Insider: Fall Rotation

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The Early Outlook For Fall Rotation

Predicting the nature of Fall Standard after Innistrad (ISD) block and M13 rotate out is difficult. Although we have good data on what Return to Ravnica (RTR) Block Constructed looks like, typically this only mildly informs us about the future metagame in Standard. The cards leaving Standard are too many and the incoming cards in Theros are completely unknown.

We do have a little information, so it’s not too early to start considering what it might mean for speculators. In particular, with Cube draft followed by M14 release events, the next couple of weeks are the last window to pick up cards from RTR block at low prices. Looking out for currently underused cards that might benefit from a different Standard metagame is a solid technique in the hunt for value.

What Do We Know

A recent Sam Stoddard article on the mother ship talked about Standard mana bases and how easy it is to play three colour-decks currently. A quick look at the Standard metagame page on MTGGoldfish confirms this. Note that this data includes all published decks that finish 3-1 or better in recent Daily Events (DEs) or Premier Events (PEs). Although currently R/G Aggro is the most played deck at close to 20% of the Standard field, over 50% of decks are solidly three-colour builds.

Stoddard also alluded to a new cycle of mana fixing lands to come in Theros, though details were not revealed. Reading between the lines it’s probable that mana fixing will become costlier than it is currently. Perhaps there will be a return to tribal-themed lands, echoing the tribal plants of M14. A cycle of tribal lands would make decks that want to be multiple colours narrower, making it harder to just jam the best cards into a deck.

Without the mana fixing provided by the check lands of M13 and Innistrad, the plethora of three-colour decks currently in Standard appears to be on the way out. The inclusion of Mutavault in M14, a card that strengthens mono-colour decks, also suggests that the pendulum is swinging away from decks with robust mana bases.

Impact on Current Cards

In a Standard where it’s harder to cast colour-intensive spells, decks will have to be choosier about which cards to include. The relative utility of the following cards will change in a Standard with less robust mana.

Boros Reckoner

The medium term outlook for this minotaur wizard is somewhat negative. Currently it shows up in close to 30% of Standard decks, and nearly 40% of Block Constructed decks. This level of playability being maintained in Fall Standard seems unlikely. Also, Blasphemous Act will be rotating out of Standard, further reducing the utility of this card.

On the plus side, red aggro decks usually come out to play right away in Fall Standard. If the Greco-Roman themed Theros features minotaurs as a tribe, this would be a positive as well. Demand for this card might peak in October.

Outlook: Overall I am still bullish on this card in the short term, but cautious when getting closer to rotation. I bought it heavily at the peak of triple Gatecrash (GTC) drafting and still expect it to yield a solid profit. However, it’s possible that the short-term price peak occurs just prior to rotation. If this bumps up into the 8-10 tix range, I will not hesitate to take some profits by reducing my position.

Voice of Resurgence

The priciest card from Dragon’s Maze (DGM) has been holding at 40+ tix since the end of May. It’s also the 8th most played creature in Standard at the moment, appearing in a little over 23% of decks. This mythic rare shows up in Bant Hexproof, Bant Control, and Junk Aristocrats decks. These decks don’t need this card per se, but it’s a resilient and efficient two-drop so if your mana base can support this card you put it in your deck.

Historically, a 3rd set mythic rare ends up being the most expensive card in Standard on MTGO. Jace, the Mind Sculptor (from honorary 3rd set Worldwake), Sword of War and Peace (New Phyrexia) and Bonfire of the Damned (Avacyn Restored) have all carried the mantle of most expensive card in Standard.

Of these, only Jace has gone from 40+ tix to 50+ tix after Fall rotation though. Sword of War and Peace took a run at 50+ tix at the height of Delver’s dominance in Scars of Mirrodin – Innistrad Standard, but couldn’t sustain that high a price.

Outlook: This card has very little upside at current prices. I have a play set at the moment and that’s it. Stay away from speculating on this card at 40+ tix; it rarely turns out to be profitable to speculate on a high-priced card that is not an all-format staple.

Temple Garden

Due to the uncertainty of what the Fall Standard metagame will look like, it’s good to be diversified across all the Ravnica shocklands. It’s generally anticipated that all the shocklands will rise on average, but a uniform increase would be unlikely. The G/W shockland currently appears in an astounding 61% of decks.

Outlook: I’ve still built up a decent position in these, but as with Boros Reckoner, if a September price increase occurs I will not be afraid to sell down my copies. Maintaining the current level of usage seems unlikely.

Gyre Sage

This card saw a lot of hype and usage early into Gatecrash Standard, but that has fallen off significantly. The price floor appears to be around 0.3 tix, and currently it’s priced at 0.47 tix.

This is the type of card that I like to take a position in, i.e. one that is out of favor. It’s possible the R/G mages also just pencil this in instead of Flinthoof Boar for Fall Standard, though Scavenging Ooze will be a strong contender for the 2cc slot of base green decks .

Outlook: This card has the potential to become more widely adopted in a popular archetype as a four-of. A recent precedent might be something like Stromkirk Noble. I’m a buyer at less than 0.75 tix.

Summing Up

There are other cards that might be good cards to speculate on, but there are still some shocklands available for 3 tix or less. MTGO speculators should definitely start with the shocklands and build from there. The Ravnica – Theros – M14 metagame is largely unformed at the moment, but we know for sure that shocklands will be required.

5 thoughts on “Insider: Fall Rotation

  1. I’m holding a bunch of Thragtusks and some Restoration Angels from a previous spec you recommended. The reasoning was sound but the spec didn’t work out. What’s the best time to exit from this position at minimal losses?

    1. I have started reducing my positions on Thragtusk and Restoration Angel this week.

      Sometimes you’ll see a bounce in standard staples in August/September when interest can shift from draft to Constructed. Check out the charts of Scalding Tarn and Lotus Cobra on mtggoldfish from about 2 years ago. Both saw very high prices at the end of August.

      If Thragtusk continues to fall, I’ll stop selling. At a certain price point, the risk/reward ratio starts tilting back towards holding out for one last price spike. The 3 to 4 tix range for Thragtusk definitely feels like there is some potential there for an August bump.

      Restoration Angel on the other hand feels like it could continue to fall. If it was in the 4-6 tix range, I’d probably hold onto some. But for now I have sold down to my last playset.

      Sorry the spec didn’t work out! Eating a loss can be tough, especially when you are acting on my advice. Just know that I am eating a loss too.

    1. There’s a few I am interested in for the Fall, and Cavern of Souls and Snapcaster Mage are both included on that short list. Throw in Thalia, Gravecrawler, Geralf’s Messenger, Restoration Angel, Vexing Devil, Gavony Township and Moorland Haunt as well.

      However, Snapcaster Mage has been very consistently in the 5-7 tix range. I’d be more interested to see what price it is at in October. Likewise for every other rare listed here.

      I’m looking out to the Fall already, but I will not start buying for a while. Right now, I am getting more familiar with the price activity on ISD block mythics and the rares I’ve listed here. Some of the junk mythics might bottom out in July/August, but for any card played in Standard, they won’t see good prices till October.

      Thanks for reading, and the question!

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