A legit $50 card in Standard all over again. By legit, I mean something that’s really $50 because it’s being used, not being hyped. Is this 2012 all over again?
In my opinion, there are certain criteria that need to be met to be considered a Standard “superstar” card. They go something like this:
- It is, and should be, a mythic rare.
- The price tag is so high because it’s a natural four-of in every deck that it’s in.
- You can only get non-foil and foil copies from the same expansion it was released, meaning it’s a first-time printing.
- It is a multi-format superstar.
I look at The Scarab God and I only see one of the four conditions being met, and that’s the first one. You could make a case for item number three, but there are Invocations of this card besides the normal/foil versions.
Possible Historical Comparisons
Back in the day when Jace, the Mind Sculptor was a $60 card right in the early stages of its release, people didn’t bat an eye. After all, this was a mythic rare, a planeswalker that had four abilities, and most importantly, it had all the elements of a very strong blue card. It made an immediate impact the moment it hit the battlefield, and posed a very serious threat to your opponent if left unanswered on the next turn. It was so good that it received the ban hammer in Modern soon enough, and it continued (and still continues up to this day!) to dominate Legacy. Patrick Chapin and the rest of the pros couldn't stop making brews with the card because it was absolutely bonkers, however or wherever you put it. So basing it on the criteria I set above, that’s four checks across the board.
One more card that didn’t have a hard time hitting the $50 threshold was Tarmogoyf, which also happened to be our Daily Stock Watch card last Friday. Goyf’s full potential wasn’t realized right away – at least until it was given more airtime and it started producing wins. I’m not going to say more about this card, as I already did that in this article. All check marks for this card as well.
The last card that I would like to highlight before we talk more about The Scarab God is another five-to-cast critter that made shockwaves during its Standard prime. I’m talking about that lady that everybody loved and hated at the same time: Baneslayer Angel.
It was very lethal during its prime, as it made its way into every aggro, midrange and control decks that was running white. Besides cancelling out the opposing team’s angels, control decks sat on this as their win condition, oftentimes besides JTMS and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. This card has three check marks based on our standards, with only item number four not being fulfilled – the casting cost was too high for it to fit in Modern/Extended at that time (and that has just become more pronounced as more creatures have been printed).
The Scarab God and Its Future
With all these in mind, let’s check out how The Scarab God is faring so far in Standard.
First off, it’s worth noting that this card just hit $50 recently, even after most online stores have restocked. Star City Games ran out of copies at $44.99 and are now selling them for $49.99. For a card that was at $9 back in July, raising its value by almost six times is a strong indicator of how good it is.
What baffles me, though, is that statistics-wise (using the same tools I used to derive information in the Tarmogoyf Daily Stock Watch post), an average of 1.9 out of a possible four pieces are being used in decks that made the top eight of Standard events over the past two months. It is also worth noting though that 35 percent of Standard decks are using this card, which means that an average of one opponent out of three will be having this in their deck when you play tournaments. Still, this second piece of data is not enough to offset the fact that you won’t see a deck where a playset is necessary. Players also have access to an Invocation of this card. So why is it so expensive then?
Excluding Nicol Bolas, the Deceiver and Nissa, Genesis Mage, which can be obtained separately by buying Hour of Devastation theme decks, there are a total of twelve mythic rares in this set. Out of these twelve, only two of them are currently priced above $10: Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and The Scarab God. This could mean that either the mythics in this set are really bad, or that the mythics from other expansions are too good.
To break it down further, The Scarab God is also multicolored, unlike any of the other $50 cards that we have talked about above. Splashing it in your deck might be easier said than done, but it really wins you games out of nowhere when you are in full throttle. And unless I’m missing out on something, I don’t see this card being a multi-format superstar anytime soon.
I am not, by any means, discouraging you from getting your own copies of The Scarab God if you're looking to play some Standard. I am just not a fan of how expensive it is right now.
Rivals of Ixalan is still two months away, so you will be seeing more and more of this card until the new set hits the format. Assuming that you’ll play (and win) a lot of tournaments within this time frame, keep your copies of this card. But the moment that you decide Standard is getting kind of boring, I suggest that you get rid of your unused pieces. This is the ceiling of this card, in my opinion. The Masterpiece edition, thanks to casual and EDH appeal, is a different thing altogether, though.
In any case that you have other ideas, let’s discuss it. It’s always good to see what others are seeing that we don’t!