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Counterfeits, Mono-Black & BNG Finance

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Don’t Support the Counterfeiters

The hot topic in the Magic community over the last week has been about counterfeit cards. Someone set up an extremely accurate way to forge Magic cards and began spewing them out into the world. It’s scary how closely they resemble the true copy of the card.

If you have not read about this fiasco yet, hop on over and read the article written by Chas Andres on this subject. He did an amazing job going over all the aspects of this topic this week and made sure the article went up on the free side so everyone could read it. Take a moment to read it if you haven't already.

Chas's main point is that brick-and-mortar stores rely on singles prices in a myriad of ways to stay profitable. If singles prices drop drastically, the basic business model of these stores is seriously harmed. Many may not stay afloat on the basis of other sales. The ones that do probably won't be dedicated principally to Magic.

A blanket price crash would similarly affect third-party tournament series, professional Magic writers, and ultimately the people in R&D themselves. If the cards WoTC are selling are simply not being bought, the justification for hiring the best talent in the gaming industry wanes quickly.

Near the end of his article, Chas writes,

So yeah, if counterfeit cards flooded the market, you could play Legacy for free with fake cards—-on your kitchen table with some friends. You can already do that with a stack of basic lands and a marker.

Good luck finding a tournament to play in though.

Chas is exactly right. If we start supporting these people trying to make easy money off of us, we will put the game we love in danger.

In my opinion, this is the best game ever made. I've spent over a decade having tons of fun playing Magic. I don't want anyone to mess with that and I hope you feel the same way too.

Beating Mono-Black

Standard: the Mini Game
Step One: Can you beat Mono-Black?
If yes, proceed with testing your deck against other decks.
If no, play another deck.

Let me illustrate my point with a short story. Last week, my friend played in a local eight-man Standard tournament. In this event, he played against Mono-Black Devotion, that’s right, all three rounds.

Not convinced? Go back and look at the archived video from the SCG event in Orlando this past weekend. The first five or so rounds of the event were all Mono-Black Devotion vs. something and they featured more throughout the rest of the day. There was one traditional version and two splashing white in the Top 8.

Mono-Black isn’t going anywhere and if you are not prepared to defeat it regularly, you will not be successful. Either figure out how to play the mirror successfully or find a deck that beats it regularly.

The following are some good options for beating the best deck in the format.

B/W Humans
by Mike Lanigan

[Deck]
[Creatures]
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Tormented Hero
4 Precinct Captain
4 Imposing Sovereign
4 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Xathrid Necromancer
3 Banisher Priest
2 Sin Collector
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Thoughtseize
3 Orzhov Charm
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
2 Mutavault
9 Plains
4 Swamp
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Mogis's Marauder
2 Rootborn Defenses
2 Sin Collector
2 Duress
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Dark Betrayal
2 Ultimate Price
2 Gift of Orzhova
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

The best deck for the job is my current pet deck, Black White Humans. Last week, I wrote about how well positioned it is right now. My opinion since then has only gotten stronger. If I can manage it with my schedule, I will be testing that theory at SCG Columbus this weekend.

One of my friends joked the other day that I've been playing the same deck for the past two years. When you think about it, B/R Vampires, all the versions of the Aristocrats, and now B/W Humans, are quite similar in structure. In short, the combination of early aggression, disruption, and resilient threats makes this archetype a great one to bring to battle.

Having had much success with other versions of this strategy, it's no wonder I am so high on this deck right now. I'm sure there can be some upgrades to the list, but at the moment I wouldn't change anything.

B/R Aggro
by Luis Navas
1st place at GP Santiago

[Deck]
[Creatures]
4 Tormented Hero
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
4 Spike Jester
1 Thrill-Kill Assassin
4 Mogis's Marauder
3 Xathrid Necromancer
4 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Doom Blade
4 Lightning Strike
4 Madcap Skills
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blood Crypt
8 Mountain
10 Swamp
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Burning Earth
2 Whip of Erebos
2 Erebos, God of the Dead
2 Dreadbore
2 Mizzium Mortars
4 Thoughtseize
1 Rakdos Guildgate
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

The point of this deck is to punish a format full of players who aren't ready for a deck this fast. Some of the draws this deck is capable of are too much for any deck in Standard to handle.

Obviously you won't curve out every time, but this deck is similar in play to my B/W Humans, but it's more all-in. Your mana curve is quite low, so you should not have a problem casting your spells either. The next tournament you attend won't be prepared for this deck, I can tell you that much right now.

The best part is the Mono-Black matchup, but the rest of your matchups are almost as solid. Madcap Skills has proven better than I expected and the drawback not as drastic. The deck plays like RDW and you should respect its speed.

The sideboard certainly needs retooling because it's been a while since this deck won the GP, but the deck itself requires relatively few adjustments. If I were going to play this deck, my first change would be to take out the Thrill-Kill Assassin and max out on Xathrid Necromancers.

G/W Aggro
by Andrew Shrout
2nd Place SCG Indy

[Deck]
[Creatures]
4 Experiment One
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Fleecemane Lion
4 Voice of Resurgence
2 Skylasher
4 Banisher Priest
4 Boon Satyr
3 Mistcutter Hydra
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Selesnya Charm
4 Advent of the Wurm
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Temple Garden
3 Selesnya Guildgate
8 Forest
8 Plains
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Skylasher
3 Unflinching Courage
2 Last Breath
2 Rootborn Defenses
2 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Glare of Heresy
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

The last deck I want to mention today has been making some waves in Standard recently. The idea of G/W Aggro is not a new concept to Magic, nor to the current Standard. When we first arrived at Theros Standard, this was one of the most hyped deck archetypes. Players gave up on it because the metagame became dedicated to beating it.

Because it has been off the radar for a while though, a window of opportunity opened for players to pick it up once more. Shrout took advantage of this window to slice his way through the field at the Invitational. Although many more players are prepared for this deck once again, it is still a decent choice right now on the basis of a good Mono-Black matchup.

Personally, I hate the Skylashers in this and every list I see them in, but obviously I understand the reason behind their inclusion. Overall, I think this list is honed and sharpened to attack the metagame very well.

The Financial State of Standard

Over the last few weeks, the prices of Standard cards have really settled down. Previously, I was noticing many drastic shifts in prices on a weekly basis. Now, most of the Theros cards have found their approximate value and are holding steady.

For a business owner or grinder, having a stable Magic economy is a great thing and an important one to notice. If the values of all the cards are holding close to their previous weeks mark, trading becomes much less risky. While Theros was on its downward financial spiral this last month, it was difficult to keep cards priced at their actual value and not over- or undercharge players. Right now, you can be relatively certain prices should stay the same until we start seeing how Born of the Gods will impact their value.

One card that has not stopped its rise to financial fame once again is Mutavault. This manland is holding strong at or above thirty dollars! Unless Standard completely shifts away from devotion decks with the influx of these new cards, we won't be seeing this card's value tank anytime soon.

If devotion decks improve and separate themselves further from the rest of the metagame, $40 is not out of the question. Buy prices are high on this card too so trade for more copies if the opportunity presents itself.

If Born of the Gods is anything like Theros, move your cards quickly once release hits. There will be room for some cards to grow, but most of them will be at their absolute peak. This is not a new concept to Magic finance, but one that certainly holds true.

The Gods' Trajectory

Most of the gods' financial curves should play out, as they did in Theros, decreasing steadily until they find their stable price point. From what I can tell, this value is approximately $7.

All the gods followed the same trend except the one that has seen the most consistent amount of play, which is obviously Thassa, God of the Sea. Be observant of which gods are actually seeing play, because they will be the ones holding or increasing in value.

The others will hold their value once they settle due to casual appeal. After seeing how some of the gods play out in Commander, I believe all of them should increase in value over time. Both Thassa, God of the Sea and Purphoros, God of the Forge are busted in Commander and have been seeing tons of play at my shop. It's possible that the multicolored gods will have a higher price point because they should be more popular commanders than the single-color gods.

One card to keep an eye on for potential increase is Xenagos, the Reveler. For as much play as he is seeing, his $8 price tag is quite abysmal. Not only is he powerful in Cube and Commander, he is also an important building block in Standard.

Over this past week, I've spent too many hours brewing ramp decks focused on abusing Xenagos's +1. My initial comparison to Garruk Wildspeaker is proving accurate.

The main issue with building a ramp deck is that currently there are not many worthwhile goals to ramp to. Why make the focus of your deck generating mana, when there is no payoff at the end of the line?

I will be intently scouring the spoiler to see if Wizards has granted us the proper tools to make the ramp deck a reality. It's possible that some combination of Purphoros, God of the Forge and Garruk, Caller of Beasts is good enough to combine with Xenagos, but at the moment, I feel like were missing a piece of the puzzle.

Well that's all for me today, Magic players. There has been a lot going on the the financial side as well as the competitive side of the game. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks, as we dive into the spoiler to see what to devote ourselves to next.

Until Next Time,

Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

31 thoughts on “Counterfeits, Mono-Black & BNG Finance

  1. I just sold all my Mutavaults at $28. I think there’s no way anyone should trade for them at this price. Mono-color decks dominate right now, and with more temples printed the card can only be so high, if not go down.

    I would also hold back on buying any Theros card, even Thoughtseize, simply because more packs will be opened in drafts.

    1. I’m not sure I agree with either point actually. If these were normal circumstances with normal Standard only cards, you would definitely be correct with no arguements from me. Mutavault and Thoughtseize however, are eternal cards and therefore dictate different actions. If there is no foil to Mono Black printed in Born of the Gods to keep that deck down, I could see the rest of the world charging $40 dollars like one site already does. Thoughtseize has dropped some from its original price, but it’s on its way back up again. In order to obtain more copies of Mutavault, I’ve had to buy it as high $26 store credit.

      Most Theros cards should not be bought into right now though. Theros will be drafted a ton more with both of the next two sets and most cards should drop a little more.

      1. While I agree that a $35 tcgplayer low (on Mutavault) is a possibility, at $28 the upside seems small and the risk much bigger. It was a $35 card before M14 came along, and now with the print volume almost doubled, I really doubt that application in eternal formats will be able to support that price once it’s out of Standard. In a few years, maybe.

        Thoughtseize is honestly not bad at $14. I already have a few playsets, but I would wait a few months before I buy more. There are two factors against it, more Theros packs being opened this year and the dominance of black right now, so there’s a chance that the price would drop still.

  2. I’m fine with buying into Thoughtseize, I think it’s probably close to the bottom even though Theros is going to be opened more. I’m also fine trading into Mutavaults (not buying them) at $28 each, because I can pretty easily immediately flip them for that in cash.

  3. A lot of these decks that are suppose to be “good” against Mono-Black just aren’t. The PTQ I won I must have played like 3-4 of these aggro decks like GW or BW and just rolled over them. Played 2 Mono black decks and 2 control decks and none of the matchups felt close. Mono-black I think is almost a dog to no deck, and it comes down to the pilot more so with this deck than any other in previous Standards (see: Owen Turtenwald winning everything)

    1. Wow Stu, you won a PTQ?! That’s awesome man. Congrats! I had no idea. Which one did you win, the one in Columbus?

      Despite Mono Black being able to beat everything, some decks, like the ones I suggested, have a better chance than others right? Just because you have a good matchup though doesn’t mean you automatically win. I’ve lost many matches that should have been in my favor for a variety of reasons.

      I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on the topic.

      1. Right, I think the decks that have the best chance are the small Mono-Red decks, and I even think they are in Red’s favor by like 60-40. White weenie is also a slight problem, but I think the higher the curve in some decks, the worst it gets for them since it gives Mono-Black a chance to set up.

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