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Checking Back on My Predictions


Everyone loves predictions, mostly because no one really expects any of them to come true.

Rarely does a pundit correctly pick the Super Bowl winner before the season starts, but they keep doing it anyway. In part, it’s because it’s fun. In another part, it’s because they have to write something. In yet another part, it’s because people love reading that stuff.

So, when I got a bunch of responses to my “Ten Winners and Losers in the Theros Rotation” nearly two months back, I mentally bookmarked that article for revisiting once we started to get some results in. Check it out again before we dive in so you know what I’m working with—also so you can make fun of me in the comments section for being an idiot.

Granted, with the Pro Tour coming up, all of this is about to change once again. But that’s the beauty of Magic: All predictions are guaranteed to be wrong next week.

Let’s start with the losers. Because it makes me look semi-smart.

Top 10 Losers

Scavenging Ooze
10. Scavenging Ooze I feel that I nailed this one, though some might disagree. Ooze still sees some play—it’s too powerful not to—but it’s far from the format staple it once was. In my comments on this one, I said it was very powerful and would still see play but that it would lose some with graveyard strategies rotating out.

You can see its drop in power when G/W aggro isn’t even really playing this formerly ubiquitous 2-drop, as seen in Erik Finnegan’s StarCityGames Open–winning list. Even the mono-green deck from that tournament didn’t play it!

In fact, in a Top 8 with five green decks, there were just four copies of Scavenging Ooze. That’s a steep enough drop from pre-rotation levels to call this a loser.

Grade: A+

9. Rest in Peace This one was a little obvious, so I don’t give myself much credit. Still, do you see any Rest in Peace anywhere?

Grade: B+

Burning Earth
8. Burning Earth This one was slightly speculative and maybe a bit of wishful thinking. Considering Esper control is a thing, W/U control is a thing specifically to beat Burning Earth, and mono-red decks are packing around three of these in their sideboards, Burning Earth still seems to have some momentum. It has maybe dropped in usefulness a little since it has gone from being an occasionally-main-decked card (see Adam Laforest’s deck from Grand Prix Calgary) to pure sideboard material. Still, it’s not a great call.

Grade: D

7. Clone Clone could always reemerge if some Thragtusk-like value creature emerges or Angel of Serenity forces her way back on the scene, but for now, this middling sideboard card has been relegated back to the kitchen table.

Grade: B

6. Assemble the Legion Jace, Jaces everywhere. Not to mention the fact that Elspeth, Sun's Champion is currently filling out the unbeatable-token-maker role right now. Add in the fact that Esper control is the favorite three-colored control darling right now, and this card is receiving no traction. Still, the combo with Purphoros, God of the Forge is pretty good. Then again, Elsepth actually kills quicker with Purphoros, so these avengers might not be assembling any time soon.

Grade: A−

Turn // Burn
5. Turn // Burn Turn // Burn isn’t seeing much play at the outset of the format, but it’s not really its fault. U/R appears to just not be a good combination right now. I think if any U/R deck were good, we might actually see this somewhere, especially since it’s actually capable of killing the Gods when they have enough devotion.

Grade: Incomplete

4. Angel of Serenity The impact is low enough and the removal good enough that Angel of Serenity seems to be a loser right now, and it doesn’t even have all that much to do with losing Unburial Rites. Sure, that was a big blow, but Selesnya Charm has seen a big uptick in play, and midrange matches, where the Angel truly shined, are being pushed out for control and aggro by and large. Even worse, the best midrange decks are W/B-based and tend to feature Obzedat, Ghost Council and Blood Baron of Vizkopa—two cards Angel can’t even touch.

Still, with a shift of the meta, this could be a force again. For now, however, it’s definitely a loser.

Grade: B+

3. Shadowborn Demon This one is hard to judge since it didn’t see much play in the first place. It’s still not seeing much play, so I guess we can’t say it has gone down. It made a cameo in Dan Musser’s junk midrange deck at SCG Open Cleveland (and, by the way, his deck looks quite familiar), where I definitely think it belongs.

Still, I have to lose points for calling a virtually unplayed card a loser and then expecting to see anything that would validate that claim.

Grade: C

Cartel Aristocrat
2. Cartel Aristocrat/Varolz, the Scar-Striped Have you guys heard about that sweet junk deck with all of those sacrifice synergies?

Me either.

They’re powerful cards, but these former format all-stars have been relegated to the sideline for the time being—exactly as I predicted!

Grade: A+

1. Boros Reckoner Hm. On one hand, I did say Boros Reckoner was “a powerful card that would still see play.” On the other hand, I put it as number one on a list of rotation losers, and then it went out and won the very first SCG Open after the rotation. It didn’t do as well in week two, and Owen Turtenwald relegated his to the sideboard, but it seems Reckoner is very much here to stay, even if it isn’t format-defining as it once was. That’s the only reason I don’t get an F here.

Grade: D-

That wasn’t actually so bad. There are two pretty clear misses, one incomplete, and seven strong calls.

Unfortunately, that article also had a list of the Top 10 gainers . . .

Top 10 Gainers

Sphere of Safety
Honorary Mentions: Sphere of Safety Yeah. No.

Grade: F

10. Desecration Demon/Alms Beast Desecration Demon is still seeing some play in black-based midrange decks like Andrew Morrow’s Orzhov brew, but Alms Beast hasn’t been touched, even in Orzhov decks that might want it. Desecration Demon is even the 6/6 of choice despite its weakness to Elspeth. Then again, it’s not as though Alms beast is very good against Elspeth either.

Grade: C for Desecration Demon, F for Alms Beast

9. Mizzium Mortars The trend seems to be that Mizzium Mortars is purely sideboard material for mono-red decks and a two-of in Naya decks (with some number in the board) and W/B/R midrange decks. I called it the “defacto midrange red removal spell from here on out,” which seems right. I’ll call this one a win, though a weak one.

Grade: B

8. Ral Zarek See my comments about U/R not being a terribly good combination right now. However, I don’t think Ral Zarek would even see use there—it doesn’t actually kill much that we care about on time. The only use I can see for the plus ability is untapping Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which is a corner case at best.

Grade: F

Duskmantle Seer
7. Duskmantle Seer/Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch I was going to give myself an F for this one, but two things stopped me. First, I played my junk midrange deck from last week at two tournaments over the weekend (it was very, very good by the way), and until the finals of the second tournament, the only deck I lost to was a Jund aggro deck with Exava as a featured player. It was so good (and so very hard to kill) that I have to believe it has a spot. I have no idea if people at the Opens tried the Blood Witch, but it’s the real deal.

The second thing was that Duskmantle Seer actually put up a result! Granted, it was third place at the Illinois State Championships (sadly, the decklists disappeared before I could write this article. Google didn’t help), but it was a result! I’ll take it.

Grade: C−

6. Mana Bloom I did say this was a speculative pick, and Theros really doesn’t have anything that gives you a bonus for playing enchantments, so the bounce ability doesn’t help.

However, that same Illinois State Championship I just mentioned was won by a deck with three Mana Bloom in it. True story! I even drooled over the deck long enough that I think I can recreate it from memory. I wish I could give credit to the guy who won, but I can’t seem to find his name anymore either.

At any rate, the deck looked something like this:

The Cyclonic Rift numbers might be slightly off, and I kind of remember Dissolve being in there, but I don’t see room for it. However, I’m fairly certain the rest of the deck is spot-on. I have no clue what the sideboard looked like.

At any rate, this deck is the right combination of awesome and powerful that it might just see play. I kind of want a better way to win beyond Sylvan Primordial and Primeval Bounty (notice the synergy between Bounty and Mana Bloom), but this deck is Sweet with a capital S.

Grade: C- for now, with the potential to go up

Essence Scatter
5. Essence Scatter Despite the success of U/W/x control decks in week one, people chose Syncopate over this in droves. I understand why, but I expect that could change. For now, however, this has not been a great call.

Grade: D

4. Maze's End Nary a sighting anywhere. I clearly lost my way on this one.

Grade: F

3. Aetherling and Anti-Aetherling Measures – In my article, I wrote, “If people are playing Jaces, they’ll be playing this. And people will be playing Jaces. Expect a subsequent rise in Pithing Needle (also fights Jace) and Debtor's Pulpit.”

Well, it turns out Elspeth might just be better than Aetherling. Considering I didn’t even know Elspeth existed at the time, I can’t really be blamed for that. Aetherling is still seeing play (and isn’t a terrible anti-Elspeth measure, though it is prohibitively expensive), but so far, this has been a poor prediction.

And given my own experiences with Elspeth, I expect Aetherling to be outshined by the ’walker for some time.

Grade: D-

Blood Baron of Vizkopa
2. Blood Baron of Vizkopa/Obzedat, Ghost Council I got one right! I really did! Every W/B-based deck is playing some number of at least one of these in some places. Even the naturally creatureless Esper decks have some Blood Barons in the sideboard. The amount of money it’ll cost you to pick one of these up now compared to what I got them for when I wrote the up/down article initially is testament enough to their power.

I got one right!

Grade: A+ and all kinds of gold stars

1. Jace, Architect of Thought/Jace, Memory Adept Every blue deck is playing at least three Architects. The price has gone from a low of around $9 (which, by the way, was criminally low) to now around $30. Given that Jace even buys you time against Elspeth, that it is actually strong against the creatures being played right now, and that Supreme Verdict—Jace’s best friend—is also back to being an all-star, I count this one as a win as well. I was probably a bit overzealous about Jace, Memory Adept, but again, I didn’t really know about Elspeth or little brother Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, both of which are seeing more play.

So, I’ll dock myself for big Jace, but my Architect call was also spot-on.

Grade: A−

Bonus: Updated Junk List

I went 3–1 at Friday Night Magic (losing to Jund aggro) and placed second at a box tournament the next day with a list only two cards off (also lost to Jund aggro in the Swiss, but I got my revenge in the semis). This deck is the real deal.

Here’s where it’s at right now:

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