Insider: Poring over States (and updating RtR calls)

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Editor's note: Due to some issues on the back end, we had originally lost Corbin's article this week. We've since recovered, and are posting it now, so you don't miss out on your weekly dose of Corbin. The server issues have since been worked out, so everything should be back to normal this week!

We have a ton of information coming in now, with Return to Ravnica out in the world for two weeks. Ravnica has been as awesome as advertised, and it’s worth noting that the set is “just going crazy,” as per newly-hired full time WOTC Gavin Verhey, who we had on the podcast (Brainstorm Brewery) last week.

This is good news for us. At the basic level, more people playing Magic means more demand for cards, and that means continued rising prices.

But that’s not why we’re here this week. This week, we have States lists to break down! Oklahoma States was a little disappointing, with only 70 or so people playing and a very, very poor prize payout. My friend ended up in 9th place on breakers and got exactly 0 packs for his troubles, despite the $25 entry fee. I may be wrong, but the word was that it was just one prize pack per person in the tournament, which would just be greedy by the store, so let’s hope that wasn’t the case.

According to TCGPlayer, the current five top Standard decks (in order of Top 8s in States and Opens) are the following:

-       Bant Control (27)

-       Jund (24)

-       American Control (Miracles) (20)

-       Selesnya (18)

-       Rakdos Zombies (14)

Notably absent of that is Reanimator, a deck I’m going to talk quite a bit about today. But more on that later. Let’s look at these decks and see what we can deduce.

For starters, the most common among all of these decks is Thragtusk. And here, I must eat a little crow. I pegged this as an $10 dollar card in my M13 set review, and I’ve already discussed why that was wrong. In brief, it’s because Core Set Rares have demonstrated an ability to stay higher than a Rare outside of an expansion set. Think Phantasmal Image last year. The reason for this is because the set isn’t opened as long and doesn’t sell nearly as much as an expansion.

At this moment, Thragtusk is basically $25. I’m safely calling this its ceiling. As far as I can recall, exactly two rares in the post-Mythic era have held above $20, Snapcaster Mage and Cavern of Souls. Thragtusk is great, but doesn’t see much play in any other format, and the metagame can possibly adapt around it.

But it’s not going anywhere, that’s for sure. The card does so much that you want it to, and it’s good in any matchup. I think $15+ is probably a safe bet for the next nine months or so, but if you’re in it just for cash, you’re best off getting out now or in another week or so when everyone finally realized how far the card has jumped.

As for the second-place deck in the tournament, I predicted a few weeks back that Jund would become the best deck in the format, and that certainly appears to be close to being true so far. That means things like Olivia and Mizzium Mortars are probably still safe pickups, as is Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells. Why it’s an $18 card from Dark Ascension and Geist is $30 from Innistrad, I do not know. But I think Huntmaster has some upside to it still, even if it’s not as much as the first time I called it (back before PT: Dark Ascension, when it was about $8).

A lot of the Miracles decks from States have started to adopt the finisher I called the sleeper of the set in Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenious. As Slaughter Games (another card worth grabbing cheap) increases in sideboard play to name Entreat the Angels, Niv-Mizzet is going to see more and more play. And, in some ways, he’s better than Entreat. You won’t get as many free wins as you do from Angels, but you are immune to Mortars and he will take over the board.

Niv is at $8 on TCGPlayer, and he may have a little bit farther to fall before the spike comes (which it will). I’m liking these around $7-8 in trade right now.

Next up is Reanimator, and more importantly a card I’ve been really high on for the last 10 days or so.

Angel of Serenity

Remember when SCG was preselling these at $6? Crazy. It’s up to $22 on TCGPlayer, and I don’t think it’s done. It’s a 4-of in the graveyard decks, and it’s been creeping into just about every other deck that can support it as well. $30 or even more on a spike is not at all out of the question. From my experience at States, people haven’t quite caught onto this one yet, so I’m looking to grab every single one I can around $20 or so in trade.

For the same reasons, Disciple of Griselbrand is also a solid pickup. It’s got the Eternal-playable thing going for it as well, and there’s not any Avacyn Restored that’s going to be opened anytime soon, so this seems like another safe move.

As for the GW decks, Sigarda, Host of Herons is up to $10 on TCGPlayer as I predicted a few months back. This Angel is the real deal against the Jund decks, which have basically no answers to it if they’re not running Nighthawks. Right now Sigarda is only being played in small numbers, but I expect that to continue to grow going forward, and there’s no reason Sigarda should drop below $8-10 anytime soon.

While we’re on the subject, if you want a “penny stock” pick of the week, so to speak, there was a Selesnya deck that top 8’ed with multiple copies of Deadbridge Goliath. It’s not a card we usually talk about, but playing a 5/5 on Turn 3 after a 4/4 on Turn 2 is kind of a beating, not to mention the scavenge. This type of build is pretty weak to Wraths, so I’m not convinced it’ll be a big player going forward, but Goliath is under a dollar on TCGPlayer, so it’s a good target for throw-ins in case it happens.

Sublime Archangel could really see some big spikes, considering what Thragtusk has done so far. These GW decks are actually the face of aggro moving forward I think, and Angel on Turn 4 is an absurd beating. $20 right now, but if it gets any more high-profile exposure it could move much more than that.

Thundermaw Hellkite is also starting to see more and more play. If Thragtusk is more than $20, then this could realistically jump that high or higher very soon if play starts to pick up. Keep an eye on it.

There are a few cards I don’t like right now. Chief among them is Zombies, a deck that is having plenty of trouble as we move into the format, as predicted. Between Trostani, Thragtusk, Nighthawk, Reanimator decks and a host of other effective cards against the archetype, the GB version is effectively dead. It simply can’t consistently beat the field. I feel like the Red versions are doing better because they are a little more aggressive and have the reach in the form of Burn that the GB builds do not.

That said, I don’t really like anything out of the Zombie decks right now, especially the lands. I’m more than happy to trade Woodland Cemetery for the lands that don’t have guilds yet, specifically Clifftop Retreat and Hinterland Harbor, the cheapest of the Innistrad duals left.

Jace is also likely topped out. I called the card in my set review as being better than people think, and that turned out to be true. That said, I still don’t think it’s $50, as much as this set will be opened. I see it settling to $30-40 over the next couple of months.

Another card to get rid of if you haven't already is Bonfire. I suggested a while back that it was topped out, and that certainly appears to be the case since it's barely seeing any play right now.

Standard is certainly starting to sort itself out, and if I had to make a prediction I would say that Jund will continue to put up numbers. The deck is very adaptable and probably has the highest average power level between its cards, giving it the range to fight against both the Aggro and Control decks of the format.

Whew, there you go. I’ve certainly revised a few predictions since my set review, since prices on Rares seem to be going higher than they historically have since the introduction of Mythics. I can only attribute this to the increased player base, and it will be interesting to see six months from now if these prices can hold. If so, I may be forced to revise some of my longstanding heuristics for determining card prices, because just a couple of years ago seeing multiple rares top $10 for months at a time was unheard of.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler


6 thoughts on “Insider: Poring over States (and updating RtR calls)

  1. I’d also keep my eyes on Thundermaw Hellkite. Was a $20 card that saw a little play to fight tokens, then went to $10. Now it’s starting to show up in top 8 decks so could rebound as high as it once was. 🙂

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