Insider Trading – What’s Hot at Nationals!

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Wednesday, August 6th – Ben’s back from the U.S. National Championships in Chicago, and he’s got the goods on which cards were hot, and which were not! Which Vintage cards are on the rise? And what is the hottest block tech right now? Read today’s article to find out!

Hey everyone, and welcome back to Insider Trading! I just spent the week at U.S. Nationals in Chicago at the StarCityGames.com booth, and a good weekend was had by all – we laughed, we cried, we ate at Fogo de Chao. Most of all, we wheeled and dealed all weekend long, and by the end of the tournament, we had a pretty good idea of what was heating up, and which cards were cooling down.

Without a doubt, the hottest card in both Standard and Block, and the breakout card of U.S. Nationals (1st, 4th, 6th), French Nationals (1st, and three others in the Top 8) and Canadian Nationals (2nd Place, another Top 8), and Grand Prix: Japan (which was Block Constructed – 3rd and 5th) was Figure of Destiny. Both White and Red decks were powering up their Kithkin all day long, making it into a single-handed threat to dominate the board both early and late game. In fact, aggressive Red decks were everywhere in Standard, as evidenced by the following:

France: Won by Mono-Red Aggro with Ashenmoor Gouger, Demigod of Revenge, Figure of Destiny, Blood Knight, Magus of the Moon.

U.S.: Won by Mono-Red Aggro with Ashenmoor Gouger, Blood Knight, Demigod of Revenge, Figure of
Destiny, and Magus of the Moon.

Italy: Won by Black/Red Torrent with Magus of the Moon.

Canada: 2nd Place was Mono-Red Aggro with Demigod of Revenge, Figure of Destiny, Magus of the Moon.

Magus of the Moon is already a higher-dollar card, but it did not lose an ounce of value by appearing at the top tables over and over again through the course of multiple nationals. As I stated in my article about cards that will hold value in Extended – Magus of the Moon is a winner, and I expect it to play heavily into Extended this year now that Destructive Flow is gone.

Two older cards – Blood Knight and Sulfur Elemental – both made some splashes over the course of the weekend, but both are rotating soon with Planar Chaos, and both were initially-hyped cards that did not live up to their first billing upon release. It’s good to see that they did well this weekend, but I wouldn’t invest a lot of money into either of them with only three months of Time Spiral Block left in Standard. I did hear multiple people wish they had Painter’s Servant to go with Sulfur Elemental to absolutely crush Faerie decks though… so maybe there’s some legs to Painter’s Servant in Extended, with Engineered Plague rotating?

Other anti-Red cards that saw a lot of movement over the weekend were Dragon’s Claw (which we couldn’t keep in stock) and Murderous Redcap. Black and Red decks alike were finally giving the persist Nekrataal its due, and it seems poised to join other high-dollar Shadowmoor Uncommons as a staple of the current tournament scene – especially as a way for Faerie decks to deal easily with Magus of the Moon. I’d pick up Redcaps now, because I could easily see them doubling in price in a short time period.

Not all cards that had high demand at our dealer table were at the top tables of Nationals. From Eventide, Stillmoon Cavalier (which is starting to see block play both in and against Kithkin decks), Stigma Lasher, and Wake Thrasher all sold in large quantities. I’m personally a big fan of Stillmoon Cavalier, as I think it compares favorably to Paladin en-Vec, which was an $8-$12 card when relevant against Wildfire decks. Stillmoon Cavalier is good against Figure of Destiny, most Faeries creatures, and most of the Kithkin deck, and it’s playable in both Kithkin and Faeries (especially in Block Constructed).

I have less explanation for Wake Thrasher and Stigma Lasher. Neither were played heavily, but that did not seem to slow down sales in the least (in fact, I had to raise the price on Stigma Lasher once we returned from Nationals). Maybe people just hate life gain, or have tech for Merfolk that they didn’t want to unleash until the Grand Prix, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect their sales numbers to stay up without results.

Of the five new filter lands from Eventide, Fetid Heath (Black/White) and Flooded Grove (U/G) were in high demand, followed shortly (but noticeably) behind by Twilight Marsh (B/G). Cascade Bluffs (U/R) was a distant fourth, and we barely sold any of the R/W land. Ancient Amphitheater was also a bust, and Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] ain’t doing so well either. What happened to the days of Boros, and Lightning Helix? Red Aggro and Kithkin are both good decks right now (one in Standard, one in Block Constructed – a Kithkin deck won the Block PTQ at Nationals), so hopefully there will be a point of intersection between the decks at some point (especially considering Figure of Destiny would be equally at home in a Red/White deck as it is in mono-colored decks). I might suggest picking up the Red/White duals while they are tanking in price.

What didn’t do as well in Standard? Tattermunge Maniac did well at one Nationals, but fell to the wayside of several other one-drops (Mogg Fanatic, Figure of Destiny, Magus of the Scroll) for the most part. Faeries weren’t absolutely dominant in Standard (though they are still ridiculous in Block), so Cloudthresher wasn’t much of a factor – in fact, Green itself didn’t do too great, and Tarmogoyf is on the way out. Talara’s Battalion is quickly becoming the poster child of the most overhyped card in Eventide, so I’d suggest trading them off while their value is high.

Scion of Oona, while played in Block, wasn’t as big a factor in Standard – many Faeries decks eschewed the Faerie lord entirely, for what it was worth.

All of the talk of the weekend wasn’t necessarily even about formats being played – dozens of players talked to me about the upcoming Extended rotation, and it was agreed by many that Life From The Loam/Raven’s Crime decks are going to be heavily played come the next Extended PTQ season. While Life From The Loam decks lose Devastating Dreams and Terravore, they gain Flame Jab and Raven’s Crime, which essentially become cycleable discard and direct damage spells. If you don’t already have Life from the Loam, I’d suggest picking some up before October/November rolls around.

The Vintage Champs were the first real look at the post-Brainstorm world of Vintage in the United States. Over 100 players came out to play. By the end of the weekend, the consensus was that Tendrils-based combo decks (Pitch Long, TEPS – decks based around Storm Count and Tendrils of Agony) and Control Slaver (Goblin Welder decks) were the decks to beat. Timetwister, Grim Tutor and Goblin Welder were three old Vintage standbys that had a lot of interest over the weekend, and we couldn’t keep Imperial Seal in stock to save our lives.

Speaking of Portal Three Kingdoms, no card had a bigger ‘coming out’ party than P3K Uncommon Strategic Planning. In a format where the graveyard can be as big a resource as your hand (think Yawgmoth’s Will/Goblin Welder), the sorcery-speed Planning beats out Impulse by a mile by dumping valuable resources into your graveyard, will still getting you that Magic three cards down into your deck. The price of Plannings started in the $25-$30 range at the beginning of the weekend, and jump to around $100 by the end – and based on other P3K prices, I would expect those prices to hold in the $70-$100 range for the future, if Imperial Recruiter is any precedent for this trend.

One note about Block Constructed – Faeries is clearly the best deck in the format, winning more PTQs than every other deck in the format combined. However, the emergence of Red (aggressive) and the push for fan-favorite Kithkin may tip the scales away from the Black/Blue deck, and more towards hordes of attacking creatures. What do both the Red and White decks have in common? Figure of Destiny, of course!

So that’s a list of what was hot, and what was not, at U.S. Nationals, taking into account the Nationals in France, Italy, Canada, and the Grand Prix in Japan this past weekend. Coming up – Grand Prix: Denver and GenCon: Indy, followed by the $5K Magic Day in Boston on September 6th (Standard). Will Red Aggro decks continue their upward climb in both Standard and Block? Will Faeries stay on top until the end of the Block season? Keep checking in each week, as I’ll have mini-updates to account for moving and shaking with each week’s trends!

Also: I Want To Know What YOU Want!

I want your suggestions for topics for this column! Got a burning question about some aspect of Magic’s collectability? Want to know about the market for Foreign cards in the U.S., why the value of cards on Magic Online differ so greatly from physical cards, or which misprints you should keep an eye out for that you don’t even know exist? Post in the forums or e-mail me at [email protected] with suggestions for future topics you’d like covered, and I’ll do my best to work them in down the road!

See you next Tuesday!