PROTRADER: Hammer Time!


Punny titles just make my heart sing.

So the banhammer showed up this past Monday and hit hard on the two tall trees in current Standard, making Energy and Ramunap Red both less consistent yet not completely dead.

I want to reiterate that point, before we go much further: The decks aren’t dead, they just aren’t as good as they were. Energy loses a lot of the free buildup it got with Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner, which makes a lot of the associated cards worse. It’s not impossible that someone builds a pretty good Energy deck, but it’s harder to do. Red loses the reach of Ramunap Ruins and also the oppressive power of Rampaging Ferocidon, a card I was going to write about in a week or two.

On the heels of that announcement, we have a number of cards that are jumping in price, and frankly, it’s exciting. The hammer came down on four cards, and a bunch of other cards popped up.


Keep in mind that these are prices for week 1 of Standard, we haven’t gotten the large-scale product being opened until this weekend.

To the cards!

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Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this game. His next project will be a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Zacamacamacamacamacameleon

Hello, nerds,

This week I thought I would take a look at basically the only Legendary in the set I think will spawn a good deck. I could be proven wrong and the great thing about being proven wrong is that the process of proving me wrong generates a ton of data and I can use that data to predict what will go up in value and thus be right and you’ll forget all about what I said today. Are you going to be upset I said I didn’t think Azor mattered this week if in three weeks I come back and say “Everyone is building Azor, get these cards that I never could have predicted three weeks ago but which are obvious now based on EDHREC inclusion data – you have 4-6 weeks to get these cards”? Nah, you’ll thank me for the tip. So for now, my tip is “I think only Kumena and one other Legendary creature matter” and I think we’ll talk about it.

The Card That Matters

This is a dinocerberus and it was designed by an 11-year-old boy who was brought to Wizards of the Coast on “Take your kid to work day” and given printer paper and crayons. It has reach because of course it does, but no one is ever going to remember it has reach which will lead to game states where your opponent swings at you with a flier forgetting Zacama has reach and you’ll fail to blow him out because you forgot it has reach, also. Then you’ll combo off and win the game because apparently it’s cool to print Great Whale if it’s also got more abilities than Obelisk of Alara but can’t be paired with Deadeye Navigator. This dino is going to be a great combo enabler but no one really seems to have figured out how based on what I am seeing online. I think people will play this as a combo deck eventually, or at least a deck that takes advantage of his ability to untap all of your lands. I think there are cards that go up based on this assumption.



The Other Cards That Matter Because That One Matters

Regal Behemoth

Someday someone can explain to me how a Zendikar Resurgent that’s also a Phyrexian Arena can decline in price as we move farther away from its printing in a set no one bought. This card is EDH gold and I’ve been all over it since it was spoiled and I just keep buying more and more copies. I don’t understand what’s taking so long.

That said, the $5 foil with low supply looks primed to do some thangs. So why this card and why now if it didn’t get there before? What changed?

  1. Behemoth was reclassified as a dinosaur this week. They didn’t do it the first time around so people thought it might never happen but now Behemoth joins its scaled bretheren in tribal dino lists as Richard Garfield intended.
  2. Behemoth gives you a bonus when you tap lands, something that pairs nicely with a commander that untaps those lands for you.

I think this is Regal’s time to shine. Supply is low, especially on foils and people are realizing that this card is nutty in EDH, finally. Its new classification as a dinosaur and perfect pairing with the deck people will be building most or second most for at least the next three months make this perfectly poised for precipitous price proliferation. Put that in your pipe and puff it, putzes.

Speaking of Conspiracy…

We’re probably at peak printing (I can’t even stop at this point) for Conspiracy so if you think Behemoth has a shot, check out the price graph for Selvala’s Stampede. Shown above is the foil which is hovering around $11. This is a $2 card with a sometimes $12 foil so it’s clear EDH is aware of the card. How long for the multiplier to widen and the non-foil copies to finally begin disappearing? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I think this card isn’t all that reprintable and if you can pick these up in trade and sit on them, you’ll be happy someday, This is non-mythic or it would have pulled an Expropriate by now.

Their play profiles are on par and the price disparity is predicated on popularity rather than population. Neither is quite a staple but I think Stampede will, ironically, sneak up on people and go up in price when no one is watching. It’s ironic because the card depicts a stampede, which is very conspicuous. You get it? Ahhhh you get it.

Aggravated Assault

Don’t let the price graph fool you – copies of this are gettable under $5 due to the reprinting in the Explorers of Ixalan game.  That set is chock full of value and once retail outlets start fire-selling copies of a game no one wants at $70, you can get decent value with Time Warp alone fetching $10 and people being interested in buying just the game pieces on eBay so they can use their own decks. Assault is a card that is the de facto Relentless Assault effect because it’s permanent, meaning it combos with cards like Nature’s Will, Bear Umbra, Sword of Feast and Famine and a commander that untaps all of your lands. This goes up from the $4ish it is right now for sure, I just don’t know how much or how long it will take. I do know that they found another way to reprint EDH cards that were very expensive like Time Warp and Shared Animosity. Good for them.

Heartbeat of Spring

Modern could randomly remember this card and spike this to like $20 so I don’t hate having some copies of this socked away. Zacama is pretty efficient with one mana doubling effect and while Mana Flare was printed a million times, Heartbeat was in a bad set no one liked and if this spikes again, it’s a second spike that will be less mitigated by loose copies materializing. I don’t really like any mana doublers besides this and Behemoth, although there’s one more worth looking at.

Mana Reflection

How and where and how again do they reprint this at this point? This is really tricky and it’s outside the Commander set reprint window, I think. They could jam this in a deck and it would make it like $12 in the short term but I think it would make whichever deck it was in nutty unless they had a $25 card in every deck.

The foil is only twice the non-foil which means there is room to grow but it mostly means people can’t justify a durdle deck card like this at $55 which I get. I think the multiplier is shrinking a bit which could mean a correction is inbound, but I am not sure what the impetus for it would be. If the multiplier is a mere 2x for a card in 6,336 EDHREC decks, that means people aren’t too keen on spending the $55 and demand hasn’t gotten there. Supply could be quietly drying up, though, so keep an eye on this. Even if the non-foil is reprinted, a foil at a mere 2x the non-foil price is pretty inviting. I am not super keen to invest here, but I bet a bunch of people who never used this card before take a second look given how good it is in Zacama decks.

I think Zacama will play a lot of other cards that are expensive and won’t really budge like Sword of Feast and Famine, Greater Good, Exploration and Worldly Tutor. Check out the page for the deck to see what people are playing and how they build moving forward and don’t forget to use the filters to sort by different types of builds or by price to see what non-poors are willing to pay for and click on a few decklists up top to see exactly how it’s being built. Sure, it’s only nerds who post their decklists online, but nerds buy cards for retail so maybe we need to know what they’re up to.

That does it for me this week. I might delve into another dino deck next week or look at the block as a whole. Whatever I decide, I’ll get you the finance tips you pay for and some you don’t. Until next time!


Oh it’s prerelease weekend already?

We’re all looking forward to Dominiaria, 25th Masters is coming soon, and I just finished up a great weekend at GP Santa Clara.

Hopefully you’re opening cards and trading them away immediately. It’s always a safe bet, and advice I give every time.

Some cards are really picking up in price as we go forward and people pre-order for brewing, but with a Banned and Restricted announcement Monday (they’ve promised no Modern changes) lots of people are hesitating on brewing for Standard.

The exact numbers are fluctuating pretty wildly, given that this is weekend #1, but it’s worth noting that even at prerelease prices, only about a third of rares or mythics will get you your $4 back. If your store offers credit in lieu of prize packs, take it.

Let’s look at some prices, shall we?

Rekindling Phoenix (up to $12 from about $7): Yes, it looks like an owl. A terrifying one, but yeah, there it is. This seems like a good card in a range of decks, a four-power flyer that requires two removal spells to be dealt with permanently. Notable that you can play it, block with it, and it’ll be back and hasty the following turn.

I don’t see a nose/beak of any sort, right?

What I can tell you is that the interest in this card is high, but I can’t pinpoint the deck that wants it. Is it another efficient and effective cog in the Temur Energy machine? Is it a new player in Ramunap Red? I don’t know, but exile removal is looking better and better with each day.

Something in this set has to be expensive, right? Usually that’s the planeswalkers, but our choices this time around are less-than-bombtastic. It’s been quite a while since we had a set that was so lacking in overall value, something I’ll dive into soon.

I think if you open a Phoenix this weekend, move it. We’ve had a lot of variations on Phoenixes over the years, and very few have made huge impacts. It’s true that this one comes back into play and doesn’t need to be recast, but it’s also the most fragile of the group too. It’ll need to see a fair amount of play to hold this price.

Dire Fleet Poisoner ($5 now, up from $2): Creatures are incredibly efficient at this point, and this is all sorts of stuff. It’s a sweet combat trick, giving deathtouch on top of +1/+1, but it’s also just a decent aggressive card as a 2/2 deathtouch. This just in: Blocking is for chumps?

What I like about this is that the Poisoner gets played as the full set. That always bodes well, but I need more results for this card before I’d invest. My biggest question is the one-drop that gets played the turn before. Right now, there’s some fun Pirates (and a fun payoff in Fiery Cannonade for being all-Pirates) but there’s a lack of aggressive Pirates until now. We are getting a 2/2 for R and a 2/1 attacker for B in this set, and that’s very intriguing. There’s a strong case to be made that if the most-played deck in standard wants to go Attune, Servant, Refiner, the new Pirate deck can shoot under that curve effectively.

For right now, though, I’d move this at the new price too. We’ve got a lot of Rivals to open and it would take a whole lot of play to make this a $10 rare.

Ravenous Chupacabra (up to $1): It’s no Fatal Push, but it’s got plenty of room to be a $2 or even $3 uncommon. It’s surprising how few creatures in all of Magic have this text without some sort of drawback, like non-black creatures or some such. I love it as a card, and I’d expect it to be a feature of the format until Ixalan block rotates in September 2019. I’m going to tell you to hold any that you open, and trade for them at $1. You won’t be able to sell these for $2 cash, but you’ll be able to trade them away at $2, and send them off to a buylist at $1. If that’s too small-time for you, that’s fine, but this is straightforward.

As an aside, if you played Standard during the time of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, you likely remember the ‘Jace test.’ Did your creature do something when it came into play, or did the other person bounce your creature and negate your whole turn? I worry Standard is now getting into the Chupacabra test, but we will see.

I love spilling over the mana cost, right off Wizards' page!

Ghalta, Primal Hunger (currently up to $5 from a low of $2.50): Green never passes the test, unfortunately. Ghalta here started out $10, slid down to $2.50 but has rebounded. A big beater, yes, but this dies to just about everything. Keep in mind that this is going to be the Game Day winner promo, and in case there was casual demand for this dinosaur, that value is about to be soaked up. Move any you open immediately.

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca (Started out $10, up to $12.50): This lord does some cool things but the biggest strike against it is the costs you’re paying. Why am I tapping three Merfolk instead of attacking with them all? Do I have that many 1/1 hexproof tokens? It takes a lot of work for this legend to get you ahead on cards, and they don’t do much for the board state.

Is the uncommon lord just better? Am I crazy?

I have trouble seeing this as an automatic four-of in Standard Merfolk, and that’s the sort of play needed to keep this in the $12-$15 range. Do not buy. Sell if you get them.

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this game. His next project will be a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.

Brainstorm Brewery #272 Rivals of Ixalan Set Review

DJ (@Rose0fThorns), Jason (@jasonEalt ), and Corbin (@Chosler88) sit down with Pro Tour winner Jacob Van Lunen to review the newest MtG set; Rivals of Ixalan.

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