It is more than a little weird to be focusing on practicing Shadows over Innistrad Limited for a Team Sealed next weekend when spoilers for a brand new set are popping. Don't get me wrong, I love Team Sealed. It is easily my favorite format of all time and I would fly across the country to play a Homelands Team Sealed event with my friends, but it is strange to be practicing a limited format with all the excitement for a new set looming on the horizon.
I could talk all day about the nuances of various limited formats but let's get down to the brass tacks of what you are here for: MTG finance.
The window for cashing out any Dragons of Tarkir or Magic Origins Standard staples is rapidly closing (if it hasn't shut already). We want to focus on picking up currently undervalued Standard staples that have a shot to make gains next month when the new Standard metagame is unveiled.
Obviously, we are betting on and against an unknown commodity (there are currently only 44 spoiled cards so far) but that doesn't mean we can't leverage what we do know in order to place a few smart bets given the context.
1. Creature Lands
There have been so many creature lands printed over the years that sometimes we forget how unique it is to have lands that can transform into creatures and attack and defend in Standard. It isn't everyday that Standard decks just get to put threats into play by virtue of hitting land drops!
The whole cycle is great and many of these cards have already started to see very consistent Modern play. In particular, Shambling Vent and Hissing Quagmire are quite a house in various GBx Modern midrange decks.
Yet, I'm not completely interested in how good these cards are in Modern as the driving force for potential gains. I think they will be very important in Standard for a couple of reasons. Firstly, pretty much all mana fixing is always required playable in Standard. We are losing the Apocalypse painlands but gaining a new cycle of enemy-colored "fast lands" which means there will be ample fixing to play enemy colors.
So, we know for sure there will be enough fixing to play enemy colors and a big reason behind that is the creature lands themselves. I see all of these lands being extremely important in Standard and expect to see significant gains in value.
Lumbering Falls and Needle Spires have been lingering on the edge of "bulk rares" and these are clearly very, very strong Standard staples. As we move away from packs of Battle for Zendikar block being cracked, these cards will casually become more difficult to find in trades with random players. Whichever of these lands lend themselves to the best constructed decks will likely bump up at least a couple of bucks.
2. Goblin Dark-Dwellers
I know a good value card when I see one... Also, I've played with a ton of Goblin Dark-Dwellers in a wide range of Standard decks (and even dabbled in it in Modern) and the card is the truth.
With Collected Company making its much awaited exit from Standard this fall, there will be a lot of room for non-Company decks to compete for. I can certainly see Dark-Dwellers carving out a nice piece of the metagame for themselves.
The card does a lot of the the fundamental things that are good in Magic right now. It generates card advantage while significantly impacting the board. If you are able to cast this creature and buy back a removal spell with it, we are basically shifting the board by killing their best threat and also adding an evasive 4/4 to the mix.
It also doesn't help that Dark-Dwellers tend to be a pretty solid blocker. People are sleeping on this card because red has been borderline unplayable for a while in Standard but there is a good chance that will change with a big rotation.
3. Drowner of Hope
I completely fail to understand why people have this card pegged as a bulk rare (reflected in its absurdly low price). The card is clearly Modern-playable (Bant Eldrazi is literally one of the best decks in the format!) and the card has also branched out into fringe Legacy and Modern play.
It is also worth noting that this card will be in basically every kitchen table Eldrazi deck ever.
If Battle for Zendikar were rotating out of Standard today, I still think Drowner of Hope would be undervalued! Which says a lot about how I feel about the price tag on this card.
I've already made a case for why I think this card is undervalued based on its playability outside of Standard---now let me make a case for why this creature could see more Standard play this fall.
First of all, the vehicle mechanic often wants players to have a bunch of durdle creatures hanging around to crew up. In case you missed it, vehicles are a type of artifact that can be turned into creatures until the end of turn by tapping any number of creatures with total power equal to the vehicle's "crew" cost.
Drowner of Hope seems really sick with vehicles (assuming they print ones that are constructed-playable) because you can use the two Eldrazi Scion tokens to crew up a ship and then sacrifice them to tap down potential blockers! The Scions can play a big role in being on the crew and clearing the way for the ship!
4. Sanctum of Ugin
Another card that has already sneaked its way into Modern R/G Tron lists as a lategame replacement for the newly banned Eye of Ugin. Say what you will about Ugin, that guy is always giving Tron new toys to play with!
The card already has a nice home outside of Standard in the form of R/G Tron. It is also worth noting that the card says "search your library" which means it is automatically good in Commander. Finally, most of the cards on my list of potential breakout Standard gainers are already making some small waves in Modern or Legacy. That's no accident. Good cards are good cards and will eventually find homes as long as they are not outclassed by something else in the metagame.
Sanctum is a card that has really impressed me in the Temerge (Temur Emerge) decks in Standard. The ability to flash out an Elder Deep-Fiend, tap down an opponent's team, play Kozilek's Return for Bonus Round value from the yard, aaaaaaand sacrifice Sanctum of Ugin to find yet another Deep-Fiend is filthy. Is it fair to say that anytime you cast a spell at instant speed and put four triggers onto the stack you are probably winning? Yeah, totally agree.
The Sanctum is also an important piece in Standard because it will allow whatever flavor-of-the-month ramp deck comes into being to search for whatever giant Eldrazi they want to play next turn. My guess: typically Emrakul, the Promised End.
5. Thing in the Ice
"It's clobbering time!" Seriously, does nobody else ever imagine the card is Thing from Fantastic Four encased in ice from some diabolical Dr. Doom freeze ray? Then he busts out and starts wailing on people. It is kind of the Thing's thing... The clobbering time... Anyways...
Thing in the Ice is already a Modern staple. It has also already had some Standard success earlier in the season. Remember U/R Goggles?
Okay, if you don't think of Fantastic Four when you flip this card at least tell me it makes you think of the crazy shapeshifting alien from The Thing with Kurt Russel. I think the card is very real and has probably already seen its bottom-barrel price. I wouldn't sleep on this card any longer if you don't have your playset yet.
With all of the Thopters, tokens, and nonsense that I'm seeing from Kaladesh I could see a card that just bounces the board being very good in Standard post-rotation. Obviously, everything is context-driven but I could at least see the opportunity for a card like this to shine.
6. Dragonmaster Outcast
Baby Kibler! People seem to have forgotten that Dragonmaster Outcast was once pushing $30 from casual demand alone. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume the card could find a price point better than a couple of bucks in the end.
It is also reasonable to assume (as is the case with other cards on this list) that with Collected Company out of the format red will not continue to stay unplayable forever. Dragonmaster Outcast is the kind of card that just seems to find its way into different decklists because it is so powerful. Sure, it requires you to hit a bunch of land drops first but once you do the payoff is tremendous for the very small investment of one mana.
The card has been sitting at its current price point for months and I don't believe it can really sink much lower. My guess is that it will continue to tick up now that cracking BFZ packs will no longer be a thing.
7. Drana, Liberator of Malakir
The amount of text tacked onto this card is pretty unreal and it generates all kinds of board advantage. The card has never found a home in Standard just because the other decks went over the top of it, but there is an opportunity for Drana to see play yet. It will be one of the first cards that I try to build around once the full spoiler goes up, just because I think what it does is inherently busted in half.
Even if the card doesn't end up lighting the world on fire in Standard I still think it will be a sleeper hit with the casual crowd. How could any kitchen table fan see that card and not be like, "Yeah, gimme two of those."
With that being said, I think there is an opportunity for a black-based aggro deck to be great in Standard and that Drana would be exactly the type of card we'd want at the top of the curve.
8. Collective Brutality
I have been super impressed with Collective Brutality in Modern so far. Being able to simply trade cards from your hand for "free spells" via escalate is a huge game.
Collective Brutality is a lot better than people are giving it credit for right now. It is a pure synergy card that ends up allowing a player to do more than they should be able to with two mana. Don't forget that both delirium and madness are supported mechanics in Standard, and pitching cards (which is typically a drawback) can be actively transformed into an upside!
Brutality is also a Duress effect that doesn't suffer from being a dead draw in a lategame topdeck war. You know what I'm talking about---when you and your opponent are drawing off the top and you get an Inquisition of Kozilek after they drew a Dark Confidant? Collective Brutality has the option to do multiple different things and so it is never dead late in the game.
This is one of those cards that, as it sees more play, will end up making players wonder how they didn't recognize its greatness earlier.
Whew, that was a long one and to think there are only 40 cards spoiled so far! I'm looking forward to Kaladesh and to seeing what Standard will look like without Company and pals. I'm also excited to see how my little Standard stock portfolio will pan out. If you have any hot tips that I missed feel free to share them in the comments. Enjoy spoiler season!