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Insider: StarCity Observations

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This past week I headed out to Las Vegas for the StarCityGames open, and also to attend a judge conference. I learned a ton, and also got my hands on my first batch of Judge Promos (ding!). The tournament portions of the trip were almost a complete fail, but the trip on a whole was a ton of fun. I didn’t play on Saturday, but I showed up at the end of the day to scope out the top decks, check in on friends and hit the trade tables. If you haven't been to a StarCityGames Open, I'd recommend it.  The first time I went to one last year, I made the mistake of thinking I'd have a variety of dealer booths to choose from. Just keep in mind that Star City will be your only outlet to buy and sell cards. The good part of this is you can request that they have certain cards there for you in advance, and you can research their buy list.

When I arrived on Saturday, after showing off all my sweet Judge Foils to some friends, I wandered around the site. The final round of swiss was finishing, and I had just seen the Insider email about the Grand Architect deck Nick Spagnolo was running. Nick had just fallen out of top 8 contention and was decompressing and chit-chatting with one of the SCG live coverage guys, and I barged my way into the conversation. After hearing about this deck, I wanted to play it immediately. Unfortunately, [card Grand Architect]Architects[/card] are on the radar now, and the deck doesn’t have any other sleeper rares in it as Wurmcoil Engine and Snapcaster Mage are already known quantities. Architect is still under $6/set on Ebay, and I’ll be grabbing some, but I’m not sure how much room they have to move. I’ve had them on my radar for some time, as the effect was asking to be abused, so now that the deck has some visibility, it may become more sharply tuned.

The real surprise to me, though, was the Heartless Summoning deck. A friend of mine I met through judging, Leo Maros, had been bragging about his deck to me since I met him at States a few weeks prior. He and his friends had built the deck, and 4 of them were playing it that day. There was a buzz in the hall about the deck as people groaned about losing to huge 7-drops. After the Swiss ended, Leo spotted me and had a half-grin half-frown. While disappointed in not making the top 8, 3 of the 4 guys finished X-2, while the other finished X-3. Certainly nothing to frown at, when bringing a new rogue deck to a large event. The deck consisted of [card Heartless Summoning]Heartless Summonings[/card], Solemn Simulacrum, Sphinx of Uthuun, Runescarred Demon and Phyrexian Metamorph. Cheating huge fatties into play that give immediate value and then copying them for pennies on the dollar! I like picking up Heartless Summoning here, but not in a huge amount. This deck is very vulnerable, so it may spike up for a week or two as people try out the deck, but if it ever gets too popular, [card Oblivion ring]O-Ring[/card], Naturalize and friends will likely spoil this party. I’m working on making sure I have a full set, will likely play the deck at FNM this week and will then promptly try to trade mine away once people are completely jealous of the deck.

Snapcaster Mage. He’s the real deal folks. I put my money where my mouth is on this guy and put a big wager on the line against Tom Martell. It looks like my call was pretty strong, as I stand to win anywhere between $100-200 on the bet by its completion early next month. Both days I heard the words, “Cast Snapcaster?” more than any other single phrase. This guy is an absolute house in Legacy, and any deck that has room for him in Standard will play him. I also expect him to be a key player in Modern when the season rolls around. Initially, I said he’d sit around 20 for an undetermined amount of time, and eventually trail off to $15. That’s looking pretty accurate, but the price just hasn’t dipped even an inch, regardless of how much product has been opened. If you’re waiting for a reason to get in on this guy, don’t bother. Finding him as a borrow for an event is almost impossible, as most people are playing theirs, and people are comfortable paying $20 for a card that feels broken every time you cast it. I still think the market will eventually come down on this guy, but at this point, it's hard to tell.

I had hoped to break open Legacy with a brew, using Snapcasters with Snap in an old-school Solidarity shell (High Tide with Reset). The plan was to prey on other Storm decks and creature-based decks like the Tempo decks that were running rampant. The matchups, draws, and missplays kept me out of contention early on; however, lots of people were asking for Reset on the trading floor, and SCG sold out of them at their dealer booth. I didn’t see any of these decks at the end of the day, but I know there’s a buzz going around. I’m not sure if it will carry any steam going forward, or if the idea will fizzle out of oblivion. I’m keeping an eye on it as I already have a playset of Resets and I’ll want to know if the Legends Uncommon suddenly is in high demand.

Next on my event list is GP San Diego. I hope to do well in the main event, but will also be hitting the trade tables pretty hard. I hope to have both of my Legacy decks complete by the end of the weekend and will be using my Judge Foils as front and center of my binder to attract some attention. I’ve also managed to pick up an ‘extra’ set of Force of Will so that will give me good trading power to get other Legacy staples I need. I still don’t have a standard deck I’m excited about, so it makes it tough for me to find cards I want to target in trades. As stated last week, I’ll be sticking to safe staples like lands and playable uncommons for the time being. It feels good to have a solid binder I can be proud of again, only a few months away from losing it all. Luckily, the kindness of strangers got me a headstart, and trading has shot me up almost back to where I once was.

I also hope to find some dealers that want to buy up some of my uncommon stock. If the prices aren’t right, I’ll hold on to them until Standard season. I’ve been advised by people who have more GP experience than I do, that often times you can find some dealers that are buying a specific card higher than other dealers are selling for. I plan to search for such deals and abuse them, but I think it's important to be cautious. If the dealer you are selling to decides he doesn’t like the way you operate, he can refuse to buy from you and you’ll be stuck. I’d confirm with him what quantity you want to sell him before you run to the other dealer to pick them up.

Next week, I’ll talk about my trading experience at the GP and hopefully be bragging about my strong finish.

Until then,

Chad Havas

@torerotutor on twitter

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