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Insider: Your Weekly News Update

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As a competitive tournament Magic player and as someone interested in #mtgfinance, I spend a lot of time reading Magic articles and reading social media and forums like Reddit. I also keep a close eye on tournament results from major paper tournaments and online events. I use this information to guide my deck selection and deckbuilding decisions, and I use it to guide my financial decisions.

There is a nearly endless amount of information out there, and much of it is open to all with an internet connection. There is also a lot of information behind closed doors, whether it be behind a paywall like SCG Premium articles, or like our very own Insider forum. There’s also information that comes from physical experience, like when Corbin reported on Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir from the tournament floor.

There’s also good old-fashioned word of mouth, and this sort of information is sometimes most valuable of all. The sheer total amount of this information makes digesting all of it a time-consuming, if not impossible, task. From there, actually making sense of the information, and then putting it it to work, is the true challenge.

I did a series of articles at TCGplayer I called “Anything Goes” where I’d scour hundreds of decklists from Magic Online Daily events of a given format, typically Modern but occasionally Standard, and come out with a dozen or so decks with novel cards or strategies. People loved the articles and thanked me for doing the work for them.

I want to take this approach with articles here, but not limit myself to just decklist, and instead focus on anything that is relevant to Magic Finance and tournament metagame that week.

Here’s a look at some important information I found, and my thoughts on it:

Jeskai Heroic Combo

This deck won the last SCG Open and received a lot of hype in the coverage. Seemingly everyone has an opinion, and more than a handful of authors have chimed in their thoughts.

Check out the thoughts of Melissa DeTora, Seth Manfield, and Todd Anderson. BBD even did a video piece.

This is a good opportunity to compare opinions and draw some conclusions. I built the deck online to test some, and I conclude that it is the real deal, but it has hardly broken the format. The core deck is solid and consistent, but it’s not immune to disruption. It gained a lot from the surprise factor, but as the metagame reacts with more awareness, the deck won’t have such an easy time.

Fighting Jeskai Heroic Combo

The deck lacks any real card advantage, so fighting against it with attrition is a fine strategy.

Erase or other removal for Jeskai Ascendancy is a good start, but targeted removal and board sweepers are also quite important for dismantling their creature core. Sweepers like Drown in Sorrow and Anger of the Gods are great, though End Hostilities reigns supreme. Magma Spray, Lightning Strike, and Bile Blight are great too. Always consider potential God's Willing and Ajani's Presence from the sideboard.

This deck is as much an aggressive heroic deck as a combo deck, and in general I’d play defensively with the aim of preserving my life total. Try to get a feel for their plan in the game and play accordingly, because if they are attempting to assemble a combo, you will want to end the game as quickly as possible.

Tom Ross’ UW Heroic

Jeskai Heroic combo has brought Heroic in general back into the spotlight, and more fair and focused Heroic decks may offer a better positioning in the format. Tom Ross did a great piece on the various options, where he discussed the combo deck, his old Monored Heroic Boss Slight deck, Yoshihiko Ikawa’s Boros Heroic deck from PT: KTK, and, most importantly, his new Azorius Heroic deck, which he named as his favorite and choice in Standard going forward:

Tom already put this deck into the Top 8 of the Sunday Super Series at GP Nashville, and he said a similar deck also made Top 8.

Compared to Heroic Combo, this is much more focused on Heroic with more enablers. It is also packed with card advantage, including a set of Ordeal of Thassa. The card holding this all together is Heliod's Pilgrim, which generates card advantage and tutoring capability comparable to Trinket Mage, but with a suite of high-impact targets as part of the toolbox, including Singing Bell Strike as a creature removal spell, Ordeal of Heliod as massive lifegain, Stratus Walk as evasion and card advantage, and Aqueous Form as evasion and continuous value at the low cost of one mana.

This deck also relies on Hero of Iroas as an Aura-enabler and a great Heroic target. This deck is a big win for speculators on that card, which is poised to gain popularity if Heroic decks like this one reach the mainstream.


Eidolon of Countless Battles is the haymaker card and the top of the mana curve, and it threatens to end the game quickly in a deck full of creatures and Auras.

In addition to a set of God's Willing is a pair of Feat of Resistance, which offers an additional way of protecting creatures while doubling as a miniature combat trick or extra point of damage.

With Tom Ross behind it, and given the recent success of Heroic in general, I suspect this deck is the real deal and deck worth exploring, and likely a great off-the-radar competitive choice this weekend.

How To Attack Standard

In “How to Attack Standard”, Gerry Thompson said that while Standard is very diverse, it can be boiled down into five major elements:

  • Cheap creatures, often with burn spells
  • Midrange Aggressive Decks
  • Midrange Control Decks
  • Lategame engines that go over the top
  • Board Sweepers

He says that it’s important to keep those five factors in mind when approaching deckbuilding, and that having a plan for managing each one will lead to success.

He goes on to identify three major pillars of Standard: Courser of Kruphix, the best defender and grindy card; Goblin Rabblemaster, the most efficient threat; and Dig Through Time, the best card advantage spell. These cards define the direction of their decks and steer them towards a certain style and strategy.

The strategy for attacking this format is to go in either of two directions--either under the opponent with a highly aggressive curve that generates too much pressure too fast for the opponent to handle in time, like Heroic decks, or over the top with a deck that will inevitably overpower them with board position and card advantage that they are incapable of dealing with, like with Whip of Erebos decks.

He also presents a third, somewhat vague strategy, which he calls “Deal with the Threats.” The idea is to have strong walls against aggressive creatures, removal for other cards like planeswalkers, and a way to go over the top. Sounds a bit like classic midrange to me, but he presents Caleb Durward’s TCGplayer Champs deck as an example:

Gerry goes on to call Wingmate Roc the best midrange creature in the format and Anger of Gods premier removal and the card he most wants to play this weekend, likely in a RWx deck.

I am a big fan of Whip of Erebos in Standard, and online I have been testing Lukas Blohon’s GB Devotion-Whip deck I shared last week. I also think Willy Edel’s deck from GP: Santiago is excellent and one of the best options this weekend. His big innovation over Seibold’s deck is Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver in the sideboard. Here’s the decklist:

Containment Priest in Legacy

Legacy has been turned on its head by Treasure Cruise, but it’s due for another shakeup with Commander 2014 being released this weekend. The official release day is November 7th, so it’s likely already on some store shelves by the time you are reading this. These cards will be Legacy and Vintage legal immediately, and some are sure to have an impact.

In his “One Week at a Time” article, Sam Black points to Containment Priest as being hugely relevant in Legacy sideboards, namely against Dredge, Reanimator, Sneak and Show, and Elves.

He does also mentions Aether Vial decks like Merfolk and Death and Taxes, noting the latter might be a deck that would want to use it as well, and noting that it turns Flickerwisp into permanent creature removal.

Sam said he aims to play with Containment Priest at GP: New Jersey, which is pushing him towards UWx Delver strategies, but will also consider D&T and even Bant with Council's Judgment.

From Commander 2014, Sam also mentions Dualcaster Mage as being well-positioned in Legacy, and Hallowed Spiritkeeper as “his kind of card”.

Miracles in a World of Treasure Cruise

The most valuable Legacy article this week is likely “Miracles in a World of Treasure Cruise” by Reid Duke. I won’t summarize it, but I recommend it to anyone interesting in Legacy, whether from the Miracles side or fighting it across the table.

Building 3-Color Manabases in Standard

Also from CFB, Frank Karsten did a great job discussing the process of building a tuned three-color Standard manabase as an art and science in his article.

Wrap-Up

The biggest financial play this week is likely Commander 2014.

I came across this article from mtggoldfish that does a great job of breaking down the value proposition. The White and Red decks look packed full of value, so I'd be looking to pick them off the shelves of big box stores and hobby shops at retail, and then move the singles while they are still in high demand.

These prices will only fall as time goes on, so get them and get out ASAP. I am staying away from the Blue, Black, and Green decks.

Share any thoughts or ask any questions in the forums!

-Adam

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