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Insider: Undervalued Standard Picks Before Pro Tour EMN

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I love Pro Tours. The only thing I'm not loving right now is that I wish I was there getting ready to battle. I deferred my invite to Dublin because of the visa situation and I'm having Pro Tour withdrawals right about now.

Pro Tours are an exciting time in Magic. For competitors it's the culmination of tons of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. For fans it's the biggest stage and the highest drama. For collectors and financiers it's the time when stuff gets crazy.

The Pro Tour basically tells the rest of the world, "Welcome to the Standard format you will be playing for the next few months." The pros figure it out so that everybody else doesn't necessarily have to. Sure, there are slight tweaks, tune-ups, and sometimes an off-the-wall brew yet to come---but for the most part the PT defines the subsequent Standard metagame. The best minds, building the best decks, for the highest stakes.

Looking at PT Eldritch Moon, what can we expect? Where will the gains come?

Well, first things first. We are at the tail end of a format that is about to rotate. For the most part we know most of the main pieces of this format.

  • Bant Collected Company
  • GBx (Golgari, Sultai, Season's Past, Abzan) Control
  • G/W Tokens
  • W(r) Humans

Let's use these established players in Standard, together with what we know from EMN so far, to predict what might be undervalued moving into the Pro Tour.

Sylvan Advocate


The first thing I notice is how Sylvan Advocate is in almost every deck in Standard. Interesting, right?

Sylvan Advocate might quietly (or loudly, depending on who you ask) be the best card in Standard. The price seems a little bit low to me considering the card's proven track record and ubiquity. It isn't often that a card can be in so many great decks and still linger below $5.

It's very probable that Advocate will continue to be great even after Dragons of Tarkir and Origins leave the format in October. Every green deck in Standard will seriously consider running this card.

Expect Advocate to hold its price and make creeping gains in the near future. There will be a time for getting out (the card will eventually lose value because it sees no Modern play) but I think there is upside in the meantime.

Prized Amalgam


Another "cog" type card that I find very interesting is Prized Amalgam. The card is already a staple in the new Modern Dredge decks and is pretty decent in general. One simply cannot overstate the significance of a creature that returns to play from the graveyard without having to pay mana.

With that being said, I think there is a pretty realistic chance of Amalgam having a breakout Pro Tour showing. It has powerful synergy with Haunted Dead and the other zombie cards that can be recurred from the graveyard.

I think on Standard potential alone Prized Amalgam would be an investment opportunity. When we add in the fact that the card is already a Modern winner, the deal feels pretty safe to me. I've been working on trading for copies all week long, so hopefully it has a nice showing in Australia.

Oath of Nissa


Oath of Nissa has settled back down into a modest price but perhaps it is about time for the card to start creeping upward.

The card is good. Real good. Good in a way that Wizards doesn't typically allow to see print anymore. It has been quite some time since we've seen a cantrip that looks at the top three and puts one in the grip. Failing to find instants and sorceries reduces the potential for brokenness, but the consistency and selection granted is real. The ability to fix mana for planeswalkers is also significant.

For a single green mana you can't really ask for much more (well, besides Birds of Paradise, which WoTC is definitely not giving us back any time soon). I have already played with this card multiple times in Modern, which means there is a sustainable future price tag. I think we'll continue to see new applications for Oath of Nissa in both Standard and Modern.

Summary Dismissal


I think Summary Dismissal will end up being an important sideboard player. There are plenty of powerful spells in Standard with bananas "upon cast" triggers. Summary Dismissal stops both of these things with one fell dismissive swoop.

Emrakul, the Promised End and Elder Deep-Fiend both threaten to be giant players in the coming metagame. In either case, Summary Dismissal is great as one of the only effective hard counters.

This type of card often gets overlooked, and people waiting until after the Pro Tour to buy decks will be looking to acquire copies. So even if gains are marginal the demand should still be quite real. Dismissal seems like a great card to pull of the unwanted or junk heap.

Traverse the Ulvenwald


Traverse the Ulvenwald is my pick for the card with the biggest potential this weekend. It's one of the most powerful payoffs in delirium strategies. Demonic Tutor is no joke. There's a reason it's banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.

Magic is a game about maximizing options, and a deck full of tutors and great targets pushes the envelope in a very real way. When you can always have the right threat or answer for every situation it becomes difficult to lose!

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not these decks can consistently and efficiently establish delirium in time. My bet is that they can, which is why I think Traverse is about to take a big step into the center stage and see a nice gain in price.

I could imagine Traverse seeing a lot of play in other formats too, including Modern and Legacy. Minimally, the card is for sure good in Commander which means there will always be some market.

Thalia's Lancers


Thalia's Lancers is a good Magic card. As I already established in the previous section, being able to tutor for a suite of answers is a very effective way to play Magic. Lancers combines this ability with a respectable 4/4 first-striking body.

White has plenty of good tutor targets to make this card effective. Thalia, Bruna, Gisela and Avacyn all come to mind. B/W Control decks playing Thalia's Lancers also make use of her tutoring ability to find the very spicy target, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. And an Abzan version could theoretically find a singleton Ishkanah, Grafwidow.

Kozilek's Return


I've noticed this card has been creeping up in price on Star City Games but not as much on TCG Player. That is typically a sign of things to come.

Kozilek's Return has undeniable synergy with Distended Mindbender and Elder Deep-Fiend. Whether or not these cards will find homes after the Pro Tour is to be determined. Personally, I think these emerge creatures will make an impact at some point during their stay in Constructed. Whether or not that's now or post-rotation, we will have to wait and see.

BFZ Creature Lands


Last but not least, all of the creature lands are poised to make solid gains in the future. First of all, they are all combos with the best and most played card in Standard, Sylvan Advocate.

Second of all, I think all of these lands (and Advocate) are likely to improve in status in October with the Origins and Dragons rotations. We lose all of the Origins/Apocalypse pain lands which means whatever mana fixing is left will become more important. As far as fixing goes, lands that can become creatures and participate in combat are about as good as it gets!

~

Well, those are my picks for the week before PT Eldritch Moon. I'm looking forward to seeing how the metagame will change following the event. Personally, I think we'll see some fun new tech and interesting decks. Here's to hoping for something more than just Bant Company and G/W Tokens---let's see some spicy brews, Pro Tour competitors!

What do you guys think? Did I miss anything that's likely to spike? Feel free to drop your tips, insights and questions into the comments section. I always read them and always respond. In the meantime, enjoy the PT coverage!

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