Insider: Reexamining Pre-Rotation Targets in Light of BFZ Standard

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Battle for Zendikar has made its debut on the Standard scene, with SCG Indy in the books. Congratulations to fellow QS writer Brian DeMars with his 1st place finish, a masterful display of the raw power that is Atarka Red.

Today I'll dissect the top decks and metagame breakdown to see where the format is headed, and discuss what to do with our rotation portfolio that I wrote about some weeks ago.

First and foremost, Doug Linn wrote a great piece about the specifics of SCG Indy, which I won't rehash here. If you haven't read it yet, go ahead and do that first. I'll highlight aspects of the tournament as they pertain to my pre-rotation specs.

For the record, here is what I purchased:

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)

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)

Before we get into the particulars of these specs let’s look at the data from SCG Indy:


After looking at some of the numbers, we can remain optimistic about some of the cards on the pre-rotation list. We had some really good targets. Abzan Aggro came into Day 2 as the most played archetype, and a key part of that strategy was Warden of the First Tree:

We also hit on Soulfire Grand Master, featured in the Jeskai Black archetype which put two copies in the Top 8. This deck is quickly becoming my favorite deck in the new format, simply because it looks like such a blast to play:

Soulfire Grand Master looked really strong in the games it was cast, and with Jeskai Black looking to be a force in Standard, we can confidently hold these for a while longer into Pro Tour BFZ. While Fate Reforged won't stick around as long as Dragons of Tarkir, I still think the price can move up a little more, even if for a short period of time.

The same can be said about Ojutai's Command. With Jace, Vryn's Prodigy firmly in the spotlight, I advise continuing to hold. But if you’re comfortable taking retail or buylist profits now, by all means do so.

Event Deck Reprints

The biggest issue with my pre-rotation targets were the untimely reprints in the BFZ Event Deck. While Warden of the First Tree, and to a lesser extent Whisperwood Elemental, had a strong showing in this tournament, any financial upside was seriously hampered by their inclusion in the supplemental product.

If you stayed alert and moved out of these immediately when the announcement was made, good for you. I posted a Free Side article about the BFZ Event deck, which hopefully gave people enough time to buylist any extra copies.

It’s unfortunate, and clearly I wasn't happy--but the takeaway is if it weren’t for those reprints, we would have picked some strong cards in the new format. As it is, we need to strike Warden and Whisperwood off the list.

We continue to see Narset Transcendent as a no-show in Standard. Luckily I was able to get these during the SCG Summer Sale for less than retail. At this point in time, I don't feel the need to sit on them any longer.

I made the case for Narset while constructing my Rotation Portfolio, and I still think it’s a reasonable card. Unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into financial viability. There just wasn't anything printed in the new Standard to prop this up.

As it is, I’m striking Narset off the list, and was happy to take Cardkingdom’s $7 buylist offer:


While we’re on the subject of planeswalkers, we still have Sorin, Solemn Visitor. While it didn’t have a great performance at SCG Indy, I’m not ready to turn around and sell them just yet.

Sorin may end up benefiting from the rash of aggressive decks that showed up week one, if people adopt it as a way to combat Atarka Red and G/W Megamorph. Sorin has proven itself as a Constructed-viable planeswalker in the past, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it alongside Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to assist in racing scenarios.

Penny Stock Cards

I’m still on the fence about my pre-rotation "penny stocks"; here are some quick thoughts on each.

Frontier Siege - We didn’t see this card at SCG Indy and it might be time to ship them soon. I don’t think ramp decks are fully optimized yet, so for now I'm holding onto them.

Citadel Siege - G/W Scales actually showed up at SCG Indy and looked good enough to stick around. No disrespect to the pilot, but some serious misplays on camera kept this deck from placing better on the weekend. I want to see where the Hardened Scales list goes from here. Holding.

Outpost Siege - This is the card I have the strongest faith in moving forward. It showed up in a myriad of decklists in the Top 64, including R/G Landfall, Abzan Red, Atarka Red, R/B Aggro and Grixis Aggro. I will continue to hold these hoping for a bump in buylist prices.

Silumgar's Command - I was ready to admit defeat here, but Gerry Thompson felt it was good enough to include in 5C Bring to Light (albeit as a one-of). I’m not super optimistic, but I’m still going to hold.

Let’s look at the new list:

12x Narset Transcendent @ $6.79 ($81.48)
12x Sorin, Solemn Visitor @ $6.56 ($78.72)
20x Soulfire Grand Master @ $8.00 ($160)
16x Whisperwood Elemental @ $4.50 ($72)
16x Warden of the First Tree @ $2.00 ($32)

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)


So there you have it. I really like the new Standard, and I'm going to keep my eyes glued to the screen while the format inevitably shifts around for the first few weeks.

One last point in closing. I think this article and the recent events that transpired clearly belie the idea of "slam dunk" rotation targets. WotC continues to upset our predictions with surprises, and their willingness to reprint multiple mythics at once may well be an indicator of what to expect in the future.

All we can do is apply the fundamentals and take our best educated guess.

Until next time, Insiders--and as always feel free to comment!


6 thoughts on “Insider: Reexamining Pre-Rotation Targets in Light of BFZ Standard

    1. Kelly! Yeah, I saw that on the forums. It’s the reason I decided to keep them. While they didn’t show up in droves during SCG:INDY some players deemed it good enough to at least include in their 75.

  1. We’re the prices you listed your buy-in price? If so, I don’t see how you can take profits on Soulfire Grand Master now, highest TT buy list is $7.25 and tcg is around $8

    1. I see what sentence you’re referring to, it was stricken and you’re absolutely right. That’s my fault for not catching that error.

      On that subject – we’re still holding so we *can* make profit, because I think it will come up a bit more, as people continue to play Jeskai splash Black.

  2. Gerry T said on the Eh Team that Silumgar’s Command was one of the best cards in the deck. He also said that the deck was terrible…. But people seem to love it, and based on those two points I wouldn’t be in a hurry to dump them.

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