Quiet Speculation: PTQ and You

With the Rise of the Eldrazi prerelease weekend wrapping up in the land of cardboard Magic the Gathering, MTGO players may feel a little left out in the cold. Rise of the Eldrazi won’t be out online until the 10th of May, which means that even though paper players can qualify for Amsterdam using the new cards as of May 1st, MTGO players are stuck in limbo for a little while longer. Let’s take a look at the upcoming schedule and see what we can figure out.

As you read this, the first of the Amsterdam PTQs will have just come to a conclusion. The schedule this time around is rather odd – they’re running a few PTQs with the old cards, then going on hiatus for just over a month, at which point you can qualify with Rise of the Eldrazi. There’s a PTQ on the 20th and one on the 22nd, and then we’re done with “current” Standard.

The key to to not losing your shirt when trying to PTQ is either finding a magnanimous benefactor to loan you decks or getting your cards cheap and off-season. It’s getting too late for the latter, and if you have access to the former, you don’t need my advice. That means we need to scare up deals wherever we can.

This is the first Standard PTQ season MTGO has offered, and we’ve only got the precedent of Extended to work with. Extended cards took a big spike in the weeks leading up to the PTQ, but part of their price jump was exacerbated by card availability issues. Standard won’t have that problem, but it will have Mythics. Some of the top Mythics are fetching very high prices right now, and it’s tough to know whether they’ll keep rising. Master of the Wild Hunt, for example, is around $15. Jund decks love that card, so if you intend to play Jund, it might be wise to get them before they shoot even higher. However, with ROE debuting soon, we can only guess what the format will look like in a month. Unlikely though it may be, Jund may no longer be the Deck Du Jour and your investment will look awful by comparison.

This means that we have to focus on acquiring staples for the upcoming season! Cards like Master of the Wild Hunt are fantastic, but they are far from staples. Looking at the most-played and versatile cards in the format, we see things like Bloodbraid Elf, Knight of the Reliquary, Noble Hierarch, which can go in a wide variety of decks. Aggressive decks that have any prayer of playing Red or Green should be playing the overpowered Elf, and any deck with Green at all should make a good effort to play the two Conflux rares. The Elf is a top-tier Super-Uncommon, and it’s worth more than most rares from Alara block for good reason. You need a playset for the summer and it’s not negotiable. Knight and Hierarch are both priced highly, around $8-10, but they could see an even higher price towards the middle of June, when ROE season is in full swing. They are the two best mana acceleerators in the format, and Knight is so versatile that almost any deck able to cast the card should be playing it. Despite their high price right now, they have a lot of room to grow. Paper copies of each are $20, after all.

Standard decks need lands to run. This is no news to anyone. Worldwake’s man-lands are criminally underpriced right now due to high supply, but that won’t last. Worldwake is like a third set in this block since we won’t be drafting it once Rise comes out. Thus, supply will dry up quickly and players will be left wondering what happened. Mark my words – man-lands will not be this cheap forever. The only one that’s even close to correctly priced is Raging Ravine, and only because it’s played in the current Best Deck. The others have room to grow, and will remain popular staples in Standard for a long time.

The same is true for fetch lands. You do not want to be caught without a full playset in late July, when PTQ season is in full swing and no one has opened a Zendikar pack for months. They will probably not have as much room to grow as the man-lands do, but since they will undoubtedly continue seeing play once ROE releases, it is unlikely that you will lose money by owning them.

Ranger of Eos is another under-rated, under-priced card right now. Around $4, his price does not yet reflect the absurdity that is fetching Student of Warfare. I have watched Ranger-Student packages take over otherwise unwinnable games, and combined with Transcendant Master, White beatdown decks have an awful lot of tools at their disposal. I want four copies of Antoine Ruel staring me in my face as soon as I open up MTGO, and you should heed the warning and do the same. Really. It’s that good.

I never thought I’d see the day that you could get a playset of Birds of Paradise for under $10, but that day, my friends, is today. They’re pretty cheap, and preliminary testing with the Rise of the Eldrazi cards shows that mana development can be handsomely rewarded when done correctly. While most decks will run Hierarch over Birds if they had to choose one, we may be seeing a format that would like to use both. They don’t have a huge upside, but if you’re building a collection, now would be a good time to acquire our avian mana fixing buddies.

On another note, everyone who enjoys my work should check out the Price Prediction Contest that MTGO Academy is running! This is a really great idea, and if you fancy yourself a speculator, get in there and start guessing. You’d better believe that I’m putting in my votes right now! For what it’s worth, Vengevine is as good as advertised. This is based on actual play experience. It’s very, very easy to build your deck in such a way as to guarantee being able to re-buy the big guy, and he works so well with Bloodbraid Elf that it’s absurd. I cannot tell you how many games were won over the last week when a Vengevine took a Momentous Fall and was immediately re-bought by otherwise worthless mana elves.

Hope everyone had a great prerelease if you played in one in person, and good luck if you’re PTQing this week!



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