About Mike Radecki
Mike started playing
Magic during Mirage and quit shortly after Counterspell was announced as not
being reprinted in 8th Edition. He started up again during Zendikar and has
been working towards winning PTQs on a tight budget. Mike has been a long time
member of Blackborder, originally joining in 2003 and promptly returning once he
started Magic again in 2009. Mike is a proud father of two girls and a devoted
husband of 12 years... Which is why he's on a budget.
Tale of Two Cities of Guilds
It's a bittersweet time of year, the leaves change color and the air becomes crisp as we wave goodbye to summer, but we do get to indulge in spoilers from a new set and look forward to all those annoying cards we don't like rotating out as a new Standard format takes shape. Goodbye Birthing Pod, Blade Splicer, GLIMMERPOST (no idea how many games I lost to that card), and the Titans! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!
So what's new? Oh yeah, Return to Ravnica! Wizards takes us back to one of its most iconic blocks of all time, complete with all new mechanics and Shockland reprints! If you're like me and were not around for the first visit, the anticipation for this block couldn't be higher. But that's all old news and the hype for this set makes anything Innistrad had going for it pale in comparison. Now is the time to position ourselves to succeed in a new Standard metagame, both game wise and money wise. This month I'm going to share what I believe will be the cards to hold and the cards to trade away. So I hope you got your boxes preordered, as it's looking like a hell of a set that's sure to break records!
And obviously, now's the time to pick up those Shocklands we've all been missing, so I 'll save that speech!
Angel of Serenity is a triple Journey to Nowhere on a 5/6 flyer, but at a steep cost of 4WWW her playability factor greatly becomes reduced. Frites might have a slot for her now that Elesh Norn is on her way out, but there still might be better options. I'd trade this away to the Kaalia player at your LSG while the value is still at $15.
Rest in Peace is the type of card we haven't seen since Wheel of Sun and Moon (not counting Leyline of the Void reprint in M11). Both have their distinct advantages as well as disadvantages, making it hard to determine which will be more widely used. I bring up Wheel of Sun and Moon because that's what will ultimately determine the value of Rest in Peace as there is no competition for it in Standard. RIP may hit $8 if Zombies becomes more of a headache or if a new grave based deck dominates the format, but the ripples in Standard will keep it between $3 and $8. WoSaM never gets above $5 and I expect the same for RIP as Legacy enchantress doesn't want it since it doesn't work well with Replenish. Hold until above $5 then trade.
Precinct Captain is the only other mono White card above $1... and it's at $2 which is where it will most likely stay.
Jace! Love me some Jace! I think he's getting the short end of the hype stick just because he doesn't come close to the broken-ed-ness of Jace, the Mind Sculptor or the flashy-ness of the new 'Walker. It's a shame that every blue 'Walker gets compared to a busted card that never should have seen the ink of a printer. Jace the Builder is only at $25 currently, I expect that number to double IF a deck that can support him sees play. Although that is a broad speculation with zero explanation, he's a lot better than everyone is assuming. Definitely hold on to any Jace the Builders you open between now and Gatecrash as I'm 98% certain he'll build a home on his own.... He is an Architect after all!!!
Overload is a mechanic to watch out for. It certainly makes an early game answer a much better late game topdeck. Some of the Overload costs are pretty step, and Cyclonic Rift is no exception, but if you can afford to cast it for it's Overload then the reward is most likely a game win. Rift is one of the two Overload spells I expect to see a lot of play. 6U for overload is hefty, but at instant speed you're sure to have them discarding a few things in the clean-up step while getting your team in for a free attack!
Not too much going on in mono Black, the Mythic (Necropolis Regent) has amazing potential if you can untap and connect with any guy. I can definitely see potential in the card and it should rise above the $2 it's preselling for now. It seems as Innistrad overflowed into Ravnica, as another horror-esque creature finds its home in the set: Desecration Demon reminds me a lot of Abyssal Persecutor except without horrible draw back and an added bonus. He can fit into a lot of sideboards of black heavy decks if the opponent isn't running a lot of dudes, otherwise he's just going to be eating small guys as your opponent sidesteps it on his path to victory. Hold the Demon for now, he will see a small rise, but trade if he hits $8+
Underworld Connections appears to be a great draw source and also undervalued at only $3. Phyrexian Arena I remember being $10 a piece when it first was released in Standard. I know everyone understands the value of life for cards, but I don't understand why Underworld Connections isn't at least $5. Yes, there are a lot of answers for it, but this can draw you a card at instant speed and very rarely will it be a 2 for 1 in your opponent's favor as land destruction is real hard to come by nowadays. I'd expect this gem to at least double once everyone starts playing with it.
Red and Green
The mono Mythics in Red and Green are casual cards that won't ever climb above $5. Mono Green doesn't even get a chase Rare (although that fact is mitigated by the sheer insanity of the value of its gold cards).
Red has got a couple of interesting cards to look forward to. Namely Ash Zealot, as it's everything a Red card wants to be: aggressive, cheap cost, and does something even when it's turned sideways. Honestly, this could be the first card I'd consider putting in my Legacy burn deck as the 2/2 First Strike and Haste are well worth the RR casting cost and not to mention it just slaps Snapcaster Mage around like it's nobody's business. In Standard she might be nothing more than a sideboard card, but I'd expect the price tag to increase from its $3 presale starting point. Mizzium Mortars is the other red card worth anything (monetary wise) and shares the same views with Overload and Cyclonic Rift. I expect it will rise and fall as much as Slagstorm did during its tenure in Standard. So trade away high and pick up low!
There are really only two hybrid cards worth mentioning. The first being Nivmagus Elemental. I really want the card to work, but fail to see how, without building a deck around it. Most times you cast a spell you have full intentions of letting it resolve and, aside from the occasional spell that's doomed to be countered by game rules, you might not be willing to trade it in for two counters. It reminds me a lot of Mindshrieker when Innistrad first launched, the hype drove the card much higher in value than it's true worth. So trade these guys while they're high!
The other hybrid worth money is Deathrite Shaman and he's worth every cent. A one drop with three different abilities is a rare sight indeed and add on the fact that he can eat cards from your opponent's grave and screw up Snapcasters and Undying triggers, well, then you got one hell of a card. There really is little comparison to benchmark this guy with (Grim Lavamancer is a stretch) and his stock will only rise. Hold on to these guys for now!
Here's where the real money lies in the set. There are some really blatantly obvious powerhouse cards in the Gold pool, it is a multicolor set after all. Abrupt Decay, Armada Wurm, Detention Sphere, Dreadbore, Epic Experiment, Lotleth Troll, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, Supreme Verdict, and of course Vraska the Unseen, will all remain steady, if not rise, so there is little ground to gain on any of those.
As for sleepers go, I don't really see any... The power level of the set is fairly obvious, and while there are a couple cards that have sleeper potential, they are just too clunky to take a risk on. But if I had to call one out, it would be Martial Law as it has great potential when put in the right deck. The mana cost on it however, makes it rely heavily on sweepers. Although that won't be much of an issue as W/U has a ton of great sweepers at its disposal.
Ravnica and You...
So where does all this leave the budget FNM player? In a tight spot if you don't like to or don't want to spend all your Fridays drafting. There are a lot of valuable rares that can be opened and used in Limited and drafting is a great way to either fill your collection or sell to the store for cash. The set is a nightmare for anyone trying to get what they need off the secondary market, as the hype and the power of the set already has nearly the same number of cards $5 and over as the entirety of Innistrad block... and most money from Innistrad is of Mythic rarity! A lot of chase rares opens up opportunity for anyone cracking packs on a regular basis.
Next month I'll be building for the new Standard and will have some decks to share with you as we get used to Ravnica and the loss of Ponder and Phyrexian mana!