The World Championships took place over the weekend, and I did my civic duty by plopping myself on my couch and watching as much of the live broadcast as I could in between sating my thirst for nostalgia in bursts of Chrono Trigger. There were some things I liked (lots of Magic formats played at the absolute highest level, sweet Kaladesh spoilers) and didn't like (let's agree, as a collective, to take shirts made of polyester and fire them into the sun), but overall it was a really fun viewing experience. Like many Magic columnists, I love watching replays, and Worlds 2016 had plenty of amazing moments and high-level play that I'm a mortal lock to look back on. These days, there's so much awesome Magic archives to watch that my Netflix account is basically useless. That's not an exaggeration. I'm really thinking about canceling it. But only $9.99? That's like nothing!
(That's how they getcha.)
I mention Worlds 2016 because while they explain some of the weekend's top-selling cards, most of them are a complete and total mystery to me that I'm excited to dive into. Like... I have no clue what some of these cards are doing here. Spoiler Alert: Deploy the Gatewatch is a Top 10 seller. It was a weird weekend. Let's hit it.
These are the cards that didn't quite crack the Top 10, but are wonderful and unique in their own way, like the car I built when I was eight that didn't finish the Pinewood Derby before it fell apart completely.
Bygone Bishop shows up just outside the Top 10 as a cheap pickup with lots of potential post-rotation. Drowner of Hope won a Modern Pro Tour. I want to just let that sink in for a second. A 5/5 for six mana won a Pro Tour in a format with turn-two wins. It's safe to say that Drowner of Hope is at least a little better than Vizzerdrix. Hanweir Garrison (end of sentence). Most people have already picked up their copies of Inquisition of Kozilek, but it's creeping toward its floor and continues to steadily sell.
Already starting off with a doozy. I had to look this card up because I forgot what it does.
The second I saw a picture of the card, it immediately clicked. Imagine my horror — I'm at a Limited Grand Prix and my opponent opens on Stoneforge Acolyte into Stone Haven Outfitter and immediately activates Stoneforge Acolyte, finding Hedron Blade. Luckily, I had the removal spell for the Stone Haven Outfitter that game, but good gravy was that sequence terrifying. I cut my teeth playing against Skullclamp, and while Stone Haven Outfitter isn't anywhere near Skullclamp, it's still an impressive card advantage engine capable of engineering decisive wins.
Back in the day, when I was a wee lad trying to fight against Skullclamp with Slith Firewalker (Spoiler Alert: this did not work), you could always bank on a $5 uncommon in every set. Fifth Dawn had Eternal Witness, Champions of Kamigawa had Sensei's Divining Top, and Darksteel had three: Skullclamp, AEther Vial, and Oxidize (yes, Oxidize was $5. Affinity may have been too good.). Recent sets have even had expensive uncommons: Monastery Swiftspear was a crossover hit in Modern and Legacy, and not enough Magic 2015 was opened to satisfy the demand for Stoke the Flames. What I'm getting at here is that Stormchaser Mage, the spiritual descendant of Monastery Swiftspear, would almost certainly be one of those $5 uncommons in another era. It's an integral part of the Standard U/R Burn deck, getting in for crucial damage on otherwise empty boards.
Cool, another weird card that I only know through playing Limited. Roll that beautiful bean footage.
That draft ruled. Luis Scott-Vargas is a national treasure.
Quick question: is Limited Magic dying? I've thought about this a lot, because I love Limited. I never would've even thought to ask this question, but the confluence of me steadily doing better and better in the Magic Online drafts and this Magic: the Amateuring (AWESOME PODCAST YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO IT) Gerry Thompson interview got me thinking: maybe he's got a point! Maybe I'm not getting better — maybe everyone's just getting worse! It's concerning. I don't want Limited to die. I get that it's not the sexiest Magic to watch, but it's definitely the most fun to play. That's not even my opinion, that's a quantifiable fact.
Confession Time: I've never been cool or fit in anywhere. I've always been the nerdiest guy at the bar and the frattiest guy at the Magic tournament, so to speak. But I've played a lot of Magic for a long time, and I always figured that even if I never really got better at the game, at least my finger was close to the pulse of what people were doing within the game.
Aaaaaaand then I was assigned to write this column while Stybs went to PAX.
Why is this card selling at all? Deploy the Gatewatch is exactly what's at stake with the death of Limited — if you people had just done more drafts, they'd have all the 15th pick Deploy the Gatewatches you could handle. No one would have any reason to buy one, ever.
Seriously, someone tell me why this card sold so well over the weekend. Is some poor, doomed soul speculating on it? Did it break Standard? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, on my cell phone, anything. I'm dying to know.
Collective Brutality: now there's a card you can hang your hat on. More than anything, Collective Brutality feels like if one of the old split cards from Invasion had fuse. The individual parts are passable on their own, but the combination of them, all on one card, is what pushes Collective Brutality above replacement level. Escalate acts like fuse, but can also enable certain decks, whether it dumps a Golgari Grave-Troll into the graveyard in Modern or puts a well-timed Kozilek's Return in the 'yard in Standard, like in Frank Skarren's Sultai Emerge deck from last weekend.
I think a lot about Opt. Definitely more than I or anyone else should think about Opt. I think Opt would be too good for Standard and definitely too good for Modern. Serum Visions is a balanced and fair card, and it looks like it's going to remain the one-mana cantrip of choice in Modern for the foreseeable future.
Every time a new set comes out, it seems like some amount of players shoehorn new mythic rares into their Modern Jund decks. Sometimes it works ( Olivia Voldaren), sometimes it doesn't ( Huntmaster of the Fells). But you can appreciate the moxie.
For Eldritch Moon, the card players have all agreed to try out in Jund seems to be Grim Flayer. Luis Scott-Vargas eschewed Dark Confidant in his Modern Abzan deck altogether, running Grim Flayer in its place as a creature that can simultaneously deliver a steady stream of gas and get in the red zone if need be.
I hope Luis writes a tournament report for Worlds and includes a sample hand featuring the curve of Scavenging Ooze into Anafenza, the Foremost.
Seems pretty great with Stone Haven Outfitter!
I told you this week was weird!
Alright, here's what I think happened. You ready? I think someone watched a lot of Worlds coverage over the weekend, saw all the Kaladesh dwarves revealed, and decided to go in on Dwarven Recruiter. Goblin Recruiter's banned, after all! How bad could Dwarven Recruiter be?
You don't want me to answer that. Still — putting Depala, Pilot Exemplar on top of your deck could be cool, maybe? This week's top sellers are great. At worst, the lists from week to week serve as a very candid look at what people are willing to speculate on, and, uh... yeah. Now Dwarven Recruiter is the second-best selling Magic: the Gathering card between September 2nd, 2016 and September 4th, 2016. It's an amazing time to be alive.
When you're part of the editorial staff for anything, you can't have enough Adam Yurchicks on your roster. The dude's just a machine. In the time I've gotten to know him, all he does is knock it out of the park, consistently diving deep into formats and surfacing with the sweetest decks. As soon as we got Lupine Prototype from WotC, I knew that Yurchick was the guy to find some sweet angles for the card. So we enlisted him again! This time, he's bringing you our exclusive Kaladesh preview, so look out for that on Wednesday. It's a really good card, and in light of everything that got previewed over the weekend, I'm really high on it. Stay tuned!