Insider: Specing in Advance of New Standard

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The shadow over new Standard is looming so large that all the hedrons in the world couldn't contain my excitement! New cards, new decks, new synergies---oh, and what's that? A new Emrakul for good measure!

If you closely manage your collection to extract maximum value out of it, then you know right now is a great time to try to trade into potential money-making speculation targets.

As a rule, Standard will have gotten kind of stale by this point and people are unengaged with anything besides spoilers. People know what the good cards are and they know what the bad cards are. Or do they?

The fun with trading during spoiler season is that you can use your creativity to try and find cards that will plausibly get better once we add another set to Standard. Although, cards may not have been printed yet that help our "spec targets," we have plausible reason to believe there might be cards coming to help out.

Today's article will be primarily a lesson in how to hone your skills making savvy picks before anybody else even knows what happened.

A Tribe Called Zombies

Relentless Dead is a card I believe will have its moment in the sun. The card simply has too many abilities, too much text, and a small cost to be a straight do-nothing for two years in Standard. At some point this card will be good and the tag is going to be much bigger.

Is now the time?

Well, is Liliana planeswalker returning to Standard in the next set a good sign for fans of the undead everywhere? Hmm, I think so? I've even heard stories that Liliana's necromancy is a big part of how the Gatewatch pals are able to survive the Emrakul apocalypse! Maybe she's got a few zombie tricks up her sleeve...

It is also worth noting that every kitchen-table spike who ever sleeves up a Gravecrawler plus Geralf's Messenger zombie deck is going to bring Relentless Dead to the table as well. I think that, and the fact that the card is a mythic rare, cements the baseline price at around $5 no matter what.

The same things can also be said for Diregraf Colossus and any other "made for a zombie tribal deck" card you can think of. The upside of a card like Diregraf Colossus is that the entry cost is very low. Most people consider this card a junk rare despite the fact that it has potential. This is exactly the kind of card I like to try and get people to throw into a cheap trade.

Lands, Lands, Lands

You can't play Standard without mana.

Both of the rare dual land cycles have hit all-time lows. The Shadows over Innistrad lands are hanging around $2 each and the Battle for Zendikar duals around $3 each. I think this is a good time to consider buying in on these lands. It is especially true considering that these lands will not be rotating out of Standard in the fall alongside the Origins painlands.

Fewer mana-fixing lands in the format means these lands will likely become even more important. The price tags just feel very low at the moment.

Speaking of the Origins painlands, these lands fell to about $2 each and only rebounded slightly. However, I think the key difference is that the painlands have been printed multiple times already. There are lots and lots of these lands floating around, whereas the SOI and BFZ duals don't have multiple printings from past years hanging around in the cardpool.

I especially like the duals that nobody wants right now.

The red-black and blue-black duals don't see a ton of play right now in the mono-G/W metagame. However, if a new color combination gets hot there will be large demand later on. We've seen this phenomenon time and time again. When whichever dual that's considered the ugly duckling suddenly gets hot, it's apt for large surges in price.

We can make many of the same arguments about the creature lands. These are going to be among the best mana fixers in Standard. It also helps that these are just universally fantastic Magic cards. Creature lands are a big game and Shambling Vent and Lumbering Falls already see some Modern play.

I especially like Lumbering Falls and Hissing Quagmire just because they are green (the same color as Sylvan Advocate). I think all the duals are going to be important in Standard at one point or another.

Generally speaking I think that striking while the iron is hot on duals while they are at their bottom-basement price is a good move right now.

Delirious With Emrakul Fever

The new Emrakul is pretty spicy. Perhaps its most unique attribute is how it becomes cheaper based on the different types of cards in the graveyard. It makes sense now that we know the delirium mechanic, from a flavor perspective, is related to the mind-altering effect the emergence of Emrakul has on the denizens of Innistrad.

Emrakul the Promised End

The new Emrakul is powerful enough that people will try and work hard to enable it. A 13/13 flying, trample, protection from instants that pseudo-Mindslavers people upon being cast is pretty messed up! I mean, who wouldn't want to try and make this happen?

Emrakul, the Promised End has a lot of synergy with delirium spells, as well as delirium enablers, both of which might be a nice place to start looking for speculation targets. The absolute best one I've been able to think of so far is Traverse the Ulvenwald.

In a deck expecting to get to and abuse delirium, Traverse is a pretty insane Magic card. In the early game it can fix mana and add sorcery to our card types in graveyard. Once we've actually established some lands in play and gotten delirium, Traverse can quickly search out our new Emrakul so we can get our Mindslaver on!

I'm very excited about Traverse right now. I think there's a high probability these two cards will coexist in a good deck in Standard.

Another interesting thing about Traverse is that it really does have Modern and Legacy applications. In those formats it is very easy to get delirium, which makes this card a one-mana tutor. I also see this being a long-term gainer because of Commander where tutors are clearly fantastic.

I was convinced this was a great Magic card when Shadows over Innistrad came out. It hasn't panned out yet, but I think there's a good chance this Emrakul-flavored card really hits its stride once Emrakul finally makes her big arrival in Standard.

It is very significant that this is one of the best delirium-fueling spells in the entire format. It draws cards and loads up the graveyard which is pretty huge. I think this card is going to be a player in some kind of Sultai control deck that features Emrakul.

Another graveyard-based control card that I believe will make a big impact in Standard if this delirium thing finally takes off. I love that the card accelerates mana---but also that it's an artifact we can bin with looting effects to enable delirium and reduce the cost of our Emrakul.

Grafstone is basically a bulk rare right now. If it becomes format-defining mana acceleration, I could see it quickly gaining significant value and becoming a highly sought-after rare.


There are a lot of interesting possibilities that Standard has to offer right now. Nobody really knows much about what Eldritch Moon will have to offer (well, other than Emrakul...) but waiting to find out is exciting. Right now I'm betting on zombies, lands, and Emrakul herself---when I put it that way, they seems like good places to get my money in.

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