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Jason’s Archives: Just Because You Can

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Greetings, speculators.

Last night wasn't supposed to be the night of the Banned and Restricted list update, but they moved it to a week earlier. Some crap about interfering with the MODO cycle less. Anyway, not everyone knew about it, so luckily, those of you who are QS Insiders got fair warning so you could be ready with your shopping carts full of cards that are about to go up.

What's the Opposite of "Climax?"

One acceptable answer is, "something trivial or commonplace that concludes a series of significant events." Another answer would be "Last night's Banned and Restricted list update."

For those of you who have managed to avoid social media completely and also live under a rock... actually, if you didn't care enough about it last night, I'm not sure why you'd want to read this part of the article. So, that's awkward. I guess skip ahead to the decklists or something? Have fun not caring about speculating, I guess. The rest of you still with me? Capital! Let's sally forth.

They banned Eggs Second Sunrise in Modern, which will make a lot of people happy, because while that deck was beatable and tough to pilot, playing against it was roughly as annoying as Gilbert Gottfried doing an over-the-top impression of Mario Cantone. It was roughly as painful as sitting on your balls accidentally, then leaping up in surprise and bashing your head on a chandelier. It was roughly as much fun as thermodynamics homework over Spring Break (I had thermo 9 years ago and it still haunts my dreams.) Do I think banning Second Sunrise was graceful and well thought out on Wizards' part? No, but that deck lowered the overall quality of tournament experience for a lot of people so I won't be pouring out any of my 40 for one of the worst decks ever.

Is there any financial opportunity here? I guess; invent a time machine so you can sell your copies a week ago if you still have any. The card was absurdly overpriced and burst bubbles suck. Although if you had a time machine, selling copies of Second Sunrise isn't necessarily your greatest money-making opportunity. You'd probably end up coming back to the present and remembering you forgot to sell them but not caring because now you're a billionaire because you went back in time carrying a sports almanac. Real original idea, jackass.

They also unrestricted Regrowth in Vintage, the titular point of the article. Just because you can buy a bunch of cheap copies of Regrowth at midnight doesn't mean you should.

Doing It Wrong

I had four cripsy-mint copies -- a good adjective to describe a card but not for mint, as it sounds like some sort of wafer covered in mint chocolate, like a thin mint but with a crispy wafer center and oh sweet jesus brb, off to patent a million-dollar cookie idea -- of Revised Regrowth. 1 am came and went and I forgot all about them. A good hour after the B&R, some dude snapped all four copies and slam dunked them in the end zone (I think it's fun to pretend I mix sports metaphors because I'm a nerd). I wasn't inclined to buy into Beta around $50 (I bet those go up) and there is virtually no money to be made buying into Revised at $2 (what if it goes up to $3?! Hooray, you paid for shipping!).

I messaged the buyer and his response laid out what was solid logic and probably seemed like a good argument to him.

  • People will need a playset now (maybe).
  • $2 is low risk (true).

Here's one thing the guy buying my eBay store out of Regrowths forgot.

Nobody plays Vintage.

The few people who do have $10,000 decks. Vintage decks are fun to pimp to the max -- Russian foil [card Jace, the Mind Sculptor]Jace[/card], black-bordered power, Brainstorms that RK Post drew a penis on -- the works. No one is going to pimp their Vintage deck with four white-bordered Regrowth. Even if they want to play four copies, they're going to spend a few bucks and get real cards. Even if people do want a whole playset, they're likely to get a whole playset of something good.

Now while it's true $2 is low risk, it's also extremely low reward. How much can the cheapest version of a card that's been printed five times, including as a foil, go up? Can it quadruple? Maybe, but who will buy them? No one plays Vintage!

Doing It Less Wrong

Since that B&R announcement was a big bag of "who gives a &%*" my twitter feed was abuzz with people talking about how Trade Routes was now banned in EDH (....k) and Staff of Domination was unbanned (say what?). I wonder whether the guy who bought all of my Regrowths but not my Staffs (which I took down) knows that EDH has roughly infinity times more players than Vintage. I wonder whether he saw the EDH B&R announcement. I wonder whether he saw the financial opportunity in buying Staff -- a card that was available under $8 all last night because of how long it had been banned in EDH.

As Aregand pointed out in the comments, it was totally Trade SECRETS and not Trade Routes that was banned. If you come to my article for hot off the press information about EDH that's guaranteed to be accurate 100% you're doing it wrong. Did I make a mistake? Absolutely, but it's not because I and the editorial staff are sloppy or lazy. It's probably because there's no financial opportunity in it and we didn't care. Is that super professional? No, not really, but the crux of the announcement was you could make money buying Staff of Domination and there was no money to be made with Trade X where X= Secrets or Routes. Continue to call me on my factual inaccuracies, because I'd totally do it to you were the roles reversed. The fact that it doesn't matter financially would be irrelevant to me.

Which is a safer bet -- the unrestriction of an unbanned card that's been printed five times in a format no one plays or buying up a totally broken card in a format everyone loves that went from banned to unbanned (technically every card in EDH is "restricted")? Sure, buying in at $2 is lower risk than buying in at $8, and sure EDH is a fan format that's only recently gained legitimacy, but I'll take 1 staff to your 4 Regrowths any day of the week. The buyer's logic was sound -- players can now play with 4 Regrowth and $2 is a low-risk entry point. But just because you can buy Regrowth at $2 doesn't by any stretch of my imagination mean you should.

I took the $8 the guy paid me for my Regrowths and bought a playset of Intruder Alarm. Let's revisit this transaction in a month.

Because I Have To

Decklist time.

SCG Open Seattle Standard Decks

Ugh. I am just so sick of the current Standard it's literally a chore to write this up. I don't care. A new set is about to come out and change everything and this weekend is prereleases anyway so you don't care. No one cares. And when no one cares, a bunch of people build stupid Jund.

Five stupid Jund decks in the top 16. Compare that to 1 each of fun decks like The Aristocrats (which finally did what I've been saying for 4 months and added Blood Artist) and Prime Speaker Bant. Since it was in Seattle, Cedric Phillips played in the event (he's vowed to balance coverage with his new responsibilities as online content coordinator) and played stupid, stupid Jund.

Not Jund

This deck actually looks like fun. You know what helps your dudes evolve? a 4/4 angel coming into play on your side every turn courtesy of Geist of Saint Traft. I love this concept. Instead of the traditional build for Geist in Bant, which is all-in on auras and crappy creatures like Fencing Ace (not that my buddy Carl didn't ruin everyone's life first-picking Ace in Limited), this is a tempo-oriented deck that figures you can keep mana open for unsummon and counterspells if you don't have to play a creature every turn. Classic "aggro-control" (a term replaced by the confusing umbrella term "midrange" which no one has to my satisfaction been able to define), this deck plays creatures, protects them, and watches them grow into formidable threats that outclass their opponent's guys in the mid-game. Too bad it's too late for new exciting decks. Still, Cy Cook deserves a pat on the back.

Jeff Hoogland breaks his "top-eight both portions of every SCG event" streak by getting married. I hate to keep harping on about this guy, but I think he's criminally underrated by you people. He plays the same deck every week, it's a deck no one else is playing except for his friends, he top-eights Standard with his RUG Flash deck and Legacy with his 4-color Loam aggro deck consistently and I feel like everyone is ignoring it. In a sea of net deck zombies, jamming Brad Nelson's latest list and high fiving each other for being such 'spikes', Hoogland is brewing successful decks and inserting them into his opponents' orifices forcefully on the regular.

Ignore his contribution to the metagame at your peril. Or, at least, don't complain about the meta being stale if his builds aren't in your testing gauntlet. I'm allowed to complain about the metagame being stale because I don't play and also because oh my god how &^$#ing stale is the metagame right now!? Seriously!

Those not playing stupid Jund are playing stupid Junk, specifically the Rites Reanimator deck. I should really come out of retirement and jam Seance while I still can because that really hoses the mirror. If you like how the deck runs but want to beat the mirror and you're not at least testing with Seance, I want to remind you that the guy who won the 25k in Chicago by going something absurd like X-0-1 with Seance Rites has been playing Magic for like 4 months.

Seance is at the very least a good sideboard card to bring in against the mirror. It's a free Unburial Rites every turn and I hear that gets there, especially in a match where both players are using their Deathrite Shamans to keep the opponent off of any Rites they manage to dredge. But you've all made up your minds about Seance already so let's move on.

SCG Open Seattle Legacy Decks

Hive Mind wins "Pet Deck of the Week" and the trophy for Bryan Eleyet whose last name reminds me of how the Irish people in the movie "Billy Elliot" pronounced the character's last name. I feel like mentioning that was about as relevant as talking about pre-Dragon's Maze Standard decks, anyway. Nice work, Bryan. Losing to a Pact of the Titan you didn't even want to cast is a miserable experience.

Dark Maverick is an awesome deck. I like Maverick. I like Deathrite Shaman. While Deathrite Shaman and [card Liliana of the Veil]Liliana[/card] being such big deals makes me want to be on a Punishing Grove deck right now, I can't fault this dude for running a more Maverick build with Deathrite for reach. Between Shaman and Scavenging Ooze you have their yard on lockdown, and [card Knight of the Reliquary]Knights[/card] embarrass Goyfs when that happens.

Or you could add blue and run a blue Maverick build which gives you Vendilion Clique, which I hear is unfair when combined with Karakas. Sylvan Safekeeper has a ton of utility in this deck, not the least of which is its ability to get rid of your islands if you have to play against Merfolk.

You might, because Merfolk got 4th place. Shut up, Corbin. No one wants to hear about it.

Wait, were there 15 decks in the Top 16 of this event? Rug Delver overlapped and that was it? How can anyone say this isn't the best format? And how can anyone say SCG is trying to kill it when they just jacked the price of duals again? $200 for an Underground Sea? Or, just buy them for $120 on TCG Player. Whichever fits your budget. Having just dumped my 40 set, I'm surprised they went up so soon after I dumped them (Murphy's Law in action) since I figured it would take bumps in how much the land was played (a la Bayou after RTR came out and gave Legacy both Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay) to make the price go up.

Don't fret, folks. If you're a player, yea, things got worse. But if you're in the finance game, nothing changes. You still buy at buylist and sell at retail, or pay cash and trade them into Standard stuff at buylist prices. Your percentage is the same so a bigger buy-in means a bigger payout at the end. Still, Legacy could become another Vintage, and I said earlier, nobody plays Vintage.

I kind of want to yadda yadda yadda the rest of the deck, but worth mentioning is Cy Cook (remember him from the evolve deck?) who played Dark Depths + Life from the Loam in Legacy. Here's another guy who's brewing his own decks. Maybe try it yourself. You're more creative than you think once you shed the netdeck zombie mindset and the meta won't be prepared for what you come up with.

Finally, someone played Aluren. The deck was never Tier 1, but its adoption could be a good thing if you bought into Aluren when the price went up due to inside information about the judge foil Imperial Recruiter. Most people who bought Aluren can't sell them and they are currently sitting on cardboard they can't move. Just because you can buy in on a speculation doesn't mean you should.

14 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: Just Because You Can

  1. Small note: the cheapest Underground Sea on TCG that is SP is $130, with MP being as low as $126. Either way, Underground Sea still hasn’t really reacted to SCG’s new buy price, which is unusual when compared to LED and Force of Will. Does anyone have any thoughts on why SCG increasing their buylist can affect some cards heavily and other cards negligibly?

  2. I love the standard bashing. I HATE people who are like “ohhh, standard is so diverse!”

    It’s about as diverse as it was last year before shit rotated… everyone played Delver.

    I loved seeing the Junk Depths deck in Legacy, and hive mind is always fun. I now know why EVERY freaking featured match was Cedric also… /sigh

    And yes, Merfolk is stupidly still a thing.

    1. \”I love the standard bashing.\”

      I didn\’t bash standard as much as say there\’s no point in looking at decks the last week before a new set.

      \”I HATE people who are like “ohhh, standard is so diverse!”\”

      I say that all the time. Is this the first time you\’ve read one of my articles?

      \”It’s about as diverse as it was last year before shit rotated… everyone played Delver.\”

      We routinely get between 5 and 8 difference unique archetypes in the top 8 of Standard Opens. This week was a bit different but that says as much about the Seattle meta as it does Standard as a whole.

      \”And yes, Merfolk is stupidly still a thing.\”

      Merfolk is a very fast clock, abuses Aether vial well, has a good permission suite and has more consistent card-drawing than a deck like Goblins. It\’s cheap-ish to build, consistent and is impervious to changes in the metagame. I don\’t think the deck is stupid. I just like to rag on Corbin because we\’re friends.

    1. You are correct. That makes way more sense than banning Trade Routes, but I figured I just didn\’t get how broken it was because I don\’t play EDH. I\’ll go ahead and credit you with the correction. Or not.

      1. No problem. I have a few Trade Routes in my Box Full of Evil (Fail) and wandered over to see why they were banned. Enjoyed your article. Solid work as usual. Props! Or Not.

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