By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)
Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week. This week, we’ve got a mixed bag of winners and losers coming out of the 3-ring circus that was Grand Prix New Jersey last weekend:
5 Winners of the Week
1. Black Lotus (Unlimited, Rare): $3500 to $5,000-8,000 (+40-120%)
Our algorithms can’t really get a handle on this one yet, because the data points are mostly hidden, but StarCityGames moved their Power 9 card prices up across the board the day after GPNJ finished, with NM Unlimited Black Lotus being pushed to $8000 retail, and $5200 buy-list. Alpha and Beta P9 were pushed up in similar fashion. This is the biggest jump we’ve seen on Magic’s most iconic cards in a while, but according to my interview with SCG acquisitions staff “they just can’t keep them in stock at the lower price.” Don’t assume that means that Vintage is growing in popularity. If anything less people will be able to afford to approach Vintage, despite the popular proxy rules at most unsanctioned tournaments, as the relevant cards continue to increase across the board to collector/speculator interest. A 9.5 graded version sold on Ebay late this week above $7K, so the new plateau may be real. In the meantime, if you’ve got the capital, be on the look out for nice looking copies in the sub-$5000 range while you still can. (Hint: there are some hiding out in Europe).
2. Forked Bolt (Rise of the Eldrazi, Uncommon): $5.32 to $3.14 (+144%)
One of our winners from two weeks ago is still moving up as it’s role in handling U/R Delvers, Pyromancer’s and anything else with a X/2 stat set comes to the forefront. It’s a great card, but could easily see a reprint in MM2 in June ’15, so I’m a seller into hype here, and looking for fresher ideas.
3. Mesmeric Orb (Mirrodin, Rare): $3.78 to $4.94 (+31%)
This oddball mill card is popping up on the radar because some pros have been fooling around with some Mill/Control decks. It’s highly unlikely to develop into a top tier deck, and I wouldn’t expect the card to get much above $7-8 even if it did, as the decks are not easy to play and the card and has virtually no other applications.
4. Battlefield Forge (9th, Rare): $8.33 to $9.62 (+15%)
In a Standard metagame where both Mardu and Jeskai decks are doing well, it should come as no surprise that a land that can fix mana for both is on the rise. The bump isn’t exclusive to the 9th edition copy either, and Shivan Reef has enjoyed similar increases recently. Heading into the spring, I’d be happy to unload painlands anywhere north of $8 in exchange for undervalued KTK standard staples. This will leave you set up to reacquire these lands for $1.50-$2.50 per, which is right about where we found them before they were reprinted back into relevance last summer.
5. Omniscience (M13, Mythic): $9.61 to $10.30 (+9%)
This loopy M13 mythic has found a home in numerous combo decks, including Omni-Tell in Legacy and I like it even at these levels as a long term pickup, since it’s a bit too weird to be reprinted anytime soon and has upside if fresh decks are uncovered that can make use of it’s wacky rules text.
5 Top Losers of the Week
1. Xenagos, the Reveler (Theros, Mythic): $10.29 to $8.40 (-18%)
Our villain without a home slides further away from his $20+ highs this week with G/R Monsters solidly established as one of the Tier 2 wannabes in Standard so far this season. With Mardu, Jeskai and Abzan decks stealing all the thunder, and the Temur builds not being interested in his specific abilities, Xenagos is back on the bench, waiting for cards from the winter sets to put him back in the game.
2. Temple of Plenty (Born of the Gods, Rare): $5.93 to $5.01 (-16%)
With Abzan decks popularity waning a bit, and no other decks really even considering the need for a W/G Scryland, it’s no surprise to see Temple of Plenty sliding down the value chain. Temples aren’t likely to have a big future beyond this year in Standard, but they’ll be great collection pickups for Casual and EDH deck use when they bottom out in advance of rotation during summer 2015.
3. Kiora, the Crashing Wave (Born of the Gods, Mythic): $14.62 to $12.74 (-13%)
Kiora is another hero without a home, and the fact that she’s being reprinted alongside Elspeth, Sun’s Champion in a Duel Deck product this winter isn’t helping any. I’d be happily getting out of this card while you can above $10, trading into virtually any of the fantastic, yet price depressed rares (Mantis Rider, Siege Rhino, etc) in Khans of Tarkir that are being held down by the presence of fetch lands and the massive amount of KTK opened this fall.
4. Polukranos, World Eater (Theros, Rare) 11.45 to 10.15 (-11%)
The baddest of the big dumb green creatures is still called up to play in several of the brews in Standard, but none of those decks are dominating top tables, and he’s only going to get a 3-6 months to prove himself again before he heads towards $5 permanently. If you need him or like to play him, keep him. Otherwise, I’d like to be out of this guy way early.
5. Mutavault (Morningtide, Rare) $21.49 to $19.12 (-11%)
A lack of focus on Modern and lack of Tribal decks in the Top 16 of Grand Prix New Jersey is likely contributing to the slide on what may be the best “man-land” of all time. This card performed extremely well in my Legacy Slivers build last weekend, and it has many present and future applications in practically every non-Standard format possible due to it’s inherent versatility alongside any and all creature types. As such, I’ve been targeting M14 copies around $15-16 as another reprint should now be a few years off at least.
- I’m actively looking for under-priced P9 cards for the first time in ages. Plenty of people think the P9 price boosts are pure hype so price uncertainty is likely to leave the door wide open for negotiation. For someone who picked up an Unlimited mox below $500 years back, being able to cash out above $1K may be too tempting to pass up with Xmas bills looming. Better yet, track one of the nay-sayers down and offer them cash for their P9 to test their certainty.
- Plenty of good Khans of Tarkir rares and mythics are at lows they are unlikely to dig below until the summer doldrums. I’m happily acquiring cards like See the Unwritten, Empty the Pits, Narset, Enlightened Master in the hopes that they will either a) find homes in Standard this winter or b) see reasonable gains in the mid-long term based on their inherent power levels and usefulness in casual/EDH play.
- Siege Rhino is showing up in Modern lists. I’ve been nabbing foils in the $15 range, expecting to one day find them at $30+. Remember, Khans won’t be drafted with the 3rd set this year, so Jan/Feb is likely the absolute lowest we’ll see most KTK cards until summer, right around the MM2 hype high point.
- StarCityGames announced today that only 3 of their 15+ weekend Open Series will be Legacy tournaments in 2015. The slots previously allocated to Legacy will be shifted to Modern, which should help Modern stage a bit of a comeback in 2015 while suppressing prices on Tier 2/Non-Reserved Legacy staples. Be on your toes as those trends start to play out and keep an eye out for folks dumping Legacy decks at bargain prices due to lack of local access from the Open series.
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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