There’s always a time of anticipation and preparation before every big tournament. I usually make sure that my PayPal account is charged up and that I
have plenty of tickets on Magic Online (MTGO) so that I can make buys with ease. I’ve become a pro at reading the pre-tournament hype and hints. This
is the information that the pros and other great minds of the game graciously hide in cryptic twitter comments and out-of-place sentences in their
articles. Sometimes, deciphering the information in the undercurrent reminds me of when I used to study religion and philosophy.
One of the keys to studying spiritual text like The Bible is to understand the context. I used to say in my study groups, “Context is King!” Without
the context, a lot of the information that I process or pick up is completely useless, but when you apply the context to it, the information makes more
sense. Let’s look at a scenario. Right before GP Providence, Patrick Chapin posted this on Twitter.
Why would Patrick ask such a thing? Why was this question filling his headspace, before such a big tournament? Shouldn’t he be thinking about the best
way to win Providence? Shouldn’t he be brewing against the Mono Blue decks that were popping up at the SCG Open Series events before the Grand Prix? As
it turns out, that was what he was doing. Patrick identified new deck design space in the Legacy Metagame, a point of exploitation. It was like he
found the thermal exhaust port in the Death Star in the 0-Drop slot.
It was obvious that Mental Misstep would dominate the one-drop slot in Providence. This was obvious to many people (including myself and Drew Levin)
immediately after the card was spoiled. The natural response to Mental Misstep is to play more powerful two- and three-drops and not to rely on your
one-drops to win. People started playing cards like Standstill and Dark Confidant to thwart the Mental Misstep plan and dodge the dangerous one-drop
slot. This was expected. That’s why Mental Misstep decks came out of the gates running Spell Snare. The plan was to own the one- and two-drop space and
set up stranglehold on the game by overloading on Counterspells and slimming down on win conditions. This strategy was showcased in Gerry T and Drew
Levin’s deck from the Orlando StarCityGames.com Open.
Because Gerry and Drew are masters, this strategy would be viable until people started to get acquainted with the format and how to beat Standstill. AJ
Sacher took it upon himself to teach the world how to play against Standstill in his first Episode of
AJTV (this was a must see video, if you haven’t watched it, go do that now). The metagame started to respond quickly to the new strategy and
the strategy started to lose its edge. Don’t get me wrong though. The strategy was still fine, but not next level anymore. This inspired the brew
masters to dig deeper for the edge in the Legacy metagame.
Magic is all about options. This is why drawing cards is so powerful. Drawing gives you the options that you need to deal with the plays that your
opponent is making. Control strategies like the one featured above are very card thirsty because they answer a lot of threats one for one. Finding the
perfect draw engine in Legacy is the key to build the perfect control deck. This brings us back to Patrick’s tweet. Here’s what my response was.
I obviously got pummeled on Twitter by the lemming brigade. “Ancestral Vision doesn’t even see play in Legacy!” I corrected them, “Patrick asked for
the most powerful zero-drops, not the most played.” I wasn’t vindicated in my point until Drew Levin smashed his way to tenth place. His list sported
four Ancestral Visions and no Standstills.
The results-oriented masses will make the mistake of not respecting Ancestral Vision as a Legacy card, especially since there were none in the Top 8,
but the fact is that Mental Misstep has made room for slower cards like Ancestral Vision to shine. Providence marks the birth of Ancestral Vision
strategies. I expect things like the Tolaria West package to start popping up in Legacy control decks. Tolaria West allows you access to Ancestral
Vision, Engineered Explosives, and Dust Bowl (among other things.) It’s only a matter of time before the right mixture is found to make the right
Ancestral Visions deck.
The other thing that Drew’s decklist showcased is the Stoneforge Mystic package in a true control shell. Stoneforge Mystic has been in Legacy Junk
decks and it’s even been paired with Fathom Seer in UW tempo decks (this was long before the printing of Batterskull) but this is the first time that
it’s been paired with a heavy counter suite with no other creatures. Drew ran the Stoneforge package in the sideboard so that his opponents would side
out their spot removal and this would give him an edge (It’s worth noting that Owen Turtenwald ran his maindeck.) This is an example of the “systems”
that I talked about last week.
This “system” will be respected as a control strategy from now on in Legacy. Stoneforge plus Batterskull is too powerful to ignore. As the financial
minds of the game, the question that we must answer is what does this mean for pricing? The reprinting of Stoneforge Mystic in the event decks dropped
the price from $25 to $15 each. I don’t expect this price to move any further until it rotates out of Standard at which point it will follow the trend
of Nobel Hierarch. The bigger question mark is Batterskull. This card gained instant popularity and was sold out before the price had time to settle
from the initial pre-release hype.
There are three questions that we need to answer to understand the price of Batterskull.
- How much of the current $25 price tag is prerelease hype distilled in a temporary shortage of supply?
- How much play will Batterskull see in Standard after Stoneforge Mystic rotates?
- What is the ceiling of Batterskull?
Let’s talk about the first question. Batterskull started preselling for much lower than $25 and the price naturally grew to $25 unlike the other large
mythics of the set (Sword of War and Peace and Karn Liberated), which started high and worked their way down. This means that the current price is
natural and sustainable as long as the current conditions exist (IE: Stoneforge Mystic being legal in Standard).
The more interesting question is what is the price of Batterskull when Stoneforge Mystic rotates? The problem here is that Batterskull’s full power is
only realized via Stoneforge Mystic. Can Batterskull survive in a Stoneforge-less Standard? If a five mana 4/4 with Lifelink and Vigilance will be
viable in Standard post- rotation, then the answer is yes. Here’s how I see it. Two things that can happen in this situation.
One is that the absence of Stoneforge will be the end of Batterskull in Standard. This is probably most likely. The other possibility is that people
will run Batterskull as a creature which means that there will be more than one in the decks that run it. If this happens then the demand for
Batterskull will increase. The point of reference for this situation is Baneslayer Angel in its heyday (pre-m11), this was before the Titans ruled
standard. At that time, Baneslayers were soaring as high as $50. The only difference here is that Titans may still be around in M12 (I’ve been hearing
that Inferno Titan was confirmed) which make Batterskull less appealing, which would theoretically drop its demand and its ceiling. I feel comfortable
assigning a ceiling of $50 but I expect to be less than that.
No matter what happens in Standard, Batterskull will still be a heavy hitter in Extended, Legacy and whatever other formats that Wizards dreams up.
This means that the lowest price of a Batterskull has to fall in the range of its peers. Batterskull is among the best Equipment for Legacy. This means
that its reference cards are Umezawa’s Jitte ($20) and Sword of Fire and Ice ($35). From these references, we can draw a pricing model for Batterskull.
Batterskull Pricing Model
Low End: $20
High End: $50
Based on this after people stop opening New Phyrexia and the supply starts to spread out you can expect Batterskull to fall into this range $30-$40
The last deck that I want to look at before I get out of here is the Hive Mind deck. This deck has been creeping around the Legacy format since its
birth in Extended last year. GP Providence was Hive Mind’s first big result. Naturally the success of the deck started the speculator’s engines. I know
many speculators who bought a good number of Hive Minds in hopes of ridding the popularity of the deck to profit. This kind of play is bad because the
crap rare is typically not the card to rise in price. If you check the price of Hive Mind right now you’ll see that the price did very little, from $1
to $1.50. Let’s look at the deck and see if we can spot other cards that could be poised to rise in price.
There is a lot going on in this decklist. The first thing that I want you to notice is that there are nine pacts in the deck. Two of these Pacts are
played in other Legacy decks and are in heavy demand.
Pact of Negation
5.99 and Sold Out
5.99 and Sold Out
The popularity of this deck is sure to drive the price of these Pacts even higher. You would do good to pick these up as you see them. As Legacy grows
and the popularity of this deck grows (as well as the other decks that run these), these will become harder to find and the price will reflect that.
The other thing to look at is the group of other cards that make this deck work.
Â Grim Monolith
Â Low $20- 25
Â This card is finding its way into more Legacy decks these days. It’s a key component to the Metalworker/ Kuldotha Forgemaster Deck and now in this
deck. It’s also in the “Turbo Tezz” deck in Vintage.
Â Do Not Engage
Â Low $18 -$20
Â I am just waiting for this card to hit $40. This card is seeing more play in Legacy than it ever has. It’s played in Hive Mind, Elves, Painter Stone,
and High Tide. This is an instant speed Demonic Tutor that enables graveyard strategies (Goblin Welder sends his love).
Â Low $8 -$10
Â This is another card prime for a raise in price. From a strategy standpoint I’ve been advocating this for the last 5 months in Legacy because of its
uses against Hymn to Tourach. Now with the impending rise of Ancestral Visions decks, this card is prime to become a key player.
Â Show and Tell
Â High $30-$35
Â This card is another performer which has continued to rise over the last year. I expect this to follow the same pricing trend as Natural Order. If you
pick these up now then some time in the future you will be able to ship them for $40, but there are better things to put your $30 into.
Â Do Not Engage
Â Ancient Tomb
Â Accurate $10
Â This card used to only be for Stax and Dragon stompy decks. Now it has become a staple in any Legacy deck that wants to power out expensive (three or
four mana) spells in Legacy.
Â City of Traitors
Â Low $20-$25
Â This usually goes hand in hand with Ancient Tomb but not always. The problem with this cards is that no one wants to pay the real price for it, so
picking it up cheap does not help you because you have to ship it cheap. I do think these are a good long term investment.
Â Do Not Engage
When all is said and done, the cards that I expect to rise in value the most out of this deck is not the Hive Minds, but Intuition and Misdirection.
Both of these cards seem really good right now and I expect them to age well.
That’s all that I have for you this week. Enjoy the trade tables and I will talk to you next week about the Commander decks and hopefully some M12
stuff. Thanks for reading.