Insider: Dissecting Dissension

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Dissension, the third (and chronically-misspelled) set in Ravnica, showcased the remaining three guilds. We were introduced to the hellbent Rakdos, the gene-splicing Simic and the board-stalling Azorius guilds. Ravnica block is good for a couple money rares, but it didn't go as casually deep as I thought it would when I first thought about the block. Dissension has a few nice tournament staples aside from the obvious shocklands – let's take a look at the set!


The pricing on shocklands is just all over the place right now. Checking completed listings on Ebay shows me that there's a variation of about eight dollars in any given week, which makes me think the market still hasn't really agreed on what these things are worth. Blood Crypt isn't played in any Modern decks, which means it's practically useless. It may pick up in the future, but the depth of cards in B/R is pretty weak. We'll see.


Breeding Pool is also underplayed in Modern; it shows up in some Bant-y decks, but UG/x decks aren't the powerhouse that they used to be. People love to cast cantrips and Tarmogoyf, though, so it keeps the card fresh. I think that the market is unsure about the shocklands because they are the banner Modern cards, but the format is not really seeing much play. It'll be interesting to see if a large game store like SCG decides to do a Modern tour. The format is a cash cow for any retailer sponsoring an event, so it's really prime for development.


GQ, the best-dressed land from Ravnica block, shot up to $4 on Modern speculation. When it was spoiled in Innistrad a few days later, it settled down... a bit. GQ is still a hot land in Standard, and I'm sure it'll be getting a lot of good play. Tectonic Edge was a grumbling $4 or more, and the Quarter fulfills a similar function. Usually, the older versions of cards carry more value, but the Innistrad prints of this card have the sickest art; I'd be inclined to play the new ones, since you have to deal with new frames anyway.


Commander has driven some pretty obscure cards up in value, and the griefer king Aggie here is one of them. People love the guy for some reason; locking people out seems to be a popular but unfun Commander strategy. Grand Theft Mana: 4 is perfect for UW; you slow opponents' threats down enough to manage, while your own spells and draw are a little cheaper. He's gone up a bit in value and you'll probably run into people who value him at half what he's worth.


Again, this guy is really hard to value. For some reason, it's one of the most expensive shocklands. Zoo plays one, and nothing else plays these lands. I think that, for some reason, people all decided to go nuts about this particular land and drove the value up beyond what its playable value is. It's interesting to look at the Ebay market for these kinds of things. Stores can put their stuff up for Buy-It-Now and just let it sit there for a month at a ridiculous price, but regular sellers like you and me don't have that option. We can put it up for auction and BIN, but it's open to being bidded on. Set the initial and BIN price too high, and people won't buy the card. Put it up for normal auction and people might not give you what you want for it. I have noticed that with these shocklands, putting them in sets of four is bad for value – they typically sell for 20-30% less than they do when broken up! It makes me wonder whether I should just buy sets to split and resell. Nobody needs four Fountains, so nobody really bids on them.


Infernal Tutor derives 95% of its value from being a killer card when combined with Lion's Eye Diamond. As long as that card is legal in Legacy, people will grab this tutor to sling alongside it. It saw some action as a Modern speculation card, but I don't see it going anywhere. It's rare to be Hellbent unless you are really trying to be. This is another card that I think people tend to mis-value, and you can use that to your advantage.


I had to triple-check my sources to make sure I was reading this right. This card is actually worth money. That said, there are a bunch of them, sitting unloved in the BIN section on Ebay. There's a low volume, but some people love casting Watchwolf and Tidehollow Sculler in the same deck, and this makes it happen. If you can conjure up a set, it might be worth buying out of the rares box at your local store to flip.


This card, combined with Aether Flash, made a monster of a deck in Legacy and Vintage. There were more complicated combos and better ones than this, but one used four Virulent Slivers and a Darkheart Sliver to poison someone right outta the game. It worked so well with Summoner's Pact and Pact of Negation that Aether Flash got banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage, where it sees little play today. People still like to make Hulk work, and there will probably be a Hulk deck in Modern at some point. It's not a great combo, since you need to put about five useless cards in your deck to make it hum. That said, it has casual appeal, even though it's banned in Commander.


No matter what else, this thing is a pile of pure fat for Commander decks. It's not good enough to reanimate or Oath of Druids into play, but it's a great card to slam on the table and say “attack someone else!” It's moderately popular on Ebay, which makes me think that casual players are on to it. I've wondered about whether I should buy up cheap cards like this one and Cromat to stock up my binder so that casual players have cards to drool over. The cost is low and if they value them at twice what you paid for them, the cards are doing real binder work. Look out for future experiments!


Although it hasn't panned out as the superstar counterspell it was billed as for Modern, Snare is a fine card and one of the great values to find in Dissension bulk. It was a hot card as soon as it was printed and I don't think it dipped below $3 in its entire lifetime. They are still vigorously bought and sold online, so there's a fair market for them. That said, they don't show up in many binders and people are psychologically really grumpy about trading several rares for one uncommon. Aim to score them from bulk boxes!


This uncommon used to be worth double in its heyday as a Vintage card. Workshop decks can now ignore it, but an early Predator can still end the game for a lot of decks. It's a popular casual card and it frequently finds its way into my Commander decks, where it acts like table police. Worth picking up out of bins; people willingly trade for these.

That wraps up Ravnica Block! Next week, we'll take a look at Coldsnap, a set that should have been a lot better than it was. It has a few interesting sleeper cards that you'll benefit from knowing about, so meet me back here next Monday and we'll digest the set!

Until then,

Doug Linn

One thought on “Insider: Dissecting Dissension

  1. I play Trygon as a one-of GSZ target in my legacy Bant deck. The look on opponents' faces when they realized I have a maindeck answer for their batterskull is always priceless!

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