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Jason’s Archives: Doing Nothing

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Greetings, Spectaculars!

Today I want to talk to you about doing nothing.

Chapter 1, in which Jason is a Team Player, Then Isn't

I like this website. It has brought me incredibly limited amounts of fame, non-zero amounts of money and given me metaphorical tons of leeway. If you ask me, it doesn't get any better than that.

Accordingly, I like to pitch in around here and help out. When QS decided we were going to do a spoiler page for every set that comes out, I volunteered (either that or I was asked and didn't refuse. I honestly can't even remember). The finance community has their own ideas about the impact of certain cards, and while they usually overlap with playability, they don't always. There are deeper financial implications, so it's a great idea for a finance site to do their own spoiler.

Right now we're dual-wielding -- updating M14 and Modern Masters at the same time. At the time of publication, Modern Masters is fully spoiled and we know that a lot of key cards are not in the set.

If you check out the Modern Masters page, you'll notice I haven't contributed to it. This may seem unfair to Sigmund and Gervaise who are doing all of the work without my help, and let this serve as the first formal apology to those guys.

In reality, I wasn't slacking. On no fewer than five separate occasions I had one browser window with the day's Modern Masters spoilers open and another with the page to edit the spoiler open and after sitting there for a few minutes I did nothing.

My reasoning was simple -- what do I have to say about Modern Masters spoilers that's unique? If the card is in Modern Masters, the price is likely going down in the short term. If it isn't, it's likely going up (in the cases where people thought cards would be in the set but to their surprise aren't). Wouldn't I just be copying MTGSalvation's spoiler onto our letterhead and passing it off as if I'd contributed something?

With no potential for analysis, I decided to focus on M14 until they decided they weren't going to spoil anything worth talking about for three weeks, because no one cares about M14 right now with Modern Masters coming out. It didn't seem like I could contribute anything useful so I just didn't.

Chapter 2, in which Modern Masters Cards Should Be Dumped, Then Aren't

I had been trying to sell Elspeth, Knight-Errant on eBay for a month. It's likely my asking price was a bit too high, but given that it was based on previous "completed auction" prices and I occasionally do a 5-10% off sale to turn inventory over, I figured I'd sell it. When there was talk of the card being in Modern Masters, the play would have been to ship the card for its buylist price before the old buylist price became retail.

Given that there was no convenient Grand Prix to attend and there is a large built-in delay with online buylists, I opted to wait it out. Elspeth was later confirmed in Modern Masters and, as predicted, the price dropped. If I shipped to a buylist, they likely wouldn't honor the price and would just ship it back. It felt like the play was to take them down from eBay and sit on them, hoping the short-term price dip from Modern Masters would be offset by increased demand for the card going forward.

It doesn't do me any good to panic at this point, so it looks like cards like Elspeth that are experiencing a dip are going to end up a long-term hold. It didn't seem like I could benefit from dumping now so I just didn't.

Chapter 3, in which Thoughtseize Will Be in MM as an Uncommon, Then Isn't

So the full spoiler is up. I'll be contributing to the QS Spoiler page tonight, so by the time this article sees publication I will have already done it. Maybe. I guess go verify that right now and report back to me whether I'm a liar.

The fully-spoiled set comes with several surprises. People were sure that Thoughtseize, Auriok Champion, Remand, Noble Hierarch and Digeridoo would be in Modern Masters. But let's not be ridiculous. Digeridoo is on the Reserve list.

With Thoughtseize officially ruled out for Modern Masters and an unlikely inclusion in M14, people now look to Theros for its reprinting. Even if that's the case, in the near-term there is no reprint in sight and nothing to reign in the already ridiculous price of this card. While it's only marginally better than Inquisition of Kozilek in Legacy (I'd even argue Cabal Therapy is preferable in a lot of matchups), Modern is an entirely different animal and I'd say a majority of Thoughtseize's recent bump has come from Modern play.

I fully expected to wake up this morning and see that Noble Hierarch and Thoughtseize had skyrocketed in price, but all I saw were people surprised about last night's Game of Thrones episode.

I think you still have a bit of time to snag cards that were expected to be in MM but weren't. Everyone was in a holding pattern, waiting for the cards to be spoiled and now I think you can buy in at retail and benefit from a short-term price spike. But at that point you're paying $70 to hope it goes to $75 so you make $0 after fees and shipping. Remand is potentially a good target (Spell Snare was, mercifully, included in Modern Masters) but again, you're paying a lot initially for a card that already has an imprinted price memory associated with it and hoping to take advantage of a very short-term price spike that may never happen.

It didn't seem like it was worth the risk of buying cards confirmed not in MM so I just didn't.

Chapter 4, in which Players in Baltimore Wish There Had Been a GP

Not for them to play in, but if there had been a GP or PT or something, the winners of the SCG Open might not have been Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson.

SCG Open Baltimore Standard Decks

Well, 90% of the people who play this game can relax; Brad Nelson brewed another deck. For a while there it was looking like if we went another two or three weeks without a new Brad Nelson list people would have to either play what Gerry Thompson is playing or copy a decklist from the PT. It was looking very dire. A few desperate individuals abandoned hope entirely and resorted to brewing their own decks, like the Dust Bowl farmers who made their own clothes out of potato sacks during the great depression.

Maybe it's not quite so bad as all that, but Brad came through in a big way, updating The Aristocrats into something he's trying to get people to call "Aristrollcrats". Considering he gave a full 50% of the Aristocrats from previous builds their walking papers (although, Falkenrath Aristocrat has flying, so maybe not "walking papers"), that "s" at the end of "Aristocrats" isn't super appropriate.

Whatever you want to call it ("Aristrollcrats" is no "Zombardment" but even I can't seem to improve on the name), it makes great use of Varolz, the Scar-Striped]Varolz, a card I called "the most likely of the guild runners to become a thing" a few weeks back. Lacking sac outlets but running a full complement of Blood Artists, the deck looks like a blast.

Is it Brad's fault that Voice of Resurgence hit $50 on SCG? I'd say it's not unlikely. Star City Games has a tendency to raise the prices of cards Team SCG is brewing with before the event the deck premiers, so a random, unexplained spike sometimes makes more sense a bit later.

I like this deck. It loses its entire....all of it with rotation, but for now, WEEEEEE!

The Voice of Naya

Three Naya Aggro decks in the Top 8 seems about right for an SCG Open. Beatdown players are trading the explosiveness of R/G for the reach granted by Voice of Resurgence and Advent of the Wurm.

With Voice everywhere now, don't expect the price to come down much soon. This is one card I will fully admit I called all wrong. I knew the card was powerful and had a lot of potential, but given its $22 preorder price tag, I opted to stay away. I figured the card would have to sustain $40+ to be worth buying at $22 initially, and I figured as more packs were opened the price would go down. I predicted a similar trajectory to Jace, Architect of Thought which saw $50 briefly before plummeting to the paltry $10 it is right now.

However, as more packs are opened, more decks are jamming Voice and the demand is outpacing the supply. I didn't exactly lose money staying away from Voice, but I could have doubled up on it had I bought in* and since I like to be accountable when I call it wrong, I'll fully admit I called this card wrong.

This deck is pretty interesting, too. Progenitor Mimic continues to climb and as long as there is Thragtusk and Acidic Slime, expect it to stay that way. With foils sold out at $40, the casual, cube, Commander and... citchen table (nailed it) communities have clearly spoken. Mimic does some silly stuff, but Conjurer's Closet did almost the same stuff (short of making a pile of copies) and no one cared.

This isn't me saying Mimic is as bad as you think Closet is; I'm saying Closet is nearly as good as Mimic is, and it's still legal. In any case, Mimic is a good card and I hope you bought in when it was cheap. Also, people are finally starting to take my advice and play Mutilate. Just in time for M14.

B/R Zombies in the Top 8? Nice. Not much financially relevant other than to say "it may not be too late to sell every card that's in B/R Zombies."

Reanimator Top 8s events. Sometimes it only makes one Top 8. This is 75/75 of a list I've already seen.

Getting 9th place, likely with the same record as 7th and 8th, was an Esper deck. Since control can be slower, you're more likely to draw during the event and miss Top 8 so control ends up 9th-11th a lot.

I like this Esper list a ton. I'd like it if people were experimenting more with cards like Uncovered Clues, but as long as we have stuff like Forbidden Alchemy, no one will. Still, Esper control will likely replace the walkers it's losing with something. Maybe more Ætherling, or more copies of the walkers it still has. Losing Sorin, Lord of Innistrad]Sorin will likely hurt quite a few control decks, but something will step up, even if it's the half-assed Baneslayer Angel]Baneslayer we have in the form of Blood Baron of Vizkopa.

The Busted (Read Awesome) Format

Let's talk about something else, now.

SCG Open Baltimore Legacy decks

So people who were upset that Brad Nelson ringered the Standard portion were relieved that someone else ringered Legacy -- this time Todd Anderson.

Todd didn't run that one-of Notion Thief that could have lead to some hilarious pantsings when his opponent cast Brainstorm, but Todd's list is a stock-looking list and it's fine. Not much financially relevant here, but Blade decks are always going to be a factor.

Two Sneak and Show decks in the Top 8? Odd. This deck has fallen off recently, but it's one of those decks where if you run hot and your opponents stumble, you autowin certain matches.

I like Shardless BUG a lot, and not just because I'm heavily invested in Bayou, Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman. I think the deck is one of the better aggro-control builds and has the tools to get the job done. Plus, it encourages Wizards to put good cards in Planechase.

This pile reminds me of that U/W/R (hur hur, Amurican!) pile that crushed it in Modern for a whole week. Grim Lavamancer has really fallen off and it's good to see it back. Playing enough instants to flip Delver of Secretes]Delver is great Lavamancer food. Which will win -- their Deathrite keeping you off of cards to exile to Lavamancer, or Lavamancer destroying the ass out of Deathrite with actual lava?

I like renewable sources of two damage in a Vendilion Clique]Clique-Deathrite-Stoneforge Mystic]Stoneforge format. Lavamancer is funnier with Basilisk Collar, but how are you supposed to tutor for Collar? Trinket Mage? Because that's totally reasonable and we should get back to when the meta played stuff like that. Geist also does work in this deck, and the new legend rule makes it even better.

Maverick gets 9th? Tiebreakers are heartbreakers. As an experienced Maverick player, I'm not sure why this deck has a reputation for having a bad combo matchup. This deck does not have a bad combo matchup, especially if built correctly. The hate bears are such a solid delay and the deck has a fast enough clock that the turns Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]Thalia and Gaddock Teeg]Teeg set them back will be enough. I still think Punishing Grove is the way to go, especially in a meta with Deathrite everywhere, but G/W Maverick has more room for hate and that gets there. Four maindeck Thalia? Seeeeeems good. Gut shot in the board? Very nice.

Maybe trade for Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. The card likely isn't going down, and even as overrated and Tier 2.5 as the deck is, it occasionally wins an event and why would you not pick up an old planeswalker? Sarkhan Vol took a hit with MM reprinting, but Tezz was spared. I dunno, I'm not going deep but I'm taking them out of binders when I find them.

Time to Leave

It doesn't seem like I can think of a smooth way to wrap this up, so I just won't.

- Jason Alt

* I spent my spec money instead on Deadbridge Chant at $1.50-$2, which peaked at $8. Quadrupling on a $1.50 investment seems better than doubling up on a $22 investment, but when that's scaled up the problem becomes "how do I move all of these copies?" If you have ready outs for a lot of copies, look for smaller, scalable investments like Chant that can really pay off (Chant has a better chance of hitting $15 with a lot of play than Voice does of hitting $100). But if you invest one play set at a time, you could have bought two play sets, sold one now and kept the other to play with for free. It's all about your goals. Look at me! Endnotes! I'm like David Foster Wallace!

12 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: Doing Nothing

  1. No need to apologize for the Spoiler thing, better apologize for almost giving me a heart attack when you spoiled Game of Thrones thingy before I realize it was a joke! 🙂 nice read thanks!

  2. Likewise, no worries on the spoilers. I think MM is way more interesting than M14 anyways, so I’m more than happy to let you make up for your share in M14. Besides, I missed DGM’s spoiler season in its entirety due to technical difficulties and travel. We’re all entitled to our breaks. Happy to have you help with spoilers each season though 🙂

    Why is EVERYONE and their mother talking about Game of Thrones? Am I the only one completely out of the loop on this one? I don’t even know what it is – a show on HBO or network tv? a movie? a book? All of the above? Gosh, sometimes it’s difficult to be a father, a husband, and a hard core nerd at the same time!

    1. when you don’t know something: “GOOGLE IT”

      its an epic medieval series of books that turned in a TV show. It has the unusual approach of not having pure good/bad characters in it. There is shades of grey. like in real life. it’s awesome… watch/read it!

        1. It is a fantastic book series and HBO is budgeting 6 million for production. Per episode. I\’d recommend either starting the show from episode 1 if you don\’t feel like reading, or reading all of the books (5 so far). There\’s a reason the show has captured everyone\’s imagination.

  3. for the deadbridge chant thing… i got a couple of copies for like 2-3 bucks in trade before the hype. but even if it worth a lot more than before, i can’t move them. i can’t seem to find people willing to take them in trade. jund are playing like 1 copy of it in SB and buylists are quite ridiculous cheap in my area. i sell to a fair directly to some people when store don’t have it and people don’t have traders (sorry LGS) but i’m not going to give away ral zarek at 6$ or deadbridge chant at 1$ to the store…. so i’m quite stock with them…

  4. yeah I still am trying to figure out the right peices to make the chant deck work… wish sire cost a little less so I could drop chant and sire on the same turn…

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