Insider: Origins, Week One

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Magic Origins officially became legal for constructed play last Friday and the set looks pretty great. As far as core sets go, Origins looks like a fantastic offering with a lot of really cool and interesting cards.

One of the first things I noticed when I was opening packs is that all of the mythics and most of the rares are new printings, which goes a long way to making the set feel better. Even if you open an undesirable rare at least it isn’t that same undesirable rare you already opened last year. There is no adventure in the reprinted bad rare: if it wasn’t worth anything last year the chances are that it won’t be worth anything the second time around either.

In Origins the reprints are actually good cards with some real value. Stuff like Goblin Piledriver and Gaea's Revenge that are actually cool and will see play in constructed Magic.

Honestly, Origins didn’t change a ton in Standard so far after week one. I was talking to Kyle Boggemes a lot about the new set on our drive down to the SCG Open and we reached the realization that Standard currently has eight sets in it. It takes a lot for a card to actually see play in any Standard deck. So, in most cases decks are only going to be able to utilize a card or two. Core sets also have the drawback where the cards are not really mechanic-driven so there are not a ton of synergies to build around.

In fact, I didn’t play a single new card from Magic Origins in my deck at the Open this weekend. I ended up going 6-3 with Esper Dragons and missing the cut for Day Two because the event was so large.

The most hyped card going into the event for Standard was pretty clearly:

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Finally a 4cc sweeper that isn’t terrible and lets you keep Siege Rhinos around. How can that be bad? Languish proved its worth this weekend and showed up in the Abzan Control decks that were doing well at the top tables all weekend long. There were only a couple of Abzan Control that made Top 8 but the Top 32 was completely loaded with the archetype.

I was going to replace my Crux of Fate with the new Languish but I eventually decided against it. It seemed like everybody going into the event was jamming Languish in everything or building to be more resilient against the card. So, I figured that I might as well just keep jamming Crux. I also noted that casting Dragonlord Ojutai and then following up with a Crux of fate is pretty sweet.

I still think that the deck is really solid. The biggest problem that I ran into over the course of the event was a powerful reprint that I mentioned earlier in the article:

The card is extremely difficult for an Esper deck to interact with and is probably one of the most important printings in all of Origins. It may not enable any new decks but it is a card that lots of different decks will be able to utilize. The cool thing about Gaea’s Revenge is that it can be used by a lot of different decks. Basically, any deck that is playing green can potentially use the card.

It was also one of the most played cards from the new set in the tournament overall. As of Sunday evening, the card is basically a dollar rare. A lot of people don’t know that it was originally a mythic rare so there are not a ton of old copies actually floating around. I like this card as one to be trading for as I believe it is currently undervalued.

It reminds me a lot of Mistcutter Hydra, which at its peak hit the $5-$6 range as a sideboard card for Esper Control two years ago. Obviously, the card is at its lowest right now because people are cracking packs like crazy, but at some point over the next two years I think Gaea’s Revenge will have a solid peak.

Aside from Gaea’s Revenge out of the sideboard of G/R Devotion and Abzan Control decks, quite a few other cards made notable showings this weekend.

My non-Gaea’s Revenge-related loss was to the card Exquisite Firecraft.

I played against a Mono-Red deck that I had almost no chance of beating as it was all burn spells and it was just a pile of awesome. I don’t know the guy’s deck or anything but here is how I would probably try to build it.

I couldn’t beat this deck because my primary way of interacting with red aggro is kill their creatures. This deck is not very creature-heavy so all the Drown in Sorrow in the world isn’t going to help that much. I easily crushed a Goblins player but this match up went laughably bad.

The biggest gainer of the tournament was pretty clearly Hangarback Walker, which jumped from a dollar rare up past five bucks. I think this card is absolutely fantastic and it was the one card that I was trading pretty heavily for all last week.

Jeff Hoogland made good use of the card in his U/W Thopter Control deck that he used to Top 8 SCG Chicago. It is just a fantastic value creature that can produce lots of blockers or grow to great size over time.

I actually have been pretty seriously thinking about playing Hangerback Walker in Modern Affinity as well. It seems pretty awesome that it can gain counters from Arcbound Ravager or Steel Overseer. The card is just a really solid creature overall and especially in Standard. There are not many two-drops that are particularly powerful and this one has a lot of options built into it.

Personally, I think that Day’s Undoing is a really powerful Magic card and that it is going to see a lot of play over multiple formats. With that being said, I think that $20 is a lot of money on this card even with it being a mythic.

There were quite a few Turbo Fog brews at SCG Chicago that were doing alright playing the card, but other than that I think it will be difficult for the card to see a lot of Standard play. There are simply not enough ways to play cards quickly to get value out of the draw-seven.

The one place where I could see this card shining in Standard would be a really aggressive U/R Burn Aggro deck where you try to dump all of your cards as fast as possible and then reload with Undoing before your opponent can cast their more expensive spells.

With this theory in mind, I also think the card may be super good in Modern Affinity because the deck has the ability to dump all of its cards in the first few turns.

It’s also pretty cool that Day’s Undoing gives Affinity access to some maindeck graveyard hate (since it shuffles your opponent’s graveyard away). This is pretty awesome against decks like Living End or dedicated delve decks. It’s incidental but it can certainly make a difference.

I also think the card could be a pretty sweet Burning Wish target for various combo decks in Legacy. I had a couple of people tell me that it’s good in the Omni-Tell deck.

Also, it is worth noting that this card is pretty outstanding with Notion Thief. Mind Twist + draw 14?

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Another real breakout card from the tournament was the 2CC Jace. As it turns out a two-mana planeswalker is pretty powerful in lots of different decks.

I had a really hard time assessing how good this card was because it is so completely bizarre. There was a lot of discussion about how good the planeswalker abilities themselves actually are (or aren’t). On the surface none of the non-ultimate abilities seem mind-blowing. Shrinking a creature or giving a spell flashback? Meh.

The thing that people failed to realize at first is that the card is actually really hard to kill once it flips because it has a ton of loyalty. So, it isn’t that it does one of those abilities but rather that you are likely to activate the card lots of times over the course of the game.

The card is also awesome at not dying and grinding incremental advantage over the game. The great thing about it is how little you have to invest. The cost is only two mana. Which is very small.

There are very few proactive cards in Standard that cost two mana. Fleecemane Lion, Sylvan Caryatid and Rakshasa Deathdealer all come to mind.

For the most part the cards that cost 3, 4, and 5 mana very quickly outclass most of the cards that cost two which makes it difficult to play these cards. Jace is clearly going to be an exception because you can get it down early and basically have a looter to smooth out your draws, which then flips into a planeswalker that will rebuy spells and shrink opposing creatures.

Another attribute that most people don’t think about until they actually see the card being played, is that it is really good in a deck that is trying to be aggressive. Imagine that you have a flipped Jace and then cast a Goblin Rabblemaster onto a board where an opponent has a Courser of Kruphix sitting back on defense. When you use the +1 ability to shrink the Coursers power it is shrunk on your turn so you can attack into it and it won’t deal damage on defense--and it won’t be able to attack on their turn either. So, using Jace in decks that are attacking makes the +1 ability even more valuable since it will hinder their creatures on offense and defense.

The other cool thing that I saw people doing with Jace at the Open was to play him in Rally the Ancestors combo decks. Basically the card is just another “draw and discard” effect to beef up the graveyard. However, once flipped it allows you to rebuy extra copies of Rally the Ancestors that get milled or countered. Another cool interaction is that if you return Jace to play with Rally you can immediately tap it and flip it into a planeswalker, which you get to keep at the end of turn.

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The last “good card” from this weekend was pretty clearly Nissa. I think this was the obvious best card from the set based on people’s perceptions of the set from spoiler season. It showed up in Abzan and Green Devotion. The card is exactly the kind of card that people like to play with and is one of the most spiky feeling cards in a while.

It does so much stuff for so little mana! For three you get a 2/2 body and can tutor up a basic Forest. Then as the game progresses it flips into a big planeswalker that draws cards by plussing and makes 4/4s.

Cliff Notes Version

Crème de la Crème

These are the Constructed staple cards that should hold a fair amount of value and sustain high demand.

Wait on These

This next group is comprised of fine cards that can’t hold their high out-of-the-gate prices. People are not going to pay $25 for new Gideon and $20 for the mythic angel to play white weenie.

I think all of the planeswalkers are good cards and have a pushed power level so they will each likely have their day in Constructed. However, I would advise waiting until the price falls off before buying in unless you absolutely want to play with one of them.

The Abbot, Firecraft, and Day’s Undoing are the same kind of card. Wait and you’ll get them much cheaper later on and they may go back up after that.

The Steals

I think the best cards to be picking up from the set right now are actually Gaea’s Revenge and the Apocalypse lands. At $2 a pop, the lands are a great value and they are going to be a defining part of Standard for a long time.

You can never go wrong trading for as many of the weird unplayed unique-effect-type dollar rares. If they feel like good cards at bottom barrel price I’ll almost always take a risk on them.

I still like Pia and Kiran Nalaar at $3. I traded for like five copies at the SCG Open. I just feel like this card is too good not to be awesome.

I'm excited to see where things go from here. All things considered Origins has had a pretty exciting impact here in week one. It's only a core set so I wasn't expecting it to set the world on fire or anything but it does have a lot of depth and complexity.

5 thoughts on “Insider: Origins, Week One

  1. I’m not sure how much room Chandra’s parents have to grow since they’re an intro pack rare. I feel like it would take multiple strong performances for the card to budge.

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