Bang for your Buck: Investing in cards before Gatecrash – Red

Disclaimer: I can not be held responsible for any poor decisions I make in regards to any cards you might buy in response to my article. I’m going to post my thoughts and plead my case for each card I recommend, and if you agree then by all means head out to your local gaming store or buy cards online and try to snap up some good deals. I’m basing my information off of months of standard gaming experience as well as prices in my area and how they’ve reacted to the ever changing metagame. I can only hope that the decisions I make are good ones and that my gamble pays off after buying the featured cards.

We’ve finally reached the end of our journey! Please, give yourselves a pat on the back. You’ve sat through 7 articles and now we’re ready for the 8th and final one. I’ve been rushing through these in order to give my readers enough time to go out to their local stores (or order online), and hopefully in another month or two we’ll see some results. At the end of this article, I will posting a list of the Top 10 deals for cards in the metagame right now. Even if we don’t see an increase in value right away, it doesn’t mean a card won’t go up in value at all. Angel of Glory’s Rise went from being a .50 cent bulk rare to a $3 card overnight after the Nagoya GP showed how powerful Human reanimator could be (it’s around $2 now), and if you had bought a stack while they were cheap you could have sold a lot for a nice profit when she hit their peak. This happened 7 months after the release of Avacyn Restored, and if we have learned anything from the Return to Ravnica metagame it’s that even cards everybody thinks are worthless have a spot. They might not be widely played, but it doesn’t mean they are impossible to play (Door to Nothingness in Omnidoor Thragfire anybody?)

Let’s get this started so we can wrap the series up and get back to brewing for the metagame.

M13 Red cards

Gahhhh!! Red M13 cards, you have so much potential but I don’t know how to make you work! It’s true that there are some pretty powerful cards in red. When Incinerate rotated out we knew that Searing Spear was going to take its place, and Firewing Phoenix was a total let down after we were spoiled by Chandra’s Phoenix in M12, but what about Chandra, the Firebrand? She isn’t the best planeswalker out there right now, but she’s not the worse (Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded I’m looking at you). There is little chance she’ll see any play, even in a Grixis control deck. Her -2 ability is good, but I feel like she doesn’t have enough protection to survive long enough in this metagame. At least not in traditional decks.

Krenko, Mob Boss

Krenko, Mob Boss

Krenko, Mob Boss . .  . your time has come. I believe there are enough goblins in standard right now to constitute making a Goblin deck, or at least a RW token deck. Krenko’s Command, Guttersnipe, and Legion Loyalist are all constructed playable, and if you throw in a Hellraiser Goblin everybody has haste. Their drawback is that they are all weak, so in order to pump up their value you’ll have to run white for Intangible Virtue in a token deck. This also gives you access to Boros Charm and Frontline Medic however, and when you add either of those into the mix you get an angry mob of indestructible goblin/humans. Sure Krenko doesn’t have an anthem effect like Goblin Chieftain did in M12, but his tap ability has great synergy with another underused red card: Burn at the Stake. At $2.40, I can’t really say that Krenko, Mob Boss is undervalued right now, but I think RW or BRW token decks are now possible thanks to cards like Boros Charm.

Thundermaw Hellkite should definitely keep it’s value, and probably even see a spike as more people play Naya midrange, Gruul beatdown, or Boros midrange. Speaking of dragons, another card that I’d like to see become broken in Gatecrash is Slumbering Dragon. It always seemed like an amazing card, a 3/3 flyer for 1 mana that would become an 8/8 flyer if you awoke it by attacking with too many creatures, but decks that  used it never stayed around too long. Perhaps RUG decks using the Simic evolve mechanic and cards like Master Biomancer will finally make it viable. At $1 each (I bought 4 at 53 yen each a few weeks back) I don’t think it would be a bad investment.

Avacyn Restored Red cards

The king of burn, Bonfire of the Damned, has lost almost half of its value since Avacyn Restored. It is currently hovering around $30, and with a wide variety of board wipes serving various functions such as Aurelia’s Fury, Mizzium Mortars, and Clan Defiance, I think Bonfire should stay around that value for a while. I don’t believe it will hit $50 again during its time left in standard.

As I stated above with Krenko and RW tokens, I think Burn at the Stake has some interesting applications in the new metagame, but I don’t think it see any play outside of some fringe decks. Vexing Devil has made a slight comeback with the new set so far, finding a place in RWB burn decks. I found myself on the receiving end of a few of these, some Boros Charms, Bump in the Nights, and Skull Cracks and there was little I could do about it. I don’t think Burn will become popular enough to greatly raise his value though. One card that I think could see some more play in Gatecrash standard is Zealous Conscripts.

Zealous Conscripts

Zealous Conscripts

Zealous Conscripts saw a $10 price tag before rotation and saw play in a few control and Birthing Pod decks, but since then its value has plummeted to around $2. Boros humans WILL be in the new standard metagame, and I think it will be fairly popular. Zealous Conscripts could find a slot in either the sideboard or as a one off in these decks, so it’s possible her value will see a spike. Stealing a planeswalker right before it ultimates is fun, and it’s also a good way to activate a late game Battalion if your board was just wiped and you need to steal a 3rd creature to activate it. Overall I think AVR prices won’t change much, but I do think the conscripts will see slightly more play than the previous standard metagame.

Dark Ascension Red cards

Hellrider will only go up in value as more and more players play aggressive beatdown decks. It’s already up to $10 after being at $7 for a few weeks. I don’t think it will go down again for a few months. If I had to pick an undervalued card, I’d go with Flayer of the Hatebound (.30 cents). I always wanted to create a mass undying deck where all of my creatures would go to the graveyard with an effect like Blasphemous Act then return and deal a massive amount of damage with Flayer of the Hatebound. Did it work? No. Could it work? Maybe. Immortal Servitude on a playset of Geralf’s Messenger coming back from your graveyard would deal 20 damage. Rest in Peace would totally ruin this idea though.

Innistrad Red cards

There are some playable red cards in Innistrad, but their value is going to depend on how well control can  . . . well . .  . control the metagame. Devil’s Play is okay, Blasphemous Act is okay as a boardwipe (especially in creature heavy metas), but I don’t see them going into decks as anything more than a one off.

Stromkirk Noble

Stromkirk Noble

Stromkirk Noble, on the other hand, should see its value increase as the popularity of humans increases. There are currently a few popular human decks: GW humans, Naya humans, and Boros humans. Stromkirk Noble was originally in mono red decks before the RTR block, but now that players have access to more mana fixing, Stromkirk Noble should see more play in Rakdos aggro, Red Deck Wins, Rakdos Red, Boros Red, and any other aggressive aggro deck using red. The more decks a card is in, the more it’s value will increase. I think he’ll go up from his current $3.50 to about $5 IF  red aggro decks dominate the metagame.

 Return to Ravnica

I knew Ash Zealot was going to take off in value, which is why I bought a play set at $1.50 each. She’s now selling for close to $4 each, and I think there is still some more room to go up. Mizzium Mortars is another good card from RTR, and I think it’s a good deal at $2 a piece (they were around $4 before). If you don’t have a play set I don’t think it will get any lower than this. Will it go up in value? Not any time soon, even with Grixis seeing more play in standard, but Dragon’s Maze is supposedly featuring a UR planeswalker Ral Zarek, so red might be the color for control in the future. Will dragons become big as well? Should you buy up Utrava Hellkites in preparation? Ehhhhh, probably not. I don’t think anybody other than Thundermaw Hellkite will see any play in competive Magic.

My Gatecrash Standard picks

And that, my friends, is it. We’re done. We’re finished. It’s time to let the markets and the players decide which cards are the best and how much we should value you them at. As I said before, you probably won’t see a huge increase in value any time soon, but as people start to crack the metagame and break previously unbroken cards, I think you’ll see quite a few cheap cards appreciate nicely. Here are my Top 10 picks for Gatecrash Standard.

  1. Wolfir Silverheart ($3)
  2. Geralf’s Messenger ($6)
  3. Underworld Connections ($0.60)
  4. Loxodon Smiter ($3)
  5. Nephalia Drownyard ($0.70)
  6. Curse of Death’s Hold ($0.60)
  7. Quirion Dryad ($0.60)
  8. Undead Alchemist ($0.50)
  9. Disciple of Bolas ($1)
  10. Stromkirk Noble ($3.60)

I’d like to revisit this list before the next set to see if my guesses were right or not (these are the prices as of 2/5/13 from Gatecrash standard has only just started and fast aggro decks are pounding people left and right. The metagame will quickly shift to control I think, then burn decks, then midrange decks before doing a full circle and coming back to where it started. Only after this cycle has been completed will we get a better view of where the metagame is heading and which cards are going to become must haves. 

What about you? Which cards do YOU think will perform well in the new metagame? I’d like to hear some of your opinions if I didn’t mention the cards in my articles, as well as the reasoning behind your choice. The more educated we are, the better chances we will have of staying on top of the metagame. Good luck with Gatecrash and thanks for reading!