Modern, Modern, Modern. Fish, Faeries and Fulminator Mage. Snapcaster, Scapeshift and Storm.
It’s all we’re hearing these days. And with good reason. The format was put on display at the Pro Tour and again at the largest constructed GP ever hosted. Cards are steadily rising, cards are spiking and not a single card is tanking. So we’ve paid the most attention to the exciting format, and to be honest I don’t really expect that to change any time soon.
But what about Standard?
I get that it’s as unpopular as it ever gets. Mono-Black seems to be dominating and there’s no innovation. But even a stale Standard format at the valley of its popularity is still the most popular format Wizards offers.
So let’s try to pay it some mind, if only for today. After all, it’s especially important for me, since I’ll be doing official text coverage for WOTC at Grand Prix: Cincinnati next week. I’m pretty excited about the opportunity and will be making the most of it. And, of course, if anyone reading this is there, feel free to stop and say hi!
Anyway, let’s get back to looking at Standard.
The Witch Is Dead?
Okay, so maybe Mono-Black won the last Standard SCG Open, which is all the results we have to go on at this point. There haven’t been any GP-level Standard events for a while, though Melbourne from right after the release does give us some info.
[img n='Pack Rat'][img n='Nightveil Specter']
Basically, Mono-Black isn’t the only deck anymore. It’s interesting, because after Born of the Gods dropped people were lamenting a lack of change to Standard. But the truth is, despite Mono-Black getting even better, the field has opened up a little.
Basically, a small number of decks define the meta right now:
- Control (Esper or U/W)
- R/G Monsters
- B/W Midrange
The White Weenie aggro decks seem to have fallen to the wayside, leaving us with the five decks above. Of those, all are known qualities, so it’s hard to find financially-relevant pickups there.
In general, I just hate having these. The set has been opened a ton, and will continue to be for a time to come. That creates so much downward pressure on the cards that, while I want Stormbreaths and Caryatids and Polukranos’s in my binders, I don’t think there’s a ton of upside even though they move well.
So if we want to find any opportunities, we’ve got to go back farther.
Notice how this has continued to trend up over the last month. I’m going to make a bold prediction here: Domri is the next Liliana.
What I mean is that Domri will stay high after rotation, and probably hit $40 before then. It’s something I really want to have in my binder moving forward, because a deck like R/G or Jund Monsters has more room for upgrades than something like Mono-Black, which is already about as streamlined as possible.
[img n='Domri Rade'][img n='Liliana of the Veil']
Will Domri fall before rising again? Sure. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have an eye on this card in the meantime.
On the other side, one card I do see dropping hard is Mutavault. Yes, like Domri, Mutavault is heavily played in Modern. But it has so much farther to fall, because of both its rarity and number of printings.
A good way to look at a card like this is to say “What could happen to make it increase in price?” If the answer is “nothing, because it’s already a four-of in everything Tier 1,” well then we’ve found a card at its ceiling. I didn’t think this would hit $40, but I’m even more confident it’s not going to $50. The play is to out these now at max value.
[img n='Mutavault'][img n='Desecration Demon']
Here’s one that’s trending down, mostly because a lot of the Mono-Black lists are moving to B/W Midrange in order to play Brimaz. That means some amount of cuts, and some of those cuts are coming to Demon. I don’t think it’s going to hit its old $2-rare status soon, but it’s likely not going back up to $10 either. And every day we march closer to rotation.
There’s been some fluctuation in its price, but the rise of G/R again seems to be pushing Mortars back up. We could see this move from $3 to $6 in the next month as people start looking at Standard again after the Modern fever passes.
[img n='Mizzium Mortars'][img n='Blood Baron of Vizkopa']
The fact that this hasn’t moved at all is surprising. Here we have a Dragon’s Maze mythic that has began popping up everywhere in Standard. It’s available for $15 now, but there’s not way it doesn’t at least hit $20 very soon, and $30 is certainly possible if it stays as relevant as it’s been recently. Remember, somehow this thing isn’t legendary, so you don’t even have to worry about drawing multiples.
While this has begun to see a little more Standard play, I mention it because I’ve seen it for as low as $2-3 recently. That seems insane for an out-of-print mythic angel. It has flatlined at that price, showing us as low as it can go, so the play on it is soon and the long-term upside is huge.
[img n='Angel of Serenity'][img n='Witchstalker']
One of the only true “breakout” decks recently has been Naya Hexproof, and Witchstalker seems like the prime target here if you’re a believer in the deck. It’s been holding steady at $3, and this represents an easy double-up if this deck breaks into the meta in any real way.
It’s also a deck that gets better every set in a way that doesn’t necessarily care how much better the opponent’s deck gets. After all, Witchstalker doesn’t care about Mono-Black’s upgrade in Bile Blight, but it does care about its own upgrades. This is something that is realistically probably one piece away from really taking off, so even if it goes nowhere in the next month don’t forget that come Journey into Nyx.
Well, trying to re-familiarize myself with Standard really does lead to the impression that it’s kind of a rock-paper-scissors format that isn’t ripe for innovation. That said, we seem to be a little better off than we were two months ago.
What do you think? Is Standard as bad as they say it is, or do we have a somewhat-stale format that nonetheless rewards innovation?
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter