees play.
With a certain [card Splinter Twin]RR2 enchantment[/card] rotating out and no Terramorphic Expanse, I don’t see the other color combinations making Standard waves. They are duals though, so having these will likely never be a bad idea. Don’t go over $5 on these if you can help it.
The other rare land cycle varies wildly in terms of playability. The best one is Moorland Haunt, but Kessig Wolf Run and Gavony Township may see some play. People will likely play more of these than they should, but if there’s a Caw Blade deck it should probably be playing one or two. They are priced too high on SCG right now, though. Pick all these up for $2 or preferably much less.
Until Next Time...
If you count all five of each of those land cycles it was actually thirty seven cards, so I really even tossed in some bonus material.
JRDameonHv on Twitter and MTGO
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