Insiders: Going Off-Meta

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Hello, everyone.

This week, we are going to talk about some off-meta cards. Most of the widely used Standard/Modern cards are at their peak price right now, but looking at off-meta cards allows us to make buys at lower prices. These kinds of specs are relatively riskier than normal ones, because we don't have much data to rely on.

Let's take a look at some examples:

Deathgorge Scavenger is a graveyard hate card in creature form, similar to Scavenging Ooze. As you may know, Ooze was a staple in Standard when it was legal, and now it has become one of the best cards in Modern. As for Deathgorge Scavenger, it should see more play in Standard soon, but it will never replace Ooze in Modern. Even if we don't see this card as graveyard hate, Scavenger has a reasonable body to fend off aggressive decks like Black-Red Aggro and Ramunap Red, while able to gain you life by removing future card advantage like Earthshaker Khenra and Scrapheap Scrounger. My suggestion is to pick up a few playsets for investment while it's still around two tickets.

This one-mana enchantment is being tested in many decks like Standard Sultai Energy and Modern Infect. In Standard energy decks, they can usually generate card advantage through creatures like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Rogue Refiner, while for Infect decks, they have a bunch of protections spells like Vines of Vastwood and Blossoming Defense. These cards make Shapers' Sanctuary good as a tool to gain incremental advantage, although the card itself doesn't do anything on its own. I personally have not tested this card much, but I think we could see it reach 1.5 to 2 tickets.

Emrakul, the Promised End was banned in Standard when Black-Green Delirium dominated as the best deck of the format. Ever since that particular banning, Emrakul rarely sees play, and when it does appear in top performing decks, players will try those decks out, resulting in small price increases. Currently, Emrakul is played in Modern and Legacy Eldrazi decks, but only one or two copies are used. However, players online likes to bring back old strategies that can beat unprepared opponents. I think at some point Emrakul will increase in price again. I like the idea of having copies I picked up for less than 2 tickets when that happens.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound was the best card in Standard and was the core of most decks in the format: Jeskai Tempo, Collected Company and various control decks. Now that it has been rotated from Standard for quite some time, it still has not gone below 20 tickets in the past six months! Occasionally, the namesake card will be played in new brews and does well. The most recent example of such an occasion was the Esper Gifts Ungiven deck with Obzedat, Ghost Council (can be found here). Currently, this card is at its "normal" price, between 20 and 25 tickets, and if you're looking to make large buys, I think it's worth investing in copies. Past examples show this card can shoot up by large percentages – I'd like to be holding some copies when this next happens.

In addition to Emrakul, Smuggler's Copter was also banned in the same B&R announcement. Copter is not very good in Modern, because there are cards like Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push and Ancient Grudge that can deal with it easily. However, when the meta is full of non-black or -red decks, this card has the opportunity to shine. It survives most sweepers and is able to put up decent amount of pressure to the opponent in the air. I think 0.4 tickets is a good price to buy in to playsets for investment.

Spellskite was one of the most expensive rares in Modern when Bogles and Infect were popular. Now, it has dropped below the 3-tickets mark, which makes it a good chance to pick up copies. Why do I think this card is a good pick? I've seen a bit of Infect around the Modern metagame lately, so I expect we'll be seeing this in more sideboards before long. Meanwhile, Lantern Control, which also plays Spellskite, is actually putting up good results on MTGO recently. People would rather spend time having fun than playing against a Lantern player, so it's easy to get a concession when you are able to control the game.

Surgical Extraction was a 5-ticket card about a year ago. The price hit nearly 38 tickets in mid June, then slowly dropped to the current price of 17 tickets. I have been following this card for a while already, and it has survived two reprints (namely Modern Masters 2017 and Iconic Masters) since then. I doubt this card will go below 10 tickets, so do put this card on your watch list and see what Iconic Masters might do to it.

This flashy Faerie is sort of like a blue player's Thoughtseize, while providing the flexibility to be able to help us filter our hand when needed. In the past three to four months, decks that play Vendilion Clique are still good, but they are not the decks to beat in the format, which is why Clique is not popular at the moment. Currently, the card is at its lowest point since January and possibly could still slide further. I think we'll soon have the opportunity to buy copies at a good, speculative price, so keep an eye on the graph to make sure you're buying at the bottom. If we buy into this card, our hope is that Jeskai Tempo or any new blue archetype breaks the format and become a tier-one deck.

Verdant Catacombs was very popular right up until the point where Grixis and other blue decks became the decks to beat. It has dipped below 10 tickets multiple times now, and it's now at about 9.5 tickets per copy. Looking at the graph above, whenever the price goes below 10, it will bounce back up to a 13- to 15-ticket range as soon as black-green or Company decks see a little success. Based on this trend, I think buying some copies for speculation is quite safe. Land cards have been my favorite picks of all time. If you have time, you can probably have a look at other staple lands in Standard and Modern.

Alright guys, that’s all for this week. I received some constructive comments from you guys in previous weeks which were very useful for me. While producing contents for QS, learning from people around me is very important in order to improve myself as a writer. I want to thank you all for reading – feel free to leave some comments, and I’ll see you all again next week!

–Adrian, signing out.

9 thoughts on “Insiders: Going Off-Meta

  1. Three comments,

    One, you didn’t reply to any of the comments to your article last week, some of which posted cogent criticism.

    Two, you don’t mention the banning of Splinter Twin as a key factor in the decline of Spellskite. It was a universal sideboard option for the best deck in the format, and when sideboard slots are at a premium, you take the flexible answers that work against multiple decks.

    Three, Jace Vryn’s Prodigy is about to go offline for redemption. Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to drop below 20 tix, but I think it might. I think this is worth considering.

    1. Hi Matthew,

      Sorry about not replying. I’ll try to spend time on replying comments from now on. Just want to let you guys know that I’m not ignoring, I do read them and apply them in my contents.

      Agree with Splinter Twin ban. However in my opinion, Splinter Twin has more answers than Infect and Bogles, like enchantment removals or cards like Rending Volley to kill the Blue combo pieces.

      Didn’t know about Jace going offline for redemption. Thanks for enlightening me.

  2. I suspect that some cards whose redemptions periods are ending will find their way onto the Treasure Chest list soon. I don’t know if Jace is already on there, but he might have trouble going up in value if the market gets a steady stream of Jaces beginning in January this year.

    I think we’ll likely see cards like The Scarab God and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy be placed on the Treasure Chest list beginning in January with Rivals of Ixalan. I think Treasure Chests, too, are preventing growth of the Khans and Zendikar fetchlands.

    1. Oh, and thanks Adrian for bringing awareness to Spellskite’s price. That seems like the sort of eternal card one can invest in in a Treasure Chest world – one whose fortunes depend upon bannings, unbannings, and the metagame, and one not having its value leeched by treasure chests.

      I wish they’d unban Splinter Twin in Modern (which is what an investment in Spellskite is banking on in no small part), but I think it more likely that they’ll unban Bloodbraid Elf or Stoneforge Mystic. Splinter Twin feels like the 3rd most likely (because it never should have been banned in the first place).

      1. Hi Kyle.

        Just learned about the redemption period ending. Appreciate that you guys adding so much analysis on top of what I’ve written.

        They are not very likely to unban anything soon in my opinion as “Format healthiness” is one of the criteria in bannings. It would require alot of internal testing before unbanning cards.

  3. I like the spellskite pick. I haven’t had great success with the zendikar fetches. After treasure chests, multiple flashback drafts, and a reprinting there are way more copies in circulation than you think, and it really takes a lot of interest to move the needle on those cards. While they can generate profit, I think that there are smarter ways to deploy tix. Deathgorger still seems high to me, I’ll probably try to pick up at 1 or less, probably during the next release cycle.

    1. Hi Peter.

      Thanks for your comments. You are probably right about Deathgorge Scavenger, anyway it requires more decks to play it in their 75 for it to go up in price, so whenever you see graveyard decks rising, do re-check Deathgorge’s price. Other than these, what do you think about Emrakul and Copter?

      1. Emrakul I like. I wouldn’t go super deep on it, but I think It will trend upward for a while due to redemption, fringe play in modern also doesn’t hurt. Id probably sell comfortably in the 4-5 range. Copter is interesting. Its the most powerful card not in standard. I think its a good pick up at its current price since its in the basement. Unfortunately no redemption support for copter, but I think from modern and casual appeal it could probably reach a dollar. Theres always the thought of what if they unban copter, then its a goldmine. Not saying they should but the reason for copters success was the lack of removal, and there is plenty of good removal right now.

        I also like surgical. I think its got upside into the winter when people start testing for modern. Questions are, has it bottomed, are GY decks still a thing, and how many copies do you go in on?

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