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Insider: April Inventory & A First Look at ✧ Mana

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Hello Insiders!

Before I get into the actual substance of this article, first let me reiterate here that the QS and MTGPark partnership is in full effect. What exactly does that mean for you all? Well, as I highlighted in the Forums, all existing Insider subscribers will now be handed a MTGPark Player Plan in addition to their Insider subscription, at no extra charge.

It will also mean every future QS Insider will receive this bundled into their subscription when they sign up. It’s awesome, and I urge everyone to check out the website:

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April Inventory

Now on to the main topic. Over the course of writing here on QS I have provided advice on building a portfolio and inventory for the future. Some of that has borne fruit, and sometimes we've been left with rotten produce. As in my previous article, Rotate Now, Not in April, today I'll be discussing the cards I'm acquiring and why.

They aren’t much different than the previous article, but there is one group of cards I want to emphasize, which I only mentioned briefly before---the Battle lands.

Battle Lands

As I say time and time again, I mostly stick to the non-flashy stuff (unless it’s penny stocks, of course!) This cycle may be uninspiring, but prospects like these are the most profitable when the dust settles.

The Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) dual lands will be at the forefront of Standard come April, and every single land cycle thrives when it's featured in Standard. I understand there’s a lot of them out there. I also understand fetchlands will be leaving. None of that actually matters though---players will need these lands to play Standard.

Why don’t we look at some historical data then? Even in the case of land cycles deemed mediocre or bad, the trend is surprisingly consistent. Every player interested in Standard eventually needs them to play.

Isolated Chapel
Isolated Chapel (INN)
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Enlightenment (BNG)
These are examples of past land cycles from recent memory. I didn’t want to use examples from too far back, to avoid the question of printing quantities and how that would interfere with today’s market metric. So I made sure to choose something pertinent to the conversation, and it’s astounding to know that even stuff like the scry lands held a premium price before.

That wasn't long ago, and I’m sure Insiders who are also store owners remember the days of $10 Temple of Malady, $6-8 Temple of Enlightenment, or even $8 Isolated Chapel.

Even painlands, which have seen numerous reprints, were nothing but resilient in holding their price tag until finally succumbing to the glut of supply from Magic Origins. Just look at Shivan Reef’s Magic 2015 printing:

Shivan Reef - M2015
Shivan Reef (M15)
It’s an old cliche, but in Magic as well, real estate is usually a safe bet. At least until they print the cards into oblivion like the poor painland cycle.

So as we move towards Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) and Spring rotation, I'll be prioritizing Battle lands over almost everything. After acquiring a good number of those, we can continue to round out stock with the following cards.

Drana, Liberator of Malakir


I've said this numerous times, and quite frankly I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. This is a quintessential Standard card. It’s powerful, it has casual appeal, and it’s just all around good.

Mantis Rider is the the main reason Drana isn’t good right now. It’s painfully obvious that Rider rules the sky right now, but when it leaves in April Drana's day may arrive. Over the course of my long years playing Magic, I've seen plenty of these cards come and go. So I make sure to pay close attention when something like this gets passed over by the player base.

It’s also a mythic, and likely one of just three in BFZ that are even worthy of a price tag over $10. Its floor is now, and if it gets additional support in OGW or Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) we’ll be kicking ourselves for not investing now. I doubt it will see any play outside of Standard---but you never know.

Kiora & Part the Waterveil



I had to mull over Kiora for quite some time as a potential prospect. I don’t think she has a chance to go over $10, but $3(ish) is too cheap. There were plenty of Black Friday deals that even listed her under $3, which just seems absurd for a playable planeswalker.

Way back when, there was another planeswalker I was enamored with and felt had a great shot at rebounding---Narset Transcendent. That one clearly didn't pan out, but this one is of a different pedigree...

Unlike Narset, Kiora already found a home. It’s not some card on the outside looking in, and has demonstrated its viability in Standard. With a rotation coming up things can always change, but ramp will still be around and Kiora has proven it can be a central part of that strategy.

By a similar logic, I decided to include Part the Waterveil into my stock. There are just too many examples of "extra turn" cards maintaining value, and picking these up close to $1 doesn't feel right.

I was initially surprised to see this appear more as a ramp card than anything else, but the more I think about the more it seems to fit. It really bolsters ramp's overall strategy and is extremely potent.

Mining for ✧'s

As for the smaller stuff, I would go back and re-read my previous article for ideas on “penny stocks.” There's one more subject to cover today, which is the new mana symbol Wizards unveiled.

On the latest QS Cast we discussed how painlands just got a lot better. On the forums I've posted plenty of information regarding the ✧ symbol, including my discussions with Matt Tabak, Trick Jarrett and Maro about its inclusion in the game. It's here to stay, and there's no use resisting it---even a veteran player like me has to just sit and accept change around me (which makes me cranky).

In the meantime, on the cast we discussed the importance of reevaluating old cards that produce ✧ mana. This change could affect every format, but most notably Standard and Modern. We settled on painlands in Standard as the lowest-hanging fruit, but there's plenty more to investigate in Modern. Does a card like Tendo Ice Bridge, for example, suddenly have more appeal?

Taps for Eldrazi Mana…

If you want to hear more I would consider giving the podcast a listen.

~

So that’s mostly what I want to have in my inventory. The BFZ lands, the painlands, and any subsequent lands that show up in OGW are going to be vital for the different strategies in Standard. I don’t foresee anything jumping leaps and bounds from where they are now, but all of these cycles should see a modest bump in price.

If you’re operating a store or have more capital to invest, stocking up on Gideon, Ally of Zendikar obviously isn’t a bad idea. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and the mass craze of opening boxes and packs will wane a bit in the coming months. So there’s plenty of time to move on this one, and the spread as reported on Trader Tools is still quite attractive.

As always, feel free to comment here, and I'll be happy to discuss anything from my articles. Or, find me on Twitter @ChazVMTG.

Until next time!

-Chaz

6 thoughts on “Insider: April Inventory & A First Look at ✧ Mana

      1. Mantis Rider to Drana feels like Flametongue Kavu to Lightning Angel/Shadowmage Infiltrator back in the day; one just completely trumps and ostracizes the other(s) out of the format.

        I’ve also started acquiring Dranas, because they also fit a lot of the long-term markers: Mythic, casual creature type, Legendary, good, etc.

        -AA

  1. I’ve been winning a lot with Drana in my BW Warriors style decks. She is amazing. Wingmate Roc is holding her back as well but if you play removal spells you can get through the opposing flyers. Once Standard rotates though we will still have to fly through Thunderbreak Regent though so that may prove to be a huge hurdle as well.

    1. Right, and that is something I considered. I don’t know what the landscape will look like, but removing Mantis Rider/Roc at least narrows down what can get in Drana’s way.

      1. Either way Drana is still inherently powerful, and I still continue to say it’s a quintessential Standard good mythic.

        The other crux of my argument being that there’s just not much else in BFZ worthy of soaking up some of the value back.

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