Jason’s Archives: More Riddles

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Greetings, Speculators!

Riddle Me This: When is a Joke Not a Joke?

When Avacyn Restored was in the spoiling phase, a card caught the attention of the QS staff and Doug Linn sent the insiders an e-mail with a hot tip.

The spoiling of Misthollow Griffin was certain to put upward pressure on the cost of Food Chain and now was the time to get it because it was 24-48 hours away from quintupling in price. Since the griffin could be played from exile, it interacted nicely with a host of Legacy cards. It was a great card to pitch to Force of Will since it could just be played later. Your opponent's Swords to Plowshares don't phase the griffin (or rather they DO phase the griffin, temporarily relegating him to another zone until he returns, akin to the phasing mechanic). But the most important interaction the Braumeisters of the world concocted when they saw griffin was that with Food Chain.

Food Chain allows players to exile a creature they control and get X + 1 mana of any color where X is the creature's cost. A popular Legacy deck of yesteryear featured the use of Food Chain in conjunction with increasingly-expensive Goblins. How useful is [card Goblin Lackey]Lackey[/card] once it's already connected to the dome? Why not make it a Goblin Piledriver?

But with Griffin, exiling it for five blue mana only to turn around and use four of it to replay griffin nets you an arbitrarily large but finite amount of mana. This mana can only be used to play creature spells, but that seems OK given all the creatures printed over the years with useful abilities. An infinite amount of mana to cast creatures can still get you all the Mulldrifters you can chain together, or a hardcast [card Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]Emrakul[/card]. When is a Fireball not a Fireball? When it's Maga, Traitor to Mortals, an excellent mana sink for all of that creature-only mana.

Most insiders saw Doug's e-mail and lol'd. Food Chain spiked as predicted, and many of us, myself included, made bank on buying Food Chain for two dollars and shipping them on eBay for over $40 a playset. Not a bad payday. I picked up foil Food Chains for $6 as well and managed to sell out of them. Generally the "let's play this goofy combo" crowd and the "let's foil this Legacy deck completely" crowd don't have a ton of overlap, but foil Food Chains were a commodity for a short time.

Once more Avacyn Restored cards were spoiled, people found other cards to brew with, leaving a very small contingent of devotees to pore over the list of useful creatures and try to perfect a deck I'm calling Griffin Food.

One such devotee was a man without whom Quiet could not function: content manager Tyler Tyssedal. If you have a mind like a steel trap, you may remember that months ago I mentioned Griffin Food in the Legacy deck coverage portion of that bastion of cutting edge Legacy tech that is this column. A lot of you lol'd. It was there that I mentioned that Tyler was hard at work on perfecting the deck for posterity and that he liked to play it at Legacy events in the Minneapolis area.

No one's loling now.

I'll wait for you to click the link. Your eyes aren't deceiving you, faithful readers. That is really a link to a deck tech interview where QS' own Tyler Tyssedal is having a serious conversation with another human being and fielding serious questions about his serious deck that he's playing in a serious, actual, for-real event. For serious. Always maintaining that the deck is more fun than it is competitive, Tyler nonetheless managed to get the SCG coverage team to take notice.

Tyler finished in 162nd place at the SCG event in Minneapolis, which isn't great. You know what IS great? Griffin Food, a deck that is a lot of things and isn't a lot of things. It's not competitive but it is fun. It's not going to win an event soon but it is going to get a lot of attention. It's not RUG Delver or Sneak and Show but at least it isn't RUG Delver or Sneak and Show because Legacy doesn't need more of that. It needs more Griffin Food.

Due to the SCG Opens, Legacy is being played more now than ever before. Chances are you don't go alone to events in other cities. You probably go in a car with other people. Even if you aren't inclined to put the time into building and tuning Legacy decks, you're already at the event on Sunday if any of your buddies are. You can putz around the event center, you can putz around the city (Pro Tip-- if you're in Minneapolis, for example, this is not the play) or you can booster draft. Or, you can sleeve up Griffin Food and have a few laughs.

Trust me, it's impossible to maintain a serious composure and a competitive attitude when you have to say things like "I'll cast Fierce Empath to search my library for Aethersnipe." Every once in a while you need to play Magic for fun, and this is a deck that will get you there. Personally, I prefer Cloudstone Curio Kobolds (I'll cast grapeshot for 12 trillion) but to each their own. Give this deck a shot if you want to spend the entire day laughing and getting high fives.

Good job, Tyler.

Riddle Me This: When Is a Profit Not a Profit?

I don't have Cable. Sometimes it's an issue, like when I have to watch a grainy download or wait for months to watch Game of Thrones or Walking Dead. But considering to the amount of money I'm not paying to not have Cable it seems like a no brainer. Netflix is approximately 65 cents a month for streaming and there are more hours of content there than there are hours in the average lifetime. Even though it's El Cheapo.

When I did have Cable, I would watch anything that was on when I was sorting collections. One such show was "Storage Wars", a show about people buying storage units in auctions and trying to sell the stuff they found inside for a profit.

From what I have seen, it's a pretty hit or miss process, and when a member of the show finds information online they don't understand, it can lead to some pretty hilarious situations. For example, an NES and 5 games sold on eBay for $13,000 a few years ago. This had nothing to do with the NES itself (unbeknownst to the seller who posted the auction), but rather to the inclusion of an incredibly rare game called Stadium Events in its original box. This lead to a hilarious situation where a guy thought the broken NES he found in a unit was worth 13 grand because of its serial number.

I always wondered if these people were getting a decent profit for the stuff they found, because they often consulted experts on unfamiliar items, who would try to get them for as cheap as possible. It wasn't until Storage Wars ran across some materials I knew all about that I realized how much better they could fare if they were more knowledgeable.

Best I can do is 50 bucks.

Any reader of this site, given a Collector's Edition [card Mox Pearl]Mox[/card] and [card Timetwister]Twister[/card] and an Unlimited [card Black Lotus]Lotus[/card] could probably do a bit better than selling the entire binder for $700. It makes me wonder how badly they get ripped off selling other stuff, or whether they care. $700 is well below buylist for this stuff, but for a quick flip they did OK. It just goes to show how hard it is to keep abreast of the myriad different collectibles and antiques out there. It seems unfair that the people who get to live every Magic player's dream of stumbling across power for cheap don't even maximize their profit.

Still, it goes to show that what I said in my series about shop crawling is true. There is treasure out there waiting to be uncovered but you're not going to find it sitting at home. Maybe pull over next time you drive past that garage sale, or check out that shop a few towns over that has a faded Magic poster from Tempest block but doesn't run events. There is good stuff out there, so go find it.

Riddle Me This: When Is Classic Not an Online Format?

I have a lot of coverage so I will go through it quickly.

In Knoxville this weekend Star City had a Standard Classic.

Knoxville Deck Lists

Once again, GW Aggro takes top honors. It's tough to combat the synergy between efficient green beaters, good CIP abilities and Restoration Angel. Sublime Archangel makes an appearance here, and this card is perhaps the best way to make use of mana dorks late in the game since Fauna Shaman. Thragtusk was played here to great effect, cementing its place as format staple. Congrats to David Rackza on his win.

Also beating with the tuskmaster general was Joseph Page who decided copying tusk with Phantasmal Image was a worthwhile pursuit. Resembling Bant control decks from the past, black is added here for more removal and to cast the September FNM promo Lingering Souls. Souls gives the deck a ton of reach without removing anything essential from the Bant-only lists, and it is perhaps the best configuration of the deck I've seen. Good job Joseph.

In the "making me laugh" category we have a W/B Trading Post deck. It even runs a Staff of Nin! I couldn't be happier that this deck beat a bunch of [card Delver of Secrets]Delver[/card] and [card Bonfire of the Damned]Bonfire[/card] decks to make Top 16.

Lots of Delver decks in the Top 16, more than we've seen at previous events. Perhaps indicative more of the metagame in Knoxville than the metagame at large. Delver ruled the top 16 with seven copies, including one [card Talrand, Sky Summoner]Talrand[/card] variant.

Let's test my hypothesis about the metagame in Knoxville by examining the Standard decks from the SCG Open in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Standard Deck Lists

And we have an embarrassment of Delver decks. Not quite what I was hoping to see, Delver comprised a full 50% of the Top 16. While it didn't win either event, it was over-represented in the top echelons of both.

Perhaps Stephen Hink's inclusion of Flames of the Firebrand in his winning B/R Zombies list was included to help against Delver decks. Making short work of Lingering Souls, murdering a pile of Phantasmal Images or merely bolting the face, this card has a lot of applications and may warrant a deeper look.

Straight to the point and not messing around with Killing Wave or equipment, Hink's deck packed four copies of every beater, including Falkenrath Aristocrat. If you went deep on this guy when I recommended, you're probably feeling pretty good right now as the card has spiked to $8 and shows no signs of stopping.

Something about a deck with red not running any Bonfire of the Damned makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Speaking of Bonfire, isn't it curious that the Top 16 saw exactly three copies in Minneapolis and seven in Knoxville? Maybe this card doesn't need to be $50 like some have predicted. In light of a red deck winning an event without it, perhaps we don't need to join it since we can beat it after all.

I Guess I Can Talk about a Few Decks Other Than Griffin Food

(But I don't have to be happy about it.)

Legacy Deck Lists from Minneapolis

Blah blah blah here we have a standard Legacy top GREAT GOOGILY MOOGILY, what is THAT?

Click here for a warm, fuzzy feeling

Scapeshift? Huntmaster of the Fells? Thragtusk? What manner of ridiculousness is this? A Jund-colored twist on a traditional Nic Fit build, of course, with Scapeshift added for one-shot KOs. After ramping with a Veteran Explorer or two, the deck Scapeshifts into the tried-and-true double [card Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle]Valakut[/card] plus a pile of duals. Also, Primeval Titan, because why not? Sun Titan is good in traditional Nic Fit, and Prime Time is similarly silly.

Who said you couldn't play Valakut in Legacy? Thanks to Eric Warns for giving us all something to think about.

The hits keep coming!

During Kamigawa/Ravnica Standard I played Sea Stompy. Quick beats from Kird Ape, control in the form of Plaxmanta, recursion from Ninja of the Deep Hours, countermagic, burn spells: this deck had it all. Since then, we have gotten plenty of blue and green creatures even more worthy than Plaxmanta of a trip back to hand via ninjitsu trickery. Snapcaster Mage, Spellstutter Sprite, Venser, Shaper Savant, etc.

Brandon Semerau ported the Extended "Faeries" deck from four years ago to Legacy and turned it into Mono-Blue Tempo. Jace's Phantasm is getting his first serious consideration as a flying mongoose, his lack of shroud mitigated by the sheer amount of control in the deck. Playing a ton of instants flips [card Delver of Secrets]Delver[/card], powers Snapcaster Mage and gives Jace's Phantasm quite a boost.

This deck, perhaps the first to play Vapor Snag in Legacy, controls the tempo of the game to great effect. An empty board on the other side allows you to swing with creatures like Snapcaster Mage which can be deadly if you're holding Ninja of the Deep Hours. The evasion on Spellstutter Sprite makes it a great ninja target as well, and casting Sprite early and often is never a bad idea. If it were me, I'd jam a Mistblade Shinobi or two, but that's me.

Still no Academy Rector popping up in a Top 8 Omniscience or Hive Mind list, but expect that to change soon.

Kyle Olson got there with a relatively standard Junk list. This is a good time to be playing Knight of the Reliquary decks as you don't have to jam three copies of Karakas in the sideboard like some decks. Between Knight main and potentially some copies of Crop Rotation in the board you should be able to keep [card Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]Emrakul[/card] or Griselbrand out of your grill.

Great job, Kyle!

One More Thing Before I Go

I could easily devote another 2,500 words to the Players Championship, won by Yuuya Watanabe. The full coverage is here on the mothership and it's all worth reading, from cube draft to Modern. There is something in there for everyone, and I hope there is a Players Championship every year from now on.

That's All for Today

Make sure you check out the RTR Spoiler page full of great spoilers and analysis from Sigmund and yours truly. We'll be bringing you new cards as soon as we find them and, best of all, this page is in our free section so make sure to share it with your friends.

Until next time, keep brewing, and don't play anything I wouldn't play.

Jason Alt
@JasonEAlt on Twitter

One thought on “Jason’s Archives: More Riddles

  1. Hearing about the Magic find on Storage Wars I made sure to have a look at the show myself. It's unclear from the picture, but besides the bend that Lotus also showed a lot of whitening. The rest of the binder and box was recent (un)commons (Scars block was the earliest I saw). In addition Shuffle and Cut posted on their FB page that they were told to expect haggling over the price so they started lower than they normally would have and the haggling turned out not to be as extensive as expexted. They started with 600, Darrell wanted 700, they flip for it. Apparently they also explained on camara about the condition of the Lotus and sets of the Twister and Pearl but that didn't make it into the show.

    We might be able to do a bit better than 700, but for some random person it's a fair deal I think.

    Cool to see the Griffin Food deck getting some attention.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.