PROTRADER: Preorders and Prerelease Prices

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Hello and welcome to the first weekend of Ixalan! I hope you’re going to have a great time at your local Prerelease, and every three months, I have the same advice: Trade it all!

These prices are at their highest for 95% of cards, and I will just play it safe and trade them all away. I’m going to be highlighting one or two things that I think have potential to rise, but I expect almost all of these to fall.

I’m going to start with the preorder prices, which have been really active for some of these cards.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Dragon My Feet

As usual, I am letting what is actually getting built dictate what I talk about which is why I haven’t talked about cats in a while and why I talked about Edgar Markov last week despite not really wanting to. Edgar Markov is popular this week, though. It’s the most popular deck built on sites scraped by EDHREC, more popular than the second and third (new) most popular decks combined. That said, there isn’t much money to be made from Edgar Markov decks, I don’t think. Someone asked on Twitter about Necropolis Regent and that is a card I didn’t but probably should have talked about last week. I don’t want people to think I don’t read their comments so let’s take a look at it before I launch into this week’s article.

 

Regent was priming for a jump last week and I missed it. I think BBB is tough for a vampire deck, but I also advocated Vampire Nocturnus which is BBB and has a larger supply than Regent. Regent is in about half of the new Edgar decks being built and since it’s the most popular commander of the week, supply is going to continue to dry up. I found some very cheap (sub $2) copies online but for the most part, the major retailers are seeing copies disappear. It would have been nice to have warned you a week ago, but Pro Traders can scoop those cheap copies before this is a $10 card. Credit to Steven Kestner for noticing I neglected to mention this sauce monster. If I’d checked the graph I would have likely noticed that this was going in a very positive direction but I don’t always check the graph of every single card on EDHREC. Maybe I should start.

I mean, you’re allowed to, too. I’m not saying I’m not good at this, I think I have a good track record, especially since I switched over to EDH finance full-time. I will say that there are cards I’m going to miss just out of neglect. Telling you not to buy a card is one thing, but seeming not to endorse a card by omission could mean I deemed the card unworthy of discussion or it could just mean I missed it. You can use the tools I use, too, so make sure and follow up on hunches you have. I’m teaching you all to fish with this column, after all.

Let’s apply the same, (apparently flawed) process that we used last week to a new deck and see if we can’t tease out a few cards that are on their way to getting there.

While Edgar Markov continues to top the charts, The Ur-Dragon. With as many decks built this week as Atraxa, a perennial juggernaut, Ur-Dragon’s numbers seem robust enough to give it a second look, although I feel that just looking at old Scion of the Ur-Dragon builds was enough to mostly predict what was going to happen. Ur-Dragon doesn’t seem better than Scion in absolute terms and that leads me to believe the bulk of new people building the deck are people who didn’t have a Scion deck before and are therefore going to be popping and modifying the precon deck. This was something I dismissed earlier when Scion was first spoiled (what feels like a year ago) but which could actually bear some fruit. I only need to find four or five buying opportunities, really, to make you all some money and with decks getting built 100 cards at a time, there should be quite a bit to discuss. Let’s try and avoid discussing anything in the precon, which limits us a bit but if we look at Scion decks as well, we can see which staples didn’t get reprinted and therefore what the precon buyers may upgrade to later.

EDHREC is currently working on a filter that will remove cards that are in precons from the results which will be a big help for undertakings like this. Until then, let’s brute force our way through this.

Dragonlord Silumgar

I think the price trends on this are promising. This isn’t Dromoka money and never will be, but it will be more than it is now. I think these Dragonlords are like the gods of their set in that there will be a tendency for some to collect them as a set and the playable ones will have quite a bit of upside and potentially pull up the less playable ones. Since Kolaghan is useless in EDH, this is basically a cycle of 4 (or 9 if you count the non-Dragonlord versions of these dragons) for EDH consideration. Silumgar is good in a deck like this and even fine at the helm of (I read somewhere they’re female) her own deck so I think while Dromoka popped first, that just meant we have more time to see Silumgar’s spike coming.

Dragonlord Atarka

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While we’re on the subject, Atarka’s graph is showing a lot of the same tendencies as Silumgar’s, but the increase is a little smoother and therefore hasn’t tripped anyone’s “If the price goes up by more than 9%, highlight the price in green” algorithms. Silumgar was on interests pages but this wasn’t and it’s likely got the same or better upside and its graph looks almost identical. The crazy thing is, if you’re playing a 5-color Dragon deck, Silumgar’s ability scales way better for 40 life multiplayer but Atarka seems to have equal upside based on historical data (which was predicated on a different format so it’s misleading). I don’t think Atarka is near as good as Silumgar but since this can go in decks like Xenagos and Mayael, I think the extra demand could be more relevant than playability*. Atarka is in over 3,000 decks on EDHREC and Silumgar is in fewer than 2,500. The numbers aren’t as important as the ratio – Atarka is in 20% more decks and all things being equal, should have 20% more upside if those trends continue. I don’t think that as many Mayael decks will get built in the next few months as, say, Scarab God which prefers Silumgar, but I think all that does is equalize these cards. If you like Silumgar, you should feel the exact same way about Atarka.

*As an aside, I want to address something I addressed in the comments a few weeks ago on the Mairsil article. People were asking why I advocated Morphling as the pickup when Aetherling seemingly had better abilities. It doesn’t matter. People aren’t picking the best ‘ling of the bunch, they’re playing all of them. When there is the potential for redundancy, most EDH players will go for it if the effect matters. You don’t see a disparity between the three ‘lings, they all are in roughly the same number of decks. That means Morphling has more upside because supply is lower and demand is the same. I think playability matters in terms of “this is playable” or “this is unplayable” but I think “this is a better card than that one” doesn’t always matter in EDH so watch out you don’t logic yourself out of a good spec by assuming playability matters more than supply.

Hellkite Tyrant

You know how I like those reverse-J-shaped graphs? Tyrant is at a historic low but is beginning to tail up and I think there is an opportunity to make some money. It’s a card that does very powerful things in EDH, stealing their stuff and winning the game (it’s happened a non-zero number of times, including once to me) sometimes, so it’s a very EDH card. The spiking of the foils was easy to predict and the recovery of the non-foils is similar. I like this card a lot right now. Even after a reprinting, the price hasn’t gone down all that much. This seems ripe.

Utvara Hellkite

Another card starting its “beginning of the U-shaped graph” plunge, I like these at their bottom. I am not sure what the bottom will be, but with a printing in the precon, this is likely to tank a lot. Everyone building a Dragon deck this year likely uses the copy from the precon meaning new demand will have to emerge. That said, there were always dragon decks being built before. We run a real risk with reprints like this that mostly go in the deck they’re printed in as opposed to a reprint like Crypt Ghast, so I’m cautioning you not to treat this card like most reprinted staples – it’s not like them. However, this is a real card, it’s a bulk mythic that ascended to a high of $8 before being reprinted and it’s a card that likely doesn’t get reprinted again for a good long time. If this craters at like $1, I think you go for it.

There are a few cards I think will be specific to Ur-Dragon decks because you will be more focused on attacking and less-so on the selection criteria for a deck like Scion. Creatures played in Ur-Dragon decks that don’t appear in Scion decks feel more aggressive.

Thudermaw Hellkite

Gettable at around $5, this has demonstrated an ability to be $10-$15ish with some demand and $40 with lots of demand. This also got really cheap before Lingering Souls being everywhere spiked it. This is an aggressive creature and it makes sure your fliers get in there, which means you draw hella cards with your Commander and get free perms. I think this has some upside although the recent price behavior has been weird with the price fluctuating a lot and currently being on a downswing. It’s possible that it was bought out and spiked temporarily due to speculation about its inclusion in a Dargons deck but I think there is real demand for this card. At 18% total inclusion, it’s far from a staple, but there is a medium between “This is $35 now!” and “Just kidding, this is $5 now.”

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Ok, hear me out.

I wasn’t going to mention this before because this belongs in the special “Scion doesn’t want this but Ur-Dragon does” section because this card is very aggro-oriented. Would you play this card in EDH?

You might in Ur-Dragon because it has haste, it grants haste and it’s a Dragon, 3 things you want. The other ability seems to make it useless in EDH, but it’s sort of gravy and just because you ask for no gravy doesn’t mean that the rest of your dry, gravy-less meal isn’t perfectly – NO! I can’t do this. Just get the gravy. Learn to like the gravy. Who doesn’t want gravy? My metaphor has fallen apart entirely, much like your bland, gravy-less meal is going to fall apart when you’re drinking a half gallon of that garbage Riesling with the kangaroo on the bottle that your Mother-in-law buys in bulk at Costco just so you can choke down forkfulls of dessicated stuffing with no lubricant because otherwise you sound like a cat with a hairball and then you get on twitter drunk and start retweeting a bunch of gamergate people and lose your job and for what? Just play the stupid haste Dragon.  It even has haste itself, unlike that new Dinosaur I thought I liked until I realized it wasn’t Bloodbraid Elf because it only gives other dinosaurs haste.

The Dragonlords are all in a pretty good spot and if the worst one has upside based on being in 30% of the new Ur-Dragon lists then you probably want to be about all of them. Dromoka set the absolute best case scenario bar high, but there’s no reason that the others can’t approach it. I think if there’s anything I learned today it’s that I should look at more graphs more often. If you learned anything today, I’m not surprised.

Join me next week where our topic will be a different one. Until next time!

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 9/18/17

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Ixalan’s prerelease bears down on us rapidly, and with the full set spoiled, players are hard at work grinding out decklists to find the hidden gems. Those that pay close attention and apply a critical lens (or are otherwise in touch with pros, or just lucky) stand to be rewarded. Will Gisath, Sun’s Avatar replace Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger as Standard’s go-to big body? Will tribal synergies be enough to become the dominant archetype in Standard? Will people stop buying non-foil Zendikar copies of Spell Pierce?

Meanwhile Modern looks to be in excellent shape, with a dynamic, wide range of top-tier decks. It certainly looks like anything can win, and while that possibly isn’t true, the belief that it is is good enough. Commander 2017 also continues to drive the market, and for the first time in awhile the most-built deck isn’t Atraxa. Exciting!

Spell Queller (Foil)

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $25

Modern has a lot of strong strategies, most of which can win on any given weekend. That doesn’t mean there aren’t standouts though, and Jeskai and UW Control have been mainstays for months now. It’s a welcome change for some, given that control has at times been almost entirely absent from the format. Along with the growth of the archetype, we’re seeing an increased presence of Spell Queller.

Spell Queller is an above-rate threat that does everything control in Modern wants to do. It comes down early, gets around “can’t be countered” effects, and applies evasive pressure to help close out a game before an opponent can restabilize with multitude of powerful spells available to them in the format. Even if Queller dies several turns later and gives an opponent their spell back, there’s a chance it could now be blank (e.g. removal), or considerably less useful (e.g. a Collected Company while the control player is now holding Supreme Verdict.)

Foils are on the market at $12 to $13, and while supply is decent, it’s not massive. As a growing Modern staple in an archetype that’s beloved by established players, and a constant regardless of how strong it actually is in a metagame. In other words, this is no flavor of the week combo piece. I suspect the foil supply will drain over the next three to nine months, and we’ll be looking at $20 to $30 foils in a year or so, so long as there’s no reprint, which really would only come in Masters 25, and I don’t think that’s a reasonable expectation.

Reality Smasher

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

If you’re not playing Modern or Legacy regularly, you may not fully appreciate how omnipresence the Eldrazi threat remains. Both formats, Modern especially, continue to see Eldrazi rampage through top places. Modern especially sees a lot of Eldrazi action, and they see it in various stripes. Eldrazi Taxes, Eldrazi Tron, Bant Eldrazi, etc. There’s two mainstays amongst all of these variations: Thought-Knot Seer and, of course, Reality Smasher.

TKS is certainly appealing, but with a higher buy-in, we’re not looking at him today. Instead we’re talking about Reality Smasher, which is the enforcer in the “brain and muscle” pairing. Smasher is truly a marriage of name and form — he hits very hard, immediately, and is absolutely miserable to answer. If he doesn’t score a hit the turn he comes down your opponent probably spent two cards getting rid of him, which means the next one is basically guaranteed to have free run of your opponent’s face. There’s a single-digit number of threats in Modern as efficient and nightmarish as Reality Smasher, and so long as Eldrazi Temple is legal, the two are going to show up hand-in-hand, because once you’re in the market for the latter, you’d be foolish not to bring the former.

While TKS is already $6, Reality Smasher is half of that (or less) today. Normally I wouldn’t advocate buying in at $3 in order to ride it to $6, so there’s got to be more room ahead, and I believe that there is. Thought-Knot Seer is the second (!) most played card in Modern, and Reality Smasher is 10th, and the gap between them is fairly narrow. $2.50 for a top 10 Modern creature that was single-printed in the middle of a chilled Standard is going to look silly a year from now.

Malakir Bloodwitch (Foil)

Price Today: $1.50
Possible Price: $15

As I mentioned in the intro, Commander 2017 continues to drive prices, and Atraxa has finally lost her throne. This week it’s been taken over by Edgar Markov, the Mardu Vampire Lord. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t find him interesting or remarkable as a commander in any capacity, but apparently others do, and that’s what matters. Twilight is apparently still popular I guess? Probably in the midwest; it’s like 2002 over there still.

Looking through EDHREC at the signature cards for Edgar is pretty funny; two of fifteen were printed in the precon. One of those two is an uncommon from SOI, and the other is Bloodline Keeper, which already tripled awhile ago. That leaves us looking to make money on vampires in a different way. If we can’t buy any more non-foils (because they reprinted all the damn things), then let’s chase foils.

My first choice was going to be Anowon, the Ruin Sage, since I can’t fathom a Vampire deck without them, but he’s already like $15 now so never mind. I was pleasantly surprised to find Malakir Bloodwitch foils at $1.50 though. I was further pleasantly surprised to see that her damage trigger is all opponents, not one, and the life gain is equal to the total life lost, which means you get to triple dip. Compare her trigger to something like Palace Siege and you can see how much stronger this is. Add in the fact that Edgar’s whole shtick is to poop out vampires and you can see how a single Malakir Bloodwitch trigger could do 20+ damage.

Supply isn’t what I’d consider sparse but at $1.50 for pack foils I don’t care. I’d be shocked if this wasn’t a $10 foil by the spring.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


 

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Ixalan Revealed!

Sorry for the delay, everyone, but the full reveal of Ixalan needed me to do some revising.

This set has some amazing cards, and powerful synergies, so there’s a few things I’m immediately drawn to and are worth some coverage.

Let’s get to some themes and some cards!

Theme #1: White’s aggression is back!

Adanto Vanguard is a 3/1 for two mana that can become indestructible, really discouraging blocking. There’s also a straight 3/1 for two mana, a two mana lifelinker, and a legend in Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle which will enable white and black decks to get wide quickly.

Red/White as an aggressive combo is pretty pushed, considering that we’ve got Territorial Hammerskull to go with Ahn-Crop Crasher, so blocking is quite passé now. Sheltering Light is also pretty outstanding as a one-mana trick, saving your creature from any number of bad things and giving you a scry.

The white decks are lacking a good anthem effect, for now. Red-White does get Makeshift Munitions, which is a variation on the always-powerful Goblin Bombardment, but having a mana cost makes the effect profoundly worse for you.

I want, very badly, for Kinjalli’s Sunwing to do some work, but the truth is that we had Thalia, Heretic Cathar in Standard for two years and she wasn’t good enough. I doubt the Sunwing will make a huge impact either, but I’m hopeful.

Theme #2: Izzet Ascending

Star of Extinction fits right into decks that were running Hour of Devastation, and the other board-wiping effects are Dusk/Dawn, Fumigate and Bontu’s Last Reckoning. Less than impressive, and expensive on all counts.

However, there’s an Amonkhet card that fits into the early part of red: Sweltering Suns. I think this card is about to be adopted pretty widely as the cheap sweeper of choice, leading into Hour or Star. There’s not even a Selfless Spirit to worry about anymore. Red also gets a wide range of pinpoint damage spells, the best of which is Lightning Strike. Suns is right now in the $3 range, and considering how much it’s likely to get played, it looks primed for a jump to $5 or maybe even $10 depending on how the first week’s results go.

I am really hoping that the Izzet control decks play one or two Sunbird’s Invocation, but I doubt it. Important to note that these effects do stack if you play more than one! The presence of Opt might give Lightning Strike a lot more value, but now I’m really living in a magical Christmas land.

I think Jace, Cunning Castaway is neat but underpowered. It’s going to take you three turns to get to two 2/2’s, and I’m not buying him yet. I love the design and simplicity of Overflowing Insight, but we just got Pull from Tomorrow, which is a stronger card in almost every respect. It’ll be a bulk mythic soon.

Perilous Voyage, though, that’s a trick and a half, as is River’s Rebuke. Spell Swindle is going to show up as a two-of, to just end the game with mana advantage. Red/Blue has an amazing array of tricks and spells, and they also get two phenomenal transform lands. Search for Azcanta seems like an easy inclusion, as does Vance’s Blasting Cannons.

If you think Spitfire Bastion is too slow for closing out a game, then you clearly never saw Standard when Nephalia Drownyard was the finisher of choice, and the Bastion is loads faster. I’m very high on the legendary transforming enchantment/lands, except for the black one. Note that not all of them are legendary, you can have more than one Spires of Orazca in play.

Theme #3: Dinosaurs!

We have a lot of enablers for the saurians, and that’s going to put a lot of decks into FNM play. Some reduce costs, some give us mana (and then get bigger! What an awesome card Drover of the Mighty is!) and dinosaurs also get the finisher of choice in Carnage Tyrant. It’s not hard to imagine this “giant, implacable death lizard” getting played on turn four.

The Tyrant is in a tough spot, as when he’s good he’s phenomenal, but I’m not sure if six mana allows him to be a four-of. He’s preordering in the $10 range, and I think week one he’ll bounce higher, then begin to trickle downwards.

I think my colleague Travis Allen was right about Samut, the Tested last week on MTG Fast Finance. If you can get copies under $4, that seems like a big win to me. She got a little bump recently:

Wow. Buylisting for fifty cents! I’ve never seen that. I think Tibalt never got that low but I’ve blocked him from memory. Her buylist has shot up to over $2 now, and that means stores are hoping too. When buylist price and retail price get closer together, something’s up. Let’s see if she pays off.

Theme #4: Pirates!

While Pirates have a cool lord and some nifty tricks, I’m not sold yet. I don’t see many big payoffs, though stealing permanents with the new Admiral Beckett Brass is a good time. I simply don’t see that as a huge win, considering that if you’re getting in there with three relatively-undersized Pirates, you’re likely winning that game anyhow.

I like a lot of the individual cards, but the big payoff just isn’t there yet. Maybe in the next set?

Vraska’s Contempt is good, but at four mana, it might be too much. Hero’s Downfall was super powerful, and the Contempt will see play as an answer to the indestructible/recurring Gods, but oh it stings. I don’t think Contempt will be a four-of, and that’ll keep the price reasonable.

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