Insider: Origins Week One

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Having SCG Opens before the Pro Tour for a new set is really interesting. You could already have capitalized from speccing on a couple Origins cards and the set hasn't even been out for two weeks! An Open isn't going to set the pace for the Standard metagame with anywhere near the magnitude of a Pro Tour, but we certainly learned things from SCG Chicago.

If we look at the finals, there's not much to be gleaned about the impact of Origins. Logan Mize was mulliganed his way out of a trophy in a matchup that's incredibly favorable with a deck that hasn't been updated since Fate Reforged, and our winner had updates that weren't even all good!

Don't play Tuan's Sword of the Animist. His win was indicative of G/r Devotion being great, with the significant upgrade being Gaea's Revenge. While Gaea's Revenge is great, and not even crazy as a four-of out of the sideboard, there's not really money to be made on a reprinted sideboard card like this.

Alternatively, Whisperwood Elemental has to be approaching its price floor. This card is just the best thing to be doing on five with big mana decks and matchs up either evenly or favorably against Languish, which is a great place to be.

Neither Tuan's winning list or Chris Anderson's fourth place list featured Nissa, Vastwood Seer // Nissa, Sage Animist, but Ross Merriam was sporting two in third place. I'd be curious to see if Ross would run them back or if Chris would give them a try, and both questions are potentially answered by their Top 8 interviews:

What card from Magic Origins impressed you the most this weekend?

Ross: "Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Languish."

Chris: "The flip walkers are very strong. Especially Jace."

Both players seem to express interest in the power level of Nissa, and both are generally considered to be people who know what they're talking about. Nissa is already quite expensive, but strong results and being held in high regard by good players is a good sign of at least a short-term hold. A strong PT performance could even result in some monetary gains for Nissa.

Since I've only talked about the green deck and have already mentioned Languish twice, it's probably time to rap about the new sweeper in town. Languish wasn't necessarily as dominant as I expected in Chicago, with Whisperwood Elemental certainly being somewhat to blame, but its presence was certainly felt.

We only saw three copies in the Top 8, but they were all in Bruce Edelman's Abzan Control deck, which he didn't lose a match with until round 14. It was an impressive run, and Languish undoubtedly played a part.

There's nothing fancy here. Languish kills our Coursers, but both cards are great and cutting one in favor of the other just results in cutting one of our best spells, so we take a small hit on synergy to maximize power. This is nothing new for these goodstuff rock decks.

Languish saw a brief, somewhat crazy, spike leading up to Chicago, passing $10 in market price before getting back down to a more realistic $8. It's hard to imagine Languish really leaving the $6-8 range. It's a good place to park value and an awesome card to keep stocked in your binder, but not one that's great to dump a lot of cash into.

While Languish's impact was felt, the card that truly broke out in Chicago was Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound. Jace was highlighted in several Jeskai lists, as well as Matthew Tickal's Five-Color Rally deck.

My initial look at Jace had me thinking the best home for him was Jeskai Ascendancy Combo. In Chicago, he was featured in both Jeskai Ascendancy decks, and this combo deck. So I was kind of wrong. Anyway, Jace does a lot of work in this deck. He helps you draw specific cards, sets up your graveyard and flashes back a Rally the Ancestors if that's the only way you can find it.

A strong PT performance could certainly lead to a higher price tag for Jace, and I could definitely see that happening. Just not in this deck. There are elements missing here, there are a lot of things that have to go right for this deck, and even if they do the deck is difficult to pilot. I've been talking to Tickal about the deck all week, and we agree that at the end of the day the deck is very cool, but is ultimately of a medium power level.

Meanwhile, Kevin McLesky presented us with an amazing Jace deck:

Jace combines with Jeskai Ascendancy to help you sculpt your hand beautifully, and all that looting makes running four Treasure Cruise in your Standard deck not only viable, but fantastic. I'd like to find a way to fit the fourth Flooded Strand and maybe a fifth fetch in, but that's pretty minor.

A card to watch in this deck, and one that Gerry Thompson is big on, is Ojutai's Command. Having good two-drops to recur makes all four modes on Ojutai's Command relevant, and when that's the case the card is very good. It's the number two traded card on Pucatrade for the past month, which is worth paying attention to. They're super cheap right now, and could easily jump to $3-5 in the coming weeks.

The last two cards of interest from Origins are Thopter Spy Network and Hangarback Walker. Here's why:

Spy Network was picking up leading into the event, and now is over $3 on TCG low. Where the card once looked like a different Bident of Thassa, now we have seen that Thopter Spy Network is capable of taking over games on its own. I don't think we'll see it climb much over $4, but it's obviously a good one to track.

Alternatively, Hangarback Walker broke out entirely because of Hoogland's deck and has a lot more potential going forward.

Hangarback Walker has looked great every time that I've seen it in play, and I believe we've only started to scratch the surface on this one. It's only a thought kicking around in my head right now, but I can't help but think that Hangarback Walker would make very good friends with Jeskai Ascendancy. This card will see play in several decks, and being an artifact printed once in a core set bodes well for its price tag while it's in Standard.

The buy-in has certainly increased, but you should minimally own a set of this card if you're a Standard player. Buying in is costly at this point, but I love this as a trade target, especially with so many players still not believing in the card.

The last card that I want to talk about comes from a lower profile tournament. Check out the list that Ali Aintrazi posted on TCGPlayer this week:

People seem to be impressed by Demonic Pact from initial testing. Aintrazi's list is far from polished with not even a single copy of Dig Through Time, and he still thinks the deck is great! He also speaks highly of Erebos's Titan, but I think the target here is the Pact due to the fact that it also fits into constellation decks and decks with Dromoka's Command.

Demonic Pact has a very low buy-in for a mythic, and could easily triple or quadruple in price with a strong PT finish. The most noteworthy thing about Pact is that it shows up as a four-of in every list that it appears in. Part of this could have to do with the fact that multiple copies can just end the game with the burn mode before you have to worry about bouncing one, which is why creatures like Erebos's Titan play so well in this kind of deck.

Leading up to PT Origins, it seems clear that Abzan Control and G/r Devotion are the two best decks in Standard. Could a new strategy rise up to the challenge and take over the format? I have every reason to believe that one can and will.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

4 thoughts on “Insider: Origins Week One

  1. Without any sort of collaboration – I think you and I both wrote a very similar subject matter for the dialogue going into PT!

    We even listed the exact same cards to watch as well!

    Great minds think alike it seems. Good article Ryan.

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