The time has finally come. Enough drooling over spoilers and time to get our hands on Return to Ravnica for the first time. Hopefully, you've got plans to visit a local Pre-release this weekend so you can get your first crack at these cards and start making trades before card prices start shifting dramatically.
This pre-release will be different than most because you'll be choosing a guild when you register and you'll receive the corresponding guild pack. Your guildpack will include a pre-release foil matching your guild, one guild booster pack and 5 (normal) Return to Ravnica boosters. You'll be allowed to include your pre-release foil in your deck, which is not typical, and your guild booster will contain cards with the watermark of your guild and mono-colored cards that match your guild. Also to note, if your guild pack contains a mythic it will be the guild leader, and no other mythic. This means an Izzet guild booster cannot contain a Jace, for example.
Considering a strict financial outlook, Golgari holds the most value in its Rare slot, which includes both Lotleth Troll and Abrupt Decay. Averaging the watermarked-rares, Golgari is far above the rest of the pack from a price standpoint, and is the clear choice if you only want to maximize your chance of opening good value in that guild booster.
I personally will be selecting Izzet. The reason being, is I'm guaranteed to have a Hypersonic Dragon in my pool and I feel my chances of winning significant prize in my pre-release are greatly increased knowing this card will be in my deck from the onset. Not to mention the rares of Mizzium Mortars, Mercurial Chemister and Cyclonic Rift will be absolutely devastating in sealed format, should I be so lucky to open them.
So, sure, select a guild, build a deck and battle. That's the easy part. Remember the pre-release will bring tons of folk to your LGS you don't typically see, and many of them are looking to trade for any of the new cards they aren't able to open in the event. Keep in mind the theme we've been noticing over the past few weeks. The average value of a rare is still astoundingly high, (Over $4.50 at the time of this writing) and will have to come down. This means you should be graciously trading away any key cards you find for staples that will survive the rotation, or sleeper picks you feel may be undervalued from the current set.
These are ranging between $12-20 right now, with Overgrown Tomb topping the list in anticipation of G/B Zombies in Standard. With sealed PTQ season around the corner, and this being one of the most anticipated sets in recent memory, I just don't see non-mythics holding that kind of price for very long. This is one of the first items on my chopping block if I open some. We should be waiting until the most coveted colored shocklands hit $10-12, not the least desirable ones.
This sorcery has already hit $20 on StarCityGames.com and using the same logic with the Shocklands, I'm liking this card a lot more around $12. It's color combination is actually quite restrictive, and just wont be played in enough decks to warrant that kind of price tag. That doesn't mean people won't pay it. Get rid of it while you can.
While the prices on these have begun to climb as people have wised up over the summer, you should find people overly willing to trade these away to get Shocklands. I have no problem giving people lower estimates on their trade fodder when they are looking for newer cards because they are simply so hard to find at Pre-release. Leverage this as best you can. For example Woodland Cemetary is currently sold out on StarCityGames at $15, while Overgrown Tomb is at $20. I would be trading 2-for-1 if a trade partner wanted my Tomb, as I am the one holding the new hot item. While this seems a bit extreme, most players aren't going to value their Innistrad duals as high as they should, holding their price memory under $10.
But I want new cards!
When push comes to shove, many of you may want to get your hands on some new cards too. Cards I'm looking to pick up are Jace, Architect of Thought (Which in my limited testing has been much better than I anticipated) and Chromatic Lantern. Trying to avoid the pitfalls mentioned above. I'll be looking to unload my Bonfire of the Damned for Ravnica cards. This $50 mythic just had the perfect format for it to flourish, and really can't get any higher. Trading it off for the Ravnica cards I feel are still undervalued, or ones I simply can't wait to have is a good strategy.
I've been testing a handful of new decks for the upcoming format, and it's clear to me we'll have a new control deck arise. What that deck will look like will depend on how the aggro decks come out of the gate. In any case, I expect to see at least 3 copies of Jace, Architect of Thought along side his best pal Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. This is a pretty devastating combo, especially when supported with Wrath effects and draw spells. That being said, Tamiyo has dipped as low as $10-12 on EBay, and that just can't be correct. She's an extremely powerful Planeswalker that just hasn't been perfect for the format, yet. Now is her time to shine, and Tamiyo is another card I'll be targeting during pre-release trades.
Don't forget your LGS is likely buying up RTR cards also. At my store, the LGS owner needs to fill pre-orders for singles, and offers a hefty buy price on items he needs until he fills his orders. If you deal in large quantities, talk to the owner, ask him if he has any special needs and offer to help. By moving cards directly to the store you save significant trade time, just be sure that you're getting enough value. While you typically don't get the value you deserve by trading your cards to a retailer, remember that these cards will drop off quickly in a couple of weeks, and if you end up stuck with them in your binder, then you've lost much more value than you would have by dumping them at the shop.
What guild will you choose? And what are your primary non-RTR targets in trades? What do you think of my Tamiyo call, is it her time to shine? What about Bonfire, is it's sun setting, or is it going to maintain for the next year?
Have a blast at the Pre-release!