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Insider: Digging up the Plants – 2013 Edition

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This is an article series I started a few years back. It began mainly as a fun exercise but turned out to be really profitable, so I started to revisit it every summer.

The idea is to look at what we know about the new block and figure out how it affects the cards currently available to us. Last year we knew about multicolor, humans and merfolk coming in the next block. Of course, some of those turned out to be more true than others. (Looking at you, sad stack of Master of the Pearl Tridents in my car.)

Anyway, I’ve hit upon some solid calls in the past doing this, and last year was no exception. There were the really solid calls of the Innistrad lands, Stromkirk Noble, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Champion of the Parish and Silverblade Paladin, all of which made some nice gains.

I also put watch calls on Riders of Gavony, which did have a few weeks to shine where you could make good money by buying them in bulk, and Craterhoof Behemoth, which obviously spiked super hard and made people money.

Theros Block

So let’s look at what we know about Theros

  • Enchantments -- Wizards has announced that this is an "enchantment" block.
  • Devotion -- A new mechanic that counts the number of colored mana symbols you have, like chroma from Eventide.
  • Gods
  • Minotaurs
  • Merfolk?

Obviously the important thing here is enchantments, so I’m going to keep that in mind while trying to find some sleepers. Watch calls are just that, and buy calls mean to acquire the card, which I usually do through trading rather than cash, where there’s more overhead.

Martial Law

A card like this is certainly pretty loose. It’s not the worst in Constructed if the format slows down, but it’s also unlikely to be better than something like Supreme Verdict. But if there is some sort of enchantment-centered deck, this could go from bulk status to a few bucks. Imagine if there’s a way to pull enchantments out of your deck or reduce their cost; something like this could be useable.

I’m not overly excited for this one, but it’s worth noting.

Verdict: Watch

Sphere of Safety

When I talk about the “Enchantment Deck,” it’s mostly because of this card. Ghostly Prison is a fine card, and this can do wonders in the right deck. Will we get the pieces for that deck? Will the format slow down enough for it?

We may not ever find out, but I know Travis Woo has written about this before, and I’m sure he won’t be the only one to try it out once Theros hits the streets. That could take this bulk uncommon to solid buylist territory for a while. It’s also possible this is basically the Maze's End deck.

Verdict: Buy, but only because it’s basically a draft leftover right now. Pick them up as you can, but don’t buy for more than bulk.

Underworld Connections

Here we have a card that is good on its own in addition to fitting into an enchantment theme. It’s also fallen down to near-bulk status, which makes it tempting since it was worth a few bucks not that long ago, and is still a great source of card advantage.

Verdict: Buy

Mana Bloom

I’ve seen people talk about this before, and while I’m obviously not super excited, I can imagine places where it’s better than a Rampant Growth effect, which I don’t believe will actually be in Standard next year.

Anyway, let’s think back to the Sphere of Safety deck. Playing this on turn two to cast Martial Law and turn three or using it to jump to five mana on turn four isn’t the worst thing imaginable, as long as there are plenty more “enchantments matter” cards in that deck.

Let’s be clear. This is a really bad Farseek, but even “bad” versions of cards can sometimes be what you need. If such a deck exists and wants to accelerate, having that come in enchantment form can actually be a benefit.

Verdict: Buy, again only because it’s bulk. It’s a no-lose situation.

Detention Sphere

Such a deck also assuredly wants Spheres. And with O-Ring leaving the format, this becomes that go-to card. I think this is just a solid card period that has bottomed out at around $2, and should only go up from here.

Verdict: Buy

Blind Obedience

Another card that has been good enough to see some play on its own. How good this is will tie directly into how many haste creatures (like Exava) are terrorizing the format. It’s falling to dollar-rare status at this point, though, and there’s no reason not to let that continue until there’s a better reason to buy in.

Verdict: Watch

Debtors' Pulpit

I kind of hate that I’m including this, but it was the hot tech at the Block Pro Tour to shut down opposing Aetherlings without wasting a million cards. That could be enough to make it relevant. Doesn’t hurt to grab out of junk piles in case it hits a quarter on buylists or whatever.

Verdict: Watch

Assemble the Legion

Now here’s a card I like. I was big on this when it came out and hyped it during our set review on Brainstorm Brewery, and after a little while it started putting up some results.

The metagame shifted after that (and Aetherling was printed), so decks started to go elsewhere for their game-winning bombs. That said, it’s between $1-2 now and could easily double up if it saw play. I keep defaulting back to Sphere of Safety as the “enchantments matter” card, but in reality there could be plenty of new cards that follow the same trajectory, and in such a deck this could be better than Aetherling.

Verdict: Watch

Deadbridge Chant

Another card I hyped in my set review that doubled in price the weekend after it released. The card advantage this provides is insane, and gives non-blue decks another source of late-game card-drawing power.

Of course, there’s no telling whether the metagame will be right for something like this in a few months, but it is worth keeping an eye on.

Verdict: Watch

Gaze of Granite

A Cube card mostly, I’m not sure this will ever be fast enough to make waves in Standard. But we have talked before about how Dragon’s Maze is the perfect storm to create expensive cards, so it is worth mentioning because it kills enchantments in addition to everything else.

Verdict: Watch

Ajani's Chosen

This is the most obvious plant we have, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Given what we know about the new mechanic bestow (enchantment creatures that can be cast as an aura and then become a creature if they’re ever not enchanting something), I believe you can cast a creature like this with Chosen out and attach it to the cat token without paying the extra bestow cost.

That’s a lot of text, and I think maybe it says something about this mechanic. Complexity creep, right?

Anyway, assuming that works like I think it does, you can get some mileage out of the Chosen. At near-bulk right now, it’s hard to lose.

Verdict: Watch, possibly Buy if I understand the new mechanic right.

Planar Cleansing

I think it may be time for control decks to go back to Cleansing if the bestow mechanic makes Constructed waves. Basically it provides a layer of defense to removal spells, keeping you from getting two-for-oned, but it also provides a defense against Supreme Verdict. That means Cleansing could play a pretty key role.

This has been reprinted a ton, so I doubt it’s going to go crazy in terms of price, but it’s worth keeping in your binder for sure.

Verdict: Buy

Primeval Bounty

This is a big EDH card in addition to maybe making some Standard waves. At $6 now, I don’t hate trading into these since they have a solid back-up niche even if they never touch a Standard game.

Verdict: Buy

Cyclonic Rift

Bouncing permanents actually seems kind of relevant now. That means this card, which has stayed around $2 since it was printed, probably has more upside than downside at this point. Another safe call.

Verdict: Buy

Low-Risk Bets

I hope you’ll notice few of these calls involve much risk. The bulk rares you’re unlikely to lose money on, and the more expensive stuff already has some backing for why it’s worth money.

There’s not a lot of hype in the prices of these calls right now, which is one of the best things about them. I don’t think we have another Stoneforge Mystic here, but there are some solid candidates for double-ups, which is what I like.

Did I miss anything? Are of these calls out of line? Let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

10 thoughts on “Insider: Digging up the Plants – 2013 Edition

  1. Personally, I think there are so much opportunities now that we better bet on the right horse instead of blind speculation.

    I used to think like this, and I ended up (like most of us) with a big pile of splinterfrights.

    It’s best to profit of the summer dip and target the sure bets.

    For me, all of these are watch cards, except detention sphere, which is a safe bet because it already saw play, even in eternal formats.

    Additions: the uncommons/commons. There are a few decent ones in RTR block. madcap skills

    verdant haven

    ethereal armor

    pursuit of flight

    gruul war chant

    unflinching courage

    gift of orzhova (for devotion lovers)

    1. Gift and Unflinching Courage I think are good ones to pick up, the former for Devotion things and the latter just on power level. And yeah, while I won’t be going super deep on any of these outside of D-Sphere and Bounty, this will inform my trading over the next several weeks/months.

    1. Just as I was thinking, the enchantment creatures (these are NOT the gods !) only become aura’s when you pay for the bestow cost; so if played for their normal cost they will trigger Ajani’s chosen to make a token but they can not be attached to that token. Obviously the developers took care of this chance on undermining the ability.

  2. I quite like Oath of the Ancient Wood, too. It triggers upon entering the battlefield, so it affects the board even if it gets removed. It also works very well with enchantment creatures: if there are enough playable enchantment creatures to build a deck around them, I could see the Oath being played in it.

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