The New Standard Card Market

One SCG Tour down, a ton to go! Chas Andres followed the results closely, and he’s ready to bring you the latest exploding Standard singles, falling stars, and other SCG Columbus fallout!

The SCG Columbus Open has come and gone, and Aether Revolt is no longer the great unknown. We have results—actual results!—that we can use to figure out what Standard is going to look like for the next few months.

Don’t forget: no format is fully settled on Week One, and the Standard metagame will certainly evolve between now and the end of the Pro Tour. The combo decks will get sleeker, the aggro decks with get tougher, and the control decks will tune themselves to better fight the field. New interactions will be discovered and honed. Old staples will fall by the wayside.

But Week One isn’t nothing. The fact that Saheeli Rai won a bunch of games yesterday is relevant. So is the fact that Tezzeret the Schemer was nowhere near the top tables. Week One is also important from a speculation perspective—a lot of money will be made when people quick-flip their best Week One buys before the format can adjust.

So what did we learn from SCG Columbus? Let’s take a look.

Torrential Gearhulk is the real deal. The blue Gearhulk had a dynamite weekend, appearing as the control finisher of choice in multiple decks and wrecking house fairly often. Both Saheeli Combo and more classic control decks took advantage of this backbreaking bruiser. With Emrakul gone, it was sort of unclear what the control mages would do with their six-plus-mana slots. Well, now we know.

Torrential Gearhulk is out of stock at $23 right now, and I’d imagine it gets re-stocked at $30 or $35. You can’t really lose selling into the hype if you’re not planning to use the card—Standard cards don’t stay above $30 for long these days, especially if they’re in large fall sets—but Torrential Gearhulk is likely to be a pillar of the metagame going forward regardless. Don’t sell your personal set and assume you’ll be able to get them back for $10 each a month from now. This card is legit.

Delirium isn’t dead. Brennan DeCandio had an unbelievable tournament, and his B/G Delirium deck is going to be a major player on the circuit next week as well as at your local FNM. My guess is that most of the people who were already playing black and green are going to modify their deck to take advantage of what DeCandio cooked up.

Let’s go through some of the key cards, shall we?

Green had an awesome weekend overall, and Verdurous Gearhulk looked unstoppable at times. While I heard a few reports that it was underperforming in some builds (in G/W Tokens, for example), I do think it will see a lot more play going forward, especially in the different flavors of black and green. Verdurous Gearhulk is currently sold out at $12, and I’d expect it to end up closer to $20 for the short-term.

Holy cow is Walking Ballista legit. It exceeded my wildest dreams, and everybody I’ve talked to has been gushing about how well it slots into multiple good decks. StarCityGames.com re-stocked their copies of Walking Ballista at $10, and I’d expect it to stick at $10-$12 (if not slightly higher) until the hype dies down somewhat. As with any shiny new rares, you can sell your extra copies into the hype, but understand that this is not going to be a flash in the pan.

I had thought that Grim Flayer might see a drop-off in popularity now that Ishkanah wasn’t as good and there was no reason to develop delirium for Emrakul, but I was wrong. Expect Grim Flayer to stay in the $20-$25 range for the foreseeable future.

Here’s an exciting spec opportunity. DeCandio ran four Mindwrack Demons, it’s a mythic rare, and it’s just $3 right now. I’d grab a couple of sets just in case it spikes. In fact, I could see Mindwrack Demon at $8+ by this time next week if this becomes the build of choice for black and green.

It’s an uncommon, but it’s one that looked great all weekend. Pick these out of your bulk; you’ll probably be seeing this little Snake paired with Walking Ballista every single week for the next two years. Wait, these are just $0.49 each? Yeah, I’d pick up a few sets and throw them in a box somewhere. They could easily be $2-$3 a month from now.

Another card that had a pretty solid weekend, albeit rarely as a four-of. It doesn’t have much further to rise, but it could stay at $5-$6 for quite a while.

This card is unlikely to spike, but it probably can’t go much lower than $3.50 and could end up in the $5-$6 range before long. Grab a personal set now if you need them.

Oh—and there’s a really good G/B Aggro deck, too. It’s a faster version of the Delirium deck, but it uses many of the same pieces. Verdurous Gearhulk looks even better here, though most of the cards in this deck are a lot cheaper to cast.

One card that stood out to me: here Glint-Sleeve Siphoner.

At times, it appeared to be the best Dark Confidant variant in years. You don’t need to combine it with much before it starts to take over a game, and there are plenty of solid black-based shells where I could see it making an impact. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is at $3 right now, and it may end up at $6-$8 once people catch on. I’d grab a set ASAP.

Tireless Tracker also had a good tournament, showing up in both G/B Aggro and G/W Tokens. It’s not a four-of in all of these decks, but it’s a $6 card with a heck of a pedigree. It could end up in the $8-$10 range over the next couple of weeks thanks to a resurgence of these aggressive green strategies.

Vehicles isn’t dead, either. Derik Malenda made Top 8 with Mardu Vehicles, an archetype that I thought was going the way of the dodo thanks to the Smuggler’s Copter ban.

Nope! Toolcraft Exemplar and friends are back, this time with Heart of Kiran and Aethersphere Harvester in tow.

Heart of Kiran is an interesting one. I was very high on the card when I first saw the preview, but my opinion dropped once Smuggler’s Copter was banned (could Vehicles really survive?) and Heart of Kiran’s price kept rising. At this point, however, I have to believe that Heart of Kiran has a real shot at being a key card in multiple good decks. It might not sustain a $23 price tag, but it could stay at $15-$20 for a while.

Aethersphere Harvester also looked good, showing up in both Mardu Vehicles and G/B Aggro among the decks in the Top 8. It doesn’t have a ton of upside, since it’s just a rare and rarely a four-of, but you’re going to want to own these if you’re a Standard player. I bet it remains pretty stable in the $5-$6 range for at least a couple of weeks.

No Aetherworks Marvel decks made Top 8. Reports of Aetherworks Marvel’s death have proven…well, pretty correct so far. The deck wasn’t absent from Day Two, but it could not make it over the hump.

It’s possible that the pros have some sweet new version of Aetherworks Marvel ready to dominate the Pro Tour in a couple of weeks, but I wouldn’t count on it. For now, you should probably be selling your copies of Aetherworks Marvel and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ASAP. Aetherworks Marvel never saw the post-ban fall-off it should have, and Ulamog is clearly not the answer.

The Saheeli Rai combo is as good as advertised. I mean, if you hoped that Saheeli Rai was so good that it couldn’t ever be beaten and would immediately be banned, you might be disappointed with the results. Three(!) Saheeli Rai combo decks made Top 8, but all lost in the quarterfinals. For a brand new combo deck on Week One, that’s still an impressive result. The Cat Beast is definitely out of the bag.

Right now, Saheeli Rai is out of stock at $25. This is probably her floor as long as the combo remains Tier 1, so I wouldn’t sell my copies quite yet. I could see her stabilize at $30-$35 for a while, though I suspect people will fear another ban if she ends up dominating the Pro Tour as well. If you’ve got any extra copies, I’d either sell them on Day 2 of the Pro Tour or when she hits $40—whichever comes first.

Greedy manabases are back. The Top 8 featured two three-color decks and two four-color decks. That’s not as bad as it was when the fetchlands were legal, but it’s not far off. I was probably too harsh on the multicolor cards in my Aether Revolt set review, and all of the fastlands in the format are likely to rise in price.

I’d especially focus on Inspiring Vantage (sits in Mardu Vehicles and all the Jeskai and Four-Color Saheeli builds) as well as Spirebluff Canal and Blooming Marsh, thanks to the current popularity of those colors. Wandering Fumarole is also still steadily gaining value right now. They shouldn’t spike so far that you’ll want to spec on them for resale, but pick up your personal sets ASAP.

G/W Tokens is back, too. Only Hunter Nance made Top 8 with the deck, but the deck performed well enough in Columbus that it is likely to be a major part of the format going forward.

Some key cards worth talking about:

Is Gideon the most powerful card in Standard right now? It’s hard to argue against that assessment. I can’t recommend buying in—it seems to be topping out at $25 thanks to the fact that it’s from an older set and nobody wants to get stuck with them—but it could hit $30 or $35 at some point this spring just due to financial attrition. At the very least, I don’t see Gideon dropping in price anytime soon, and the lack of Smuggler’s Copter has only helped him strut his stuff.

Nissa spiked last week in anticipation of the G/W Tokens resurgence, and it might have farther to go now that that hunch was proven correct. Nissa is $13.99 right now, and I suspect it’ll be $15-$18 before long. In fact, she could end up at $25 if she ends up a staple in both G/W and G/B Aggro.

An unsung hero that isn’t in all the G/W Tokens decks, but it’s sold out at $2.49 right now and shows up enough to intrigue me. It should end up closer to $5.

There was a very cool U/B Colossus deck kicking around on Day 1, but it might be a financial trap. It was being piloted by Joe Lossett, who unfortunately finished the day at 4-4 (and I believe some number of those wins were byes). I’m bringing it up because the deck looked great on-camera, and both Tezzeret the Schemer and Metalwork Colossus saw small gains on Saturday as a result. I’d pass on these cards for now, but it’s worth nothing that both will likely jump if someone makes U/B Colossus work in the near future. People really want this deck to be good.

This Week’s Trends

We’ve talked plenty about Standard, but what’s up with Modern? Well, Retract is up to almost $10 and Puresteel Paladin is heading towards $15.

Both spikes can be blamed on the Puresteel Paladin deck, which more people want to try out now that Aether Revolt gave it a new friend. Selling into the hype is fine if you’re risk-adverse, though it may continue to rise for a bit if the deck starts putting up numbers. I’m holding off for now.

Saffi Eriksdotter saw a spike as well. This might have something to do with its interaction with Renegade Rallier, thought I haven’t even seen a decklist for that yet. I’m guessing this was a finance community buyout and not actual demand.

Invasion‘s Spreading Plague was bought out, likely due to the fact that it’s pretty solid in the right Commander deck. I don’t see a ton of upside in this card, but the supply is so low that I can’t imagine it’ll end up back at bulk anytime soon.

Also up this week thanks to casual demand: Expropriate, from Conspiracy: Take the Crown. At this point, you should be thinking about buying cheap boxes of Conspiracy 2 and holding them for the long-term. The set’s total value is already pretty high, and it just seems to be going up.