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Insider: Looking Back at Magic 2014

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Time to look back at Magic 2014. That means it’s that chance for me to see what I predicted right and what I totally failed on this time around.

Entering M14, we knew a few things. First, that slivers were coming back, which was cool, as was Mutavault, which is also cool. Second, we knew that the set sucked, which was decidedly not cool.

That led to a lot of speculation that this set would be opened less than other core sets, a point that’s going to come up again as we go through this. Going in, though, I wasn’t sure that would be the case. But looking back at it, I’m not surprised that prices are holding higher than they typically would, which certainly indicates a lack of cards opened in comparison to past sets.

Also, it’s possible that Modern Masters cut into this set some, just as it did with Dragon’s Maze. Sure, most (but not all) of Modern Masters was off the market when M14 came out, but not all of it. Vitally, it’s also possible that people were simply tapped on cash after the expense of the Modern set, and that coupled with a lack of excitement likely all caused a smaller amount of sales for M14.

Anyway, let’s get to the cards.

Archangel of Thune

Then:

Baneslayer Angel this is not. While the ability is cool and this is a bit of a roadblock for aggressive decks, it’s nowhere near the $25 it’s preselling for unless there’s some cheap, incidental lifegain stuff to break it, which I don’t expect.”

Now: Still stubbornly at $25, despite seeing very little Standard play and just a hint of Modern play. Honestly, this is one of the cards that validates the hypothesis above. Even if it were to take the Sublime Archangel route and stay around $15-20 on casual and fringe play, the $25 mark doesn’t make sense because it’s sometimes played as a one-of in Modern. To me that’s a signal of supply-side factors at work. I expect it to take a Sublime Archangel route in the next year.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Then:

“I think this is a cool design, and probably does have a place in a few decks, though certainly as a four-of.

The way I see this being used is in a ramp deck full of stuff bigger than six mana. That way, ramping into this with a huge monster in hand is good, and even has the backup plan of ramping into said big guys anyway. In addition, casting this and plussing it helps you find said huge monsters.

That’s pretty much the only shell I see for it, and that seems pretty narrow. With that said, $25 seems way too high, and $10-15 more likely.”

Now: $17. After an initial bump, this guy is back on his way down, likely heading toward the mark I laid out originally. G/x is a very good shell in the new Standard, but I’m not sure they want a six-mana planeswalker, and if they do it may just be Elspeth.

Kalonian Hydra

Then:

“This seems like one of the best hydras we’ve ever seen. While it’s certainly not groundbreaking, it does kill in two swings.

More importantly, imagine curving Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch into this. That allows you to swing for 8 immediately on the turn your hydra comes down and also pumps your other unleashed dudes.

I’m not sure if curving a four-mana guy into a five-mana guy is good enough since it slows down your aggro deck, but I do know it isn’t $30 good enough. This thing will likely halve in price by rotation, and we’ll re-evaluate then.”

Now: $21 and trending downward. Again, we’ll see if he sees play, and if he does he'll probably hit $30 again, but I’m guessing he doesn’t see serious play, and the price will continue to drop.

Primeval Bounty

Then:

“Though this really belongs in a later section, I’ll include it now. I don’t like this at the $8 preorder, but I do like stocking up when it eventually bottoms out. While it’s not exactly an all-star must-include in EDH, it is playable there, and most importantly is a mythic.”

Now: Holding steady at $7. Have we seen the bottom yet? I’m inclined to think not, but it’s probably not too far away. If this doesn’t go any lower in the next month, it’s probably time to start picking them up for that Parallel Lives box.

Fiendslayer Paladin

Then:

"The power level on this is nice but not overwhelming. As such, unless B/R decks become huge in the format it won’t hold its $6 pricetag. But even narrow sideboard cards like Rhox Faithmender can hold $5 if they remain in high demand, which is something to keep in mind if this becomes too cheap.”

Now: Been fairly steady at $8. Another card that demonstrates the lack of M14 opened. In what world do marginally-played, Standard-only Rares hold $8? One where no wants to open M14.

Imposing Sovereign

Then:

“I don’t hate this card at $3. The risk at that price is pretty low, and it certainly seems like a powerful tool in Naya decks. The control decks have been partial to Blind Obedience, and now you get one that bears them for two as well. I like grabbing this to prepare for a possible jump, though $5-7 or so seems like the ceiling here.”

Now: Still $3, and with some hype behind it going into the new Standard. Several pros have talked up this card, so keep it on your radar if nothing else. Certainly if you traded for them at $3 you’re still doing fine, and increase your holdings if you’re a believer. Soldier of the Pantheon is going to open up a lot of good decks, and I think G/W is a solid player early.

Lifebane Zombie

Then:

“I would not be surprised if this saw some play, since it’s powerful and usually a two-for-one against the relevant decks. That said, I don’t see much upside at $6.”

Now: $8. I correctly pegged this as seeing play, and that there wasn’t much upside at $6. Certainly a cash buy at that price wouldn’t have been profitable (outside of the 2-3 days where you could buylist these for $7-8).

Remember what I said about G/W being good? Well, certainly one of those two colors will be, and I actually think this guy is a decent pickup right now. I’m not sold on black being part of the control decks yet, but this may just be a reason.

Mutavault

Then:

“My pick for the most-overhyped card in the set. We all remember Mutavault fondly, but that was in a time when tribal decks were all the rage and decks weren’t as color-intensive.

How in the world do Naya decks fit many of these in? How do three (or more)-color control decks fit it? We don’t know for sure about post-rotation, but we can assume the mana certainly won’t be much better than it is now, since M14 doesn’t even have a cycle of duals. Unless people move to less color-intensive decks I see Mutavault dropping to under $10 from $15 now, at which point I suggest stocking up on them for sure.”

Now: Holding steady at $15, literally unchanged from the preorder price, another sign of a lack of product opened.

I see a big opportunity with Mutavault right now. I was right about it when it came out that it wouldn’t make a huge splash, but two-color decks are much more viable these days, and while the colorless mana can hurt you, I see this picking up play in this Standard. Trading in at the $13-15 range is not a bad play.

Savage Summoning

Then:

“I know people are talking about this, but they’re mostly wrong. This is not a $6 card.”

Now: $1 and on the way to bulk. Told you, Ryan.

Scavenging Ooze

Then:

“This will surely see a fair amount of play. I think it could drop to $10 or so in the next two months, but as we near Modern season I think this fluctuates between $14 and 20 or so from there. We’ll also see how much this sees play in Modern and how much that affects its price moving forward.”

Now: $15. This behaved exactly as I predicted, dropping to $12 before rising back up to its current price.

I also don’t think this is a bad pickup right now. These Modern staples from M14 could spike early next summer as we enter the PTQ season. That said, I think they’ll drop back down after that, as the end of the season runs pretty close to rotation. It’s at that point we’ll have our next opportunity to buy in.

Witchstalker

Then:“I think this will likely be a big part of the Hexproof deck, and actually improves it a bit. I think it could spike above the $6 it is now, but probably won’t stay that high. Post-rotation, I’m not sure if there are enough pieces for the deck to survive, and this could tank pretty hard if not.”

Now: $3 and on the way down. I’m still surprised it didn’t see play in Hexproof, so the spike never occurred. I’ve also seen people testing this in new Standard, but I’m not a huge fan. Then again, I’ve been wrong on this once, so you never know.

But, yeah, not a fan of this even at $3, and one I missed hard in the set review. I think part of the reason I did was that control decks were already adjusting to Voice of Resurgence (and not playing spells on the opponent’s turn), so this thing’s second ability became an actual blank.

Door of Destinies/Sanguine Bond/Darksteel Forge

Then:

“I wanted to talk about all these at once. Some people are decrying the casual reprints Wizards seems to be doing regularly these days, but I’m not quite so gloom-and-doom. Sure it sucks that these formerly-valuable cards are worth less now, but it also means you can find more of them in binders now.

These will tank, but casual players will still want them. Just wait two months or so for them to bottom out, then begin stocking up again, same as you should be doing with Akroma's Memorial and the like from last year.”

Now: All of these have seemed to bottom out. While I don’t think the upside is going to make you rich, now is the time to pick up these slow, casual gainers for the future.

The Grade

And, that’s it! Overall, I’m not disappointed with my predictions here. Outside of Witchstalker, I didn’t really miss the playability of anything, and across the board the prices have held higher than we could typically expect, even from a Core Set. The fact that so many of these cards haven’t tanked like we could usually expect points in that direction.

That said, it now gives us an opportunity. It means that the casual cards and the Modern staples (and even the possible breakout Standard cards) have a higher upside than they otherwise would. That’s an opportunity, and it’s one I intend to take advantage of.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

19 thoughts on “Insider: Looking Back at Magic 2014

  1. I’m really curious to see what happens to vault and Ooze leading up to Modern season in 2014. It will help to get a baseline understanding of how popular they are for Standard over the next two months, but after that it will be a bit fuzzier.

    My bias is to consider the impact of modo redemption on the paper market. And with Ooze and Vault in the rare slot, M14 could be one of the more attractive core sets to redeem in recent memory. I’d be cautious about speculating on these two cards, especially in the medium to longer term.

    1. Agreed, they’re in an interesting spot. With Theros out, I’m not sure how much M14 is going to be redeemed (do we know how much of a hit redemptions took after the price increase?), they will be good case studies for the future, for sure.

    1. That’s fair. I totally missed Chandra. Burning Earth didn’t make it into the article (maybe missed it when I wrote it), but by the time we did the set review on the podcast before the prerelease I was all over it.

  2. Not trying to come off as “that guy”, but a lot of your analysis feels like it plays to both sides of the coin, kind of like you are trying to protect your opinions regardless which way the card prices go.

    Not saying your analysis work is a waste or anything, just kind of how it came off to me while reading

  3. I believe it’s a bit too early to say. Can’t we wait for like a month or two after Theros comes out because we judge someone’s bets just a month ago? Right now even the real price is just a kind of guesswork in of itself. The price of Witchstalker now, say, only reflects how good people think it will be. At least wait til the first (or second) Top 8 from a major event comes out.

    1. The biggest problem is keeping myself on a schedule. I usually do these the week after the prerelease article because it’s a dead-ish week and seems like a good time. With Core Sets and rotation it’s a little awkward, but I think it works otherwise.

  4. Am I correct in recalling you and David doing an assessment of each others’ set reviews for DGM? I believe that left out any of the hand-wavy bias that could pop up, not that I’m saying I read it that way. But I enjoyed knowing that it wasn’t there for certain. Also, and more importantly, this article clearly demonstrates how little M14 was opened.

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