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Jason’s Archives: Arrested Development, More Tales from the Helvault, Future Sight & Lessons from Providence

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Welcome back, Speculators!

With the Avacyn Restored Release event in our rearview mirrors, some surprising things are happening to the prices of singles:

  • Entreat the Angels, a 5 dollar preorder card, hit 20 dollars with no clear sign of stopping, despite a scant 5 copies of it appearing in the entire top 32 in Providence (more on that later).
  • Zealous conscripts, one of my called shots, continues to spike upward as players use it to borrow Wurmcoil Engines long enough to deal that KO blow or abuse its potential with Cloudshift.

A few cards I have up my sleeve are on the precipice of seeing real inclusion in Tier 1 decks and it's, in general, an exciting time to be a value trader and speculator.

A Public Service Announcement

No one asked me to do this, but I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about a time when I was wrong.

A year ago I was a reader of this site on my lunch breaks at my job, never imagining my life would change as much as it did and lead to me actually being a contributor. As a friend of Ryan Bushard (name dropper!) I was aware of this site and occasionally read the free site articles and lurked on the forums.

I saw how much Insider cost and dismissed it as too expensive. Insider access not only gets you excellent financial articles, but also gives you invaluable e-mail tips on called shots, allowing you to pick up cards that are sometimes literally hours away from spiking, which can make you a ton of money.

Did you manage to sell Food Chain at 10 bucks this week? If you did, do you still have four playsets because you bought them at 2 dollars the day before they hit 10? If you were an Insider, you probably did.

Again, no one from QS asked me to write this, nor were they aware before this morning I intended to, but if this makes it to print it's because I want the readers of my article to have every advantage.

I don't care whether you buy an Insider membership or not: my intention here was merely to counter my previous misconception. If  you think Insider is bad value, like I used to, I am here to tell you I would never go back to not having it.

When you sign up, I recommend taking the time to read some archived Insider articles. You will absolutely get your money's worth. In the case of Food Chain, that one tip made me more money than a year's subscription costs. [Editor's note: We currently offer subscriptions based on 1month-3month increments.  You can learn more about Insider here.]

Arrested Development

I think Fox made a huge mistake when they cancelled this show. I realize they had a nice "The only stuff we show on Sunday night is Seth McFarlane cartoons for 2 hours" motif going on, but AD is easily the most clever comedy ever conceived, and if you don't have Netflix (and what possible reason could you have for that?), get it soon so you can watch all 3 Seasons in time for the Netflix-exclusive fourth season. If you've seen the show, I imagine you're a fan and I hope you like what I have for you this week.

My name is juuuuuudge

A mystery judge recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk to reddit about any rules questions you may have. Buckle up, because it gets a little convoluted. But in the end I think you'll have an appreciation for the rules process a bit more. This is a can't-miss IAMA and I think you'll thoroughly enjoy.

Still, where'd the lighter fluid come from?

Brought to you be redditor wwcory:

    Dead Dove tokens not included. I don't know what you expected.
Dead Dove tokens not included. I don't know what you expected.

We've made a huge mistake (?)

Wizards wants to know if they have made a huge mistake with Avacyn Restored.

A lot of people have been jumping to conclusions (I'm not mixing Office Space jokes into an AD-themed section here, so let's just ignore that one) about future prereleases. Wizards seems to want to figure out how they will handle the next prerelease, as they're still collecting data on how the Helvault was received.

Want to be part of the solution? Take a survey and let them know what you thought of the cards, Helvault, art and Avacyn Restored in general. It's quick and the data will have an impact.

Tales from the Helvault

Not everyone's Helvault experience was the same. Some won the Helvault lottery and walked away with foil tokens and a foil Demoinc Tutor or Balance. Some had the relatively mundane experience of getting the spindown and regular tokens. Some, however, took matters into their own hands and made sure their Helvault experience was one to remember forever. Here are a few of the more exciting ones I found.

An easier way to break the seals

    Maintain a safe 10 foot distance from anyone wielding a Moonsilver Spear
Maintain a safe 10 foot distance from anyone wielding a Moonsilver Spear

Redditor WeetThins brings us a pic of his LGS and their decision to turn the Helvault into a game. This is what makes having to high-five a dude who's beating you with an Avacyn you can't deal with sting a little less.

Taking "soulbond" literally

Redditor Shuko shares with us a tale about the best possible outcome from the helvault for two of the players at his LGS.

Being part of the solution

Finally, if you hated your Helvault, do something proactive about it and follow WotC's advice.

Future Sight

A few announcements have been made that should have you champing at the bit (it's actually champing, not chomping. I don't know what the verb "to champ" means, but I'm assuming it has to do with bits) for future releases.

The gauntlet of might has been thrown

The next Dual Deck has been announced, and it coincides nicely with the announcement that the next block will be a return to Ravnica.  It's time to pick a side: Niv Mizzet or Savra, Nivix or Svogthos, Putrefy or Electrolyze (that last one seems easy). Wizards has finally gotten the Dual Deck formula right and they aim to continue with their success from Koth vs. Venser.

It sure SOUNDS LIKE the name of a land

MTGSalvation.com is all abuzz with speculation after the "buy a box" promo for M13 has been spoiled- at least its name has. Join the conversation on their forums.

Personally, I think there is little to no chance this indicates that they are continuing the Mirodin "fast land" cycle in a core set. Once Scars block rotates we'd be left with enemy color M12 lands a la clifftop retreat et al. and enemy color fast lands in the core set would give us zero allied-colored dual lands.

That seems pretty ridiculous. I would bet my last dollar that Rootbound Crag and friends see a reprint.

There is precedent, however, for enemy colored lands being in a core set as 9th and 10th editions have the pain lands. It's even conceivable that this could be the first multi-colored core set. We already know Nicol Bolas is a near lock to be printed in this set. All in all there are points to be made on either side, and a name like "Cathedral of War" gives us a lot to talk about.

More germ warfare

Finally, to continue with our germ motif I started last week, Redditor Noms_Tiem brings us Bacteriophage the Untouchable.

    Who needs a Batterskull when you've got T4 penetration?
Who needs a Batterskull when you've got T4 penetration?

Is it decklists time now?

SCG Providence just happened and it was the first real chance to see the new cards performing on a National level. I gotcha lists right here.

Standard

Is anyone else as underwhelmed as I am? There's nothing new here.

The event's winner, Dustin Taylor admitted in an interview after the event that he didn't have any time to test the deck with new cards. Wizards gifted us all Pillar of Flame, the best way to deal with every pesky undying dude from Geralf's Messenger to Strangleroot Geist and the event was won with a 75 that contained zero copies. He had the good sense to put the flashy beater Wolfir Avenger into his list, however. I'm bullish on this card to the max and his inclusion probably contributed to Dustin coming out on top.

Justin Schibanoff's R/W Humans list was easily my favorite list of the event and it contained the most new cards of any list in the top 32. Showing off the awesome power of Cavern of Souls, he put nearly every efficient beater in red and white to good use. I think this list highlights the versatility of Cavern of Souls and reinforces the notion that $25 may not be the ceiling, and I think the "uncounterable" clause may be secondary to the degree of mana fixing availed by this versatile land.

Since the non-human Stromkirk Noble didn't make the cut (and isn't great in a list that wants turn 1 Cavern), the ideal turn 1 is Champion of the Parish. The great thing about turn 1 Cavern > Champion is that any of the 13 plains in the deck coming down on the following turn makes a turn two Gather the Townsfolk happen.

After that, any land in the deck, including the 1-of Slayer's Stronghold, means you can plays t3 Silverblade Paladin and swing for 10. The one thing Cavern isn't great for is tapping for red mana to cast Pillar of Flame. It does, however, give you the colorless you need for Oblivion Ring, Revoke Existence, Sword of War and Peace.... I can go on.

This is the first of many deck that abuse Cavern of Souls and I am a big fan.

However, I have to caution you about reading too much into the results of the first non-Pro Tour post-new set event. Few players felt comfortable enough with a brand new deck and wisely chose instead to port prior weeks' decks over.

This top 32 isn't exactly a statement about the small impact of Avacyn Restored on the meta. We'd be best to wait until the pros get back from Barcelona before we can get comfortable with how the meta is likely going to look here on out.

Legacy

If you invested heavily in Cavern of Souls, you've been arguing with people for two weeks. People have been saying it's going to drop to 10 or 15 dollars, they'll point to how you can get a Snapcaster Mage for 17 Buy it Now on eBay, they'll tell you to sell them now while you can still get $25 for them.

Are they right?

If you're like me, you have been saying Cavern has nowhere to go but up because it may have a greater impact on Legacy than Snapcaster Mage.

Is that ballsy? Yes, maybe.

But is it incorrect? Cavern of Souls can make decks that aren't decks anymore decks again. Could we see the return of Counterslivers? It's surely possible. Can we use it to either windmill turn one Cursecatcher or turn one Aether Vial in the same deck? Yes, yes we can.

But can it make Goblins a deck again?

Apparently it has. The very first Goblin deck I have seen to crack the top 8 of anything since Mental Misstep was printed is running Cavern of Souls! Is this a harbinger of more Cavern inclusion in the future? Only time will tell.

There isn't much of note here other than that Maverick seems to have almost universally eschewed Punishing Fire in favor of Fauna Shaman.Esper Stoneblade may have been dealt a lethal blow by the inclusion of Sulfur Elemental in RUG's boards. And with only one Goblin deck in the top 32, Punishing Fire doesn't have that many tempting targets.

Fauna Shaman is a powerful tool and Maverick almost always benefits from pitching a late Mother of Runes or Noble Hierarch under the bus to tutor up more Knights and Oozes. Serving as another set of Green Sun's Zeniths, Shaman is the kind of utility card Maverick needs in order to stay relevant in a changing meta.

Also notable is RUG Guided Passage. I have been big on this card for a while and it's finally seeing play. The card advantage from this card is huge, it gives you a shuffle, which you can't sneeze at when playing Jaces and Brainstorms, and, most importantly, gives your opponent a chance to blow it.

If they misread the game state and give you the card you need to win, or even the Brainstorm to draw it, you can fish games right out of the toilet. A departure from the same old RUG decks like we're used to seeing, Benjamin Green has breathed a breath of fresh air into a format that was looking to desperately needed innovation.

Speaking of departures from the norm, David Rice wins with Aggro Loam? Only 1 Esperblade in the top 8? This is more like it!

Only time will tell the impact Avacyn Restored will have on the meta game. The pros slinging block cards in Barcelona this weekend may give us a few ideas about which Avacyn Restored cards we should be looking to pick up and potentially use in Standard.

Divine Deflection comes to mind.

That's All, Folks!

Join me next week where I'll be talking more about the impact of Avacyn Restored on the meta, sharing another exciting IAMA with you and maybe we'll have some M13 speculation to discuss.

Keep brewing this set, everyone. Don't be discouraged by the decklists out of Providence. There is a lot of good stuff in this set, and tribal just got better than ever. Buy Divine Deflections, sell Food Chains, use an empty Helvault to propose to some girl you don't even know. Get arrested!

...Development on DVD. Don't get too carried away. I don't want anyone calling me from holding with their one phone call saying they took my advice and cast Pillar of Flames on a police car. I don't care how bad the Canucks are this year.

Stay safe out there, kids, and follow me on twitter. I'd do it for you.

Jason Alt

Jason Alt is a value trader and writer. He is Quiet Speculation's self-appointed web content archivist and co-captain of the interdepartmental dodgeball team. He enjoys craft microbrews and doing things ironically. You may have seen him at magic events; he wears black t-shirts and has a beard and a backpack so he's pretty easy to spot. You can hear him as co-host on the Brainstorm Brewery podcast or catch his articles on Gatheringmagic.com. He is also the Community Manager at BrainstormBrewery.com and writes the odd article there, too. Follow him on Twitter @JasonEAlt unless you don't like having your mind blown.

View More By Jason Alt

Posted in Avacyn Restored, Finance, Free, Timmy, Web Review

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6 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: Arrested Development, More Tales from the Helvault, Future Sight & Lessons from Providence

  1. In case this doesn't get fixed soon (There are always SNAFUs associated with server migration so thanks for your patience) the blue illusion token was brought to you by redditor wwcory. My favorite part about it is that GOB blue himself. wwcory says this token is great as the blue, flying illusion creature generated by Meloku. I, for one, am a fan.

  2. With the increase in GP's and the lack of pro's/pro level grinders at the scg events do you feel it is no longer approiate to look to the open results for solid deck lists? I also run R/G aggro and i felt that i did more testing than Dustin Taylor did with the avacyn cards and felt that my build was much stronger. I am unsure if its appropriate to take the scg open series as a serious place to get/tweak deck lists as it isnt as strong a field with this dense GP season.

    Also in your bio it states you are a value trader anychance we will see any trading advice or advice on how to organize a binder what cards to be on the lookout for, or even an article on the basics of initiating communicating and finalizing a trade ? i wouldnt mind to see your views on trading and trading related content.

    Having written that wall of text thanks for another good article keep up the good work i cant wait for next week.

    1. Well, I think the SCG events have real value. I think of them almost as a metagame simulation. You figure the percentage any given deck gets played will be the same at most of these events from week to week since most people who play SCG events don't change decks radically all that often so the top 32 reflects how innovation in the lists improves matchups, and a huge shift in which decks are top 32ing can reflect changes in sentiment. The occasional gem will pop out at these events, also. I think if Jeff Hoogland had taken that BUG glissa deck he made to a pro level event, he would have had a much much tougher time getting recognition. He's a strong player and from an account I read by a friend of his on reddit, he tested and tested and tested that deck. However, he would not have been as likely to top 8 a pro-level event with that list. It would have been lumped into the final analysis with the .1% of "other" decks at the very bottom and all the coverage would have discussed the 4 delver decks in the top 8 and how it was 5 delver decks last pro event. Since he did very well at an SCG event his deck got recognition. I think there is innovation going on at these things. It's usually the guy who brings last month's deck that he's comfortable with that wins, unfortunately. That said, once the pros play some standard I expect to see some real innovation. Expect to see terminus make a showing. That's my only called shot.

      It's not in my job description to do any sort of financial analysis. As a rule, on QS the financial articles are generally in the insider section. We at QS feel that any information that will make our insiders money (for example, we got a tip that food chain was going to go up while we still had time to scoop them for a few bucks) is worth them paying for. I think the financial analysis is handled very capably by the other staff writers. As it is, I am still a padawan value trader in the Bushard school of finance so I don't feel all that qualified to give any advice beyond stuff like "hey, some people think asceticism is a bulk rare."

      If you want to know more about financial advice, I think insider is well worth the subscription fee.

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