All posts by James Chillcott

Pro Tour Fate Reforged: Day 1 Coverage

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Stay tuned for round by round MTGFinance coverage of Pro Tour: Fate Reforged!

[Day Ended]

A Wild Defiance foils buyout is going down as a result of the card appearing in Infect decks from Team Pantheon. Card may settle in the $6+ range, but the deck needs to Top 8 to maintain the price mid-term.

7:03pm An Infect deck piloted by Austin Bursavich just went to 8-0. Manfield also takes his Burn build to 8-0.

7:01pm: Jon Finkel  (Infect) vs. Martin Muller (Abzan)

Lingering Souls being called out as a good speed bump against Infect.

6:50pm: Frank Karsten (Affinity) vs.  Osman Ozguney (Faeries)

Karsten goes to 7-1 with a traditional Affinity Build.

Each of Infect, Affinity and Burn have a player at 7-0.

6:30pm: Alexander Haybe breaking down the Jeskai Control Archtype on camera

6:10pm: Rnd 7: Marco Lombardi (Merfolk) vs. Seth Manfield (Burn)

5:44: Rnd 7: Lee Shi Tian (Burn) vs. Makihito Mihara (Grixis Twin)

Whoa! Mihara is running one of my top underated cards of Fate Reforge, with multiple copies of Humble Defector in his innovative deck list.

Marco Lombardi is 6-0 with Merfolk.

4:55: Rnd 6: Andrew Cuneo (Infect) vs Ken Yukihiro (Abzan)

Yukihiro takes the match.

Tasigur on camera yet again. Thoughtseize featuring in game after game. Noble Hierarch’s demise after Pod banning widely exaggerated.

4:43pm: Rnd 6: Kentaro Yamamato (Abzan) vs. Shuhei Nakamura (Jeskai Control)

Yamamato takes the match, finishing Shuhei off with Siege Rhino, a card that continues to earn it’s keep in the format.

Lingering Souls has seen multiple release at uncommon, but the only mainstream foil release was the original, and those have been sitting at half their peak value for a while without a home in modern. Today, the card is all over the place, and should easily regain $10+.

3:56pm Frank Karsten and Affinity build being featured in the metagame overview with BDM.

3:45pm: Rnd 5 Jelger Wiegersma (Twin) vs. Justin Maguire (Jeskai Control)

Restoration Angel and Blade Splicer getting some camera time in the Maguire deck. A wild top Splinter Twin top deck gets spoiled by Wear/Tear.

3:09: Rnd 5 Patrick Chapin just played a Gurmag Angler and protected it with a Stubborn Denial…in Modern!!! (bowing respectfully to the master despite his losing to Affinity.)

3:04pm: Rnd 5: Paul Cheon (Abzan) vs. Stanislav Cifka (W/B Tokens)

Cifka deck noteable for running Bitterblossom & Intangible Virtue (keep an eye on foils, but remember the card has been reprinted multiple times). Sorin, Solemn Visitor in the Cifka deck, over the older version.

2:52pm: Eidolon of the Great Revel being discussed in the burn deck tech. This card is still too low around $6 and should break $10 this year for sure, especially if Burn does well this weekend.

Just snapped up some copies of Chord of Calling around $3, promo Tasigurs around $20 and whatever Ghostways I could find overseas under $10, which wasn’t many. M15 foils currently have a 4x foil multiplier so I’m staying away for now.

Sam Black showed off a very sexy Naya Ghostway based deck earlier this week on StarCityGames.com. See it here. Rumor has it that a few pros are actually running the deck, and Ghostway has already been bought out into the $16+ range, with minimal copies remaining online. This was a sub-$8 card last week.

Team Channel Fireball has several members on WGB Junk with Noble Hierarch and Gavony Township.

2:39pm Jon Stern (Abzan) vs Kenji Tsumura (Abzan)

2:15pm: Jelger Wiergersma (Twin) vs. Milos Stajic (Elves!)

  • Chord of Calling features prominently in the Elf deck and is noteable as being undervalued since it’s part of the Ghostway deck as well. I’ve noted well over 100 copies disappear in a short time period.
  • Elves went down in 3

2:07pm: Owen Turtenwald (Infect) vs. Ben Stark (Scapeshift)

  • Team Pantheon reportedly all on UG Infect

2:01pm: 1st on camera Modern match, Round 4: Shehar Shenhar (Burn) vs. Seth Manfield (Burn)

  •  Shenhar has the black splash for Bump in the Night vs. Mansfield’s white splash for Boros Charm
  • Games are tight involving a high degree of basic math strategy

1:59pm: The guys predict the following archtypes as defining the metagame:

  • Scapeshift, Abzan, UWR Mid-Range, Aggro

1:49pm: Rich Hagon and Randy Beuhler counting down the 10 most important cards in Modern:

Notable that Siege Rhino has gone from being “unplayable” in Modern a few months back to a #2 ranked staple based on it’s role in Junk decks!

———————

And so begins our only Modern format Pro Tour of 2015, and a defining signal for Modern hype leading up to the release of Modern Masters (2015 Edition) at the end of May via Grand Prix Las Vegas and two other mirrored tournaments in Europe and Asia.

Far from abandoning the format, WOTC seems as committed as ever to ensuring we all have a powerful, yet diverse evergreen format to cling to, with many rewards for deck builders who find innovative ways to address the metagame.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the recent banning of Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time and Birthing Pod has put the usual meta on tilt. MTGO lists have been awash with creative deck lists since the new rules took effect last week and while there may still be a very good chance that stalwarts like Junk, Jeskai/Geist or U/R Storm will be hanging out in the top 16, all signs point to a rogue deck or two storming the castle this weekend in Washington, D.C.

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As per usual, the Pro Tour weekends now feature a mix of booster draft (FRF-KTK-KTK) and constructed (Modern) formats with 3 rounds of draft Friday morning, followed by 5 rounds of Modern starting around Noon EST.

The big teams such as ChannelFireball, SCG, and the various Japanese powerhouse squads have been relatively quiet all week, as their best deck ideas hide out in stealth mode, waiting to be unleashed on a hopefully unsuspecting field and scoop up the $40,000 top prize.

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For we MTGFinance speculators, the weekend will be an especially important proving grounds for many of the most hyped cards of the format. Here are some early stories worth paying attention to:

Siege Rhino (Foil): Skies the Limit?

At first, many doubted whether this Standard stalwart could make the jump into a format as powerful as Modern. Then they said he couldn’t survive the banning of Birthing Pod. And yet, just a few weeks later, a quick look at the MTGO results shows that Junk lists running the full 4 copies of this swingy beast are all over the place. Whether some version of GBx can take down the tourney is anyone’s guess, but foil Siege Rhino’s are still looking like a buy to me anywhere under $20, perhaps with a target to out around $30 within the year on continued strong results. Given how quickly Abrupt Decay foils broke $80, there seems to be upside on Rhino despite the lack of Legacy play.

Dark Confidant: Heading Down?

It’s hard to believe, but the metagame may still be too unfriendly for this powerhouse card drawing engine to regain lost ground in the Modern meta. With a clear shift from Jund to Junk heading into the tournament, many lists that could run Bob, simply are not. If he doesn’t see play in the Top 16, we should be ready for a shave of $5-10 off his price at least, though the price memory is definitely strong with this sith lord of value.

Geist of Saint Traft: Where’s the Top?

We were picking up copies around $12.50 not so many months ago, but this highly aggressive legend has no staged a comeback just above $20 and could be poised to head back towards the $30+ range if a Jeskai Aggro or Control build finds a seat at the top tables this weekend. The card’s power is hardly in debate, but matchup luck will almost certainly play a role here as the card doesn’t like facing down blockers.

Snapcaster Mage: Free at Last!

In a world with Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time dominating graveyard resources, Snappy had to take a back seat last season, but with the competition taking a dirt nap, there is a very good chance that a strong showing by Esper or Jeskai Control/Mid-Range builds could start a climb into the $50 range by summer. Free from a possible MM2 reprinting due to the exclusion of Innistrad block from the set, Tiago should be good to run the chart until MM3 roles around in 2017 or so.

Paul Cheon: What a story!

Was anyone not on the edge of their seats last weekend watching Paul Cheon face Paul Reitzel at the finals of the team event at Grand Prix San Jose? Paul, the perennial kid brother of the Channel Fireball crew, has been busting his ass at the pro magic game all year, but desperately needed no less than a win at the GP to qualify for the Pro Tour. Demonstrating poise, focus and determination, Empty the Cheons played one of the best matches of the year on camera to earn his shot at the big show. Good luck Paul!

Travis has some great additional ideas on cards to watch over here, so take a look!

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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WEEKLY MTGPRICE.COM MOVERS: Feb 1st/15

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Fate Reforged continues to make its’ presence felt across Standard, Modern and even Legacy this week, with plenty of hits and misses arising from the latest set. Standard is awash with new and innovative deck ideas, resulting in plenty of card movement, and new format Tiny Leaders is also riding a hype wave, generating a handful of significant price spikes.  Here’s the down low on the major price shifts in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week.

5 Winners of the Week

1. Temur Ascendancy (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $.38 to .$70 (84%)

There are few things more fun in the world of Magic: The Gathering than having a jank rare come out of nowhere late in the Standard season as the centerpiece in a brand new combo deck. If you haven’t heard, the deck is mono-green, leveraging Nykthos, Karametra’s Acolyte and Voyaging Satyr to generate infinite mana with Temur Sabertooth. Basically you need to be able to generate 1 more mana with whatever you’re tapping, bouncing and replaying than it’s costing you to bounce (1G) and play it (1G-3G). Temur Ascendancy gives the mana dork haste, enabling the whole combo, along with providing random cards off your big guys when you need to dig to go off. As a bulk rare, there is some upside still be to be had here if the deck continues to do well, but unlike Jeskai Ascendancy it isn’t likely to find a home in other decks, and it would be hard pressed to break $3 as a previously unloved and heavily opened rare. That being said, there may be locals who aren’t turned on to the card and will throw some into trades to add value to your trade binder.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Acquire in Trades

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2. Valorous Stance (Fate Reforged, Uncommon): $0.89 to $1.39 (+56%)

Many pros are saying that this flexible spell is the most important card in Fate Reforged for Standard purposes. That gives it an outside chance of achieving Stoke the Flames status as an overpriced uncommon from a small set, especially given the easy casting cost and plethora of decks in the format with access to a single white mana and the need to kill big guys and protect their own threats. It’s more likely that we see this settle around $2, but heading into the fall, I could see it boosting again because of the relatively scarcity of Fate Reforged (driven by the short period before the appearance of Dragons of Tarkir and then Modern Masters 2). I like this one as a throw-in target, but I won’t be buying any for now.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Acquire in Trades

 

3. Yavimaya Coast (10th Edition, Rare): $4.72 to $6.03 (+28%)

With Sultai control/mid-range builds looking like the deck to beat in post-Fate Reforged Standard, plenty of players are looking to pick up lands that work in the deck. You should be selling or trading into this pricing, along with Shivan Reef, as the fall rotation of M15 will send painlands crashing back to $1-2.

Format: Standard

Verdict: Sell/Trade

 

4. Anafenza, the Foremost (Fate Reforged, Mythic): $5.82 to $6.72 (+15%)

In mid-December during the usual fall set price lulls, I was picking up copies of Anafenza around $2 in the hopes of long range Modern play and possible Tiny Leaders play. Both of these scenarios have become real, and sooner than expected, and this goat loving mythic dame is also looking pretty useful in Abzan decks increasingly interested in reducing graveyard card counts to hamper opponents delve strategies. Foils especially are on the rise, with a cresting wave of Tiny Leaders hype over the last 2 weeks, and I think you want to be snapping up any copies you can find locally at last week’s prices wherever possible and looking for options to cash out at $5-10+/copy, or just hold for mid-term gains. Non-foils may have a couple of dollars left in them, but if you got in around Nov/Dec, you may just want to out them and move into something overlooked for Tiny Leaders or Modern play.

Format: Standard/Modern/Tiny Leaders

Verdict: Sell/Trade (Buy/Trade For Foils At Lagging Prices)

 

5. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx (Theros, Rare): $2.91 to $3.25 (+12%)

I’m sitting on about 60 copies of this powerful mana generator so I’m always happy to see it’s prospects rise, even if they’re unlikely to impact the long term game I’m playing. In Standard, the increased interest is sourced from the sudden feasibility of both Red and Green devotion strategies, based on new cards in Fate Reforged that help get more mana symbols on the table in a hurry. Even so, both of those decks will need to put up results for this card to break $5-6, and I’m much more interested in continuing to acquire for a future $10+ sell point 2-3 years down the road, when the supply has dried up. There’s always the possibility of a reprint on this card, but it isn’t easily slapped into most supplemental products and won’t find a home in any main set releases for several years yet, so I like the odds that this finds a peak before a post-rotation trough.

Format: Standard/Modern/EDH/Tiny Leaders

Verdict: Buy/Trade

Bonus Pick: Zirilian of the Claw (Mirage, Rare) $2.00 to ???

Zirilian of the Claw searches Dragons out of your library for 5-mana, an effect that is only ever going to see play at kitchen tables by Dragon-happy EDH players and little kids. Given that we’re headed into a heavily hyped set called Dragons of Tarkir however, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would try to spike this card by buying out the limited supply across the Internet. At the time of this writing there are a mere 9 copies left on TCGPlayer, with prices ranging from $10 to $18. This card going to $6 would have been reasonable on casual demand, but this price is bonkers, so dig up any copies you have in your bulk box and out them immediately to buylists or via Ebay/TCG to reap the rewards from the hype train, that is, assuming there are even buyers to milk.

 

3 Top Losers of the Week

1. Temporal Trespass (Fate Reforged, Mythic): $3.92 to $3.11 (-21%)

Time Walk sounds so sexy. In fact, some folks thought it sounded so sexy they were pre-ordering this card over $20. This is a sad time for those people, because the consensus is that this card is as unplayable as the last few similar cards. I fully expect this to show up in a Woo Brew in a few years, but until then, you should be dropping these like they’re hot.

Format(s): Casual/Modern (one day?)

Verdict: Sell

2. Warden of the First Tree (Fate Reforged, Rare): $8.67 to $6.96 (-20%)

He’s not as good as we hoped, now get over it. Though he is seeing some play in Abzan decks, he’s not greatly improving those decks, they aren’t expanding in the format, and I fully expect this card to hit $3-4 within the month. Get out however you can and into something with more upside.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Sell/Trade

3. Torrent Elemental (Fate Reforged, Mythic): $5.58 to $4.78 (-14%)

This card was on my “sleepers” list a couple of weeks back when there were whispers that it would find a home in Sultai lists. That premise has come to pass, but even the decks that are playing it aren’t running more than a single copy typically, and many builds aren’t even bothering since those decks already have plenty to do each turn. I think this settles back around $3-4 for now, but watch for a breakout performance to pump it back up.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • Rings of Brighthearth is also spiking from a likely buyout, possibly related to Tiny Leaders hype. Time to sell.
  • Tiny Leaders is well into hype engine mode, with a plethora of new #mtgfinance and strategy articles written by pros and finance writers over the last 2 weeks. Finding overlooked cards that are good in the format and stockpiling foils is looking like a solid play, even if the hype dies out longer term. Cards like Unearth, Varolz, the Scar-Striped and Doran, the Siege Tower have already spiked hard. Find a target.
  • Tasigur did damage on camera in Legacy this weekend, attacking alongside Tarmogoyf and further increasing the likelihood that foils are a good buy. Remember Snapcaster Mage is a big set staple that hit $100+ on strong Modern/Legacy play. Tasigur is from a small set, but not quite as powerful, and also a legend. Even still, I can see his foils hitting $40 this year, from the current $21-$23. I’m buying.

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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WEEKLY MTGPRICE.COM MOVERS: JAN 25TH/15

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

This weekend Fate Reforged made a huge and immediate impact on both Standard and Modern, with cards from the set showing up at top tables of major tournaments immediately upon going legal. Most of our other gainers come as the result of the recent Banned & Restricted announcements which have shaken up both Modern and Legacy. Here’s the down low on the major price shifts in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week.

5 Winners of the Week

1. Worldgorger Dragon (Judgement, Rare): $1.25 to $8.30 (564%)

When a combo card of relatively high power gets unbanned, the Legacy folks start brewing and trying to figure out if the card can take a deck into a Top 8. Worldgorger Dragon figures into multiple combos, many of which revolve around it coming in and out of play under the effect of Animate Dead while setting off infinite triggers of one sort or another. The card is certainly breakable, but no more powerful than the stuff that Sneak & Show and Reanimator decks already do in Legacy. Nevertheless, going from useless to potentially playable was enough to send this ancient rare skyrocketing on the price charts. Without a doubt this is a sell if you had a bunch sitting around. It’s hard to beat 500% in a week more than a few times a year, and this is definitely time to take your money and run it into some new action.

Format(s): Legacy

Verdict: Sell

2. Golgari Grave Troll (Ravnica: City of Guilds, Rare): $1.45 to $7.00 (+383%)

Here we have another card that was unbanned, this time in Modern, and in this case because the odds of it breaking format are low without some of the older cards it would need to be truly degenerate. Nevertheless, enterprising souls are a-brewing, so the getting is good if you’d like to get out on your sets up 300%+. I wouldn’t wait on results here, the card’s already been reprinted once (in the Izzet vs. Golgari Duel Deck) and could easily be so again this summer in MM2.

Format(s): Modern/Legacy/Vintage

Verdict: Sell

 

3. Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Time Spiral, Rare): $2.25 to $7.50 (+233%)

A couple of factors are pushing this previously overlooked Dragon up on the charts. Firstly, it’s the only 5-color commander available for the Dragon clan in EDH/Commander. Secondly, we’re just 6 weeks away from a set list for Dragons of Tarkir, a set that promises to, well, provide us with a ton of new dragons to get excited about. I’d put the odds that they either reprint Scion or provide an even better Dragon commander at 2 to 1, so it’s up to you to decide if you feel like trying to ride this card further north into $10-15 range on dragon hype. Me, I like to pocket cash on anything north of 50%, so I’ve already sold the handful of stray copies I found lying around.

Format: Casual/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Speculative Buy

 

4. Frontier Siege (Fate Reforged, Rare): 1.25 to 2.55 (+104%)

This bad boy mana ramp enchantment was #2 on my list of underrated Fate Reforged specs, so I was hardly surprised to see it make top 8 appearances in Standard at two separate major tournaments. With the potential to double your total mana output in the early to mid game OR to turn your hornets and other flying beasties into a virtual wrath of god, the power here is undeniable. The card has so far found good homes with both R/G Monsters and BUG Delve/Whip builds, and I strongly suspect these won’t be the last decks to run the card in the next 18 months. As a rare from a small set that will be drafted 5-2-2 vs. the rest of the block, I think this card can hit $4-6 on heavy play and/or further top table appearances, so there is still some room to set up some profitable trades if you’re local store hasn’t sold out or boosted the price yet Monday morning. Move quick though, because I wouldn’t be surprised to see this settle closer to $4 before the end of the week, at which point your upside is significantly more limited. Foils may also be solid targets for future EDH play, but there isn’t likely to be any Legacy or Modern action here.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade

 

5. Tasigur, The Golden Fang (Fate Reforged, Rare): $3.75 to $11.00 (+193%)

If you locked on to Tasigur when he appeared at #4 on my list of Fate Reforged specs a couple weeks back you may have been lucky enough to pick up copies in the $2 range. If so, good for you. If not, your ship has likely sailed, as $11 is a very high price for a freshly released standard rare, even one that made such good showings at major tourneys in it’s first week of release. The Prince of Fruit was bananas most of the time he appeared on camera this weekend, pulling double duty as a cheap blocker for Siege Rhino etc, while providing long term card advantage when the board got grindy. It’s not a certainty he’ll make a big splash in older formats, but I wouldn’t bet against it at this point. All that being said, sell into this hype immediately, as he should come back down into the $6-8 range as more product is opened this month and I suspect you’ll be able to find him cheaper around the release of MM2 in June.

Format: Standard/Modern/Legacy/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade

3 Top Losers of the Week

1. Bloodbraid Elf (Alara Reborn, Uncommon): $8.00 to $3.50 (-56%)

Well, it’s a broken uncommon that some people thought might be unbanned, but instead it’s been relegated to the bench for the time being. Many pros think the card would be fine in Modern today given the general increase in power creep over the last few years, but that’s not enough to save the card’s price from crashing as disappointment sets in and the unfounded speculations are cashed in for losses. If you’re caught holding, you can ditch for (hopefully) close to what you paid, or just hold on to them hoping for an eventual unban within the year.

Format(s): Casual/Modern (one day?)

Verdict: Sell

2. Orzhov Pontiff (Guildpact, Rare): $16.00 to $12.50 (-22%)

Pontiff was on our list as a top gainer just a few short weeks ago, but the banning of Birthing Pod put it’s primary deck out of commission in Modern and significantly lessened short term demand. I’m holding my copies as I believe that the card has other applications in token and aggro based strategies in Modern. That being said, a reprinting this summer in MM2 isn’t totally out of the question, so be wary.

Format(s): Modern

Verdict: Hold

3. Birthing Pod (New Phyrexia, Rare): $8.15 to $7.07 to (-13%)

Birthing Pod peaked near $20 in March, 2014, right around the time I was snapping them up 2 copies at a time by acquiring the Spiraling Doom, Dark Ascension event deck. I was a bit stunned that Pod got the axe in Modern, since though it was certainly doing well consistently, the format seemed very healthy. This leaves me with about 20 Birthing Pods I’ll be slowly unloading at a small loss to EDH players out of the gutters of my trade binder for the next few years. It’s important to own your mistakes. This was one of my biggest of the year.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • Japanese players have been scooping up foil Frost Walkers like crazy and they may know something others are missing. As a 4/1 for 1U in the best color in the game, there is potential for the the card to revive some kind of blue rush deck in Modern or Legacy.
  • Waste Not deserves an honorable mention this week, up 46% from $2.16 to $3.16.
  • Outpost Siege also made Top 8 tables this weekend, as a stackable card drawing engine and fallback for token strategies. It’s on the increase, but bargains can still be found if you’re quick.

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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WEEKLY MTGPRICE.COM MOVERS: JAN 18TH/15

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.

5 Winners of the Week

1. Survival of the Fittest (Exodus, Rare): $36.60 to $50

Most of the players who started after 2010 have probably never even played with or against this utterly broken value/combo enabler from 1998. In combination with Recurring Nightmare the card makes up a creature tutor/recursion combo that makes Birthing Pod look tame by comparison. Considering it’s only legal in Vintage and busted kitchen table games, Survival of the Fittest has shown surprising gains this week, most likely due to a buyout by MTGFinance folks looking to flip into some hype once they set the higher plateau. If you’ve got some lying around, go ahead and try to unload to free up cash for more valuable targets.

 

2. Chalice of the Void (Modern Masters, Rare): $13.98 to $18.66 (+33%)

Oddly Chalice took a while to really gain momentum as it’s role in holding down the overbearing power of Treasure Cruise decks stocked with a ton of single mana creatures, cantrip spells and bolts became more and more important in both Modern and Legacy this season. Now that’s it’s finally peaking we’re just hours away from a banned list announcement that might make it significantly less important to the metagame. That being said, unless we stop printing good spells that cost one mana, this card will keep gaining value pending a further reprint that should be at least a few years off yet. Getting on the train now is definitely late to the party, and I think I’d wait for a trough post the assumed Treasure Cruise banning before acquiring more. Foils have also been doing well, but I exited with good returns on those over the last month looking for fresh targets with more short-term upside.

Format(s): Modern/Legacy

Verdict: Hold

3. Hooded Hydra (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $2.15 to $2.62 (+22%)

Hooded Hydra is up another 20%+ this week, adding more gains and hopefully building towards a possible higher plateau. The more I consider the Manifest decks, however, the less inclined I am to believe this deck style ends up doing damage in Standard this winter. On the other hand, I am now more convinced that there are Modern and Legacy applications for Manifest, and that’s its good creatures worth flipping up for cheap and perhaps more specific card selection tools rather than Manifest cards that we need to make it work.

From last week:  “If it makes a key deck tech or a top table this month, expect it to hit $5-6 in a hurry but success is nothing more than a guess at this point so don’t sleep on the info if you choose to go deep. Personally, I think this card will get there sooner or later, so I’ve got about 20 copies sitting around acquired under $1.50.”

Format: Standard/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Speculative Buy

4. Soul of Theros (M15, Mythic): 3.76 to 4.55 (+21%)

Soul of Theros was up again this week, and though the advance wasn’t quite as explosive as last week (+91%), this is still a card that’s gone from bulk to nearly $5 in a very short period of time and made some folks money both in paper Magic and online. It remains to be seen whether the 4-color Whip of Erebos brews, where Soul of Theros adds power to value poster children like Siege Rhino and Hornet Queen in the late game, will end up in a top position with Fate Reforged going legal next week, but I suspect it will still be a powerful and consistent deck, look very threatening indeed.  You should be selling into this hype because we’re almost certainly within a couple bucks of the top of this hype curve.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade

 

5. Orzhov Pontiff (Guildpact, Rare): $7.44 to $8.99 (+21%)

Pontiff has been a roller coaster ride lately, spiking to $20 or so a week back on the strength of it’s camera appearances during a prominent Modern tournament in Value Pod, especially against Cruise/Delver/Pyromancer decks. If you didn’t sell immediately, you’ve lost value, but there is still time to get out at a good price if these guys have just been sitting around in your collection or bulk box. What happens after the B&R Announcement today is anyone’s guess, so contextually powerful creatures like this one are not where you want to be placing bets just now.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Whip of Erebos (Theros, Rare): $5.79 to $5.25 (-9%)

So long as Whip decks stay good after Fate Reforged goes legal next week, this price plateau is likely to stick. No reason to keep holding. Get out now ahead of rotation doldrums.

Format(s): Standard/EDH/Casual

Verdict: Sell

2. Mana Confluence (Hourney Into Nyx, Rare): $12.29 to $11.18 (-9%)

For this land to recover, your deck needs to be both powerful and desperate to fix your mana at the cost of 5% of your starting life total per use. I’m out, but if you feel like a 4-color or 5-color deck will dominate this spring, you can feel free to make a gamble on a candidate to hit $20 again if it happens. If on the other hand you believe, as I do, that Dragons of Tarkir will have additional mana fixing along different color pairs, this looks mediocre at best.

Format(s): Standard/Modern/Legacy/EDH

Verdict: Sell

3. Kiora, The Crashing Wave (Theros, Mythic): $9.41 to $8.74 to (-7%)

Kiora performs best when she doesn’t have to worry about flyers or token hordes or reprints in a Duel Deck. Get out while you can.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Sell

4. Hero’s Downfall (Theros, Rare): $8.43 to $7.84 (-7%)

This kill card is THE SOLUTION almost every time you draw it in the current standard format, except when you’re facing down tokens.dec. The format’s diversity, however, requires a plethora of kill options for different decks, necessitating less than 4 copies of Downfall for many of the decks that want it. As such, there’s not much chance of solid upside heading toward rotation. I’m selling my foreign copies and moving on.

Verdict: Sell

5. Shivan Reef (M15, Rare): $18.62 to $16.67 (-10%)

There is some downward pressure on Jeskai deck popularity, largely being exerted by increased numbers of Abzan players and a bunch of R/W token decks. Regardless, this is still a good place to out assuming you got in on these last summer at $2 or so. Post-rotation that’s the price this will drop back to, so don’t hold too long.

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • My top picks for underrated Uncommon foils from Fate Reforged are Cloudform and Humble Defector. Pick some up.
  • January 19th, 2015 is the next Banned & Restricted list announcement and banning of any or all of the following could make big waves and open up new specs: Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, Jeskai Ascendancy, Birthing Pod. Getting rid of all of the above in Modern opens up the format a ton, and it’s possible Cruise gets the axe as far back as Legacy. I don’t want to be caught holding many copies of that card in foil, so I’ve been selling out, but the rest I’ve decided to risk. Make your call and get ready for the fallout. Jan 12th Update: Birthing Pod took down GPOmaha today, but the top 8 and the field were diverse and interesting. If WOTC was looking for signals from this GP, Pod may be safe, and Treasure Cruise didn’t look any more dominant than would be bearable.
  • Likely MM2 reprints aren’t falling nearly as fast as they should be and I think too many people are underestimating the print run this time around. Get out while you can…these aren’t cards you want to be holding come June.

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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