$35!? I’m not sure I get it, but obviously some people are interested, so lets try to figure out what we have here. Is this card going to see play in formats beyond Standard? On its own it does not seem powerful enough, but +1/+1 counters are a thing in Modern. Spike Feeder gives us infinite life in just two cards while Kitchen Finks also requires a sacrifice outlet. This of course leads us to a very obvious question that ultimately doesn’t matter very much financially.
Does Archangel of Thune fit into Modern Birthing Pod? (And for what its worth, Pod is going to either hit $15 or get banned during Modern season, and possibly both.) It shouldn’t be more than a one- or two-of at most if it’s even played. She only seems relevant in builds centered around Melira, Sylvok Outcast because of how good the Angel is with Kitchen Finks when the deck has to go grindy against Midrange strategies (Kiki-Pod lists generally have other five-drops in mind). Standard-legal cards that are worth money will have their prices defined by their Standard viability; no one is paying $35 for a fringe Modern card they can draft at FNM or open in a $4 booster.
Step 1 in evaluating a card’s Standard viability is easy: Is this Thragtusk? That is, are we supposed to buy all of them because half of Standard will need them for the next year or so? (Cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor are set aside when we look at format viability outside of Standard.) I firmly believe we are not looking at a second coming of super-cow or even Baneslayer Angel, but rather an archetypal role player. Archangel of Thune is the type of card that fits into strategies as a synergistic component rather than forming a deck on its own. Over the next three months, I think Archangel is going to follow Blood Artist around like a puppy, because outside of Aristocrats-style decks, I’m not sure she has a home.
The lazy approach to analyzing Archangel of Thune would be to look at Sublime Archangel and Thundermaw Hellkite (their curves are remarkably similar), see that they both began a steady decline throughout the summer before jumping during the fall Standard season, and wait until postrotation Standard to evaluate when the new Angel’s price jump will be, if there is one.
However, as with Dragon’s Maze, no M14 card can be properly evaluated without considering the unique situation this summer has presented. People don’t seem excited for M14, prerelease numbers appear to have been down across the country, and I’m unsure how much of this set will be opened compared to its contemporaries. No one can say how much this is due to Modern Masters, and how much is due to M14 itself, but regardless, the supply issues that cards from Core Sets inevitably have will be more extreme than usual next year. It should also mean that the cards that drop after the set’s release will do so more slowly (which means Archangel of Thune will look more like Sublime than Thundermaw and possibly retain most of its release-day value even longer) while the cards that go up should stay elevated for longer despite the set being currently drafted (there’s real potential for another Boros Reckoner here) because the supply entering the market will be lower than usual.
Lifebane Zombie has the best chance to “pull a Reckoner,” though it reminds me more of a spicier three-drop, Vendilion Clique. They are both reasonable evasion bodies with very real disruptive elements. Of course Clique is a better card overall, but in the current Standard format, Lifebane Zombie is insanely well-positioned, and I expect it to see a ton of play. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit $15 before Standard rotates.
Xathrid Necromancer is also poised to be a summer all-star, and if you preordered at $3 you got quite the deal. At $6, I’m not sure the Necromancer is a straight-up buy, but I’d certainly make sure I had my set to play with because a $10 price tag would be unsurprising in the near future considering the hype. It’s remarkable how well Xathrid Necromancer fits into various Aristocrats builds, and it’s the reason a potential W/B Humans/Tokens strategy is being discussed in the first place.
A Blind Obedience that can beat down? I’m in! Imposing Sovereign seems like a hell of a card, and should see play in a myriad of human shells from W/B(/x?) to Blitz. Blitz in particular seems terrifying when it gets to potentially ignore Boros Reckoner, Restoration Angel, and Thragtusk the first turn your opponent plays them. This feels like a $6 role player, but its possible I’m underestimating how good this effect is on a body. If its adoption becomes more widespread than tribal-based strategies, I don’t really know where it will end up.
Between the Human decks and people trying to live the Slivers dream, don’t be surprised when people start asking about the Cavern of Souls you’ve had sitting in your binder for months. In fact it’s probably a decent idea to pick some up on the cheap if you can for a quick flip. They’re headed back to $25-plus in a hurry, though I wouldn’t want to own any I wasn’t playing with three weeks from now.
For all the lambasting M14 has been getting, Standard is going to be shaken up one way or another. Its important to remember that unknown formats can be chaotic and insane, and this market in particular may be something we’ve never seen before. If you’re going to play, stay on your toes.
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