Last week we looked at predicting the future of Standard, and there were some big events already since then. We saw a resurgance of the U/W/r Flash decks and some changes to the Rakdos, Bant and Reanimator decks. We'll take a look at those changes, and see how they impact how we feel about the coming weeks.
We also want to double check our calendars because we're just about dead-center in the Return to Ravnica Season, leaving about 7 weeks until Gatecrash Pre-release, which means spoilers aren't terribly far away. A few spoilers came out towards the end of last month, but we still haven't seen the guild mechanics, so our last chance to make moves based on speculative upcoming strategies is coming soon.
Between the TCGplayer Championship and the StarCityGames Open this past weekend it appears the format wasn't ready for the UWr Midrange deck that took both 1st and Second at the TCGplayer event. The StarCityGames Open saw mostly the lists we were expecting.
In addition to these decks, one Nightshade Peddler deck did make an appearance, as well as a 5-color-control deck. The 5-color deck featured 3 Chromatic Lanterns, which many of you will know is something I'm happy to see. Perhaps there is room for it to grow after all. They still sit around the $3 price tag they were at when I picked them up at the onset, so I'm not really risking anything by waiting to see what happens with this 5-color brew. He also included a singleton of both Garruk, Primal Hunter and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker.
Another thing of note, there were many copies of the B/R deck in the top 8 of the StarCityGames event, but many of them are already trimming down on Thundermaw Hellkites and Hellriders. Hellkite is being played in the UWr Flash deck so it's not going anywhere soon, but I'm still expecting a steep falloff on Hellrider in the next week or two.
Gerry Thompson was still on a Hellkite-less version, so it's hard to say if he'll stay in those lists or not. Beyond those notes, we're still in the mode we were last week, with regards to standard. Expect the format to shift again once the control decks move to heavier sweeper density and the aggro decks bring their mana curve down.
As a writer, we have these fluxuations in our topics, as they correspond to format rotations, PTQ seasons, bannings and most importantly, set releases. We've had nearly two months to play around with Return to Ravnica, figure out what cards we liked and how the formats would shift around, but it won't be long before we start getting sneak peeks into Gatecrash. Everyone has their speculations about what the guilds mechanics might be, but soon enough there won't be anymore guesswork.
One of the things I've heard around, and agree with, is the Innistrad lands that match with the Gatecrash guilds are likely to see more play once there's direct support for them via Shocklands. This includes Hinterland Harbor, Clifftop Retreat and Isolated Chapel. These are all still reasonable buys, and while I'm not actively picking them up, I'm hanging on to any copies I already have.
Regular readers of my articles know I'm also looking at Utility Lands that may see increased play next season, and the one I've made a move on is Nephalia Drownyard, but a case could also be made for Kessig Wolf Run. Beyond that, I'm not confident enough in what the new set will bring to make further speculations, but if you're feeling confident in what might be ahead, you've got short time to make moves before we see what mechanics the guilds will bring.
On the other side of our timeline is the PTQ season schedule. We sit in the middle of Sealed season, which on its own doesn't provide tons of information for finance, besides the massive quantity of packs that get opened at every PTQ. PTQs are an interesting environment now that the professional TO's no longer run the events, but rather Local Gaming Stores. The learning curve for a successful PTQ is steep, and LGS owners are (in general) spread too thin to really nail down an event like this on their first run.
We also see inconsistent types of events. Some places hold the event in their shop, of course saving on space rental, while others will rent a space somewhere to hold the event. Sometimes there will be outside vendors, in other cases the LGS is the only vendor on site. This makes it hard to know what to expect, but in the short time since the policy change, I've found all types have their benefits, and a small bit of research before the event can be well worth your time. I learned this lesson the hard way, but luckily for me, learning this lesson will pay off in spades this coming weekend.
I attended a PTQ this past weekend, and after losing my win-and-in in Round 7 of 8, I perused the dealer booths. Some of my friends had mentioned to me that some of the dealers had some good buy prices, but I was focused on my event and didn't get around to it until the end of the day.
I went to the Shuffle & Cut booth, picked up their buylist, and started peeking through it. Doomed Traveler $0.10, Crusader of Odric $0.25, Accessories to Murder $0.10. As I scan down this list I'm agonizing over the enormous pile of draft chaff sitting in a box at my house. I'll never find a trader or buyer who wants a Crusader of Odric ever again. Ugh. Just from a long box of marginally playable commons and uncommons I had with me, I pulled over $50 in cards that I was happy to sell at their buy price, and I was being selective.
I find out they are located too far away from me to make it worth while to return to their location at a later date with my stuff, but to my luck, they will be at the PTQ I'm heading to the next week. Since then I've sorted out over $100 in cards to sell them that are simply sitting at home waiting to be proxied on. I have 37 Emancipation Angels, and yes, I will sell them all at $0.10ea and be happy about it.
Good Habits to Form
The problem with spending tons of time organizing and gathering a bunch of awful cards to sell at an event, is you don't know which vendors, if any, will be there. Going forward, I'll be contacting the LGS that is putting on the event and ask them about it. If they are the only vendor, ask them for a buylist in advance. If they don't have one, suggest they prepare one before the event day. It really is in their best interest to do so, and it gives you a chance to build rapport with the person on the other side of the phone.
Buylists are important because someone might otherwise have not asked the LGS to look at their cards for sale if they fear it will be a waste of time, but someone who otherwise wasn't planning to sell might do so once they see your list. Be sure to say something when you visit in person, letting them know you did indeed show up and you liked that they took your idea into consideration (whether they followed through on it or not). If they will have vendors on site, contact them for buylists.
Shuffle & Cut was able to do this for me for the next event I will see them at, but once I contacted the other vendors on site, I found even more cards to bring this weekend. For the PTQ Grinder, you want to hit as many PTQs as you can in a season to increase chances at qualifying, but if you can reduce your costs for each event by planning smart before you go, it makes it a lot less painful. Soon enough, PTQ season will be Modern, which will bring new advantages and challenges to buying and trading at events. Once the season gets closer we'll revisit these dealer strategies and see what is working and what isn't, and how things change in Modern as compared to Sealed.