Insider: Rotate Now, Not in October

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Hello readers!

In previous articles here at QS I said I would eventually touch on October rotation, and I've also mentioned a few “Quick Hits” as something to document and watch as we continued into the summer. Well, the summer came and went and here we are very close to September, which will bring the “summer lull” to a grinding halt. We’re in for an extremely wild ride in the coming year.

Instead of purchasing cards when everyone else is, you should be constructing (or have completed by now) your October rotation portfolio. Many of these cards have hit all-time lows and have already begun a slight increase in price. I will also be sharing with all you Insiders my relatively small but efficient group of cards I have stashed for rotation.

Fate Reforged
Fate Reforged prices

I have said over various media that I greatly prioritized Dragons of Tarkir and Fate Reforged cards over Khans of Tarkir. Fate Reforged especially. If we pull up each set's overall value, you can see that Fate Reforged is drastically lower than the other two. It was kind of alarming to see how this set, loaded with Constructed playables, falls behind a set like Khans of Tarkir. It’s understandable that Khans fetches have attributed much to the set maintaining such a lucrative overall value, but it was vastly more opened than the other sets in the block.

I’m not saying there’s no chance some of the Khans cards seeing play currently won’t be good post-rotation. I’m actually convinced most of them will be, I just question that any of them will see more modest gains than any of the fetchlands currently. With the current increasing percentage gains on fetchlands I just fear that once they increase to a certain point, we will see sealed product become such a value play that a mass exodus will go to crack them once again.

In addition, Khans rotates a little earlier, which leads me to believe that there will only be a small window for any of the Khans cards to increase at all. Given the increased supply.

If you’re that confident in Khans of Tarkir and the cards being played currently or post-rotation, there is a lucrative card that most likely has been on fellow financiers' radar for quite some time. Trust me when I say that it really took a lot for me to look at this specific card in particular and I only based the purchase off the fact that it does see some fringe Modern play. I will be highlighting this later in the article.

Without further adieu:

The October Portfolio

12x Narset Transcendent @ $6.79 ($81.48)
12x Sorin, Solemn Visitor @ $6.56 ($78.72)
20x Soulfire Grand Master @ $7.00 ($140)
16x Whisperwood Elemental @ $4.50 ($72)
16x Warden of the First Tree @ $2.00 ($32)

Late round fliers (sorry, Fantasy Football is on my mind!):

20x Ojutai's Command @ $.85c ($17)
30x Silumgar's Command @ $.24c ($7.2)
30x Citadel Siege @ $.25c ($7.50)
32x Frontier Siege @ $.30c ($9.60)
40x Outpost Siege @ $.48c ($19.20)

(Blue fetchlands via RL trade and Pucatrade: not purchased with cash - 16x Flooded Strand, 12x Polluted Delta)

Total spending: $484.70

Phew, well there you all have it. Most of these cards are fairly obvious, and they were quite honestly staring us in the face for quite some time. The best thing about Trader Tools is you can click on “Editions” and literally monitor the spread of notable cards above 1$ quickly and efficiently. Which truthfully brought me to many of these purchases (other than the “late round” stuff).

I couldn’t help myself. The SCG Summer Sale had these below buylist and it really enticed me to grab a few playsets. It could end up an idiotic move, but I’m confident in any blue planeswalker that’s halfway decent. This card is far from bad, and I draw a parallel to a similar planeswalker in the previous block, Kiora, the Crashing Wave, which saw a modest increase after hitting its floor.

I think Narset could start climbing back from a paltry $6.50. Remember the price memory is huge on this card, and most of the set has declined since we saw Dragonlord Ojutai soak up a ton of the value.

I have to say from evaluating the two cards, I actually think Narset is a fair bit better comparatively. It’s in a better color combination for one, and only really needs a few really good spells to warrant its inclusion into decklists. If nothing else, like I said--I got them under buylist, and that makes the losses a little more bearable should it not pan out as I hope. It has been used in a Constructed setting briefly; hopefully that will repeat in October.

I honestly can’t stop talking about Fate Reforged, and more notably Soulfire Grand Master. I think Doug and Kelly might get tired of it at one point when I rave about this set (and card) on the podcast. I've been consistent letting people know I’ve acquired this card when asked on various social media.

I mean, do you see that spread? Fate Reforged in general has been sporting a ton of good stuff at a lucrative spread for a while now. Coupled with a drastically low overall set price, I think I’m happy putting much more of my rotation investment in the two later sets than Khans.

If you have noticed the recent tournaments and MTGO dailies, Soulfire Grand Master has slowly worked itself into the Jeskai list as a four-of a while ago. I’ve monitored this card like a hawk, and until very recently Card Kingdom had a buylist increase which had this at 1% spread. It’s a little more modest now, but the spread is narrowing quickly again.

We’ve seen the decklist change since Kevin Jones won that Star City Games open when Khans came out, and when you look at a lot of the core cards the decklist remains largely unchanged going forward. If you re-configure the mana base and add a few new spells it seems like a safe and viable option once the metagame initially changes with Battle for Zendikar.

We also have to remember MM2015 wedged itself after Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir, with Magic Origins soon thereafter. There’s just so many things going right for both of these sets. To top it off Dragons of Tarkir rotates after Khans. So I’m going to keep harping on the fact that given similar spreads I would still favor the two later sets as there just was less overall opened and there weren’t fetchlands soaking up all the value and leading the sets to be opened for them specifically.

Given my preference for FRF and DTK, you're probably wondering why I have Sorin, Solemn Visitor in my October Rotation list. Well, the answer is simply I made an exception for this one card. Solely because we’re looking at a fairly dominant planeswalker, since we’ve seen the success of this card in Standard. It also has forced its way into some fringe play in Modern.

These factors alone really should be jumping out at everyone else as well. I know many of you out there, as well as other writers, are generating quite the buzz and attention towards Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. While I don’t necessarily think the card is without merit, I just can’t bring myself to go with the herd on this one. I just think Sorin is much more lucrative and viable in more categories than Sarkhan.

I understand both of these cards have an attractive spread and quite the large price memory. I just think the future of both these cards has to come into question. Fellow QS writers have done a great job in rotation articles, and Sarkhan replaces a card like Stormbreath Dragon. The question is, “Does that even matter?” I just tend to lean to the card that is going to be paired with highly viable cards going forward.

Notably Hangarback Walker, which seems like an insane amount of value. We’ve already had coverage by Ryan Overturf about Hangarback Walker being included into Abzan, and when you put these two cards together it gets me a tad bit more excited than guessing the future of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. The powerful and potent synergy is already right there in front of our eyes. So, I think that’s where I’m going to be investing... (Wait, I already did that.)

Late Round Fliers

I understand many of you may question the “late round fliers” but the more I had them sitting around the more I ultimately didn’t think they were a huge waste given the cost.

The most questionable one might be Silumgar's Command but, with Hero's Downfall rotating I figured this could be a viable card to deal with planeswalkers in blue-black. Obviously a printing of a more viable card in either of those colors removing planeswalkers obliterates any potential gains on it; I was willing to take the risk on that one particular card.

In any event, I’m really only out .15c each card which is why I was more inclined to take the chance. Hopefully with a metashift into ramping into Eldrazi, each mode of this becomes better. You could even have the luxury of killing a planeswalker and countering a key spell that would have ramped into potentially more dangerous cards.

Of the other small penny stocks card I felt Citadel Siege was a great one to hold. There has been plenty of hype around Hardened Scales and this could be a part of that strategy. We saw the deck tech highlighted here on the website, and it looked like a “+1/+1 counter” themed event deck. What’s better is most of the decklist sticks around, and it can become quite scary with cards like Hangarback Walker and Managorger Hydra becoming very big, very quickly.

Frontier Siege and Outpost Siege I just felt were a great purchase at these prices. I understand Outpost Siege was inserted into a supplemental product, but for such a powerful effect it feels like this was its floor. I mentioned this purchase on the Starcity Games Summer Sale thread, and other QS Insiders seemed to agree. Which I figured, because you’re smart people and know that these have actually seen the light of day in a Constructed environment.

Final Considerations

I’m excited to say the least for the coming rotation in October. I love this time of year, and I think Battle for Zendikar and Khans of Tarkir blocks will be an exciting time in Standard. I’m happy to divulge the cards I’m personally investing in for the Insiders and hopefully it opens some opportunities to shore up last minute purchasing for the coming months. I try to sit down and monitor spreads very closely, and really take the time to put together an effective amount of cards in my inventory.

I’m happy with the amount of money I spent on these particular cards--I wouldn't have wanted to go above $500. The goal was to keep it relatively small while spreading out the investment enough to minimize losses. You'll also notice I kept a majority of the expenditure in proven cards that are played as multiples in the viable archetypes of Abzan and Jeskai--two of the clan colors I think will flourish the most.

Of course when it came to the “penny stocks” I couldn't resist grabbing potentially powerful cards when they’re basically thrown at me. With a floor of .10c it’s hard not to stash some of these away.

Overall I’m happy to have put this together ahead of time instead of rushing when everyone else plans to buy into these cards. I’m sticking to these and will prosper or go down with the ship. Either way, when you target mythic staples in underopened sets with a low spread, I think you’re always going to end up hitting your mark.


One last card before I go. I know I've been avoiding KTK like the plague--but this card looks too good to pass up. I'll reserve judgment and open the floor to you all:

I’m eager to hear what you all think. On a scale of 1-10 how would you grade this portfolio? How would you grade your own? What are your rotation portfolio’s looking like? Why did you settle on them?

Looking forward to discussing anything in the comments or via social media as well.

Until next time!

- Chaz

10 thoughts on “Insider: Rotate Now, Not in October

  1. Quote : “To top it off they’re both in Standard longer than their fellow first set in Khans block.”

    So unless I misunderstand, you think only KTK will go out of rotation in spring 2016.

    If that is the case, the biggest part of this article is based on an error… KTK and DTK will rotate out in spring, only FRF will stay until fall. As you could have read in another article here a few days ago (like I did); I also doublechecked online of course.

    Also it feels like you said Khans and KTK a few times when you meant FRF… otherwise it didn’t make sense.

    I am confused by this article, if these were indeed errors perhaps you should let your articles be pre-read by someone (if you can’t do it yourself).

    Don’t misunderstand this, i was happy with the article overall, but i would like to understand it totally.

    1. Thanks so much for pointing that out. That was on me and likely confused my editor (who all do a great job). I have corrected this and was totally my fault.

      Sorry for the confusion.

      I do favor Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir over Khans of Tarkir. Fate Reforged *does* rotate with Khans, but was opened less (because of MM2015) and overall is just worth far less than the others currently. Even with plenty of viable cards in it.

      Dragons obviously rotates later on, and I favor it as such.

  2. I like most of what you’re saying, but Narset is dramatically worse than Kiora. Narset can usually just be ignored in play, but Kiora not only acts as a removal spell if it gets to live, but also threatens to end the game on its own in a very fast manner.

    1. Hah Well, as long as you like *most* of it!

      On a more serious note, yeah you do make a great argument. Wasn’t saying Kiora was bad necessarily, I just felt Narset is in a better supported color pair.

      I could very well have my foot in my mouth once Battle for Zendikar hits, but I have a hard time believing they won’t print *any* viable spells for Narset to become much more viable than it is now. Luckily it’s in DTK so, there’s still plenty of time.

  3. Chaz, you still have a problem with your article and comments. MM2015 was not released between FRF and DTK but in late May after DTK released in April. While this did still affect FRF somewhat in draft due to reduced DTK/DTK/FRF drafting the set that I feel would be in shorter supply is DTK which has a ton of value and is sitting low due to the summer lull.

  4. Great article after reading it for the 3rd time I decided to comment. I have been picking up copy’s of Mantis Raider, Outpost Siege, Ojutai’s Command as trade toppers for the last month or so. But I see there is some stuff I better hurry up and acquire been looking at Narset for some time now and just haven’t pulled the trigger on it yet overall. Also how do you feel about Silumgar’s Command now that Ruinous Path has been revealed not instant speed so was wondering if you would still move on the commands if had the chane?

  5. Chaz, I like your picks. I’ve been slowly acquiring Soulfire foils, for all the reasons you suggested.

    I’m looking at Managorger as a big part in the next abzan builds once it picks up steam.
    Thoughts on this investment?

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