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Standard has had a relatively slow week due to all of the coverage elsewhere. Whether you were tuned into Modern or Eternal Weekend, there was a great deal to take in and some awesome matches to watch. I have not had much time to play this week, and instead, I am anticipating the PAX spoilers we know are coming this weekend. With Battle for Zendikar on the horizon, it seems that interest in the current Standard has died down, and most of the e-mails I am receiving want to know what seem to be smart pick-ups before the new set. Of course, the spoiler has just begun, so getting any real idea of what is coming seems difficult, thus making playables potentially hard to identify this early.

Living Lore
I thought for a while and looked back at some of the other ways I have approached this; of course, we know a few things about the set, and that limited knowledge does allow some theory-crafting. The first card I thought of that intrigued me and my Timmy perspective is Living Lore. Branching off that, I began to compile a list of cards that are all currently bulk, either rare or mythic, that have any basis moving forward and may be worth picking up now. The advantage of bulk rares is that they have a very small entry cost and usually are obtainable in trades for nothing when closing out deals. Picking up a play set of these cards now will probably save you enough money, even if just one or two go up in value to pay for the entire lot.

Living Lore just seems to be one of those cards that suddenly sneaks up on you. There was some hype behind the card when it first released, and then, just as suddenly, it died off. It may not be well positioned now, but this card is deceptively powerful in a number of ways, and beyond the obvious tricks with Dig Through Time, it can also be used for cards like See the Unwritten or who knows what other giant spells we may see in this Eldrazi home world.

With ingest being one of the revealed mechanics, it may be plausible that Altar of the Brood could come back in some fashion. Though the Jeskai Ascendancy deck was popular for a while, that did not do much to help the price of this card. I have been attempting to come up with any form of a shell that would want this, but with so little, it just sticks out, as clearly both removing cards from the library and being colorless will be factors in the new set, and this does both.

Animist's Awakening strikes me as a card that feels very fun both in combination with large Eldrazi and in potential combo decks. It is yet to be seen if ramp or cheating creatures will be the preferred strategy, and as much as I dislike this card in the current environment, I don't believe we can dismiss it as unplayable.

Ashcloud Phoenix
Ashcloud Phoenix was once the choice finisher in some of the aggressive strategies we saw earlier this year, and though it has fallen off, I imagine we will see a resurgence in the next few months. This, combined with Sarkhan Unbroken, should assemble the top end of a number of decks attempting to push aggression as the new set releases. Mono-Red and other aggro decks are always a strong choice immediately after the set, and I feel both of these cards will be identified as large enough players to raise their prices.

Though we have no idea how friendly the new environment will be to enchantments, I would like to believe we are slowing down enough to see the Siege cycle come back into play. Almost all of the Sieges seem great moving forward, as they are nearly bulk and have a great deal of upside. We have already seen Outpost Siege through the course of this season, and there is little else in red that can provide the type of card advantage in midrange strategies as the Siege. Citadel Siege is slightly less certain, as it requires the new mechanics to be friendly to the modes, but so far, we already have two cards that reference +1/+1 counters, and if that trend continues, this could be great on both offense and defense. In the same vein, Avatar of the Resolute could also gain some traction, but from what we have seen so far, the ability looks to be on control-oriented cards, so I am not quite as sold. It seems that Frontier Siege will clearly see some play, but before we know how we are serving up our Eldrazi, I can see holding off on picking up too many—unlike the other Sieges, this one almost always has one mode.

Crater's Claws
With the Eldrazi still needing to be large hulking giants, it would make sense that either ferocity or formidable would gain a boost, and of those cards, I really like Crater's Claws. We saw this card as a four of in a few different decks of this season, and though the price stayed fairly low, I believe we may see this splashed in some decks as a finisher next to the Eldrazi or cards like Ashcloud Phoenix, thus bringing the number of lists that can play it up—and therefore the demand. Flamewake Phoenix may also finally have the nod as a possible 3-drop depending on how the decks shape up. If there are any gaps in the lower end of the curve, this could certainly come from nowhere—it’s not quite Chandra's Phoenix, but the card does have its merits.

Even though Ghostfire Blade did spike for a moment after the Pro Tour, it did not stay at that price for long, and that is great, as we now have a set with confirmed colorless creatures, and this will probably slot into at least one of those shells. I have viewed this as one of the surer bets for a while now knowing we were heading into a land of colorless creatures again, and if you have waited this long to pick up your set, it is probably time to pull the trigger before the set releases.

Hallowed Moonlight was hyped early on as a Modern player, and though this is also conditional, as to how the metagame shakes down, nothing is going to feel better than casting this in response to something like See the Unwritten, and that gives me hope that we will see enough sideboard play to pull this card from bulk.

Hardened Scales is clearly going to be worth money—if you put it in a box for five years anyway—and with the small signs we have already seen for counters, there is a possibility this sees play, which means now is probably time to get in on however many copies you want to hold for down the road. It can’t go any lower, and the upside of having them now means you have a chance of getting back out of them much sooner if they do hit.

Hidden Dragonslayer
Hidden Dragonslayer has picked up in popularity recently, but overall, it has been ignored for things such as Hangarback Walker. With creatures becoming larger, it only seems logical that this card would slot into more decks, and as we have already seen, it is clearly playable. I have to believe this will go nowhere but up in value as we move forward.

Another hit for ferocious is Icy Blast. I had some personal experience with this card when I was grinding Heroic earlier in the season, and I was extremely impressed. The mirror matches—or any other midrange match—became much easier knowing you had two free turns, and I expect that to carry over to a format in which annihilator no longer seems to be available to clear your way to victory.

When I began this endeavor, I did not realize the scale of what I was looking to do by combing over everything, and running down the list, I realize I have a good number of cards left, so this is where I am going to break it off for the week. I will work through the other half of the list next week, and if you have any particular cards you want covered, feel free to leave a comment below, and tell me what you think and where you see it fitting into the new format on what limited information we have.

Before I depart, I want to talk about one card that is not bulk but that is not getting nearly enough talk right now: Whisperwood Elemental. Not only does he generate a great deal of card advantage, he also creates colorless creatures. Any card with this sort of ability needs to be evaluated quickly, as spoiler season is going to start next week, and with it will come the inevitable speculators, so picking up your play set before that point seems to be one of the better purchases you could be making in Standard right now. Manifest and morph both play well into devoid—whatever may enhance that ability will also splash over to these cards. I won't cover every card in detail, but I will leave you with an itch to run down all of the possibilities because they are numerous!

Ryan Bushard


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