Welcome back to another edition of Trade Routes. Today I plan to talk about the effects of New Phyrexia on Standard, talk about sleeper cards and discuss a few of the hot Commander cards of each color that people seem to be picking up. So let’s jump right in:
New Phyrexia has been out now for two weeks, and we’ve seen two major tournaments. The results from these tournaments have given us some insight on what to expect in the next few weeks and potentially what Standard will look in the future.
Current Hot Standard Cards
Card Name: Batterskull
Set: New Phyrexia
CFB Price: $19.99
Rationale: This card is clearly going to be a staple for as long as Stoneforge Mystic is around. It was found in four of the top eight decks in Orlando and seven of the top eight decks in Louisville. Effectively, as long as some form of Caw-Blade sees play, so will this card.
Card Name: Sword of War and Peace
Set: New Phyrexia
CFB Price: $24.99
Trend: Stable/Down Slightly
Rationale: I don’t see this card staying at $25.00, but it will stay around $20.00. In a few weeks, as more people open this card and more of these cards hit the market, the price will settle like [card Sword of Feast and Famine]Feast and Famine[/card] did at around $20.00.
Card Name: Emeria Angel
CFB Price: $1.49
Rationale: This card is seeing play in both current forms of Caw Blade (and Darkblade) and it is unknown on whether or not this trend will continue. However, this card is played in Commander and is a casual favorite. I expect this card to climb upwards to $3.00 – $4.00, but settle in the $2.50 range.
Card Name: Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Set: Rise of the Eldrazi
CFB Price: $6.99
Rationale: This card hoses Splinter Twin Combo. It also deals nicely with Fauna Shaman and most mana creatures. She’s also has a big enough butt to not die to Slagstorm or Lightning Bolt. With Splinter combo in standard, I don’t foresee her dropping too much anytime soon (until her rotation in October).
Card Name: Spellskite
Set: New Phyrexia
CFB Price: $10.99
Rationale: This card is the real deal. It seeing play in virtually every deck as either a main deck or sideboard option. Expect this card to be a major player in standard for a while.
Card Name: Phyrexian Metamorph
Set: New Phyrexia
CFB Price: $2.49
Rationale: This card is probably going to climb a buck or two. It’s an interesting card that destroys Legendary items and gives you a copy of any artifact or creature and you can play it in any deck. We’ve seen this already in sideboards.
Card Name: Consecrated Sphinx
Set: Mirrodin Besieged
CFB Price: $5.99
Rationale: This card is sneaking into sideboards and occasionally as a one-of in main decks. I’d probably watch this card for a few weeks and if it stays around this price, I’d pick them up.
Card Name: Splinter Twin
Set: Rise of the Eldrazi
CFB Price: $11.99
Rationale: This card is settling and will remain this price for a few weeks. It’s uncertain on whether or not Splinter Twin combo is viable yet or not. We have too many versions of the deck floating around and until MTGO releases New Phyrexia, I suspect that this card will stagnate within U/R, Grixis or RUG Twin decks.
Hot Standard Common and Uncommon Cards
It’s obvious that with the new set, the previous Standard Champion is still the reigning as top dog. Caw-Blade and all of its variants are very powerful, but not unbeatable. I expect that over the next month or so, we will see a significant rise in aggro strategies, in hopes of outracing the controlling behemoth. The only doubt that I have in this comes from last weekend.
If you were watching the coverage of the 5k Open, many of the pros talked about how bad aggro is currently and how control has never been so powerful. The main example of this phenomenon is the fact that control decks are performing so well that nobody has to run a wrath effect anymore and can still win. Effectively, U/W variants are running Emeria Angel now so its tokens can chump block creatures as it clutters the skies with wings and swords. Batterskull also serves to negate creature damage and so Day of Judgment is just not necessary. Initially, I was intrigued by the change, but I don’t expect this fad to live forever.
On a personal level, I believe that we will or should see a rise in Vengevine based decks. However, that’s just my own opinion. But without Day of Judgment, cluttering up the board for cards like Vengevine is a losing battle. Before I get flamed, I do understand that Emeria Angel can make an obscene amount of tokens, cards like Beast Within are an easy solution to the token generator or anything else in the deck that is becoming a threat. Also, Beast Within is obviously playable in the same color as cards like Vengevine.
Top Five Sleeper Cards in Standard
Urabrask, the Hidden – This card has a pretty amazing affect. It’s a combination of the card Fervor and Kismet, on a 4 / 4 body. I expect this card to make a breakout at one of the next couple tournaments and at $5.00 – $6.00, it might be worth picking up (I picked up 36 of these at $4.00 each) in anticipation of its rise.
Massacre Wurm – With the popularity in Caw Blade decks, especially with Emeria Angel now, resolving this [card Massacre Wurm]wurm[/card] is a blow out. Yes, even if their sworded bird lives, the other five flyers do not. The card is currently at $2.99 and picking up a play set for $12.00 or less seems like a worthy investment. The only draw back is the three black in its mana cost. Worst case scenario, pick them up, hold them and if you do not end up playing with them, sell them or trade them to the Commander community.
Birthing Pod – Another New Phyrexia Sleeper. This card is sick. I can sacrifice a Vengevine at the end of turn for an Acidic Slime, and the following turn sacrifice the [card Acidic Slime]Slime[/card] for any Titan? This card is the love child of Food Chain and Natural Order. Its ability is incredibly powerful and at $1.99, it’s worth the investment.
Fauna Shaman – This card has fallen from $6.99 to $4.49 in the past month and will probably make it down to a solid $4.00 before it settles. However, this card is incredibly powerful and has the potential to blow up at any time. I would watch for it to hit $4.00 or less and scoop them up. Commander players use them and this card will certainly see play again.
Venser, the Sojourner – A highly unappreciated planeswalker, [card Venser the Sojourner]Venser[/card] has found homes in a few U/W control variants and most recently in a deck nicknamed “Exarch-Blade.” Unfortunately, this Planeswalker has consistently battled Gideon Jura for the five drop Planeswalker spot and has gone mostly unplayed. He’s currently $10.99, and has been as low as $8.99. I would expect him to stay stable at the worst as he is still a playable Planeswalker who see play in both Standard, but Commander as well.
Top Standard Sleeper Common and Uncommon Cards
Commander/Commander is a highly popular format and this set has given this format a huge boost. Below are my five top picks for each color. My explanation for each card is directly below.
Top White Commander Singles from New Phyrexia
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite – This card is a beating for any deck running White. Paired with cards like Crovax, Ascendant Hero and Massacre Wurm, this card is an auto-include.
Norn’s Annex – Paying life to attack is pretty devastating, especially when playing against token decks. I expect this card to stay stable and see quite a bit of play in Commander.
Shattered Angel – An interesting card that becomes much better in multiplayer games. If you are running a life gaining deck, this card is easily an auto-include.
Suture Priest – Life totals are resources and this card can punish token decks. Definitely worth considering. Unfortunately, it’s worth literally nothing.
Chancellor of the Annex – Not really playable in Standard, and is barely playable here. It fits decks that run Grand Arbiter Augustin IV decks, but other than that, it probably sits on the sideline. Pick this card up at bulk prices.
Top Blue Commander Singles from New Phyrexia
Chancellor of the Spires – This [card Chancellor of the Spires]Chancellor[/card] is pretty sweet, but depends a lot upon the current state of the game. Blink style decks (Venser, Momentary Blink, etc) can truly utilize this card, but any blue deck will be happy to play it. He’s cheap to pick up and is worth snagging early on.
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur – Insane, and quite devastating if he resolves. The card advantage alone will win you the game. Paired with a denial deck, this card is nuts. He’s also fairly cheap to obtain.
Phyrexian Ingester – Not as good as Duplicant, it still is a piece of removal for blue. I expect it to see a reasonable amount of play and he is virtually worthless monetarily. Trade for him or search the dollar bin at your local store for him.
Phyrexian Metamorph – This guy is pretty awesome. He fits in well with [card Sharuum the Hegemon]Sharuum[/card], but acts effectively as either a Clone or Sculpting Steel. I expect this card to stick around in Commander for a long while. Pick him up before he rises in price.
Psychic Surgery – this card made me think of Circu, the Lobotomist almost instantly. However, with the rampant presence of tutors, fetch lands and other search affects, this card could potentially be worth playing. Unfortunately, late game, he is probably not as valuable as your opponents will already be well established. Another bulk rare, but worth picking up to test with.
Top Black Commander Singles from New Phyrexia
Chancellor of the Dross – A fairly mediocre creature, he is still a 6/6 flyer with lifelink. If you are running mono-black, you will probably choose this guy. He is a vampire and can get tribal bonuses, but for his current price tag, I would wait a little bit until he hits the bulk rare bin.
Phyrexian Obliterator – This card has caught a significant amount of flack, especially in the Commander circle. However, when played in Mono-Black, this guy can be very frustrating for your opponent. Wait till he hits the $10.00 mark and pick him up.
Praetor’s Grasp – This card is awesome. You can grab on-color combo pieces, use it to remove a colored combo piece or simply keep it for a Demonic Tutor of your opponent’s deck! For $0.79, this card is a definite pick up.
Sheoldred, Whispering One – This card is nuts. It is a Diabolic Edict, Reya Dawnbringer on every other turn. A big body makes her harder to kill and can swing a game in just a matter of turns. She’s currently $2.00 and is certainly going to rise when the rotation hits. Pick her up now or trade for a pre-release version.
Life’s Finale – An interesting mixture of Buried Alive and Damnation. Could be interesting against the right deck and is worth picking up early. It’s basically a bulk rare already and that fact won’t change.
Top Red Commander Singles from New Phyrexia
Chancellor of the Forge – Heavy creature decks will utilize this card, but past that he’s awkward and expensive. I don’t expect this card to do much value wise other than hover around the bulk rare bin.
Invader’s Parasite – A beating against mono-colored decks, it is also useful to when trying to get rid of pesky cards like Gaea’s Cradle. Against land heavy decks, this card will carry its weight and more. Another cheap card, I’d pick this up now.
Urabrask, the Hidden – I love this card. Its effect on the game state is instantaneous and if often under valued. This is my sleeper pick. It’s currently $7.00 and if people keep overlooking it, expect it to drop a lot more.
Top Green Commander Singles in New Phyrexia
Beast Within – The one thing that green has been missing is spot removal. This card hits any permanent and is definitely an auto-include. It is an uncommon, but one that will be $1.00 – $2.00 in it’s regular version and $5.00+ in the foil.
Birthing Pod – As mentioned earlier, this card is insanely powerful, yet super cheap right now. If you don’t own one, pick it up right now. Seriously, stop reading my article and go and buy this card.
Brutalizer Exarch – A tutor or answer depending on your needs. Oh, and he has legs. Definitely worth scooping up cheaply, as he’s only an uncommon and not seeing standard play.
Fresh Meat – Muahaha, you want to wrath my army? Here’s another. This card is sick, especially now that wrath affects are just rampant within the format. As a bulk rare, he’s easy to find.
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger – Mana Ramp and Denial with the same set of legs? This guy is heavily sought after here in Denver and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the same in your area too. Pick him up now as he is still relatively easy to find and competitive Standard players frown when they open this guy.
Top Artifact/Colorless/Land Commander Singles in New Phyrexia
Caged Sun – A colorless Mirari’s Wake, this card is an auto-include in all mono-colored and bi-colored decks. Easily the chase rare for Commander players from the set, it carries a $0.99 price tag. It’s foil version however is $10.00.
Hex Parasite – A planeswalker killer, it can remove -1/-1 counters off creatures and is an artifact. Not an amazing creature in Commander, it’s still playable. I’d either try and trade for this, or wait for it to drop more.
Isolation Cell – Commander is a format plagued by annoying blue decks. This card assists in that. However, any control style Commander deck will find good uses for this card. Not a game-winner, but definitely frustrating and it allows you to control the pace of the game.
Karn Liberated – An auto-include in a lot of decks. Being colorless, this card is pretty easy to utilize. He’s on the down at the moment and I would wait a few more weeks before pulling the trigger on this card.
Phyrexia’s Core – This card is $0.10, but easily included in every Commander deck that runs artifacts. In the right deck, this card can be insane. The card is cheap enough that you can probably find one on the floor of a local game store after a draft.
In the end, New Phyrexia has brought some very interesting cards to both Standard and Commander. With it being a small set, I expect most of these cards to be very easily obtained. I look forward to seeing you all again next week.
Until Next Time,