Insider: Going Deeper on Rotation Picks

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Spoiler season isn't quite in full swing, but we are starting to have significant information about Shadows over Innistrad (SOI). Last week I covered buys based on abstract power levels, and this week I'd like to delve deeper into more speculative buys.

Recently we saw a spike in Risen Executioner which, as I outlined on the free side, looks to be little more than under-thought hype.

Tribal synergies are the most obvious interactions in Magic, so it makes sense that they're easy to hype. That said, we don't see tribal strategies succeed in Constructed without pushed mechanics, and Risen Executioner hardly fits the bill---at least when it comes to being a good lord.

What does look to be somewhat pushed, is madness.

heiroffalkenrath heirtothenight
ravenousbloodseeker incorrigibleyouths

Leading on either Heir of Falkenrath or Ravenous Bloodseeker into Incorrigible Youths means that you're attacking for 7 on turn three. It is worth noting that Ravenous Bloodseeker has some downside when you compare it to Aquamoeba, but discarding one card a turn still makes for a fine enabler.

These three cards alone warrant exploring a new aggressive Rakdos archetype, and Fiery Temper being in SOI pushes it even further. Notably these three creatures are all vampires, so I wouldn't rule out potential vampire synergies.

Of course, that doesn't help us with regard to existing cards. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet has some "vampire matters" text, and very well could top the curve in such a deck, but that will be the measure of him being the right four-drop, not him being a vampire. Of course, there is another vampire that, while her creature type might not matter could slot perfectly into this deck:

I've written about this card previously, and I still think it's a great pickup. The great thing is that it's not expressly a lord, so it just fits into any black aggressive deck. With the mana in Standard getting worse, I would be surprised if such a great aggressive creature saw no play.

The card hasn't dropped below four dollars despite seeing no Standard play, likely due to "vampire appeal." I like picking up a couple sets of Drana.

A different card that has been creeping up, but that I like investing in more, is Liliana, Heretical Healer // Liliana, Defiant Necromancer. She slots decently into an aggressive deck, and flipping her turns her into a great madness enabler---not to mention a way to recur your other threats.

I like buying a set or two of Liliana's right now, and given the right tools I could definitely see her showing up as a 3- to 4-of in a creature-heavy madness deck.

A less obvious choice, though one worth considering, is Deathmist Raptor. Andy Ferguson took advantage of Raptor plus Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound in his Bant Company deck, and discarding Raptors in a deck with some morphs is a reasonable way to generate value. I would also wager that with delirium being a mechanic we'll have incentive to cast Gather the Pack---a card that pairs naturally with Deathmist Raptor.

Also, Den Protector definitely doesn't get worse with rotation, so it wouldn't be too surprising just to see an increase in Den Protector and Raptor play. I'm quite confident that we'll see some price movement in Den Protector just on the merit of it being a great card, though I admit that Deathmist Raptor is somewhat more speculative.

A card that I was potentially interested in was Dragonlord Ojutai, though I'm not super convinced anymore. It's such an abstractly powerful card that is in the same colors as Reflector Mage, but with the new Avacyn spoiled, I'm not entirely sure if Ojutai can ball anymore.

archangelavacyn avacynthepurifier

I don't care if you're control or aggro, this card is just the stones. Ojutai has seen ups and downs historically, but I think we're firmly looking at downs going forward. Unlike Collected Company, which might just keep going up, up, up...

Collected Company has been climbing all year, and if it remains as good as it has been then there is still some room to grow, despite the Clash Pack printing. If a Bant manabase can work, then I see no reason that Reflector Mage CoCo decks wouldn't continue to be a thing. There's also a rather interesting uncommon that has been spoiled that plays quite well in a creature-heavy deck.

duskwatchrecruiter krallenhordehowler

A deck packed with creatures is quite likely to "hit" off of Duskwatch Recruiter's ability, and leaving up Collected Company will flip your 2/2 into a 3/3 that just might enable you to cast an extra creature spell on the following turn.

I don't think that Collected Company has the kind of upwards potential to speculate on from its current price, but it's the sort of card that is worth buying now if you intend to play before it rotates out of Standard. It will dip back down with rotation if you want a set for Modern.

A card that I liked when it was spoiled that I think still has potential---more so depending on what madness cards we get---is Oath of Jace. A draw three is plenty solid, and if you get to madness something on top of that then you're getting an excellent rate.

I already like just having Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Chandra, Flamecaller in the same deck with Fiery Temper, and this slots right into such a deck. With a strong tournaments finish, Oath of Jace could be a $5 card overnight.

The long and short of it, is that Reflector Mage, Collected Company, planeswalkers, and the ramp deck are the old guard, and madness and Avacyn are the new kids on the block. My picks at this point in time all wrap around this context. I don't care for zombies, and I think Risen Executioner is a red herring. We already know that WotC didn't test Reflector Mage, and that card just crushes decks curving from two to four.


It's still early in spoiler season, so there are likely some wild swings ahead. SOI looks to be a great successor to original Innistrad, and I'm really excited to see what we get. I imagine there will be a set of allied-colored lands, though hopefully nothing too crazy with regard to mana-fixing. If it's just a simple cycle, then I'm quite confident in my stated positions.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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