Going Infinite – Mental Misstep, Candelabra, And The New Way To Dreadnought

Monday, April 25 – Jon Medina discusses how to think like a dealer and talks about some of the new cards from New Phyrexia and how they will impact prices.

Last week’s article had some people scratching their heads. I received feedback like this:

Wouldn’t this be more appropriate after the next set is released and the Standard PTQ season is in session?

This article is about two months too early to be relevant.

I can understand this type of response, but I want to give you a deeper perspective on why I chose to write about the distant future. Whenever I write,
I do so from my perspective as a trader/mini-dealer. If I’m thinking three to six months into the future, then it’s probably relevant for you to see
that, especially if you want to mimic my success as a trader. My thought process may not always be right, but if you’re looking to maximize value on
your cards, then my thought process is much closer to correct than the “average Joe’s.” The reason why is because I think more like a dealer than a

Think like a dealer

I attribute the negative reactions of last week to the fact that people are thinking more like players and less like dealers. Here’s an example: at GP
Atlanta, Deglamer was selling for up to $3 each. Most dealers had these on hand and were able to capitalize on the last-minute tech for Wurmcoil
Engine. But what prompts a dealer to bring 300 Deglamers to a GP? It’s the kind of thinking that I exercised last week that contributes to making solid
financial plays.

As a player, you really don’t need to think about what the meta is going to look like in three months. You probably should be focusing on today’s meta,
as that’s what matters right now. The problem with this is that it puts you in a reactive position, which means that you’re pursing cards that you
need, and there’s a premium for that. In the world of dealing cards, reactivity comes with a cost, where proactivity comes with a benefit (profit).

As a dealer, you have to study the system from outside and identify patterns and trends. These types of things will help you make more profit by
picking up the cards that players are going to need three months from now, at today’s prices. This also allows you to ship cards now that won’t be in
demand in three to six months. I took some flak on Twitter for saying that you should ship Jaces now instead of waiting. Holding them seems like the
thing to do with Standard PTQ season approaching, but it may not be the best way to spend your resources.


I’ve traded for more Jaces in the last 3—4 weeks than I ever have. This means that there are a lot of people shipping their Jaces, and this observation
is support by the fact that the price has dropped from $110 to $90 on StarCityGames.com.

If you hold your Jaces now, then you may be able to ship them during the PTQ season for a higher price, but the key word here is may. I’m always
about the bird in the hand versus the bird in the bush. The risk you take by holding now is that if you can’t ship them during PTQ season, then you’ll
be racing the falling price. You’ll be trying to get rid of them at the same time that everyone else is. The other issue with holding now is that
you’re not making your money work for you. If you’d shipped your Jaces three weeks ago and put the money into Legacy, then you’d be gaining value right
now. The key is to put your money to work for you.

Mental Misstep

Speaking of putting your money to work for you, the recent spoilers give you an opportunity to do that. It sucks that the set was spoiled because
Wizards of the Coast works so hard to keep it under wraps, but now that we have the set, we would be fools not to look. We can now start to analyze how
the different formats will be affected. This set is strong, and its impact is far reaching. I don’t want to dig into all the intricacies now, but I do
want to talk about a card that’s going to bend the Legacy format around its finger.

Mental Misstep
Instant (U)
({pu} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.)
Counter target spell with converted mana cost 1.

Even though I put on the act that I’m a hardcore trader, the truth is that deep down inside, I’m a player before I’m a trader. You can ask anyone who’s
traded me foils that I’ve needed for my decks. It’s like kryptonite for my super trader façade. This is also evident in how I analyze spoilers: the
first thing I do is scan for new toys, “What did I get?” Out of all the cards spoiled, the one that I immediately fell in love with was Mental Misstep.
It was everything that I wanted and more, but my joyful bliss was met with a sudden uneasiness.

As my mind parsed the effects that this could have on the format, I stumbled upon a disturbing fact: Mental Misstep counters High Tide. This is
disturbing because High Tide has been my go-to Legacy deck ever since Alix Hatfield stomped an SCG Open with it. Since that Top 8, a lot of Candelabras
have passed through my hands, but I’ve always kept a playset for myself. When Legacy prices started to hike again, these Candelabras became a haven for
me because they allowed me to put all my dual lands on the line and still play the “best deck.” Now the question becomes, “Should I sell my

Should I sell my Candelabra of Tawnos?

This is a tricky question. The first question that we have to ask is, “Does Mental Misstep really hose High Tide?” Having played the deck, I can say
that Mental Misstep does significantly damage the deck’s resilience. You can’t win if you can’t resolve a High Tide, and now you have to fight through
Force of Will, discard, and Misstep. Some have suggested that the High Tide deck should run Mental Misstep to out-tech the tech. This is a reasonable
thought, but it slows the deck down and makes whiffing on a Time Spiral much easier. Imagine drawing lands, Missteps, and Forces. My assessment is that
the printing of Misstep will knock this deck down to Tier 2. I’m not a metagame guru, but even if it doesn’t fall to Tier 2, it’s still good to
approach this from the worst-case scenario.

If High Tide becomes a Tier 2 deck, does Candelabra take a price hit? I don’t think it does. There are two reasons for this.

One is Price Memory (I’ve talked about this here
). Since it’s already hit such a high price, the people who’ve invested in them are not going to want to ship them for lower. They’ll always be
perceived as a high-dollar card now that they’ve proven their viability in Legacy. Other good examples are Moat and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale;
neither of these is tearing up the Top 8 tables, but both still maintain a high price tag.

The second reason they will maintain their price tag is because they’re still viable in High Tide and other decks. At this point, it seems silly to run
High Tide without Candelabra, so there will still be a small demand for the die-hards who run a deck no matter how bad it is in the meta. There’s also
a possibility that the deck could be adjusted to beat Mental Misstep. The other deck Candelabra is played in is the 12-Post Eldrazi deck, which seems to have more game against
Mental Misstep (since resolving a one-drop is not a must) and could prey on the slower format that Misstep will create.

My conclusion is that Mental Misstep will make High Tide Tier 2, but this will not greatly affect the price of Candelabra of Tawnos. I don’t plan on
shipping my Candelabras, but I do plan to pick up as many Mental Missteps as I can. This card is format changing, and it’s bound to be on the level of
power uncommons such as Sensei’s Diving Top, Aether Vial, Counterbalance, and Standstill. I don’t expect it to immediately shoot up, but I do expect it
to take the same path as Inquisition of Kozilek, which is $5.99 right now, and then keep rising as time goes on.

Torpor Orb

The next card that I want to talk about is already causing waves in the MTG Finance world (albeit small ones—okay, more like ripples). It’s prompted
SCG to up the price of two cards on the buy list, and it could be something that you’re going to see more of in the future.

Torpor Orb
Artifact (R)
Creatures entering the battlefield don’t cause abilities to trigger.

This is a solid card against Caw-Blade because it shuts off Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk. You have to contend with the possibility of your
opponent playing one of those before you can play an Orb, but if you stick the Orb before they play a Stoneforge or Hawk, then you get to play against
a neutered U/W Control deck.

The card is okay in Standard, but it’s really curious in Legacy. It’s funny—now when I evaluate cards for Legacy, a converted mana cost of two looks so
much better than a converted mana cost of one. When I looked at this card, I immediately thought about Phyrexian Dreadnought.

That’s right—if you play a Phyrexian Dreadnought with this in play, then you don’t have to sacrifice it. This works the same way with Hunted Horror (a
fact that my buddy Sigmund pointed out on Twitter). This card also arbitrarily neuters Goblins and cards like Sower of Temptation or Gilded Drake. As I
was mulling over the possibilities of this card, this popped up on the Twitter radar.

This Tuesday, I picked up a handful of Hunted Horrors at the local card store for under a dollar. Is this strategy the next Tier 1 deck? Probably not,
but here’s an opportunity to capitalize on the information. You probably have some Hunted Horrors in you bulk binder or your junk box. I haven’t taken
the time to consider all the possibilities with Torpor Orb—I’ll leave that to Conley Woods—but you should keep it on your radar.

Cards of the Week

— In the last six months, this has gone from $6-10. It’s starting to see play as a one- and two-of in decks like Bant and Team America. It’s also a
mainstay in the Aggro Loam deck, which I feel is poised to make a comeback in the post-Mental Misstep era of Legacy.

At $20 this seems really under-priced. It’s an instant-speed Demonic Tutor, and it’s blue, so it can be pitched to Force of Will. It also has great
interactions with strategies than can exploit the graveyard, such as Vengevine decks and Painter Grindstone Combo. P.S. It’s on the reserved list.

Lion’s Eye Diamond
This is another reserved-list card, which is bound to steadily grow in price. It saw a small uptick on the SCG buy list this week. They’re now buying
them at $30. This is a Legacy staple which is in, Belcher, Painter Grindstone, ANT, and Dredge.


Before I get out of here, this week I just wanted to give you two Twitter resources.

StarCityBuyer http://twitter.com/StarCityBuyer
— This is a live feed of buy list changes. This can often tip you off to something that’s happening.

— This is my buddy Sigmund; he’s still a fledgling in the trading game, but he has an eagle eye for certain things. He alerted me of the Wasteland
upswing via Twitter and pointed out the Hunted Horror interaction among other things. He’s worth following.

Thanks for reading; I’ll see you next week.

Jonathan Medina