Over the course of the past two or three weeks I've been gradually inducted into the world of Frontier. The arrival of the format has felt swift and real. Is it a fad? Maybe, but I think there is still time and space to capitalize even if it turns out to be a fad in the short term.
In the span of just a few weeks, I've seen Frontier take off as a format. My introduction was by word of mouth, when a friend told me how Hareruya was spearheading a new grassroots format. From there I began to hear all kinds of speculation about decks and strategy, to people showing up with actual physical copies of decks and playing games, to my LGS finally announcing it would offer Thursday Night Frontier.
The speed at which the format seems to be picking up in popularity feels very real. The fact that the format is associated with Saito's Harehuya—basically the super hip of MTG—also feels like a driving force to some degree.
Looking for Staples
Today, I'm going to take a quick inventory of some of the best Frontier buys to be looking for at the moment. Remember, we want to buy things cheap and be able to sell them into a peak.
All I have to say is, how badly do you want to use your Rabblemaster tokens to crew Smuggler's Copter in a beatdown deck? Sign me up for that.
Rabblemaster was an awesome card back in the day and it seems really strong with the vehicles that have cheap crew costs. There might also be synergy that could come into play in Modern somewhere down the line. Heck, I've even seen Rabblemaster played to some effectiveness in Legacy! Rabblemaster is just a good card and a fun, interesting Frontier option.
Anafenza is great because it goes into the aggressive Abzan decks and is an important sideboard option against Rally the Ancestors. Sure, there is a chance that Rally gets banned or something, but it isn't exactly like Anafenza is a bad card. In fact, with such a low price tag it's the kind of card I would be actively targeting for Modern and casual on "good card is cheap" factor alone.
Who isn't going to want to build a Dig Through Time deck at some point in Frontier? The card was excellent in Standard but banned in virtually every other tournament format. Except Frontier—which means people will take full advantage of getting a chance to cast this old favorite again!
Not only will DTT be a format-defining staple, it also has that forbidden fruit thing going for it that will draw more people to want to play it. With Dig currently so cheap it can't really hurt too much to have a small stack set aside just in case people end up needing them.
How the mighty have fallen. Mantis Rider is an excellent Magic card that masquerades as a bulk rare. So sad...
It has a tough time in Modern because it so perfectly dies to Lightning Bolt and is just outclassed by other faster aggro options. However, the card would be very strong in Frontier just like it was in Standard. Maybe it is time to take a chance on everybody's favorite little Lightning Angel.
This one's clearly in the "obvi" camp, but it bears mention. For so many reasons, cheap Siege Rhinos seem like a great acquisition in a world where Frontier is picking up steam. The card is great and goes into a wide range of decks. It is also just a good Magic card regardless of whether Frontier is a fad or not.
Whisperwood is just a pretty solid Magic card that might end up being a player in Frontier. They are dirt cheap right now. I'm interested in taking a look.
There is a legit chance that Rally needs to be banned, but it could be the first real breakout deck for the format. Copies of the card are basically at bulk rare prices right now which leaves ample space for a spike to occur.
The biggest problem with Rally is that people didn't really enjoy the card when it was in Standard, so if it is great in Frontier it will probably get banned in order to keep the format feeling fun and fresh. It is the Old Extended problem: people hated having had to play Jund vs. Faeries for two straight years and then changing Extended into Jund vs. Faeries was just a really dumb move because nobody wanted to play that format.
If Rally is too good I expect it to be quickly banned. However, there is also a chance that it is more balanced in the larger card pool, so that could be neat as well.
Collected Company is another one of those cards that risks being too good and needing a banning. But since it will always have a home in Modern, I'm not too worried about losing money on it.
Collected Company is simply one of the most powerful cards Wizards has printed in the past four or five years, and will find a home in most formats where it is legal. It was absurd in Standard, great in Modern, and will have a home in Frontier as long as it doesn't get banned.
Dromoka's Command is another cheap card that has potential to be very good in Frontier. It's a really powerful effect that is simply outclassed by better options in Modern. However, in a significantly smaller cardpool without Path to Exile, the card starts to look much more appealing.
People who are not stocking up on potential Frontier staples should be pretty happy to give up their Drom Comms for a low price, happy that somebody wants them.
I'm not really sure that Jace's price has much to do with Frontier, or ever will, but I feel like I should at least note it. If Frontier does take off, Jace will be another very important card in the format, which will create a lot of demand for it among players. Who doesn't want to play Jace and Dig side by side again?
Filling a Format Niche
I've gotten a chance to battle some Frontier and the format feels really sweet. The games are fun, and it's nice to play with some of the cards that I enjoyed before but which currently don't have another home. Perhaps Frontier has become sort of a necessity with Standard being too boring and Modern being a little too busted. It creates a different kind of game somewhere in the middle that a lot of people are looking to enjoy.
Either way, the big draw for the singles I selected is that they are all Frontier cards that are not currently Standard-legal, which means they derive literally no value from Standard. In fact, most of these cards have very little value period, which makes them great investments if Frontier has a chance of making an impact at all.