Last weekend, Gerry Thompson declined his qualification for Worlds as a form of protest. Matt Sperling wrote about what the demonstration cost Thompson, and Luis Scott-Vargas interviewed Thompson about what brought him to decide to demonstrate in such a specific way. All three pieces are recommended reading.

It's Top 10 time.

#10: Legion Warboss

Legion Warboss is a weird, inside-out Goblin Rabblemaster. Instead of pumping itself, it pumps up its horde. Because it lacks a way to attack and trade up with a four- or five-drop, Legion Warboss isn't quite as good as Goblin Rabblemaster despite how similar the two cards look at a glance.

#9: Mission Briefing

I'd really love Mission Briefing, or even surveil in general, to be good. As it stands, Mission Briefing might be sweet, but it's certainly not enough of a sure thing to drop $8 on before release.

#8: Ionize

This card reminds me of Undermine, a card that's permanently lodged in my brain because it was a chase rare when I first started playing. Ionize makes me want to believe counter-burn could be a thing, but it seems unlikely. Could work with Mission Briefing though!

#7: Thought Erasure

As someone who happily cast Castigate when it was Standard-legal, sign me up for Thought Erasure. I'll be honest—I'm just looking for any excuse to surveil.

#6: Quasiduplicate

A long time ago, I played Cackling Counterpart in a Grand Prix. The idea was to populate Thragtusk tokens. I did not make the Day 2 cut.

#5: Blood Operative

I try not to build decks because I'm very bad at it, but here's my rough sketch at a dedicated surveil deck:

4 Enhanced Surveillance
4 Nightveil Sprite
4 Stitcher's Supplier
4 Creeping Chill
4 Blood Operative
4 Seeker's Squire
4 Barrier of Bones
4 Doom Whisperer
2 Lotleth Giant
2 The Eldest Reborn
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Watery Grave
8 Island
8 Swamp

The idea is to stick an Enhanced Surveillance and fill your graveyard with as many creatures as possible, chipping in damage with Blood Operative and Creeping Chill and finishing them off with a Lotleth Giant, preferably brought back with The Eldest Reborn. Did you know that Doom Whisperer isn't legendary? That card rules.

#4: Swiftblade Vindicator

Swiftblade Vindicator is long on keywords and short on the numbers (e X: power, toughness) that make those keywords worth having. To put it succinctly, it has a lot of combat-oriented abilities with the worst possible combat stats it can have. I assume people are snapping Swiftblade Vindicator up to combine it with auras or other boosting effects. It's the kind of card that needs a lot to go right to work.

#3: Chromatic Lantern

From Craig Wescoe's excellent Guilds of Ravnica financial walkthrough:

[Chromatic Lantern] was a $10-15 card last month due to Commander appeal. I suspect it will level out around $7, which makes it a good pickup at $4.

I have no idea when Chromatic Lantern will get back up to $7, but if you're looking for your Commander copies, I think Chromatic Lantern will probably bottom out at around $2. This set is going to get opened a lot, and as Wescoe mentioned last week, Guilds of Ravnica is simply too dense with good cards for rares to be worth very much.

The way prices of in-print singles behave is based partly on the value of a sealed booster box. Collectively, the value of rares and mythics should add up to the price of a box. The reason you get stuff like Rekindling Phoenix shooting to $45 while it's still in print is because Rivals of Ixalan didn't have enough good rares‚—rares in demand—to take the bulk of the price share away from Rekindling Phoenix. This is also why singles were so cheap in the Masterpiece era: Masterpieces pushed the price of everything else way down (they were pretty bad for LGSes; they work on thin margins to begin with, so when overall prices dip, that's no good).

Sets based in Ravnica have always had two distinguishing financial features: the cards are powerful across the board and the prices for singles are relatively flat. The former results in the latter.

#2: Venerated Loxodon

I mentioned last week that Venerated Loxodon is a Boros card with a Selesnya watermark. If Swiftblade Vindicator is going to be an actual card, it will be thanks to things like Venerated Loxodon pumping it up. The prospect of the one-drop, two-drop, Venerated Loxodon sequence is certainly enticing.

#1: Runaway Steam-Kin

Make that Turn 2 Boom! pic.twitter.com/Yy9ynXa0QR

— Marijn Lybaert (@MarijnLybaert) September 13, 2018

Enjoy your week.

Jon Corpora
(pronounced ca-pora)
@feb31st