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Insider: Finding Value in Theros

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Theros (THS) arrived on the scene at the end of September and didn't take long to shake things up. The Pro Tour in Dublin was the coming out party for the Standard strategies based on the devotion mechanic. Prices have largely stabilized based around the Standard and Block metagames up to this point, so it's possible to do some early analysis on the set's mythic rares.

It's important to keep in mind that THS will be opened more heavily than any large set in the past two years. You have to go all the way back to Scars of Mirrodin to find an equivalent set. This means that every rare, and many mythic rares, will be under steady pressure to drop in price as more and more drafts fire over time. The time to buy any rare or mythic priced above junk levels is a long way off.

The Rating System

I use this rating system to think about the value of mythic rares. I feel the system has utility and is a good way to assess whether or not cards are worth buying. Each mythic is followed by the current price and a rating, either Good Value, Fully Priced or Borderline.

  • Good Value -- At current prices or in the given price range, this card is a buy and I expect it to see higher prices in the medium- to long-term. These cards are the best speculative targets from a value perspective. Some of these cards might never make a splash in competitive constructed formats, but the risk of loss, if bought at the suggested prices, is low.
  • Fully Priced -- This is the other end of the spectrum, where downside risks are high. Fully Priced cards might maintain a high price, but further gains are doubtful. Do not buy these at current prices to speculate on.
  • Borderline -- This is somewhere in the middle of the other two, with some possibility of moving up or down in price. For cards with this rating, further scrutiny is required beyond just the price. If you have a large amount of capital, buy some amount of these cards and scoop up more if the price falls.

All prices are taken from mtgotraders and are current as of November 7th, 2013.

Fully Priced

Ashen Rider: This card needs some help in order to be playable in Standard at the moment as Angel of Serenity has a similar effect for one less mana and sees little play. Ashen Rider is seeing some play in Block, but that probably won't continue as the Born of the Gods is added to the card pool. As the card pool for Block Constructed expands, decks tend to sharpen up their curves. The long-term outlook for this one is barely above junk. If it dips down below 0.40 tix, it'll be worth buying though with the current price at 0.97 tix, this card is Fully Priced.

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver: At the moment, this isn't even a must play in Standard Esper Control decks so in the medium term this should trend lower. If this starts to see serious uptake in Block, it will maintain a price of 10+ tix. Otherwise it should drift down into the 4-6 tix range by the time Journey into Nyx is released. At that time and at that price, I wouldn't hesitate to buy. Current price is 8.20 tix and this card is Fully Priced.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion: It looks like WoTC is starting to get the hang of developing 5 or 6cc planeswalkers as evidenced by the play that this card and Garruk from M14 are getting. I do feel that in the long term this card will fall into the 8-to-10-ticket range. If this turns out to be the case by the release of M15 next summer, I wouldn't hesitate to buy at that price, but at the moment this is 14.74 tix and so it's Fully Priced.

Erebos, God of the Dead: This card shows up in the popular Mono-Black archetype of Standard, but typically only as one-of. This card has 2 tix written all over it down the road. Current price is 7.37 tix and Fully Priced.

Medomai the Ageless: It's doubtful this finds a home in Standard as a 6cc creature has to have an immediate impact to be worth playing. This one is pure junk. Stay away unless it gets down to 0.35 tix or less. Current price is 0.60 tix and thus it's Fully Priced.

Master of Waves: This card is basically already at maximum usage as a four-of in Standard blue devotion decks, which are powered up by cards from RTR block and M14. If blue devotion strategies get more help in Block, that would support the price. There are also rumblings of this card being used in Modern Merfolk decks. However Modern season is still months away and it typically doesn't have a big impact on the price of currently drafted cards anyway. This card should fall to lower and lower prices over time. Current price is 10.19 tix and it's Fully Priced.

Nylea, God of the Hunt: Showing up currently as a one- or two-of in both Standard and Block won't be enough to support the price on this card long-term. Current price is 3.34 tix and thus it's Fully Priced.

Purphoros, God of the Forge: Here's another god to stay away from. They are not good targets in general due to the legendary restriction and the narrow decks they encourage. I'd be interested in almost any god at 1 ticket or so, but the current price is 4.50 tix which means this is Fully Priced.

Thassa, God of the Sea: Basically everything that applies to Master of Waves also applies to this card, including the outlook for lower prices over time. At the current price of 7.49 tix, this card is Fully Priced.

Borderline

Heliod, God of the Sun: As the cheapest of the gods, this gets my contrarian instincts going. Often it can be correct to speculate on the lower-priced cards from playable cycles and then just wait for shifts in the metagame. However, I have the sense that the gods are being looked at as pseudo planeswalkers at the moment which I don't think is correct. I think we'll see three or four of the gods get down to sub 2 tix in the end. Heliod is already almost there at 2.06 tix, so this card is Borderline.

Hythonia the Cruel: Like Medomai, a 6cc creature needs to immediately impact the board somehow in order to get some traction. However, wrath effects can often find a home in Block Constructed even if they are overcosted, so I put this card at not quite junk. Try to get this for 0.50 tix or less, but the current price is 0.78 tix and thus it's Borderline.

Polukranos, World Eater: This is an early staple of Block Constructed where R/G ramp strategies are proving to be popular and successful. But this card doesn't get along with Lifebane Zombie in Standard. This will be one to keep an eye on longer term, but with a current price of 9.27 tix it's Borderline.

Stormbreath Dragon: This card's playability seems high as it has made an impact on Standard and it's one of the most played creatures in Block. From a top-down economic perspective there are non-intuitive reasons to think this card will see high prices in the medium-to-longer term. As more and more of THS is opened, many of the less played mythic rares will drift down in price, and value will accrue to the more played cards, which I think includes this card. It's hard for me to advocate this card as a buy, but it's not the worst idea. I'd be much happier picking it up in the 10 to 12 tix range. Current price is 15.59 tix and it's Borderline.

Underworld Cerberus:  My own experience testing Jund builds lately shows that this card can be pretty good, but that the Standard environment is not favorable to grindy decks right now. If this gets back down into the 0.5 to 1.0 tix range, I would be a buyer, but right now it's at 1.56 tix, so this card is Borderline.

Good Value

Xenagos, the Reveler: Early on, this planeswalker looks to be a pillar of THS Block Constructed. It's also seeing slightly more play than Garruk, Caller of Beasts in Standard at the moment. There are also two fairly good comparisons to look back on in Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed and Koth of the Hammer. Both of these cards maintained prices above 10 tix while they were being drafted. I would not hesitate to accumulate a substantial position in this card over time. Current price of 8.67 tix and this card is Good Value.

Wrapping Up

Every card in THS will be under pressure to come down in price due to continuous drafting over the coming eight months, so there's not much value in buying cards from this set at the moment.

As an online set, THS is cheap relative to paper, suggesting that demand from redeemers should support prices in the coming month. But I suspect that paper prices will continue to fall while online prices stay relatively flat. Buy the cards you need to play with right now, but don't speculate heavily on this set just yet.

15 thoughts on “Insider: Finding Value in Theros

  1. hi,matt,nice ideas~

    u really think theres no chance of THS in next 8 month?

    compare with RTR, did RTR rise from June,2013?(i cant get on Goldfish right now)

    and the lowest price of RTR pack is 2.6 and THS now is 3.5 ,far from the bottom

    1. Thanks for reading!

      RTR singles saw price increases after the release of GTC because of the switch away from triple RTR draft. This time it’s different as draft goes from TTT to BTT to JBT, so Theros will be continually opened for about 8 months. If you look back to how Scars of Mirrodin prices moved, they bottomed in and around New Phyrexia release events. That will be a good time to buy THS cards in general, but it’s a long ways off.

      THS boosters will be a safe and easy spec to make in the mean time. By January, interest in triple THS draft should be waning somewhat, but queues will still be awarding THS boosters. Prices on these should soften to around 3 tix. I’d be a buyer of THS boosters at that time for 3.2 tix or less.

      Once Born of the Gods is released, prizes will switch to these packs, and draft queues will award a lop sided number of packs (more Born of the Gods than Theros). These facts will eventually force the price of THS boosters higher as the online supply steadily dwindles. I expect to be able to sell THS boosters in the 3.5 to 3.9 tix range by the release of Journey Into Nyx.

  2. Newbie here. I have a question about Medomai, redemption and how the speculation on this is suppose to work.

    A while ago I’ve seen a bunch of people on twitter saying that it’s tine to get in on this card (it was 0.35 tix then). I did get 10 copies of the card around 0.4 since it moved up during a few hours. What now?

    From what I see the target price to sell this is 0.6. Right?

    When should this happen – this month (since redemption started) or when next set is released (since this one will be opened less) or when they are about to rotate out of Standard?

    1. Well, 0.35 tix is around the price floor for a junk mythic, so there’s not much downside. It’s hard to predict exactly when a currently drafted junk mythic will increase in price enough in order to sell it. You might be waiting until M15 or next Fall as usually there is some demand at that time. Redemption for THS has opened, but drafting is still putting a lot of supply into the market.

      Also, it could be time to revise buying practices around junk mythics. It’s possible the new redemption fee has changed it so there’s not much value in speculating on junk mythics anymore. We’ll see.

  3. I think you really had to dig deep to find a card to give good value. It’s a pitty you didn’t rate the better rares (thougtseize, nykthos) because those are interesting for speculators too.

    1. The only rares that have value are ones that aren’t being played, but might be played in the future. The prices for Thoughtseize, Hero’s Donwfall and Nykthos are in a long term decline so I see no fundamental reason to speculate on them at this time.

      Try Polis Crusher instead. It’s showing up in Block Constructed.

        1. I don’t see how that is possible. It would be unprecedented. See Snapcaster Mage and Deathrite Shaman for two recent examples of what a Fall set rare can do in the months after its release.

  4. One question about Thoughtseize. The LWR version is holding 15 tix even after the THS was released. While I think you are right with it being Fully Prices in Standard is there some value of getting those for modern as a long term spec?

    1. I think there are many better opportunities than Thoughtseize. While Thoughtseize will be played, you are fighting a flood of supply. Better to look towards cards that will be played, but aren’t seeing fresh supply all the time. Try Scapeshift instead.

  5. Hi Matt,

    nice article, I think you’re probably right about Xenagos – it see’s a fair bit of play too.

    One card I’ve identified as ‘good value’ is fleecemane lion. It’s down to like 0.7 tix at the moment and see’s a lot of play. I feel it’s very similar to a card like loxodon smiter which hovers around 1.5 consistently.

    Other factors are the price disparity between paper and online is huge for fleecemane.

    Online – Paper

    fleecemane: 0.7 – 5.3

    loxodon: 0.8 – 3.66

    how do you feel about this target and if you like it what do you think a good sell target is?

    cheers

    1. This seems like a fine idea. As a deck, G/W is basically totally off the map, so there’s lots of room for growth if the metagame shifts. Shop around, spread out your purchases, and try and catch the dips. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a big run on this guy, so you’ve got time until Born of the Gods shakes thing up.

      The comparison to Loxodon Smiter is probably a good way to think about it, so a sell target would be 1.5 tix in February.

    2. This is a good comparison and I picked up a few of these. The problem is GW isn’t that great of a deck right now, although Craig Wescoe championed it. The problem with fleecemane is that it fits into one deck and one deck only, similar to loxodon.

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