Greetings, read...people who article-read... read my article
Did any of you pull Walgreens' pants down?
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Christmastime is the best. Note I didn't say "the Holidays" and it's not because I'm culturally insensitive; far from it. You can celebrate Hanukkah (well, you can in exactly 363 days, I guess. It was EARLY this year) or Kwanzaa or the barbarian festival of Yule or whatever you want. I'm not endorsing Christmas. What I am saying is that Christmas is clearly the best winter holiday.
Here in the United States, the day after Halloween every year stores take down their plastic skeletons and fake spiderwebs and put up red and green colored lights, fake pine trees covered in fake snow and gigantic wire skeleton reindeer for some reason. Then the stores fill with shoppers who look at all of this Holiday cheer and say "Ugh, it gets earlier every year! It's not even Thanksgiving yet!" because they are Ebeneezer Scrooge McGrinches and they don't know how to have fun.
You want to know why Christmas is the best? Because you don't have to believe in any sort of Christian stuff to benefit from it. At worst Christmas for non-Christians is mildly annoying. At best, it's an opportunity to save money on stuff you were going to buy anyway.
Hanukkah is a great tradition and the practitioners of that faith are, in my experience, lovely people, but I am not going to get excited for Hanukkah until I get eight crazy nights of sales on booster packs. Are you either a Christian or a non-Christian? Wait, of course you are because those two groups encompass everyone. Let me rephrase--I don't care if you are a Christian or a Non-Christian. Keep it to yourself. Or... celebrate with your family privately. You know what I mean. What you believe or not is not and has never been the point.
The point is, you need to pay attention to Christmas because there are sales, and sales make us money. The best part is, you get to participate no matter what you believe. I'd like to highlight a few examples of deals I have found out about that could save you money and make you forget what you were going to write in the comment section about how affronted you are at the premise of this article.
BOGO $%^& Yourself
Get it? Like the movie Argo?
Anyway, the first one came to my attention via a Slate article I read today and I won't pretend it didn't inspire this entire piece despite being barely and tangentially related to the rest of the deals I found. Buuuuuuut it's my alticle, you can't stop me from including it and since Amazon sells Magic cards this may or may not save you some money.
Gamers gonna game, and this is a system asking to be gamed. Amazon has imposed zero checks whatsoever on signing up for their "Amazon Mom" program, just that you tell them a few details about your fake baby. My wife's new baby, Lando Calrissian Alt, qualifies us for a healthy bonus to our "Subscribe and Save" deals. Could this include Magic sealed product or singles now or in the future? I just signed up today so I will have to look into it, but this is worth knowing about.
I had a sweet $10-off Barnes and Noble coupon to share with you that I used to get Mind Seize for $20, but it expires today and this won't go out until tomorrow. "Cool story, bro." I know. Sorry. The expired coupon is at this link and while it won't help you this year, it will be good to know in future years that:
- Barnes and Noble sells Magical cards in stores and online.
- They charge MSRP, which I didn't think they did ever.
- They give out coupons for $10 off around Christmastime.
- They require you to use a Mastercard. Hey, isn't the Paypal debit card a Mastercard? 1% cash back, please.
This is likely to be something they do again next year and you'll be ready for it. There will be fat packs, booster boxes and likely some sort of Planechase or other Commander-like thing next year, or if all else fails a Holiday gift box. Those boxes are useful, the dividers are high quality and the gift box contains booster packs and a unique promo card. It's better than a shotgun blast to the face.
I am sure everyone who is an Insider took part in the Walgreens BOGO sale on booster packs. Getting $2 boosters is a very good deal. Some canny shoppers even managed to get places like Walmart and Target to price-match Walgreens fliers, though that success was limited.
The Walgreens card is free to sign up for and they may repeat this type of sale in fewer than twelve months. Next time it happens, be ready. Print out or obtain some sort of material from Walgreens to have with you at the register.
This will not only help if something rings up wrong or a cashier hassles you, but will help if you run out of stuff to buy at Walgreens and want to try your luck getting other stores to price match. BOGO on Commander decks would be nutty.
It's worth mentioning that big box retail stores do tend to run the occasional sale on Magic stuff, and the $22 Jund and Esper Commander decks I got at a Meijer--a midwestern big box store chain whose name is less silly than Giant Eagle or Food Lion or wherever you shop--were a nice Christmastime bonus.
Not only that, a few people who hang out at my shop happen to work at that same Meijer location. They told me that they had discovered Scars of Alara sealed booster packs in the back of the store and told me when they were going to put them out for sale. Not a bad haul.
MSRP is gross, but not on Scars, Mirrodin Besieged and New Phyrexia boosters in 2013 it isn't. If you can establish a relationship, either with people who work in the stock room or ideally the stocking manager, you will get hooked up. I once got a stock manager to go into the back and open a new box of Betrayers of Kamigawa sealed decks so I could buy just the Rat's Nests because I asked him nice. Imagine what an ongoing relationship can yield.
Finally, some of the stores online are doing Holiday sales. The QS forums did a good job of parsing which were worth doing, but any time a card goes on sale it's worth checking out. Stocking up on cheap Legacy staples or cards you suspect will go up soon is a nice way to take advantage of the spirit of giving that surrounds the holiday season.
I was given a wonderful gift this weekend in the form of no GP.
Viva Las Vegas
The Invitational totally happened, though, and on top of a regular SCG Open, too. What a weekend to be in Las Vegas, or as the hilarious novelty coffee cup I bought when I was there for the GP says, Lost Wages!
Get it? Because people gamble away their money compulsively and then spiral into poverty and despair, alienating friends and family who just want to help them, never fully able to admit they have a problem until it's too late. Fun for the whole family!
So many players "Bet it all on Black" this weekend and played a black devotion deck! See what I did there?
In fact, Max Brown, the winner of the Invitational, played Mono-Black Devotion in the Standard portion. His final finish in first having won after a day of Legacy is a little confusing. Max was not undefeated at the end of day one, but these results seem to indicate Mono-Black Devotion is somehow the best Standard deck by virtue of the Invitational finish.
In fact, the 7-1 or better day-one decks are, if you ask me, a little more instructive to look at. I am actually not going to bother talking about the Standard decks played by the Invitational Winners. They obviously did well enough to have a good record in day two, but this list is more interesting.
"Naya Devotion" sounds silly to me, but if you actually look at the deck, it's not really an attempt to get devotion to three different colors. Garfield creator Jim Davis has created a deck that gets a decent amount of devotion to red while also smish-smashing people with planeswalkers like Domri Rade, removal spells like Chained to the Rocks, and hoping to win the game before the deck loses to its own mana base.
However, with a healthy number of Temples, maybe Davis doesn't mind playing lands tapped and the shocklands aren't quite as shocking. What IS shocking is how much damage Davis dealt people with Fanatic of Mogis.
Mindsparker? Hells yes. You guys can play all the U/W you want, but you gonna get sparked. Is a 3/2 first strike anything to sneeze at? I maintain that it is not. Don't sneeze at decks, man. And wash your hands. And never start doing heroin.
Six decks had this day one record and they were all different builds. That bodes well for the future of Standard. A U/W control deck went 7-1 or better and that bodes well for Mindsparker seeing some more adoption. It never went quite to bulk rare status most places but if you can get them cheap, it may not be the worst idea.
The W/B Aggro deck made another appearance. I think some of the white creatures in there could creep up a bit. Banisher Priest is an excellent catchall card that people keep forgetting about. I keep reading online about how decks like G/W have no way to answer Master of Waves. Either I don't properly understand the card interaction or people have been treating Banisher Priest like Dr. Dre and forgetting about him.
I sold out of all of my Imposing Sovereigns between TCG Player and very generous buylist numbers and now I wish I had held. These may creep up more yet.
The rest of the decks that made 7-1 or better are nothing new, but they were worth discussing. R/G and R/W Devotion are solid decks and Mono-Blue Devotion is a favorite of the kind of players who play in Invitationals. No Mono-Black Devotion deck made it 7-1 or better, which is belied a bit by the fact that it was the deck of choice for the event's eventual winner and the winner of the Open played it as well.
It pays to dig a little bit when doing analysis. Either that or SCG reported those results wrong and I look like a horse's cocksheath. I wouldn't rule the latter out.
The Legacy results of the Invitational are going to be more telling. Players, none of whom are on the list of 7-1 or better decks, had to do very well day two to make Top 8. Interestingly, none of the 7-1 or better players from day one did quite as well on day two and are all missing from the Top 8.
Omni-Tell appears to be the tip of the spear made of decks that are not playing fair. True-Name Nemesis is an unfair card but it still gets played in mostly fair decks. You combat an unfair card with an unfair deck and combo is seeing a real resurgence to deal with merProgenitus. Omni-Tell is Max Brown's preferred combo deck so he played it, and I think it's as simple as that.
I don't know how much adoption we need to see for prices to begin to move, however. Omniscience itself does make the deck a little bit vulnerable and players like Brian Bruan-Duin appear to be beginning to jam cards like Ashen Rider as opposed to Gilded Drake. Ashen Rider is a $5 EDH card in like a year, practically guarandamnteed. There is little to no inertia for this card in binders right now.
Merfolk is a thing now. The deck was always consistent if not overwhelming, but with players toying with ideas like Golgari Charm to deal with True-Name Genitus, a million maindeck toughness boosters couldn't hurt. No way Llawan, Cephalid Empress stays $3, by the way.
Punshing Jund is seeing a bit more play now. Both the Invitational and the Open saw copies in the Top 8. With ways to deal with Nemesis out of the board like Golgari Charm and the nasty combination of pitching Punishing Fire to Liliana's discard ability over and over coupled with Bloodbraid Elf in all of its glory, this deck is a good choice for now.
It does struggle a bit with combo as Thoughtseize and its ilk are rarely enough to do the trick. This may be a bad choice in a meta that sees more and more combo, which we may see.
Death and Taxes making the Top 8 lately is as inevitable as Death and Taxes.
Two Jund decks and two Esper Blade decks sounds about right.
Alex Bertonicini got Top 8. So that's a thing we get to see happen again.
SCG Las Vegas Open
While Max Brown's Standard deck choice Mono-Black Devotion only looks like it was the "winning" Standard deck, Mono-Black Devotion actually did win the Open. The deck is always going to be a factor and until we get new cards or new tech, leave it out of your testing gauntlet at your peril.
I like and have always liked the U/W/R deck that Steven Phillips used to take second. It's like U/W but with 100% more Assemble the Legion, and why would you ever not run Assemble the Legion? No, seriously, why does he not run Assemble the Legion? The red is for Counterflux? And Wear // Tear? I am disappoint.
Four Mono-Black Devotion decks in the Top 8? These results are a little bit skewed, maybe, but I feel like attendance at an Open more accurately reflects the meta as a whole than the Invitational does, but maybe the Invitational more accurately reflects a potential Top 8. All I know is that there isn't much new here and that's disappointing.
This deck is a bit of a bright spot, though. If U/W persists, this may be a good choice to deal with it. However, if Mono-Black persists, we may have about as many options as a guy playing a fair deck against True-Name Nemesis.
Speaking of True-Name Nemesis...
Only two combo decks in the Top 8 here, and Elves and Painter are not even on the same plane as Show and Tell decks in terms of unfairness.
What is surprising is that there is so much RUG Delver in the Top 8 given its few answers to Nemesis beyond "let's race!" and Force of Will.
Jacob Wilson (who got 6th in Standard on Saturday) won with a Delver deck that was much more what I expected to see--Nemesis, Stoneforge and a red splash so he could ignore another perfectly good opportunity to play Assemble the Legion, an opportunity Wilson squandered. Lightning Bolt main and Wear // Tear and Red Blast in the board are all good reasons to bother with red, though, and I like Grim Lavamancer right now, too. Suck it, Deathrite Shaman.
That is all the news that's fit to print, folks. Join me next week where I'll tell you all how I managed to write an article while on vacation at the in-laws's house because I haven't figured out how I am going to do that, yet.