Time is(n’t) Fleeting

By: Travis Allen

Did you know Tim Curry hates to discuss the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Apparently he was afraid he’d be typecast. He mostly refused to discuss it for years, even neglecting to appear in the Glee homage alongside other original film cast members. It’s a shame, because the movie is great fun, and Time Warp in particular is such an excellent tune. If you’re ever looking for a way to entertain yourself on a Friday or Saturday night, find yourself a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening nearby and take in the wackiness. In fact, it’s the most well-known and perhaps first cult classic midnight film.

What does a track from a movie with some unfortunately archaic social terms have to do with Magic? Why, today we’re going to be chatting about Time Warp. (And similar Time Warp effects.)

Time Walk effects have a long history in Magic, all the way back to the eponymous card in Alpha. Wizards has since realized that two mana isn’t a fair cost for taking extra turns, but even at a much greater rate, people are still interested. Every few sets a Time Walk effect shows up with some twist that typically involves one of the set’s mechanics. They’re often (although not always) not good enough for Standard, though there’s an ever-present contingent in other formats that pay more attention. At the very least, there is no shortage of EDH decks that enjoy jamming as many extra turn effects into their ninety-nine as they can manage, much to the chagrin of everyone forced to endure their company. Let’s take a look at all the cards with the text “extra turn” on them in Modern.

                 

Before we get much further, I want to look at how many times each one has been printed…oh, that was quick. Out of all of those, only three cards were printed more than once - Time Stretch, Time Warp, and Emrakul. All the rest have only a single printing to their name. This is especially impressive considering how old some of these are. Two of them are from Mirrodin, the first Modern block. This gives us our first monetary incentive: Wizards apparently does not like reprinting these. Even the ones that were reprinted were done so quite awhile ago. Time Stretch is from Odyssey and 10th edition, and the last time Time Warp was printed was nearly six years ago. Given WotC’s reluctance to reprint these types of cards, especially in recent years, extra turn effects appear quite safe from an investment standpoint. Reprints are the most dangerous aspect of holding onto cards for longer periods of time, and these seem relatively insulated from that threat. 

As for the character of the cards, some are quite straight forward – Time Warp – while others require you to jump through quite a few hoops, such as Wanderwine Prophet. Wordiness seems to be mildly negatively correlated with value. Time Warp and Time Stretch, two of the most simple, are also two of the most expensive. Wanderwine Prophet and Notorious Throng are novels and are both under a dollar. It’s not a hard and fast rule though, as Lighthouse Chronologist’s $10 price tag does buck the trend a little bit with the word-light but rules-heavy Level Up mechanic. Here’s the complete list, sorted by descending cost: 

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn: $51
Time Warp: $14
Lighthouse Chronologist: $9
Time Stretch: $8
Beacon of Tomorrows: $6
Temporal Mastery: $6
Ral Zarek: $6
Walk the Aeons: $4
Temporal Extortion: $3
Stitch in Time: $3
Temporal Trespass: $2
Sage of Hours: $2
Savor the Moment: $2
Time Sieve: $2
Magosi, the Waterveil: <$1
Medomai the Ageless: <$1
Notorious Throng: <$1
Search the City: <$1
Timesifter: <$1
Ugin’s Nexus: <$1
Wanderwine Prophets: <$1

Emrakul as the runaway most expensive card isn’t too surprising. There’s a lot more to that card than the extra turn clause though, so we’re mostly counting him out from our examination today. Time Warp in second place doesn’t surprise me much either, as it’s clean, reasonably costed, and has actually been competitive or at least semi-competitive in Standard and Modern in the past. I am a bit surprised by the third-most expensive card being Lighthouse Chronologist. I assume this is based heavily on EDH. It’s easy to generate a pile of mana in that format, which means you can resolve and crank him to level seven in a single turn. If there aren’t any counterspells or spot removal available at the moment, you get to start taking turns at a 4:1 ratio compared to everyone else.

The Chaff

Down towards the bottom are cards that are new, terrible, difficult to use, or some combination thereof. Wanderwine Prophets requires a great deal to go right, and also prices you into Merfolk, a tribe without much casual appeal.

Ugin’s Nexus, Temporal Trespass, and Sage of Hours are brand new, and are still too liquid in the market to see price increases yet. We’ll come back to the latter two later. Search the City is also very new, but also very bad, and perhaps most importantly, actually impossible to use in EDH.

Timesifter is the real reason Sensei’s Divining Top is banned. We all know that if Top were legal Timesifter would be ruining the format.

Just kidding, the card is nigh-unplayable since you can end up giving free turns to your opponents if you aren’t in control of the top card of both libraries, or at are at least capable of floating high spells to the top of yours each turn. It is a curious spec target though, if you’re the real gambling type. I don’t know what the world looks like where this card is actually good in Modern or Legacy, but if someone Summer Blooms it, it would jump 100-fold.

Notorious Throng, like Wanderwine Prophets, is complicated, difficult to activate, and forces you into a tribe that cultivates no enthusiasm.

Magosi is currently unplayable, as it requires you to skip your turn to utilize it. There is almost potential – give your opponent an extra turn, but then begin proliferating the eon counter so you can take infinite turns – except that it requires you to return the land to your hand. A trick may exist to generate infinite turns with multiple Magosis, proliferate, and moving counters, but that’s going to be much too convoluted for anyone but the most die-hard kitchen table combo players to be too interested.

Medomai is cheap and brand new, but is better than all of the other sub-$1 effects. You don’t have to jump through too many hoops for an extra turn, and there’s ways to cheat around his restriction by bouncing him each turn and using some effect to put him into play tapped and attacking. He’s from Theros, a widely opened set, although he’s a mythic, which is what we want to see if we’re buying in. I wouldn’t feel bad about taking this guy as a throw-in, as the upside could be considerable some time later. 

Time Sieve is a potentially powerful card, although it hasn’t found a home in Modern yet. That’s likely because any deck that can sacrifice and recur artifacts doesn’t need Time Sieve for help. Once that chain begins, you can just kill people with Emrakul or Bitter Ordeal or what have you. It also doesn’t seem to have struck a chord with casual players. Newer or casual players don’t tend to view sacrificing as a benefit, so Sieve may scare them off with what appears to be a huge cost. 

Temporal Extortion isn’t really a Time Walk per se, as you aren’t guaranteed the extra turn. It still carries a $3 price tag, mostly due to some players highly overrating punisher mechanics. Overall it’s not in the vein of what we’re interested in today. 

Stitch in Time suffers from the same problem that Temporal Extortion does, in that it doesn’t guarantee you extra turns even if it resolves. The coin flip aspect of the card draws some players in, but it’s not a “true” extra turn effect in the way that most other cards on this list are. 

Savor the Moment is more on our radar than most of these other inexpensive effects. At three mana it’s the cheapest Time Walk short of Time Walk. It comes with an obvious and fairly large drawback of not being unable to untap at the start of your turn, effectively rendering it a pricey Explore. If there’s a way to ignore the lack of an untap step this could eventually become a combo piece in Modern or Legacy though. I don’t know what that card or cards looks like, but it is conceivable such a thing could come to be. 

While Ral Zarek may say “extra turn,” that isn’t the main draw of the card. His Planeswalkeryness counts much more for any price tag than the extra turn aspect of his ultimate. 

The Payoff

Temporal Mastery, Beacon of Tomorrows, Time Stretch, and Walk the Aeons are what got me thinking about this discussion. 

temp mast

Temporal Mastery bottomed out about a year and a half ago below $4, and has since started climbing. A spread of roughly 30% isn’t remarkable, but it isn’t shameful either. With today’s price tag of Time Warp, I’m holding out hope for this one in the long term. It doesn’t see much competitive play at the moment, but remember that it did in fact win a Pro Tour. A single good Brainstorm-esque effect that let you put cards from your hand back on top of your library could quickly catapult this to Modern fame. It also floats around the fringes of Legacy playability becase of Sensei’s Divining Top, the most potent Miracle-enabler in existence. The Miracles deck hasn’t been interested so far because the deck isn’t poised to really take advantage of extra turns, but I don’t doubt that eventually some deck will be, and Temporal Mastery will catch in a big way. 

beacon

Beacon of Tomorrows has had a slow, sustainable growth for some time now. Three years ago it was a little over $2, and today it’s over seven, with a spread of about 30%. This type of growth isn’t awe-inspiring, but it’s consistent, and it’s consistent on a card with little appeal outside of EDH. Beacon isn’t competitive in any real format, and casual players are likely to be drawn towards cheaper effects such as Time Warp. This tells us the card is growing (slowly) with a fairly low demand profile. This doesn’t inspire us to buy into Beacon, but it does tell us that you don’t need much demand for these types of effects to grow. 

stretchOdyssey Time Stretch has grown about 60% since 2012, with a current price tag of $6.50. The 10th edition copy is in roughly the same boat at $7.50. Both also have spreads similar to Temporal Mastery and Beacon of Tomorrows.

Time Stretch is the most savage Time Walk in EDH, with two turns stapled onto one card. This makes any sort of recursion with the card much more potent, whether you’re doing something mundane like returning it with Eternal Witness, or something that will get you kicked out of EDH circles, like copying it with Riku. (And then copying an Eternal Witness, getting back the Time Stretch and something that bounces the Eternal Witness.) The card hasn’t seen any major spikes, and like Beacon the growth has been slow, but like Beacon it’s also been consistent. We’re seeing a trend here – straightforward extra turn sorceries seem to land at at least $6. 

walk

Walk the Aeons is an example of what happens when a Time Walk effect that looks like crap ends up finding a home. (In this case, it’s in Modern Turbo Fog lists.) When you can play four lands a turn, you’re drawing four or five cards a turn, and you’re constantly shuffling your graveyard into your library, the “sac three lands” clause doesn’t feel too bad. 

What we’re seeing here is a card with a very small demand profile outside of Modern jumping four to sevenfold. Most EDH and casual decks that want extra turns aren’t equipped to deal with the constraints of this card, making it purely a combo piece at this point. This is worth noting for Savor the Moment. It’s an extra turn effect that doesn’t seem that good on the surface, but a deck that can make it worth will at least triple the price. 

Let’s get back to those other two that I only mentioned briefly earlier – Temporal Trespass and Sage of Hours. 

Temporal Trespass falls somewhere between Walk the Aeons and Magosi the Waterveil. With a potential cost of UUU it can theoretically be cheaper than basically any non-power Time Walk. However, the fact that it exiles itself makes it very difficult to break this in combo decks. You’re likely only ever getting one turn off each copy of this card, and multiple copies are going to be very difficult to cast. Overall, the outlook for Trespass is quite poor. 

Sage of Hours, on the other hand, is something special. A full disclosure: I have copies stashed away, so I do stand to gain if it rises in value. Why do I like Sage? 

He shares form with Lighthouse Chronologist, which is second only to Time Warp itself. You undeniably have to put in some work to get a return – those counters aren’t showing up for free, and it’s going to cost more than whatever spare blue mana you have lying around to start taking extra turns. The flip side of that is that the payoff is potentially larger than anything else examined so far. Where Chronologist will get you turns at a 4:1 rate, Sage will just make infinite turns with Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and Doubling Season. Any novice EDH player will tell you that there is no shortage of other ways to accomplish this as well.

Even if you aren’t shooting for infinite, he’s constantly threatening to give his controller at least one extra turn, and sometimes more than that. Perhaps the best part is his print run – he’s a mythic in an underwhelming small spring set that was overshadowed a month later by the release of Conspiracy. If your goal was to put as few copies of Sage of Hours into the market as possible, you couldn’t pick a better set. 

He should play reasonably well in kitchen table Magic, where everyone lives in Magical Christmas Land and removal tends to be sparse. EDH players should cozy up to him, at least the +1/+1 counter brigade. And finally he has an outside chance of being playable in Modern or Legacy combo of some sort. If that sounds ridiculous, just remember that Dark Depths used to be one dollar because everyone thought it was absolute garbage, and then they printed Vampire Hexmage. 

Aside from the Judge printing of Time Warp, no extra turn effect has appeared in the Modern border twice. All of the cards granting extra turns that are at least mildly playable have risen beyond bulk, and the ones that find homes in EDH, casual decks, or combo jump into the $6-$15 range. Overall, it seems Time Warps are reasonable pickups, with Sage of Hours being the spiciest of the bunch right now. I’d be surprised if this isn’t $5 within a year or so, and I don’t think $10 is out of the question. Meanwhile, Temporal Mastery is still appealing as a trade pickup, and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at Savor the Moments either. 

Most of these cards may not see the splashiest rises in prices, but they are rock solid in value, and not a single one has dropped in price. The next time you’re browsing someone’s binder looking for something to fill up a trade, consider taking a moment for yourself.


 

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The Dragon Tempest Begins

By Guo Heng Chin

It has begun. The first set of spoilers for the dragoniest dragon-filled set started spilling out of the Dragon Tempest yesterday, as we traveled back to the present, changed timeline in a plane of Tarkir ruled by dragons rather than khans.  I have not been so excited for a new set before; it’s a whole set filled with dragons! It’s like a manifestation of my wildest dreams when I first started Magic as a 10-year old kid.

I imagine quite a number of players around the world share the same sentiment as me in regards to Dragons of Tarkir. After all, dragon is by far the most popular creature type among the player base:

Players like Dragons. Really like Dragons. No, really, really like Dragons. They are by far the most popular creature type we do. It’s the reason, for example, we made the first From the Vault box set with a dragon theme.

– Mark Rosewater

Cute or Playable?

Dragons has always been the domain of casuals and Timmies. Since Brian Kibler made top four of Pro Tour Chicago in 2000 with Rith, the Awakener and earned the venerable title of Dragonmasterdragons have rarely graced the top tables, let alone tournament tables. We saw incessant caws, but no dragons.

It all changed with Thundermaw Hellkite in 2012.

“My goal was to create a Dragon that was to Dragons what Baneslayer Angel was to Angels. I wanted the set to have a Dragon that set the standard for a badass Dragon.”

– Doug Beyer, Lead Designer, Magic 2013

And a badass dragon Thundermaw Hellkite was. After an initial lull during its first six months of existence in a meta highly saturated with Snapcaster Mage and Vapor Snag, Thundermaw became a Standard staple ran in playsets across numerous archetypes and its price peaked at $40  for a couple of months.

Stormbreath Dragon came next. Being under Thundermaw ‘s shadow wasn’t easy, but Stormbreath Dragon’s initially cool reception thawed off as it proved to be the curve-topper of choice for decks with access to red. After all, a 4/4 hasty flier with protection from white and an option to transform into a gigantic 7/7 can’t be too bad. Stormbreath even saw occasional Modern play.

All Hail the Dragonlord

Will Dragons of Tarkir bring us more playable dragons? The design vision extolled in Mark Gottlieb’s article certainly suggested so.

It has been less than 24 hours since the Dragons of Tarkir hype engine started revving, and we already have a very playable dragon in the form of a wizened Silumgar:

Since he stopped drifting, Silumgar began to put on a belly.
Since he stopped drifting, Silumgar began to put on a belly.

Playable casting cost? Certainly. Playable stats? Let see, Dragonlord Silumgar dodges Elspeth, Sun’s Champion (again. Sorry Ms. Tirel), he dodges Stoke the Flames and wins a head on collision with Stormbreath Dragon and Wingmate Roc. Heck, Silumgar could even chump Siege Rhino and Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Vorthoses would know) all day long. Well, devour is probably a more suitable word here, seeing that Dragonlord Silumgar has deathtouch. Playability checked.

Awesome enter the battlefield ability? Dragonlord Silumgar is Sower of Temptation on steroids. If you can’t kill em’ steal em’. Sleazy Silumgar allegedly has the charisma to persuade even the game-breaking Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion to his cause.

Dragonlord Silumgar is the ideal card to break open those grindy midrange and control mirrors. He is not just an answer, but also a formidable threat by himself and I imagine plenty of games would be decided by a topdecked Dragonlord Silumgar stealing an opposing planeswalker.

There is a good probability that Dragonlord Silumgar will see play in Standard. For a card chock full of value, he seems to be a perfect fit in Sultai Lord Gerard Fabiano’s Sultai Control that aims to outgrind opponents in value.

Silumgar’s flexible enter-the-battlefield trigger and his stats that enable him to take down most popular standard fatties could warrant a couple of mainboard slots, but I don’t imagine seeing decks go for the full playset due to Silumgar’s high casting cost. But I could be wrong.  Silumgar makes for a pretty good sideboard card as well, both in UB Control and Sultai variants.

While I am confident about Dragonlord Silumgar’s Standard playability, I am doubtful about his place in Modern. Six casting cost is just much of an investment, especially with all the Path to Exile flying around. That is assuming that Gerard Fabiano does not break it. After all he just took down StarCityGame’s first Modern Open at Baltimore with Sultai. Can that man ever lose with Sultai?

The Price of a Dragonlord

Dragonlord Silumgar is currently going for $9 on ChannelFireball, $10 on StarCityGames and closing at $11 – 13 on eBay.  Which seem a bit on the cheap side to me. Dragons of Tarkir will be drafted for just eight weeks before Modern Masters 2015 hit the shelves on 22 May.

For the purpose of calculation, let’s assume that Dragons of Tarkir-Fate Reforged draft would grind to a halt when Modern Masters 2015 is released. That means we would have opened eight weeks worth of Dragons of Tarkir and 17 weeks worth of Fate Reforged. As we would be drafting two Dragons of Tarkir with a single Fate Reforged booster, the number of Dragons of Tarkir booster opened would be about the same as the number of Fate Reforged boosters over their draft span.

Another thing to note is that while the one in eight packs probability of opening a mythic is the same in both large and small sets due to the different size of print sheets used in large and small sets, the probability of opening a particular mythic is lower in a large set. Small sets contain ten mythics while large sets have fifteen.

That means Dragonlord Silumgar, and other mythics in Dragons of Tarkir would be opened less than Fate Reforged mythics! Because we are opening two packs of Dragons for each pack of Fate Reforged, it is easy to mistakenly assume that the supply of a particular Dragons of Tarkir mythic would be higher than those in Fate Reforged.

Watch out for the price of any playable Dragonlords.

If Dragonlord Silumgar turns out to be Standard playable as predicted, a $15 tag would not be too far-fetched.

Another reason $10 seems too cheap for Dragonlord Silumgar is the fact that he is an Elder Dragon creature type. There have only been five creatures in existence that are of the hallowed Elder Dragon creature type; there are more Gods than there are Elder Dragons. Dragonlord Silumgar being an Elder Dragon is a big flavor-win and I do imagine that  fact alone would exude a higher than usual level of appeal to the casual crowd. And we all know never to underestimate casual demand as a price driver.

On the other side of the casual demand coin, I struggle to picture Dragonlord  Silumgar as a popular Commander. I can see him as on of the 99, but his ability does not feel abusable in Commander.

Too bad Elder Dragon Highlander evolved into Commander years ago. Imagine the price of foil Dragonlord Silumgars if we were still playing according to the original Elder Dragon Highlander rules where you can only use Elder Dragons as your ‘commander’.

Being an Elder Dragon does have one gameplay downside; my Cavern of Souls will no longer be a catchall in my dragon-centric Commander deck.

I was wrong about that. Reader kraeuterbuddha pointed out Mark Rosewater’s answer on the topic: turns out that Elder Dragons are considered both ‘Elder’ and ‘Dragon’ when it comes to their creature type. Thanks kraeuterbuddha!

Thundermaw… I mean Thunderbreak

Thundermawの小さないとこ
Thundermawの小さないとこ

The English card image is not up yet as of writing. The text is as follows, courtesy of MythicSpoiler.com:

Thunderbreak Regent
2RR
Creature – Dragon
FlyingWhenever a dragon you control becomes the target of a spell or ability your opponent controls, Thunderbreak Regent deals 3 damage to that player.

Let’s see, it’s a  4/4 flying body at playable casting cost that trades up with Stormbreath and Wingmate Roc (3/4 seems to be a lousy spot to be in a dragon-filled Tarkir) and trades on parity with Butcher of the Horde, which is harder to cast.

Thunderbreak Regent also Lightning Bolts opponents who attempts to remove it out of creature combat or mass removal. It is a threat the deals damage, regardless whether it is answered or not, the kind of cards that puts your opponents in a catch-22 situation.

I am no red mage, but Thunderbreak Regent sounds like a pretty good card in aggressive red decks as a follow up to Flamewake Phoenix, not to mention it triggers Flamewake’s ferocious too. Thunderbreak would be a superior choice over Ashcloud Phoenix for decks aiming to achieve the highest damage possible in the least number of turns.

Thunderbreak Regent’s price trajectory would probably be similar to that of Flamewake Phoenix: starting at around$4-$5 before settling down at $2-$3.

The Hype Train Continues…

The next couple of weeks look to be a two week-long Christmas as Wizards drop a dragon or two down our chimney, when the clock strikes 0800 PST every day.

Will the enemy-colored fetchlands finally see a reprint in Dragons of Tarkir? Certain passages from last week’s A Tarkir of Dragons hints at enemy-colored fetches in Dragons of Tarkir as it is an alternate timeline. Are we going to see enemy-colored fetches with a reversed version of the flavor texts in the ally-colored fetches as suggested by Redditor /u/daberu?

The revelation that Dragons of Tarkir will feature ally-colored pairs certainly hurt the probability of seeing enemy-colored fetches in Dragons of Tarkir. The initial idea was to have enemy-colored clans, but it was changed to create a fresh draft experience; would there be a chance that the fetchlands remained?

I also agree that from a financial perspective, there is little excuse for Wizards to include magic sales-bullet in a set that is pretty much going to fly off the shelves. Because dragons.

I guess we would find out in a week or two if we would be cracking Scalding Tarns and Verdant Catacombs in Dragons of Tarkir Standard.

Also, are we going to get a Narset planeswalker? And another Sarkhan!

With the pervasiveness of Dragons in the set, is it too much to hope for a tiny, three casting cost legendary dragon? I bet there were plenty of other players besides me whose wildest (Magic) fantasy was a dragon set and that came true. Is it too wistful to wish for a legendary dragon that I can use as my leader in Tiny Leaders? Would the Dragonlords not need to groom their royal successors from a tender young age?

In the mean time, we shall wait and see what the dragon tempest brings us daily. I for one welcome our Dragonlords.


 

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WEEKLY MTGPRICE.COM MOVERS: March 2nd/15

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

5 Winners of the Week

1. Whisperwood Elemental (Fate Reforged, Mythic): $9.15 to $12.15 (33%)

From last week:

“Green was already the default best color in standard before Fate Reforged rolled up and dropped this sweet threat onto the table. Though many were dubious at first, recent showings at big standard tournaments has demonstrated that Whisperwood Elemental is an excellent way to close out games fast if your opponent isn’t packing enough removal. In partnership with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and various mana dorks, this heavy hitter provides especially tricky scenarios for both aggro and control decks who will often have trouble going just one for one with the lord of the groves.  With FRF not likely to be as opened as many other sets, there’s a good chance that this one falls off a bit heading into summer, only to rise again at rotation. As such you can sell now if you got in early and don’t need them to play with. Otherwise, you’re safe to hold into fall.”

More of the same. The card is seeing lots of play and you can hold to play or sell to profit as you desire.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Hold/Sell

2. Summoner’s Pact (Future Sight, Rare): $6.51 to $8.46 (30%)

Along with Amulet of Vigor, Primeval Titan, Pact of Negation and Hive Mind, pretty much all of the relevant cards in the Amulet Bloom deck have spiked by this point as it becomes more and more clear that the deck is Tier 1 despite being tough to master the play lines. Of the bunch, Pact of Negation and Summoner’s Pact are the least likely to get banned and the most likely to have additional applications in future decks. They’re also unlikely to be reprinted again any time soon since they both appeared in Modern Masters. As such there may be upside left to be found on both cards, with Summoner’s Pact potentially peaking around $15 in if stays relevant in Modern. I’m not holding any beyond my personal play set, but if you had some tucked away, I’d look to get out around $10 before mid-summer if possible.

Format(s): Modern/EDH

Verdict: Hold

3. Leonin Shikari (Darksteel, Rare): $6.55 to $8.23 (26%)

This card is spiking on Tiny Leaders speculation. The assumption is that the card is going to be great with friends such as Stoneforge Mystic, the 5 super swords and other white equipment specific beaters under 3 casting cost. It could push higher later as the supply is relatively limited, but for now should settle south of $10 until Tiny Leaders demand really gets beyond the speculation phase and enough players have their decks made.

Format(s): Tiny Leaders/Casual

Verdict: Hold

4. Genesis Hydra ( M15, Rare): $2.09 to $2.52 (21%)

I’ve got about 20 of these so I’d love to see this guy spike hard before rotating into irrelevancy but I’m not holding my breath despite this reasonable increase after showing up in the new versions of green devotion in Standard recently. It’s too low to be worth selling, but if it hits $4-5, my ears might perk up.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Hold

5. Garruk, Apex Predator: $11.09 to $13.36 (20%)

Having fallen down from $30 highs on release, Garruk is enjoying a mild resurgence as a solid answer for Abzan and Sultai builds looking to contain Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or grind out longer games in Standard. Below $10 he was midly sexy, as he isn’t likely to see a reprint anytime soon and could hit $15-20 in a couple of years on limited supply, but we might as well wait until rotation this fall to snap off some copies in the $6-8 range.

Format(s): Standard/Casual

Verdict: Sell

 3 Top Losers of the Week

This weeks losers are all just recently spiked cards that have fallen back a bit off recent highs as hype mellows. To wit:

1. Amulet of Vigor: $7.63 to $6.00 (-21%)

2. Wilt-Leaf Liege: $33.76 to $27.00 (-20%)

3. Doubling Season: $29.00 to $24.55 (15%)

Quick Hits

  • Believe it or not, as of this morning we’ve already entered Dragons of Tarkir spoiler season. So far the most interesting card is probably Sidisi, Undead Vizier. StarCityGames.com continued their trend of providing tempting pricing on newly spoiled rares to get the hype train rolling, and some of us got our hands on pre-order copies around $1 this afternoon. Expect this one to settle in between $4-5 as people try to figure out if this Tasigur/Whisperwood good or just a trap card. My money is on “very good” as I don’t think we should underestimate just how much decks like Sultai Control will appreciate the ability to ramp out and drop this guy on Turn 3/4, sacrifice a mana dork that has outlived it’s usefulness and go search up the perfect answer to the current board state. As a 4/6 Deathtouch, this incarnation of Sidisi is also great at blocking all the usual suspects and fuels Delve spells. As such this is could be an easy 3-4 of in a few decks.
  • Now is a pretty good time to be ordering yourself some playsets of KTK fetchlands for future use or profit in the $210-$220 range. as this is as low as it looks like they’re likely to go. We won’t be getting any more fetchlands until at least Modern Masters 2 and if I had to guess, they’ll actually be delayed until a spring or fall 2016 Return to Zendikar block, so get while the getting is good. Foils also look tasty at all-time lows.
  • It’s possible that there are some Dragon cards you should be giving a 2nd look at given what’s coming in DoT. Cards like See the Unwritten and Atarka have room to spike if they end up great in a shifting metagame.
  • If you’re looking for any big ticket items, you might want to check on inventory with FacetoFace Games or 401 Games in Toronto and Montreal. Many of the Canadian stores haven’t quite caught up on repricing their cards after a recent 20%+ currency shift and there are plenty of deals to be had if you’re paying in US dollars on your credit cards or via Paypal.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Elspeth vs. Kiora Duel Deck Review

By: Jared Yost

Today I’m going to take a look at the Elspeth vs. Kiora Duel Decks to see where the financial value of the decks lie. I’ll look at both the MSRP versus retail value of the singles and then present my thoughts about the future values of the cards.

For the alternate art foils, I am going to use the TCG Median price since MTGPrice does not yet track the value of the duel deck foil versions.

Decklists

Elspeth $$$ Kiora $$$
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion* $9.95 1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave* $6.83
*Alt art foil price
2 Icatian Javelineers $0.32 1 Omenspeaker $0.16
1 Mother of Runes $6.60 2 Coiling Oracle $1.86
2 Kinsbaile Skirmisher $0.26 1 Kiora’s Follower $0.27
1 Kor Skyfisher $0.19 2 Grazing Gladehart $0.32
1 Precinct Captain $0.53 2 Netcaster Spider $0.28
2 Veteran Armorsmith $0.44 2 Man-o’-War $0.92
1 Court Street Denizen $0.13 2 Lorescale Coatl $3.02
1 Standing Troops $0.14 1 Nessian Asp $0.13
2 Veteran Swordsmith $0.46 2 Surrakar Banisher $0.26
1 Banisher Priest $0.26 1 Sealock Monster $0.19
2 Gustcloak Harrier $0.28 1 Scourge of Fleets $0.31
1 Gustcloak Skirmisher $0.19 1 Simic Sky Swallower $1.36
1 Gustcloak Sentinel $0.15 1 Inkwell Leviathan $3.26
1 Gustcloak Savior $0.40 1 Nimbus Swimmer $0.21
2 Loxodon Partisan $0.26
1 Gempalm Avenger $0.14 2 Explore $1.22
1 Noble Templar $0.14 4 Accumulated Knowledge $2.28
1 Captain of the Watch $0.58 1 Peel from Reality $0.13
1 Mortal’s Ardor $0.14 2 Time to Feed $0.28
1 Explosive Vegetation $1.55
2 Sunlance $0.46 1 Aetherize $0.21
1 Mighty Leap $0.17 1 Whelming Wave $0.46
2 Raise the Alarm $0.46 1 Plasm Capture $0.40
1 Soul Parry $0.13 1 Urban Evolution $0.24
1 Celestial Flare $0.24
1 Dauntless Onslaught $0.17 2 Evolving Wilds $0.32
1 Dictate of Heliod $0.46 1 Temple of the False God $0.21
1 Decree of Justice $0.61 11 Forest n/a
11 Island n/a
2 Secluded Steppe $0.30
22 Plains n/a
Retail Deck Value $24.56 Retail Deck Value $26.68
Total Retail Value $51.24

Wow, the retail value is worth more than double the MSRP of the deck. However, as we all know the retail value can be misleading. I did account for the alternate art foil version of the headlining cards rather than their regular counterparts yet why is there is such a vast difference between MSRP and individual retail value? Most likely, the market hasn’t caught up yet with the mass release of this product. Initial glances tell me that any value in the deck is going to dry up as time marches on.

Before I talk about individual cards I first want to point out two things about the decks.

Firstly, It is a shame that neither deck contains any relevant Modern reprints. Unlike Jace vs. Vraska, this deck didn’t give us anything amazing like Remand to make us really want to go out and purchase it. It’s mainly reprints of casual favorites, along with some other interesting choices (a gustcloak theme in the Elspeth deck? Really?) to help us along our way to acquiring a new alternate art, foil Elspeth and Kiora. I mean sure, Path to Exile has been reprinted six times already but maybe replace one of those Sun Lances with a card that has more flair? Meh, who am I to judge versus a team of  WotC field research. Maybe Nimbus Swimmer, Scourge of the Fleets, and Sealock Monster are really what the target customer of this product wants.

Secondly, I am actually surprised that Kiora’s deck is worth more in value on average than Elspeth’s – especially considering that Mother of Runes is almost as expensive as the Kiora foil! The surprising value comes from the playset of Accumulated Knowledge, two Lorescale Coatl’s, two Coiling Oracles, and the Inkwell Leviathan. All of these cards share the trait that they haven’t been reprinted since this duel deck (outside of premium or promo versions). Unfortunately for Elspeth, the value drops pretty hard after Mom. Decree of Justice and Captain of the Watch, the most valuable runner up cards in the deck, are barely breaking $0.50. Hardly a surprise then that Kiora would slightly eek out value over Elspeth even with such a Standard defining planeswalker heading the deck.

OK, now that I’ve covered these two subjects let’s dive into the singles. 

Singles

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Currently selling for $10 on TCGPlayer, Elspeth will continue to sit around $10 until rotation since it is such an important Standard role player. Then, the price will continue to drop sharply since Sun’s Champion doesn’t see any eternal play in Modern or beyond. Due to the duel deck reprinting, there are going to be plenty of copies of Sun’s Champion on the market which will drop the price into the $3 range. The price for entry is fine for now – she currently is worth half the MSRP value of the deck. However, be warned that that this price will not last forever and will decline fast going into Theros rotation.

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Again, Kiora’s initial price reflects the hype demand of the release of the new duel decks. Let me direct your attention to the following trends.

Figure 1 – Jace, Architect of Thought Price Decline Since Duel Deck Printing

jace, aot dd price history

Figure 2 – Vraska the Unseen Price Decline Since Duel Deck Printing

vraska dd price history

I’m surprised that they’ve bottomed out so hard but I can see the reason why. Putting Remand, a certified Modern staple, in the product will do that to the other cards. Since Remand is carrying the bulk of the value of JvV Duel Deck the other cards have been very suppressed. Even Future Sight, a card that at one point was $4, is now only a measly $0.57 after the release of the JvV Duel Deck. Overall though, the JvV duel deck package was pretty weak overall – kind of reminds you of this duel deck package, no? Except no Modern staples.

There are plenty of casual cards, however just like the rares Future Sight, Ohran Viper, and other others, I expect them to drop to around $0.50 or less eventually.

Kiora will also follow the trend of Jace and Vraska. Without extensive tournament play in Modern (which seems unlikely) I fear that she will also not escape the $3 fate.

Mother of Runes

Honestly, I can see this card maintaining $4-$5 long term strictly on the back of casual appeal. Mom is popular enough with casual players (and of course Legacy enthusiasts) that I can see her continuing to maintain value in the long term, especially with new art. Mom is this duel deck’s Remand, the price is going down but not by much.

Inkwell Leviathan

The card has much casual appeal, yet I will refer back to the Future Sight / Ohran Viper example. This card isn’t higher than $0.50 once these decks hit stores everywhere.

Lorescale Coatl

Let’s take a look at Jace’s Phantasm here to see a similar example. Before the JvV Duel Deck, Phantasm was around $2.50 at it’s highest point. It is now around $1.25 even after the reprint, which is actually pretty decent since it only lost half value (at least compared to the planeswalkers above). Half value leads me to predict that Coatl’s will be around $1.50 (or slightly higher) once the EvK decks are out for a while.

Accumulated Knowledge

I don’t see this losing value. It’s already a common, and the release of the duel deck isn’t going to crash the price. The deck provides four of them, with a total value of about $2. Despite the reprint I don’t see it changing much.

 

 

Coiling Oracle, Explosive Vegetation, Explore, Man-o’-War

Again, like Accumulated Knowledge above, these cards aren’t going to be crashing overnight due to this duel deck like the rares in the deck. They are all popular casual cards that should maintain a decent amount of their value going into the future.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, even though this deck appears to have quite a bit of potential based on the retail value of the singles right now, I can only predict doom and gloom for many of the card’s prices based on the performance of Jace vs. Vraska Duel Deck singles. The only one to come out unscathed was Remand, due to its vast Modern appeal. To this day, the card still carries the bulk of the value of the JvV duel deck. Unfortunately, the only similar card from the Elspeth vs. Kiora Duel Deck is Mother of Runes, which already has several printings. Regardless, I still think it will do well in the long run due to its vast casual appeal in addition to the added Legacy appeal.

In summary, if you’re going to buy this duel deck for a collection or to add it to your existing repertoire of duel decks then please buy it for as close to (if not lower than) MSRP value as you possibly can. Even to this day, JvV duel decks can easily be purchased online for $18 including shipping. I’m sad to say that this is one of the weakest duel decks that we’ve seen financially. Speed vs. Cunning was so much stronger, which not only included Modern and Legacy playable cards but also provided copies of wedge tap lands and other great commons and uncommons that will hold value going into the future. Due to the lack of Modern appeal I can’t see this deck being a great purchase unless it is being done from a purely causal perspective.

However, as a sealed product there is chance that it might be a good idea to throw a few of these into storage for several years down the line. Sealed Sorin vs. Tibalt Duel Decks are starting to see a price increase since they are becoming harder to find. Many are now $25 to $30 online. Not that this is a huge price increase for holding onto them for a few years, but it does give me a feeling of security knowing that even a planeswalker as crappy as Tibalt has a chance if he’s in a sealed product that is popular with casual players.

What do you think of the new duel deck? Are you planning on buying one, and if you are what really draws you to the duel deck?


 

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