Going Infinite – Worlds, Titans, and Survival (Again)

Monday, December 13th – Survivals have passed the point of no return – at least on the market. Will it be worth holding onto them? Probably not. Jon Medina elaborates on Legacy and Standard and provides a list of cards to watch in Extended.

Hey guys and gals, welcome back to my little piece of MTG Cyberspace. This week, rather than focusing on one topic, I’m going to touch base on a handful of topics. The World Championships is underway and unfortunately, this article will be submitted before all of the tech is fully revealed. This means that we’ll have to go on the table scraps that I do have. Before we talk about the new Extended format, let’s talk about the hottest topic in Legacy, Survival of the Fittest.


In Patrick Chapin
latest article

he writes about the dominance of Survival in Legacy. He uses real data to crunch the numbers to show the performance ratings and matchup win percentages of the different Survival decks. After showing the numbers, Patrick concludes with this:

“In fact, I’m hardly waiting for the announcement with anticipation. It appears to be such a done deal (unless Worlds somehow magically salvages the format).”

I wrote about Survival
about a month ago

and I said that I didn’t believe that Survival would be banned. I still think there’s a possibility that Survival won’t be banned, but I’ll say that Patrick makes a compelling argument. The thing that I want to point out about this article (beside the fact that I was probably wrong about Survival) is that despite my personal feeling about Survival, the advice that I gave was still solid. Here’s what I said when Survival of the Fittest was retailing for $50 plus.

“My recommended game plan for Survival of the Fittest is if you don’t have them, don’t buy them until after the next banned and restricted announcement. If you have them but don’t use them, sell them now so that you can capitalize on the price spike.”

Even though I didn’t think that Survival would be banned, I wasn’t willing to take the chance and recommend hoarding them. Instead, I recommended the safe route, and if you listened and sold your Survivals, then you would’ve made money on the spike. If you kept your Survivals hoping to clean up, then you lost money. Some people don’t know this, but the price of Survival of the Fittest has dropped off the map! Check out this completed eBay Auction.

survival ebay

I used an extreme example here, but it’s common to see eBay auctions for Survival of the Fittest close at $25 and below. This is why I always take the safe road when making investments or giving advice. A blowout like this can be very costly. It’s always better to observe the old saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The thing that prevents us from embracing this wisdom is greed. Our desire for more blinds us to the fact that we’ve already made a profit.

Birds in the Hand on MTGO

During Worlds, there was a run* on Gideon Jura on Magic Online. The price was around fifteen tickets last week, and it was on a steady rise since U/W
decks have been putting up results in Standard. At the time that the
Caw-Go deck tech

with SCG’s own Brian Kibler was released, Gideons were 20.25 tickets. That’s when I posted the buy recommendation on Twitter. The next day, Gideon was 28 tickets, and someone asked me when they should sell.

* Look! I didn’t forget this time! A “run” is when lots of people are buying bots and websites out of an MTGO card.

This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about with the bird-in-the-hand thing. The guy already made eight tickets on each Gideon! I told him that I recommend that he ship them and enjoy the profits. Gideon is now (at the time of writing this) 32 tickets. So, was telling him to sell the wrong move? I don’t think so, and there’s a technical reason why, not just “don’t be greedy.” Let’s do some math here; say that Gideon-guy picked up ten Gideons at eighteen each; typically you’ll buy and sell lower than retail if you use the classifieds instead of the bots. His initial investment is 180 tickets. There are two scenarios here.

1.   He sells the Gideons when I told him to for 26 tickets. Now he has 260 tickets with a profit of 80 tickets.

2.   He says, “Medina is an idiot; I’m going to wait.” And he sells them now at 30 tickets. Now he has 300 tickets with a 120-ticket profit.

Seems like a no-brainier, right? Looking at these two scenarios, it’s clear that waiting makes you more money. Why wouldn’t I just recommend waiting to maximize profits? Here’s why: at the same time that Gideon was on the rise, rumors of Necrotic Ooze at Worlds were flying. If you took the 80 tickets and dumped it all into Necrotic Ooze at .25 tickets each, then you would have 320 Necrotic Oozes. Once Conley Woods showed his Quillspike-Ooze deck in a deck tech on the Mothership, Necrotic Ooze shot up to 2 tickets.

Now imagine that you sold your 320 Necrotic Oozes for 1.5 tickets each. Now you’ve made a profit of 480 tickets. You wouldn’t have been able to invest tickets on the Oozes if you held on to the Gideons. This is another good reason to cash investments in sooner than later. In the financial world, I believe that they call this “Liquidity.” It’s an important concept to keep in mind when you are dealing with the high-paced environment of MTGO.

Okay, so my bird-in-the-hand speech, turned into a Lesson in Liquidity and MTGO Trading. Let’s switch gears a bit.

Titan Shift

this week’s episode

of Yo! MTG Taps, Patrick Chapin and the Joes touch on something important about the Titans in Standard. They talked about how the second best Titan is subjective based on the Standard environment. There’s no doubt about which is the best Titan (Primeval Titan, in case you didn’t know), but there’s been a constant struggle over which Titan is the second best. As the metagame shifts, the Titans shift in favor.

Initially, Grave Titan was revered as the second best Titan, but it quickly fell out of favor with the color black as Primeval Titan decks started to rise. As the meta shifted, Primeval Titans, Sun Titans, and Eldrazi grew in prominence, which allowed Frost Titan to find his place as second best Titan for a moment. In the height of this “Battlecruiser Magic” mentality (I stole that saying from the Taps guys), decks like Boros and Vampires grew in popularity, making Inferno Titan the second best. The latest shift is heading back to Grave Titan because of the prominence of Doom Blade and sacrifice effects (Gatekeeper of Malakir).

The key is to watch the metagame and be ready when it shifts to favor the next Titan. The reason that I’m talking about this is because these shifts affect the price of the Titans. Since the next set has an artifact-based subtheme, you have to ask yourself, “How relevant will these artifacts be to Sun Titan’s ability?” Granted, Sun Titan’s price will always be capped by the printing of the promo, but it’s for this reason that you can pick them up cheap. Keep an eye on this guy and the other Titans in relation to the upcoming spoilers. Another thing that you should look at is the Extended decks from Worlds. The Titans are only going to be in Standard for a limited amount of time, so we need to start looking at their viability in Extended to know what their prices are going to look like after rotation.

Worlds: Standard

Speaking of Worlds, let’s talk about the tech. I’ll start with the new tech from Standard.

Okay, that was fun; let’s talk about Extended. I’m kidding; there was one piece of sick tech in the form of Squadron Hawk. This was run in a U/W Control brew, and it was highly functional. It provided protection as a blocker, or it could be a threat and generate card advantage with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Imagine playing a Hawk and getting three more, then Brainstorming two back and fetching. You literally draw three cards, not to mention that you get to do this again! I wish that I could put a buy recommendation out on Squadron Hawk, but it’s a common. The best you can do is pick up foils.

Leonin Arbiter – This guy has so much potential, but I fear that he has the Gaddock Teeg disease, which means that he’ll probably never break $4. Maybe the prevalence of Squadron Hawk and Valakut will push this guys price a bit.

Worlds: Extended

The new Extended format has been revealed! We still don’t have decklists, but here are some cards that performed well. I would trade for these if you can.

Fulminator Mage

– Elementals, Mimic Vat, Necrotic Ooze, and Reveillark: these are all reasons for this card to succeed in Extended. It was in the Necrotic Ooze deck, and I recommend picking up as many of these as you can.

Master of Etherium

– This guy is in the new artifact beatdown deck. The other cards to consider here are Mox Opal, Tempered Steel, and Thoughtseize. You should watch these cards if this deck starts putting up results. Out of all these cards, Master of Etherium is the one that’s the most accessible. It’s been printed in a dual deck and as a foil in the Shards of Alara Preconstructed Decks. Master of Etherium is also played in Legacy, and it’s a casual favorite. Tempered Steel is a close second to Master for a “pick this up” rating. You might want to look into getting the full-art, foil Tempered Steel, since they’re dirt-cheap at the moment.

Necrotic Ooze

– If you read my
“Most Likely to Succeed”

article then this isn’t news to you. Necrotic Ooze’s is heating up with the release of Conley Wood’s Extended Quillspike deck. The paper (non-MTGO) price hasn’t officially changed, but I believe that it will. Another card to keep an eye on from this deck is Twilight Mire. This card went from five to twelve tickets on MTGO, and people have been emailing me asking for them in paper.


– I love this card! There was a U/B Polymorph deck that took down the Magic Online Championship Series (MOCS) over the weekend. After the victory, pros like Brian Kibler were looking for the decklist for the Extended portion of Worlds. It now only showed up in the Extended portion of Worlds, but it did really well. When it was hot in Standard, I was trading them at $5 each, which puzzles me since they’ve been reprinted so many times.

Ranger of Eos

– I’m going to be persistent (like a Kitchen Finks) with this guy. On this very site, this card is $3 – why? They’re played in Elves and now in this new artifact deck. This card is too good to be $3. I recommend trading for these.

Regal Force

– This is my last recommendation. They’re cheap enough now to make a little cash on them. They only see play in Elves, so you might want to see how Elves is doing with Ratchet Bomb in the format before investing in them. Don’t pay more than $2 for these.

It goes without saying that cards like Cryptic Command, Thoughtseize, Mutavault, and Murmuring Bosk are going to start heating up. My recommendation on these cards is to get what you need for your decks ASAP, so that you’re not desperate during Extended season. Desperation leads to poor decisions on the trading floor.

That’s all I have for you today! Have a great week, and I’ll see you next week.

Jonathan Medina