Commander 2014 Preparation

By: Cliff Daigle

Yes, I’m thinking a lot about a set of decks that aren’t going to be available until November.

I’m of two minds about this set.

From a playing and flavor perspective, I’m stoked beyond words. I’m hoping to see Teferi, Serra, Freyalise, Jaya Ballard, and Leshrac as overpowered Planeswalkers and eventual judge foils. (There’s going to have to be a foil version somehow. They know that we want a foil to be our Commander!)

From a financial standpoint, I don’t think there will be a lot of immediate opportunity here. The first Commander set was put together and printed when the player base was significantly smaller, and while sealed product is at a premium, there aren’t many standalone stars.

Wizards has demonstrated this past year that if the preconstructed decks are bought in disproportionate amounts, then they will print disproportionate amounts. True-Name Nemesis is the case study. It started out at $50, as befits a powerful blue creature in Legacy in a limited printing. It was impacting the sale of Commander decks, as Mind Seize couldn’t stay on shelves.

The company turned around and started printing and sending out two Mind Seize per case instead of just one, and the demand appears to have been met, as TNN is down to $25, a price at which it’s not cost-effective to hunt for the deck.

The decks still carry a lot of value in the singles, but without the big-ticket item to immediately sell via buylist (and the rest of the deck doesn’t buylist well) things are in a reasonable state.

The reprinting policy is extremely relevant to us. If one of the five mono-color decks blows up this winter, the price will not hold. There’s a chance that if True-Name Nemesis isn’t reprinted, it might creep up again (more on that in a second) but the initial demand was met through adding additional supply.

Here is the behavior you’ll need to have for the five decks in November: Buy it soon, sell it fast, don’t try to make too much for too long.

The decks being mono-color offers the opportunity for many reprints of cards that could use it. I would expect a combination of very old and semi-old cards to go with the brand-new ones. I think that Wizards will use these products as a way to increase supply of some cards. If these cards are reprinted, there will be a drop in value, much like with the Commander 2013 cards.

In some cases, the price of a card will be unaffected by a reprint, or scarcity will keep a higher price. Hua Tuo, Honored Physician is an example. Hua Tao did not have a high price due to the ability, but the scarcity of the set. The same card in Commander 2013 is worth a dollar, and the original lost about $40 in value.

In case I haven’t made it clear: I don’t think there is much long-term value to be gained by trading or buying into expensive cards that can be reprinted in the next year. The combination of MM2 in May and these Commander decks creates too much uncertainty for my taste. Better to focus speculation energy and money on Standard cards. I mentioned a few reprint candidates two weeks ago, and here are some more. If you have any of these in quantity, I strongly urge you to cash them out or trade them away.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence - This angel is around $50, and is overdue for a reprint. Her ability is very relevant in keeping down the Splinter Twin decks of Modern, and is also great in dealing with the many utility abilities of Commander. This angel and Avacyn are locks in my mind to be in this set or Modern Masters 2. There’s a good chance that this deck has a tribal Angel feel, which would open up cards like Akroma, Angel of Wrath or Iona, Shield of Emeria as well.

Aven Mindcensor – One of the more expensive uncommons in Modern, a fresh injection of copies would tank the price by half or more.

Bloodghast – This card would work exceptionally well with the spoiled Ghoulcaller Gisa, with repeated sacrifices. I can see Gravecrawler being an easy include for the same reason.

Death Baron - Gisa’s tokens are Zombies. Making them better and deadly is very strong.

Nirkana Revenant – In an EDH deck with around 30 swamps, this is just ridiculous. Doubling mana is a favorite thing in casual formats, and using that mana immediately is a real beating.

Phyrexian Obliterator – It increased in price twice, is more than $35, and will never be easier to cast than in a mono-black deck.

Consecrated Sphinx – In a multiplayer game, this is capable of taking over. An opponent getting a copy means that two players can draw their entire deck!

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner – I like the benefit and drawback to this ability. You’ll have to pay twice to equip something, or use a different ability.

Spell Crumple – In case you weren’t aware, this is a $6 uncommon that was a two-of in one of the original Commander 2011 decks. A reprint will cause this price to plummet.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking – Yup, she’s more than $20. Watch out, because it’ll go much, much lower when she’s printed again.

Craterhoof Behemoth – A choice finisher in token or swarm decks, this seems like a for-sure include in the mono-green deck.

Oracle of Mul Daya – Oracle’s price was never this high when she was in Standard. Look at what this offers, and then Courser of Kruphix. Adding life and toughness while lowering mana cost does a lot for the card!

Regal Force - Oh, it feels good resolving this and drawing ten or more cards. It’s appropriately expensive.

Vigor - I realize that this is a card that dies to targeted and mass removal, but it’s really awesome until it gets killed. It has a price that reflects how popular it is despite being so easy to kill.

Dragonmaster Outcast – Oh, I hope this is in Khans of Tarkir block. If not, this and Kargan Dragonlord are strong candidates for the mono-red Commander deck.

Magus of the Moon – A Modern card that can be its own answer (my Hallowed Fountain can now cast Lightning Bolt!) this represents a very strong ability, and a card that would go lower when reprinted.

I don’t think that all of these are going to be in Commander 2014. I think there’s a good chance of them being printed in that set (or Modern Masters 2) and these are cards I don’t want to have in stock when their price tanks.

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An Open Letter

By: Travis Allen

Did you ever tell a family member – any family member at all – that you were at all interested in art of some sort when you were younger? Painting or drawing perhaps? It’s pretty common for kids to be drawn to art early on, even if very few stick with it. It’s a creative outlet and a way to produce a lasting piece of work that they can feel good about days or weeks later.

If you ever mentioned enjoying artwork to an aunt, an uncle, or a grandparent, you know what came next for the following ten years. Art supplies. Every single year. Except they were crummy and unusable every single time. It’s sort of a catch-22. Anyone willing to spend enough money on you to buy you high quality pens or paint supplies would know you well enough that they would know better than to waste their money that way. And yet like clockwork, every Birthday and Christmas, some ten dollar set of markers would show up on the doorstep for you to toss into a box with other unused gifts while you went back to playing Super Nintendo.

While we may have considered this a complete loss of value when we were younger, time has provided us a perspective on the situation a bit more sympathetic with those relatives. To their credit, they were using their limited knowledge of our passing whims as best as they could to provide gifts they thought would be appreciated. If you’re somehow still bitter about this, ask yourself what you really know of the passions of your nieces and nephews, or hell, even your siblings. Providing someone with a meaningful gift that they will truly appreciate is damn difficult, even for those you are closest to.

In order to see what this has to do with us, just replace the word “art” with “Magic” and “paintbrushes” with “Magic cards.” When you’re a child, getting booster packs of cards is thrilling and exciting. I fondly remember cherishing every booster pack of X-Men trading cards I received back then, and getting an entire sealed box for my birthday is one of the few memories I have of early birthday gifts. These days however, gifts including Magic cards are far less special. The issue is that there’s no longer mystery or excitement in the gift of Magic cards. The veil has been pulled back, and as you sit there reading this article, you’re fully capable of going out and purchasing them for yourself. In the next ten minutes you could have any Magic card or sealed product you wish rushing towards your door. It may not be a financially prudent decision, of course, but still, the option is available to you. It’s sort of like ice cream cake. The age at which you can just go buy an ice cream cake for no reason whatsoever except that you want to eat one is exactly the age when you realize it is a terrible idea to do so.

And so we find ourselves the recipients of Intro Decks and booster packs from last year’s core set from well meaning relatives who know little more of our hobbies other than “that card game.” We say thank you, hug the relative, and tell them that it’s so great they provided such a thoughtful gift. Meanwhile you’re staring at that Celestial Archon in the front of the packaging wondering if Target will give you store credit for the intro deck without a receipt.

We feel bad. We really do. They obviously are trying. They mean well. They just…don’t quite get it. It’s like listening to your mom try and describe what you do for a living. How can you be upset when they mean well? It’s in everyone’s best interest if the Magic gifts cease though. They’ll stop spending money on something that’s going to be immediately returned or collect dust in a closet, and you won’t have to feign appreciation for something that is entirely wasted on you. That way you can all get back to giving and receiving the best of gifts: socks. (That’s not a joke).

Today I provide you with a tool. A letter. It is an open letter to friends and family that attempts to gently persuade them that their love can be better channeled. If you’re the non-confrontational (read: passive aggressive) type, just link it on your Facebook wall. For a more direct route, print it out and stick it in the envelope with a thank you card you most certainly haven’t already sent for the last gift they gave you. I’ve provided multiple selections on certain sentences to provide for the most personal touch possible. Feel free to edit and tweak as necessary.



Dear [Friend/Aunt/Uncle/Grandma/Parole Officer],

I hope this letter finds you well. I know we haven’t spoken in awhile, but my [mother/father/dog] tells me you are doing [great/terribly/cocaine]. That is [wonderful/a shame] to hear. I’d ask you what the weather is like there in ___________, but given that I have internet access, it feels a bit silly to ask. It’s funny how the medium of communication dictates how much and what is acceptable small talk.

My reason for sending this letter today is a tad delicate. I should preface the content with sincere thanks for all you have provided me over the years as a loving [relative/friend/parole officer]. I cherish the time we have spent together in the past and look forward to many more lovely [hours/outstanding arrest warrants] in the future.

This past [birthday/Christmas/President’s Day/Tuesday] you gave to me a heartfelt gift that included Magic: The Gathering cards. I was touched to see that you cared enough to purchase a meaningful, personal gift for me. Your love and affection shone brilliantly through your action.

It is this particular gift that I wish to speak about today. While the meaning and thought behind the gift were fully and truly appreciated, the actual content did not quite achieve the [excitement/sexual arousal] you may have hoped it would.

Magic cards behave as a commodity, just as gas, silver, and corn do. While silver and gold [and corn] make for some truly remarkable gifts, a simple few ounces of gold without form or function makes for a much less special treat. It is unlikely you would give someone gasoline as a gift, and Magic cards are not much different. Commodities make the world go round, but any particular instance of such is not particularly special or endearing.

One piece of silver lacks distinction from another until it has been crafted into a piece of jewelry. Similarly, there is nothing unique about this Magic card compared to another of the same name. Nothing exists to distinguish it as my Magic card. The result is that cards change hands often, and a card gifted today could be traded away to peers for something more immediately useful only days later. Furthermore, market shifts can and do happen in the world of Magic just as they do on the real commodities markets. A box of cards you spend $10 on today may be worth less than half of that by the time I actually receive it. The only person who wins on that day is the retailer.

This is not to say you should never purchase any Magic cards ever again. A single booster pack, retail $3-$4, is a pleasing trinket or accessory to another package. (Be sure to ask the retailer for the most recent set!) If you travel abroad, foreign booster packs of cards are much appreciated, not only due to their exotic nature, but as a token of a journey you wish to share. (Russian and Japanese especially so!) In general though, I ask for both our sakes that you mostly refrain from choosing Magic cards as gifts. While I know full well that you mean only the best, at the end of the day they lack the ability to strengthen emotional bonds in a way that many other gestures are capable.

My message today is not one of annoyance or complaint, but rather one of honesty and compassion. I look forward to spending many more enjoyable [holidays/nights in jail cells] with you.

[Love/Sincerely/Dictated but not read by],


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Hype Train Standard

By: Jared Yost

Xenagos, the Reveler

By the time this article is published, I predict that it will be hard to find Xenagos, the Reveler for less than $15. I commented on this version of Xengos in my Theros review back in September last year as a passive pickup, which meant that I recognized his power level but realized that it would take a paradigm shift in Standard in order for his abilities to really shine. When I identify passive pickups in my set reviews, I recommend that you pick them up when you have extra cards to trade or when the price becomes low enough that even if they don’t pan out in Standard they will still stabilize in price to due to casual or other demand. Xenagos was close to $7-$8 for a long time in Standard – for the past six months you could have gotten your copies fairly cheap if you picked them up slowly over time.


Usually, when a Standard card is bought out at this particular time in the season there is a good reason. Master of Waves and Thassa, God of the Sea were bought out last year during Pro Tour Theros due to the breakout of the Mono-Blue Devotion deck. Yes, you could have made money on them if you had prestocked your cart on TCGPlayer and then executed the purchase as soon as they saw decent screen time from the live coverage. However, in the long run their prices dropped considerably because more Theros was opened and people were able to pick them up much easier once more copies were in the market. Mono-Blue Devotion turned out to be one of the most dominating decks and yet the prices still went since that time last year.



image01The hype from Pro Tour Theros was mainly driven by a lack of supply. This is not the case for Xenagos, the Reveler because we’ve been opening Theros for an entire year. The majority of the copies that will exist for the next Standard are already out there. Based on Twitter postings from Friday, there was a rumor that the buyout was coordinated.


Then we had a first hand account of Nick Becvar stating that he decided to buy in on as many Xenagos as he could at GenCon.


Nick is a well respected member of the MTG finance community so when a card catches his eye I tend to pay close attention. By the time of his Twitter post, all of the cheap copies of Xenagos were gone on TCGPlayer and the mid price was about $16. However, I was able to snag a few foil copies that were still lingering around $19 that weren’t updated to reflect the non-foil price. Goes to show that even if you think you may have missed an opportunity, always make sure to check for other versions of the card including foil versions. The window is small but there are sometimes opportunities to get these deals.

The the reason why Xenagos spiked was the coverage he received during Pro Tour M15. He was in two Jund decks that placed in the Top 8 of the tournament, which was the most anticipated tournament of the summer. He received plenty of coverage from live streaming two weeks ago and players have been picking up their copies since then. Once vendors started running low and realized that people weren’t trading the ones they had back in, they readjusted the prices to reflect this demand.

 What Else Besides Xenagos Should You Be Watching?

In terms of Standard I would focus on lands and current non-rotating staples. The scrylands are all great options, since the block supplementing Theros standard is a Wedge set. There is plenty of opportunity for any of the lands to be featured in a breakout deck so I wouldn’t focus heavily on any particular land barring Mana Confluence. Mana Confluence is a nice role filler for multicolored aggro decks, so I can see it becoming important in Mardu (RWB) builds in addition to any other Wedge or two color aggro build that pops up and does well during the fall. It is also from Journey Into Nyx, so the 6:2:1 ratio will also have an effect on the price after rotation.

Speaking of aggro, Soldier of the Pantheon is another of my top targets. Ever since the fall set was announced to be Wedge based I started picking up this card en masse. This is a short term play – if the card goes up substantially in price during the fall I will also be looking to get out then. It will have a tougher time sustaining a high price once the control decks become more established. 

You should also be stocking up on any extra copies of Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall that you can find. These have the highest chance of being the premium black cards of Standard in the fall. I would focus more on Thoughtseize than Downfall, even though it has a higher buy in price. Thoughtseize is an eternal playable that might have a higher chance of the elusive double spike once the newly announced Modern Pro Tour taking place in February 2015 occurs. Downfall is riskier because a better removal spell could be reprinted in Khans.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is the strongest white card right now in sheer power. Her nemesis is Scuttling Doom Engine, which Wizards created to help stave off any potential Elspeth domination of Standard. I’m still not sure which card will see more play. I tend to think Scuttling Doom Engine (SCD) since it is both colorless and a rare, which means that it can fit into multiple archetypes that can support it and it will be cheaper for players to acquire initially so more are apt to brew with SCD.

On the other hand, Elspeth is just so strong especially in control builds. Of course, my line of thinking could be completely changed once Khans comes out but for now I tend to favor SCD as the card that will see the biggest gains percentage wise.I feel like Elspeth has peaked somewhat. She costs six mana, which means that players have fewer copies of her in decks, and she is already at around $20. I can’t see her going up much more from there based on an average two copies per deck. I doubt that SCD will reach Thragtusk level of dominance but there always seems to be a rare from a core set that reaches a really high price…

Lastly, I want to mention slivers. Here my advice is to wait until rotation and pick up any foil copies of M14/M15 slivers that seem to be popular. I think this is the best call for the short and long term. Even if there is a breakout sliver deck it will only be around for about another month. I’m going to bide my time, wait for rotation, and then a few months afterwards try to scoop up any popular M14/M15 slivers for value in the long run.

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Weekend Update for 8/16/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Fauna Shaman (M11)
From $7.01 to $8.01 (15.55%)

Fauna Shaman is in an interesting place. It is a powerful effect but it is just too slow to be playable in several decks.

Some Modern Kiki-Pod decks experiment with it. I am sure Combo Elves variants in Modern and Legacy are constantly brewing with it.

That is not to say that it does not have its home.

Commander and Cube players often make good use of the Shaman.

This card will continue to grow slowly and steadily for a long time to come until someone does finally break the card and everyone starts scrambling for a play set.

9. Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
From $4.10 to $4.91 (19.76%)

Michiko is an interesting white commander. She just looks at you with her warning smile daring anyone to come attack you. She is the right color for all kinds of life gain to offset any life lost.

She is from a third set that was released a decade ago. There is little supply with a unique and powerful effect.  I would trade for her and let the value continue to grow. She is so tied into the flavor of a plane we are certain not to revisit that I would be surprised if she ever saw a reprint.

8. Porphyry Nodes (Planar Chaos)
From $4.19 to $5.35

Porphyry Nodes is potential repeatable removal. It makes a very potent sideboard card. It keeps aggressive decks in check and can get around hexproof, shroud and protection.

It is sometimes seen in WUR (Jeskai) Control and Delver decks.

I would trade for these at $4 and hold onto them. The last time they got attention on camera during a major tournament prices spiked to $8.

7. Legion Loyalist (Gatecrash)
From $3.59 to $4.62 (28.695)

Rabble Red and Boss Sligh have given the Loyalist a big last hurrah before rotation.

The deck does well on MTGO dailies but so far has not seen any success in person beyond Top 16s.

Everyone wants to put this deck together and try it out at FNM.

I think the hype will settle and people will soon be looking to get out while there is still some value to be had.

I would trade these now and not look back.

6. Pithing Needle (Saviors of Kamigawa)
From $2.63 to $3.40 (29.28%)

Pithing Needle is a singleton is roughly half of legacy sideboards. It is also used in some modern and standard sideboards.

It has been printed four times. Saviors of Kamigawa was a third set in a block. Tenth Edition and M10 were core sets.

The most recent printing was in Return to Ravnica which was one of the most opened large sets ever. It was an incredible draft environment with many modern and legacy staples.

There are a lot of copies out there now.

Standard players will no longer need it and will be looking to unload it on a market that already picked up the copies they needed a long time ago.

The price is going back to around $2 in a month. Move these if you can.

5. Ad Nauseam (Shards of Alara)
From $3.26 to $4.30 (31.90%)

Ad Nauseam is a powerful way to draw your deck and finish off your opponent on their end step.

It is used in Modern Ad Nauseam and Legacy ANT and TES.

The SCG Legacy open on 8/10/2014 in Syracuse has an Ad Nauseam deck place in the Top 16. It is a fringe deck but can pop up unexpectedly depending on the metagame.

I like trading for these at $3 since the price is low and it sees play in eternal formats.

Other pieces of the deck can be pretty cheap as well. You can buy Phyrexian Unlife for as low as $0.26 and sell them for up to $0.51.

4. Enduring Ideal (Saviors of Kamigawa)
From $2.59 to $3.49 (34.75%)

Theros block recently introduced several powerful enchantments including gods. This always gets casual players pulling out their copies of Enduring Ideal and Sigil of the Empty Throne.

People are brewing with the Ideal of Modern success but nothing has gained any traction.

The deck needs powerful finishers. Assemble the Legions and Form of the Dragon are not quick enough.

I would trade them if someone if looking for them.

3. Kataki, War’s Wage (Saviors of Kamigawa)
From $2.28 to $3.46 (51.75%)

Ensoul Artifact has a lot of players looking at Affinity. When affinity gets attention then anti artifact cards get added to sideboards.

Kataki fits in several Modern deck archetypes including BW tokens, Melira Pod, Kiki-Pod, Soul Sisters, GW Hatesbears and more.

It even gets played in some vintage sideboards. The problem is that it has been reprinted so much recently. It was in Modern Masters and the Modern Event Deck.

I doubt it will be able to keep up the price.

You can purchase them for as little as $1.48 and sell them for as much as $2.60.

The Modern Masters copy also has an opportunity for profit. You can buy them for as little as $0.79 and sell them for as much as $1.26.

2. Terra Stomper (Zendikar)
From $2.12 to $3.52 (66.04%)

Terra Stomper is standard legal for the next year thanks to M15 Planeswalker decks and the Deckbuiler’s Toolikit.

The biggest problem it has it that the deck that Monogreen Devotion has so many other powerful options. Arbor Colossus, Hornet Queen, Genesis Hydra and Polukranos are all fighting for the same spot in the deck.

Mistcutter Hydra wants the sideboard space against control.

This leaves Terra Stomper without a home. I would trade these away aggressively.

1. Squelch (Champions of Kamigawa)
From $1.34 to $2.28 (70.15%)

Squelch looks at a modern metagame filled with fetchlands, pod activations and planeswalker abilities and rubs its hands together.

It has only been printed once.

So far only Modern Mono-Blue Tron runs it. I would try to stock up on $1 copies and wait for it to get noticed.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Norin the Wary (Time Spiral)
From $4.05 to $3.67 (-9.38%)

I love Norin the Wary. He has provided some great flavor text over the years. Every once in a while someone toys with a crazy rogue deck featuring him.

The most recent flavor was a Boros Soul Sisters that used Purphoros, God of the Forge to deal lots of damage while Norin played peekaboo.

The bump he got in price is coming down as it should.

I would trade for Purphoros though. His buylist and vendor price are both $4.00. He is a powerful commander and he just needs creatures to become good. I think he has a lot of potential.

4. Master of the Feast (Journey into Nyx)
From $3.70 to $3.28 (-11.35%)

Can Mono-Black Devotion survive the rotation of Pack Rat and Desecration Demon? If the answer is yes then Master of the Feast is a prime candidate for replacing the demon.

An upcoming wedge set suggests time to set up mana bases. I think that rotation would be a great opportunity for an aggressive monoblack deck to take charge.

3. Lifebane Zombie (M14)
From $3.86 to $3.25 (-15.80%)

Lifebane Zombie sees play in a variety of standard decks but is having trouble breaking into modern Jund and Golgari Midrange decks.

It will continue to decrease in price over the coming weeks. I would get out now. After rotation these should become bulk rares which you can pick up if you think it is good enough for a modern sideboard.

2. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (Planar Chaos)
From $20.66 to $17.05 (-17.47%)

Urborg is taking a beating for being reprinted in M15.

Let us not forget that it is used in Legacy and Modern decks of all varieties. It is going to be an automatic inclusion in every black deck in standard for the next year.

The price will not be done dropping until Khans of Tarkir is released.

You can currently purchase them for as low as $10.99 and sell them for as much as $14.40. f you have been slow to unload then this is your chance.

1. Rebuff the Wicked (Planar Chaos)
From $1.81 to $1.44 (-20.44%)

Rebuff the Wicked is an interesting inclusion in white commander decks.

It is a counterspell for one white mana. It is not a card that people are thinking of playing around. It protects your commander and any other permanents you have.

I love finding these in collections I buy.

I would hold onto them and wait for the price to get back to $2.

If you do not have faith in that happening you can still buylist them for $0.50.

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