Insider: The Standard Metagame and the Market

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The release of the power-filled Aether Revolt combined with the corresponding bannings have completely shaken up Standard. The situation created a ton of uncertainty in the metagame and market, but now players are competing with new cards, a SCG Open weekend is in the books, and the market is beginning to sort itself out as a picture of the metagame comes into focus.

The biggest story of last weekend was the dominance of black-green strategies, which took the top three spots in the Open. The most startling market reaction has been the massive spike of Walking Ballista, a card which will define the direction of the metagame this weekend at SCG Richmond and maybe even at the Pro Tour. It’s a big problem for cheap aggressive strategies, like White-Red Humans with Metallic Mimic, so I expect the more aggressive decks to be in decline. Players are working tirelessly to beat Black-Green, and the deck that might be best suited for the job is black-based control, which is relatively immune to Walking Ballista and can use removal like Fatal Push to contain threats and leave opponents without a meaningful offense.

Interest in control has done great things for the price of blue-black lands in Standard. Sunken Hollow has spiked from under 2 tix to 3 tix, and the paper price has crept up by 50 cents, while Choked Estuary has now broken $2 after trending downwards to around $1.50 for months. These have been relatively cheap because of the dearth of competitive blue-black strategies in Standard, but they are are bound to rise if the deck establishes itself in the top tier of Standard.

On the topic of real estate, Blooming Marsh has also seen gains since the weekend, with the online price nearly doubling and the paper price increasing by over $1. This small spike already happening makes me hesitant to think the price is due for another big increase, but there must be room to grow if BG continues to prove it’s number one. There might be more room for Hissing Quagmire, which has nearly doubled online from under 3 tix to over 5, but has seen just a modest paper increase and still sits under $4.

I’m also paying attention to Shambling Vent, which spiked by over 30 percent to 3 tix on Thursday. Its slow upward paper movement has also accelerated, and it would spike if Black-White Control establishes itself as the best control deck in the new metagame on the back of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. It’s a very real possibility, given its history as the top control deck last season before Emrakul, the Promised End took it out of the metagame.

There are a few control cards to keep an eye on, including the awaken spells Ruinous Path, which answers the planeswalkers that are back in the spotlight after Smuggler's Copter can no longer oppress them, and Scatter to the Winds, which may prove to be simply better than Disallow without Emrakul, the Promised End in the format. Both are now trending upwards on MTGO, and the paper prices are sitting at their lowest points in months with room to grow.

A good control bet could be Ob Nixilis Reignited, which has moved from 2.5 tix to over 3.3 tix in the past week. It has been trending downwards in paper, but it seems to have leveled off over this same period. It seems like a bargain as a planeswalker under $4, especially with its long-term casual and Commander appeal.

A bet on Black-White Control is specifically a bet on Sorin, Grim Nemesis, which was a staple of the deck last season. Its price has been sitting an an all-time low under $5.50 but looks to be ticking upwards a few cents.

Sphinx of the Final Word isn’t typically more than a one-of in Blue-Black as a backup win condition, but as a $1 mythic it has nothing but upside. The price on MTGO has grown by 50 percent in the past two weeks, which could indicate the paper price following.

Another control card to note is Horribly Awry, which has previously been considered unplayable, maybe even bulk, but is suddenly in the equation as a great answers to creatures, including Felidar Guardian. It’s certain to gain some resale value if becomes part of top-tier blue-black decks, so it could become relevant to buylists.

Murder is another great answer to Felidar Guardian, so it’s in position to become a Standard staple.

One interesting development from last weekend was the success of the Oath cycle, including Oath of Nissa, Oath of Chandra and Oath of Jace, when combined with Felidar Guardian to re-use them. These were found in the top-performing Saheeli Rai decks of the weekend, and they are going to be staples going forward.

I’ve heard anecdotes that the old Fevered Visions-driven Prized Amalgam deck with Stitchwing Skaab and Advanced Stitchwing was very popular in the final days of the MTGO Aether Revolt beta testing, and on Thursday it could be seen on Hareruya’s stream. There hasn’t been much market movement on its cards, but it’s something to keep in mind as a deck a team could show up with to the Pro Tour.

SCG Richmond will be a very revealing look at the metagame, and now that Aether Revolt is out on Magic Online, I’m excited to start poring over the decklists from those events too. Things will come to a head with the Pro Tour next week, and we’ll be providing all the latest news and updates here at

What are your thoughts on the metagame and the market moving forward from here?


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