All posts by Jason Alt

Jason is the hardest working MTG Finance writer in the business. With a column appearing on Gathering Magic in addition to MTG Price, he is also a member of the Brainstorm Brewery finance podcast and a writer and administrator for Brainstorm Brewery's content website. Follow him on twitter @JasonEAlt

PROTRADER: Battleship Graveyard

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I assumed there was some sort of official battleship graveyard where the Navy scuttles old, decommissioned ships that aren’t big enough to have their own gift shop. I Googled it and the first four pages were all related to this song by a band called The Fall of Troy which… well, just listen. I’m possibly overcritical of bands like this because this song is so close to something I might actually listen to. If this song were 25 percent more The Used and 25 percent less Coheed and Cambria I could possibly get on board. There may be some sort of battleship graveyard after all, but I stopped going through Google results while this song was playing. If it helps you like it helped me, I used an old standby to cleanse my palate after that song. Kidding, I listened to this instead.  Okay, real talk: this song actually helped rinse the taste of The Fall of Troy out of my mouth so I could concentrate on writing an article.

And if we’re talking about scuttled battleships then we’re probably talking about a card that makes graveyard shenanigans fun and doable and which could buoy some graveyard-related cards, right? When you’re right, you’re right. However, what changed recently that has me thinking about the graveyard? The answer might surprise you.

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PROTRADER: Naval Academy

I recently got to thinking about tutors. Academies are all about tuition. There are a lot of useful tutors in EDH, and they’re absolutely worth talking about at some point, so I decided to make that point today. There are broad tutors, narrow tutors, and very, very narrow tutors, and I want to talk about all of them.

Does this seem out-of-flavor with this series? This series was predicated on identifying emerging cards from newly spoiled sets and seeing how their inclusions in the metagame would shake things up. As their stocks increased due to increased adoption, the surging tide would lift all boats, and buying into those other boats (cards) at their lowest price by anticipating their increased use based on spoiled cards was the name of the game. I’m talking about a broad category of cards as opposed to talking about how one particular printed card would affect prices of other cards.

They’re simple rules. I made the rules. And now I want to break them? What the hell?

What if I told you that this article was predicated not on a card that was going to get printed but rather on a card that was not going to get printed? How do we know? Well, I look at what little we know about Commander 2015 so far.

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PROTRADER: Angel Armada

Magic Origins has become a bit of a dry well lately. There are only so many good cards in a set. I am sure we can find some more stuff poised to move later on, but right now we don’t have any Battle for Zendikar spoilers really worth discussing. Besides, there is something else I would rather discuss:

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Boom. Angels. For all you angelphiles out there, you’re already fully aware that angels are hot right now, so pipe down while I school the rest of these nerds.

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Battle For Zendikar Spoilers – Duel Deck

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So this is a thing. We always knew this was going to be a thing, but it’s finally here and fully spoiled so let’s get into what matters here. We have some relevant reprints, some relevant spoilers and a whole lot of questions raised about the coming set. Let’s dig in!

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One of the new cards in the duel deck seems like it will be a bulk rare. Historically, cards like this just don’t get there unless they do something else. Getting trample is an interesting twist, though, and this could impact Standard more than previous analogous cards like Eidolon of Countless Battles or Wayfaring Temple. What is relevant about this card is that it seems to indicate Eldrazi spawn will be making a return. This isn’t proof positive, but this does seem like a way to benefit from the tokens. There are Eldrazi spawn producers to pair with this creature in the duel deck, but will we see them in the set? It’s fun to speculate, but I don’t know how much money there is to be made in guessing correctly. Still, this card in Battle For Zendikar without Eldrazi spawn to support it would be strange.

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We were already aware of Oblivion Sower and its implications. Cheating this into play with See the Unwritten isn’t that great, and I think if we don’t see Eldrazi spoiled that are worth cheating into play, there is downside to See the Unwritten. If they plummet, I hope they get very cheap, because I like See the Unwritten as a long-term grower due to EDH play. Cards that help you cast stuff sooner have more upside if the Eldrazi all function like this one. A lack of annihilator is also noteworthy. This seems marginally better than the Eldrazi printed at uncommon last time.

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So much for the New World Order! Here we have a common with two keyword abilities and a trigger when it enters the battlefield (not when it’s cast, which makes us think Oblivion Sower could be unique or unusual in that ability). Devoid is an okay mechanic and if we’re able to have a whole set that lets us benefit from having a lot of colorless cards, it will be important but will still make the colors important. This will make the set easier to draft, for one. Ingest is less exciting—it’s a poor man’s annihilator and that’s the most charitable thing I can say about it. It takes 53 swings to ingest them out of the game and you only need to connect seven times to deal 21 damage. Could ingest get there? Maybe. But I’m not super excited.

[Edit—I realize I did a poor job of fleshing out exactly what I meant with the “ingest as a poor win condition” example. Obviously you’re not milling anyone out with ingest and how unexciting it is as a trigger compared with annihilator was the point. It’s likely that there will be cards that give you access to the cards you “ingest” but it’s hard to know how good that will be, yet. Sorry for the confusion.]

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More devoid shenanigans! This is going to be interesting in Limited, and there is a remote but non-zero chance that we will want to hastify a big Eldrazi in a Constructed format. I like the casting cost to power and toughness ratio here, but that rarely tells the entire tale. We’re seeing a few of the Limited-relevant mechanics in this Duel Deck, but I don’t imagine we’re seeing anything that will impact Standard a ton yet. I am hopeful for cards in the same vein as Oblivion Sower, however.

That does it for new cards. How about reprints? This set is chock full of them and some of them are punishing.

Butcher of Malakir is a card that has upside based on its EDH potential, but with so many recent printings, I don’t hold out much hope for it getting pricey anytime soon. Can you blame Wizards? It’s a useful card.

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Forked Bolt, on the other hand, had a lot of upside and it was probably pretty expensive when they decided to reprint it. The card has since cooled off but this printing can keep it from ever surging above $5 again.

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The third printing of Primal Command spells a decline to a sub-$5 price point. Since its current high is almost certainly predicated on a spike due to its inclusion in a Woo brew, I imagine absent real demand, an increase in supply will shock this price into snapping back to a realistic one.

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Instead of Battle For Zendikar, they should call this set “Fall of the Eldrazi,” because irrespective of what happens in the story, the prices of reprints are doomed. This used to be a reasonable Eldrazi but its usefulness in EDH and popularity among casuals made it rise precipitously. Not anymore…

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This beauty is going to plunge, which seems sad. It never even really got a chance to go anywhere. Trading with a Restoration Angel is non-trivial, but compared to Celestial Colonnade and Creeping Tar Pit, this has always been a tier-two man land. Could this inclusion be an indicator that we’ll get enemy-color manlands in Battle for Zendikar? Hard to say, but I do know that this price will plummet and that’s too bad.

All in all, this is a pretty average duel deck. The reprint of Avenger of Zendikar almost doesn’t matter because it’s in a Commander precon already and it’s going to be very cheap soon. The value in this set is in Primal Command, It That Betrays, and Wildwood. I don’t expect these cards to maintain much value after this, but that’s what we have come to expect from Duel Deck reprintings.

What we can glean from this is that Eldrazi spawn could be coming back, colorless permanents with colored casting costs that trigger abilities on each other are coming, and Eldrazi can’t decide whether they want to trigger abilities when they enter the battlefield or when they’re cast.  Either way, this should be an exciting set, fetch lands or no.

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