Bang for your Buck: Investing in cards for Journey into Nyx – Red, Rakdos, and Gruul
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.
Red has usually been the king of aggro. In past seasons, red has been all about playing fast, aggressive creatures and reducing an opponent’s life total to zero as fast as possible. Gruul aggro had a lightning fast strategy with Flinthoof Boar (M13), Burning-Tree Emissary, and an amazing finisher with Hellrider (DKA) before rotation. Since then the strategy has been largely forgotten in favor of mono white aggro and black/white aggro. Decks like GR, RW, and BR aggro haven’t really been able to put up the numbers that they did in the past. There are some fun cards like Prophetic Flamespeaker in the new set, but will Journey into Nyx have enough cards to push these decks back into tier 1 or 1.5? Find out down below.
Previous Red, Rakdos, and Gruul suggestions
- Anger of the Gods ($2) – I thought this card would go up in value because I thought it would be great against aggro decks. Well, it IS good against aggro decks, but the problem is nobody really played aggro during BNG standard aside from mono white/BW aggro and some mono blue devotion decks. The card also got some love from modern in a few sideboards, but not enough to push the value above $3 like I thought. That’s one in the loss category.
- Burning Earth ($1) – As I said above, people simply stopped playing red aggro decks in BNG standard. This means all these cards that would have made good sideboard cards instead took a big dip. Burning Earth seemed like it might be good in the sideboard, but most people stayed away from 3 color decks last season aside from Esper control. 0 for 2.
- Chandra’s Phoenix ($3.25) – The Phoenix saw a lot of play in Boros burn decks towards the end of BNG standard, which helped it to keep its value, but seeing play in only one deck won’t push the value up. Yikes, three strikes against me already (0 for 3).
- Chandra, Pyromaster ($14.25) – *sigh*, Another bad call. She had kept your value above $18 for so long, but you might as well put a nail in red’s coffin for this standard cycle. Chandra dipped about $4, and I don’t think she’ll see much play before rotation either. 0/4.
- Skull Crack, Magma Jet, Young Pyromancer – I thought each would go up in value a little bit due to burn’s increasing popularity, but their prices were relatively unchanged during BNG standard. 0/7
- Stormbreath Dragon ($17) – I said he’d see a bit more play towards the end of BNG and he did. There has been an increase in Naya and Jund decks in standard, not to mention red devotion, and the dragon has been inching back in value too. Finally a reprieve – 1 for 8.
- Rakdos’s Return ($4) – Rakdos’s Return did see a renaissance in BNG standard, in fact it was pretty damn effective. But it’s a card that’s rotating and only seeing use in a few decks. I was right that it would see more play, not that it would go up in value. 1/9.
- Rakdos Cackler, Spike Jester, Tymaret the Murder King – I thought Rakdos aggro would see more play thanks to Temple of Malice and help these cards go up, but again, no aggro deck with red became that popular during BNG standard. 1/12.
- Domri Rade ($24) – Domri Rade actually went up considerably during BNG standard thanks to GR monsters, and he also saw play in modern. However, he recently has dipped in price again. I wouldn’t say I was wrong or right, and will leave this as being N/A.
- Ruric Thar, The Unbowed – I thought GR monsters would continue to do well in the metagame, thus leading Ruric Thar to some more sideboard spots, but nope. BNG standard was boring and full of black and blue.
The results for red during BNG standard were absolutely miserable. I can’t believe how bad most of these cards did. Born of the Gods really destroyed a lot of value in red. Now we have to ask ourselves, are the cards worth picking up for Journey into Nyx standard? With most prices at an all time low and rotation looming a mere 5 months away, what should we buy and what should we sell? Well, let’s take a look at my picks for JOU.
One of the first cards I’d like to talk about today is Ash Zealot ($2.75). It still remains a great card in mono red and Boros aggro decks in standard, but I’d like to actually recommend it because of its uses in modern. Red/x aggro isn’t a Tier 1 deck in modern, but there are still a good number of players that play the deck. I played it in my Red devotion deck, and I find it to be a great card against both Storm and control decks (especially those that use Snapcaster Mage heavily). That’s the reason I think it won’t lose all of it’s value post rotation. I expect it to hover around the $2 range up until rotation so if you can find it cheap I would recommend picking up a playset, especially if it goes below $2.
I’d also like to recommend selling Chandra, Pyromaster ($14) or trading it away while you still can. While she is probably the best Chandra to date, I’m not entirely sure we’ll see her back in the same form in M15. Even if she’s reprinted, I wouldn’t count on her value staying above $12. She’s going to dip to under $10 in the next few weeks, so I’d recommend trading her away unless you’re going to use her.
My first gamble for red today is going to be Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. At 4 mana, it usually battles with cards like Chandra, Pyromaster in the same spot, but if she and Chandra’s Phoenix aren’t reprinted I think it could be taking her place in mono red devotion or red midrange decks. It has a decent tribute ability wouldn’t be horrible in a future red deck. I don’t think it will see play right away, but I think it should start to go up in price in July as people start to pick up cheap mythics and rares before rotation. I wouldn’t expect it to go up more than $1 or $2 from it’s current price of $2, but at its current cheap price you won’t be hurting too much to pick up a playset for the future.
Mizzium Mortars ($2.75) is another card that I think won’t do to well the closer we get to rotation. It’s going to drop to $2 in a few months, so it might be better to invest in Anger of the Gods instead ($2) which could go up in value the closer we get to rotation. I wouldn’t expect Anger to move much during Journey into Nyx unless white, black, and blue aggro become really popular in standard. Other cards I think you might want to look out for are Skull Crack ($.60) which sees play in modern burn decks. Burn is a rather cheap deck to make, and depending on how popular modern gets this summer, I think this card could be seeing $1+ prices after rotation.Now’s a good time to get 4.
Stormbreath Dragon ($17) hasn’t seen much love lately in standard, but with Junk decks and Banishing Light about to make a big splash in standard, I think we could see a resurgence of the 4/4 flyer. Naya midrange is looking really good with Elspeth, Xenagos, and Ajani, Mentor of Heros, but I think Stormbreath could find a place in Jund as a finisher as well. Temple of Malady has already boosted GB aggro and Junk (GBW) midrange, so it’s only a matter of time before Jund (GBR) also sees the same kind of treatment. I don’t expect him to go up too much in value, but I think he’ll keep inching up this summer. Maybe we’ll see $18-$19 prices come July.
I heard that Young Pyromancer ($2.25) is getting reprinted in an event set, so we should see lower prices on him if you’ve been looking to pick him up too. Sell him now if you’re looking to make a some cash.
At first glance, there are quite a few uncommons I would recommend picking up for the long term right now. One such card is Rakdos Charm, which I think will see some sideboard play in the future. It’s currently $.25, but I think it could see play in modern sideboards in the future. It destroys artifacts (good against Affinity), exiles graveyards (weakens Goyf and Snapcaster’s ability), and also does a lot of damage equal to creatures (good against BW tokens). Spike Jester ($.25) is another cheap uncommon that I think might see play in Rakdos aggro decks during the next standard season. I wouldn’t expect them to go up in value too much, but I think now’s a good time to pick them up if feel like brewing some BR aggro decks. I think Rakdos’s Return ($4) should continue to see some play in BRW and Jund decks next season, but I don’t think it will hold it’s value for much longer because it doesn’t see much play in any other formats.
While it’s no Surgical Extraction or Memoricide, Slaughter Games continues the “cannot be countered” cycle of spells and I think it has a place in a future modern deck after it rotates out. $.50 is pretty cheap for it right now, so pick up a play set of these for a long term investment if you’re interested. I don’t think they’ll go up in the next few months, but hold onto it for a few years and you might be able to make 10 times as much money. We’ll see. Another card to look for if you can find it cheap is Breaking/Entering ($1). My friend said that strong mill cards such as Mind Funeral are always in demand with some players, so it might not hurt to pick up a few of those as well.
Burning-Tree Emissary has been at about $2 for the longest time. The card was amazing in Gruul aggro during RTR/ISD block standard, and it’s been a great tool in red and green devotion decks to cheat out large creatures very early on in the game thanks to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. GR monsters aka Colossal Gruul is already showing signs of a resurgence in standard, so you might see her hit $2.50 soon. I think she’s a good investment at anything under $2 if you can find her. Nykthos devotion decks haven’t seen too much play in modern, but I think people will pick them up eventually. BTE should hold her value after rotation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she dipped to about $1.50-$1 before going back up again.
Domri Rade seems to be on a slide right now, down to $23.75 from his high of about $35 a few weeks ago, and he still might have a few more dollars to go before bottoming out. GR monsters or Naya midrange might see some play in standard which should hold his value above $20 until late summer, but I think he’s only going to go up in value from here. There are definite possibilities with him in Modern, as 3 mana planeswalkers have always shown good value. He might drop in price a little bit more, but I think you’re safe picking him up at this price because eventually he’ll climb back up to $30 and maybe even hit $40 a few months after rotation.
Ghor-Clan Rampager ($.30) should also see more play in the next few months in as GR decks make a comeback. He works especially well with the new Prophetic Flamespeaker in a GR monsters deck (10 damage plus 2 cards!), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit $.75-$1 this summer. Not bad to buy him now if you want to play that type of deck. Another card to keep an eye on is Polis Crusher ( $.40). I’ve been playing with him a little bit while testing Theros block constructed and I definitely think he’ll have a place in Naya post rotation. It won’t go up in value too much, but he might hit $1 after rotation.
Next time on Bang for your Buck
We are in a tough spot in standard right now, especially when it comes to investing. On one hand there are lots of very cheap cards to pick up if you know what to buy, but at the same time it’s very difficult to know how players will react and what will trend. With a lot of Return to Ravnica block cards leaving us in a few months, I’m very reluctant to spend too much on cards I think won’t see play in another format. Modern season is coming soon, which should clear up a few things and help us to see which cards might be playable after rotation. We’re almost done with this series, so be sure to check back again before this weekend for my next article. I’ll be covering Green, Golgari, and Selesnya colors, and not a moment too soon. Junk decks and Golgari decks are currently on the upswing to buying stuff soon will save you a lot of money in the long run. Thanks for reading, and see you then!