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
MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.
Disclosure: James and Cliff may own, or intend to own, speculative copies of the above cards.
Segment 3: Metagame in Review
James and Cliff explore Pro Tour Ixalan, with the archetypes that did well and the cards that may gain in value as a result.
Segment 4: Interview with Collins Mullen
Fresh off of taking down an SCG Open with his innovative Five-Color Humans deck, the crew talks to Collins about the process that led to this deck, and a lively game of ‘Is this Human worth consideration?’ ensues.
Cliff is an avid Magic player, and hardcore Cuber. He’s been at this since 1995, and clearly remembers what happens to one’s wallet when Wizards releases three new sets in three summer months.
We are neck-deep in atrocious spoilers for Unstable and yet the set that’s getting opened this weekend is Iconic Masters. I’m not a marketing or economics major, but it seems something is off about this timing. We’ve known this set for months, a few folks drafted it at HasCon and all I want to do is mess around with Contraptions and Host creatures.
There’s another factor at play with Iconic Masters: Somehow, this set is dirt cheap to buy. The EV is there, with 16 rares and mythics that match the price of a pack, but why am I going to drop $30+ on a draft at my LGS when my pals and I can chip in for a box at $160-$170?
With this set, I’m not going to buy any boxes or any packs. The far better bet will be to choose the prices I want and see if cards settle to those ranges. The availability of boxes makes me think that this isn’t going to tick prices downward, it’s going to yank the rug out from under them and expose a giant hole.
I am open to being wrong, but the box prices are worrisome to me. We’re only going to be opening this for a month (Unstable lands December 9, so four weeks?) so that’s going to mitigate the damage, but I can’t help thinking that this is going to torpedo a lot of prices.
Here’s my targets, with their current prices.
Mana Drain ($90): So this represents the chase mythic of the set, the headliner, and I think it’s about to tank hard. I think this drop into the $50 range, and $40 wouldn’t shock me. There has been a judge foil, to go with the original, and now the rest of us are going to get a crack at it. Question is, what’s the demand? No one needs a playset, so is it going to be all EDH decks? It’s a pretty phenomenal card in there and in Cube, but that’s going to fill pretty fast. The people who were drooling for a cheaper version are going to get their wish. I will be looking to pick these up around $40-$60.
Ancestral Vision ($19): This is a card that has really ridden the rollercoaster over the years.
The truth is that while it feels really great to resolve this as a control player, Modern has become a bit too fast for this card. For right now, anyway. I fully expect that in the fullness of time, someone will build a control deck that sweeps away the aggressive decks and defeats the combo players. That time isn’t now, though. I know this will go below $10, but it’ll have to fall further to interest me, maybe to $7.
Flusterstorm ($31): This is another card that’s about to take a beating. I can’t find a Legacy or Vintage list that uses more than two, and that’s a bad sign because this is a rare. I think it’s going to drop into the $10 range, and I’m not sure I’d want to pick any up. Where’s the demand? This goes in some Cubes, but it seems like trash in Commander.
Aether Vial ($30): We keep getting this card, but never ever in Standard again: Darksteel, FTV, Masterpiece, Modern Masters, and now here. It’s dropped in price before and always recovered well, so I don’t think it’ll fall far. $20 would be my target, especially because when people want this, they want the full set. That bodes VERY well for future demand.
Thoughtseize ($15): This is a difficult call to make. Let’s go to the history:
It’s easy to forget that Thoughtseize was worth ninety dollars at one point before being in Theros. Even now, the original is worth about twice as much as the Theros version. We’re back to the original art and flavor text, which means little when a card is played as much as this is. It’s awful in casual formats, worthwhile in Cubes, and it’s among the most-played cards in Legacy and Modern. The demand is real, but the question of how much supply worries me.
Here’s the bottom line: It’s going to trickle down to $10. Will it go lower? I don’t think it will, and I’ll be content to stock up at $10 and wait. It’s played too much to stay that low for long, and if growth is slow, well, I’ll be patient until it gets back to a buylist of $10 and move on.
Glimpse the Unthinkable ($12): This is already half the price of the original Ravnica version, and is going to test the premise ‘casuals love mill cards enough to keep prices high.’ This will be a $5 card. It’ll stay a $5 card for quite a while after that, and I won’t want to get any.
Cryptic Command ($23): Lorwyn. Modern Masters 1 AND 2. Invocation, and a textless promo. That’s a LOT of printings, and two different alternate looks for those with a taste for either. This sees some Modern play, and that helps, but I can’t help feeling that a lot of people who want a Cryptic or four have them already. This will drop by at least half, and that casting cost is going to rule out a lot of Commander decks…though EDHREC has it in 11,000 decks already.
I can’t imagine this stays above $20, and only if it goes below $10 will I be interested. Getting in at $15 and waiting is just going to take too long to be useful.
Cliff is an avid cuber and Commander player, and can be found investigating all sorts of unusual formats. His first boosters were in late 1994, and the years since have seen a range of spikes, sellouts, thefts, and triumphs. Catch his articles here every Friday or on Twitter @wordofcommander
A lot of times, MTG Finance focuses on the nitty-gritty of single cards to get or watch or sell, and that’s a very useful set of topics. You’re reading this because that’s what I usually do.
However, there’s other aspects to this game and the finances. Here on MTGPrice, we’ve written about assorted formats, research tools, insurance, accessories, and other ancillary topics. Today, I want to talk about what to do when your unique collection vanishes.
Six years ago, I was at my LGS for the usual FNM experience. During that, I heard about one of the regulars whose five-color Sliver deck had been stolen. It had judge foil fetchlands, the full set of duals, loads of expensive foils, even by prices back then.
I happened to be in the store again the following Sunday, when someone came into the store and tried to sell a hundred cards that included chase foils, lots of Slivers, and a full set of duals. This person wanted something like $100 for the stack of cards, I want to say they wanted a few board games.
The buyer that day was also a judge who knew that this set of cards had been stolen and got the police to come to the store and confront this seller, as well as the player whose deck was stolen. Reports were made, stories were told, the police had this person there and justice was ready to be served, as a group of angry players watched eagerly for the comeuppance to happen.
The alleged thief walked away with the cards that day.
I cannot put into words how formative this experience was for me. Imagine seeing someone with your stolen deck, something you’ve put countless hours into, with your personal modifications, maybe even some alters, and all the emotion tied up in this deck.
Someone else has it, and you can’t prove it’s yours.
I can’t claim that every police officer will handle stuff the same way as these two (then four at the end) did. Maybe they are the exception, but they showed me the necessity of good information and some level of unique interaction. We don’t have barcodes or serial numbers on our cards. The whole point of the game is that all the backs are the same, and cards are interchangeable.
The police that day said that there was no way to prove that this stack of a hundred unsleeved cards belonged to the regular customer. I don’t know how many alters would be needed to prove ownership, and is it enough to have a couple of things drawn on three cards? Does your name need to be on these alters?
Depending on who you follow on Twitter, you may or may not be aware of other stories in this vein. Collections lost and stolen. Beloved and elaborate deck boxes, custom decks, all sorts of things have been lost and only some have been found.
My old pal had a bad ending to their story, but maybe you know someone with a better outcome.
There’s a couple of lessons to be learned from stories like this:
First of all, insurance. We had a writer cover insurance in 2014, I did a few months later, and I know it’s come up a couple of times in MTG Fast Finance’s archives. I strongly urge you to look into renter’s insurance to cover your assets. A modest policy won’t cost much, and requires some organization and documentation. Your results will depend on your local laws and agencies.
Second, documentation. Have a list of the cards in your EDH deck, in your Cube, in your long-term spec binder. Take a day and snap some photos. It’s really easy for your Commander deck to break a few hundred bucks, and some of you might need to have toploaders on every damn card in the deck because of the value. If something happens, you need to be able to say what was lost/stolen, and say so exactly.
Third, spread the word. Both my experience and that of others hinged on Magic players telling each other, and telling the local stores, that a specific collection has been stolen and someone might try to unload it all at once. Twitter, Reddit, Discord, whatever it is, tell as many people as you can and have them tell other people.
Fourth, be vigilant. Go read some storiesof peoplehaving lotsof valuablecards stolen. Here’s a whole other list of links via Reddit. Now that you’ve got a healthy fear, think about what you bring when you go to a GP, when you go to an LGS. Be aware of the risk you’re taking. Your Cube might be the down payment on a house! Even if you didn’t buy it for that much (foil Grim Monolith, for example) you’re taking on a level of risk when other people see what you have. A snatched backpack can set a thief up for a long time, and you can’t count on them being silly. Just a few minutes online will tell these criminals to break up their sales. A GP is a great place to steal a deck, wait two hours, and then circle the vendors, sell a few cards to each, and get away clean.
I want to scare you. I want you to think about what you’d do if you lost part or all of your collection. Most Magic players have a theft or loss story. I’ve had decks stolen, I’ve left decks on tables and never seen them again. I don’t want to relive those experiences, and I definitely don’t want you to go through it, but it requires consideration. Building value also means keeping that value secure.
Cliff has been playing Magic since late 1994, and is currently in the midst of a Cube obsession. Check out his Busted Uncommons cube if you want a great time, or let him know on Twitter (@WordOfCommander) what a chucklehead he is.
The PT starts today. Right now, as a matter of fact! I’m posting this at 6 am PST, two hours before the first draft starts, and I’m stoked. I agree with the people who say that the three hours of broadcast would be better spent showing us different drafts for 2/3 of the time and then maybe the finals of a draft pod. I don’t like watching the draft games, but I’m not in charge.
I’m also on the watch for decks that are going to be played, and what cards are ripe for a spike. There’s a few factors at play, but it’ll come down to camera time, frequency of play, number in a deck, and final performance. Making the Top 8 will be good, but winning will be better.
With all this in mind, here’s the cards I’ve been picking up this week. I haven’t laid any big bets, but I’ve picked these up in trades and sniped a couple of auctions.
Ruin Raider – I suspect that black aggro will be in play this weekend, even if it doesn’t put up a huge finish or a big slice of the metagame. There’s a lot of flavors of aggressive decks, and this is a creature that allows a deck to catch up on cards, especially if Fumigate is all over the place. This is a card that rewards players for attacking, which is all an aggressive deck wants to do anyway. Plus, it’s relatively cheap at $1-$2, depending on fees. It’s also got two years to get good, so even if it doesn’t see play this weekend, it’s got good potential.
Bomat Courier – If aggressive decks are as prevalent as I suspect, then this is a card with room to grow. It’s got about 11 months before it rotates out of Standard, and that’s going to bode well for this card. It went up to $3 when Ramunap Red first premiered, and now it’s down in the $1.50 range. This is more of a ‘sell into the spike’ sort of card, it’s not for long-term holding.
Fatal Push – This has quickly become one of the top removal spells in Modern and Legacy, dealing with a wide range of problems for one mana. It’s also very widely played in Standard, and I don’t see this as something that’s going to drop anytime soon. Nonfoils are about $9, foils are $30, and the FNM promo can be had for $10. I am a big fan of grabbing the foils at $30, as $50 seems in play within a year or two, and it would be unusual for it to be reprinted too soon in a Masters set of some sort. (Note I did not say impossible!) Supply is at maximum, and you should acquire accordingly.
Rogue Refiner & Blossoming Defense – I think this is going to be a big weekend for these two uncommons. They aren’t exactly cheap now, but after the PT, you’ll be able to buylist these for a little more than you can today. Both are efficient at their mana cost, and Rogue Refiner is a great pick to bump to above a dollar.
Bristling Hydra – I wish energy wasn’t as good as it is, but this is one of the cards that has room to grow. It’s been slowly growing in price to get to its current $2.50, and one more big tournament showing might be enough to solidify its status, considering that this is one of the cards common to both the Sultai and the Temur builds of energy decks.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner – I really want this to be good, as it’s a way to convert energy into a more tangible advantage in a long game. It’s $2.50 now, and just like the Hydra, I think it’s due for a weekend where it breaks $4 or $5. Rampaging Ferocidon – Ixalan is probably not going to have a huge weekend, considering the spikes that have already grown to impressive numbers. This is a $3 card, as a four-of in a lot of Ramunap builds, and it takes away one of the big advantages of Approach of the Second Sun decks: the 7 life gained is often just enough of a cushion to get there. I think this is a good candidate to break $5 if the Red deck runs rampant.
Dread Wanderer – If mass removal is all over the place, I like this as a recursive answer alongside some Vehicles and some Scrapheap Scroungers. Being able to reload effectively after a big Fumigate is a real test for some of these decks, and while you need to dump your hand, Hazoret the Fervent wants you to do that anyway. This is at a very low price, can be had for $1, and is ripe for the picking and ripe for a bump.
Chart a Course – I don’t think this is going to be big on the PT, but it’s got a foil price that is about 10x the nonfoil. Two mana to draw two is amazing, especially if you dropped a Delver turn two in Modern or Legacy. It’s a two-of in Vintage Delver, even! Standard decks looking to abuse the graveyard with God-Pharaoh’s Gift love casting this turn two as well. I’m snagging the foils whenever I can get them around $5, and I’m prepared to be patient.
Carnage Tyrant – This is due to drop. There’s no deck playing this as a four-of, though the biggest deck, Temur Energy, is playing one main and one in the board. The big dino has been slowly declining from its initial spike to $30, and is already sub-$20. I think it’ll get to $15, though I highly doubt it’ll go down to $10. Once we are done opening Ixalan packs, I’ll have to see if I pick some up for a spike about October 2018.
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