Jason’s Archives: Pre-Prerelease Party

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Greetings, Speculators!

October is nearly upon us, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of the prerelease and the beloved Lingering Souls FNM promo turns to Evolving Wilds.

Wait, seriously? Evolving Wilds? 2008 called, and they want both their card, and premise for a joke about the past calling wanting something back, back.

Brainstorm Brewery plans to have Jon "the magic 8 ball" Medina on the cast to discuss price speculation. Expect Corbin to borrow heavily from his own articles. Expect me to borrow heavily from Corbin's articles. After all, he's the only one on the AVR episode of the cast who correctly called Restoration Angel, a pick that seems obvious in retrospect.

More on Retrospect

You may recall reading an article where I talk about the 99.9% of the Magic Community that conspicuously isn't Sam Black. I noted how most of these folk tend to think their ideas aren't great unless someone else reaches the same conclusion independently. I then encouraged everyone to run with their ideas, good or not, and to bathe and brush their teeth before the prerelease. (OK, that wasn't in that article, per se, but it should be in an article somewhere and this one seemed as good a place as any).

This is a finance site, so let's talk about how bad everyone is at finance.

The Retail Effect

Most people are best represented as follows:

I couldn't find a lemming token.

Whether or not you consider yourself an intelligent person capable of independent thought, human behavior predisposes us to act predictably and follow groupthink unless conscious effort is made to resist. We all do it. Most of us misevaluated cards in Avacyn Restored. Let's not lie and pretend we didn't.

Corbin will routinely defend his picks in a followup article here on QS and be honest with himself when he is wrong. (When he's right, expect to hear about it for the rest of your life. See Restoration Angel). I don't write finance articles and I'm rarely asked to publicly assess the monetary value of spoiled cards, so I don't have to pretend later I wasn't extra wrong. I get to chuck hundreds of copies of Gloom Surgeon into my furnace and pretend I've never made a bad call in my life.

Remember all the articles about [card Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded]Tibalt[/card] and Temporal Mastery? I sure do! Temporal Mastery was a $100 foil the week of the prerelease, while Bonfire of the Damned foil was like $11 if memory serves. Remember when Tibalt and [card Tamiyo, the Moon Sage]Tamiyo[/card] were the same price, which was greater than that of a foil Disciple of Griselbrand? Remember when Terminus presold for 50 cents less than Entreat the Angels? This all happened. Those prices were obviously transient, but there is a point to be made.

Presale prices are arbitrary. They're guesses. Educated guesses, sure, but still guesses. One retail site in particular (I won't name it but I don't think I have to) tends to set the prices which other sites copy. Certain cards can sell out quickly putting upward pressure on presale prices, but it isn't until players actually play with the cards that the true values begin to pan out. Presale prices aren't really backed by anything beyond mere conjecture. Without millions of players having actually used the cards, how informed can they be?

Remember Time Reversal? The initial reaction of "ERMAGERD! [card Time Spiral]TERM SPERAL[/card]!" from most players led to its $30 presale price tag. Another $30 presale card? Skaab Ruinator, a card I pick up in bulk now. So good in Pod, right? That's what we thought.

The point is this: if a price seems too high, it probably is. If a price seems too low, it probably is. If a card seems good and no one is talking about it, they could be wrong. Trust your gut and make some damn money!

Mitigating Your Risk

The obvious way to ensure you make money is to buy low and sell high. But what if the bottom drops out?

If you bought at the bottom, nothing. A bulk rare will never fall below a certain price. If you buy at that price and it goes up, you made some money. If it doesn't, you assumed little risk. There will be some "breakage" via fees and such when selling to recoup your initial investment, but you won't lose your house because you went a few hundred deep on a bulk rare that didn't pan out.

I've spent the last year picking up every copy of Drogskol Reaver I could get my hands on, usually at $1 or less in trade. I'm either about to look like a genius, or about to sell a lot of Drogskol Reavers for $0.50 cash. Either way I am out nothing, and all it took was patience. Reaver seemed low to me, and with Azorius a likely color combination for an eventual control deck, it looked like a solid candidate for the role of finisher.

Of course you don't have to spend a year to accumulate a lot of copies of a card that seems too low.

If you are intimidated by the higher-priced cards like Angel of Serenity, which has a lot of room to go up or down, try a bulk rare. Lots of bulk rares hit $5 when they start to see play. Wolfir Silverheart, which preordered at bulk (even the foil was dirt cheap because of its inclusion in the precon deck), hit $12 after PT Barcelona. Zealous Conscripts hit $5.

I preordered 100 copies of Conscripts for bulk, the same price I paid for 100 copies of Divine Deflection. I totally whiffed on Deflection, but what am I out? If it's not a card after "Sinker" comes out, I can dump it for bulk or trade it to casuals. You know, bulk. What I paid for it.

Thanks for the Tip. Now Give Us Some Alters, Monkey Boy!

Ask and ye shall receive, provided you continue to pepper me with insults inspired by Buckaroo Banzai.

So, that Klug guy is pretty good.

Inspired by an Alex Grey lithograph called Ecstasy, this commission is easily one of the most breathtaking pieces we've seen out of Klug to date. Compare this to the original piece:

Not impressed? What if I told you artist Eric Klug has been blind from birth?! He, you know, hasn't, but that would be impressive, right?


Check the corners before you hyperventilate

Redditor fadingthought shared these alters he got back in the mail from artist Dan Frazier, destined for his cube. Fraizer really spruced up this Collector's Edition power, making it at least attractive enough to make lewd, late-night phone calls to. I'm not sure what that white dragon is up to over there, but it's probably innocent.


Speaking of alterations, 3-D alterist Lindsay "Hurly" Burley was featured in an SCG deck tech-esque interview in the Invitationals converage. I'll hook you up with a link since you asked so nice.

SCG Invitational, You Say?

Indeed. We can dig right in if you want.

SCG Invitational Top 16

Before you click the link, try to guess how many different decks made up the Top 8.

If you said "two" you're a cynical, cynical person.

You're also totally correct. Haters gonna hate, and pro players gonna play. Play Delver, that is. Eight of the Top 16 featured flying [card Wild Nacatl]nacatls[/card]. Solar Flare made three appearances, G/R two and B/R Zombies one.

The only interesting note was Michael Rooks' decision to play Smallpox, which is ballsy and hilarious. In fact, I've invented a new word to describe it -- ballsilarious, a word I may have to go back to the drawing board on because it does not sound good now that I've written it down.

You know what's a great card to play alongside symmetrical discard and sacrifice effects? Veilborn Ghoul. The Sphinx of the Chimes-Veilborn Ghoul engine Ryan Bushard came up with (and Conley Woods laughed at) may be real after all. Reassembling Skeleton got played for a bit after all. Sure Skeleton blocked, but Ghoul beats for four and doesn't require mana to come back, freeing you up to Smallpox them into oblivion.

Batterskull seems like a good finisher here as it's a renewable source of creatures, and Veilborn Ghoul himself is tough to keep down as well. Great stuff here. If you don't want to play Delver for the next two FNMs, look into this pile.

Todd Anderson won this event with Delver, beating Solar Flare in the finals. He then elected to go on Twitter and ruin any possibility of fruitful Return to Ravnica discussion by claiming that a SCG Invitational is tougher than a stop on the Pro Tour. Butthurt ensued.

Standard Open Top 16

Six of the Top 16 were Delver, including the winning deck piloted by Josh Robinson. We saw a bit more variance in the Top 8, including Morgan Chang's RUG Pod, chosen because dredge decks aren't legal in this format. Michigan's own Trevor Petrilli played the other Pod deck, adding white because Blade Splicer, that's why. Also, to my knowledge, no one has ever said "I'll hardcast [card Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card], but I'll probably lose anyway".

Not quite breaching the Top 16 was a horde of zombie decks. When Mana Leak gives way to Abrupt Decay, a troll-powered zombie pile looks likely, and Dreadbore fits nicely into the already-established black-red framework. There are a lot of ways to build it, but expect zombies to be the go-to archetype after rotation. It's cheap, it's obvious and it's testing well. It will take a month or so for the control deck to get tuned, so show up ready to beat zombies, or stay home.

Legacy Open Top 16

Goblins, piloted by Max Tietze, got there. Straightforward and brutal, this deck is finally starting to put up big numbers. It took longer than I'd expected for this deck to come back after the prompt banning of Mental Misstep but it's back with a vengeance.

Blue decks, however, are what the field seemed prepared for. Two of the Top 16 decks were Miracle brews, called U/W/R because two copies of Red Elemental Blast out of the board justifies a capital R. Terminus is really good against a field full of Goblins, Merfolk, and most importantly, Maverick.

Maverick relies on Mother of Runes to thwart spot removal like Swords to Plowshares, and simply eats it to Terminus. In the Maverick v. Miracles match, Gaddock Teeg protected by mom is generally good enough to get there, but anything less comes down to a race.

The new uncounterable wrath may get some play in this build since the blue mana requirement isn't that bad and the ability to pants merfolk decks is very appealing.

Matching his Standard performance was Travis Petrilli again, this time playing the only Omni-Tell list in the Top 8. Jamming two copies each of Overmaster and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, this deck shows how the format is evolving a bit to address a shifting metagame. Still no Academy Rectors evident in the Top 36.

What we did see, however, was not one but two copies of Stoneblade, a deck that is down but apparently not out.

Maverick continues to be tier one. Will Stevens got back to basics and didn't include any of the wackiness we've seen recently like Ulvenwald Tracker, Fauna Shaman or [card Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card]. I personally think three Stoneforge Mystic is probably too many, but it's hard to argue with success.

The two Gut Shot in the board makes me lol because Standard Open Top 8 finisher Ryan Forsberg and I had toyed with that card for Maverick sideboards in the past and it's validating to see it get results. Killing a [card Delver of Secrets]Delver[/card] before it flips, an opposing Mother of Runes, a [card Dark Confidant]Bob[/card] or even something like Goblin Welder, this card has serious reach in Legacy. Who's going to expect it from a tapped-out G/W player? Not the guy about to lose to it.

"Um, no sir, your Goblin Lackey does not connect. I say good day sir. I said good day sir!"

Legacy continues to be a good format, and a new set brings new possibilities to a stagnant and only occasionally Smallpox-filled Standard environment.

I'm Audi 5000

Take it sleazy, folks. Go to the prerelease, and don't fret over which guild to play. They all have solid cards in the common and uncommon spots and a playable promo is an exciting addition to the prerelease experience.

Check out this week's Brainstorm Brewery for our financial picks for the set and if you feel the urge to pick up a cheap bulk rare like Collective Blessing, trust your gut. It won't be as vulnerable to getting shot after next week anyway.

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