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Musings on Magic 2013 Predictions

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It’s that time again! No, I’m not talking about spoilers, although they are coming in quickly now and are awesome. Personally, I’m looking forward to brewing with Splinterfright again. The deck is fine to move on with after rotation, and the Golgari cards as well as the rotation of mass graveyard removal means we may get a shot to make good on my 94 copies.

I’m sure I’ll spend plenty of time on spoilers in the coming weeks. Right now I want to talk about something that is probably quickly leaving everyone’s minds – Magic 2013. The newest Core Set was a breath of fresh air, limited-wise, after the non-interactive solitaire game that was Avacyn Restored.

Specifically, it’s time to look back on my M13 calls to evaluate (harshly) my financial calls on the set, and reevaluate those same cards now under the lens of Return to Ravnica spoilers, using SCG prices as usual (the regular price, not the current sale price, which is slightly lower).

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Then: This cat is going for $40 on SCG, and that’s definitely high. I see him in a Liliana-type role. He’s very good, but doesn’t slot into every deck that shares his color. That said, there will be plenty of games where you lose the dice roll and have one land in play, facing down a 5-loyalty Planeswalker. Normally you don’t evaluate the ultimate to determine power level of Planeswalkers, but as early as this guy comes down it’s relevant enough that his ultimate is something to be scared of.

I see him setting around $25, give or take five bucks either way, unlike the next Walker on this list.”

Now: $20. I’m okay with where this is now. Though at the moment it’s not very played. Rotation and the Selesnya guild coming in the first set means it should see some more play, and we’ll see where the price goes from there.

My Liliana of the Veil comparison does seem apt, since both are sitting at $20 right now.

Liliana of the Dark Realms

Then: “Preselling at $30, which as you would expect, is too high. It’s possible Liliana finds a home in Standard, but I can’t imagine it’s going to be a nice one. She basically just doesn’t do anything. Hitting your land drops is nice, and I understand it can “fix” your mana with Shocklands, but in the end she’s just not that threatening.

Still, there’s EDH demand along with whatever playability she has, so I see a $10-15 price tag holding up down the road. It may take a little while to fall that low, but a year from now she’s going to be all but forgotten.”

Now: Still holding at $20. Mutilate, and especially Trading Post, have given Mono-Black the tools it needed to become at least a part of the metagame. That, along with still-fresh EDH appeal, have kept Liliana from dropping like a rock.

That said, Post strategies lose a lot of gas after the rotation, and if Mono-Black, and therefore Liliana in Standard, are to survive, it must find additional tools. I still think Liliana will pop up as a 2-of in some lists, but that shouldn’t stop the price from falling to the $10-15 I pinpointed.

Serra Avenger

Then: I think it’s incredibly awesome they’re reprinting this card. I also don’t love it in Standard, as crazy as that might sound. Since you can’t play it until turn 4, it’s a virtual four-drop, where it will compete with Restoration Angel and the new (gives) Exalted Angel. That’s some stiff competition, not to mention it loses in a fight with Resto. All of that means the $3 pricetag is about right.”

Now: Down to $2 on SCG. I find it really disappointing that the Avenger isn’t any better than it is, since it’s just a sweet card, but power creep has kept it down. It will never be bulk due to occasional play in older formats and the fact that it is an Angel, but it’s not going to spike either.

Sublime Archangel

Then: “This is a really difficult card to pin down for me. A lot of times attacking with one creature is worse than swinging with the team, but there’s still a lot to like here. For starters, it trades straight-up with Restoration Angel, which is a good test to pass. Secondly, it has pseudo-haste since it will provide a huge pump the turn it comes into play, much the way Rafiq of the Many did. And there are a ton of Hexproof guys running around right now, meaning you’re even less likely to get blown out in combat.

It’s out of stock at $20 on SCG, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some upward movement from there. I don’t think it can go much higher than $25 for very long (if at all), but it also will have a difficult time going below $12-15. I’m looking at Geist of Saint Traft levels here, between $20-25, especially since the pair will go in many of the same decks. Geist is played more in older formats, but the Angel is well, an Angel, and won’t be opened as long as Geist was, so it should mostly balance out.”

Now: $25 on SCG. I’m glad I got pretty close on this one, since as I noted it wasn’t an easy card to predict. The casual appeal of this card has been huge, and that means a few things to us. First, the price should be pretty solid and more prone to big jumps than big drops, which will be gradual.

More importantly, it means if the card ever hits it really big in Standard there will be a lot of added demand, and we’ll see jumps past $30-35. That said, I don’t particularly like getting on this card at $25 since the upside is, admittedly, a little undesirable.

Master of the Pearl Trident

Then: Merfolk! Merfolk! Merfolk! (Listen to the latest cast of Brainstorm Brewery for more context). Presells at $5 is probably a few bucks too high, but I do think this will help to revitalize Fish in Legacy, where they were already on the upswing, as well as possibly pushing the deck into Modern. Look for gains in the peripheral Merfolk cards from older sets.”

Now: Still $5 on SCG. As anyone who knows me or follows me knows, I love some Merfolk. As I predicted, this revitalized the deck in Legacy, where it recently won an Open, all the way to Modern, where it has become a much larger presence.

In addition to all of this, the Simic Guild in Gatecrash is going to be full of Merfolk, so I like picking this guy up for the foreseeable future, as moves to $8-10 aren’t all that unlikely if we see some nice, new, powerful Merfolk.

Disciple of Bolas

Then: “This is my pick for sleeper card of the set. At $3 pre-sales, I’m not sure how much upside there is, and I don’t like a cash buy. But I do like aggressively trading for it at two bucks on Prerelease day. This guy doesn’t fit into a possible Vampires deck since the 4-spot is full, but if Zombies is looking to complement Falkenrath Aristocrats at the 4-drop spot, this guy is great. He eats a Messenger for infinite value, and even chomping on a Gravecrawler isn’t exactly bad.”

Now: Still $3 on SCG. Everything I said before applies. Zombies really doesn’t lose any of its creatures post-rotation, but it does lose some peripheral cards. That could open the door on Disciple, so it’s still an easy grab to round out trades with some upside.

Vampire Nocturnus

Then: “This guy is rightly expensive, sitting at $13 on SCG. Thanks to this reprint, his days as a $20 card are over, but we could see a spike to that level if the big guy busts back into Standard. The Vampires deck is about two cards away (another 1 and 2-drop) from being really good. I expect this guy to trade extremely well during his second run through Standard.”

Now: $10 on SCG. That’s $10 while seeing no play at all, and as a result I see people valuing him lower than that. Pretty safe target in trades as we move into Ravnica, and a theoretical Vampire build still seems very strong.

Thundermaw Hellkite

Then: They wanted a Baneslayer Angel in Dragon form, and they found it here. He’s out of stock at $20 on SCG, and there are only 2 copies of foils at $50! This Dragon is the real deal. Even if Vapor Snagged he’s going to do some work, and the only problem is how many competing options RG has at the five-drop spot now with him, Thragtusk and Silverheart. Hellkite is a definite beating, though, so I expect him to stay over $10 without a doubt, and probably settle in the $13-15 range, with even higher numbers possible if he becomes the go-to five-drop.”

Now: Still $20 on SCG. By the way, did you know what the most historically popular tribe is, after Angels? It’s Dragons. I’ve seen people come in and ask for every Dragon I own. That really happens. That provides a solid baseline for this guy, and will probably keep him at $10+ forever.

I don’t like $20 for how much play he’s seeing right now, so if you have any I wouldn’t be hesitant to trade them off. I think he has a place post-rotation as a foil to Lingering Souls, and you should watch the post-rotation metagame accordingly.

Thragtusk

Then: “Now this beast is truly, well, a beast. Says no to Vapor Snag and helps stabilize immediately. I don’t like how splashable he is, but that’s just my design complaint, not a dismissal of his power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few Cavern of Souls name Beast just to make sure this bad boy hits play.

As just a rare, and another five-drop, $10 is probably high. I see him on the Silverheart level of $7-8 instead, but you can’t really go wrong trading into this guy at the prerelease.”

Now: $13 on SCG. As I said in the review, this guy is insane. I think I was probably a little off in my initial assessment, but not by much. Even with the event deck he probably stays around $10 rather than $7, and I think I probably didn’t correctly include in the Core Set factor, which allows Rares to stay a little higher than other sets since it isn’t drafted nearly as much. That’s how you get $15 Phantasmal Images and $13 Thragtusks rather than something more like $10 and $7, respectively.

All in all, I’m extremely happy with my picks from Magic 2013. It wasn’t perfect, but it was, all things considered, pretty accurate. I’ll take that to the bank, and hopefully you will as well.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

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