Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir was this weekend and I enjoyed watching the coverage of the event. There were lots of great matches between amazing professional players.
As it turns out though, there was not a lot of diversity going on in the Pro Tour metagame. In fact, I nicknamed the event Pro Tour Jeskai vs. Abzan. Six of the top eight were playing one of these two strategies. After the event is over, I eagerly anticipate looking through the successful Standard decks. I’m usually more excited to see these deck lists than those in the Top 8 because there will be some hidden gems among the lists that not many players have paid attention to. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this time around.
So what we have left is still Jeskai vs. Abzan and I expect there to be tons of these decks in your local metagame going forward. U/B Control may continue to make an appearance but there are not overpowered cards like Sphinx's Revelation for players to get free wins from so I doubt it will be as much of the metagame as it was this past season.
The positive aspect to a narrow metagame like this is that we can try to develop a deck that attacks both decks successfully. For now, let’s look at what we’re dealing with.
Other than some slightly different card choices, this is the same archetype that posted good results the first week of the metagame. The goal is to use all of your creatures and spells as direct damage to your opponent.
If you have a couple removal spells for your opponent's creatures, they have a much harder time dealing you enough damage to finish you off. If you give them too much time in the game though, they will eventually find enough burn spells to end the game. Counters are good against this deck too because it slows them down drastically. For that same reason, discard spells should prove strong against this deck as long as you can progress your board presence or interact with them in another way. I don’t expect this deck to go away anytime soon.
The big change to this list is the full four Dig Through Time. I’ve seen tons of chatter about this card and rightly so. When you cast it for any amount of mana, its effect is game changing. Dig Through Time is to Act on Impulse like Bruce Banner is to the Hulk. Dig is that impressive. It may seem innocent enough because it costs eight mana, but frequently it costs four or less mana.
Delve is busted and overpowered. This card is a direct example of that fact. We may very well see Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise banned in Modern and/or Legacy because of how huge their effect is for so cheap.
The one-of Disdainful Stroke in the sideboard seems great and will most likely be increased in numbers once the metagame adjusts. We may even see a point where Disdainful Stroke is a good main deck spell. Honestly, I think we are almost there right now. Disdainful Stroke counters nearly every important card in Abzan Midrange as well as most other decks you are likely to play against. Even if it never sees main deck play, it’s going to be a great sideboard card because it’s cheap and deals with so many different hard to deal with cards.
One of my new favorite cards not in this second place list is Hushwing Gryff. Take a look at one of the Pro Tour Khans Top 8 decks that used this card to great effect.
This decks takes a more proactive approach than McLaren’s deck and follows a more aggressive approach to winning games. Ashcloud Phoenix did a lot of work for Andrej also and I expect the newest phoenix to continue to see play as the metagame evolves. I’ve been a big supporter of this creature since my top 10 article for this set and I think this is a great home for it.
Whenever I see Stormbreath Dragon in decks, I always think, wouldn’t that be better as Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker? The vast majority of the time I conclude Sarkhan > Stormbreath and make the change to my list.
No matter which version of Jeskai Wins you prefer, the deck is good. The fact that there are multiple good ways to build the deck suggests that no matter which way the metagame shifts, this deck will be able to adapt and evolve to be a major player.
This deck and strategy remind me of Jund decks of the past. In fact, the core cards of this deck match up closely with some core cards from Shards of Alara Jund. This deck features an overpowered four-cost creature that is very hard to deal with as well as a creature that puts two hard-to-deal-with creatures into play. Originally these cards were Bloodbraid Elf and Broodmate Dragon. Both of those cards may be better than Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc, but they function similarly and are equally as oppressive in the format.
Although Abzan Midrange is more of a good stuff deck, it’s still a combination of cards that is not easily dealt with. There are many individually powerful cards in this deck that can take over a game as well. Wingmate Roc is particularly hard to deal with because the two flyers are hard to take out.
There are some cards that will help you beat this deck. The first two that come to mind are Hushwing Gryff and Disdainful Stroke. Hushwing is a great response to Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc but it is vulnerable to removal so casting it in response to those threats seems like the best time to put it into play.
Normally everyone's first suggestion would be to build a focused hyper aggressive deck to beat this deck before it gets its legs under it, but that plan isn’t going to work here. Aggro decks will definitely have a hard time dealing with all the lifegain this deck has built into it. Many of the strong creatures we have discussed, as well as Sorin, Solemn Visitor, provide incidental lifegain. All of those cards together make for one tough nut for aggro to crack.
Be wary of the go big or go home strategy as well. Abzan’s midgame threats are so good in the midgame that you probably don’t have time to make it to the end game. This midrange strategy is going to be a nearly impossible one to knock from the top of the hill.
Pro Tour Khans Financial Info
[cardimage cardname='Siege Rhino'][cardimage cardname='Wingmate Roc']
You may not have even needed to look up Siege Rhino or Wingmate Roc in order to know that they went up in value. Based on how well the Abzan decks performed at the Pro Tour, it's no wonder that these two cards cost more now than they did before the event.
What's important to note though is that this current price is likely their ceiling. Ten dollars for a rare in a set that contains fetch lands is going to be hard to maintain no matter how much play it sees and twenty for Wingmate Roc seems just about correct to me. I wouldn't be surprised that if in a few weeks Siege Rhino was back down closer to five dollars and Wingmate Roc stabalized closer to fifteen dollars. If you don't need them, trade them and lock in your profit now.
[cardimage cardname='Rakshasa Deathdealer'][cardimage cardname='Pearl Lake Ancient']
Two relatively bulk cards showed big growth this past weekend. Both Pearl Lake Ancient and Rakshasa Deathdealer were poised and waiting to jump up in value. I noticed how well Deathdealer was selling for my store so I started buying them more aggressively. With there being relatively few good two-drops, Deathdealer seemed like a shoe-in for a spot in decks that could support him.
Pearl Lake Ancient, however, wasn't selling at all. This is the type of card players trade into me in droves until they see someone else find success with the card. Now that its $4-5 we will sell more copies than when it was $1.50 because players have confidence in its power. Again, this is probably the peak for both of these cards, but I'd be surprised if they drop much below $4.
[cardimage cardname='Dig Through Time'][cardimage cardname='Perilous Vault']
The biggest winners of the weekend were Dig Through Time and Perilous Vault. While Dig Through Time shouldn't surprise you, Perilous Vault should. Once I saw End Hostilities as a card in Khans, I then assumed any true control deck would have to include white in order to be successful. The pros however, realized that with Perilous Vault, you are not limited with your colors and can play whichever color combination you choose.
I expect the Vault to stay this high as long as it continues to see play. Dig Through Time is harder to pin down though. Since I've made predictions for the rest of the cards I've mentioned, I may as well give you my opinion about this one too, but know that I am less confidant in here than the others.
At the heart of the matter, the question is whether a set can sustain all of these high-value rares. Can we have $14-20 fetches and another rare that falls into that category also? Based on Magic history, we would say the answer is a definite no.
These cards are creating demand across every format though and that's not something we're used to seeing. Additionally, if the set continues to be worth so much, more and more boxes will be opened until prices start to drop. With demand being as high as it is though, can we open enough boxes to bring the price down? Only time will tell, but right now, the best thing for your wallet is to be opening and flipping boxes.
[cardimage cardname='Hushwing Gryff'][cardimage cardname='Erebos, God of the Dead']
Here are a couple cards that are likely not on your radar. Based on how well Hushwing Gryff performed at the Pro Tour, I have no clue why it can still be bought with shipping under $2. The metagame response to Abzan Midrange seems likely to include Hushwing as part of the answer. Get yours now by trading or buying while they are still low.
Erebos, God of the Dead may seem completely unrelated, but the previously Mono-Black Devotion card might start seeing a lot more play also. One reason why Abzan Midrange is so good is because it can gain a ridiculous amount of life throughout the game. So, if you stall out, your window to win the game is much shorter because you must do so before they gain all their life back. With Sorin, Solemn Visitor, your opponent can take a lot of damage and then jump back up from five to fifteen rather easily. Erebos stops all of these lifegain shenanigans and lets you finish off your opponent. Once Erebos finds a home, we may see him ticking up in price.
Here’s a juicy tidbit of financial information for you. You may not know it, but some of the prerelease promos are creeping up in price. I’ve been collecting prerelease promos since Onslaught and Wizards announcing that there would be a whopping forty promos in Khans of Tarkir made this collection much harder to maintain. Because there are so many promos, their prices are nowhere as limited as before. These promos are much closer in value to the set foil versions. Sadly there is no alternate artwork to consider so the only difference between the foil versions is the prerelease date stamp being present or not on the card.
The first thing you need to know is which promos are available. I’ve seen conflicting information available online, but I managed to get an accurate list of the promos to post here.
Although you can find listings for Savage Knuckleblade, Mantis Rider, and See the Unwritten, those are not actual promos. The rest of the cards on this list are legit. After seeing the whole list, you may be able to pick out the cards that are worth your time, but you don't have to because I did it for you.
Dig Through Time 20
Jeskai Ascendancy 12
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant 12
Anafenza, the Foremost 10
Narset, Enlightened Master 10
Rattleclaw Mystic 10
Siege Rhino 10
Surrak Dragonclaw 10
Bloodsoaked Champion 8
Butcher of the Horde 8
There are a couple five dollar cards as well, but these are the ones worth keeping an eye out for. If you want to buy the full forty for your collection, you are looking at around $200 for the order. That's no small number we're dealing with.
Some players will be actively trying to trade for these, while others will find no value in them. There are great trade opportunities with these promos so keep your eyes out for them. They are somewhat hard to find online as well which makes them even more desirable in your trade binder. Because there are so many less of each of these, there is a lot of opportunity here as well to increase in value. Knowledge is power. Use it wisely.
There's a lot of data from the Pro Tour and Khans in general. I hope this summary has helped you wrap your head around the situation.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!
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