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Insider: The Lack of Equipment in Kaladesh

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We're going to take a bit of a break from bulk commons and uncommons this week to discuss something I should have written about last week, maybe even the week before. Or a month before. Ah well. Hopefully we'll go on a bit of a twist halfway through so we can use what we learn here to figure out future specs, or something like that. You won't even notice the seamless transition; I promise. If you follow me, MTGFinance Central, or Brian Dale on Twitter (You absolutely should), you may have noticed us having a bit of a light-hearted debate on the merits of Sigarda's Aid as a spec. They believed it had merit because of its low buy-in price and perceived Equipment synergies with Kaladesh being a steampunky, artifact themed block; I countered with some summarized arguments that I'm going to expand on throughout this article. While I disagree with their viewpoint on this card and theme specifically, you should absolutely follow them for some other solid specs and topics of discussion. MTGFinance Central was a strong supporter of Traverse the Ulvenwald early on, a card that showed up huge during Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.


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To be perfectly honest, I'm going to assume that most of you reading this article agree with my side of the equipment debate. I put up a Twitter poll a few days ago, and 2/3 of respondents turned down the possibility. While I failed to specify the different between a full on equipment "theme" vs. "sub-theme," and didn't include Aether Revolt in my poll, I'd like to clarify  now that I do reject the possibility of all things equipment in the whole block of Kaladesh. I'm perfectly happy selling Sigarda's Aid at $1 because I know that competitive players are happily willing to move them at $.50 or even $.25.

If we use Gatherer to check out the number of "equipment matters" cards in Standard before Kaladesh, there's only a couple "speccable" cards that come to mind. We're not unaccustomed to Wizards of the Coast planting themes for future blocks in the current block (Steel Overseer before our return trip to Mirrodin is the first that comes to mind), and you might have been picking up the following bulk rares since Kaladesh was announced to be the fall set this year, thanks to the Origins sneak peek into what the world looked like. Stone Haven Outfitter looked like a "maybe one day" bulk rare, and I don't fault anyone for picking these up at .10. Slayer's Plate seemed like it could have been viable if the heavy equip cost could be avoided. Cards like Weapons Trainer gave the subtle hint that an equipment deck might be in the near future, and I was picking them out of bulk commons and uncommons on the off-chance that a tier 2 Standard deck happened to emerge. Unfortunately out of all the Gatherer results for equipment, we still come up short of a real deck; it would have needed support from Kaladesh to manifest.

As soon as vehicles were spoiled, the chance of any equipment theme or sub-theme was dead. Vehicles play very poorly with equipment on either end; you either tap your equipped creature to Crew a vehicle (feels bad) or you Crew a vehicle and equip something to it, only for it to fall off at the end of the turn (feels bad). Neither outcome feels very rewarding, especially when vehicles are aesthetic equipments in their own right. Kaladesh will likely have the same number or even less equipment than other sets, because there's no room in either the mechanics or the flavor. Do you remember the last set where we had a real Equipment theme? It was Scars of Mirrodin block, and that was because we had a literal war of the world going on. There were divided factions, and both sides needed weapons to do battle with. In fact, pretty much every plane we've visited in the past seven years has had a significant conflict, antagonist(s), and/or war. Kaladesh is a breath of fresh air from life or death conflict, and I don't foresee the need for an armory of weapons. While the next set name implies conflict in Aether Revolt, it makes much more sense to convert vehicles into more weapon-like devices that still use the Crew mechanic instead of trying to make both equipment and Crew work across a draft format.

So why am I launching a Campaign of Vengeance against Sigarda's Aid? Honestly, that initial difference for the buy in cost is massive. When we get down to bulk and near-bulk specs, buying in at $.25 and $.10 are worlds apart. If you went on TCGplayer, eBay, or SCG and purchased 40 copies of Aid at $1.00, you're hoping that it triples or quadruples before you start to see realistic profits that cover the costs of shipping and fees. Traverse the Ulvenwald was run as a 4-of in successful Pro Tour decks, and it still barely meets that threshold today. On the other hand, you've had months to be picking up Stone Haven Outfitter at $.41 each from retail sites like TCGplayer. That's excluding the possibility of picking them up for quarters or even dimes (Hint; you should be paying dimes) out of the binders of your local players who cracked Oath of the Gatewatch boxes for Eldrazi.

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So what's the trick to picking up Aid at a half of TCG market, and Outfitter at a dime? Well, cash is the easiest method; I'll get that out of the way right now. It's so much faster to deal in dollars and dimes instead of trying to reanimate the dead art of trading. While there are a few stalwart LGS where trading at TCG mid/market still exists, I've found it to be utterly miserable for the past few years. Offering cash dollars for bulk and near bulk rares is an incredibly effective way to help Standard players get their fix for the next set. Spike wants to spend $500 on a case of Kaladesh, but his binder is still thick with recent rares that didn't end up seeing play, because he only built Bant Company and Temur Emerge for the past six months. Send Spike a Facebook message, and let them know that you'd be happy to buy all of those jank rares out of their binder at buylist prices. You'll even drive to their house and sort out everything by price. Put that Aid in the .25 or .50 pile, and the Outfitter in the dime pile. If he wants to trade for staples to fill out his next Standard deck, ship him/her that Liliana, the Last Hope at TCG low while you swim in bulk rares. Everyone's happy.

End Step

Our podcast Cartel Aristocrats is on iTunes now! We're on episode 24 now, and I really like Jim's pick of the week for this most recent cast. It got me thinking about the quantity and power level of current Planeswalkers in Standard, and the possibility of a Superfriends deck being viable. All of the Oaths sans Nissa are currently bulk rares, which makes them easy to pick up and set aside just in case. My "pick of the week" for this article is in the similar vein of being a bulk mythic, but has a lot of potential upside thanks to being an Eldritch Moon mythic with lower than normal supply.


I'm a big fan of trading for these at $1 if you're moving out of cards like Sigarda's Aid, and I'm very happy buying as many as I can for $.50-.75. While there is risk in buying at above buylist prices, I'm hoping that its' low supply will help keep buylist numbers higher than an average bulk mythic. As always, thanks for reading! I'm happy to discuss finance or any questions on Twitter at @Rose0fthorns, or in the comments section below.

 

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