2018’s New Standard

Jadelight Ranger
A new year brings a new Standard set, but it doesn’t always also bring bans. This year we got both, and a very odd Standard event schedule has really muddled the information available for players with this set release. We’ve had a ton of team events which means we need to take any results with a grain of salt. Let’s take a look at the decks that have been performing and what I think we are going to see from here.

The biggest cards out of Rivals of Ixalan, by number of copies that have appeared, are Jadelight Ranger and Rekindling Phoenix. Based on their price alone, you shouldn’t be terribly surprised. What is surprising to me is, despite this, Mono-Red aggro is the best performing deck in paper. Rather than being solely about deck power level, I imagine players don’t need to make many changes or add any new cards to the deck to make it competitive. The only premier Standard singles events that have happened since Rivals of Ixalan’s release have both been won by Mono-Red aggro. Aiden Brier won with this list last weekend at SCG Philadelphia and Tristen Loob won the classic week before with this list that is virtually identical. What is most striking here is that neither decklist is playing the phoenix despite it being an obviously powerful card. I think a lot of the price of Rivals of Ixalan cards is just hype. Or rather people are just excited to be doing something different in Standard for the first time in a few months. I don’t expect a lot of these card prices to stay the same and would recommend selling any of the expensive cards in this set that you’re not playing with.



Vraska's Contempt
The future of this format looks like it will require a lot of exile effects with the dominant performances that we’re used to from Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God. The phoenix, despite not being playing in decks with excellent performances, is another premier threat that requires exile to be dealt with cleanly. Vraska’s Contempt is the kind of card that could see a big uptick in usage and it’s already up $1 from the set release. If you’re still deciding what to play, I would probably not wait to grab some Vraska’s Contempts before they get more expensive.

Another pair of cards that I think that could see a pretty big uptick in usage is Ixalan’s Binding and Cast Out. Both enchantments exile the permanent and the most troublesome permanents right now are in Blue, Black, and Red, which are colors that don’t get enchantment removal. While I don’t expect them to get to Fatal Push levels of expensive, they are currently like $0.25 — $0.50 and could be a few dollars if they get popular. Look at the price of Abrade or Harnessed Lightning during their peak to get an idea.

Modern trends continue to be quiet as pros are unlikely to display any tech (if they’ve found any) before the Pro Tour. The most interesting cards recently have been Modern legal Commander cards that combo with Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. If you wondered why Surgespanner, Merrow Commerce, and Fallowsage are showing up on the week’s winners, it’s not because they get played in Modern. None of the most recent, well-performing Merfolk decks have managed to make any of the Green additions work and remain largely unchanged. At this point, my best advice is still to buy the cards you need for your deck if you want to play now, or wait until we get Masters 25 spoilers. Without a new breakout deck or reprints in the near future, Modern staples will just continue to slowly rise.

Are you a more casual player and wondering when it’s the right time to buy into some rotated Standard cards? I’ve got some good suggestions this week that you’ll look back on fondly if you purchase now. Right now, all of the cards in Battle for Zendikar and Shadows over Innistrad block have stopped dropping and started to increase a little. Some of the my favorite staples from those blocks are Tireless Tracker, Emrakul, the Promised End, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Zendikar Resurgent, Eldrazi Displacer, Zulaport Cutthroat, and all of the dual lands. It’s hard to go wrong with $2-3 duals with land types. If you’re the kind of player that only plays Commander or casual Magic then I highly recommend checking off some of your wishlist now because this stuff isn’t getting cheaper.


Rivals of Ixalan is Now Available!

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