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Waiting in the Wings

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Over the past few months, I have periodically covered some of the cards from Khans of Tarkir block that are great places to put your Standard value; this week, I want to touch more on the rotation effects on Theros block. Most cards are going to plummet come rotation. No one is surprised by this occurrence at this point, but where does this leave some of the Eternal players from the format, and when is the best time to get in on them? This week, I want to talk about the cards you want to move as soon as possible—such as the Temples—and I also want to highlight a number of cards—such as Thoughtseize—that will have a window to move in on if you have not already picked up your set for Modern or Legacy play.

Courser of Kruphix
Courser of Kruphix, while a pillar of Standard play, has not really broken out in any Eternal formats, and much like the way of Thragtusk, I see this card plummeting come rotation. If this had not been reprinted and the card was at $5 or so, I could see it weathering the storm, but unless we see some lists emerge in Modern running a set of this fellow, it may be best to move them when you can.

As mentioned before, I really like moving any of the Temples you can immediately, as the prices will only become worse as we approach September. I do see a great opportunity for these in the long term due to fringe Modern playability as well as the bonus down the road of being one of the few lands that can provide card advantage of sorts. These will always find their way into Commander decks through time, meaning when they bottom out, I would be looking to buy in.

A few cards, such as Hero of Iroas, have held a fairly static value through their lives in Standard and will probably slowly decline as we approach the fall. I like being in on this card, as well as a number of the Aura-matters cards and Eidolons, in the long term. These abilities are very unique and play well with some other strategies. Many of these cards can be acquired in bulk now and will continue that way for a while. I would be stashing any of these you have or may come across for the future—it costs you nothing, and you may save yourself some money down the road when you need that Eidolon of Countless Battles for a Commander deck.

Goblin Rabblemaster will probably fight the good fight longer than most this summer. I do not expect the huge decline from Magic 2015 cards as we will see from Theros just due to how much harder they will be to find and how few copies seem to be out there. Of course, as rotation hits, this guy will take a dip, but I would be really surprised if he does not start showing up somewhere in some Modern seventy-fives down the road. He will probably not be above $10 again for a while, but if you need these to play with for the summer, I would not feel bad holding them at the current price.

Stormbreath Dragon
Stormbreath Dragon has been quite the finisher for red since the day it released, and though its price has fluctuated, it has remained well into the $10-or-more range until recently. This is one of the cards I see being hit hardest by rotation, as it has so many counterparts outside of the format that even if a deck wanted this effect, it would probably have a better option. Down the road, this will be one of those mythics you look back on and remember fondly as you place it back into the bulk bin. The card has already cut in half from just a few months ago, and it will probably do so again by rotation—cut your losses now.

One card that I am really going to be keeping my eye on is one that’s probably on almost no one’s radar right now, and that is Bile Blight. While this card is currently more than I want to be paying for uncommons, I can see this being a great hold for the long term—it’s unlikely to be reprinted, and it’s great down the road in either Modern ’boards against tokens or at the casual kitchen table. I do not want to actually pay anything for these, but once the format switches and everyone is dumping these in bulk, I want to sit on as many as I can, and I would advise you to do the same. I am sure there are a few uncommons to look at going forward, but this is one that people will have in sets and put very little value on post rotation.

One card I am not exactly sure the fate of is Hero's Downfall. I have to believe the card will drop much like Dreadbore did, as it is unlikely to see play over cards such as Abrupt Decay and Terminate, but that does not mean the card is in any way bad. With the promotional printing adding another run to the supply, I can certainly see this tanking, but it does have merit to hold as what is probably the most efficient and playable way to remove Planeswalkers in black. If this does drop at rotation to anywhere near bulk, I like getting into them, providing the fall set does not give us another take on this effect. I can certainly see selling them off now if you do not believe you will be playing Downfall this summer, but the reprint already hurt it enough that the real loss potential is minimal. Jam the ones you have in some Commander decks, and forget about them for a while.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth saw the pinnacle of its price before it entered Standard last year, and though I believe this card will slowly climb back up there over the years as people jam a one-of in any deck running black, I do not believe it can hold the current value through rotation. This card has been nearly bulk at least once over the past year, and luckily, it found many homes due to cards such as the above-mentioned Bile Blight, which brought it back from the ashes. I do not expect this to crash right to nothing, but if we see these at more than $3 or $4 in the short term, after the third printing I will be surprised.

As much of a fan as I am of City of Brass, I have to suggest dropping the counterpart, Mana Confluence, as soon as you can. The price has begun creeping downward, and though my ideal format of five-color good-stuff running this card never came to a reality, it did still hold strong value through its run over the past year But now seems to be the time to start moving out. This will never be worthless, as City of Brass holds value and sees very little competitive play, and that gives me high hopes for this card down the road if it is not reprinted. I imagine any further City of Brass prints that may have happened will now instead be this card due to the fixed wording, and that makes me less excited about picking them up even if the price drops fairly low.

The last cycle of cards I want to suggest moving out of this week is the pain lands from Magic 2015. These cards have always held a few dollars and will continue to do so going forward, but now that this half of the cycle has an extra printing, I can only imagine how long it will take before these gain any real value again if they are not printed in a Standard-legal set. On that note, I do believe it would be wise to at least pick up a set of the opposite-color cycle of pain lands, as I would hedge my bets and say that, inevitably, those will also be reprinted in Standard, and much like what we saw from these last summer, the prices may skyrocket out of control.

You can dig as deep as you want into this format to try to discover exactly what cards will suffer the least from rotation, but in general, I like to move out of anything I am not using right then and commit myself to a singular deck if possible. Modern season is here, meaning the amount of tournament-level Standard play has waned in most local areas. Looking for great long-term holds among the ashes as the set crumbles can always be a fun game, as it is really hard to lose when everything is at the floor. I encourage you all to take bulk from your Theros and set aside some cards you think have long-term potential. In the worst-case scenario, you end up bulking it out down the road, but you never know—you may open that box up some day and find a few dollars you had forgotten about. As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to leave me a comment below or find me on Twitter. I would love to hear what cards you believe may weather the fall mix-up better than most and what cards you expect to never find their way out of bulk again!

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand


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