Insider Trading – What’s Hot and What’s Not in Standard

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Thursday, October 30th – This past weekend, the StarCityGames.com $5000 Standard Open set the metagame for the current Standard format leading into States! Which cards are going to rise in demand and value based on the tournament results, and which are going to start dropping? Find out in today’s edition of Insider Trading!

Hello everyone, and welcome to Insider Trading! In today’s column, I’m going to look at the results of the StarCityGames.com $5000 Standard Open. Which decks were hot and what cards are going to rise in value? Are any cards going to drop due to disuse? The answer to this is yes! Read on to find out what’s hot and what’s not in Standard right now!

Cruel Control (a.k.a. Quick and Toast a.k.a. Five-Color Control)

What’s Hot: Cloudthresher, Bant Charm, Condemn, Cryptic Command, Glen Elendra Archmage, Jund Charm, Wrath of God, Resounding Thunder, and Reflecting Pool

What’s Not: Firespout

The scoop: Right now, most of the decks in Standard are creature-based decks. Five-Color Control packs a ton, an absolute ton, of creature removal spells. With all the wild mana in this tier-one deck, Reflecting Pool was an absolute key — we sold out of all copies on site, and then sold out of all copies we bought as the weekend went on. Reflecting Pool might end up as the most expensive card in Standard by the time States rolls around.

In addition, Cloudthresher held value as a great card both against weenies, and Faeries — a 7/7 surprise (or not-so-surprise) blocker, that can potentially wrath the board one way. Wrath of God was key all day long for Chris, and two cards helped break the mirror match — Glen Elendra Archmage, and Resounding Thunder (which, as Chris has told me, is half and Urza’s Rage for 2/3rds of the mana cost, plus an extra card drawn) — uncounterable damage is key, and the foil version should rise in value as it sees more play.

With all the great removal choices for a five-color deck, Firespout is falling by the wayside — Jund Charm gives the same effect but at instant speed, making it a more potent (and versatile) way to deal damage across the table.

White Weenie (Three Builds: Kithkin, Chaotic Backlash, and Red/White Burn)

What’s Hot: Knight of Meadowgrain; Stillmoon Cavalier; Ajani Goldmane; Ajani Vengeant; Elspeth, Knight-Errant; Figure of Destiny; Painter’s Servant; Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]; Rugged Prairie; Windbrisk Heights

The Scoop: What isn’t hot with White Weenie right now? Three very distinct builds took four of the Top 16 spots at the StarCityGames.com $5k, making White Weenie the most resilient, and versatile, deck in Standard right now. Of the builds:

1) One capitalized on the Standard Block Kithkin Build, utilizing fast creatures, synergy with Kithkin, and pumping from Ajani Goldmane.

2) One splashed Red for the potent game-ending combination of Painter’s Servant and Chaotic Backlash, capable of dealing 12+ damage in a single stroke. The deck also packs protection-from creatures in abundance, making it heavily resistant to board sweepers and targeted removal (you need to take out Painter’s Servant before you can hit a Stillmoon Cavalier, for instance)

3) The third was a Red/White weenie/burn build, featuring Ajani Vengeant. The new Ajani’s value has been suppressed because of the widespread availability of prerelease/release versions of the card — while the other Planeswalkers in this set are all worth the upwards of $25-$30, Ajani is $10. However, Ajani Vengeant is an absolutely amazing card against Five-Color control — either they have the Cryptic Command to counter/bounce it, or they get Armageddoned in short order. It is also good for the Weenie-on-Weenie match, capable of burning out opposing creatures, opponents, or locking down offensive threats on the other side of the board. Pick them up while they are cheap — Figure of Destiny and Demigod of Revenge both languished in value due to initial flooding of supplies, and both ended up demanding a huge premium because of playability. Ajani Vengeant is likely the second-best Planeswalker out of Shards for Standard.

4) Speaking of Planeswalkers, Elspeth is fantastic, and should end up being recognized as the best Shards Planeswalker by the time States rolls around. The ability to both make creatures for free after mass-removal, or pump creatures +3/+3 and flying so they can smash past evasion is huge — I advised picking these up while they were cheap when the set was first released, and I can see them crossing the $30 mark at States time, without hesitation

5) The Red/White lands in Standard have been lagging behind in value to almost any other color combination of lands — Rugged Prairie in particular. This won’t last long, as now that multiple unique Red/White builds are proven viable, these lands will rise in demand and value up through, and past, States!


What’s Hot: Jace Beleren, Agony Warp

What’s Not: Broken Ambitions

The Scoop: While Jace started showing up main-deck in Faeries deck as a reaction to Five-Color Control, I wouldn’t recommend picking them up just yet — they are about to be mass-released in the Jace vs. Chandra Duel Deck, which will keep the price of Jace in the reasonable range (otherwise, I could see Jace easily hitting $10-$12.50 right now, as it’s starting to be the most-played Planeswalker in Standard). Agony Warp is the new removal spell of choice for Faeries, which will likely propel the foil version to the $2-$3 range quickly. Broken Ambitions, on the other hand, is on the way out, and should fall back to the $1 foil range.


What’s Hot: Wake Thrasher, Sower of Temptation

What’s Not: Basic Lands

The Scoop: Wake Thrasher is a beating against the right decks, as it can hit 4/4 to 6/6 right out of the gates. Sower of Temptation showed up in quite a number of main decks this weekend, and it traditionally is a fantastic card against Kithkin — except for the Red/White variant that packs a bunch of heat, enabling that deck to beat Merfolk (otherwise, Merfolk can often outrace a traditional Kithkin Deck thanks to Merfolk Reejerey, Cryptic Command, and Stonybrook Banneret). Note the main-deck Knight of Meadowgrain in this deck — it is truly the most potent two-drop aggressive creature in Standard at this time!


What’s Hot: Figure of Destiny (again!), Fulminator Mage, Sower of Temptation, Doran, Gaddok Teeg

The Scoop: These were two spectacularly different builds — the first focused on the Bant theme, and the second on straight reanimation of Fulminator Mage (to kill all of the non-basic lands running rampant in the format) and Mulldrifter (for card advantage). The Bant version of the deck took advantage of Doran’s zero Power, allowing the deck to hit with 4/4 Rhox War Monks, while Gaddok Teeg prevented key spells such as Cryptic Command or Wrath of God from hitting the board. The first version of the deck could come fast out of the gate, and survive/prevent board sweepers. The second versions played more for the long game, with an attrition plan of card-advantage and land destruction as the goal.

Quillspike Combo/Token Aggro

What’s Hot: Devoted Druid, Quillspike

The Scoop: This deck can pump out some serious mana using Devoted Druid, Quillspike, and Garruk Wildspeaker (who is also featured in Elves decks — he’s still played in Standard!) Profane Command, Loxodon Warhammer and Rite of Consumption help this deck with evasion so Quillspike can get past chump blockers to come in for lethal.

I also include the Token Aggro deck from this weekend in this list, because both have many shared cards, and are Black/Green mid-range decks along the lines of The Rock.


What’s Hot: Garruk Wildspeaker, Thoughtseize, Profane Command

What’s Not: Chameleon Colossus

The Scoop: The first was more of an Elf/Token deck, and the second more of a true Elves deck. Elves suffered some in this metagame because many of the top decks were not especially vulnerable at this time to Chameleon Colossus – which looks to be a pretty mediocre-to-bad choice in the current metagame, thanks to the number of Sower of Temptation, Wrath of Gods, and Cryptic Commands running around the top tables. Thoughtseize continues to be the discard-card of choice for Standard (and should be running amok in Extended come Berlin tomorrow — if they are as widespread as I expect, it should hit the $30 mark come Extended Season!).

Red Deck Wins

What’s Hot: Figure of Destiny

What’s Not: Demigod of Revenge, Ashenmoor Gouger, Vexing Shusher

The Scoop: While Figure of Destiny continues to show up in decks all over the place (White Weenie, White/Red Burn, Reveillark, Red Deck Wins), the other components of this deck seemed lackluster compared to the White/Red version. White has much better creatures overall than Red (Knight of Meadowgrain and Stillmoon Cavalier are especially good in the current metagame), making the Red choices seem not-as-great. Demigod of Revenge can often get stopped by Cloudthesher, Stillmoon Cavalier, Forge-Tender, or now Condemn and Bant Charm, making it less potent than in Block, where there wasn’t as much instant White removal that could take care of an attacking creature. Vexing Shusher is best against Faeries, but not-as-good against a counterspell-light five-color control deck that has so much spot and board removal, that the Shusher is sure to die when or if it enters the red zone.

Other Thoughts:

Where was Sarkhan Vol? The Red/Green Planeswalker was nowhere to be seen at the top tables — and given that he currently the priciest of the four new Planeswalkers, it seems his value is overstated at this time. Unless decks with Sarkhan Vol win some of the upcoming States, expect to see Sarkhan Vol drop in value.

Tezzeret, on the other hand, is safe from this diminishing value, because he was expected to see play in Vintage, Legacy and Extended, where there are a lot more artifacts for him to work with. As more artifacts enter Standard, there is more of a chance that Tezzeret will see play in Standard, unlike Sarkhan Vol, which has plenty of Red and Green aggressive creatures to work with as-is.

Wrath of God is back, and it will push back up another $2.50-$5 come States — it’s played in more than one of the tier-one decks in Standard, and is a sideboard choice for other decks to combat the White Weenie infestation.

Five-Color decks used to have weaknesses to Manlands and haste creatures, but Bant Charm and Condemn have helped shore this weakness up. Ajani Vengeant seems to be one of the best cards for battling five-color control, so look to use it more in the coming weeks.

See you all in seven days when I discuss the movers and shakers in Extended, using the results of Pro Tour: Berlin!