Raise Your Standards – Fun Decks and Finance


Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  This week, we’ll be taking a look at a few decks that have been performing well this past week on MTGO and I’ll be offering you a little finance advice you can use when purchasing cards for Standard.  Let’s get started by taking a look that a lot of people have been talking about this week.  It’s the deck that took the top spot at the MTGO PTQ on July 21st.  It’s the U/W Gift deck.


U/W Gift – (by Olivetti)God-Pharaoh's Gift






I cannot begin to tell you how excited this deck makes me feel.  It’s amazing that a 7-mana artifact is seeing play and doing well.  The key is that this card is an artifact, which means it can enter the battlefield by playing Refurbish.  When I did my set review I mentioned that I hoped someone would do just this.  I also thought this would make Gate to the Afterlife more playable.  I’m glad I was right on this one.

Financially, since I thought this card was good, I picked up a playset of God-Pharaoh’s Gift when they were at $0.30.  Currently the market price for this card on TCGplayer.com is at $2.98.  My advice in the future is for you to determine what cards look like the best or most fun to play, and if they are under $0.50 when the set releases, pick them up.  As a Standard player, I’m not actively looking to pick up cards to flip to turn a profit, but if I can get cards that I want to play with that are at bulk rare prices, there’s very little risk in buying them as I see them.

Another deck that’s tearing it up on MTGO is the Mono-Red deck.  Here’s an example of this deck.


RDW – (by makusong24)Earthshaker Khenra



SpellsReality Smasher


SideboardRamunap Ruins


There are multiple versions of RDW (Red Deck Wins) doing well on MTGO and this is just one of them.  I like this one because it uses some of the most powerful Eldrazi creatures currently legal in Standard.  I’ll be a little sad when Reality Smasher finally rotates out of Standard this fall, so it’s nice that it’s still a very playable card.

Another popular RDW variation also plays Earthshaker Khenra alongside other creatures that make it difficult for your opponent to block.  And speaking of Earthshaker Khenra, it’s the basis for my next financial tip.  As someone who pays attention to winning decks, I noticed the prominence of many red decks in recent tournament results as well as on MTGO.  Since most of them are playing Earthshaker Khenra and I’m a fan of playing Red decks, I made it a point to pick up this card slightly after the price had begun to rise.  While I didn’t get in as early as I would have liked, I still managed to pick up a card that I wanted to play for a price that I was willing to pay.

The final deck I’d like to look at this week looks to break the Horse token production ability of Crested Sunmare in the best way possible.  Let’s take a look at Crested “Fun”-mare.


Crested “Fun”-mare – (by l1nt84)Crested Sunmare



LandsLone Rider



This deck looks super fun to play.  There’s nothing more frustrating as a player than watching your opponent gain more and more life as the game goes on, eventually making it virtually impossible for you to bring them down to 0.  That’s exactly what this deck does.  Oh yeah, it also makes a ton of Horses in the process.  That sounds like a lot of fun to me.

While this deck isn’t identical to the list that Saffron Olive posted to his mtggoldfish.com website, it’s pretty close.  My next piece of financial advice is to pay attention to the decks that are posted by Saffron Olive.  The cards in his decks usually go up in price, at least initially, due to an effect that’s been dubbed the ‘Saffron Olive Effect’.  Since he’s a pretty good brewer, his decks usually prove themselves to be relatively good.  Because of this, many people build the decklists he provides to play in their local events, which causes copies of these cards to shoot up in value.  So, if you can buy the cards you need right after he posts a deck, you can avoid the price spike.

Mike’s Financial Advice

So, let’s go over the financial advice I’ve given you so far.

  1. Figure out which cards you want to play when a new set releases and buy them if they’re bulk-priced.
  2. Watch the winning decklists from tournaments and MTGO.  If a deck is doing well and looks like something you want to play, pick up the cards you need for it.  You can avoid price spikes this way if you act early.
  3. Avoid cards that have spiked due to the ‘Saffron Olive Effect’.

My final piece of advice is to simply buy only the cards you need for decks that you actually plan to build.  If you have absolutely no interest in playing any green ramp decks, you can save money by not buying cards that will ramp your mana.  If you have no interest in sphinxes, don’t buy Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign.

If you’re a player like me and want playsets of all of the cards for use in other formats, concentrate on buying the cards you’ll use in Standard first.  You can always pick up the other cards once the set rotates out of Standard, and usually at a rock-bottom price.


Right now at MTG Deck techs, we’re looking for new content creators.  If you’ve always wanted to write your own Magic column, be sure to contact us here to find out how.  We’re also looking for streamers and podcasters as well, so if you’re talented in that manner, let us know.

The Pro Tour is taking place this weekend, so next week we’ll take a look at the decks that did well there.  It’s always interesting to see how the pros handle a new format.  Do you think one of the decks I’ve highlighted above will do well at the PT?  Or do you have another deck that’s your favorite?  Let me know by leaving a comment or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.  Alternately, you can also contact me on my new Twitter account, @mikelikesmtg.  I’ll see you next week!

Mike Likes


Mike Likes

Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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