Jason’s Alticle – You’re the Man Now, Dog

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Greetings, Salutatorians,

I have heard tell that a great way to deal with writer's block is to start writing something, anything, just to get in the act of writing and the ideas will come more easily that way.

I think they did that in that movie "Finding Forrester" when Sean Connery was all, "You're the man now, dog," and that kid looked at him for like half a second too long, like he was about to say, "that's pretty racist, you reclusive old fruitcake," but opted not to. Yeah, that movie was awesome.

What was I talking about, again? Oh, yeah.

We're All Bad At This

I mean, not all of us, obviously. So, Maro wrote in some article, or a blog post, or one of his comics....or a drive to work episode... wow, Maro's prolific. Yeah, so in one of his many outlets, he said that when you survey them, 95% or some absurdly high number of competitive Magic players think they're above average.

Everyone knows a handful of truly terrible players, and we're better than them, and then we're not as good as Owen Turtenwald because who the hell is better than Owen Turtenwald? We all fall somewhere between the two extremes of Owen and the guy who has been playing for five years and still draws a card before he untaps his land. We read articles, so we skew high, right? We're actually pretty good because we got 14th at that GPT that one time and we have a SCG subscription.

Guess what? Half of all Magic players are below average. That "below average" demographic contains the guy with a 97-card, unsleeved cat warrior tribal deck with the spot on his head where the scar tissue is preventing hair from growing back in, but there is a 50% chance it contains you. I mean, maybe not, but everyone thinks they are above average (90%+ do, anyway) which means a lot of people are WRONG. You are bads at Magic, goes home and wash de shames off of you.

But even if you're good at this, I would recommend taking a look at what you're doing and how you do it with a critical eye. A lot of people are in the below-average demographic because they think they aren't and therefore aren't trying to improve continuously.

A lot of logical fallacies accompany the kind of delusion a below-average player or speculator engages in. You would think someone who thinks they are a better player than they are would learn otherwise quickly when they scrub out of an event and reality dick-slaps them in the face, but that doesn't always do the trick. "Bad beats," they say. "My opponent was lucky."

Is there an 0-2 bracket for the finance community? Unless you're trying to go infinite in paper finance like me or Ryan Bushard or a few other crazy idiots, it's not always obvious when you're not making money at this because you always have money from your job coming in.

So if you're not destitute and keep your box of shame hidden in a closet so you can forget about the time you bought 100 copies of Rubblebelt Raiders, you may not realize you're below average at this. At the very least, we all have "below average at this person" tendencies.

How best to quantify it?

Excel at MTGFinance

You see what I did there? I made a nice little play on words because I'm not just talking about being excellent at finance, I'm also referring to the program "Microsoft Excel" and I just realized you don't know why that's funny because I haven't mentioned that we're going to track our predictions in Excel yet.

We're going to track our predictions in Excel.

If you haven't taken this advice the million other times it's been offered, you should consider it. Nothing deals with logical fallacies and blind spots like getting the data on paper. It helps you stop making excuses and helps you see what's working. You can track where your best growth is, and it may not be in speculating like you might imagine. Make sure you track collections you buy and how much you made outing them, too.

Obviously, none of these ideas are new, but let this reminder serve as a push to get you actually doing it if you haven't already. I noticed that I was more thoughtful about what I bought when I knew I would have to be accountable later, even if it was to myself.

It's embarrassing to have a box full of Skylashers, it's even more embarrassing to have a cell in an excel spreadsheet telling you the exact size and shape of the bag of farts you ate when you invested in them. My spreadsheet also includes a cell that includes the price point I am looking to sell out so I remember and can just check trend data until I hit my target number.

Bothering to do this has been a good exercise and has helped me with my hangup of feeling lucky about my specs that hit. Confronting your failures has a way of doing that.

So how did the non-speculators do this weekend?

Old Results

I guess they accidentally published the results of Grand Prix DC again. No? Owen Turtenwald won again? Wow, okay. Skill game.

Grand Prix DC Albequerque Coverage

It looks like they messed up and published the results of PT Dublin, actually, because all I see are stupid Mono-Blue and Mono-Black devotion decks. It would appear that the Standard format has been solved a few months early, folks. Thanks for coming out.

What can we even learn from analyzing these results? Nightveil Specter will continue to be expensive because it's in both Magic decks. Nykthos, same.

It's really too bad, because people were really excited about Reaper of the Wilds at the beginning of the weekend. How far down the page are we going to have to look to find a copy? I'm scrolling. Looks like none in the Top 8. Keep going... and none in the Top 16. There were a few interesting decks that I will get to, but check out the "Top 5 cards" of the weekend. It's miserable. Actually miserable.

This is worse than Jund vs. Faeries. It's worse than Necro Summer. Worse than the firebombing of Dresden, even. Okay, okay, I went too far. It isn't worse than Jund vs. Faeries. But still!

Andrew Hanson's Naya list looked like fun. Pat Cox fielded what looked like a nice, consistent Boros beats deck. None of it mattered. You played Mono-Black or Mono-Blue because this is a solved format and the best players figured out the best decks and it's all over. Andrew Hanson's Naya deck looked fine, until he lost in the first round of Top 8 because Todd Anderson stomped his peehole shut with mono-x devotion.

The Mono-Blue decks are jamming four Gainsay in the board to improve the mirror despite their opponents doing the same. Want to play U/x? Prepare for splash damage. Black decks are running Dark Betrayal in the board to improve the mirror despite their opponents doing the same. Want to play B/x? Prepare for splash damage.

I don't have an aesthetically-satisfying third example to go here because people are only running two $&%*ing decks.

What does this mean? If the format is truly "solved" then there will be a lot of negative pressure on the prices of cards that don't go in either deck. Breakout decks are less likely to see big price spikes because of dingleberries waxing analytical about how the breakout deck isn't "Tier 1".

A stale format is going to raise anticipation for the next set, which is still a long way off. With redemption coming up, we could see Standard prices dip quite a bit. I expect that if the next set is truly multi-colored, we will see more deck diversity after the set is out. Cards like Soldier of the Pantheon could really pan out, but I am not buying in until after redemption.

Were those Reaper of the Wilds everyone was talking about more successful at the Open?

SCG Providence Standard

Matt Costa's winning list contained three of the mammer-jammers, but there has been no price movement on SCG. The cards are chilling at a cool $2 and show no signs of bumping up.

Some of the low-hanging fruit on TCG Player has been snatched up, which makes little sense to me, frankly. If the price is the exact same on SCG as it is on TCG Player, why buy 20 copies from each of two vendors on TCG Player when you can buy 40 on SCG and run a decent risk of them restocking at a higher price? SCG being sold out sends a stronger signal to everyone than buying a bunch of TCG dealers out of their one copy, something no one will notice or can even track.

I saw opportunity on Reaper, but even if it hits $5 I can't make a ton of return on it selling on TCG Player. If it hits $5, the buylist moves to.... $2. Not great if you bought in at $2.

Reaper was touted by the reddit community and a few have been on it since its spoiling, but I remain bearish (is that a thing? As in the opposite of "bullish") on the card. I'll take a safer bet. Still, Costa presents an alternative to the devotion decks in the form of a Jund deck, and we know how those "I only play Tier 1 decks, brah" dingleberries love Jund.

I never thought I would live to see the day where I would be glad for a jund deck to emerge... It's a decent enough midrange deck. Huntmaster is replaced, I guess, by Polukranos. Thundermaw Hellkite is replaced, of course, by Read the Bones. It looks decent enough. Can it beat the aggro onslaught from Mono-Blue or the crippling Gray Merchant of Alphabets from the Mono-Black Pack (Rat) Attack?

Don't ask me, ask Matt Costa himself, who conceded in his deck tech that Reaper is in the right colors for the format but stated that Reaper "is a bad card". Will it survive the final cut when the deck ultimately gets picked up by others and tinkered with? Who knows?

Two copies of the budget R/W Beats deck cracked the Top 16. Unfortunately, the deck takes a lot of splash damage from the copies of Shrivel that Mono-Black is beginning to run to deal with things like Master of Waves. Never has the solitary toughness in Daring Skyjek been more of a liability. Still, it's quick and consistent and it's possible the format will open up a bit and let a deck like this get there.

Chris Butcher has a cool name, and he played a Mono-Red deck with Chained to the Rocks, which I didn't initially consider as the perfect white card to splash into a red deck but in hindsight, it's obvious.

Chandra, Pyromaster is falling out of favor a bit, but this deck can make good use of it. I like Chandra's Phoenix in a meta where people are running Thoughtseize and Rakdos's Return and taking a lot of direct damage to the face. The Chained to the Rocks will bail you out if your opponent resolves a Master of Waves, most likely. I kind of like Rubblebelt Maaka as a Lightning Bolt, even more as a Giant Growth, and it's going to be a Hill Giant a non-zero number of times.

Dustin Brewer's deck looks cool, actually. It is another potential vehicle for Reaper, but it also uses old throwback cards like Lotleth Troll and Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Black creatures are pretty hard to kill and G/B gives you the best removal. Golgari Charm is where you want to be right now--who can argue with "Super Shrivel"?

I don't want to talk about Standard anymore, so I won't.

SCG Providence Legacy Top 16

So I got to bear witness to two equally unsavory scenarios--the Open is won either by Sneak and Show, or Alex Bertoncini, literally the worst. If you feel like having your jimmies rustled, check out his Top 8 profile. He is out of the running for player of the year, but he's going a long way toward a "most punchable face" title. He got second, so at least he didn't win.

Bertonisn'titfuntomakecheaterpunswithhislastname played Esper Nemesis blade, jamming a full four copies of the signature Merfolk. Mind Seize is still a good flip, which kind of sucks. I had quite a few copies of cards like Decree of Pain that are now worth next to nothing because of their printing in Mind Seize. I think if you have any of those cards, they will be a long hold to get the value back up. Decree of Pain is silly in EDH and its value will go up eventually. Samesies for Sol Ring, which we've seen hit $10 within a year of reprinting and can likely do so again.

Death and Taxes cracks the Top 8. Some of those cards have a lot of potential to go up. The deck is pretty cheap outside the ridiculous mana base and it is getting there. It races Deathblade pretty well and if they can't Stoneforge out their equipment, Thalia is a nice damper to their plans. Buying a whole turn is good to win the race, usually.

Lots of blade variants. Equipment plus Nemesis is good.

I still like Shardless BUG, and it looks like the format does, too. Free spells are fun, and casting Ancestral Bears or Hymn to Grey Ogre is pretty dandy.

That U/W/R Stone Nemesis deck has made another appearance, in 7th and 8th place. Honestly, come up with a way to beat Stoneforge and Nemesis. You can smash the whole format if you can beat that and not scoop to combo decks. I think Rhox War Monk and Tower of the Magistrate are where you want to be right now, honestly.

Sam Black was on to something with his Bant deck, and being able to run Stoneforge and Nemesis yourself feels dirty but gets there. Blue cards and Gaddock Teeg help against unfair decks. Humility out of the board is nice against both Sneak and Show and Nemesis decks.

I can't decide if Pox or 12-Post gets "Pet Deck of the Week" so I guess it's a joint win. I love Pox and am glad it continues to evolve. Night of Souls' Betrayal is a card I suggested last week for dealing with Nemesis, half joking. No joke, though, it gets the job done.

This is a pretty standard 9th-16th place even if the Top 8 is a little depressing. Legacy could become "solved" too, and that would be really bad for a format whose adoption is tenuous right now. I don't see Legacy going away, but I could see people hating it too much to bother if it gets stale. Banning Nemesis would be a horrible thing to have to resort to and I doubt Legacy gets any bannings any time soon.

That does it for me this week. Join me next week to find out whether Mono-Blue or Mono-Black came out on top that week.

11 thoughts on “Jason’s Alticle – You’re the Man Now, Dog

  1. On second thought, I think Tower is still fine. It doesn\’t get the equipment off of Nemesis, but it makes their equipment worse in general. It keeps Batterskull from smashing you on its own and it keeps them from suiting up a Delver. You can\’t interact with the Nemesis, but you have a better matchup against the deck if not just that one card. I won\’t pretend I had all that in mind when I wrote this, though.

  2. I don’t get all the fuss about TNN. He’s no harder to kill than Progenitus, but you have a lot more time to do so. All you need to do is play some fucking sweepers. Like a certain 2B one they printed in another Commander deck. Or Verdict. Or Golgari Charm. Or any of the infinity billion other cards that can kill a 3/1 without targeting it.

    TNN is a very powerful card, but it’s not Merfolk Jesus.

  3. Hey Jason,

    I played the G/W scion deck you have been touting at ChannelFireballs free standard event yesterday went 3-0

    Vitu-Ghazi guildmage was most surprising all star of the night… that and wurm crushed each time I got them out.

    only problem card I ran into was stormfront dragon.. unless I could race it with wurms.. I couldnt touch it

  4. Couple things:

    Rubblebelt Raiders hasn’t failed yet. I mean, I have 116 of them…it can’t fail..right? RIGHT?

    Anyway, what’s the chances of you sticking that spreadsheet of yours in the forums? No necessarily with your data, just as a template for others to input their data into Apparently, I didn’t pay much attenion to that one class I took during my undergrad that breifly glanced over advanced Excel, so out side of a basic family budget, I’m at a lose.

  5. Rhox War Monk doesn’t seem very good against Nemesis either. Remember, if they block your War Monk with their Nemesis then you don’t gain 3 life because no damage is dealt. If they only have 1 Nemesis with no equipment, that’s fine, but if they put any pants on their Nemesis you’re suddenly way behind, and if they have n+1 Nemesis and you have n War Monk they get to beat you for 3.

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