As I'm sure we're all aware of by now, the new Standard rotation will force us to rethink the way we invest in new sets. An interesting element of this rotation is that Dragons of Tarkir will be in Standard longer than Khans and Fate Reforged, with Magic Origins being considered the other set in Dragons' "block." Battle for Zendikar will rotate Theros out of Standard, but Dragons and Origins will survive three more set releases.
The cards in these sets will be given many opportunities to prove themselves, and now is a great time to move in. I have identified the following cards as great, undervalued positions.
Anafenza is a card that immediately started showing up in Modern Melira combo decks and has a lot of potential in Standard. Unless she's answered immediately, Anafenza will usually have generated three power for you on turn three, which is a great rate for only committing you to one color.
Anafenza also plays great with Hangarback Walker--a card that will surely be heavily played for as long as it's in Standard. While she won't trigger off the tokens, she will bolster when you cast the Walker itself in addition to having the option to bolster it further if both creatures survive.
Anafenza is less than a buck right now, which is certainly too low. Being in the "Armed and Dangerous" pre-con hurts her for sure, but she has longevity.
This is a pretty great penny stock. This card has quite a lot of MTGO Daily 4-0s under its belt, and is a powerful element of the green-white Hardened Scales deck that Yuuya Watanabe designed for PT Origins. Once again, this card plays ball with Hangarback Walker, which is a huge boon. This is another card from the "Armed and Dangerous" deck, but I'd still anticipate it hitting $3-4 while it's Standard-legal.
I've written on this card before, and a reader challenged me in the comments section last time, so allow me to expound. If you remove the text of losing the game from this card, getting to do all of the other three things is an extremely good rate for four mana. If you disagree with this premise, then I'm not really sure what game you're playing. Yes, it is slow, but gaining four life will generally properly compensate for this slowness.
Once we agree that this is powerful though, we have to find a way to remove the "lose the game" text. We currently have Dromoka's Command, Sultai Charm, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon as premium ways to accomplish this, but more importantly there are a wide range of potential cards that could be printed to make this card great.
The text "sacrifice a permanent," some creative deck-building with Tragic Arrogance, or even a deck simply capable of killing the opponent before it has to choose the fourth option, are all potential options for breaking Pact.
We've also seen decks with Woodland Bellower and Invasive Species to both gain more value and not lose to Pact. While we're losing Species and Reclamation Sage, it's not hard to imagine another maindeckable one- to three-drop coming along that helps us answer our own Pact.
I will say again that Pact will likely drop a dollar or two more in price before it takes off, but more importantly I stand by my position that this card will see relevant Standard play. It also has the makings of a very popular casual card for a long-term hold.
Standard is very powerful right now, so it's not surprising to see a card with a drawback sitting on the sidelines. That said, if you want a tool for a hyper-aggressive deck with resilience against controlling opponents, this is kind of a slam-dunk.
Notably, Anafenza, the Foremost and Hangarback Walker pose substantial obstacles to this card's success. For this reason, I'm somewhat skeptical of this card, but it's basically bulk and has a lot of potential.
Remember when this was a $30 card? Ojutai is quite possibly at the lowest point that it will ever be during its time in Standard. A couple copies have dropped below $10 on TCGplayer over the last two weeks, but these copies have disappeared quickly. This card is still extremely powerful, and when we see the format shrink with rotation it won't be surprising to see a card of this caliber bring a control deck to the forefront of Standard.
Whether we get a Constructed-playable eldrazi or not (we probably will), we still have Whisperwood Elemental and Dragonlord Atarka. It's hard to imagine this and Rattleclaw Mystic not teaming up in a powerful Standard deck post-rotation. At $2, this is a stellar pickup right now. Something has to take Courser and Caryatid's place, and the upside on this card is massive.
This card is one of those obviously powerful cards that is seeing a low amount of play in a very powerful Standard. As cards rotate and Standard gets smaller, expect Stratus Dancer to see more play and increase in value.
Den Protector was clearly the best card in the cycle, but don't discount the Dancer. It's a good rate just as a two-drop and the morph ability gives you a 3/2 flier that's a two-for-one. If you think Mantis Rider will see play post-rotation, expect it to be alongside this card.
This is another pre-con card, but again, the power here is too high for a fifty cent rare. Siege Rhino certainly occupies the same space as Surrak, but not only will Siege Rhino rotate while Surrak is still in Standard, but it's also just possible that we get tools for an aggressive green-red deck or some other flavor of aggression that can't support Rhinos.
There's still a good window to invest in Khans and Fate Reforged positions, but these Dragons and Origins cards are worth highlighting for their longevity. I feel very strongly that Abzan positions and Dragonlord Ojutai will do very well when Theros rotates, though we are also likely in the window of the floor for all the cards discussed in this article.
As we see more of Battle for Zendikar it will become clear which of these specs will hit sooner rather than later, but for now I like them all as medium-term specs.
Thanks for reading.
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