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INSIDER: Lightning Blast, Bannings, and Poison

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So how was everyone's Prerelease? I went 3-1 with a pretty mediocre black/white energy deck, and I opened a Chandra, Torch of Defiance from my four packs. Better lucky than good, right?.

Expensive Lightning Bolts

A decent chunk of this week's article will be focused on a different four mana red spell in Kaladesh though, and this one is even harder to find in a booster pack. Wizards decided that it's finally time to bring Lightning Blast back into Standard, in the form of Flame Lash; a common only available through the Chandra Planeswalker intro deck.  Nissa got her own exclusive cards too, but none of the cards in her deck are really expected to shine in Standard. For reference, here is a list of the eight cards between the two decks that you cannot get by opening Kaladesh booster packs. While Terrain Elemental is a bit blunt in the face of power creep, Standard is lacking for a decent-rate burn spell that can still be applied directly to the face when needed. Because of this expected demand and low supply, Flame Lash sits comfortably at $3.70 on MTGstocks.com, although a more accurate number is the $1.96 that TCGplayer Market Price represents on their website. 

flame-lash-chandra-planeswalker-deck-exclusive

So what's all the hubbub? Well there's an initial head-scratching if you've been reading all of the content lately that suggests Standard will be gutted by the Expedition effect, then you suddenly see a random common burn spell selling for Lightning Bolt prices in 2016. Standard won't be cheap after all! Those dirty #MTGFINANCE speculators are gonna buy up all the Planeswalker decks, and new players are gonna starve!


Well, not exactly. First of all, remember that we're still in pre-sale fairytale land where prices can be whatever they're hyped up to be. Pain Seer was still a $10 card in the week before its release, and we all know how that turned out. Flame Lash competes very directly with the obvious go-to four drop in red nowadays, Chandra herself. This silly common has to beat out a whole arsenal of walkers and creatures of a much higher power level before it even gets considered as a 1-of. Secondly, it's a 4-of in the Planeswalker deck that you will always be able to grab for $15 at your local LGS or Walmart, and Chandra, Pyrogenius herself takes up half of that value. Her deck also has the non-terrible Fleetwheel Cruiser, sliding in to eat up $3 more out of the deck's value ceiling. We're left with $4 to distribute among the other couple bulk rares, basic lands, commons, and those four prized Flame Lashes. It's going to be extremely difficult for the card to hold even a $1 market price average, even if Chandra herself simmers down to $5.

Unfortunately, neither of these decks really have any other standout casual cards that make picking the bulk exciting years down the road. Even if Flame Lash ends up being a solid $.50 on a buylist, it'll only have around 18 months to shine before it's literally just a Lightning Blast by a different name. Intro deck bulk is often the least picked of all bulk, because the previous owner may have only been involved in Magic for a brief period of time before passing onto another game or hobby. Some preconstructed decks end up being worth way more than MSRP because of potential sleepers, but not even the "If you have a Chandra or Nissa in play" creatures appear to be worth casting down the road when we get even more Chandras and Nissas released. Nissa's deck in particular is especially unattractive for only the newest of casual players.

A Quick Note on Bannings/Unbannings

This kind of post has been done to death for the most part, so I won't take too long to explain my position here. Every few months, we get the inevitable Reddit threads and Facebook group conversations of "What do you think will be unbanned? Do you think they'll let Stoneforge Mystic free? What about giving us Splinter Twin back? Do you think Deathrite has been gone too long?" Bloodbraid Elf is always in the discussion somewhere, but it's not really a "bulk" card by my definition, so I'm leaving it alone. Buying banned cards can be extremely profitable if you're smart, lucky, patient, or some combination. We've seen so with Ancestral Vision, Bitterblossom, and Thopter Foundry (by association with Sword of the Meek, the latter of which is down to a paltry $1-2 after not actually being any good). Do you want to know what the investment cost of Foundry was before the unbanning? $.25, give or take. The card was true bulk and you could easily find them in leftover remnants of shredded C13 product, along with Viscera Seers.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I make sure to set aside every Punishing Fire and Mind Twist I get in bulk, just in case. I don't want to tie up money investing in Stoneforge Mystic over and over again when there are collections and bulk to be had, but the risk of setting aside the two previously mentioned cards seems so low that I'm perfectly happy losing out on a potential couple of dollars when the multiplier on the payoff is so ridiculously high.

End Step

Being on two weekly podcasts and writing a weekly article makes it really hard to come up with a "pick of the week" at the end of every single piece of content, so here's a sneak peek at my pick on Brainstorm Brewery this week. I'm a huge fan of hard to reprint commons and uncommons, and you don't get much harder to reprint than Infect. While "pick up Glistener Elf and Blighted Agent" is a song sung to death by me and Corbin Hosler, I'm also a huge fan of slowly accumulating the other budget Infect cards that see marginal competitive play and more heavy "budget competitive" play.


Blight Mamba and Carrion Call have both seen play in the BG and UG infect decks at times to allow the list to play a more impactful late-game, and there's overlap with the "I can't afford Noble Hierarch and Inkmoth Nexus so I'll play mono green Infect and cheese the hell out of people at FNM" crowd. Foils are a fine watch here as well, considering foil Blighted agent is a billion dollars and Glistener Elf is only suppressed by having an FNM promo. I'm not saying foil Carrion Call should be $50, but true bulk seems low. I'm also setting aside Necropedes when I pick them up, and you should know that Ichorclaw Myr is a real dollar bill on its' own. Until next week!

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