Hello! My name is Carl Szalich and I have a problem. I’m addicted to Magic: The Gathering. I’ve been playing for the past 15 years in London, Ontario, Canada with decent results, but scrub out of every PTQ and even casual FNM’s. So what makes me qualified to write for Quiet Speculation? With all of my down-time after being eliminated, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to trade!
Trading, buying, and selling are my favorite aspects of MTG. I’ve made money and I’ve lost money. I’ve come out ahead in trades and I’ve been bent over and pillaged. I’ve seen the sharks rip off little kids and I’ve ripped those sharks in turn to “teach them a lesson”. I price cards based on eBay completed listings and make most of my money on the small stuff, slowly grinding my way into the more valuable staples. My articles are primarily based on trading and speculating so I'm looking forward to contributing to QS from here on out.
I enjoy writing and would love to hear your feedback regarding my articles! Whether it’s something you agree with or feel strongly against, opinions and discussion are what will make us a stronger community and improve the quality of our articles. So if there’s something you have to say… get it out!
As I played in a few tournaments over the last week I realized that we weren’t quite done with Innistrad. With all of the financial websites out there, SGC's competitive pricing of their cards, a slew of speculators, and tons of articles on deckbuilding, it’s getting hard to dig up undiscovered "sleeper" rares and mythics before tech is spoiled and prices explode.
So how can we find these cards before other people to ensure that we are the ones with the upper edge?
For one, we’re lucky that Innistrad is the first set of the new block. This lets us look ahead to what we may see in the next two blocks that would compliment it. To find out what may be good in the future, we need to look at what this block is trying and accomplish.
What is Innistrad all about anyway? What are its central themes?
- Graveyard Mechanics (Flashback / Reanimation)
- Tribal Themes (Humans / Vampires / Werewolves… oh my!)
- Tokens (Township / Spirits)
- Milling Strategies (Skaab Ruinator / Laboratory Maniac)
- Creatures Dying (Morbid)
- Sponsored by the letter “A” and the number 13!
Identifying what the central themes of the block are will help you prepare for what you may see in the future sets. When we know what we can expect, we can start picking up cards that would complement these themes. Based on the above we can now draw some conclusions and make some educated pick-ups!
I’m not going to bring up cards like Kessig Wolf Run or Snapcaster Mage. Those cards are too expensive to make it worthwhile to speculate on and they’ve already been “discovered”. I’m going to focus on those cards that are still under the radar and attainable at bargain bin prices.
So, while this article may read like a “these are dollar rares so buy them all ASAP!” advertisement, it’s the reasons why you should be looking to invest that are important.
Here’s what I’m thinking still has opportunity and is cheap, along with the reasons why I feel they are good cards to buy into. Even if they turn out to be misses, it’s the critical thinking that goes into making these decisions that is the most important skill to take away from this exercise/article. Be advised that there is going to be a lot more Innistrad opened up in the next few months, so all rares will decrease in value due to the increased supply. Make sure you trade with that in mind!
Champion of the Parish - (Theme: Tribal)
He hit a spike then went back down to $3-4. People in my area trade him at $6+, and I think he still has potential to go back up to there in real greenbacks as well. Humans are just starting to get some love, so there will be plenty more in the next set, and this guy has shown up in quite a few top decklists as part of the W/U aggro-Geist builds already (including 2nd/ 4th/ 6th places @ GP Hiroshima!). If you can get this guy on the cheap, it’s worth picking up a playset, even if just to re-trade them.
Elite Inquisitor - (Theme: Tribal)
He can be picked up for around $1, so it’s a relatively low cost investment. He’s the best white knight we’ve seen in a long time, and his pro-vampire/werewolf/zombie clause is only going to get better as more creatures of those tribes get released in the next two sets. He’s also a human, so depending on what’s released for his tribe he could see play (in sideboards, at least)!
Geist Honored Monk - (Theme: Tokens)
At $1 or less this guy is a bargain. It’s already being played in competitive token builds (2x were in the 1st place deck for GP Hiroshima!) and provides card advantage. It’s no “Siege Gang Commander”, but it’s moderately comparable, and being in the same “class” as SGC is a feat in itself.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch - (Theme: Tribal / Tokens)
Presently worth $4-5 I don’t think he has much more room to grow, however, he’s showing up in T8 lists for token decks and I can see him helping out a human deck as well. Even though he’s already $5ish, his mythic factor and the fact that he’s seeing play already makes him a buy. Note that since he was printed in FTV: Legends that there are more of him out there than the other mythics which you can use to your trading advantage!
(EDIT: The entire ChannelFireball team played him as a 1-of in their Tempered Steel decks and they took FOUR of the top 8 places with it at Worlds this past week! If he's making the cut into Tempered Steel, the question isn't when we'll see him next... it's where!)
Mindshrieker - (Theme: Graveyard?)
I’m not really sure how to classify this guy, but with Ponder and Delver of Secrets in the format he has potential. Ponder sets up both a Delver flip as well as putting cards in the “right order” to do some huge damage with the Mindshrieker. He’s around $1 which is a good place to be for speculating.
Mirror-Mad Phantasm - (Theme: Graveyard)
So far I haven’t had any good brews with this guy, but he has a unique ability and is a mythic rare at around $1.50. If mill decks actually become competitive in the next sets, he may have a shot at the big time. There is already a “combo” with him and Necrotic Ooze that decks yourself for 1U, so there is hope!
Rooftop Storm / Undead Alchemist / Unbreathing Horde - (Theme: Tribal)
Wizards is really pushing the Zombie tribe in this set. We already got a 1cc 2/2 Zombie, and the next set is bound to contain more of this tribe. Unbreathing horde is comparable to Phantom Centaur in a lot of ways, and the Undead Alchemist will be staple in “Zombie Mill” if that ever exists. Rooftop Storm seems REALLY expensive for its CC, but could get broken depending on what new Zombies get released. All of these are under $1 right now. If you’re feeling good about the Zombos… there won’t be a better time to pick them up!
Skaab Ruinator - (Theme: Graveyard)
How the mighty have fallen. I’m glad I was on the team of: “Don’t buy into this guy, he’s not worth the hype” as he went from $20+ to where he now sits at < $5. NOW is the time to purchase the Ruinator. He’s super cheap and all of his potential is still there… it just hasn’t had the cards released to really make him “big time” yet. A “Buried Alive” style card in the next set could send him shooting back up to his old prices. Bloodgift Demon - (Theme: N/A… he’s just good!) This guy is midrange, and if a Jund Style deck becomes popular, he’ll probably be in it. At $1-2 there is really no reason why not to get a few, I know mine just fly out of my binders at the trade table right now, so even if he doesn’t really go up, he’s still in demand. Reaper from the Abyss - (Theme: Creatures Dying) Right now people seem to be choosing the Titans over this guy because of the CA automatically generated by casting a Titan. I feel this guy is poised to take over the titans spot in the future. He trumps every titan in that he is able to kill them with his P/T, fly over them, or just come down after morbid has been triggered and outright destroy them (which generates CA with the Reaper). It’s just a matter of time before someone starts swinging into a “bad trade”, then dropping this guy in their second main phase and shattering dreams. He’s $2, mythic, and uses morbid. More morbid enablers in the next set will REALLY help him out, especially if there is a card that just says: “Sacrifice THIS to do THAT” (the Rusalka creature cycle comes to mind). Instigator Gang // Wildblood Pack / Kruin Outlaw // Terror of Kruin Pass - (Theme: Tribal) Have you ever PLAYED the werewolf deck? It’s a LOT of fun! Other people think so as well, so this tribe is poised to EXPLODE if they get anything new to support them. Instigator Gang is the NUTS so I would go after as many of them as I can find, but his little buddy Outlaw isn’t far behind. They are currently around $1 each, and they've been some of my most popular trading bait lately! (Personally I’m trying to FOIL my werewolf deck! :P) Daybreak Ranger // Nightfall Predator / Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha - (Theme: Tribal) Unlike the previous two werewolves, both of these lycanthropes are good on their own. Mayor sees play in U based “draw-go” as well as humans and werewolves, and Ranger is solid in Werewolves and any build that’s G/R. They are both around $2-3 right now, so while they’re not the cheapest, they’re still good buys. I would focus on the Mayor, as he crosses into the most themes (even splashing into draw-go control), only needs 1 color, and therefore has the most potential. Kessig Cagebreakers / Splinterfright - (Theme: Graveyard / Milling) These are the guys that got me writing this article since I played a deck that focused on self-mill and making huge Boneyard Wurms and Splinterfrights. This is a graveyard / mill themed block, so we can expect these cards to continue to get better. At $1 or less each right now, I’m into them pretty heavy… if pretty heavy = around $20 for a couple playsets. Parallel Lives - (Theme: Tokens) Similar to Doubling Season, if this enchantment doesn’t get any attention from cards like Geist Honored Monk and Hero of Bladehold (however unlikely), it’s bound to increase as casual players clamor to add them to their Commander decks. For $1.50 or less if it’s not going to see play in standard, it WILL see play in casual and should slowly increase in price as the supply dies down and other sets are released. Olivia Voldaren - (Theme: Tribal) Another $4 mythic with great potential. If there is a competitive vampire deck in B/R (which it looks like there WILL be), Olivia will be there with her pallid flesh and hungry fangs to nibble on your opponents life total. I think she’s constructed worthy for non-tribal decks as well, as her P/T and abilities are awesome for a 4 drop! It’s a questionable call, but she’s a really good commander as well, so has application outside of standard. (EDIT: Looks like Chapin thought the same, and this card is now $10+! Did you miss it? :S)
Grimoire of the Dead - (Theme: Graveyard)
Apparently $2 mythics are a theme in Innistrad? While I don’t think this card is all that great, it’s withstood the initial market influx of cards and has retained its $2 price tag which means something at least. The reason why it’s making the cut to a possible sleeper is because of the fact that you reanimate as an INSTANT. Don’t go hard, but picking up a few for the “just in case” factor isn’t a bad idea!
Until Next Time!
Not a terrible list for a set that was said to have been picked clean of sleepers, eh? While not everything listed here will end up being a hit, I still believe these are the cards with a lot of potential to increase from the low price point upon which they currently reside. Take it with a grain of salt, however, as many of these cards will rely on the next 2 sets and what they have the possibility of bringing along to compliment them. I guess that’s why they call it speculating.
This is my first article for Quiet Speculation so I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section.
Until next time, remember: “You’re bigger than you think!”