The Watchtower 7/16/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs


By: Travis Allen

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.

We’re in a lull this week, with Magic 2019’s official release behind us, and Commander 2018 spoilers next week. In the interim, we’re left with Mercadian Masques and Legends cards getting picked off a few copies at a time, with little guarantee to how quickly any will sell. People are arguing about the Reserved List (again), and Battlebond foils are still proving quite popular with speculators.

Without much to go on, this week I’ll be considering some of what we do know of Commander 2018 so far, which is the four general themes – ‘Top of library matters,’ ‘Lands matter,’ Artifacts, and ‘Enchantments matter.’.


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Five for now, and five for later

Today is kind of momentous for me. Five years ago, almost to the day (was actually the 12th of July) I published my first piece on this site. It’s kind of embarrassing, not least because we didn’t even put my whole last name in there, but mostly because it details one of my worst trades ever, the details of which I cannot bear to restate.

In five years, Magic finance has come a very long way. We’ve seen several trading sites show up, we’ve gotten one of the biggest assets ever for Commander finance in EDHREC, and Twitter has taken over the earth.

Today, I want to share with you some predictions about Magic finance for the summer of 2023, and then some early returns on Core Set 2019.

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Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Sacramento, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The First Wave

M19 has been added to EDHREC and it doesn’t really surprise me that much. I thought there might be some more Vaevictis Asmadi decks than there are but while that is going to happen over the next few weeks, it also feels like favorites have been chosen and historically, the way things pan out the first week or two is how they end up long-term. The top 3 EDL cards are spread out and while they’re ten or twenty decks apart, it also feels like they’re orders of magnitude apart, too.

Arcades is coming in at basically twice as many as Nicol Bolas and Vaevictis. As much as I love Vaevictis, I’m really surprised we’re seeing nearly as many registered decks as Nicol Bolas, who I expected to be a clear #2. That’s good news for Vaevictis, who is a fun commander and who I expect to be less popular than the linear and boring Arcades who has the clear benefit of being so obvious that it makes people with no imagination feel like geniuses because they figured out you should put a bunch of walls in the wall deck.

I think I’ll do a bit of a hybrid piece today because while I plan to mostly talk about Vaevictis and the opportunities in that deck, there are a non-zero number of Arcades cards that may have been missed that are just starting to emerge now that we have more data to sift through, so let’s start with the Arcades cards that you may have a chance at and move on.

Sunscape Familiar

This has crossover pauper appeal and supplies are drying up. I won’t say anything crazy like that a Planeshift common has a similar supply to a Dominaria rare because I don’t know the stats on that. What I do know is that there is a lot of demand for this card, supplies are dwindling online and this is a card that wasn’t originally targeted by team obvious. I am not a fan of the hand-waving that seems to accompany saying “just get foils” as if that’s some sort of panacea for every factor of supply and demand surrounding a card that you have no way of knowing but let’s at least look at foils so we can say we did a thorough job, here.

And there you have it. $5 in future bucks and under $2 on TCG Player for the time being, probably because the foils at $1.77 are damaged and also because the $2 minimum on TCG Player tends to strand cards there because the minimum for an order is $2. This will be $10 on Card Kingdom and there will still be a torn copy on TCG Player for $1.77 and half the scrapers programmed a few years ago will call this a $2 card. Let people think this is cheap, I guess.


This card may be dead due to its repeated reprintings, most recently in the mass-produced Commander decks. The demand for this card is going to increase with its ubiquity (if people are smart, anyway, which they demonstrably are not) in Arcades decks which could give it a boost. Commander 2016 stuff has been around long enough that a lot of it’s popping, even high-supply stuff that had multiple reprintings.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This is a $10 card waiting to happen. Supplies are drying a bit and this isn’t just in Arcades decks, although the emblem wins you the game in Arcades decks unless you get supernaturally unlucky. You should be able to draw a card or two for every wall you play for free which will let you draw your whole deck, lands and all. It’s a boring-ass Lab Maniac win but, whatever, people like that. I think if you literally only make one move based on my articles this year, buying a ton of copies of Tamiyo as close to $4 as you can find them is bound to pay big dividends. Make sure to buy a one year Pro Trader subscription when these hit $11. Don’t quote me on that. But these look positively poised. This is the 27th-most-played multicolored card (All 10 signets are in the top 25) card on EDHREC and no other gold Planeswalker sees more play. I will write about this every month just so I can look back in two years and see how it’s a dollar or two more every time I talked about it.

Vaevictis Time, Finally

Let’s talk about the stuff that our new Dargon overlord is going to give us.

It That Betrays

This card was made for Vaevictis decks. The power from this card doesn’t come from casting it so it’s the perfect Eldrazi to cheat into play with Vaevictis’ ability. After that, your opponents being forced to sac something whenever Vaevictis attacks just puts a ton of gas into play on your side of the battlefield. These are currently cheap because of a printing in a duel deck but the new demand for this and the historical demand for Eldrazi will combine to buoy this price pretty easily. If you can get these under $4, do that. This has shown a willingness to flirt with $20 in the past so there’s no reason to think a Duel Deck printing can keep this under $10. Other decks that cheat big creatures into play like Mayael and Jhoira can benefit from this card as well. This is a solid buy at TCG Low, especially since Card Kingdom is selling these at $5.50 pretty swiftly.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

I don’t think the Commander Anthology printing had a ton to do with anything and I think if Vaevictis gets more popular, Mazirek has serious upside. A fine commander in its own right, inclusion in a popular new deck only bodes well. I don’t know how high this can get but it’s flirted with $6 in the past and if TCG Player truly has $2 copies, that seems like a pretty safe bet.

Aggravated Assault

The Explorers of Ixalan game gave us a lot of new copies of this card but demand has shown that it’s willing to increase at a much faster rate than supply, barring another reprint. This is a card that’s not liable to get cheaper than it is right now and considering how important it is in decks like this one, I think it’s a fine time to pick these up, knowing you’re secure in your investment in a card that will be good as long as attacking with creatures is good.

Lurking Predators

I’m 100% positive I said (if not in one of these articles, then on the podcast or in a tweet) to buy these when they bottomed out right around a few months after Commander 2016 coming out when these hit $2. I hope you did. If not, I think it’s about halfway to where it’s going so there is still time to make some money. This is a great card and if you’re stacking the top of your deck like you need to be with Vaevictis, then you’re going to benefit from them giving you free creatures.

Selvala’s Stampede

If you’re manipulating the top of your deck a lot, your opponents are likely to choose the option that lets you play from your hand, which you’ll need, because you’re liable to draw some fatties and this is a great way to play them easily. This card is perfect for decks with a ton of big creatures and it’s also just a green card that should be in more decks. It’s from Conspiracy 2 and supply is basically dried up since no one wants to buy booster boxes where there are useless cards so this is just going to go up. Dealers don’t seem excited by this but I am. This is a solid card and considering Rishkar’s Expertise is going up, too, I’m excited for the future of this card which is a more fair Tooth and Nail.

I think there’s a lot to mull over here. Next week I’ll take a look at any of the half dozen new deck archetypes that are springing up, probably the new Nicol Bolas. In the mean time, keep watching EDHREC for emerging archetypes, or popularity orders swapping. If you spent 5 minutes reading this article I’d recommend also spending 5 minutes a day on EDHREC poking around. I find it just as good an investment of my time as the time I spend poking around on MTG Stocks or the Magic subreddits. Until next time!

The Watchtower 7/9/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

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.

Another Monday, another batch of cards to be on the lookout for. Otherwise it’s been a quiet weekend; we’re all still processing the Silver Showcase news, and the Legacy shakeup, and laughing at people that bought Stoneforge Mystics in hopes of it getting unbanned. Piles of irrelevant and useless Arabian Nights and Legends cards continue to disappear, and whomever is buying them is “making” money, assuming they can ever sell them. Oh yeah, Magic 2019 just had its prerelease too, so watch for those to start hitting display cases and online inventories. I don’t know about you guys, but Dominaria and M19 are completely running together in my head.

Astral Cornucopia (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $10

I spend a fair bit of time looking for cards with new demand profiles in EDH. Cards that suddenly find themselves with a new vector of demand can run low on supply rapidly, and prices often follow. This is not that type of card.

I may have written about Astral Cornucopia before, although it would have been quite some time ago. Whatever it was when I first talked about it, I still like it. Atraxa continues to be the most popular general, according to EDHREC, and I don’t just mean of all time. Every week, the most new decks logged are Atraxa. People keeping showing up and building that deck. Why? I don’t know. But they do, so she’s popular.

Once you’re sitting down and listing out cards for Atraxa, it’s a crime to not write down Astral Cornucopia. Depending on your board state it may end up mana-neutral the very turn you play it, with huge generation each turn after. In most decks, it’s too expensive to be worth it, but when those counters are basically free rather than three mana, the value equation catches up quickly.

So what’s going on with the card? Well, there’s a few copies left dotted around at $4 or so. It ramps up to $10 shortly after, so it wouldn’t be hard to bring the floor on that up to my predicted price to begin with. Even $10 is a soft ceiling though. If Atraxa really is as popular as she seems, and people really do keep building this deck, how does this card not completely disappear?

Hardened Scales (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $20

It’s been a few years since Modern could move the needle on a weekly basis, as many players have sort of “settled in.” That doesn’t mean prices don’t move, it’s just that changes aren’t as frequent, and they’re not as explosive when they happen. Today we’re looking at Hardened Scales, which isn’t exploding by any means, but it is a card being pushed by Modern.

Falling hard on the outside of the bubble at GP Barcelona yesterday was Hardened Scales Affinity. It’s an Affinity modeled more after the original builds, and even has some honest-to-god affinity cards! You’ll also see Hangarback Walkers, Walking Ballistas, and of course, Steel Overseers and Arcbound Ravagers. Every single one of those sees their effectiveness basically doubled with a Hardened Scales in play, since all their activations are separate triggers, which each count for Scales. In fact, if you play Arcbound Worker, then Ravager , then sac Worker to Ravager, you end up with nine counters on Ravager. Then sac Ravager to itself to move the counters onto Inkmoth and you’re at 10 already. Nifty interaction for sure.

Hardened Scales has been popular in EDH since it was printed, and is up to nearly 10,000 decks on EDHREC. That’s certainly in the top tier of EDH playables. (Doubling Season is at 14,000). Khans of Tarkir is also starting to get a touch long in the tooth, as it turns four years old this September. Heck, we’re probably going back to Tarkir next fall or something.

With healthy EDH demand, a possible new Modern appeal, and an aging printing, foil Scales have got a lot of things going for them.

Alhammarret’s Archive

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

There are a few things that are fairly universal within Magic, and one of those is players enjoying A. drawing cards and B. gaining life. It just so happens that with Alhammarret’s Archive, you can do both harder. Draw hard, life hard, win hard.

First and foremost, this is a slower burn than some of the other stuff. There may be a whole 15 copies of foil Astral Cornucopia left under $10. There’s 70 vendors on TCG for Archive, some with multiple copies. It’s a deep supply. It’s a “pick them up here and there in trades, and if someone has one on sale while you’re placing another order” type of card.

I’m bringing Archive up because even though supply is deep, it’s certainly a popular card. It’s in (ugh) over 9,000 EDH decks right now, and this weekend would have been the third anniversary of it having been printed, so like Hardened Scales, it’s starting to get up there in age. It’s going to be popular in casual circles, where they love doubling crap. See: Doubling Season’s popularity, even before EDH existed as a format. Foils aren’t going to be a big sell to the kitchen table crowd, of course, but kitchen demand will still help overall.

Archive could easily end up the next Doubling Season, or something close to it. Most decks gain life or draw cards, and Archive turbopowers both. Without a Commander set reprint, it’s on the way to $20, $25, or more.

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.