I flew in to Houston last night and am now fully in the Christmas spirit. Christmas is always my favorite time of year. It's the only time each year I get to see all of my immediate family. It's a time for reflection on my next year's goals. It's the time of Vintage Cube. It's also a time of relative peace and inactivity in competitive Magic, and thus a time of low prices on MTGO. This year, I have a particular set of wishes that should bring a lot of green down my chimney. Three new sets will be released before the next rotation. That will give many old cards a chance to shine, and I sure do hope some of them will! But for this to happen, I'll need some of my wishes answered.
I. A Wishlist for MaRo Santa
(1) Please ban Attune with Aether. I know Mrs. Claus has said that Energy is a fair midrange deck that rewards good gameplay and facilitates interactive Magic. But you and I both know that players have grown bored by a single parasitic mechanic's dominance, and the success of my investments depends on people wanting to play Standard! Nothing will improve the prospects of MTGO speculations across the board quite like a nerf to the Energy decks. We don't want people playing with a bunch of commons and uncommons anyway right...Whirler Virtuoso, Longtusk Cub, Rogue Refiner, and Attune with Aether? This ain't Pauper — make 'em play with rares and mythics for the sake of us speculator folk.
(2) Please give us a new red one-drop with two power! So many red cards are at season lows, and red will need new tools to compete as other strategies get new toys. Hazoret the Fervent (10.5 tix), Earthshaker Khenra (0.60 tix!!!) and Chandra, Torch of Defiance (26.50 tix) haven't been lower in months, and with a little help from you, MaRo Claus, speculating on these and other Ramunap Red cards could pay dividends.
(3) Please give us some new toys for Black Aggro. Perhaps I should be more patient — I know that the larger that the Standard card pool gets, the more support that linear and synergy-driven decks get — but I really want to see my investments in Scrapheap Scrounger and Ruin Raider to succeed. Scrapheap Scrounger (0.26 tix!!), along with fellow Mardu Vehicle all-star Heart of Kiran (6.33 tix) are at all-time lows, and Dread Wanderer (0.26 tix) looks appealing as well as a speculation target.
(4) Please instill some life into tiny-stock cards like Aven Mindcensor and Doomfall. I don't know whether it's Treasure Chests. I don't know whether it's low interest in Standard. But I do know that Censor and Doomfall have not behaved like oft-played uncommons from the past few years. Even Abrade and Harnessed Lightning have had slightly downward trajectories ever since the release of Ixalan. The good news is that those who missed out on investing in these cards in August have another prime opportunity to do so now.
II. Speculating on Ascend
In case you haven't seen the latest Rivals of Ixalan spoiler — Vona's Hunger introduced us to a new mechanic called ascend, which gives you a reward for having controlled ten or more permanents during the game.
Although I didn't like the mechanic at first glance, in part because it felt win-more, and in part because it felt like it prejudiced one archetype (tokens) above others (midrange) above others (control and linear aggro), I think the mechanic has some hidden potential because it uses the word "permanent" instead of "creatures."
Black, blue and red care about treasures, white cares about servos and vampires, and green cares about lands. Although I would rarely recommend speculating on cards merely due to the introduction of a new mechanic, ascend plays well with several cards that I already consider good speculation opportunities. Hour of Promise has slowly fallen all the way down to 0.34 tix, and I like buying in around that price point.
Sram's Expertise jumped up by 50 percent (from 0.20 tix to 0.30 tix) after the reveal of Vona's Hunger, probably because that is the card in Standard that best enables ascend. I think a modest spec on Sram's Expertise — a small set rare — is well worth the risk, especially if you can get copies below 0.20 tix. Legion's Landing // Adanto, the First Fort is criminally low right now as well at 1.10 tix, and I imagine you'll be able to sell it for somewhere between 2.00 and 5.00 tix in the future, depending on what Standard looks like in future seasons. The rares and mythics in Improvise/Marionette decks like this could all see price spikes in the future as well should some powerful ascend cards be spoiled. Safest among them is Treasure Map // Treasure Cove which, as a colorless one-drop, is extremely versatile and capable of finding a place in a variety of decks.
III. Vintage Masters Boosters
I feel compelled to write about Vintage Masters (VMA) Boosters just in case Matt doesn't mention them in his article — these seem like a snap buy to me. Here is the graph of the booster price chart of the old VMA boosters prior to the VMA flashback announcement.
Right now, those boosters are selling for 9.43 tix on GoatBots. The VMA boosters with the original art Power 9 are currently going for only 5.43 tix! The original art Moxen are all selling for a lot more than the new art Moxen, and so the new VMA boosters with the original art Power 9 are going to eventually be selling for more than the older VMA boosters. Right now they are cheaper because those were the ones being opened during the VMA Flashback this past week, but that should change moving forward. For the past year the old VMA boosters had been selling for somewhere between 9.00 tix and 15.00 tix, and I expect these new VMA boosters to reach that price at some point in the future.
Buy in now. If there's but one present you're going to give yourself this year, let this be it!
IV. Signing Off
Thanks for reading guys, and I hope each of you has a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. I am open to writing about anything these next couple of weeks, so please let me know in the comments what sort of content you would like to see. May your holidays be merry and your feasting as fun and lighthearted as if done with goblins!