So, how about those Born of the Gods cards shaking up the metagame?
From an initial poke around the web, it seems like two unbannings and one banning did more to shake up the metagame in Modern than printing an entire set did to shake up Standard. We have seen a few exciting builds, and a few cards are likely to continue to climb in price, but this release has been pretty lackluster.
Now we can hardly expect a repeat of Theros with a Pro Tour coming right on its heels, showing us the immediate impact of splashy (pardon the pun) creatures like Master of Waves. Born of the Gods cards don't appear to be making as much of an immediate impact, but there is brewing occurring if you know where to look.
The real question is, should we have look so hard? With a Super Sunday Series event played over the weekend--No, I don't know what that is, really--and an SCG Open as well, shouldn't we see the set's impact conspicuously front and center?
My guess is that yes, we probably should, but maybe the fact that this set is taking a bit to catch on can provide us with some financial opportunities. With a few games of Standard played at the Super Sunday Series Shampionchip, what breakthrough tech did Wizards feel was worth mentioning?
Archangel of Thune was already on its way up before people got wind of this deck. I think Courser of Kruphix granting Archangel of Thune landfall is kind of cute, but my gloomy proclamations about Courser being the "bad half of Oracle of Mul Daya" missed the part where Courser also gives you a life for playing a land. This is kind of weak in the grand scheme of things, but it does play nice with Archangel.
With so many three-toughness removal spells in vogue right now, Courser may be tough to remove and may give you some reach. I still think this combo is more cute than good, but being cute and not good has never stopped a card from Fist of Suns-ing its way to $10.
I don't know if Courser of Kruphix is a $10 card; the $5ish it's currently at seems about right to me, but if people scramble for these in the short term you may be able to benefit if you have them now. I still think this combo is made possible by the insanity of Archangel of Thune, but the SS Cheap Copies set sail a week or so ago and didn't file a voyage plan with the harbormaster.
The rest of the deck seems like a "Bant Goodstuff" list, which I am fine with considering I am a big Bant fan from way back. I imagine people were hoping the deck would jam a few more Brimaz, King of Oreskos, but two is plenty in this deck given its legendary status. Brimaz brings a ton of dudes to the party that are begging for counters from Archangel and his synergy with the deck is undeniable.
I still think he is easily the best card in the set, but he didn't impact the metagame as much as some people holding copies had hoped. I think you're glad if you bought in at $20, nervous if you bought in at $30 and boned if you bought in at $40, provided you were trying to invest at $40, that is.
I can see the card holding that price for a bit, provided nothing else from the set shoots up in price and it gets a little more play than as a two-of in a cutesy Bant list.
Ephara, God of the Polis was a card I gave quite the hedgey review of in the Quiet Speculation spoiler page, and with good reason. The card is obviously powerful, but I felt like taking advantage of it forced you to play badly unless you were in a very specific deck.
I thought that if a U/W aggro deck could come around you would get a few draw triggers and maybe enough devotion for Ephara to join the fray. But considering the Theros block U/W deck was bad, I didn't know if it would come to fruition.
Ephara in this list benefits from the Detention Spheres and the double white in Archangel and Brimaz, but its inclusion as a one-of speaks to the likelihood that it's mostly there as an enchantment that draws you a card off of Brimaz, something I am fine with. Brimaz is, off the top of my head, the only zero-mana way to make creatures on their turn that would fit this deck, and it's already a good card.
Ultimately is this deck going to be a Standard competitor? It certainly has a lot of synergy. It may be the best Archangel of Thune deck. It may even be the best Brimaz deck we've seen so far. Ephara is icing here, but hardly a centerpiece.
Magic miscreant Deathnstuff, aka Joey D, stumbled upon some tech out of Japan. It seems Saito's card shop, Super Happy Fun Times Cards Adventureland (I am exaggerating with the name, but only a little) streams their FNMs and a U/W aggro deck with Ephara at the center was doing well. Joey let everyone know on everyone's favorite website.
I don't think an FNM deck is reason to go balls deep on Ephara, but I don't think ignoring tech out of Japan, least of all Saito's shop, is the best course of action either. Thundermaw Hellkite was a $10 card when I got wind of its popularity at Saito's shop and we all know how that turned out.
The Japanese were ahead of the curve on G/R Aggro and I think this one is worth watching. I wouldn't buy in or trade in yet, but Ephara is currently the same price as Karametra on a few websites, and that ain't right.
Bile Blight & Herald
I figured Brimaz would join the ranks of W/B Midrange, and I am pleased to see Bile Blight there. BB has been tested alongside the other BB, the one that makes tokens with the same name rather than obliterate them, in Modern Faeries, and it's silly. Bile Blight kills roughly half of Modern creatures and doubles as a sweeper against token decks, including Splinter Twin. This card does serious work, and has the potential to be one of those silly $4 uncommons in the short term.
But Bile Blight shuts off the "other" B/W deck, the aggressive humans build with Xathrid Necromancer. Between its imminent reprint in an event deck and how badly Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow embarrass the tokens it spits out, I would sell Xathrid before buylists get wise and stop accepting them. B/W builds will probably need to look a bit more like this to get there.
A B/W aggro deck would have been a good home for perhaps the set's best-kept secret, Herald of Torment. Outclassed by Desecration Demon in midrange, I expect Herald to nevertheless find traction somewhere. I wasn't a huge fan during spoiler season, but I may have been so bearish on the set as a whole I didn't even bother to check for silver linings.
My podcast cohosts and a lot of brewers I trust are bullish on Herald, and with its price eking up, I'm not so entrenched in my position that I won't examine its potential. With buy-in possible under $2 and the ceiling likely at around $5, you stand to lose as much as you stand to gain.
I'd wait for serious upward price movement before I wagered my own money on Herald, but with black so powerful and so many builds being tried, it seems a good bet that it will catch on somewhere. But better cards than this have become bulk rare orphans before, so I am not buying in now.
Brimaz is clearly the best card in the set, and it's fun to see all the shells where he pops up. I like how many tokens this deck can fart out. Sam Stoddard is usually pretty tight-lipped about what goes on in Future Future League, but he didn't think letting on how good Eidolon of Countless Battles was with token producers made him the next Edward Snowden. I imagine there was a deck using these two cards in conjunction in the league and it was pretty good.
Pride of the What Now?
One of my favorite FFL stories involves how they debated nerfing Pride of the Clouds because of how good the FFL fliers deck was with Pride routinely swinging as a 6/6 or 7/7 flier on turn four. When the set came out, zero craps were given and it became a bulk rare.
People were much more interested in Windreaver, which turned out to be a fart on toast. "If Morphling is bad in this set," everyone figured, "I guess U/W sucks", a statement I found myself agreeing with at the time. "Thanks for the four-mana counterspell I guess," I said, and moved on to jam R/W Burn in a format full of Dark Confidant. Court Hussar stole the spotlight, no one bothered with Pride of the Clouds and the FFL guys just shook their heads.
I can only speculate that Eidolon of Countless Battles is this set's undiscovered gem, but I do know that casuals are already eating this card up and with upside attached, it could be a good trade target. You're unlikely to sit on these and with your best outlet being people who don't focus too much on prices when trading, you won't lose a ton buying in.
I will wait until we see movement, although that strategy gets worse and worse the more efficient the market gets. Pretty soon we're going to have to start leaping as soon as we look.
This whole article kind of turned into the second half so I guess we'll just continue with the SCG Open results.
SCG Open Nashville
So although when I actually got writing I found a little bit of the set's impact on the metagame, you can understand why my initial feeling this morning amounted to, "Wow, this set did nothing." Consider the Open, won by a Mono-Blue Devotion deck with a grand total of zero Born of the Gods cards. We're off to a bit of a bad start.
I will admit I didn't expect G/R Monsters to jam four copies of Courser of Kruphix, but it must have helped since Kent Ketter got second place. I don't know how high above $5 this guy will stay, but at the very least people will want them in the short term.
A John Medina-less legit is selling 38 copies for $5, and while a lot of presale prices tend to tank, $5 feels okay to me on this guy.
How much financial opportunity is there in buying a card at the right price? I can't say. I will say it has to get played quite a bit for the increase in demand to keep up with supply, but $10 Desecration Demon warns of potential future overpayment. I think if you want these to play with, you won't be unhappy you paid $5.
Dylan Harris stayed away from Brimaz entirely, preferring the Whipzedat combo whose premature death I usually lament. Bile Blight benefits the deck and that was all the help Harris felt he needed from the new set.
I liked Fated Retribution for EDH but Standard players appear content paying seven for an instant-speed wrath as well. Chris Yarbrough was at least, as well as the Bant Midrange deck above and some others over the weekend. Determined not to have that be the set's only contribution, he jimmy-jammed three Brimaz in the board because it's a good card, I heard.
"Thanks for the Bile Blight." - Cody Howard. The set has other cards, but when you're playing Mono-Black and your deck is already insane, do you care?
Jessie Butler's W/B Midrange deck also appreciates the Bile Blight, but would rather play Alms Beast than Brimaz. Talk about a budget beater.
Add Michael Majors to the list of strong, independent blue mages who don't need no Born of the Gods.
Kaleb Byrd jammed a new-looking green-white deck that showcases a phenomenon Sam Stoddard mentioned when discussing Brimaz. Brimaz's four toughness (what's brought up more often lately is Courser of Kruphix's four toughness, but bear with me) makes it dodge a lot of good removal and makes possible decks that weren't before.
While G/W is hardly new, this particular build seems possible almost solely via the contribution of Brimaz. Voice of Resurgence tokens become potent with Brimaz around, virtually shutting off instants for fear of creating a monster they can't deal with. I like almost all G/W builds I have seen, but this seems like an especially focused deck.
The return to white-heavy from green-heavy means you eschew Experiment One for Soldier of the Pantheon, something that makes me happy. Soldier eats it to Brimaz's tokens, though, so that investment of mine may not pan out like I hoped. Still, I am hoping how well Soldier plays with Brimaz mitigates how badly he plays against Brimaz.
Adrian Sullivan finished 9th, and it's worth mentioning because it's Adrian Sullivan. Them's the (tie)breaks. For the record, Sully played zero new cards as well.
10th place was a deck I wanted to see more of, a deck using Xenagos the God as well as his Fantic. Not as monstery but more aggroey, I expected more builds like this. I was never super bullish on Fanatic, but $0.60 seems like a pittance.
$4 Boros Charms and $3 Experiment Ones in short terms makes this price puzzling, unless the card is as good as I thought which makes it less good than everyone else thought. Post-rotation, the smaller card pool may buoy this card a bit, so I wouldn't hate filling a box if these fall below half a buck.
Shane Giachetti managed 14th with a cool-looking, innovative brew. Some of his choices seemed odd, but Sylvan Primordial seems okay in a format lousy with Spears and Bidents and Underworld Connections. His reach is relevant, his ramp is relevant and EDH players everywhere are throwing foil copies into trash cans.
Is the tribute mechanic that bad? This deck uses the only tribute cards in the set I actually like, Nessian Demolok and Nessian Wilds Ravager--cards I liked in Limited, but cards I liked all the same.
Standard has absorbed the new set but I don't think it has quite digested it yet. The coming weeks should see more brewing. I am not even going to bother reading the Legacy results with an eye toward cards from Born of the Gods. We ate a lot of dinner just now, let's have dessert.
Rug Delver piloted by Taylor Scott is a no-nonsense build. Four copies of good cards, some tempo and some luck was all it took to win the day. Not much to say here other than, "Tier 1 decks win events."
Dylan Jones' Sneak and Show deck is more of the same. This deck will be a contender until we get a compelling reason not to play it.
Thomas Graves piloting Elves to third place is fun. This deck still needs Deathrite Shaman, and any card too good for Modern is worth playing in Legacy if you ask me. I felt that way the first time I saw someone Bloodbraid Elf into Ancestral Vision in a Legacy game.
Eric Rill wins "Pet deck of the week" with his ANT finish. This deck is another "any given Sunday" sort of deck and I love to see it perform well.
We have to go all the way down to 5th place to find our first two copies of True-Name Nemesis. With talks of banning it, I always maintained that what we really needed was a chance for the novelty to wear off. Yes, the card is good. So is every card in Legacy.
Bug Delver in 6th also used the Nemesis as a two-of. As long as BUG is a contender in Legacy, I am a buyer at $5ish on Deathrite Shaman.
Lands isn't a Pet Deck anymore. With Thespian's Stage and Dark Depths in the format, the deck got a lot of attention recently. It used to be a cheap deck if you didn't count the Tabernacle, but lots of cards in the deck are spiking. Legacy lands continue to go up, and I think it's a good time to hoard Ancient Tomb.
8th place was a BUG deck, both Shardless and TNN-less. Maybe Nemesis would have helped, maybe tiebreakers would have helped. Either way, Vendilion Clique is a good card and can do just as much work as old TNN, especially in decks that don't focus on equipment.
Decks That Never Shut Up
9th place was High Tide, another "any given Sunday" deck that is so annoying to play against I am glad Feline Longmore got 9th. 9th place sucks, but so does playing against High Tide.
All kidding aside, Longmore is one of the best High Tide players on the SCG circuit, if not the best. I hope she gets 9th every week because she deserves to do well for being such a good High Tide player and deserves to get 9th because %&*^ High Tide.
If Sneak and Show is the Chad of decks, High Tide is the Sheldon from Big Bang Theory of decks. It goes on and on until you would rather concede than watch someone goldfish for another ten minutes. With (correct me if I am wrong) a first-place finish with the deck, Longmore is someone to watch out for and I hope your sideboard has something to improve what is likely to be a miserable matchup.
Again with the "correct me if I'm wrong," but isn't the black-white aggro deck in 10th called "Rogue Dead Guy"? With deck names seldom related to the deck's contents and my knowledge of esoteric Legacy trivia lacking a bit, I tend to just use the names SCG applies to the decks, which can eliminate a lot of the nuanced differences between different builds.
No matter what you call this deck, I like it. I think you are better off jamming good cards than being cute and using Squadron Hawks to feed your Liliana, although with so much equipment you are never super upset to have another flier.
Loxodon Smiter in the board seems odd to me. Not sure at all what problems that is solving, but I am sure the deckbuilder had something in mind. Chalice on three? Opposing Liliana? Strange sideboard choices here.
I think a few people touted UWR Miracles as a way to deal with True-Name Nemesis, but it appears to be a solved problem. Still, Andrew Morrow managed 13th with it.
I don't want to delve too deep into the Legacy results. We saw old, established decks come back and handle the TNN decks without any need for bannings. We saw that decks people having been playing for years and years continue to be competitive and we saw that not every set is going to shake up the format.
What to Do?
How do we know what to buy right now and what to sell? My best advice is what it has been every three months for the last two years.
Build some decks, test some matchups and learn some stuff. Follow pros and Twitter and Facebook. Find out what your local playgroup is on. And for the love of Ephara, someone break Eidolon of Countless Battles already. Sam Stoddard won't be able to sleep until you do.