All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Prospects of Ixalan

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Every set, I like to identify some cards that are going to be awesome in casual formats (unformatted kitchen table, Cube, Commander, etc.) or nonrotating formats and I want to keep an eye on their prices. Ideally, I’ll pick a price and the cards I want will drop below the price I want to pay, so I can get them at that price.

For example: Thespian’s Stage

There were two times, early on in this card’s lifespan, that you could trade for this at a dollar or so, and buy it for fifty cents or so. And I did, as often as I could. I ended up with a stack of them, which I buylisted for $2 each at a GP and had a great time.

If you want a more recent example of this philosophy, how about the foils of Thought-Knot Seer?

My number for that was $20, and I picked up a few at that price, and now I’m trading it away at $35, though I recognize that $40-$50 is in play, considering how popular Eldrazi are in Modern.

With those growths in mind, what looks good in Ixalan at what price?

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Settle the Wreckage ($5.50 currently) – This mega-Path to Exile is going to be casual gold, but only if I can get it at the right price. It’s spiked a bit in recent days as an answer for threats like Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God, and it can take down Carnage Tyrant too. Where I really love this card is in Commander, because so many people don’t play a lot of basics. This is also a backbreaking spell to cast against Bogles, but that deck is too niche for precious sideboard slots in Modern.

Notice that right now, the foil is only a couple bucks more than the nonfoil. Traditionally, this indicates that Standard demand is very high, and the casual demand hasn’t caught up yet. I’m in on foils at $3-$4, and the plain versions around a dollar, maybe two. A lot will depend on price memory for this card, if too many people remember it as a $5 card then the price won’t have a chance to fall.

Vanquisher’s Banner ($2) – The foils here are about $6, and that feels right for now. The nonfoil is a very huge reprint risk, but considering that we just got the tribal Commander sets, I think it’s safe for a while. Foils are usually safer, but there’s no guarantees. I can tell you that I’d generally prefer to see this than Door of Destinies in my hand, because getting the constant flow of cards is supremely valuable. I’m hoping for this to drop to $1/$3, and I’m optimistic, considering that this was nearly $5 on release.

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Primal Amulet ($2) – A couple of special notes about this card: First, it’s got a foil multiplier of five, which tells us that the casual demand for this card is very high. It makes sense, though, because we love doubling our awesome spells when playing at our kitchen table. This has much higher long-term potential than a recent favorite of mine, Pyromancer’s Goggles, because it’s a land and there’s no color restrictions.

The second note about this card is that we have ten rare transform cards, and this is flying in the face of something we were told before: that adding flip cards to a set is logistically problematic. I’ve thought for some time that transforming foils are among the safest investments in Magic finance, because they are hard to reprint in regular sets, but here we are, with a sprinkling of transform. This is something I want to be aware of going forward, as it’s one more sign that nothing is safe, except the Reserved List.

The Amulet is already a $10 foil, and I’d like that to come down a dollar or two. The nonfoil is hopefully going lower, but I’m content to pick these up at $2 in trade.

On a related note, Dowsing Dagger is at a similar price point, and trending downward a bit more steeply. I’m really hoping this is a $6 foil in the next month or two.

Boneyard Parley ($1) – I’m always an advocate for bulk mythics, but the foil being $5 caught my eye. I don’t think this is a good card, but my goodness, this is a sweet card. For seven mana, late in a Commander game, you’re getting the best card in any graveyard, and potentially the best two or three, depending on what you need and who’s choosing the piles.

River’s Rebuke (50 cents) – Cyclonic Rift is going to get banned eventually in Commander, I suspect. I don’t have any evidence or special insight into the Rules Committee, I just despise the card and what it does to gameplay. I’m stocking up on these foils at $2-$3, because the multiplier tells me it’s more popular than the usual foil version of the card. This is a powerful effect, but more fair since it’s just one person being targeted and this is a sorcery. I am looking forward to having a stack of these when we’re done with Ixalan.

Here, have two more that are from recent sets and have the appeal I’m looking for: foils of Eldrazi Displacer at about $10, and foils of Lifecrafter’s Bestiary at around $5. You don’t need me to tell you that these are good cards, but if you want to get some value that’s due to pop, there you go.

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and also has a crusade against a few other cards that ruin Commander games. Feel free to drop a message to him and ask for a Cube list, and read his articles every Friday here on MTGPrice.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Will these prices hold?

The first week of Ixalan Standard is in the books, and we’ve got some cards that have taken a big leap financially.

I want to look at a few of these cards, at the jump they have taken, and figure out if those prices are the price they will stay at. There’s a lot of factors to consider at a time like this, and some money to be made. I’ll make money either by selling now, buying now, or holding out.

Heroic Intervention ($2-$5 this week): This is worth looking at because it’s a great Standard answer to Fumigate, as pointed out by our reader hargismb. It’s in enough sideboards to cause a decent spike, and $5 feels about right.

That said, I’m not convinced. I can’t tell if it’s my own bias against this card, but it’s bad in a lot of situations where you’d hope it would be good. I don’t want to play this card, I’d rather have proactive ways to get cards back in Commander. I would be trading these away like mad at $5, especially since you likely didn’t get them at that price.

Approach of the Second Sun ($0.75 – $3): Alternate win conditions are always going to have a certain appeal, and this one offers a certain inevitability. Counterspells or bust! The assorted Approach decks had a pretty good first week, and I don’t think this is done growing.

I am in favor of trading for this card until it gets to $5 or so, and I think buying copies for a total price under $2 is a winner too, but only if you’re going to trade the card away. The margins eat you alive if you buy at $2 and sell at $5. It’s not worth it in that context.

Hostage Taker ($5-$18): This was the card of the weekend, doing work in a variety of decks and it’s earned that praise. This pirate is an awesome creature, demanding an immediate answer before you get control of their creature. It plays very well with The Scarab God too!

However, it’s a rare from the current set. It’s been a long time since such a card held a price at or above $10, so I’m telling you to let these go pronto. Get as much as you can as fast as you can, because hype or not, this price just can’t hold.

I will be watching this closely, though, because when we aren’t opening Ixalan packs, this will be a prime contender for a jump back to $15-$20 in a few months.

Fumigate ($0.50 – $4): Wrath effects have often ended up in the $5 range, and I don’t think this will be much different. It’s a year old, and I think this will be no different. I’m getting out of extra copies, and I’m putting some of my profits into a few sets of Dusk to Dawn, as Dusk appears to be the best pairing if Approach needs some extra removal. Bontu’s Last Reckoning and Yahenni’s Expertise are also good specs on this basis and won’t cost you much.

Gifted Aetherborn ($1-$2): There is a black-red aggro deck doing well online right now, and this is a four-of in that deck. I would be raiding my old draft boxes with gusto, because if I can buylist a stack of uncommons for $1 each (or more!) I’m all over that. You have to strike while the iron is hot, though. This deck won’t be popular forever, so you’ve got just a few weeks to sort your uncommons out and get them in the mail. Ebay auctions are closing near to $10 a playset, and that’s really tempting too, even with the fees.

Deathgorge Scavenger ($1.50 – $6): The winning deck and the 3rd place deck each ran a playset of this Dinosaur, mainly for the ability to mess with Scarab God interactions. (Each deck also played a miser copy of that God, and bringing this back Eternalized must have felt great!) Again, it’s an in-print rare but the necessity of some graveyard hate appears to be the hot tech right now. Six bucks feels a touch high, I imagine this settles a dollar or two lower than that, unless the next sets give us more graveyard recursion. This has great potential as a spec if it drops to $1-$2 at rotation.

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Fetid Pools ($4 – $8): What makes the cycling duals great is the interaction with the checklands from Ixalan. Play the cycling land tapped, and all the checklands come into play untapped, so you can cycle the extras away. Value ensues.

Fetid Pools was the biggest gainer, due to control decks, but Irrigated Farmland isn’t far behind and all of them should go up another dollar or two. I’m letting all of my spares go, and I’ll be picking these up at rotation for the long-term Commander value.

The Scarab God ($25 – $40): If you’re going to play it in the next year, bite the bullet and grab your copies now. I suspect this is going to hit $50, as a small-set mythic which casual demand has made more scarce than most. This God is awesome in Zombie decks and offers so much value in a Commander game, it’s no surprise that the combination of format demand results in a super-pricey card.

I’d be surprised if this fell below $20 at rotation, too. Being on an Invocation isn’t helping the price much, the gameplay value is just ridiculous in casual games.

Samut, the Tested ($2 – $5.50): Travis picked her a few weeks back at $2, and said that $10 was his target. It’s a two-of in a deck that finished 45th at the SCG event but has won some online leagues. I’m going to trust him on this, and tell you to hold this card a bit longer. My inclination is to take the double-up and get out, but if you got in at $2, then it’s all profit. Hold on a bit longer, as she needs a bit more publicity, camera time, and a publicized win. Then sell out with huge profit margins!

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Hour of Devastation Pickups

As much as I love the release of a new set, it’s often profitable to take a moment and appreciate the set that’s leaving our draft environment, and while you can still open packs of it, we are at peak supply on Hour of Devastation’s cards.

Instead of focusing on Ixalan and what could be in week one of the new Standard, and the prospect of a Pro Tour in five weeks, I want to mine the set that’s leaving for some value before we kick it to the curb and act like Ixalan is the only one we’ve ever loved–for three months, anyway.

We’ve already had at least one big mover, and the question is, will the spike actually happen or all we just sheep?

Samut, the Tested ($4.50): Three weeks ago, on MTG Fast Finance, Travis talked me into this card and it seems a lot of people either followed his advice or came to the same conclusion. (It’s the style, of course!) The card has about doubled since then, and while Samut does play well with Dinosaurs, I think that the value has gone as a speculative pick. Please don’t pick up a playset of these on eBay for $20 and then turn it over again for $30. You’ll have made something like $2 all told after fees and shipping.

Look at that graph. Buylist today is more than it was three weeks ago. Verrrry tempting to get out now if you just got in, but I’d be holding just a bit longer. Remember, we’ve got one more set with dinosaurs coming!

That being said…if you’re going to play Dinosaurs in Standard, get your playset now. It’s definitely not going to be cheaper, and there’s no doubt that the card will be fun. I know that the saurians can go turn 2 Drover of the Mighty, T3 Ripjaw Raptor, T4 Regisaur Alpha, T5 Carnage Tyrant. That’s a terrifying curve, no way around it. There’s room for other cards, though, and Samut might just be the thing. I’m not buying more at this rice, but I’m fine trading for it.

Hour of Devastation ($3.50): Yes, damage-based board wipes are a bad thing in the land of ‘Enrage – draw a card’ and six-toughness hexproof. I think you should not be buying these….yet. Just because it’s bad against one deck doesn’t mean it’s unplayable. This has less room to grow, being a rare instead of a mythic, but if Dinos aren’t tier one, then this card will be.

Torment of Hailfire ($2.50): I foresee a Panharmonicon-like spike in its future, as it goes from ‘awesome Commander card’ to ‘new Standard hotness’ on the back of one good video or one on-camera display. Casting this for a bunch feels great in Commander, but it’s got real potential in Standard, too. I like buying at this price, because the casual demand will get there eventually, even if Standard doesn’t pay off.

(That’s a really low price for such a busted Commander card. Go buy some.)

Abrade ($2): You might laugh, but this is a go-to card for the next year for sure, since Kaladesh will rotate out at the same time. Smuggler’s Copter (itself a great pickup at $2, since it just won a Modern SCG IQ as a two-of in a Merfolk deck) isn’t a threat but there’s a lot of other good vehicles out there, and there’s no reason red decks won’t have this as a full set in the sideboard, if not the main. It’s even flexible enough to merit Commander inclusion!

I don’t see this being Fatal Push in value, but I think it’s going to go up by 50-100% in the next few months, so get your sets now. If you’re going to pick this up in volume, be ready to get out early, as it doesn’t yet look like this is Modern sideboard material.

Foil Swarm Intelligence ($1.50): I am always on the lookout for big silly Commander cards, and this is that card. I love getting foils for stuff like this at such lows, and for a card that basically bulk, this has a pretty big multiplier. Pick up some now, put them someplace safe, and when the time comes around, you’ll have a big gainer.

Finally, I want to bring up two cards that I am picking up at their lowest prices: Fumigate and Dusk//Dawn. Fumigate is up to $2, and that’s a solid price, unless it’s the new way to deal with the saurian menace. I can easily see this getting up to $5 if people become scared of damage-based board wipes.

Dusk might be positioned even better, because with Regisaur Alpha out, even the Ranging Raptors and the Drover of the Mighty will get destroyed. This is only $1.50, and a very solid pickup in anticipation of Standard use.

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PROTRADER: Preorders and Prerelease Prices

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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