Thursday, April 28, 2016

So close, yet so far - 15 Neglected Rares of Standard

Rares still too expensive for you? I understand, and I still respect you even though I shouldn't. Check out our list for Abandoned Uncommons for some ultra budget cards.

Hello, friends and family. Actually, hopefully not family, because I'm probably going to be dropping a bunch of fuck-bombs, and they die a little inside whenever I swear. Anyways, hello friends, this is Dan, and I'm here to present you a follow-up to our Forgotten Mythics of Standard Junior Varisty post from the other day. If you haven't read that one, check it out before/after this one. Order doesn't really matter - you do you. These posts take a look at a bunch of wicked cool cards that never got to see Pro Tour play, yet still have a lot of potential as long as they're in standard. And let me tell you, there's some baller cards hiding out there.

We're moving down the rarity scale, and ideally down the price scale, to check out the bomb-diggity rares that people thought would be so kickass, but somehow ended up being thrown into their bulk bin to hang out with all the hopelessly optimistic draft chaff.

"Boy, he sure was excited to open me in that draft! I can't wait to go into a real deck afterwards!"
So, as those of you who have been playing Magic for a bit may have realized, there are a lot of cards. There are at least 8 rares in this set (rough estimate), and a lot of them are exceptional cards. Strangely enough, though, not every one of them won the Pro Tour. There sure are a lot of them that we thought would have been wicked sweet when they were spoiled, but they ended up in this jank category, and here we are three weeks into standard still trying to figure out if Asylum Visitor is trash or not. (Hint: Yes.)

Since there are so many rares, we're switching up the format a bit from the previous article. Rather than just the top five rares that aren't seeing play this standard, I wanna get some diversity in this bitch, so we're doing the top three rares from each set in standard. For those of you who weren't math majors like I, that's almost three times as many as last time. Also, this article got a little long. I was writing as I drank beers on my porch, and only managed to stop once someone stole my spot and made me walk him.

"Dan, we're gonna have to have a talk about your shitty blog" - Admiral Samwise.
We're going to look at the most powerful spells to sling from DTK, ORI, BFZ, OGW, and SoI (I put the 'O' in lowercase because someone asked me to stop doing that and it tickles me), and talk a lil' bit about why they aren't in every deck right now. Ideally one of you will see one of these cards, recognize the raw power locked inside, and build a masterpiece to pilot yourself to many victories. Realistically, you'll probably be like "Yeah, that card certainly does suck" and leave it in a pile of junk rares. Ah, well, we can dream. So let's kick this list off!


Let there be Dargons

Dargons of Tarkir had some dope rares, no one can deny that. Ojutai's Command, Dromoka's Command, Den Protector, and Collected Company are all huge roleplayers in standard right now, and the role they're playing is "Winning at everything." There are a few cards in DTK though that did not quite hit the spotlight. Or didn't quite get hit by the spotlight? I dunno, I'm not famous, I don't understand these phrases. But the point is, no one showed them any love. Three in particular have a huge power level, had seen some play before, but are noticeably absent now.


Placing third, my naga:

Looks like in this timeline, Jeering Instigator managed to steal her sweet hat for real.
Back in an alternate timeline where she was three colors, the former Khan of the Sultai saw some play in decks utilizing Whip of Erebos to do some truly stupid shit. During spoiler season, most people agreed that her new version was very strong, possibly better than the previous. I mean, a fat-butt deathtouch with a tutor attached to it seems si-decent to me. So why no useful bby?

In her defense, people did try to run her for a bit. She put in some work in control lists, but she was outshined by a certain combo with Season's Past and Dark Petition this time around. Dark Petition doesn't give you that fat-butt deathtouch, but it also doesn't require a creature to exploit, and can give you bonus mana with Spell Mastery, which isn't so tough to turn on in a control deck. The bonus mana is big for being able to cast whatever you dig up, so I believe that will be the tutor of choice going forward. Sorry queen snakewizard.

Despite the lack of play, Sidisi is keeping a strong $5 price tag. Plenty of non-tier decks could use a tutor that can pop a Hangarback Walker and search up a card, and being legendary, there's always that delicious EDH value. I wouldn't expect her to drop until rotation, so if you want to give her a shot in standard, $5 is probably the best you can do, and you should grab a playset of 'em now, and you'll still get six months to mess around with her.


In second, everyone's favorite Bear/Dragon puncher:

Really hates animals. He's a reverse-furry.
Surrak is big. A 5/4 for four mana isn't half bad, and assuming you've played one or two dudes before him, he's a hasty 5/4. That's a bunch of sudden damage, and then he lets you make other threats hasty as long as you can keep power on board. So why didn't he hastily beat the crap out of people this time around?

He was a 2-of in a top 8 sideboard, so that's something, at least! Surrak may be quite the bear-puncher, but he's not much of a Reflector Mage puncher. He's a victim of the current meta - value creatures like Reflector bounce him easily, Avacyn kills him with surprise blocks, Lightning Axe has no problem melting him, and most importantly, he gets chumped easily by tokens. He just doesn't do enough, despite being a swole dude. Even in a R/G beatdown deck that would want him, his spot is clogged up with stronger threats like Thunderbreak Regent, Arlinn Kord, and Mina and Denn.

Thankfully, Surrak is sitting at a paltry 50 cents right now. If you're looking to make a cheap go-fast beatdown deck, picking up a playset of him is no issue. Run some cheapos like 4x Zurgo Bellsmacker, 4x Abbot of Keral Keep, 4x Sin Prodder, 4x Surrak, and some pump spells/kill spells like Rush of Adrenaline and Rabid Bite, and you have a rogue brew that could steal some games from unsuspecting kiddos.


Stealing first, it's a... modern staple?

If only one of the modes was "Make day 2 at the Pro Tour."
This is a weird one to see here. Atarka's Command was everywhere in the past couple of standards. It was top 8'ing the Pro Tour, it was a staple in the Atarka Agro deck, and all around a good burn/pump spell. Shoot, it's a staple in modern burn, surely it's good enough for standard, right?

RIP in peace Become Immense. Last standard the agro flavor of the week was R/G, thanks to the insane damage you could do with Become Immense. You'd fetch to fill up the yard, make your dude immense for G, Atarka's to pump all your guys and hit em for three, and finish the game super early cause thats a shitload of damage. This standard the agro has been totally taken over by all these puny humans. Mono white, U/W, or G/W are the agro's of choice now. If it ain't white, it ain't right.

...Man, I felt like a piece of shit even typing that joke, so I take it back. My bad.

Atarka's isn't a budget rare though. It is still a serious house in Modern, and I wouldn't be surprised if something popped up to bring G/R back in style when EDM (Eldrazi Dance Music) comes out. It's sitting at a pretty $12 per copy, and I wouldn't expect it to drop off a whole lot during rotation, and I see this staying at $8+ until some random chunk of the modern deck gets banned. What the most expensive piece in it? Goblin Guide? Yeah, let's ban that next. Diversity rules.



The OG walkers brought some friends in Magic Origins

Magic Origins actually had an amazing showing at the Pro Tour. Pyromancer's goggles, Dank Petition, Demonic Pact, Flippy Lilli, Flippy Jace, Languish, Knight of the White Orchid - the list goes on. The set had a ton of playables break out when put in conjunction with the new Shadows over Innistrad cards. Honestly, it made it tough to pick out good rares that didn't see play, because most of the sexy looking rares proved to be just as sexy as expected, and made their way into lists. Origins is looking like a surprisingly good set to snag a box of right now, since the rare slot is just jammed packed with money, and it will remain in standard for another six months.

Even though the best rares are already being played, I must deliver, lest I get placed in the Pear-Wiggler with the other naughty children. I picked the few remaining powerful rares that weren't played a ton, and tried to pick out the powerfulest. Also that is totally a word, shut up.


Third place somehow goes to:

Three heads, zero hope.
I know, this card isn't great. But I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here man, cut me some slack. Managorger is a late-game threat that you want to drop early, which is a precarious precipice on which to perch your people. If you keep him alive two or three turns, he becomes a huge trample menace. Lots of people tried brews with Hardened Scales when he game out, and now he's totally fallen off the radar.

Gorger's weaknesses are exile effects and bounce effects. And kill effects. Basically, most things. If you have spookier stuff on board that they have to answer first, he becomes huge and great, but if he's all you've got, you can bet he'll die early. He's still $2-3 thanks to his potential, but that's fairly cheap, all things considered. In a slower deck with green, he could do a bit of work, and is a decent budget pick for your three drop.

Also, honoureabruu mentions for this third place slot: Exquisite Firecraft, which doesn't have a strong enough red agro shell to fit in, and Gaea's Revenge, which dodges basically all removal, but is easily chumped or killed with a double block. Revenge is only 50 cents making him a great budget-ramp option, while Firecraft is still $3, since it's one of the few strong burn spells remaining in standard post-burnpocalypse.


Placing Second, begging for more artifacts:


Big Brother is actually a shitty 1/1 token.
Honestly, did nobody else see Clue tokens and think this shit would just be bonkers? Tireless Tracker is awesome with this, as your opponents aren't going to have any meaningful way to interact with your Clues, so you just get thopters all day. ALL DAY. Then they can boop your opponent to draw you some delicious cards. Seems ok.

Sadly it's way too slow to fight decks like Humans and Coco. The thopties are tiny, and Avacyn is not, so sometimes it's even tough to get through an attacker to draw. But still... so many potential cards, and so many thopties. I think the possibility for greatness is still there, and I really wanna do a U/G Clues list with this card. This is also a slam-dunk casual card, so it's really a steal at only $1. If you like artifacts in casual or EDH, or you want to try a Simic Mystery Machine monstrosity deck, pick up a few copies, cause they're nice and cheap.


The best loser is:

When Abbot of Keral Keep enters the battlefield, exile that card that you can't cast this turn but really wanted to draw next turn.
My girl Abby here saw quite a bit of play in the Atarka Agro deck, and still gets played in red-based agro. With a low curve deck, he can grab you a land or a free spell off the top, and then leave behind a body with prowess that can push through some good damage. All instrumentation displays dope, captain.

But again, red-based agro has fallen out of flavor, and didn't have much of a showing at the Pro Tour. He sees play in those decks, but they just aren't as strong as they used to be. He's still worth $5, and I wouldn't expect him to drop much. Red decks will keep jamming him, and if some good burn brings red back in EDM, I would expect him to keep a decent price tag for all of his standard life.



Battle for Zendikar Relevance

BFZ was a disappointing set for a lot of people. After the incredibly arousing power of Khans, seeing BFZ was like comparing Gilbert Gottfried to Kate Upton. And I think we all know who is sexier of those two.

"OHHHHH, GEEEE, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE"
Uh... so anyways, BFZ did still have some strong cards. Gideon has been getting around since he was released, and there have been a fair amount of other cards seeing play. How about the rare slot? Let's peek at what's goin' down.


Third place for best effort:

His face is a tree. Also, his whole body.
You'd think a 6/6 vigilance trample for four would be super playable, right? I admit it's hard to cast it for four colors, but still, even in a two color deck, a 4/4 vigilance trample is no joke. How did he not manage to wander into at least one deck?

Alright. You're deckbuilding. You have infinite money thanks to your wise investment in a USA-based ultra-plus-sized clothing line for the obese. You're building a deck, and you need a green four drop. Which are you most likely to pick? Your options are: Arlinn Kord, Collected Company, or Woodland Wanderer. Yeah, I think you see the issue. Of all the things you can do at 4 mana with a forest in there somewhere, Woodland Wanderer is by far the least scary.

Luckily in real life you invested in Roller Derby, so you're poor as fuck. Woodland Wanderer is only 50 cents, and for that price is not a bad threat. If you're trying to make a casual deck with quite a few colors, or a rogue budget standard deck that just needs a four drop, he's ready and willing, just like me ;]


The runner up did his best, but honestly it was kind of shitty:

What is it with Magic and mansions breaking apart and floating around?
Bring to Light was wicked hyped when it was spoiled. The first few weeks it was a $10 card, people were talking about modern implications, brews with 40 Siege rhinos were floating around, and all in all people were looking forward to searching for some nonsense. They did a few times last standard, but now instead of searching our libraries, we're searching for a home for Bring to Light. Wuh? Why, mang?

As I'm sure you've noticed, there aren't many four and five color decks floating around. Though I do want to shout out to the dudes who played Four-Color Dragon Reanimator decks at the Pro Tour. That's fuckin' cool as hell. But unlike the previous standard, color restrictions are real, and BTL (Bacon Tomato and Lettuce) just doesn't have the punch it did. Searching up a two or three cost spell is a lot less appealing, so the card has fallen totally out of favor.

BTL's modern dreams have died as well, and now the card rests at only $1 per copy. That's a fair price if you're looking to build a janky many-color-bullshit deck, so grab a copy or two or four or eighteen and get tropical.


And obviously the best card, yet it still didn't see play:

Restricted in Vintage due to power concerns.
Prism Array has a very high power ceiling. If you can manage to cast it for five mana, that gives you like... nothing. I couldn't even carry my sarcasm on for two whole sentences. Friends don't let friends play Prism Array.


The real thing is:


"SHOOT THAT OCTOPUS WITH THE FLAMMENWERFER"
Hold the phone. You're telling me a three-cost three damage sweeper didn't get played in a format that has tons of creatures with three or less toughness floating around? That doesn't make sense. This kills literally everything being played until turn five. The hell happened?

Two things - color restriction, and Avacyn. You may have noticed a common theme for BFZ's top rares that weren't played. All of them are Converge cards; that is, they have an insanely high ceiling if you get the right mana, but in a meta that hardly supports three color decks, they can be very hit or miss. You want Radiant Flames on turn three or four to blow up everything, but you currently can't guarantee three colors by then. Not to mention, playing it turn five or later runs the risk of getting blown out by a flashed Avacyn. All in all, Languish is just a much better choice, even if you do have to wait another turn.

As long as you're building a Converge deck using all of these awesome rares that aren't played, you might as well throw in Radiant Flames. It's only $1 a piece, and pretty solid in this format if you can manage to jump through the hoops for it. Sleeve up these bomb ass rares, and see if anyone can keep a straight face as you say "I cast Prism Array for five colors."


Though the Eldrazi were defeated in Oath, they're actually... like, way way better

OGW dropped some scrumptious cards on us. It's like Wizards was like "Woah, our bad," with BFZ and decided to make Oath sick as hell. There are a ton of powerhouses such as Eldrazi Displacer, Linvala the Preserver, Sylvan Advocate, and Chandra, Flamecaller.  Honestly, on my first look through the set list, I expected this to be a lot like Origins, with all of the strong rares already seeing play. This time around, though, there are quite a few unique cards that still haven't found their home, yet still have plenty of potential.


Bringin' up the rear in third:


Good ol' sphincter face.
Despite being an anthropomorphic butthole, Vile Redeemer is not shitty. A 3/3 flash for three is already kind of sweet. His cast trigger is so god damn cool, too. Think about it in the B/G sacrifice deck - you sac your Blisterpods, sac their tokens, sac the Catacomb Sifters, and then run out Redeemer + a wingding, and get all those non-token dudes back as scions which can get you even more Zulaport triggers, or be spent to flip the Abbey if you still have dudes laying around. What's not to love?

This butt has one issue, though. His wingding option is only on cast, not enter the battlefield. This obviously makes him more resistant when counterspells are in the mix, but it doesn't help with Collected Company. Any deck that would be interested in running Redeemer would also run Coco. You can hit him with Coco, and a 3/3 is not bad, but not being able to use half of his abilities is a bit sad.

By some miracle, this rare is actually cheaper than the uncommon ran in the Coco deck, Bounding Krasis. For a paltry 50 cents each, you can have your very own butts to shove into some deck. I think he could be sweet tech against a control deck, as this is a very nice follow-up to a boardwipe.


Bearing the title of second best of the not-quite-good:

Bearer of Silence in the wild, praying that someone includes him.
OGW gave us access to a plethora of arms to work with. Both in the sense of cards that are powerful weapons, and in the sense that Eldrazi just have way too many arms. Though Bearer of Silence's appendages apparently aren't useful for blocking, they can certainly slap some face in the air, and his cast ability can be amazing. How did a flying beater duct-taped to an un-counterable removal spell not perform in a meta with tons of creature heavy decks without fliers?

Making an opponent sac a dude is way less attractive when half of those dudes have already extracted delicious enter the battlefield value, as is the case with Reflector Mage and Bounding Krasis. It's even uglier when they have cards like Blisterpod, Hangarback, or random tokens that they're more than happy to sacrifice. And then Bearer only has one toughness, so a lone thopty totally shuts him down. There are matchups where he will destroy your opponent, but all too often he'll just be an overcosted flier with a marginal effect.

Bearer is a cheap 75 cents right now, so if you want to build a deck with him, it's simple. I recommend a R/B devoid deck. Run Reaver Drone in the one drop slot, Bearer, Hangarbacks, and Forerunner of Slaughter for two, then some combination of Flayer Drone, Thopter Engineer, Matter Reshaper, and Eldrazi Obligators in the three drop. Top her off with some Pia and Kiran Nalaars or the next card on our list, and you've got some weird colorless agro/ETB brew going.


He tried so hard, and got so far:


But in the end, it doesn't even... smasher?
Yeah, that joke would have went way better if Matter Reshapper sat in this spot, but he actually got picked for Varsity for this tournament. I'm happy about that, since he's one of my favorite little three drops from Oath. Smasher is quite a bit bigger, and quite a bit scarier. For only five chunks of mana, one those it a kite, you get a 5/5 trample haste that forces a two-for-one if they try to kill it. Which, obviously they will try, cause this closes out a game super fast. Smasher did land in some sideboards, so I'll give him that nod, but he seems more than good enough for main deck. Where was this guy for the whole tournament?

The biggest things holding smasher back are his high cost, and the fact that abilities can still target him without triggering the discard clause. Also, at five mana, chances are you'd rather play Ob Nixilis, Avacyn, or a boardwipe, so his spot is highly contested. Then our best friend Reflector Mage shuts him down hard. Bounced and stuck in your hand for a turn is a really bad situation for your hasty game-ender.

Yet still, this Eldrazi fucks. After totally owning the modern pro tour in the now-banned Eldrazi decks, he's still sitting at a reasonable $4-5. That's almost in budget range, and if he continues to show up in low numbers, I'd expect that to go down even further. I'm running some copies in my current standard deck, Spaghetti Marinara, and so far he's been nothing short of amazing, so I'd recommend giving him a whirl if you're playing a deck with colorless sources.



Shadows was so spooky that I had to save it for last to build up my courage

SoI is an awesome set. It has great flavor, spectacular art (See this high-res Topplegeist art if you don't believe me), and a wealth of cool mechanics. I can definitely see it being praised as a fairly strong set with a great limited format for years to come. Having this and Oath follow of BFZ has proven that BFZ's low power was just a fluke, and R&D is still willing to make strong, tasty cards. The postergirl for this set, Avacyn, literally won the Pro Tour. Like, the damage from her flipping won the match. If that's not a fucking flavor win, I don't know what is. But she wasn't the only great card printed in this set; there are plenty of more cards begging to be used, and even if they didn't show up this time around, the future looks bright for this set in standard.


In third, placing somewhat poorly in even the losers bracket:

The epiphany came when we realized how bad Blue card draw is in this standard.
Epiphany seems like a decent card advantage spell. As long as you're paying three or more for it, you're probably going to get one card you really want, or a few that you sort of want. Once you start paying high costs for it, you filter through a lot, and it can make some interesting decisions. So why didn't anyone try?

As you can guess, letting your opponent pick what goes in your hand isn't ideal, since they probably don't want you to win. With Delirium and GY shenanigans, this does go up in value, but Delirium wasn't relevant in any of the top decks, and almost no decks used graveyard recurring cards. So, there ya go. Mystery solved, you can go home now Jace. But make a deck that needs Delirium, or a zombie deck (Prized Amalgam, anyone?), and this could be great.

As a rare in the new set, Epiphany is still priced at $3. Unless it finds a very strong deck to live in within the new week or two, I'd expect it to quickly drop to a buck, and you'll be able to pick up copies easily. Then you can finally live the zombie dream and go 1-4 at your local FNM.


Placing second by means of eating Sheep:


Though I maintain that this sheep looks more like a pig.
This card is near and dear to team Heavy Salami. Gaige is running it in his standard deck, and it has never failed to deliver. Its stock goes down against a token deck, but once delirium is on, it's still perfectly acceptable. They play Gideon and make a token, you eliminate both at the end of his/her turn. Boom. Feels fuckin' good, don't it? Pro's don't think so, though, and that makes us sad.

Delirium is something you sort of have to work towards. Instant, creature, and lands from Evolving Wilds aren't hard to get in the yard, but you need a certain deck to make sure you can also get a sorcery, artifact, or enchantment in there. You need to work super hard to get a Tribal in there. Since most of the pro decks weren't bothering with that noise, To the Slaughter was more like a Foul-Tongue Invocation that could hit walkers. That sounds sweet, but life-gain on Invocation makes a huge difference for the only deck that ran the spell, Esper Dragons.

To the Slaughter also has the new-set effect, and it's price is still fairly high at $4 a pop. It's a fine card, so I wouldn't expect 50 cent bulk prices, but dropping to $1-2 is likely, unless a powerful Delirium deck shows up.


And finally, taking the proverbial cake:

He heralds the arrival in EDM of our lord and savior, Tibalt.
Honestly, out of every card in this entire article, I think Sin Prodder would still take first for most powerful un-played card, or at the very least been up there with Atarka's Command. During spoiler season, the hype for Proddy was outrageous. He was over $10, people thought he'd be a defining card of this standard, and then radio silence. The hell happened?

So. I'm going to say some unpopular things, which is fine, because I'm already unpopular. I think Sin Prodder is great. If a midrange red deck that isn't based off of Eldrazi appears, this guy will be a major player. He can get in damage pretty well, he comes down early, and he gives you card advantage or burn damage. A bit more than a third of the time you're going to just hit a land that'll go into your yard, which sucks, but really isn't a setback. He can accidentally put a ton of pressure on your opponent just off of his trigger, and if they let you have a good card, well, crush them with it. I think he just needs to find a home and Sin Prodder is going to put in a ton of work. But, as it stands, he hasn't found a home, and he'll just remain another card that people look at, scratch their heads, and say "I dunno. Maybe once Polukranos rotates," or some shit.

Sin Prodder has dropped to $5 from his original lofty pre-release price. That's still pricy, and I'd expect him to drop more unless he puts up some baller results. If he does drop, grab some copies, get a pitchfork, and go poke your opponents to death with this devil.

-------------------------


Woo, that was a doozy, wasn't it? Going through the older standard sets has made me realize just how much unrecognized potential there is floating around. Craploads of unique, powerful brews are just begging to be made. All sorts of odd cards showed up in force during the Pro Tour, and there are still plenty more for you guys to use to be both original and good. Or sort of good. Or absolute shit, like us.

Hope you guys enjoyed this, and I hope it inspired you to build a 5 color Prism Array-Clue Producing-Thopter Spy Network-Tempo Control deck. I'm definitely going to try some off the walls brews with all of the shit I've just seen, and I'm stoked. This standard is wonderful, and I can't wait to play it with all you peeps. Next week I hope to take a look at under-utilized uncommons and commons, and we'll see just how budget-oriented we can go, so be sure to be on the lookout for it! Until next time, enjoy life, you sexy, sexy fucks.

-Dan


Like reading about crappy cards? Think some other card totally deserves to be on this list instead of something I listed? Think we should make Team Heavy Salami t-shirts and such so that we can embarrass ourselves in real life? Well, whatever is rattling around in your noggin, feel free to let us know by droppin' a comment or sending us a message!

3 comments:

  1. R&D missed a huge opportunity with Tainted Remedy from Origins. Last Zendikar set there was a 2-mana lifegain spell with landfall. Tainted Remedy would've turned it into a 2-mana 8 damage burn spell.

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