Devoted to Red, Then Blue, and Financials Too

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Some events you just aren't meant to win. It seemed I was destined for mediocrity this past Saturday at the Star City event in Indy. Although I started out 2-0, the next three rounds were not kind to me.

I found myself not only making a couple inefficient plays, but also took the mulligan bus all around the town. Some of my stops on the bus involved me not playing any lands, while other games I was granted half the lands my deck possessed. The killer combo of mulligans, mana issues and misplays is a sure-fire way to find yourself chilling in the outskirts of the lower tables. It was not my day.

There were some adjustments from the list I proposed last week, so let me start with the list and follow it up with a brief synopsis of my thoughts.

Red Green Devotion

With all the problems I had at the event, it’s no surprise that I did not have many explosive or even good draws with the deck. Although I started out well, I did not really get to see what the deck is capable of.

In testing this deck performed much better, but with a limited amount of experience, I would say that it is not consistent enough to see play right now.

My main concern is that it can be a bit clunky. Although it is capable of some extremely fast starts, when your opponent has removal for your first few permanents, it will be difficult to get the deck into gear. If your first few turn are uninterrupted, you opponent most likely does not have a chance at winning if you have even a mediocre hand.

If you are going to play this deck in the future, I would advise testing it before taking it to a big event. Some of the lines are unintuitive unless you have played against a variety of strategies.

One positive for me was the power of Chandra's Phoenix. That card impressed me in the matchups I faced. The Chandra, Pyromasters were extremely good from the sideboard as well.

I wonder if a version of this deck with a lower mana curve would perform better. The reason I am not a fan of a lower curve is because I don’t like the one-mana threats. Maybe I need to play some games with Firedrinker Satyr before I can see how good he is, but at the moment, I can’t get on board with him.

If the next set provides some red one-drops with a bit of utility, this deck could become a legitimate contender. As for now, it is too clunky and what used to be an amazing threat in Stormbreath Dragon has now become Doom Blade fodder. The metagame is not in the right place for Red Devotion to thrive.

If you were curious about the actual event, I had to face a number of different controlling strategies. Here are the opponents I faced.

  • U/W control – Win
  • RWB – Win
  • G/B Midrange – Loss
  • Esper – Loss
  • UWR – Loss

Standard Financial Observations

You may not know this about me, but I love the financial side of Magic almost as much as the competitive side. The entire time I’ve been playing this game, the value of cards and trading has been an important and enjoyable aspect of why I stay with it. At the beginning, I traded because I could not afford to purchase cards I needed. If I needed a new deck, I literally traded for the whole thing.

For a while even traded for commons and uncommons at the prerelease so I would have everything I needed to play. From there, it spawned into trading for cards I thought were undervalued. The truth is, I just really love to trade.

Eventually, I convinced a local shop owner who did not carry singles to let me sell cards in his shop. It was amazing how fast my small business grew. All of a sudden, the players at the shop could get a hold of the cards they needed for their decks. The competition at the shop rose dramatically and everyone seemed to have more fun because they had access to all the cards they wanted for their decks instead of suffering with sub-par cards.

That situation ended up not working out and I sold off the stock from the business after a quick six months selling there for a nice profit. I called that endeavor, ‘Case to Shop.’ It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in Magic.

Fast forward to a month ago and I found myself in a position to purchase a different local shop with a friend of mine. The owner basically made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. We have gotten off to a great start, but still have a ton of work to do in order to make Galaxy Games a bigger name in our area. (If you are ever in the southeastern part of Ohio, stop out to hang out.)

The reason I bring this up is because the shop is doing pretty well so far. We completely sold out of Theros packs and boxes as well as all major singles from the set. Because I had an opportunity to attend the Star City Indy event, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to trade for singles that we needed at the shop.

I had a plan. Take all our older cards that weren’t selling and turn them into Standard mythic rares we can sell in our case. Normally this would be a terrible idea because the older cards are much more likely to hold their value than the high-variance Standard ones. In my case, we just needed to turn them into cards we could sell since we couldn’t afford to open more product for singles.

Trading my decently playable older cards for Standard mythics proved harder than you might think. Most of the people at the event were Standard-only players and didn’t really want older cards. In addition, I could not make some deals work with players because everyone wanted to use the prices listed at the venue. Overall, I was okay making ‘bad trades’ because many of the cards in the shop binder were obtained through our buylist. So either way, I’m coming out ahead.

The majority of mythics from Theros were, as you can imagine, in high demand. I have noticed higher prices across the board with this set than previous ones, as I’m sure everyone has.

With so many of the mythics from this set being valuable, my theory is this: rares from Theros will have a much lower price threshold than that of a normal set. So much product was/will be opened just to meet the demand the mythics are generating, how can the rares be worth much money at all?

Before I came to this realization, I was prioritizing the lands in the set because they should increase in value long term. With how many copies will be available, I doubt we will see much of a rise next year during the typical spike. Even cards like Hero's Downfall and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx should fall in price despite their high playability because there are just too many copies out there for sale. Keep this in mind as you are obtaining your cards from Theros.

Devoted to Blue: The Color Crisis

What is going on with this aggressive blue deck anyway? In the time I’ve been playing this game, the only time I’ve ever seen twenty-something creatures in a blue deck is the one time I designed it myself.

To be honest, I love this development. I think blue creature decks are a ton of fun to play with and it’s awesome that we have that option in Standard right now.

With that being said, this is no typical blue deck. The normal progression of this deck goes like this:

Turn 1 – guy
Turn 2 – guy
Turn 3 – guy
Turn 4 – draw some cards
Turn 5 – more guys or bounce their guy

That is not the recipe for any blue deck I’ve ever played against. It is more the normal process for a white weenie deck.

You may notice the similarities between Mono-Blue Devotion and Mono-White Devotion because they are basically the same deck. As crazy as it sounds, the difference is the blue deck has much better creatures and a better god.

Think about if Thassa cost four mana like all the rest of the gods instead of the aggressively-costed three she actually is. I don’t think Mono-Blue would be a tier one deck if her cost was adjusted to match the others in her cycle.

Even though the blue creatures are better than the white ones, that does not mean that the blue ones are very good. Tidebinder Mage was excellent when the deck first debuted but now that the metagame is not all red and green creatures, you are casting a vanilla 2/2 most of the time. If the next set gives us some better blue cards, as Wizards is prone to do, we may even see the deck evolve into something even better.

When I’m thinking about this deck, a man name Paul Sligh comes to mind. That name may resonate with some of you, while others have never heard the name or the story. You may think the name sounds familiar and that is because his last name turned out to be highly influential to the game of magic.

Mr. Sligh was a mathematician, focused in Statistics I believe, who liked to play Magic. This is not an uncommon thing today, but he was most likely the first of this breed of player who analyzes the game by breaking down card choices and decisions by percentage. When I first started playing, his story, as well as the deck concept he designed, fascinated and inspired me in many ways.

The deck he is famous for creating is the eponymous Sligh. Traditionally, many red decks have been called by the name, but too few of them have followed in the original intent of the deck. The goal was to utilize all of your mana each turn by casting efficient creatures and then finish your opponent off with cheap burn spells.

Ideally you would have some type of utility lands to turn your lands into damage as well. In case you’ve never seen it, here is the breakdown for the mana costs of your creatures. Remember as you are looking at these numbers, the curve is designed so that it’s statistically likely you will cast a creature on each of your first three turns.

1 mana slot: 9-13
2 mana slot: 6-8
3 mana slot: 3-5
4 mana slot: 1-3
X spell: 2-3
Removal/Burn: 8-10

Setting your deck up in this manner lets you take advantage of the early game. Your goal is to present a board state that your opponent cannot come back from.

If you compare this curve to that of the blue deck, you will find that it falls right in line with most of the sequence. The part that is not quite right is the one-mana cost creature spot. Mono-Blue needs more one-drops for this curve to work out on a regular basis. Theoretically, it needs more removal spells as well.

For a more detailed Magic History lesson, check out these links here and here.

With that in mind, here is my current version of Mono-Blue Devotion. It is light on spells, but heavy on devotion. The main difference from the other lists is the addition of Galerider Sliver.

Some players have been supporting this change and I’ll admit I was skeptical about the card, but my initial impression is that it is very good. Sometimes it is just another one-drop to fill out your curve and make the deck more consistent, but other times you can jump your Mutavaults over your opponents creatures.

The sideboard is just tentative right now so keep that in mind. I do think the cards I put there are potent cards to bring in for a variety of different purposes but I’m sure not all of them will stay.

Mono Blue devotion

As you can see, the list is quite similar to others of the same name, but my hope is that this version is more streamlined and consistent. Post-board, you can make your deck a little better or transform into a deck with more midrange and late-game threats.

At the moment, I feel like Domestication is the best answer to a bunch of different decks, but most importantly the mirror. I may also want a Dispel or two. In previous versions, that card has impressed me.

As long as testing goes well, it’s my plan to rock this deck at the TCG Player Invitational this weekend in Columbus. If you are at the event, stop over, say hi, and well talk about your thoughts on the metagame. Good luck to all those going.

Until Next Time,

Unleash the Nykthos Force!

18 thoughts on “Devoted to Red, Then Blue, and Financials Too

  1. Without a doubt Theros will be WotC’s most successful and most opened set as Hasbro have already implied the pace of sales is higher than RTR (which MaRo has openly stated as their most successful set of all time). This makes it extremely tricky to hold any Theros singles for medium or long term.

    Every now and then I read a MtG article that reminds me how far this game has come and that’s exactly what your history lesson on Sligh and his impact on deckbuilding did. Great article Mike!

  2. “I had a plan. Take all our older cards that weren’t selling and turn them into Standard mythic rares we can sell in our case. Normally this would be a terrible idea because the older cards are much more likely to hold their value than the high-variance Standard ones.”

    I really like that you brought this concept to light. I’ve had a tough time convincing my preferred LGS owner that he needs to do just that. He’s had some more expensive Legacy/Modern cards sitting in his case for 6+ months and is constantly out of some standard mythics. We’re all going to the SCG Classic in Charlotte this week so I’ll see how well he does there with these trades.

    1. Glad I could bring light to a tough topic. I think trading will be better at the TCG Invitational this weekend. Trying to get people to not go by star city prices was hard. I did get a lot of stock but I didn’t do as well as I should have. Once I started trading from the Standard cards I had gotten earlier in the day, I did a bit better too. There were a ton of players only interested in Standard and many I talked to that it was their first event. Surprised me more people didn’t want my playable Legacy cards for dumb Standard ones though.

      My thought about the store is that if you aren’t moving something, get rid of it and get something you can move. No store is Star City and you shouldn’t be charging like they are. If you do that, you are losing a ton of business because people are just going to go elsewhere.

  3. “Trading my decently playable older cards for Standard mythics proved harder than you might think.”

    If you are still up for this, talk to me (QED2 in the forums). I have a longbox full of RTR block staples that I would love to convert into older stuff.

    1. I might very well be interested. I need to see what happens at FNM tomorrow night. There are definitely some RTR block cards I need for sure. What I mostly need is Theros mythics though, can you supply those? Send me an email and we’ll go from there.

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