Want to reflect on the last year of Magic with me? What better way to do that than looking at the cards that were the most popular buys of the year? Spoiler alert: the list is primarily cards that were Standard-legal. There are a couple reasons for this. Players need to keep current with Standard, unlike Modern or Legacy where you can potentially buy one deck and play it for multiple years in a row. Standard cards also tend to have a lower price tag.
Without further ado, lets get into the list:
The first card on the list is from Dominaria. Being an uncommon means it is pretty easy to get ahold of for less than a dollar. We have seen a few different Knight tribal decks that also play History of Benalia for additional synergy. Knight of Grace has also been played as a standalone threat out of sideboards to answer black decks that rely on removal spells like Vraska's Contempt. Currently the place you most commonly find Knight of Grace is in Red-White Midrange:
Being able to bring back Knight of Grace with Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants is a pretty big deal. This deck isn't as aggressive as some of the other white decks, but that's because it has a super powerful top end, with threats any opponent will have a lot of trouble answering.
I know I just mentioned how strong History of Benalia is alongside Knight of Grace; here it is at number 9 on our list. In order for a Mythic to make this list you know it has to be very good. In fact, it is the only Mythic on the list, making it the most purchased Mythic this year. History of Benalia fits in a lot of different decks, in fact pretty much any white Standard deck wants History of Benalia these days. It puts multiple creatures in play and doubles as a pump effect. It's a nightmare to play against.
This deck that needs a critical mass of creatures in play and also needs a way to pump them up. Enter History of Benalia. A turn three History of Benalia sequences really well alongside Venerated Loxodon, which you can easily convoke out on turn four. Even a turn five Trostani Discordant, just as History of Benalia reaches its third chapter, can be effective. That third chapter turn is often a nightmare for the opponent. The best draws for these white decks in Standard pretty much always feature a turn three History of Benalia.
Now we have a card that was Standard legal for some of this year, and has since transitioned over to Modern. This was an important land in the Black-Green Constrictor decks that relied on cards like Winding Constrictor and Verdurous Gearhulk. Lands tend to be good pickups in general, because they have homes in other formats. We have seen this card in multiple Modern decks, but the most common one is Black-Green Midrange:
Having a land that both comes into play untapped and doesn't cause you to lose life is big for a deck like this. The first three turns are the most important ones, especially in a format where games can end on the third turn. While it can hurt you to play this as your fourth land, that really only happens when you topdeck it later on. We see less Blooming Marshes in three-color decks that require manabases with more fetchlands and shocklands.
Lightning Strike has been an important staple in and out of Standard formats for the past few years. Of course, it is worse than Lightning Bolt, which is why it's played in Standard and not older formats. Lightning Strike is pretty much the perfect power level for Standard. It doesn't feel too good, but also feels necessary for red decks to have access to an effect like this. We have seen it consistently in aggressive red decks that have some burn in them, and currently the most likely home for it is in Mono-Red Aggro:
Burn decks often want to have a critical amount of burn, which can mean a number of ways to deal damage to the opponent's face. The reason why Lightning Strike is good is the flexibility it provides. There are going to be plenty of times you use it to kill a creature, and also plenty of times it goes upstairs.
Seal Away is the best spot removal spell white has access to. It is a huge piece in white-based control decks. I fully expect Seal Away to see even more play as White-Blue Control becomes even more favored once Ravnica Allegiance is released. I would pick up a playset Seal Away immediately if you don't already have them.
The fact that Seal Away can exile creatures is why it is so strong. Creatures Adanto Vanguard need to be exiled in order to effectively answer them. The downside is that Seal Away is vulnerable to enchantment removal, but for two mana you really can't ask for much more in a removal spell, especially in white.
Temporal Trespass is a unique inclusion to this list, as it wasn't Standard legal this year. That means it certainly saw plenty of play elsewhere, especially in more casual formats. Part of what's great about Magic is that we have cards that can target different audiences and formats.
Temporal Trespass fits into Taking Turns decks quite nicely:
While there is only one copy in the list, that's due to not wanting to have too many cards with delve. The first one is really strong, but you might have trouble casting a second one due to the mana cost.
Thorn Lieutenant is one of the best two-drop creatures green has to offer. We saw it played in Stompy decks with cards like Ghalta, Primal Hunger as a top end. We have also seen Thorn Lieutenant as a two-drop in White-Green decks of different varieties recently. The card is great against Mono-Red Aggro style decks that often need to target your Thorn Lieutenant in order to remove it from play. Recently I even saw Thorn Lieutenant do well in Golgari:
While I'm still not sure if Thorn Lieutenant is best suited in Golgari the way the deck is currently configured, this does show that it deserves consideration in any green deck. There will be metagames where having a threat that has a bonus when targeted by removal is going to be outstanding. The pump effect of Thorn Lieutenant also comes up quite a bit.
This is the card I get the biggest kick out of on this list. While this card is Standard legal, that isn't necessarily the reason we are seeing it here. The fact that you can play more than four copies in a deck means that rather than picking up a playset you could be buying forty instead. Traditionally cards like this are simply fun and entertaining to play with.
In any deck featuring Rat Colony, it will be the main spell in the deck. The addition of Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive and Experimental Frenzy is smart. It is great to just win a game by casting the exact same card every turn, and hey on turn four there is a decent chance you can play two Rat Colony on the same turn!
Inspiring Statuary is a way for artifact decks to generate a ton of mana, and we saw the blue-based Reservoir Combo deck play this in Standard for a while. I tested with Brad Nelson for the World Championships and was close to playing the deck, but he actually pulled the trigger:
This deck was super fun to play with. Getting a Sai, Master Thopterist into play meant you essentially had enough artifacts to improvise out whatever you wanted, as long as you had the colored mana sources to do so.
Ahh yes, good ole Bomat Courier was the most purchased card of the year! This doesn't come as a surprise to me, given its importance in red-based aggressive decks before the latest Standard rotation. Red-Black Chainwhirler was by far the most popular deck for a pretty lengthy span of time, and this was one of the most important creatures in the deck. Now we have actually seen Bomat Courier move into both Modern and Legacy.
Arclight Red has a lot of considerations for what creatures it wants to play. Bomat Courier being both a discard outlet and a way to draw some cards later on is very valuable. We have also seen this card in Dredgevine. The common theme here is if you want to put cards in your graveyard, the stock of Bomat Courier goes up.
That's it for 2018. It has been quite the year, make sure to come back and join me for what should be a very exciting 2019!
Thanks for reading,