Ixalan is almost here! Now is the time to get excited about new cards, new decks, and the prerelease!
In particular, Standard will be seeing a pretty major shake-up in the coming weeks. The entirety of Battle for Zendikar and Shadows over Innistrad blocks will be leaving the format to make way for all of that Dino-Pirate goodness that is Ixalan.
With such major changes in store for Standard, it makes a lot of sense that prices also ought to see some adjustment to accommodate demand from players trying to build new Standard decks. A rotation is always a great time to make value because there is always a high number of players who are elated to purchase new cards.
A major rotation is sort of a moment when there is a community understanding that it is time to open up those wallets and build new decks.
I've really only skimmed the surface of what this new Standard format might look like. The fact is, there is a ton of testing and information to wade through, and 99.9% of players don't have a solid understanding of what the new format will entail. With that being said, there are certain assumptions and estimations that are likely to be accurate that we can use to try and predict Standard gainers in the coming weeks.
The Mainstays That Stay
The obvious starting point for any Standard format is to look at the major decks sticking around into the new format. For this season that means Mono-Red, Temur Energy, and GB +1/+1 Counters. All three of these decks remain largely intact going forward and will likely continue to be major pillars of Standard.
I wholeheartedly believe that we will see some new decks coming out, but let's just assume these decks will survive. Whatever new decks emerge in Standard will have to be competitive against the current kings of the mountain. It's not an impossible task but it will certainly, quickly, weed out the chaff.
We can also look at decks that lost major pieces in the rotation to predict what may not port over to the next level of Standard. For example:
The loss of Gideon really hurts a deck like Mardu Vehicles because it was one of the deck's most important pieces. I'd have to see some convincing evidence to believe that Vehicles still has the staying power to dominate and be a player.
Predicting the New Decks
When thinking about what decks might emerge from a new format it is really important to look to the new cards. Occasionally, a new printing can team up with an existing staple (think Saheeli being powered up by Felidar Guardian) but even in this scenario a new printing was the place to look.
It makes a lot of sense that the new cards have the highest probability of creating a new deck. If a deck wasn't good before because it couldn't beat Ramunap Red, GB, and Temur, then why is it good now?
In any case I think the obvious place to start is Dinosaurs. The dinos are large and in charge and the tribe makes up a large percentage of the top-tier cards in the set. I mean, have you seen Carnage Tyrant?
What a buck-wild card. It is obviously insanely powerful and the rest of the tribe delivers as well.
Dinosaurs in Standard probably fall somewhere along an axis of ramp meets midrange, but could ultimately land anywhere in between. It is also possible that some of the "good stuff" dino finishers could just be in a bunch of different strategies. Ramp will almost certainly be a thing, whether it is dino-synergy or just uses cards like Carnage Tyrant at the top of the curve to finish.
It is also worth noting that one of the most efficient ways to defeat Carnage Tyrant is with unconditional sweepers like Fumigate or Hour of Revelation. It makes a lot of sense that a UW-type shell could have a nice place in Standard.
The Tyrant, because it is uncounterable, hexproof, and survives Hour of Devastation, may spell the end of the traditional UR Control shells. This could push Approach of the Second Sun to the premier control strategy.
New Standard Picks
I typically like to find cards that have a cheap price tag and a high ceiling for growth, and invest my dollars there. In that scenario one has a much higher probability to make a significant profit on a minimal investment.
I love digging through $0.50 or three-for-$1 boxes when a format is rotating because if you know what to look for you can really make bank when your picks hit. Even when they miss, the cards often have nowhere to go because they are very cheap when they are acquired, which makes it difficult to lose on the transaction.
Without further ado, here are my picks. I'll break them down by the deck I see them going into, and close with some miscellaneous cards that are harder to classify, along with some bulk picks.
Approach is a card that I find very interesting right now. Despite being the premier finisher for UW Control, the card is essentially a bulk rare. If the importance of wrath effects to combat the new Dinosaurs becomes important, I could see this card picking up some value in the coming weeks.
Also, if Carnage Tyrant pushes UR out of the metagame, UW will be the best blue control deck in town.
Speaking of control cards, these two sweepers could both become much more important in the coming weeks if dino ramp or midrange show themselves to be actual tier-one strategies. It's hard to imagine Fumigate not being an extremely important card moving forward. It has solid versatility against a large percentage of the field which is heavily slated toward powerful creatures.
These cards have already begun to tick up slightly but I think there is still more room to grow—especially if that particular deck ends up being well positioned. Fumigate is a pretty amazing Magic card.
Authority of the Consuls is another solid pick-up right now. It is one of the single best cards against Ramunap Red no matter what type of strategy you are playing. The deck is heavily dependent on sneaking through damage with haste creatures, which Consuls takes away. The incidental life gain makes investing into the card (both financially and in terms of game play!) a strong play.
Last but not least for the blue deck camp is Commit // Memory. It is worth noting that this spell does deal with Carnage Tyrant (albeit only temporarily). Commit puts the spell second from the top (and hence gets around the "uncounterable" clause). It's a pretty flexible card and could be positioned to see more play. It's technically a bulk rare so it can't go down, which makes it a fine investment.
Some of the cheap red-deck rares could also be nice pick-ups right now. I strongly believe that Ramunap Red is positioned to once again be the best deck in Standard out of the gate.
These cards are floating near the bulk-rare line but will likely be major players in Standard. I could see them making gains if Red comes out of the gate strong (as it likely will).
Temur Energy is another deck that will likely be at the top of the pack. Its full of awesome synergy and great cards. It has all the tools it needs to be awesome.
Bristling Hydra is cheap right now and probably has a home in the 75 of Energy. The more I play with and against the card the more it impresses me. The fact that it can't be targeted makes it pretty great. The question is whether these decks will just play the six-drop Tyrant instead.
GB is likely to remain a contender thanks to Winding Constrictor and Walking Ballista. The support cards may become more important than ever. Rishkar makes ramping out Carnage Tyrant easier and just adds a lot of value.
I also like Gonti. Well, I've always loved Gonti but it is possible that the card has gotten even better with the rise of the Dinosaurs. It will likely steal an incredibly powerful midrange spell in the mirror. Also the deathtouch body will typically trade way up against a bigger creature.
There are some other cards that I think show promise in the new environment, even if I'm not sure what deck they fit into. These cards could well go into several different archetypes, and at current prices I like them as pick-ups.
I've been talking about Dinosuars a lot but this is kind of a sleeper card that I've been impressed with. If you are trying to build around Dino-synergy this one has a nice spot on the curve and provides a lot of bang for its buck. Against Red it essentially turns off haste. In an aggressive deck it makes blockers a turn late to the party. It also counts as a Dino for cards that care about that.
Two power and flying for three mana is not a bad deal when considering the card also plays a tribal role.
Another card I'm interested to see whether or not it will find a home is Channeler Initiate. It provides ramp and fixing in a format that is lacking it. It also turns into a pretty reasonable threat once you are finished using it to ramp out bigger threats.
It's obviously competing with Servant of the Conduit and the dino mana creature—but this could still be a pretty solid include in certain strategies.
I mentioned that wraths are very good against midrange decks and Heroic Intervention is a very nice card at stopping that from happening. I played multiple copies of this card in my GB Constrictor sideboard and was very happy with it.
It stops a removal spell, it counters wrath, but it is extremely underrated in midrange match-ups where large scale combat happens. You attack with everything or block with everything and save your entire team for two mana.
If there is a rampy midrange deck I assume that Overwhelming Splendor has a place as a messed-up sideboard card. Assuming the opponent cannot immediately kill this card I don't think they can possibly win the game if it hits the board in a midrange mirror based around giant monsters. It's also cheap and mythic.
With Dinosuars on the horizon I'd be shocked if there wasn't a good Dusk // Dawn deck. The card completely wrecks several decks in the metagame: GB, Temur, and potentially Dinos.
Paired with the fact that it can also be used later for the aftermath ability to generate an unending supply of card advantage, I think this card is positioned to make some serious gains. It is extremely powerful and may prove to be an important Standard card. It is easily the best way to deal with Carnage Tyrant. Plague Wind for the win!
Last but not least, I wanted to end with a couple of bulk rares from Ixalan that feel fairly powerful to me. If I'm able to get my hands on these for bottom-basement prices out of the gate I'll likely buy in.
The card is kind of like a five-mana Mana Drain! There is a lot of value to be had here especially if people are going to be tempted to play giant Dinosaurs.
Browbeat sucks. Browbeat has always sucked. Sword-Point Diplomacy is way better than Browbeat. I know that cards where the opponent gets to decide tend to be bad but I think this one is so aggressive that the opponent will simply never have good choices.
Assume they don't give you the best card. Sword-Point is still plus one card and three damage to the opponent. Seems awesome in an aggressive deck. A lot of the time they simply won't be able to afford the life payment.
I think this card is completely insane and likely Modern-playable. It's currently hovering around bulk rare price on presale.
The last card on my list:
It's a 1/3 body with Torpor Orb attached. I don't know exactly what I'd want to do with this card yet but I feel like it will have a home somewhere. It's just a great Magic card that will be played across formats. Most likely a sideboard card that hasn't gotten much respect yet.
Waiting for Release Day
I'm pretty stoked about Ixalan (as you can probably tell). I've been getting my trade binder ready for the prerelease and am looking to pick up some extra copies of these sweet (but underrated) cards. Obviously excited to get my hands on a foil Carnage Tyrant for the Danger Room too. Did I mention that card was good?