The SCG Invitational results are in and Hour of Devastation lurks just around the corner... There is a lot going on in Standard MTG and it's a prime moment to capitalize on a format about to be thrown into an upheaval. Obviously, the banning of Aetherworks Marvel opens up a lot of space for new decks to command a larger slice of the metagame pie, and these are the places we should be looking in order to find potential gainers over the next month and a half.
UW Monument Tokens
One of the biggest standout decks in Marvelless Standard is the UW Monument Tokens deck. The strategy is powerful, robust, and has a ton of grind to it. I anticipate it will continue to be a big player in Standard after the release of Hour of Devastation. Who knows, Hour of Devastation may even add a few new pieces to the mix!
Bygone Bishop has been a neat little roleplayer in Standard over the past year of so. It was the premier way to grind some extra card advantage in the Mono-White Humans deck and now is a cog in the UW Monument experience.
The card gives these decks a lot of grind and has synergy with Oketra's Monument. The card is basically a bulk rare right now but if the deck continues to perform the way it has on MTGO and in big tournaments, it could become a Standard staple. I'd expect to see its overall value increase as more and more players start looking at acquire playsets for their collections.
As a person who has a lot of experience working in various card shops and managing store collections, I can say that Bygone Bishop fits the mold as the kind of card that suddenly gets a lot of attention and buys as players make decks. These kinds of cards begin to sell out because Shadows over Innistrad packs haven't been opened in a while.
The end result is that demand rises quickly, overtakes supply, and leads to increased buylist prices. Look to this card as a potential earner and buylist all-star as stores' inventory take a hit from people buying in on the deck over the summer!
The other card that I like as a speculation target from the Monument deck is Angel of Sanctions. The Angel is a powerful spell. We know this from how destabilizing it was in Amonkhet Limited. One of the biggest factors holding it back is that it shares a cost with Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier. Avacyn won't always be in Standard alongside Angel of Sanctions, which means that it may yet have its day in the sun.
It says a lot that Angel of Sanctions is seeing Constructed play right now, in a world where Avacyn is an option. If it has been somewhat repressed by the competing cards, its future potential is much higher. This upside, coupled with the low price to buy in on the single, make it a spicy speculation target at the moment.
Various Flavors of Energy
Whether it is RG or Temur, the power of Energy is undeniable. Attune with Aether is one heck of a free-roll. Mana fixing, plus-two energy, and just one mana! It really fuels the archetype.
However, the rares are obviously where the money lies.
The Hydra is a big game and one of the premier threats of Standard. It slots well into the traditional Temur Energy decks as well as the RG Pummeler lists. I've played a ton of Standard and in my opinion it is one of the best threats in the format. I've felt this way for a while but it was always overshadowed by the combo decks.
With the combo decks removed from the format via bannings, it could be the time for Bristling Hydra to take up its rightful place as a premier threat in the format. To be fair, even when I was playing Marvel, Hydra was always one of the cards I was most afraid of. A threat that's immune to spot removal is scary. It also hits very hard and is a powerful sink for excess energy.
Don't even get me started on it being a great target for pump spells that give trample. RG Pummeler could well be the best aggressive deck in Standard and Hydra is a centerpiece. However, I think it will also make noise in the Temur midrange aggro decks. I'd be surprised if it wasn't the case that all of the decks playing Attune with Aether end up also playing Hydra now.
Tireless Tracker is the kind of genie that you can't put back in the bottle. If you pressed me to say what the best card printed over the past two years was, I'd say Tracker. The card is absurdly powerful and efficient. You can't really ask a card to do more. It generates gross amounts of card advantage (especially in Modern or Legacy with fetches) and it will be a big piece of the Standard puzzle once Hour of Devastation is released.
Green is likely the best color in Standard and Tracker is likely the best card in the format. It may not be the highest-impact card but it is important nonetheless. The advantage is cascading. If it doesn't die immediately it simply generates advantage that will win the game eventually. It hits hard as well and is extremely aggressively costed.
I like this card as an investment card because I think it is the real deal in Modern and Eternal as well. I've been putting it into Legacy decks and the card feels great. It's an "all-time great" Magic card and will be popular and played for years and years to come.
In the short term, I feel like every deck playing green is likely to have three or four copies in the 75. It's such a popular and wonderful card.
Glorybringer slots perfectly into the various Temur and RG Energy shells. Although the card doesn't specifically have any energy synergy, it is simply too good not to play. The card has a big body, evasion, and built-in removal/card advantage. Who doesn't love a flying, hasty Flametongue Kavu that can potentially shoot down creatures more than once?
Glorybringer is too good not to see a ton of play in the future. It is also significant how well Glorybringer matches up against Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gideon is the kind of card that has the potential to take over and win games on its own, and Glorybringer may be the best answer to the card currently in the format. Old Glory is abstractly one of the best stat cards in Standard and contextually the best answer to one of the other best cards. Get ready for lots of dragons!
Glorybringer is also relatively cheap compared to how good and likely to be played it is. I really like picking up extra copies right now. I also like foils as a cube card as well. Glorybringer could also end up being a fringe Modern card at some point if Death's Shadow gets pushed off the top of the heap. It's like the most unfair of the fair kind of cards.
I don't think that Zombies will be a best deck in Standard moving forward. It's a good linear deck and will be played but it is kind of one-dimensional. If you want to beat Zombies you can, and I think people will be ready for the undead this time around. Zombies have also been on the backfoot ever since they had a breakout performance at the Pro Tour.
With that being said, I really like one card as a spec target:
I bet a lot of people didn't even realize this card was as expensive as it is. The value isn't really derived from Standard demand but more so from casual. Like Adaptive Automaton, the card is essentially a two-drop lord that can buff any type. It's a powerful concept and is quite unique in the abstract. I think this is the kind of card that can be acquired cheaply and held for a large profit down the line. It only takes one breakout deck in Modern to push a card like this into the $8 range.
It's the kind of card that has a wide range but there will always be sellers on the low end and buyers at the high end. Look for this card as a long-term investment.
Hour Upon Us
Hour of Devastation is looking pretty sweet so far, and I'm looking forward to returning from a brief vacation and hitting the deckbuilding really hard. By next week the spoiler will be complete and I'll be excited to share my thoughts on the new cards and which ones are above the curve. Until then, happy holidays and good luck with those trades and investments!