Insider: Does Pre-Rotation Hype Last? A Case Study

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Spoiler season is upon us and I am dedicating this article to a question I have been asking myself. Are MTGO speculators accurate in their assessments of how newly spoiled cards will impact Standard? Are they overly optimistic? Overly pessimistic?

We are not even halfway through the Shadows over Innistrad spoiler and we have already seen some cards spike on MTGO. In particular I'm thinking about this one:

Drana has doubled in the past few weeks due to vampire being a relevant keyword in the new set. I personally have a few copies of Drana due to some BFZ sets I've picked up. Should I short-sell into the hype and pick up my copies again later? Is the hype justified?

Similar to Drana, Risen Executioner has risen in price due to a certain tribe becoming relevant in the next set (zombies in this case). Is the new price accurate? Will a Zombie deck actually be relevant?

Finally, Avaricious Dragon has picked up some traction due to its favorable interaction with the keyword madness. Will this interaction pan out or will you just be stuck discarding all your spells when you're tapped out on turn 4?

To help answer these questions I have hand-picked the six mythics from recent sets that gained the most hype about a month prior to the release of a new set. I'll review each case to determine in which cases the hype panned out and in which cases it didn't. In doing so, I hope to gain some clarity regarding speculation on Drana, Risen Executioner, and Avaricious Dragon.

Six Historical Specs

Oblivion Sower

Time: Prior to Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW)

Reason: Everyone was expecting Oblivion Sower to be a part of the Modern Eldrazi deck, and it showed up in many of the earlier versions. There were probably many others expecting similar good results from a Standard deck.

What Happened: Drowner of Hope ended up being the better six-drop for the Modern Eldrazi Deck, and the Standard deck opted for World Breaker instead. The online spec did not pan out.

Sire of Stagnation

Time: Prior to OGW

Reason: This card was supposedly going to be a great foil to the new ramp decks that would sprout up as a result of the new cards from Oath of the Gatewatch.

What Happened: Never saw much play, maybe due to its casting cost being too narrow for a sideboard card.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Time: Prior to OGW

Reason: Similar to Oblivion Sower, Ulamog was supposed to be a crucial part of the new Modern Eldrazi deck.

What Happened: Ulamog proved far too expensive for the explosive Modern Eldrazi deck, and saw no play at the Pro Tour. It still sees light play in Standard, but as a spec it was poor---its price began dropping soon after OGW released (and immediately on MTGO).

Shaman of Forgotten Ways

Time: Prior to Battle for Zendikar (BFZ)

Reason: The Eldrazi were coming, and this was potentially a great way to power them out quickly.

What Happened: Decks were incentivized by Shrine of the Forsaken Gods to ramp via spells like Explosive Vegetation instead. The Shaman was also more susceptible to removal and couldn't cast planeswalkers like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Chandra, Flamecaller. Overall the spec did not work out.

Shorecrasher Elemental

Time: Prior to Magic Origins (ORI)

Reason: With Harbinger of the Tides about to be printed, there seemed to be some potential in a new Mono-Blue Devotion deck for Standard.

What Happened: The Mono-Blue Devotion deck either wasn't good enough or was never really picked up by Standard players. The price of Shorecrasher plummeted after the release of ORI.

See the Unwritten

Time: Prior to BFZ

Reason: See the Unwritten was a naturally good pair with the big Eldrazi that were set to be released in Battle for Zendikar.

What Happened: Standard Ramp decks seemed to prefer skipping over the six-drop slot in favor of World Breaker. See the Unwritten never saw the light of day, although it could have potentially been strong with Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher.


Predicting the new Standard metagame is freaking hard! It's a truly noble task when there are so many variables at play.

I think the safest predictions are the ones that are the least specific. This means I would be most comfortable betting on cards that can fit into a variety of decks like Ruinous Path or Den Protector, rather than cards that only fit into a very specific deck such as Risen Executioner.

Overall I am going to make the prediction that all three of the above cards (Drana, Risen Executioner, and Avaricious Dragon) will be worth less money than they are today (March 17) a few days after the Pro Tour (say April 28). I would sell if you hold any copies of these cards. Let's see how those predictions turn out!

To end, I will leave you with this quote:

"You want to be greedy when others are fearful. You want to be fearful when others are greedy. It's that simple."

- Warren Buffet

Through my very quick analysis of Standard mythic specs before Pro Tours, I noticed that the best specs were the cards that showed almost no movement before the PT and the worst specs were the cards that showed the most!

Go against the grain, and thanks for reading!


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5 thoughts on “Insider: Does Pre-Rotation Hype Last? A Case Study

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I sold my Dranas at about 7.7 apiece yesterday. Interested to see whether that ends up saving or losing me money.

  1. Hi Kazooki,

    You are absolutely correct. I went about things in a very unscientific way. Here is what I did:

    I went through the following sets: BFZ, ORI, DTK, FRF, and KTK, and I looked through the charts of every mythic in those sets and looked for any spikes in price about a month prior to a new set being released. Since I didn’t use a quantitative method, I’m sure I missed a card here or there, although I truly was trying to be unbiased in my analysis.

    As you mentioned, Jace did spike from 34 to 45 a week before BFZ was released and in that case the hype was definitely sustained. Although I was more interested in spikes occuring about a month prior to the set release since that is the situation we are facing right now.

    Next time I will try going straight to the data and using a quantitative method! I certainly have the capability. I appreciate the feedback!

  2. I am continuing to hold onto the hope of Oblivion Sower in standard. Once fetches rotate, mana will change. Oblivion Sower stealing mana seems relevant…

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