Insider: A Momentary Glance at Standard

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Happy Monday, loyal Insiders! I believe I can confidently say that last week was relatively calm in the world of MTG finance. Sure, dual lands are exploding but that’s last week’s news now.


To dwell at length on these recent price bumps would be pretty redundant to last week’s article. I’ll just say that they are all on the rapid rise and if you can find any dual lands at older prices, you’d be wise to acquire.

They’re on the Reserved List and with SCG’s recent bump in buy/sell prices, my confidence in their support of this format is highly renewed. In fact, I find myself tempted to gradually trade into a Legacy deck so I can once again experience the “magic” that is Legacy.

Let’s Talk Boring – Standard

By now most of you know that Standard is my least favorite MTG format. The metagame is usually evolutionary and exciting for about a month before it’s quickly solved. And watching mono-colored decks square off against each other, along with slow control decks, is not my cup of tea. Big time snooze fest.

But just because the format is boring doesn’t mean money can’t be made. I often ignore Standard for six months of a given year, but I believe there are some prime acquisition targets right now. For example, I think it’s time to play the mana-fixing land market: Temples!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, I’ve done thorough research linking price trends of mana-fixing dual lands in Standard going back to Worldwake manlands.

Sadly I can’t even find a satisfactory price chart dating back far enough, so you’ll have to take my word on this one. Creeping Tar Pit and Celestial Colonnade went from cheap to expensive once Shards of Alara block rotated out of Standard and these (along with fetches of course) became the primary mana-fixing resource of the format.

The same trend continued for Scars of Mirrodin dual lands and Innistrad dual lands. Fortunately there are plenty of data to illustrate the latter’s spike.


Notice how the price of the Innistrad duals increase by 2x-3x once Standard rotated. Even with shocklands entering the format, the mana-fixing duals from Innistrad spiked handily.

My recommendation: the time to acquire Temples is just about here. There’s still a little time left as we have one more set in Theros block. With ten Temples, the demand will be spread out more thinly than usual across all of these lands, but the general demand for them will be net-positive. The least favored Temples probably won’t hit $15 like Innistrad lands did a year and a half ago, but the cheapest ones will rise.


Perhaps the already-expensive Born of the Gods Temples don’t have as much upside. But chances are they will in fact remain more expensive than their Theros counterparts strictly because supply will be less.

Either way, I plan on acquiring Theros versions with cash and Born of the Gods versions in trades. As for the Journey Into Nyx Temples--I hope to grab these fairly quickly as they’ll be the hardest to find next year.

Another Standard Stand-Out

Talk of Herald of Torment is all over the QS Forums, and for good reason. The flying demon is powerful given his casting cost, and he also could work well with the black god due to the two black mana symbols in his casting cost.

Herald of Torment

I’m in for a couple sets and I’ll be watching Block results closely to estimate how strong he can be once Standard rotates.

Speaking of strong cards post-rotation, I normally like to acquire the wrath effect of every Standard block--it just tends to pay out. Terminus made me significant profit a couple years ago and Supreme Verdict displayed an identical trend last year.

What’s the right target for Theros block? Fated Retribution? I don’t know, instant-speed is nice but at seven mana this doesn’t quite fit the job description.


Once Supreme Verdict leaves Standard, there will have to be a most-popular wrath effect to take over in Standard. Control decks really struggle without them.

If nothing is given to us in Journey Into Nyx, then perhaps Fated Retribution is the best we’ve got. Technically it was a one-of in Marius Cholewa’s SCG Invitational Esper Control list (alongside four Supreme Verdicts of course). So maybe there’s hope for the seven-mana instant after all.

My plan will be to acquire copies of the best wrath effect in Theros block once Journey Into Nyx is released. If that happens to be Fated Retribution then so be it. I’ll buy a few sets for $10 and test my “wrath effect hypothesis” yet again.

That’s All I Got

With respect to Standard, I have little else on my radar. The format is just not inspiring to me. Cards that would normally tempt me, like Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves, are risky due to their heavy reliance on Return to Ravnica cards. The devotion ability could become much worse when we say farewell to Return to Ravnica block, and without knowing anything about the next block I struggle to acquire anything too aggressively outside of my usual strategies.

Perhaps you have some Standard targets worth looking at? If so, I am all ears--please post your thoughts in the comments section below. In all honesty I’ve been making such a killing in Modern that I’ve completely neglected Standard. It’s likely others have done similarly, which means there could be opportunity in Standard if we know where to look.

The format is stagnant and uninteresting now but that could change in a heartbeat with one winning set. And if Journey doesn’t get there, then Standard rotation sure will.

In the meantime I’ll be on the lookout for favorable prices on dual lands. MOTL seems to be a good place for this--it’s a good way to shop played duals using pictures to help you determine true condition (versus rolling the dice on TCG Player). I’ll also continue sitting on my remaining Modern staples such as Restoration Angel and Scars of Mirrodin fast lands, which still have more upside this summer.


And thus summarizes my current approach to MTG finance.


    • Got any foil Wear // Tear for trade? I had no idea these were so expensive, but when a set is so under-opened like Dragon’s Maze was, even a random foil sideboard uncommon has a chance of becoming financially relevant.



  • SCG has been sold out of Tundra at $199.99 and Tropical Island at $149.99 for a few days now. I can all but guarantee these will receive a significant price bump in the coming week or two. I expect a $50 bump on each.
  • It took months, but Star City Games is finally sold out of foil Liliana of the Veils at $249.99. This only makes sense because that’s the going eBay price now. In other words, SCG may restock a couple more at this price but once those rapidly sell out we’re headed to $299.99 next.

9 thoughts on “Insider: A Momentary Glance at Standard

  1. In regard to Wrath effects I would definitely also consider casual / EDH playability. There are very few Wraths that can be played at Instant speed. You’ve basically got Rout and sometimes Terminus. Fated Retribution might not get far based on Standard appeal alone, but if I’d be picking up a few spare sets it’ll be because it’s a card that’s bound to hit $2-$3 on casual play at some point if it’s not reprinted. Foils of this are probably a good play.

    The treat of an Instant speed Wrath is incredibly potent in multiplayer. I’ve had a Rout in my Mayael EDH deck since ther very beginning and I’ve had opponent fear I have that 1 card in 99 on many occasions (the deck is not able to search for it in any way, I do not cheat, but somehow they keep expecting me to have it). Whenever I do have it and they finally decide to attack me it’s a blowout each and every time. I can only remember 1 time I ever played a Rout for 5 mana. Granted, this deck is going to hold open 6 mana most of the time anyway and keeping a 7th open often happens naturally, but the card is amazing to have every time and I expect the same from Retribution.

    1. Pi,

      This is very good perspective, and it makes me more comfortable with acquiring these in larger quantities. I haven’t bought any yet, but they are so cheap that I’ll eventually grab a few sets. The EDH appeal is something I overlooked, but with instant speed wrath effects being so rare, there is a niche this card can fill that others cannot. Destroying Planeswalkers is kinda cool too, though perhaps less relevant :).

      What kind of foil multiplier would you expect?

      1. Eventually, talking years, I could see $10-$15 for the foils. Not that good with foils though, so add a few grains of salt. I picked up a coupe of cheap foils of the card earlier today and had opened one in my box.

  2. I’ve been picking up as many nighthowlers as I can hoping the dredge deck improves with journey into nyx. I think the temples are probably a better bet though.

    1. Yeah, I think Temples are just so safe that I often neglect any other targets (besides wrath effects). But I’ll keep nighthowler in mind as well. Maybe when I am buying from people on TCG Player, I’ll add Nighthowler to the list of “cards I look for to see if I can get one or two cheaply since I’m already paying shipping” 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. I’ve bought a lot of temples….for the exact reasons you’ve displayed…picking up the undercosted “dual lands” while they are being opened is almost as sure of a thing as you can have with MTG speculations. The standard “price of these” lands is almost always in the $8-15 range based solely on standard appeal (so long as they are a first printing).

        1. You got it exactly right, David! I am ashamed to admit I’ve been neglecting these recently in light of the Modern and Legacy craziness. No more. From now on I’m keeping my eyes out for cheap copies and will start paying cash on the cheapest versions of these lands. $3 lands now will be $8 in less than a year.

  3. for those who believe in nighthowler, let me tell you a story about splinterfright…
    Splinterfright was a promising target because ravnica was going to bring golgari and golgari was going to use graveyard for sure.
    it turned out golgari was never the deck we expected.

    I still believe the reasoning was very good. We had a good idea about the next set because we knew what ravnica was. But even with that knowledge, it turned out to be a bad speculation.

    We have less information now, so I see only more risk in this target.
    Also, be aware of the trap that you can still sell them again at this price. If it turns out to be crap, nobody wants them and we only get an artificial price. Real price = 0

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