Insider: Deconstructing Pro Tour: Battle for Zendikar

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The Top 8 from this weekend was the stuff of legend. Great pros, from Owen to Jon. PV, a Top 8 staple. Martin Muller, one of those rising stars at only 18. And the highly technical Japanese contingent, representatives of a country that has a fearsome reputation in Magic.

Jeskai, Living Life On The Edge.

Have you had a chance to read over the semifinals match between Finkel and Tamada yet? Treat yourself if not.

Keep an eye on the life totals, too. Jeskai lives close to the brink of death all the time, like no deck in recent memory.

Even in a world full of Jeskai Charm closing the door, the UWR deck will plunge to single digits. Why? Check out the match I linked to and see how the deck can remove creatures and gain life. Thanks to Ojutai's Command and Seeker of the Way, the list can bounce right back from perilous places. Not to mention, Soulfire Grand Master can gain stacks of life.

Let's break down the finance implications here. Tamada's deck has four Hangarback Walker and four Gideon. These are obviously the premier cards of Standard (Jace says "hey," too).

Jon's deck passes over both of those haymakers for a trio of Tasigur, the Golden Fang.

Now, Jeskai is a phenomenally expensive deck to put together already, so I don't expect a whole lot of these staples to rise much in price. That's because they're already so expensive that MTGO set redemptions can keep the price in check.

Though Tamada won, I expect people will play Jon's list more. The reason is that it's got lots of cool one-ofs. The people who want to play one-ofs (there are a bunch and you're reading an article by one of 'em) like cards like Dig Through Time over Treasure Cruise. They look at the trio of Kolaghan's Command and think about all the value chains they can make with it.

I expect the price of Kolaghan's Command and Tasigur to stay steady, since they are finally finding Standard play again.

Tamada's deck is a phenomenal list as well. His stream of 2/2s from both Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Mastery of the Unseen let him go far and wide against Jon.

Those two cards are a key in stopping Jeskai because they have very few sweepers that can eliminate a horde of tokens. Likewise, the deck has a challenge in stopping both the token maker and the tokens themselves.

Mantis Rider is still a prime threat to hold them back, but it can be handled in a variety of ways. I like Mastery of the Unseen in the next few weeks. It's cheap now and it's a potent turn-2 card. Jeskai mirror players are going to have to play a game of wondering whether to bring in Felidar Cub.

Siege Rhino is Old, Bring in Wingmates and Anafenza, The Foremost

UB Aristocrats was the talk of the tournament until it ran into Anafenza, the Foremost and stopped cold. The clan leader ran her goat chariot right over Bloodsoaked Champion, right through Zulaport Cutthroat. No more "when this dies" triggers means that the deck lost a great deal of its reach.

Now, the Rhino is still a critical card, but we saw its two companions running the show.

Wingmate Roc has been performing well against things like Crackling Doom and Wild Slash. Five mana is not unheard-of. It has jumped up about 100% in price recently, settling at around $7. The bird has little room to go up in price, since it is in the same ludicrous set as fetchlands and stuff like Anafenza.

Remember that MTGO redemptions are the safety valve that lets off a lot of pressure on set value.

This is Gideon's Show.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar gained a few dollars over the weekend, settling around $38 right now. That's a whopper of a price but it's also pretty reasonable for the banner card of Standard.

GW Megamorph, Abzan and Jeskai are all packing the card in full sets. This little token engine and emblem manufacturer is an incredible threat. I get the sense that someone at Wizards sighed in relief that they finally made a playable Gideon (and a 4-of, at that!).

Gideon naturally demands answers that fly. Hangarback Walker will remain strong, as will Mantis Rider. I was shocked that only one Ruinous Path ended up in the T8.

Maybe we'll see more as people ask themselves "How do I answer this Planeswalker?" Even cards like Abzan Charm are half-hearted solutions. A wary player will just keep making Knights or cash him in for a Glorious Anthem.

Quick Hits

  • Den Protector jumped from $11 to $16 this past week. A dozen copies in the T8 will keep it at that price for awhile.
  • No Aristocrats of any kind in the T8 made me sad.
  • While Esper Control did very well starting off, it fell by the wayside in the later matches. Reid Duke had a particularly cool list.
  • Seeing how expensive the rest of Standard is, Atarka Red is a good budget deck. And I hate to say that a $375 deck is budget, but it's still half the price of the rest of Standard.
  • There's a new Foil Snapcaster Mage announced as a prize for the RPTQs. Much like Liliana of the Veil, this will be in limited supply. That means the price of ol' Snappy isn't going to see much of a drop. The consensus reaction is that the new art is worse than the old art (which always seems to be the case).
  • The other decks in the T8 are $750+ to build. This is what Mythic Rare Standard looks like, and it isn't pretty.

Let me know what you thought of the Pro Tour in the comments! Join me again next week as we look at how the metagame reacted to the Pro Tour.


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