Looking Forward To Theros

Grand Prix Indianapolis Top 4 competitor Brian DeMars lists some cards that may be very smart to pick up now while the price is right before Theros.

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy . . .

If you play Standard, life is pretty easy right now. The format is pretty much solved—play Jund, G/R Aggro, or U/W/R Flash—and even if it could be more solved, most people are not going to bother because in a month Theros will be here and hit the reset button anyway.

I am so ready for Theros to come out that it isn’t even funny. Innistrad block, Thragtusk, and I may have had some good times together, but I really feel like that era in my life is kind of over and am ready to move on.

I’ll still play Innistrad Standard for the time being. Yet when I cast Restoration Angel or Thragtusk, my heart won’t be completely in it. When I’m cast those cards, I’ll be thinking about Theros. I know it’s wrong, but I’ve emotionally moved on and am excited to start the next chapter in my Magical life.

Unfortunately, I can’t hop into a time machine, bounce into the past for a few lottery tickets, and then zoom a month and a half into the future to do a few Theros booster drafts. So I guess it only makes sense to make the best of the next couple of months in the here and now.

One thing that I have been thinking about are which cards are likely to get a lot better in Standard when it rotates so that I can be sure to pick them up now during the summer lull. In today’s article, I am going to provide some tips on cards that may be very smart to start picking up now while the price is right.

Everybody knows that prices dip during the summer before an old block rotates out and a new one gets released, which makes this the perfect time to pick up cards on the cheap. Everyone is saving their dollars to buy Theros product when it comes out, but the smartest place to get one’s money in is on cards that are likely to go up after Theros is released.

Mana Or Womana Up & Complete Your Playsets Of Rav Lands!

It’s good to own land.

I don’t know anything about what Theros is going to be like, but I do know one thing about what the next Standard format will look like—shocklands will be in every multicolor deck. It doesn’t matter what mana fixing Theros does or does not provide us with. No matter what the Ravnica lands are going to be everywhere.

I strongly advise people who want to complete their sets to do so now since it is extremely likely they will go up as the year goes on. Every single trend involving cycles of duals in Standard supports the claim they will go up. The buddy lands went up, the Zendikar fetchlands went up, the Scars of Mirrodin lands went up, and the Innistrad lands all went up when the next block came out.

Not to mention that the Ravnica shocklands are a defining feature of Wizards’ new baby, the Modern format. Once people stop drafting and cracking packs of DGR, the supply of these cards in people’s trade binders is going to quickly disappear.

This is not shocking news, but I’m not going to ignore the most obvious low-hanging fruit. If you end up paying $20 bucks for a Hallowed Fountain next December, it’s not like you didn’t have fair warning!

Scrooge McDuck’s Money Vault

If the status quo isn’t super greedy three-color mana bases post-rotation, it seems highly logical that Mutavault may start seeing a lot more play. Also, keep in mind that the insane Innistrad block cycle of colorless spell lands will be gone, leaving players looking to get some utility out of their lands.

The fact that Wizards chose to bring back a tribal-themed changeling manland suggests to me that there could be some tribal shenanigans going on in Theros, which only makes Mutavault better.

Beatdown Buys

Dom-ready for a price jump?

Domri Rade is an awesome Magic card. It has already been in multiple tier 1 Standard decks, and I fully expect this trend to continue. Domri already has a pretty steep price tag at $25 which makes me a little apprehensive to put him at the top of my list of cards people should be looking to pick up.

However, based on the track record this card already has with showing up in awesome decks, I wholeheartedly expect that there will be a time when he is the most expensive card in Standard. Also, the card has been proven to be playable in Modern (#BlameKibler), which is another strong indicator that the card will stay in high demand.

With Innistrad rotating, aggressive mages are going to have to wave bye-bye to many of the best aggro cards in the format. However, of the good aggro cards that are sticking around, G/R appears to have a pretty strong edge to remain the beatdown deck to beat.

Potentially the best ONE-drop left.

Yeah, yeah Elvish Mystic too.

However, if you look at the one-drop creatures from Return to Ravnica block and M14, you’ll quickly notice that quality beats are hard to find.

Experiment One is the exception to the low standard of post-rotation Standard one-drops in that it is actually a great card. Standard always has a couple of runaway expensive uncommons that become chased after, and Experiment One seems like it could easily become next year’s uncommon hotness (think Dismember, Augur of Bolas, Inquisition of Kozilek, or Invisible Stalker).

It’s the kind of card that is pretty good but is held back by other cards in a big format, and then things get shaken up and it ends up at the top of the heap. Also, it isn’t the kind of card everybody has been hoarding up because it was hyped out of the gate.

Ghor-Clan is all the rage.

Everything I said about Experiment One (besides the one-drop stuff) is true of Ghor-Clan Rampager. Basically, everywhere you find Experiment One you will also find Ghor-Clan Rampager. The fact that these two cards are so good is one of the reasons I believe that Domri Rade will be a tier 1 mainstay in Standard for the next year almost regardless of what Theros brings.

I also know, at least in Michigan, that Ghor-Clan Rampagers are getting reasonably difficult to find. Many of the card shops frequently sell out of the card. Thus it begins . . .

Gyre For Hire

Gyre Sage is another card that seems really cheap right now for how good it actually is, and it is poised to get much better post-rotation.

The card that it really competes with for space in most decks is Farseek, which will be leaving us shortly. With Farseek and ten buddy lands rotating out of the format, people may be less incentivized to play greedy three-color mana bases in the future, which has always been a problem with Gyre Sage only producing green mana.

In R/G Aggro decks that are trying to cast Experiment One and ramp up to Kalonian Hydra, the Sage seems like the best possible card. Gyre Sage, in my mind, has a lot of potential to be a big card moving forward.

If Domri ends up being the second most expensive card in Standard, it’s probably because Hydra is number one.

If Hydra ends up being good, it will probably be very good. And since it is an M14 unique mythic, it will likely be pretty expensive in the same way that Thundermaw Hellkite got really expensive last year.

Obviously, it’s a crapshoot to buy an M14 mythic while its high, but I’m just saying that Hydra looks better to me moving forward than Archangel of Thune.

Let Sleeper Hydras Lie

It may never see play, but I picked up a playset of the Hydra at $2.50 apiece. It’s a mythic rare, and it’s a Hydra.

Hydras are a pretty central part of Greek mythology, so there is a realistic chance that Theros will offer new printings that could help make this card a lot better. Worst-case scenario casual players begin building sweet Hydra decks and make this critter’s value go up.

It’s also actually a pretty powerful Magic card. I was very close to playing with it at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze in San Diego, and Block Constructed is often a very strong indicator of what will be good post-rotation. I have nothing but mad respect for this card since it beat me absolutely mercilessly at Grand Prix Providence.

Control Cards To Collect

As Revelation goes, blue will go.

If Sphinx’s Revelation isn’t positioned well, blue decks are going to have a rough year or so.

That being said, Sphinx’s Revelation is one of if not the most powerful spells in Return to Ravnica block. Azorius already has a bunch of good cards to build decks around, as was evident with it being so popular at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze.

Here is the Esper Control deck that I played at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze. Many of the things that this deck is doing could be very good post-rotation.

Sphinx’s Best Friends

Every deck that plays Revelation is going to also play with Detention Sphere and Supreme Verdict. They are both at bottom basement prices right now and worth picking up while they are low. As of right now, there are not really any comparable effects in Azorius to these powerful removal spells. Oblivion Ring rotates out with M13, and there is not another Azorius sweeper as close to as good as Verdict yet.

The Ultimate Finisher

Aetherling is another card on my radar that I believe is very likely to go up in value in Standard post-rotation. The Shapeshifter is one of the best finishers ever and is possibly the most difficult creature to kill ever printed. Again, I had the opportunity to play with Aetherling at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze, and it was one of the highlights of my deck.

Considering that Aetherling is one of the best blue finishers I have ever seen printed, I can’t imagine that blue decks are very likely to get a better win condition in the future. Also, the fact that it plays so nicely with Supreme Verdict, another one of the best Azorius cards left in the format, really leads me to believe this card will see a lot of play over the fall and winter.

Going back to my Block deck, another card that I have really high expectations for is this guy.

Baneslayer Vampire

I have already played with Blood Baron in Standard, and the card has really impressed me so far. The biggest downside to it currently is that it’s often worse than Thragtusk and, even more importantly, matches up poorly against Thragtusk.

With Thragtusk exiting the format, there’s going to be room for players to try out and build around other five-drops, and my prediction for the most awesome one is Blood Baron of Vizkopa. The card is very difficult to answer with most removal spells (excluding Mizzium Mortars) and has the ability to stonewall almost all small creatures on defense.


Maze’s End is another card that I could see making a splash in new Standard. It was already the win condition of a popular Block deck and could easily take advantage of the lack of fixing in the format since it gets to play with Guildgates.

Also, hardline control decks are going to lose Nephalia Drownyard, which could open up space for this other land-based victory condition to shine. The card is dirt-cheap for a mythic rare, which could make it a very solid pickup during the next month.

The last card I am going to talk about is one that I think will see a ton of play basically no matter what next fall:

Best removal spell in Standard post-rotation?

With Bonfire of the Damned rotating, Mizzium Mortars will be the midrange creature trump of choice. One of the most appealing attributes of this card is that it can easily fry most of the five-mana Thragtusk replacement creatures, including Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Archangel of Thune, and Kalonian Hydra. Being able to burn Loxodon Smiter also seems pretty appealing.

Oh, and Plague Winding an opponent’s board in a creature mirror is pretty good too.

These are the cards that I have been trying to stock up on over the past couple of weeks; hopefully my insights on the subject will be useful to you at the trade table while rounding out your collection for next fall. Obviously, a lot can change in a few weeks as more enticing Theros information becomes known, but for now all anyone can do is speculate and dream about the sweet, sweet Theros cards to come!

I’m finding myself checking for spoilers daily . . .

Brian DeMars

Follow me on Twitter @Briandemars1