Standard in Dallas

Editor's Note: While accounting documents use red text to indicate negative values, it wasn't the case for Nick. We've updated one of his data table to reflect that the values are, in fact, positive. We apologize for any prior confusion.

SCG Dallas: The Results

These are the top 16 decks from SCG Open Dallas. I determined the average mana cost of the maindeck, and prices in dollars and MTGO tickets by importing each decklist into the Decked Builder app. Dollars are from and tickets from The graphs display the strategies, colors, and most played archetypes of the top 16.

Place Deck Colors Avg Mana Cost ($) Cost (Tix)
1 Naya Humans {W}{R}{G} 2.49 $617 367
2 BR Dragon Zombies {B}{R} 2.42 $664 435
3 Bant Auras {W}{U}{G} 1.84 $401 237
4 Band Auras {W}{U}{G} 1.84 $440 281
5 Grixis Control {U}{B}{R} 2.76 $531 309
6 Monored Aggro {R} 2.19 $202 130
7 Bant Control {W}{U}{B}{G} 3.85 $602 293
8 GB Aggro {B}{G} 2.11 $246 103
9 Bant Control {W}{U}{G} 3.46 $634 330
10 Naya Midrange {W}{R}{G} 3.16 $669 427
11 BR Zombies {B}{R} 2.03 $354 192
12 B/R Dragon Zombies {B}{R} 2.39 $622 408
13 Jund Midrange {B}{R}{G} 3.06 $842 551
14 Naya Midrange {W}{R}{G} 3.00 $750 477
15 GW Midrange {W}{G} 3.05 $499 247
16 BR Aggro {B}{R} 2.31 $489 263
Average: 2.6 $535 315

Deck Check: The Top 16 Rundown

The SCG Open Dallas top 16 was dominated by aggressive decks but had a good mix of different archetypes. Bant Auras made it’s first appearance on the SCG Open Series, quite predictably, after taking first and second place at Grand Prix: Atlantic City the weekend before.

Let’s take a look at the top two decks of SCG Open Dallas.

This is very similar to the Naya Humans list that has had some success on the SCG Open Series circuit this Standard season. It leverages an early and aggressive Champion of the Parish draw but can also play the midrange game with Huntmaster of the Fells, Restoration Angel, and Zealous Conscripts all able to produce value and pile on damage to take over a game.

In second place we have the most successful deck of this Standard season: BR Dragon Zombies. Craddock has all the usual suspects here from early game zombies, to hasty fliers to mop up, to plenty of burn for removal or direct damage.

Cards of Choice

Now let’s take a look at the most played creatures and removal spells in the top 16 decks of the tournament.

Creature # Decks Avg Main Avg Side
Thragtusk 7 4.0 2.0
Avacyn’s Pilgrim 6 3.8 0.0
Restoration Angel 6 3.7 0.0
Knight of Infamy 4 4.0 0.0
Silverblade Paladin 4 3.8 0.0
Falkenrath Aristocrat 4 3.8 0.0
Huntmaster of the Fells 4 3.8 0.0
Thundermaw Hellkite 6 2.2 0.0
Diregraf Ghoul 3 4.0 0.0
Loxodon Smiter 3 3.7 1.0
Gravecrawler 3 4.0 0.0
Rakdos Cackler 3 4.0 0.0
Geralf’s Messenger 3 4.0 0.0

Silverblade Paladin is an addition to this list and is a key part of the aggression of the Bant Auras decks. It gives a hexproof and often enchanted attacker double strike, which can end a game quickly.

Removal # Decks Avg Main Avg Side
Searing Spear 7 3.3 0.0
Pillar of Flame 6 3.5 1.7
Bonfire of the Damned 7 2.6 1.5
Selesnya Charm 6 3.0 2.0
Liliana of the Veil 4 3.0 2.5
Dreadbore 5 3.0 1.8
Brimstone Volley 3 3.0 0.0
Tribute to Hunger 3 0.0 2.7
Oblivion Ring 4 1.5 1.7
Ultimate Price 4 2.0 0.0

Searing Spear overtook Pillar of Flame this week for the top spot. The instant speed creature control is critical for handling a Silverblade Paladin before its soul bonded and hexproof buddy can swing for the win.

Hexproof creatures and the Bant Auras deck were expected after its Grand Prix: Atlantic City success and Liliana of the Veil and Tribute to Hunger showed up in force as a result.

The Standard Metagame

The following graphs track the deck archetypes with the most top 16 finishes at major Standard tournaments. The top graph shows results in the last month, and the bottom shows results since Return to Ravnica rotated into the format in October of 2012.

The big question in the air is how Gatecrash will impact the Standard metagame. Let’s review some possibilities.

Boros Aggro is getting a lot of hype and will be a popular brewing target out of the gate as players look to capitalize on the power of Boros Charm and cards like Aurelia’s Fury and Boros Elite. A Gruul Aggro deck could also be very in the mix and we got a preview of what this deck could look like with the fifth place deck at SCG Open San Diego. This strategy will only get better with the addition of Stomping Ground and other Gatecrash cards.

These decks will both have to dethrone the King of Standard Aggro: Rakdos (red and black). BR Dragon Zombies still has plenty of game and the faster “Rakdos Deck Wins” style decks also continue to have potential. Bant Auras is an aggressive deck that greatly limits an opponent’s ability to interact and should continue to find pilots willing to take advantage.

The biggest loser in the Aggro game of musical chairs will be Mono-Red. With Stomping Ground and Sacred Foundry as Standard legal land options and excellent aggressive options in white and green there is less incentive to go with straight up red in February.

Naya Midrange is already the most popular midrange deck and one of the most successful decks in Standard. It too will get even better with Stomping Ground and Sacred Foundry as options to improve mana which could open up new options in the Borderland Ranger spot. There are new interesting options for the deck coming in Gatecrash including Burning-Tree Emissary, Frontline Medic, Aurelia’s Fury, and Boros Charm.

Duskmantle Seer is a promising win condition for a Dimir or Esper tempo deck. We already have a tempo toolkit in Standard, exploited by UW Flash and other decks, including the ability to setup an opponent’s draw step, and this Vampire Wizard fits right into that style of deck.

Esper Control has had a handful of top 16 finishes over the last couple of months and the arrival of Godless Shrine and Watery Shrine will only help. New win conditions and role players like Dimir Keyrune should improve the strategy as well.

What Do You Think: SCG Open Atlanta

So what deck will come out of the gate fastest in February? I want to know what you think. Please vote in the poll below and I’ll discuss the results in a future column.

Which deck will win the first major Standard tournament after the release of Gatecrash?

View Results

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Competitive Calendar: Upcoming Events in Standard

Here are some major events coming up in the world of competitive Standard.

Date Tournament Hashtag
1-Feb Gatecrash Released #MTGGTC
2-Feb SCG Open: Atlanta #SCGATL
9-Feb SCG Open: Edison #SCGNJ
16-Feb SCG Open: Cincinnati #SCGCIN
23-Feb GP: Quebec City #GPQC
2-Mar SCG Open: Las Vegas #SCGVEGAS
9-Mar GP: Verona
9-Mar GP: Rio de Janeiro
9-Mar SCG Open: Indianapolis #SCGINDY
16-Mar SCG Open: Washington DC #SCGDC

By the Numbers: Preordering Planeswalkers

In honor of Gatecrash and the spoiler (and preorder) season, I have been analyzing and discussing preorder prices the last couple of weeks. Last week, I looked at Return to Ravnica preorder prices, the week before preorder prices for competitive Standard cards. This week I’ll take a look at preordering Planeswalkers.

I gathered the StarCityGames prices for all Planeswalkers between Zendikar and Return to Ravnica, ignoring reprints. A couple terms worth noting:
• Preorder Low: the lowest preorder price available for more than three days
• Post-Release High: the highest price for the card since release date

Let’s look at how the preorder prices of these cards look in retrospect.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

The Legend (Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Preorder Low $22
Post-Release High $100
Difference $ $88
Difference % 400%

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is the example often cited to justify the “get it before the price explodes” preorder hype. Jace started out at a $22 preorder price tag that increased to $60 prior to release and has spent a lot of time over $100 since release.

Jace is the only Planeswalker that was never available for cheaper than his Preorder Low and is almost certainly the reason so many Planeswalkers that followed have started with such a high preorder price: known jokingly as the “Jace Tax”.

The Cautionary Tale (Vraska the Unseen)

Preorder Low $40
Post-Release High $25
Difference $ -$15
Difference % -38%

The opposite of Jace is Vraska the Unseen. There is time yet for her to make her mark, but to date the price has only dropped from the Preorder Low. The Post-Release High was set immediately after release and it has dropped steadily since then, currently available for $7.

The Rest

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is not the only Planeswalker to reach a higher price than their Preorder Low. Here are the rest that did so.

Name Set Difference $ Difference %
Jace, Architect of Thought Return to Ravnica $25.00 100%
Gideon Jura Rise of the Eldrazi $20.00 50%
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas Mirrodin Besieged $15.00 43%
Garruk, Primal Hunter Magic 2012 $10.00 33%
Nissa Revane Zenikdar $7.00 70%
Sarkhan the Mad Rise of the Eldrazi $5.00 25%
Chandra, the Firebrand Magic 2012 $5.00 17%
Sorin Markov Zendikar $1.00 7%

It’s worth noting that the Post-Release High for most of these cards were reached immediately upon the release of the set, meaning that the release price was higher than the Preorder Low but the card never got more expensive from there.

Vrasksa is far from the only Planewalker to never top their lowest preorder price after release, none of the following cards have done so either.

Name Set Difference $ Difference %
Venser, the Sojourner Scars of Mirrodin -$10.00 -20%
Karn Liberated New Phyrexia -$10.00 -29%
Garruk Relentless Innistrad -$10.00 -25%
Liliana of the Veil Innistrad -$10.00 -20%
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad Dark Ascension -$10.00 -17%
Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded Avacyn Restored -$10.00 -40%
Ajani, Caller of the Pride Magic 2013 -$10.00 -25%
Elspeth Tirel Scars of Mirrodin -$5.00 -13%
Koth of the Hammer Scars of Mirrodin -$5.00 -10%
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage Avacyn Restored -$5.00 -13%
Liliana of the Realms Magic 2013 -$5.00 -17%
Chandra Ablaze Zendikar -$2.00 -20%
Jace, Memory Adept Magic 2012 $0.00 0%

The Numbers in Summary

Here is how Planeswalker preorder prices have compared to their price points since release:

  • 1 card (4%): Preorder low was the lowest price to date – preordering saved money
  • 5 cards (22%): Price went up from preorder low, but only at release – it was possible to profit if you sold right away
  • 3 cards (13%): Price went up from preorder low and the release price – the price spiked at some point after release
  • 14 cards (61%): Price only went down from preorder low – no potential for financial benefit from preordering

Given this track record, it’s hard to imagine that preordering a Planeswalker is a good plan unless you really want the card right away and are willing to pay the Jace tax for that immediate access.

The Close

That wraps up this week’s column. The Gatecrash Prelease is this weekend so there will be no major tournament to report on next week. I’ll be back the following week to review SCG Open Atlanta, analyze the Standard metagame, and review what cards from the new expansion made the cut week one of the updated format. Thanks for reading!

Nick Vigabool