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A New Approach


Last week finally brings an end to a format I have been a bit displeased with for a while now. After talking to my editor, I will be finding a new way to introduce new sets that is outside of the generic list of cards. This set-review overhaul is not the only thing new about this series, and that brings me to this week; it is time to put a closer tie to the cards I talk about and where their actual applications exist. That means more decklists, more advice from people far more skilled at the game than I am, and, overall, just more direct content. I will still be using the same theories I have developed over the years to explain price trends—not everything is going to change, and there will still be weeks when I will not be able to tie into direct lists, but overall, I want this series to head in a bit of a different direction, one of which I was not sure about until Adam Styborski gave me some food for thought. This will be an ongoing process, and I would love to see more feedback from you as well; after all, this entire series really is not for me or my editor, so let me know what works best for you and what you feel falls short.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking about a hypothetical black and green deck that could take advantage of Nissa, Worldwaker and Garruk, Apex Predator to push board presence over the edge. I have talked to a few people and done some tweaking to a few lists, and I finally believe I have something workable. Of course, in taking this new approach, it will be a little bit more difficult to not talk about actually playing Magic, so expect a little more of that from me as well. I have been getting back into the swing of Legacy and Modern given Magic Online, and with this deck, I also plan to get pushed back into Standard. I used to be a reasonable player and am no stranger to competition, so I assume I will carry this Magic Online time into Pro Tour Qualifiers or, heaven forbid, Grand Prix if things go well. With all of that in mind, this is still going to be financially-focused, and if this format does not grow on you after a few weeks, please let me know.

I am sure this deck is not optimal, and in the past week, I have been looking at this blue splash for Kiora, the Crashing Wave, as she seems to be exactly what this deck wants. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver was also a nice addition and a card I feel is certainly under most people’s radars right now. If you can snag your set while she is still low, I expect great things from her as the format slows down. With all of the hype behind Nissa and other big-mana or control decks, Ashiok can suddenly demand a Hero's Downfall or else threaten to empty your opponent of resources in a few short turns.

Temple of Mystery
Another card I would like to focus on is Temple of Mystery. This deck is void of the card, as it does not need more blue sources, and you prefer the majority of your green sources to be interactive with Nissa. However, for the rest of the field, I expect to see green and blue paired together a great deal, and this is one of the lowest-cost Temples available right now. As we approach the fall and have finally departed from Theros Drafts, the card will become harder to find, and with that, of course, comes a price hike.

Hero's Downfall has been recovering over the past few months from the blow that most of the money black rares took. I expect this trend to continue over the next year, as almost every black deck I am seeing—both tested and new brews—usually start with that card. This is one of those cards you do not usually flip immediately for double the value or go deep on; instead, these are perfect for players, as you can acquire them now for just above $5, and by next summer, I could easily see them being $8 to $10. As a player, these can be the best cards to pick up while they are cheap, as they do not require a particular deck to be good, they are versatile in play, and they can be sold later even to a buy list for nearly the same value you bought them at, thus keeping your collection from taking a blow.

Unlike the Temple of Mystery, I feel Temple of Malady is almost perfectly priced right now. $10 seems extremely high given most of the cycle’s price, but it has proven to be one of the better color combinations, and the amount of play it will see going forward may even increase with cards like Nissa and Garruk coming in.

One of the few on the above list I am uncertain of in the short term is Abrupt Decay. Like most, I love this card and imagine it will forever be cemented in Eternal formats, which means, for the long term, you will not suffer to hold them even at the $10 or more they are. For those who play strictly Standard, this is among the few cards that have not been hit by rotation as far as price goes. And that means you can still get out now, which is probably the safest course of action. Even if they do not drop, I feel it will at least be a few months before they rise any higher than they are now.

Nissa, Worldwaker
Nissa and Garruk both have time to drop further, but given the hype behind them—and mostly Nissa—I feel these prices may hold longer than usual. I would certainly dump Garruk now, as even a deck such as the one above does not ever want four, meaning he will probably settle in the $10 to $15 range. Nissa, on the other hand, may hold solid at $30 if she proves to be the most playable card from the set. Though she seems locking into a green shell, she does not currently force you to play only basic Forests, meaning—at least for the next few months—she will be all over the place. I expect her to cool off during rotation and would dump them before that, but if you want to play with her, she is unlikely to dive below $20 in the next few weeks. If you have no intentions of playing her, I would—as with Garruk—move her now.

Similar to Nissa, even the inflated price of Courser of Kruphix does not seem that outlandish given the playability. I am excited to see how this card operates with Liliana Vess and Kiora, but understand that its utility is hardly limited to any one deck. Much like Hero's Downfall, this card will not fall too far over the next year; instead, it will probably make a steady climb or at least stagnate. I would be surprised if this card falls below $10, even with the reprint, and if it does, it is probably time to jump in. Back in the day, it was always correct to sell any rare over $10, but since Innistrad brought us Snapcaster Mage and Cavern of Souls, it is hard to really measure a card’s value. If Courser holds steady in Modern and casual formats, this price may not even take that hard of a hit after rotation. I would not be looking to buy in for any value, as that ship has long since sailed, but don’t be afraid to pay the price if you are looking to play them either.

That is all I have for this introduction week. I am very curious how you like its formatting and what changes you would make. I am going to try to stray away from brews and concentrate on decks that have both competitive and financial implications. This week, I started with a single list, as there were more cards to cover than average within it, but for most weeks, I would be looking at two to three lists with some crossover to show a card’s versatility. As I said before, I will not be using this every week, but I feel it gives me a bit more focus and would also allow me to take decklists from major events and analyze exactly what I expect their list to do financially. If you have any questions or comments, as always, please feel free to leave them below; I am both apprehensive and excited to see where this can go!

Ryan Bushard


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