Insider: 2014 — Laying the Landscape

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Happy New Year to everyone out there! I know some of you experienced it sooner or later than I did, but I hope everyone had a good time.

Usually, the holidays are quiet for Magic finance. Not a lot of events are happening, and neither are any big moves. This year was a little different in that we had a few movers, but for the most part both Standard and other formats have changed little.

So, as Theros prices continue to bottom out and we move into 2014, what are the steps we should be taking?

Ignore Theros

I think this is probably one of the most important steps we can take this month. Prices are going to continue to tank, but it’s not like they’ll rebound any time soon, even if they do “bottom out.”

Yes, there’s a lot of talk about which Theros cards are at the bottom and whether or not they’re good spec targets. My take is this. Yes, there likely are some good targets (Stormbreath Dragon comes to mind), but the prices aren’t likely to come up any time soon since we’ll still be drafting the set for a while to come.

But that doesn’t mean ignore Standard. As Born of the Gods spoilers begin to drop, we’ll see some new strategies, or at least hype, emerge onto the scene. With the multicolor support expected from the set, as well as scrylands for the other five color combinations, two-color strategies should begin to pop up more.

Specifically, I’m looking at green-white to pick up steam. Mono- or nearly mono-white decks are having success now, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence the black and red splashes happen to be from colors with access to appropriate scrylands. Are you telling me that with a G/W scryland Voice of Resurgence doesn’t have a place in these decks? Or Fleecemane Lion?

Like I said, I don’t love Fleecemane because of how many are being opened, but looking at cards from those colors from Ravnica seem like good bets.

Besides Voice, I could also see Trostani, Selesnya's Voice rising in popularity. It has casual appeal, fits the colors and is a mythic. Advent of the Wurm could make a move as well. Voice and Advent in particular are from a third set and weren’t opened a ton. You should definitely be trading into these with an eye toward the future.

Remember the Season

And by that, I mean that we’re still a ways off from Modern season, but we’ve seen plenty of interest in the format if price spikes are to be believed. And again I’ll remind you that now is the time to get into Modern staples and spec targets. The closer we get to the summer and what I expect to be a busy Modern season, the more prices on format staples will rise.

Path to Exile, Inquisition of Kozilek, Deathrite Shaman, Birthing Pod--you know the regular staples we talk about regularly. All will see price increases by next Modern season, and now is the time to get into them while people are excited about Born of the Gods and not their Modern deck.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk Born of the Gods, and in particular Kiora. I’m not a fan of the planeswalker at all, from the four cost to the two loyalty and the fact that while it sort of protects itself, it really doesn’t. $25 is way too high for this, and I’ll be staying away from it when the prerelease rolls around.

Anyway, back to seasons. With more multicolor likely coming to Standard, and Modern on the horizon, we may finally see the rise on shocklands missing thus far. I wouldn’t be surprised if this coincided with a fall in Mutavault, which has set the new record for a Standard rare price in the post-mythic era.

There’s very little way this $35 price can hold, so trading one Mutavault for a playset of shocks doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Standard PTQ season is coming, and if we see more multicolor and the rise in Modern popularity in the summer that we expect, I don’t see how shocks can’t tick up in the next few months.

Casual Staples

Over the last few years an interesting trend has been that casual cards seem to go through a price correction in the few months following the turn of the calendar, only to be stagnant the rest of the year.

I figure one of the reasons for this is that people are finally not strapped for cash after Christmas and use those funds to put back into their decks. I’m particularly targeting Commander cards like Caged Sun, which went up from a dollar to $2 last year and then $2-3. This will be a $5 card soon, and it’s a pretty sure bet to get there.

I also think Chromatic Lantern, Gilded Lotus, Darksteel Forge and Sanguine Bond are due for some upward movement as the reprint effect wears off. Lantern for its part has only been printed once and I see no reason why it won't be the next Coalition Relic and hit $5. For something you can still get as basically a throw-in in trading, there’s no reason not to hoard these.

I’m also a huge fan of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite right now. Not only is it a Commander card, it also occasionally pops up in Modern. There’s nothing not to like about this card just based on the casual appeal, but add to that the fact that it could appear in a GP Top 8 alongside Gifts Ungiven and suddenly jump to $20-25.

Another one I have on my radar is Baneslayer Angel. It’s been steadily holding at around $12-13 right now, and barring another reprint it’s going to make its way to $20. It also fits the bill of “sometimes good in Modern” and has the potential like Elesh Norn to spike off of that.

Have a Great 2014

As we head into the new year, that’s pretty much where my strategy is at. I don’t want to mess around with Theros cards and I’m not looking for anything out of left field to take off. It’s just a great time to trade into the “blue chips” of Magic finance and look toward the future.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

8 thoughts on “Insider: 2014 — Laying the Landscape

  1. Nice article Corbin! Happy New Year! Theros is definitely a trap going into 2014 – I plan on largely ignoring the set for a couple months at least.

  2. Ignore Theros applies only to none Scrylands, right? I just don’t think they will hit a floor lower than $2 ea. Finding them at $2 now is difficult, but these are sure to hit $4-$7 before they rotate, no?

    1. Agreed…I won’t really touch Theros cards with the exception of Scrylands. My LGS can’t keep them in stock and I’d honestly like to make sure I have plenty of them (as I’ve posted in the forums I’m at 40x U/G, 16x U/B and W/R, 10x R/G, and 4x B/W). I’d rather invest now with the knowledge that they are very close to (if not at) their low point. I’d rather not risk “not having them” just to maybe save $0.25 per card hoping they’ll drop just a little bit lower.

      1. Also agree, I like them at $2 and less a lot. They’ll likely be $4-6 at least come Rotation, but I think we have a lot of time still to either pick them or see if they can go even a little lower.

  3. I thought you (could totally be someone else, I get QS staff confused) were advising against non foil EDH stuff from recent sets?

    I love Chromatic Lanters, if I see a foil one, I get it.

    1. I think what you’re referring to was Prophet of Kruphix, since I said something similar in that thread. But that was mostly against getting them *now* because they’ll get even closer to bulk status as more Theros is opened. Overall, non-foils are a worse play than foils, but they’re still solid when it’s something colorless and evergreen like Lantern, as compared to something like Prophet which is a little more limited in terms of deck saturation.

  4. It’s probably a good idea to wait til March or April if you want to buy cards from Theros. I also think it’s a bit too late to buy in any RTR block or M14 cards, although a case could also be made that you could squeeze out some profit out of some of those cards. But in any case, sell fast, and that’s if you buy at all. (I personally wouldn’t.)

    In other words, hold back on buying for a month or two. Except Deathrite Shaman.

  5. I’m not on board with continuing to beat the drum for GW in Standard. The decks that are winning big events right now are still three decks: Mono-Blue, Mono-Black, and UW or Esper Control. A blue-based control deck is almost always a thing, but the other two are winning because they get to do fundamentally unfair things – Master of Waves and Gray Merchant of Asphodel – that just win games, particularly in multiples.

    Unless GW gets a similarly unfair card, I don’t think it’s going to catch those. The creatures and mana fixing GW has available right now are *excellent*, and it’s still not enough. I don’t see the simple addition of a GW scry land pushing the power level enough to matter.

    But if something Selesnya-flavored is printed that IS unfair, say, a powerful GW planeswalker or a hyper-efficient token-maker… yeah, buy in.

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