Insider Trading – What’s Hot Right Now!

StarCityGames.com Open Series: Indianapolis on March 13-14
Thursday, March 4th – After Grand Prix: Oakland, Pro Tour: San Diego, Grand Prix: Madrid, and the two StarCityGames.com Opens in Richmond (Standard and Legacy), the Standard metagame has shifted, Extended has gotten hot-and-heavy, and several newer Legacy contenders have taken a large step forward. Find out which cards are having a significant shift in value right now, in today’s edition of Insider Trading!

Hey everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Insider Trading! In this week’s article, I will be examining the cards that have recently come into the forefront of the Magic consciousness due to five major events in the past four weeks – Grand Prix: Oakland (Extended), Pro Tour: San Diego and Day 1 of the SCG Open in Richmond (Standard), and Grand Prix: Madrid and Day 2 of the SCG Open in Richmond (Legacy).


Cloudstone Curio: Elves won the Grand Prix, and Cloudstone Curio has been the card that has allowed the deck to remain a strong contender after the rotation of Wirewood Symbiote. A previously marginal bulk rare, Cloudstone Curio has jumped to the $5-$7 range.

Damping Matrix: Two biggest boogeymen in Extended this season have been Dark Depths/Vampire Hexmage decks, and Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek decks. Over the past couple of weeks, these decks have even been combined to form one monster combo deck. As people looked for a solution to battle both of these decks, the stumbled upon Damping Matrix – an innocuous three-mana artifact that has seen play in past Extended seasons, years ago. This was the hottest selling card for us at Grand Prix: Oakland, easily selling for $5 each to dozens (if not hundreds) of players.

Dark Depths: When Vampire Hexmage was released, Dark Depths jumped from $5 to $20 overnight. Once the Extended season started, it became clear that the Dark Depths deck was a solid contender – and it morphed into any number of versions, including one with Thopter Foundry, and a Green-heavy Rock variant. This land has doubled in price during the Extended season, and is now an easy seller at $40.

Flagstones of Trokair: The breakout deck of the tournament was Petr Brozek’s version of Boros, which featured several third-turn kills on the back of landfall creatures (and Zektar Shrine Expedition). Flagstones of Trokair was to this deck what Grove of the Burnwillows was to Brian Kibler Pro Tour-winning deck – a Time Spiral block rare land that had previously held value when it was Standard legal. Since then, Flagstones has jumped into the $6-$8 range.

Ghost Quarter: Ghost Quarter had a double-whammy price jump this Extended season – first as a way to battle Dark Depths, and second as a component to the aforementioned Petr Brozek Boros deck (destroy your own Flagstones of Trokair, get a basic land and a Plains, trigger double landfall). As such, it’s jumped to the place where good Extended Uncommons go – the $3-$5 market.

Hypergenesis: Once again, a Top 8 finisher at a major event, though with more limited success in the Pro Tour Qualifier circuit. It is to note that Hypergenesis/cascade decks will be around in Extended for a few more years, so the engine will be intact for quite some time. That’s quite a length of time in which Hypergenesis could appreciate in value, so picking them up sooner (this year) rather than later (if it hits big) is probably a good bet, if you play Extended.

Living End: Likewise, Living End is Hypergenesis with a little more work involved. As a bonus, you get to kill Dark Depths tokens (since Living End is a sacrifice effect), so it’s arguable about whether Living End or Hypergenesis decks make better use out of the cascade/suspend engine. The same argument goes for Living End that goes for Hypergenesis.

Ranger of Eos: A month ago, I wrote about the cards I felt had a stronger potential post-Worldwake. In that article, I devoted quite a bit of space to Ranger of Eos — so for the sake of brevity, I’m not going to repeat myself. I will say that Ranger of Eos showed up in the deck that won GP: Oakland (Elves, with one copy main deck and three copies in the board), and in the 5th and 6th place decks (three copies each, Saito Zoo). We’ll revisit Ranger of Eos again in a hot minute.

Sword of the Meek/Thopter Foundry: So far this season, variations on the Thopter/Foundry deck have taken the most PTQ slots (8), not counting the Grand Prix (where it also took 2nd Place). The next closest deck has won three PTQs (Saito Zoo). This engine will be around for a long, long time in Extended, and Thopter Foundries are still relatively cheap (as compared to Sword of the Meek, which is long out of circulation). Pick up 4 Thopter Foundry now, if you haven’t already — there’s no reason it won’t only just go up in value as the years of Extended go on.


Basilisk Collar: I was talking to Sam Black at Grand Prix: Oakland, and he mentioned to me that he had gotten Basilisk Collar in a draft deck (or a sealed pool, I forget which), and the card was so grossly unfair that it prompted him to have to investigate how powerful the Collar could be in Constructed. For swinging a game, Basilisk Collar is on the same path as Umezawa’s Jitte, but nowhere near as powerful. If Jitte was a 10, I’d put Basilisk Collar at around a 6 — probably worse than Sword of Fire and Ice/Sword of Light and Shadow, but probably as good (or better) than Loxodon Warhammer (much, much cheaper to equip, and Deathtouch is key).

Knight of the Reliquary: Knight of the Reliquary has started busting out all over the place — Extended, Standard, and Legacy — but Standard is where her presence is most keenly felt. A key part of the Boss Naya deck, Knight of the Reliquary fetches manlands, mana fixes, and eventually becomes a huge monster in her own right (especially due to fetch lands). I only look for her to get more expensive as Regionals/Nationals approach, and I look for her to be a creature who holds value over time, due to a very powerful effect that is showing up in older formats already.

Manlands: Stirring Wildwood, Raging Ravine, and Celestial Colonnade were the three manlands that have seen the most play so far; Lavaclaw Reaches is a distant fourth, and Creeping Tar Pit, though powerful in a vacuum, is pretty much nowhere to be seen. Still, these lands will be around for another year and a half, and they are only going to go up in price as a group, as people stop drafting/buying Worldwake (especially because of a Rise/Rise/Rise of Eldrazi Draft/Sealed format coming up in under two months!).

Noble Hierarch: The better results posted by Noble Hierarch, the worse Birds of Paradise drop in price. At this point, Noble Hierarch turning into the Cryptic Command/Reflecting Pool/Mutavault of Standard — a card that is due to rotate in the fall, but that will likely be selling for $25-$30 at your local Regionals, due to high demand, and nobody being willing to sell them just yet.

Path to Exile: For all intents and purposes, can we finally agree that this is basically Swords to Plowshares, for everything that matters? Path to Exile is everywhere in Standard and Extended metagame — it’s in White Weenie, Boss Naya (as a one-of), U/W Jace Control, Saito Zoo, and Extended Bant.

Ranger of Eos: Oh yeah, did I mention that Ranger of Eos showed up a lot in Standard as well? If there were three breakout cards that made Boss Naya work, one was Knight of the Reliquary (card quality selection/tutoring up effective creatures), one was Ranger of Eos (three-for-one with efficient one-drop beaters), and one was the next card I’ll discuss.

Stoneforge Mystic: I called Stoneforge Mystic my sleeper pick for the set, and thought that he had a huge upside. Stoneforge Mystic was the third card that helped Boss Naya win, by allowing it to run a tutorable equipment suite in a deck that could keep pumping out creature after creature. If equipment is at all featured in the fall set (return to Mirrodin), Stoneforge Mystic is going to go bonkers in value. I can see this card being in the double-digits before this year is up — though it may dip a little if Rise of the Eldrazi makes equipment a little less attractive in the short term.

Vampires: Vampires is a very good deck, and continues to put people in the money finishes at various Standard tournaments. People are so hesitant in general to call it a Tier 1 deck, because they view vampires as a “kiddy” tribe. Vampires has posted results (3rd/7th/8th at SCG Open Richmond, 1st at SCG Open in Dallas), and it continues to be a real threat. Most of the key cards from this deck are from Zendikar block, so excepting Vampire Nocturnus (which may or may not be in M11), this deck has nowhere to go but up for the next year-and-a-half.


Chain Lightning: Not just for dedicated Mono-Red burn decks anymore — as a Sorcery way to power up Tarmogoyf, this 3-damage burn spell showed up in the 3rd and 8th place decks at GP: Madrid, and the 6th place deck at our SCG Legacy open. One of the priciest non-Alpha/Beta commons in Magic, at this point.

Entomb/Reanimate/Exhume: After a while of being unbanned, Entomb/Reanimator decks finally hit the big time this past weekend. They took 4th and 5th place at the SCG Open, and a copy of the deck won Grand Prix: Madrid outright. Entomb has been banned and restricted in several formats previously, so we’ll wait and see if the Reanimator deck is part of the metagame, or if it starts dominating to an unhealthy degree. I tend to think it’s the former, but I have one eye open to check for a potential rebanning.

Iona, Shield of Emeria/Inkwell Leviathan/Empyrial Archangel: The three main targets for the Reanimator decks — the first to shut down mono-colored (or primarily-one-color) decks, the second to race with an untargetable fatty, and the third to have a slower-but-steadier race against a board full of creatures. Other popular reanimator targets included Blazing Archon, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, and Sundering Titan.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor: Has Jace lived up to the hype? Yes and no. By no means are Jace decks dominating any metagames, but Jace has shown up as a part of the metagame in Standard (Chapin’s U/W Control deck was considered by most to be the 2nd most important breakout deck of the Pro Tour, behind Boss Naya), Extended (a three-of in Conley Wood’s 3rd Place Bant deck), and Legacy (2x in Tucker Green’s 3rd Place Merfolk deck at the SCG Open). I think people will find more and more use for Jace as time goes on, because people were initially focused on +2 Fateseal, or +0 Brainstorm, or -1 Unsummon, but quickly those same people are finding that Jace, in and of itself, is a win condition with the ultimate.

Lion’s Eye Diamond: A key part of the Tendrils/Ad Nauseam combo decks that finished well at Grand Prix: Madrid. LED keeps rising in value, and I’d expect it to hit the $50 range if it has a couple of more really solid finishes over the next few major Legacy tournaments (there are two next weekend — one in Italy, and our SCG Open in Indianapolis).

Natural Order: A staple at this point in Countertop. It was also one of the two judge foils given out at the Pro Tour (the other being a delayed Phyrexian Dreadnought. It is my understanding that these should be mailed to judges from PT: San Diego, and GP: Madrid. I’m not sure where the ceiling is on the use for Natural Order, other than to say that if anything large and Green ever comes around that is a “game over” card, it’ll be Progenitus, and not Natural Order, that takes the hit in value.

Progenitus: Part of two decks in the metagame — Dream Halls/Show and Tell, and Natural Order/Countertop decks. Progenitus is also a fan favorite, so I think it’ll probably stay in the $10+ range even after it rotates from Standard, because honestly it is hitting over $10 now despite really not seeing any significant Standard play at all!

Qasali Pridemage: Oddly, though Qasali Pridemage does show up in other formats, it is truly shining the most in Legacy. Time after time, I saw Tarmogoyf stalemates broken by whoever had the Pridemage on the table, thanks to Exalted. It doesn’t hurt that the Pridemage is good against the Lands deck, and Enchantress.

I hope you have all enjoyed this look at the recent movers and shakers in Standard, Extended, and Legacy! I’ll see you all in seven days!

Ben Bleiweiss