Grand Prix: Atlantic City took place this past weekend. At first glance, it was kind of boring - the same Thragtusk and Sphinx's Revelation decks showing up everywhere. Look closer, though, and there's plenty to be happy about. The finals were composed of a mirror of an unknown (or disrespected) deck, the Bant Hexproof list. I thought it was pretty cool that Ethereal Armor was playable... We also had Ari Lax's monored deck in the Top 4 and an interesting assembly of cool decks in the top 16.
While there was nothing worth making an Insider Alert out of (and we were watching all weekend), there's still plenty to learn when we dig into the data. Kelly and I pored over the decklists and here's our findings, along with our notes.
Kessig Wolf Run was in three of the top 8 decks, along with four more decks in the 9-16 slots. All decks played two copies, making for a total of 14 copies. I like Wolf Run for pushing a few points of damage over, especially when it's a Thragtusk you're pumping. I've also seen it do some nasty things when you put it on a Rhox Faithmender. Wolf Run is pretty cheap to pick up, but we've got to remember that Innistrad is an older set at this point.
Rakdos's Return had a total of 17 copies in the top 16, and that's a lot. We've had a bit of debate in the QS Forums about whether this card is a good target or not. It's a mirror of Sphinx's Revelation and, if cast first, it tends to unwind the Sphinx deck before it gets its big draw spell off. However, I'm worried that I cast this on someone and they just Sphinx all of their lost hand back. That would be unpleasant, for sure. The burn does not mean as much these days with life totals going up in chunks of five with regularity.
What do you think? Is Rakdos's Return a good spec target?
Slaughter Games was one of the most commonly-played cards this weekend. Nine copies in theT8, ten more in the T16 for a total of nineteen copies. These are cheap to get and I think that people disrespect the effect because cards like Thought Hemorrhage were actually bad. This is not. Slaughter Games is going to be in Standard for a long time and it can drop down on the third turn with real ease. If there continue to be spells like Revelation that you must remove to win, then this card will hold up.
Jace, Memory Adept made a poor showing. Asid from Lloyd's deck in the T8, we only found six copies in sideboards, meaning that the milling plan is not as good as it once was. I know that people are still sitting on these and that maybe Dimir will bring along more milling goodies, but Jace isn't doing a whole lot these days. It seems that those Nephalia Drownyards are at a low tide.
Pyreheart Wolf is a mono-red staple. It's an unloved uncommon. Kelly said that he had to fish them out of bulk when a friend needed some. I don't know that this is something that we want to load up on right now, but it's worth keeping in mind as a low-cost, easily-buylisted spec. Pro tip: Strike Zone is buying these for .24 and the TCG mid is .24, so there's zero spread - making it riskless to buy them now.
Cavern of Souls showed up with 20 copies. Sometimes, it's in decks with plenty of humans or midrange Naya lists. Other times, it's as a 1-of or a 2-of to cast sideboarded monsters more effectively. Cavern isn't getting any cheaper for a long time. Kelly mentioned that he wanted to move a lot of his portfolio into this and I agree. Cavern is a card that will hold up for its Standard lifetime, for sure. I am not confident to say what it'll do in Modern, but the card does not get much respect as it is; don't bank on it there.
Finally, Sever the Bloodline has been bouncing up and down in price lately, but it's at 89 cents and rising. Foils are on the move, too. Kelly identified this as another possible breakout card. I'll note that black is a pretty weak color right now; I don't think that Dimir is going to do a whole lot. However, this could be a good Damnation-style card for a Dimir deck to clear out problem monsters for value.
What were the big takeaways from Atlantic City for you? Do you think that the Hexproof deck is here to stay?