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Insider: Standard Stocks to Watch

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There is a lot going on in MTG in the coming weeks. In fact, with the triple Grand Prix in Vegas my current schedule looks like: RPTQ, three Grand Prix (Vegas), Grand Prix Cleveland, and an Invitational. Now, that is a ton of Magic. Game on!

I just wrapped up back-to-back weekends at Standard Grand Prix. By the time I'm done it'll be nine out of ten weekends in a row! I can't remember a more dense stretch, but I'm really enjoying the experience.

Let me tell you something else, you don't go nonstop for two months and not learn a few things about which way the wind is blowing. Today will focus on my thoughts on Standard staples (having just played the format for a month straight) and which cards I'm looking to pick up, hold, or flat out dump. When the dust settles I think I'll be pretty far ahead of the game in terms of gaining value on my cards.

Energy Is King


Verdict: Sell

Temur Energy is the best deck in the format and nothing beats it. Dedicated hate decks don't actually beat it consistently, and they certainly do not beat anything else consistently.

Many people think that the slam-dunk Marvel into Ulamog is a hee-haw combo that makes the deck insane. Well, actually I disagree. Temur Energy is already the best deck in the format and having the ability to randomly end the game for no good reason by spinning the wheel puts it over the top. The thing people overlook is that the energy package (without Marvel) would already be the best deck, or close to the best, even without Marvel and Ulamog!

I played Temur Marvel in Omaha last weekend and went 5-4 and didn't make Day 2. I don't mean to complain, but to make a point, my Marvel spins were 2-28 on hitting an Ulamog. If you want an excuse for the bad record, well, a 7% conversion rate is a good one.

Here's my point: I'm certain that if my Marvels and Ulamogs were anything else I would have won a lot more matches (since I was constantly winning with my beatdown plan anyways). That very fact gives me a lot of faith that Energy will continue to be a strong deck in Standard even if Marvel or Ulamog get banned (which they definitely could).


Verdict: Sell

I strongly doubt that both Ulamog and Marvel are going to survive the next banning together intact. People are already starting to get frustrated and complain about the format and we are not even a month in. It can't go on this way for another rotation.

Marvel and Ulamog will likely now begin their slow decline into obscurity as far as price is concerned. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is still a good Magic card and will see play in Modern Tron and at the kitchen table. I will certainly keep a couple of copies for my Tron deck. However, if you are looking to get maximum value in the near future, now is the time to move.

I still think the other Energy cards are good value in Standard even if Marvel gets banned. They are mostly uncommons and commons that don't have a ton of current value. It makes them an easy hold. You never know, sometimes these kinds of cards will end up in high demand down the road.

Mistakes Were Made


Verdict: Sell

I kind of buried this topic in the middle of the article because I don't typically like venting about these sorts of things, but from a finance perspective it is relevant to how I see the landscape for multiple reasons.

In my opinion, Wizards made major mistakes in the design of Kaladesh and Battle for Zendikar block. Obviously, cards have been banned and more cards may need to be banned yet. I also think they made mistakes with regard to what they banned and when they banned it, which has further exacerbated the problem.

What does this have to do with finance? Simple. Wizards did a terrible job with the product they put out. People are not happy or enthusiastic about constantly having borderline-unplayable Standard formats for over a year straight and having their cards banned. Magic has lost popularity as a result of the mismanagement.

Wrap your mind around this: back-to-back Standard GPs with less than 800 players...

That's unheard of. People hate Standard now. I don't blame them. It needs to be fixed.

Wizards' first problem is that they need to get people back out and playing Standard and enjoying it. If I were Wizards, I would want to dramatically change the way the format looks and feels as soon as possible. I'd ban the most warping cards, burn it to the ground, and start over. It's been a dumpster fire already, so why not just start over?

Goodbye, Gideon. Goodbye, Marvel.

Basically, I would eradicate the two best decks and level the playing field for new decks to become viable. At the very least, players get to enjoy a "new format" which is something they haven't been able to do for quite some time, since the best decks have dominated throughout.

Gideon feels like a solid dump right now because it has very little upside. If it gets banned, it's a $6 niche Modern/Legacy sideboard card. If it doesn't get banned, it is still racing the clock into Modern sideboard obscurity. It's a good time to dump these.

Looking for the Good Value

Now for the reason you tuned into the column. I think it's pretty solid advice to dump some of these format staples that have an above average chance of being banned. The other thing to keep in mind is that even if they don't get banned, I would still be advocating selling them off just based on commonplace trajectory.

Imagine a world where Mardu Vehicles and Temur Marvel are not dominating Standard. Imagine these two fun police were not holding all the other cards back. What would you play?


Verdict: Buy

To begin with, you could play BG Constrictor or Delirium. In either build, Verdurous Gearhulk may feature prominently.

Gearhulks in general are super cheap right now and they all appear to become potentially better positioned in the new metagame. The green one is great and it has a lot of room to grow.


Verdict: Hold

The blue Gearhulk is so good. It is very likely to be at the heart of any and every blue-based control deck in Standard. Whether UR Counterspells survives or whether Temur Energy without Marvel were to shift around Gearhulk, I feel confident it will have a home.

The problem is that it is already one of the most expensive cards in the format and doesn't have a ton of room to grow. However, I don't see it trending down anytime soon. In fact, it seems more likely to trend up!


Verdict: Buy

I bought a playset of Japanese Glorybringers at GP Omaha for $12. I think that Glorybringer's current price is a simple case of "great card without a home." Marvel pressures the format in a way that is messed up. Tap-out five-drops are about as bad as they can possibly be in a world where Marvel comes down on four!

The fact is that this card will be amazing at some point. It will outlive every card in Standard and I'm confident that it will be great and make money for me at some point during its lifespan. The card is just too good not to.


Verdict: Buy

Dusk // Dawn is a powerful Magic card. I've also seen this card slotted into some Legacy Death and Taxes or Stoneblade sideboards. It's a great answer to True-Name Nemesis, Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration, and Tarmogoyf.

What does that have to do with Standard? Very little. However, Dusk is a powerful Magic card that I could see finding a home in the format at some point. It's a great card. Imagine playing some sort of a White Weenie or Spell Queller deck and using this to wreck a BG Constrictor board, then buy back all your dead creatures. Definitely not a bulk rare.


Verdict: Buy

I've seen this card played in Modern lately. I also got completely crushed by it at the Grand Prix. Do you know what is really unfair? One-drop, Initiate, Always Watching. Vigilance allows you to exert creatures every single turn without the "no untap" drawback mattering.

They are pretty cheap right now. I recommend picking up a playset of these because they seem pretty great at a low price right now.


Verdict: Buy

I'm going rogue with this pick. However, I think this is a powerful Magic card. Also, consider that we get a whole other potential set of -1/-1 counters synergy cards. It only takes one or two to make a deck.

If you see them cheap, pick them up. I've been getting them out of three-for-a-dollar boxes.


Verdict: Buy

A good two-drop mana creature that becomes an actual threat? I like this card and feel like it could have a home in tier-one decks at some point in the future. Don't pay much for them, but they can be had really cheap and have considerable potential upside.


Verdict: Buy

Hydra is a really powerful threat. My experience with Marvel has made me think about wanting to play more of a RG Energy deck and this would be one of the centerpieces. It's so powerful!

Also, so cheap right now! It is a great card to pick up now that will likely yield returns down the road. Possibly, sooner rather than later!

Conclusion

Those are some of my thoughts on specific Standard cards and the format. I obviously don't know anything for sure—but, I'm anticipating bannings for Standard. It just makes sense for me that they've already come this far and not to fix the problem seems like a low EV play.

Regardless of whether bannings do or don't happen, there will be lots of opportunity to find new value. I'm glad I don't have to play Standard for a while as I'm not a huge fan of the format right now, however when I return in a few months I hope things will be better! Also, I hope my investments will have paid off!

One thought on “Insider: Standard Stocks to Watch

  1. I’m not getting why there is so mich complain. Marvel is very easy to stop with a lot of things – control decks, r/w dwarfs vehicle control. I wish they don’t ban it so i can win more FNMs

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