Insider: Standard in the Summer

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Journey into Nyx Standard is upon us! Looking at the top eight for SCG Cincinnati, we’re seeing a good mix of the same old stuff and cool brews, leaning slightly toward established decks. Some new cards are seeing play, but nothing crazy came out of the event.

There may be financial opportunities here, but this is a dangerous time to be speculating on Standard. I’ve been advising for months to get out of your Return to Ravnica block cards, and so I have to assume that you have either done so or have a very good reason to hold them.

Sometimes I just take the exceptions to general rules for granted, but today I’m going to go a bit deeper to discuss the options you have with Standard cards moving forward.

Long-Past Financial Relevance

How the mighty have fallen! Yesterday’s big successes for many a speculator are now retailing for less than they were buylisting just six months ago. I’m talking about RTR block cards like Desecration Demon and Jace.

I would be surprised if any QS Insiders are still holding copies of these for speculation reasons. The time to get out was long ago, and anyone committed enough to MTG finance to subscribe to this site should know that. After all, the buylist spread for this type of card has risen to above 50% in many cases.

If you’re still holding any copies of these cards, chances are they are for a deck you’re playing. If you’re playing big events or just FNM on a regular basis, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to use the cards until they rotate. If you’re winning, you may be making more playing with the cards than just selling them now.

But if you’re not using these cards frequently enough to justify keeping them, you should probably try to trade or sell them at as close to retail value as possible. Buylisting is an unattractive option for cards with such a high spread.

Eternal Keepers

Okay, so that’s the stuff you should have sold long ago. What about the stuff still worth holding?

Someday it’s going to be right to buy Scavenging Ooze, but there’s an awful lot of $7 copies available on TCG Player at this moment. In any case, this is not a card to sell leading up to Standard rotation. On the contrary, that may be the very time to buy. This card has proven its relevance in both Modern and Legacy, and is also a solid two-drop in casual formats.

Cards like Abrupt Decay and the shocklands derive a large portion of their value from playability in eternal formats. They’re playable in Standard, but while they are currently in print, their Standard legality actually keeps their prices down.

When they rotate and are no longer readily available everywhere you go, that’s when the price goes up. These are definitely great types of cards to hold for the long term.

Also bear in mind that casual cards like Chromatic Lantern and Consuming Aberration derive their value from casual play. Like eternal cards, casual cards are also less likely to drop at rotation and more likely to grow over time.

The cards you want to sell are those that saw play in Standard, but are not good in eternal or casual formats. If demand will continue past rotation, just hold it!

Next Year's Standard

At this point, Theros block cards are beginning to reach their low points. I am personally not interested in trading or selling anything from Theros or Born of the Gods at this time. Journey Into Nyx cards are inflated due to low supply, so until demand is met, selling JOU cards may be a good play. But in general (as I’ve written about in detail before), the summer is historically when the current block reaches its low point, only to reach its high point immediately after the fall set release.

At this point, we don’t know what the fall set release is going to be. Thus, I’m not really comfortable buying in to any Theros block cards based on speculation for next Standard season.

Knowing the theme could provide hints about what types of cards will be relevant. For example, if we return to Alara, there’s a good chance mono-color cards lose a lot of value. If we go to a plane that supports mono-color play, the opposite could happen.

Since we don’t know that, I like just holding my Theros block cards for the spike that will come next fall. Once we have more information about the next set, we can make a more informed decision on individual cards. However, I'll name a few I think may be big hitters next fall. I'm keeping a close eye on the temples, the gods, Thoughtseize, and Hero's Downfall.

One Big Question Mark

There’s one card I just have no idea on.

Sphinx's Revelation has dropped significantly from its high point. It has seen four-of Standard play throughout its life in the format, and has also proven its power in Modern. However, it only sees play as a one- or two-of in the much faster and more powerful eternal format.

I expect Revelation to hold some value in the long term, but I have no idea where the floor will be. Price memory, Modern, Standard, and even casual formats all contribute to the current price, and its unclear to me what the trajectory will be from here. If you have any theories regarding Sphinx's Revelation, please share in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Insider: Standard in the Summer

  1. We know that WOTC likes to create links between different blocks. So I’m sure we’ll see more devotion enablers in the next block!

  2. Great cautionary article, it’s a good reminder. The time to sell RtR block cards that have no chance at Eternal was probably a few months ago, but prices will definitely continue to drop.

    I don’t like Sphinx’s Revelation much at all. I see this getting cheaper, though it will always maintain some value.

  3. I like Sphinx´s Revelation

    Standard players will remember it’s power as a format defining card. Also Modern uses this cards as 1-2 in control decks.

    Not a $16 card to buy your copies but if it reaches $12 i would happy to buy it. On the other hand if i have some copies i would not sell those because as we know esper is one of the most played decks in Standard.

    Casual players love Blue Sun Zenith (but yeah, BLZ has more uses because can mill your opponent) and this card has an upside to give us life points.

    But well, that’s my thought and would be included on my spanish rotation review (yeah, self-promotion LOL)

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