Insider: Poise

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What a difference a week makes.

A lot can happen in a week, especially if there are a lot of tournaments.

If you take every Conspiracy event that happened over the weekend, there were a whole lot of tournaments. With more Vintage Masters boosters popped, we're getting real price fluctuations. Where will power end up? I will leave that sort of speculation to financiers with more of a base of knowledge in MODO finance; I'm the Jon Snow of MODO finance.

you know nothing jon snow - You know nuffin 'Bout Modo finence

I don't want to invest any more ink on something I'm not inclined to speak to, so let's sally forth and talk about some other of the weekend's happenings.

So Many Formats

The Invitational took place over the weekend, which gives us an excellent glimpse into what good players will play in multiple formats. It's no Pro Tour, but it's better than a shotgun blast to the face, finance-wise.

Right off the bat, I made a note of who won the entire thing. Tom "The Boss" Ross prevailed in the end running "Boss Sligh," which is a deck he's been working on for a while and which he has managed to tune up nicely. In a lot of ways I feel fortunate that his list ended up the way it did.

I like seeing red do well for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is a card I said I was bullish on last week and which intervening events has caused my bullishness to grow into "veritable self-assurance". The card in question?

I feel like we have a real opportunity here. I think if Ross had jammed these main, the price would have risen very precipitously. Almost mercifully the card was relegated to the board where it would get a bit less notice. This has allowed it to fly under the radar a bit longer and allowed those of us who are bullish on the card to grab copies without triggering a panic.

I can buy slowly and not cause TCG Player prices to spike in response. Star City has raised its price to $5 and TCG Player is really lagging behind. With such a big spread and high availability of the card, no one is tipped off.

However, Legacy playability has made the foil price for the card go absolutely mental. Modern playability is likely there as well and it's got a long time to perform in Standard. Being included in a relatively weak set will also do wonders for it. People have all but ceased drafting Journey Into Nyx packs with Conspiracy out and Vintage Masters has distracted from the business of redeeming Journey Into Nyx packs.

This won't be another Courser of Kruphix, but Mana Confluence has shown that appealing rares from Journey can command real prices. I don't expect a similar price, but I do expect a similar trajectory.

The Invitational Top 8 didn't yield any more copies of Eidolon, but I think that's a good thing. Players seem very keen on serving with a Pyrostatic Pillar with feet.

What does it all mean? To me, I feel like Eidolon is poised to go up. Its increasing popularity, the weakness of the expansion set it's in, its applicability outside of Standard and remaining year plus of legality all combine to generate a lot of wind beneath its wings.

Wind beneath its wings? That's corny. The helium in its zeppelin? Too dangerous, especially around a red card. Fire under its ass? Look, I'm getting sidetracked; the point is that I think we could see some upward movement. Red players seem to be lovin' it like Eidolon is McDonald's and they're slightly racist caricatures of inner-city young people.

Potential Wrinkles

So what could come along and jam us up? I am not sure, exactly, besides red falling out of favor when the same kind of player who is inclined to jam mono-red when possible gets a better deck to play in Standard. And Modern. And Legacy.

Standard is obviously the boogeyman when discussing new cards like this, and people see a potential wrinkle in a very cryptic response from Maro's tumblr which I advocate reading and understand why no one will do it. I think people realize that I advocate people read Maro's tumblr because I want them to read it and tweet anything relevant so I don't have to. Sue me. It's called "delegation" and lots of people do it.


Either the set is full of plot holes, it stinks, or it's going to be a wedge set. Or MaRo is just being MaRo.

What are the consequences of Khans of Tarkir being a "wedge" set? For those of you who live in a world where you simultaneously have access to this article and lack access to other electronic resources such as google or other people, and your memory doesn't go back far enough, a "wedge" set will have affiliations organized along three-color guilds, or "wedges".

This means that the mana fixing will likely be conducive to three-color decks and players will stretch out to see what new archetypes the new flexibility affords them. A lot of people think that spells "doom" for a card like Eidolon.

I think that Khans looming actually has a lot that makes me even more bullish on Eidolon.

It Was in Ross' Sideboard

And the rotation of Ash Zealot all but forces red players who were making different choices to play Eidolon. A lot of stuff is rotating, but Sligh, devotion and burn builds will lean on this card even harder as a smaller card pool gives it more importance. With the rotation of Ravnica block, Theros will be the complete block and its cards will be the focal-point for deckbuilders. This should move it from sideboards to mainboards and from two-ofs to four-ofs in deck that want it.

Mono-Color is Consistent

In the past, when mono-colored decks are possible, they are quite potent even when there is decent mana fixing and lots of multi-colored decks possible. Mono-red is not going to get color screwed or strand cards in its hand. It can play 20 basics and just go to town curving out while the other deck dies to sequencing mistakes and stranded answers.

Not tripping up and following a similar game plan allows the red player to benefit from having fewer decisions and forcing them to make the majority of the plays that lead to mistakes. Turn two Eidolon is just going to happen in a monochromatic deck. A five-color deck hitting a turn three Courser of Kruphix is less likely.

Manabases Will Get Greedy

Furthermore, for a while we'll have Burning Earth and a wedge set legal at the same time. There is a little more I want to say here and that will come up in the second half of the article. Suffice it to say that a consistent mono-red devotion deck could really be a potent clock and may get free games when their land base deals them a ton of damage.

Eidolon on turn two to punish potential spells like Sylvan Caryatid, Rampant Growth and Cultivate is going to force those greedy decks to make a veritable Sophie's Choice when they're trying to get set up early.

A mono-red deck with Eidolon can punish sprawling mana bases by taxing its fixing and establishing a clock. Tapping a Mana Confluence to take another two damage to play Farseek could potentially be pretty scary, especially since it doesn't provide you a way to stop Eidolon for attacking for two the next turn.

What Else Is Poised to Move?

If Khans is indeed a wedge set, Mana Confluence is going to be an even more important card. It is doing a good job of maintaining a hefty price tag despite existing at a time when Mutavault serves the curve and players will run mono-blue until we pry Thassa from their cold, dead fingers.

Mercifully spared from a reprint in the Modern Event Deck, this card is a mandatory inclusion if we're indeed dealing with a wedge set in the fall. A 35% spread indicates it's performing as it should in Standard and no better. There is room for the spread to tighten up before the price increases, which is usually what we see.

Such a loose spread on such an important card tells me no one is evaluating it in terms of what it will do in the future, and the same factors we discussed vis-a-vis Eidolon, like other draft formats distracting from Journey into Nyx drafts and the rest of the set being a bit lackluster, will help Confluence maintain price.

What's the ceiling on a card like this? If there is a card we can compare it to, I'd say it is this one.

Compared with Courser, Confluence has another $5 it can go up minimum. I think they have similar applicability in other formats, but in a future Standard with a lot of mana stuff going on, Confluence has potential.

I don't like buying in above buylist right now, so I am supplementing what I can buy at that price by trading for them. I think they're underpriced on TCG Player, but rather than buy them and make that price go up, I prefer to target them in trades while they're cheap. Real Estate is a solid investment, and Confluence is poised to do a ton of work in a future Standard with wedges.

One last card I think has potential and is super underpriced right now is a card I took a metaphorical dump on.

Evaluated in the context of the rest of the cards in Theros and with Blood Scrivener to compare it to, Pain Seer has been an excellent candidate for the "stay the hell away from this card" award. Stay away people mostly did although some really thought that a Grizzly Bears that drew a card if it lived to fight another day could get there.

Still, with no better way to tap it down beyond swinging into a field full of Courser of Kruphix or Springleaf Drumming out more cards, no one was excited. A few factors have caused me to believe Pain Seer may be poised for an uptick in value.

The first is that Pain Seer is doing things in Block. Not great things, but it is a four-of in a mono-black block deck that is putting up results. Block has a much smaller card pool, and sometimes Block all-stars never make the leap to the big leagues. That in and of itself is not enough of an impetus to watch Pain Seer for future price increases.

However, combined with another factor, I'm inclined to keep my eyes on the skies and see if we don't see Pain Seer take a flying leap out of "junk" status (not the same as "bulk" because Seer never quite went that low).

What's that other factor?

Convoke is returning as a mechanic in M15.

While the only convoke spells spoiled so far are in white and kind of durdly, it's possible we see something good. There is a non-zero chance that Wizards looks kindly on the EDH and Modern crowd and gives us Chord of Calling although I think that is as likely as I thought the forecasting of the exalted mechanic returning in M13 heralded the return of Noble Hierarch.

Still if we get a decent black or green convoke spell or two, Pain Seer could end up being a very attractive enabler. I don't think that is super likely, but those are two factors that, in concert, make Pain Seer worth keeping an eye on. Watch changes in spread, stock numbers and average TCG Player price. I am not taking action on this card the way I am by buying Eidolon and trading for Mana Confluence, but I am watching.

There You Have It

I didn't plan it that way, but this actually turned on very aesthetically pleasing - a card to buy, a card to trade for and a card to watch, in that order. I think all three are poised to do something, and my varying degree of confidence in those outcomes is reflected by the action I recommend taking. It's lucky I had these in mind, because MTGStocks didn't have anything juicy for us this week. Still, I will check every morning for a new update, and in a week's time we may have something real to discuss.

What a difference a week makes.

4 thoughts on “Insider: Poise

    1. If it works like it did in the past, M14 and M15 are legal at the same time for a little bit. If that ends before Khans comes out, disregard. It doesn’t matter a ton anyway, that “twilight” when both M sets are played concurrently should be a fun time for brewing but it never turns out that way.

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