With Firemane Avenger getting spoiled, several cards look like much better speculation targets heading into February. The ability to deal 3 damage ahead of blockers being declared will make First Strike and Haste mechanics much more valuable and both Red and White offer tempting targets for players and speculators alike.
Too Many Two's?
Ash Zealot is a nice way to capture both mechanics with some bonus utility. TCG prices have been rising but Ebay proves deals can still be had on this 2cc drop. Plowing through 5 toughness thanks to Battalion triggers will likely make this hasty card a 4-of in any deck looking to abuse the new Boros mechanic.
White offers three interesting targets with First Strike that will also compete for a crowded 2cc spot. Elite Inquisitor will at least find a home in sideboards considering its protection versus playable creature types. This card could easily double and with Ebay again offering a low entry price for speculators, the Inquisitor certainly merits consideration.
Precinct Captain offers an interesting design choice for deck construction. Combat damage putting creatures into play would allow a Boros pilot to remain aggressive and keep Battalion active. The Captain offers another low entry point for investors that could easily lead to 100% returns.
Thalia could see some play in future Boros deck but as a speculation target, I don't see a lot of room for her to run. Pricing out over 5$ on TCG and holding near $5 on Ebay make this a trade target at best. Coming out of the unpopular Dark Ascension, and relatively strong Ebay pricing are positive catalysts so I won't be looking to trade off my copies just in case she does see a spike in price around release.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is another card that might draw interest as her abilities play nice with the Boros mechanic. Unfortunately she too is priced out of my comfort zone. I would always be open for acquiring copies in trade on the cheap but unless I'm picking up copies for under $3, I'll be spending my money elsewhere.
My favorite 5cc Red card for Boros is NOT a thundering hellkite! Instead, I'm looking at Zealous Conscripts. It enables Battalion with a player only controlling one Firemane Avenger before it's cast, offers a very versatile solution to many on the board problems and is the perfect Restoration Angel target. Both Restoration Angel and the Conscripts are a nice way to play into the new Boros mechanic. Conscript playsets are still cheap enough to offer another 100% return opportunity to nimble traders.
Restoration Angel is a solid investment for any MtG speculator. It draws enough attention to your binder to be worth the investment cost and strong Ebay pricing relative to TCG prices suggests demand side pressure. While I do think it's unlikely this Angel gets to $25, this card could easily push $18 in the next three months.
While considering future Boros deck lists and trying to guess what fills the 1cc slot, two Red cards come to mind. The first offers Resto another target: Vexing Devil. This card remains popular in spite of the perception that giving opponents choices is universally bad magic. Like Restoration Angel the Devil will draw players to your binder but unless you can pick them up for less than $4.50 it's hard to pull the trigger. Trading for TCG prices might make sense to establish a position but if you have a speculation inventory already adding through trades that value the Devil for more than $5 is risky.
Why am I so bearish on a card that has already proved so many naysayers wrong? I like the value proposition Stromkirk Noble offers much more. Here we have a card that is already selling on Ebay for slightly more than TCG prices. Like Restoration Angel and Thalia before it, there seems to be some unrecognized demand for the card. Unlike those cards, Stromkirk is not as high profile a card and makes a good throw-in target while trading. Under $3 could easily yield 66% returns should the card get to $5. I could see this card competing on price as well as for a spot in Boros decklists with Vexing Devil.
Finally, with Clifftop Retreat going for $10 one of the more obvious Boros plays is no where near a safe speculation. Thankfully, players and speculators alike are overlooking Bonfire of the Damned. Recent Avacyn Restored price weakness makes picking this miracle up for $25 or less a real possibility. The card should easily hit thirty dollars, but it's ceiling is much higher. I like Bonfire to test $40 as it is the perfect mana sink for aggressive Red decks today and likely to remain the miracle of choice for any future Boros deck lists.