I’m outta Standard again

Roughly one year ago, when Khans of Tarkir came to Magic Online, I decided that I would get into Standard again. The main reason for this was that, thanks to a very generous longtime reader who gifted me his well-stocked account, I suddenly had the necessary resources at my disposal. The deciding motivational factor, however, was that I wanted to be able to produce more varied content for the now defunct German site Magic Universe by chronicling my Standard endeavors.

As it turned out, I had some fun building and tuning a few decks and learning to play them, and I even reached the point where I was confident that I had found my own tier-1 deck whose strength was only diluted by its pilot’s lack of skills. That was before Magic Origins, however, and then I suddenly found myself unable to use Magic Online for a few months, and when I finally returned I had essentially missed drafting that set and would have been required to buy everything I needed for Standard (which mostly meant four each of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Hangarback Walker and Abbot of Keral Keep; plus a couple of Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Liliana, Heretical Healer, Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh and Languish).

Initially, I had planned to get most of the cards I needed for Standard via drafting, and that had worked out reasonably well in Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged, but I was already quite a bit behind in Dragons of Tarkir. Now, outright buying cards from Magic Origins just didn’t feel right and made me ponder how much I really wanted to keep playing Standard, now that my stint as editor of Magic Universe was over. As it turned out: Not very much. Yes, building and tuning decks would still be fun for me, but I realized that I would not play that format nearly enough to justify spending this much money on it. Even so far I had only entered 2-men-queues when I had run out of boosters, and then just played until I won enough so that I could draft again. Now, with the introduction of play points that wasn’t even possible anymore.

I delayed that decision (or, more precisely, consciously thinking about it) for a while, drafting Battle for Zendikar and selling all valuable cards immediately with the reasoning that, on average, I would be able to rebuy them later for less. Finally, though, it dawned on me that, by this exact logic, I was burning money maintaining a card pool for Standard (or even just one or two decks) while almost never actually playing it. While it is true that in the long run it is a lot more cost-efficient to play Standard instead of Draft, and while I was overall probably barely good enough to even make a small profit from it on average (owing to my deckbuilding skills, certainly not to my play skills), I would have needed to play it roughly a hundred times as often as I was willing to, just to break even with regards to my financial loss from buying cards when everyone needed them, and later selling them when noone did.

So I decided to sell my collection while most of it was still valuable – and boy, had there been money tied up in it! I am probably a bit in the red compared to where I was before I entered Standard (and even a bit more compared to what would have been if I had immediately sold all valuable cards), but I mostly recouped my losses and am now ticket-rich again, so that I can probably keep drafting until the end of my days unless my win ratio drops sharply – which it might, though, since I play a little worse every year, but what can you do about aging?

I also gave up the idea of trying out Pauper. It might be the most cost-efficient format, but I am just not really interested in it, and since the Magic Online bottleneck for me is time, not tickets (that time as much restricted by the server allowing me to play without lag or disconnects as by my own schedule), there is simply no reason left to do anything else with that program than what I like most to do with it: Draft!


Oh, and totally unrelated another mini-update to my Limited Card Pool: I realized Common Bond was too close to Abzan Charm for my taste, so I replaced it with Reap What Is Sown, and subsequently Sigil Blessing with Gerrard’s Command to keep my Selesnya instants more different from each other.

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