Insider: The Impact of OGW on Standard

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With one week in the books of Oath of the Gatewatch Standard, the set is already making its presence known. With eight different decks in the Top 8 of the Atlanta Open this weekend, it's difficult to say exactly which direction Standard is going from here, but the week one results have illustrated some fundamental changes to the format. Today I'd like to outline the cards that made the most impact week one, and what they mean for the format at large.

Let's start with the winner. Reckless Bushwhacker was the only Oath card to show up in the winning deck from last weekend, and it's a significant upgrade. Korey McDuffie was able to remove Temur Battle Rage from his list entirely and trim Become Immense, all while maintaining a high level of explosiveness. There will minimally be a guessing game regarding whether your Atarka Red opponent has the combo going forward, and Bushwhacker might just make for a more consistent and robust deck.

Dragon Fodder will be staying in Standard even when Khans rotates, so I could see Bushwhacker being a lasting player in the metagame for a long time. They're dirt cheap right now and could be a solid $1-$2 card down the road. They're not exciting cards to buy, but pulling them from draft stacks and setting them aside is definitely wise.

Between being a great upgrade to Rally the Ancestors and Abzan Blue, this card is definitely the real deal, and these are only the week one innovations. I was at a Modern Super IQ last weekend, and the second place list was playing four copies of Reflector Mage alongside Geist of Saint Traft and Restoration Angel. This card is very good, and it's hard to imagine that it won't be a major Standard player for as long as it's legal, and it has the makings of a playable Modern card.

At just shy of a dollar, they're not appealing cards to buy, but you'll want at least a set to play, and this card will easily be $2 before long, if not more. If you see it in trade binders, grab it as a throw in.

Stormchaser Mage is the last uncommon to make a significant impact on the format, though it's the one that I have less faith in long term. I like the UR Prowess decks a lot, though they take a significant hit when Monastery Swiftspear and Treasure Cruise rotate out of Standard. Similarly, loosing Treasure Cruise in Modern made Young Pyromancer quite bad, and I don't see why Stormchaser Mage would be any different- the cantrips are just too weak to support a card like this when Tarmogoyf is so good just by playing Magic.

I'm more willing to entertain the idea of playing this card in Legacy, and a UR Delver Burn deck with Swiftspear and Stormchaser Mage certainly has potential, but this will impact the price of foils far more than regular copies. Notably, foils are already way too expensive to expect to make any money on this card under any realistic timeframe.

At $2 I'll be picking up a set to play this card in Standard, because I think the deck is sweet, but I don't intend to touch any copies beyond that.

World Breaker started pre-ordering at $3, and I said it was a great pickup then. In Atlanta, the card saw great exposure as it defeated Gerry Thompson to advance Zhengdong Shan to 9-0. Shan ultimately took 10th place, though I think his list is a lot better than most of the other Ramp lists, and it's certainly better than the second place list.

This card is amazing, and I'm expecting a Top 8 for it this weekend. The price is currently a little shy of $10 due to the exposure it saw in Atlanta, which is a pretty steep price to buy in. I do believe that there is room to grow from here, at least to $15, but at this point in time it's a much better trade target than a buy. It's worth noting that the spread is very low, so it is at least a solid buy.

Kozilek's Return dropped a bit since release down to $14, though with Atarka Red winning week one I expect the card to be in a lot of sideboards next weekend in decks like Jeskai Black in addition to remaining in the maindeck of the best versions of Eldrazi Ramp. I knew the Ramp deck wanted this card in some capacity, but it was again the feature match for 9-0 in Atlanta that demonstrated the cards true power. Zhendong Shan used the front side of the card to kill a two drop, and then completely dismantled Gerry T's board when he cast World Breaker.

You wont always kill something with the front half- in particular against Abzan decks- but those are definitely one of the Ramp deck's better matchups anyway. I wasn't a huge believer at $20, but just north of $10 seems about right. I'd happily buy a set at the current price to play right now, and I don't expect much movement in either direction for the card. That said, the spread is super low right now, with Card Kingdom offering $13 buylist. They are certainly expressing a high degree of confidence.

This card didn't see huge success in Atlanta, but it was in a couple sideboard in Top 8, and in the maindeck of the 19th place Mardu Green deck. Goblin Dark Dwellers is a great card for midrange decks, and it kind of sets the line for the minimum amount of value that you can generate to win a midrange mirror. Dark Dwellers plus Kolaghan's Command is backbreaking in long games, and "flashing back" Crackling Doom is no laughing matter. I fully expect there to be matchups in Standard defined by the fact that one deck had Dark Dwellers and the other didn't.

The card is currently at $4, and I don't think you stand to make any money by buying in despite the card's power level. It's much more relevant from a play perspective than a financial one. That said, as a player there are a lot of worse ways to spend your $16.

These cards are less exciting than anything on the list, but they're worth discussing because they saw a good amount of play in Atlanta. Neither are gamechangers, but both survive the front end of Kozilek's Return and Flaying Tendrils. I don't think there's a lot to talk about here financially- these are both cheap rares and they're probably going to stay that way. They definitely have relevant metagame applications though.

Lastly, I want to talk about a card that I've been hyping a lot, but failed to see significant success in Atlanta. I still have faith in Nissa's power level, and given the abundance of Reflector Mages I suspect that Nissa could be a good direction for Abzan decks. That said, the results aren't there yet, and the card has lost a couple bucks in value. I was bullish on pre-ordering this card, and obviously if you did you technically lost money by not waiting until at least now.

Nissa currently sits at about $13, and it's important to remember that this price is absolutely driven in part by casual demand. It's a planeswalker, it's good with tokens/Doubling Season, and it's a popular character. I don't think that the floor is realistically much lower than the current price, though I'll admit that I may have missed my mark in the short term here.

I'll be amazed if Nissa never makes it in Standard, though I do apologize for missing on the pre-order price as compared to today's price.


Oath of the Gatewatch is a great set, and I'm very excited to see what happens during week two. If you haven't heard, I'll actually be in the booth covering the SCG Open in Columbus along with Matthias, which I could not be more excited about! I don't know what I'd like to see more between a clear direction for Standard or another Top 8 with eight different decks, but one way or another I can't wait.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

8 thoughts on “Insider: The Impact of OGW on Standard

  1. I’ve not rendered my judgement on Nissa in the forums or elsewhere, but I have never been very impressed. One of the main arguments for here was the pedigree of 3 mana planeswalkers. Most saw play in Standard. That’s fine, but one of those was Ajani, Caller of the Pride.

    In a loose comparison, Nissa and Ajani have similar +1 abilities, but Nissa gives half the stats with an 0/1 instead of Ajani giving +1/+1. Nissa also starts with 1 less loyalty.

    On both of these comparison, Nissa is inferior to Ajani, and Ajani was one that kept on disappointing me as it refused to show up to any large degree in Standard. I think Nissa has got further downside and I would be cautious on predicting a floor.

    1. Comparing 0/1 to 1/1 isn’t what matters here. Nissa makes a body. That’s huge. She actually builds towards something on an empty board and protects herself.

      1. Yes, these are the comparisons that suggest Nissa is powerful. One would say the exact same things about Gideon and be correct. What about comparing these two?

        By the time you can make a 1/2 with Nissa, you are down to 2 loyalty. For 1 more generic mana, you get 4 loyalty and a 2/2 with Gideon. So, even a more contemporary comparison suggests Nissa might be a little under powered.

        With the comparison to Ajani and now to Gideon, I have made arguments for why Nissa is under powered relative to other planeswalkers. I suspect we’ll see a price range of $5 to $10 before it sees $15 to $20 again.

        1. Obviously a 4 is going to be more powerful than a three. You’re also ignoring that Nissa plays very well WITH Gideon. Your arguments here are rather obtuse.

          1. You are right, I am ignoring the context of how Nissa plays in Standard. I don’t know how she plays in Standard, but I can imagine a context where she is good.

            At the moment, I am working to understand her power level by comparing Nissa to the historical performance of Standard planeswalkers.

            How are these obtuse arguments?

  2. Thoughts on Chandra, Flamecaller? She’s another potential turn 3 board wipe in G/R ramp, while also presenting a fast clock and a way to dig for more gas. I could see players shaving copies of Ugin for her, as he doesn’t hit anything in the mirror.

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