It was a big weekend for Magic. The World Championships were a huge success as far as generating interest in the game.
I was super excited to see Huey take the event down to become the World Champion. Huey is one of the nicest and kindest people I've met playing the game. He has always struck me as somebody who is extremely humble for how talented he is. He always answers questions and makes conversation with the players who want to talk to him or pick his brain. He's a great guy and a very deserving Champion.
I think that Huey taking down the event was good for Magic. It makes people want to play the game. It was a great story.
With that being said, let's talk about what the tournament tells us about Standard and finance. Standard basically broke down into a three-deck format. At least, so far:
- UB Control
- Temur Energy
- Mono-Red Aggro
Not a bad starting place for a format. Rock, scissors, paper: Control, midrange, and aggro. Let's look at each of these archetypes in turn and see what picks they can point us to.
The flashiest story from the tournament was the emergence of UB Control as a contender. The archetype put two copies into the Top Four. The deck is a pretty typically control deck in most ways. Tons of cheap and efficient one-for-one answers, headlined by the newest staple removal spell, Fatal Push.
Fatal Push is the reason to play black in Standard. The card is incredibly flexible and always trades up. I think we may be on the verge of a $20 uncommon here. It's just so good. Not only in Standard, but in basically every format where it is legal.
Magic doesn't usually give us cards that are this efficient. It's an oddity to have such a powerful reactive spell in print. There is a reason Wizards has moved away from printing insane removal. It's too good. Push will define Standard and Modern for years to come.
The finishers are also really important. These are cards that have already risen to the top of the Standard display case price range. Flashy blue finishers have always had a way of being super desirable.
I don't know if buying in now is smart (seeing as they are already on top) but these are great cards for trade bait.
The most interesting card from the deck, Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin was one of the reasons UB Control was able to thrive. The deck aims to trade one-for-one long enough to flip a Search at some point in the game. Once the Search flips, the deck gains access to a card-advantage engine that can submission-kill the opponent via removal and counterspells.
Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin is an interesting speculation target. I feel like it doesn't have a ton of space to gain now that it has spiked. It might be a good time to trade these off as it feels like more of a Standard card than a Modern or Legacy tool.
With that being said, if you see potential for the card outside of Standard, make a move. I just worry that Ghost Quarter and Wasteland make it difficult to ever gain too much advantage in the older formats.
Red deck still wins. Well, maybe not the whole tournament but enough that you should be afraid of it. Unsurprisingly, not much has really changed outside of slotting in Lightning Strike.
I think it says a lot that people knew this deck was format-defining coming into the event and yet little changed to make it a bad choice. That is typically the sign of a format-defining deck. When you know it's out there but nothing beats it well enough to make it a poor choice.
Of all the cards in the deck, Earthshaker Khenra probably has the most room to grow. I could see this being a card that sees play outside of Standard at some point. It just has a lot of stats and abilities for the cost.
Unfortunately, it may also have the most room to fall as well. With a price this high, caution is advised.
Bomat Courier is another card that may have legs outside of Standard. It has ticked up a little bit in price on the speculation that red is great. Now that we know red is still great, is the card fixed in place or does it have room to grow?
I think that in order for this card to make the next step, somebody will need to find a place for it in Legacy or Modern. Is this card Affinity material? Red Deck Wins in Modern?
I feel like it has potential to make the jump. It can go up if that is the case. However, if it doesn't it'll slip. Hold or sell accordingly.
If I had to make a prediction, I'd say this will be the most popular deck in Standard. First of all, it's a good deck. Second of all, it's probably the most "fun" to play, according to the common definition.
Personally, I don't believe that "fun to play" is even a real thing. I like to win. If my cards enable that, I enjoy playing them. However, not everyone is so competitively minded.
People like to play decks that "do a bunch of stuff." Temur Energy certainly does a bunch of stuff. All of the cards draw cards, generate energy, and have abilities. There are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of lines of play that can be adopted.
I think this is the deck that the most people will gravitate toward. So how can we exploit that in terms of investing?
Glorybringer seems like a good place to start. It's a great card and very powerful. It's one of the few chase rares that are present in any of these top-tier decks, which is strange.
It is interesting that most of the top decks right now are a collection of commons and uncommons rather than a bunch of insane mythics. Personally, I think this is a good thing for the majority of players. I've certainly played formats where the decks are all a bunch of mythics, and it's nice not to have to spend a fortune to play Standard.
There is a possibility for making some walking-around money by betting on some of the commons and uncommons. Longtusk Cub, Abrade, Whirler Virtuoso, Harnessed Lightning, and Rogue Refiner are all cards that could be in high demand for the next year. I mean, just look at Fatal Push! Investment all-star!
I've been on the Bristling Hydra train for a while now. I've probably mentioned investing in this card at least six times over the past three months. It has ticked up significantly over the weekend. I'd recommend trying to find cheap copies now, while they still potentially exist on TCGplayer or eBay, or at the LGS. Hydra is a format-defining card.
Last but not least, it may be a good time to make a move on the Kaladesh block enemy fast lands. They've dropped off a little bit but are fantastic cards that will have applications throughout this Standard season and on into other formats in the future. You only get so many opportunities to pick these up for a few bucks before they go crazy.
I don't think Worlds taught us a ton about Standard that we didn't already anticipate over the past few weeks. Temur Energy and Red Deck Wins are the best decks in the format. It was cool to see a control deck come out of the shadows and leave a mark on the format.
Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin was the main breakout card. The big question is whether the deck is real or just had shock value in a format where players didn't prepare for it. I'm curious to find out. Also, if you can find a home for Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin outside of Standard it could be a real breakout financial card. I have my reservations, but I'm going to be trying it out in Legacy and Modern in the coming week.
Stick to the good cards and it'll make that consistent coin. Really liking the fast lands right now, as well as the rares from Temur Energy. These feel like the Standard cards that will have the highest overall demand in the coming month. I don't anticipate the Pro Tour will destabilize the current metagame dynamic.
Welcome to Standard!