Insider: Digging Up The Plants (2012 edition)

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The Return To Ravnica is growing closer by the day! That means a lot of exciting things for us, not the least of which is the change brought on by rotation, and what new cards that may make playable.

Last year, I suggested targeting Phantasmal Image and Surgical Extraction in trades for this series. These ended up being significant opportunities and this season is no different.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about offhand, or didn’t understand the title, here’s the idea. With “cross-seeding” of sets much more prevalent both in the current sets and the Core Set, we’re able to make some educated guesses about good targets based on what we know is coming in the next block.

Here’s what we know so far about Ravnica:

-       Guilds are back, as is multicolored.

-       No keywords from the first block are returning.

-       The Simic Guild (UG) is supposed to be full of Merfolk.

-       From the previous point, we can extrapolate that there will be some amount of tribal component present in the set, even if it’s secondary, as in Innistrad. This also makes sense with Cavern of Souls.

That’s pretty much it, as far as cards go. It’s a little less to go on than last year with the “Graveyard set” of Innistrad coming out, but it still gives us some room to work. Now let’s look at the cards printed in the last year that will interact favorably with Ravnica, and we can find the ones that present a good buy-in opportunity.

For the purposes of this article, “buy” means trade for aggressively, as I’ll be doing, and “watch” will apply to cards we should have on our minds if we see the pieces come together during spoiler season.

Human Cards

We don’t know for sure that there are Humans in Ravnica nowadays, of course, but there were the first time around. That, combined with the rotation of Vapor Snag, makes Champion of the Parish very appealing. Likewise, I’m stocking up on Silverblade Paladin. People want to play these cards, and even something like Champion of Lambholt and Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha have some nice upside if the tribe gets any more support. Elite Inquisitor is also positioned nicely, being pretty much free right now, as does Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. There’s a ton to like here.

Verdict: Buy

Bloodline Keeper // Lord of Lineage/Falkenrath Aristocrat

This guy has fallen quite a ways from his height earlier this year, and he represents a good buy for a few reasons. For starters, there’s been quite the Vampire push in M13. On top of that, Vampires were around in the first Ravnica, though in small numbers, so there’s a precedent for bringing back more.

The Vampire deck is very close to being playable. It has great three and four-drops, and one good one-drop (Noble) and one two-drop (Blood Artist).  Stromkirk Captain is actually probably the most innately powerful of the Captain cycle, so if this deck gets a few more pieces, it’s going to be quite the player, especially with Cavern to both fix the mana and provide uncounterability.

Aristocrat sits in the same spot as Keeper and Nocturnus. I’m not sure how many four-drops the deck could support, and I’m not sure which one gets the boot. Still, Aristocrat tops out the Zombie curve as well, so it’s a good pickup.

Verdict: Buy

Stromkirk Noble

Apply everything above to this guy as well, only there’s even more upside to Noble since he can go into a typical aggressive Red deck. Timely Reinforcements is gone after rotation, as is Celestial Purge, so this little Vamp can get out of hand very quickly. Remember, this was an $8 card at one point, so seeing it go back upwards of $5 is very plausible.

Verdict: Buy

Dual Lands

As we’ve been talking about forever, the Innistrad duals are worth getting into now. I expect shocklands to be reprinted, and here’s what I see happening.

Innistrad lands, which (while not as cheap as Scars lands were) are very affordable, and all but Isolated Chapel can be traded for under $5. You may see even more of this when Shocks are spoiled, since people will assume they’re just superior to the checklands. But the reality is you’ll want some number of Shocks, but still a ton of Checklands because the damage from Shocks truly does add up quickly. I see all the Innistrad checklands going to at least $6-8, with spikes past $10 for the flavor of the week.

Verdict: Buy

Lingering Souls

While this doesn’t connect to Ravnica in any meaningful way, it does seem to indicate we’ll have another set of B/W Lands come in if/when we get Godless Shrine. Lingering Souls is already insane and primed for a price jump after rotation, and this just seems to help it along even more.

I also like nabbing Vault of the Archangels cheap for this reason. Activating it becomes a lot easier with eight duals instead of four.

Verdict: Buy

Riders of Gavony

I know, thanks to Naya and Delver decks, that Tribal isn’t a huge component of the format right now outside of a few Zombie decks. But with the expected increase of Vampire players thanks to M13, and the possibility of even more support in Ravnica, this could become a nice little sideboard answer, even though it’s super outclassed by Restoration Angel at the four-drop spot.

Verdict: Watch

Craterhoof Behemoth

This guy has quietly become the go-to target for reanimating in Frites, thanks to his ability to win on the spot and therefore avoid Zealous Conscripts. With Mana Leak rotating, Unburial Rites gets a big boost, and with Sun Titan/Image also gone, this could really become a solid pickup.

Verdict: Watch

Master of the Pearl Trident/Augur of Bolas

People initially laughed at Master when it was spoiled, since it was a Lord of Atlantis remake that seemingly had no place in Standard, since there were very few other Merfolk. However, now that we’ve learned that the Simic Guild will be made of Merfolk, I really like picking up both the Master and foils of the Augur (which has play across multiple decks).

Master is fiveish right now, but in about a month that will probably be more like $3, and it’s going to be a really nice cheap speculation target. In addition to Standard, the fact that more Merfolk are coming could potentially give the deck another upgrade in Legacy and/or Modern (another one-drop, anyone?)

Verdict: Buy

That about wraps it up. There’s some more obvious plants, such as Arbor Elf and Farseek, but those aren’t really actionable due to being Commons. Still, the list above is a pretty good starting point for when spoilers start rolling in. Stocking up on some of these now, especially as easy trade targets, will set us up nicely once those spoilers start hitting your local FNM.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

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