Sometimes, the quickest way to get a look at what over 1,000 people are bringing to a tournament is to ask the dealers. People often come to events and make a last-minute swap in the deck list, or even come requiring a few final cards and the dealers are there to help them. It's a small coverage-team secret that before we pour over 1,000+ decklists, we take the dealers' temperatures. Though the readings might not be perfectly accurate, they're within an acceptable range – giving us a good start on what to expect at the tables.
The dealers today were all saying the same thing: Black and Blue. I talked to Magic Stronghold, MTGDeals.com, GameKeeperOnline.com, ChannelFireball.com, CoolStuffInc.com, Face to Faces Games, and Fusion Gaming, and they all said the Mono-Blue and Mono-Black staples are hot commodities – Mutavault, Bident of Thassa and Desecration Demon galore! However, the real big sellers have been the sideboard cards for each deck. Dark Betrayal, Duress, Gainsay, and Rapid Hybridization have been going at a premium. Rich at Fusion Gaming and Tom at CoolStuffInc.com were unsurprised. Even though the decks haven't been putting up as consistent numbers as they were earlier in the season they are "still really strong decks" Rich said, and people are comfortable playing with them. With this as the last large event, why fix what ain't broke?
Grand Prix Vancouver Dealers' Tables
Face to Face Games added that Lifebane Zombies have been selling large, "along with Zendikar Swamps to go with them." In fact, Randy Buehler said the dealers told him, "if you want a fancy swamp, you can't get 'em. They're all gone." The zombie, whose true usefulness in the format is often debated, is incredible when cards like Polukranos, World Eater and Mistcutter Hydra show up, but lackluster other times. This buying trend shows that some players are on the right track, as ChannelFireball.com noted, they were selling more Mistcutter Hydras than they were expecting.
Following closely behind the Mono-Blue and Mono-Black mainstays were cards like Sphinx's Revelation. As Esper Control maintains its pillar position as the go-to control deck in the format (along with Azorius Control), Sphinx's Revelation is a requirement, and pretty much the reason you play the deck. When the new hate bear from Born of the Gods, Spirit of the Labyrinth rears its ugly head, we'll see how much the big multicolored instant is affected, if at all. But until then Sphinx's Revelation is safe pick indeed.
On slightly more unexpected grounds, David at MTGDeals noted that Boros Reckoner was selling like hot cakes (do hot cakes even sell anymore? Definitely at Tim Horton's, at least, the Canadian coffee shop dream factory). Boros Reckoner plays the dual role of being an amazingly aggressive creature while also adding three mana to either red or white devotion. It's like a Nightveil Specter in less-successful colors.
Grand Prix Vancouver Dealers' Tables
On the odd side, David also noted that tons of people have been asking for Voice of Resurgence tokens, but not the Voices themselves. And Tom at Cool Stuff said many people have asked about Foil Stirring Wildwood, but none of the non-foil. Sometimes the free market is weird.
So this confirms at least to some degree what we already knew, or what most people were planning for. Mono-Blue and Mono-Black tuned for the mirror match are going to be here in fairly large numbers. If you've brought your own list that can take both of those down, you are a good percentage of the way there. And if you want Foil Stirring Wildwood or fancy Swamps you're out of luck.
As Round 4 looms on the horizon, and all the Pros with three byes wait anxiously in the wings, we'll soon see what this weekend's format will really look like.