The hammer has dropped, and Standard will never again be the same. Good riddance, I say.
It would appear Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was a touch too powerful, resulting in a clean sweep—all three newly banned cards are from this beloved set. Obviously, the announcement will have far-reaching effects on the Standard metagame. There will be a measurable impact on card prices as well. In fact, some of these moves have already begun…
Early Data Suggests You Should Sell the News
Before the banning, these three cards were dominant (and/or unfun to play against) in Standard. Reckoner Bankbuster was the most played card in Standard according to MTGStocks. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki and Invoke Despair were number three and number eleven, respectively, on the list. Clearly, these cards were everywhere in Standard.
Just like that (*snaps fingers*), demand for these cards has dropped considerably. While Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki and Reckoner Bankbuster still see play in other formats like Pioneer and Modern, I still suspect there will be a measurable price decline for these three cards.
In fact, that decline has already started.
The decline in the price of Invoke Despair won’t be that significant, because its price was already low. The same cannot be said for the other two cards. Their price decline, especially Fable's will be more substantial.
Had you owned these cards on the day of the banning, the best course of action in the short term would have been to sell them immediately. Granted, that’s not easy to do right after a banning announcement because it's what everyone is trying to do. Card Kingdom still doesn’t have Fable on their buylist, and ABUGames dropped their buy price all the way to just a few bucks.
There’s little that can be done in this case. Unless you want to gamble and sell cards the day before a B&R announcement, at the risk of having to buy cards back that aren’t banned, you’re kind of stuck holding the bag. Even still, I suspect the price on these three cards will be even lower in another couple of weeks. At that point, we’ll see how much Pioneer and Modern demand hold up the prices of these competitive cards.
Neon Dynasty Ripple Effects
Fable of the Mirror Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki was one of the best cards to pull out of a booster pack of Neon Dynasty. I suspect it’ll remain one of the more popular pulls, but the EV will take a small hit from this banning. Reckoner Bankbuster’s decline will have a smaller impact, but it will also bring down the set’s EV a tad.
According to the EV calculations over at Dawnglare, the EV for Neon Dynasty was already dropping before the announcement.
The set’s expected value peaked around $111 back in mid-May and then started to decline. Could this decline reflect people selling cards in anticipation of them getting banned in Standard? It’s possible. Now the EV is down around $103, a 7.2% decline. $8 may not seem like a lot, but a 7% decline in EV over the course of just a few weeks is a noteworthy move.
Speaking of noteworthy moves, sealed booster boxes of Neon Dynasty have also retreated in price. These peaked at over $100 for a moment before dropping back down into the $90s. Beginning May 31st, however, booster boxes became available on TCGplayer for under $90. I don’t remember them ever being this cheap.
As a major fan of the Neon Dynasty Draft format, I welcome the chance to acquire another box or two at this discounted price. However, I am admittedly a little nervous that the sell-off isn’t over yet. I’ll be watching these listings closely to see what direction the price goes from here.
B&R Announcement Winners
The price moves above come as no surprise to the seasoned Magic player. Cards have been banned in sixty-card formats many times over the years. Every time it happens we see a short-term shock to the market as players react. Bannings spawn a boatload of selling as players race to unload their now-unplayable cards (in the given format they were banned in), leading to price declines (as seen above).
However, not every card is a loser when a banning announcement is made. Opportunity lies in the ability to anticipate which direction the Standard metagame will go next and to speculate on the staples of those decks accordingly.
I’m not going to boast any expertise in this area—once upon a time I was a mythic player on Arena and battled with the best of them, but this hasn’t been the case for a couple of years now.
One obvious winner is Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. At $65, however, it’s hard to see much upside for the card.
It doesn’t help that, while she dodged the ban hammer, Sheoldred lost a couple of good friends in Invoke Despair and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. I don’t know if Rakdos, or black-based strategies in general, will be as dominant going forward. It’s hard to recommend buying copies of the most expensive card in Standard.
Scrolling through the lower portion of the most played cards list, you eventually get past the Rakdos cards and see some other possible contenders.
Atraxa, Grand Unifier was a popular choice at the last Pro Tour. The strategy paled in comparison to Rakdos, but perhaps the deck will become more popular going forward.
Leyline Binding may see more play if players eschew Rakdos for other colors, including white. If ramp strategies become more popular, Topiary Stomper could see more play. At just over a buck, these have little downside, to say the least. With the new, slower rotation schedule, the card will have more chances to impact Standard and climb in price.
Perhaps the best strategy would be to trade out of Blackcleave Cliffs and pick up other reprinted fast lands, such as Darkslick Shores or Seachrome Coast. These will all be playable in Standard for a couple of years now and may get harder to find when Phyrexia: All Will Be One packs aren’t opened as much.
Lands are often a safe play—their upside may be capped, but so is their downside. While we’re at it, all the tri-lands (e.g. Spara's Headquarters et al.) are also worth keeping an eye on.
My Feelings On Bannings
People have conflicting feelings about Standard bannings. On the one hand, it’s a reflection of some oversights made by Wizards of the Coast. It also likely represents an imbalance in the format. I for one believe we've been in a rather stale Standard environment for a while.
On the other hand, a shakeup of Standard leads to hope and excitement that things will be better going forward. We can all hope for greater diversity in the metagame, leading to a more enjoyable play experience overall.
Since I do play Standard on Arena on occasion, I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about these impacts. What I can say, however, is that the financial implications of a banning often excites me even more than the gameplay implications. With such a significant shakeup as the recent banning—three cards being banned simultaneously—the door has been opened for a shift in the metagame. This shift in the metagame will naturally lead to a shift in prices.
Shifting prices means an opportunity for financial gain.
While those who were holding the three banned cards into the announcement may have seen some depreciation, hopefully, that can be balanced by an increase in prices for other cards. For those who are intimately familiar with the Standard format, I suspect they’re the best people to follow for speculation suggestions.
Wrapping It Up
Transparently, the best I can do is review the most played cards list on MTGStocks and identify those that aren’t in Rakdos colors for their potential to climb in popularity. The tri-lands and the fast lands are probably the easiest targets for their low-risk / moderate reward potential. If I were to speculate on Standard (which I do very little these days), I’d start with those lands and then closely watch the metagame unfold for other potential ideas.
Things are about to get really dynamic for the next couple of weeks—no matter what happens, at least Standard will be interesting again!