Insider: New Arrivals in Standard – The Financial Impact of G/r Ramp and Esper Control

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We all know about Dark Jeskai and Abzan. You're not going to make any money buying into Mantis Rider now, so what's a speculator to do?

If you've been waiting for the next big thing, it may have already arrived.

Grand Prix Quebec City was won by a known quantity, but two of the other decks in the Top 8 are raising eyebrows.

In addition to the GP, these decks have posted multiple State Championships and Daily Event finishes. If these results, along with the opinion of Reid Duke, can be trusted, you'll want to be aware of the newcomers:

At the time of writing, variants of these two decks are the only 4-0s in the most recent Standard Daily Events on Magic Online. This supports the claim that the GP results weren't a fluke.

Cards of Note

The common thread in these decks is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon--featured as a full four-of in the ramp deck, which hasn't been common for Ugin decks. Ugin has already ticked up a couple bucks on TCGPlayer, and is approaching its all-time high of $30 (TCGLow).

The previous high was reached when Ugin was still being opened in packs. So if and when these decks become more popular, I'd expect Ugin to approach anywhere from $35-50.

According to their pilots, these decks can ball with the pillars of the metagame. Reid, for his part, built his deck specifically as an answer to Dark Jeskai and Abzan.

Notably, Esper adds a second Ojutai's Command deck to the metagame. The buy-in on this card recently increased substantially. $3 isn't cheap for a regular rare, but this card will also be sticking with us through the next rotation. I love Ojutai's Command as a trade target, and cheaper copies online aren't bad buys.

Esper is also another Dig Through Time deck, but with the Legacy ban and Dig being on the outs, I wouldn't expect good returns on that one anymore.

The major card to watch from Jake Mondello's ramp deck is Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Ulamog has been in free fall since BFZ released, but mythics that get adopted as a three- or four-of can turn around quickly. Indeed Ulamog's price is already starting to tick up, and his spread is low.

There are two concerns regarding Ulamog. The first is that Battle for Zendikar is a heavily opened set, and card values are dropping all the time.

This is partly because few BFZ cards are even seeing play, so an increase in demand will certainly cause some increase in price. Gideon obviously sees a lot more play, but he's already three times the price of Ulamog--which is just to show that cards from BFZ can be expensive.

It's hard to imagine Ulamog dropping below $10 just based on casual appeal. In any case, his new arrival on the Standard scene will be good for prices, but the success of the ramp deck going forward will ultimately determine how good.

The other concern is that the deck might not need 3-4 copies of Ulamog. As the deck currently exists, the extra Ulamogs actually add a lot to the deck.

Right now these decks are running four Sanctum of Ugin as backup Ulamogs--in the case the first one dies to something like a Crackling Doom, or if you just want to kill two more things and MacGyver up some vigilance. This could change.

Dragonlord Atarka was featured in Mondello's list, but it's not in the aforementioned Daily 4-0. The latter seems to have removed the red mana, if for nothing other than consistency.

As this was the only potential Dragonlord Atarka deck and the card isn't even necessarily a staple, I'm not big on Atarka right now.

On the other hand, two cards from the deck that might merit a second look are Sanctum of Ugin and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. Both appeared as four-ofs.

These cards are basically bulk right now. Even with BFZ being opened so much, I expect a four-of rare in a competitive deck to settle above bulk. You won't retire off of these lands, but they're nice things to look for as trade throw-ins. They should be a buck or two if the deck has staying power.

Nissa's Renewal is in a similar boat, but it's not nearly as attractive as the lands. It suffers from the same risk as Atarka, namely that its slot in the deck isn't as guaranteed.


With BFZ prices dropping every day, and Khans and Fate Reforged approaching lame duck status, it's a good time to pay attention to movers and shakers. Dragons, Origins and Battle will yield better returns than Fate Reforged, but I think something as unique as Ugin is a reasonable position.

As both a player and speculator, I would like to see the metagame evolve more. But for the time being, these look to be the two decks to watch.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: New Arrivals in Standard – The Financial Impact of G/r Ramp and Esper Control

  1. Highly speculative, but if ramp sticks around, Void Winnower may get attention as a synergistic answer for the mirror. It’s basically impossible for them to remove once resolved and turns off Ugin and Ulamog.

    1. Haha, I like it! Definitely a riskier target than Ulagmog, and probably a sideboard option, but I like where your head’s at. Not a bad target if you can get them cheap.

      I also think that Oblivion Sower is a potential evolution for the deck. Nissa’s renewal guarantees lands and a set amount of life gain, so perhaps it won’t work out, but it’s something to think about, too.

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