All posts by James Chillcott

WEEKLY MTGPRICE.COM MOVERS: JAN 18TH/15

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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

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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.”

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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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Digging for Dollars: Fate Reforged

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Fate Reforged, the second set in the Khans of Tarkir block, is proving to be a tantalizing puzzle for folks interested in MTGFinance. The set introduces new mechanics, cards and themes which are difficult to evaluate without detailed deck testing. Further, the wide open nature and high power level of the current standard format means that incoming cards have a high bar to measure up to, and many possible interactions to consider.  Fate Reforged also includes reprints of the KTK fetchlands, so their value will also weigh on all but the best of the cards in the set.  Also worth considering is the fact that Fate Reforged will only be on the market for 6 weeks or so before Dragons of Tarkir previews start, opening up new opportunities and pitfalls for previously released cards, as well as reducing overall openings for Fate Reforged.

The set’s financial value is currently anchored by a scant handful of mythic rares: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Monastery Mentor and Soulfire Grand Master. These three cards alone are currently valued at a combined $80+, and as such, most rares in the set will end up in near-bulk status ($1-2) unless they can achieve widespread success while simultaneously displacing the demand for the big 3 mythics (as some reduction in the 3 hottest card’s value will likely be necessary for the remaining cards to rise in value. For what it’s worth I currently have Ugin, Mentor and Grand Master pegged to hit $20, $22 and $14 respectively within 6 weeks of release.)

This scenario almost certainly means that picking the few remaining cards that may break out as major players in the new standard or older formats is a potentially very profitable endeavor. Doing so however, is easier said than done, as one must identify the unsung heroes of the set, while simultaneously predicting that other players will come around to the same line of thinking through play testing and tournament results.

Before we dive in on Fate Reforged cards however, it behooves us to look back over our collective shoulders at some of the cards that “made it” from Khans of Tarkir last fall to see what helped them make us money. Here’s a few of the bigger hits:

  1. Treasure Cruise (foil)
  2. Dig Through Time (reg/foil)
  3. Siege Rhino (foil)
  4. Monastery Swiftspear (foil)
  5. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (reg)

The common theme here is “powerful cards that were underestimated at first”, with a splash (in Sidisi) of cards that just needed time to find their place in Standard. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time were w0idely insulted in the early days of KTK previews, as folks who hadn’t played with Delve before had trouble envisioning just how powerful mana-free casting costs really are. While others were insulting these cards in set reviews I was picking up Japanese foils by the dozen, a move that allowed me to double up within 2 months of release. Monastery Swiftspear was another widely unheralded card during preview season but it now stands shoulder to shoulder with Delver of Secrets and Goblin Guide as one of the best 1-drop threats ever printed.  Japanese foils of this card were available overseas for as little as $8USD in September, and I sold my last set this week for $50/per.

Siege Rhino was identified as being a central pillar of standard fairly early on, but when I started suggesting he was destined for Modern play in November based on some early Pod lists from key pros, plenty of people scoffed. Fast forward a few months and Rhino is a key component of the evolving Value (Birthing) Pod decks, and many pros have stated that it’s so good in Modern that it would likely survive the banning of Birthing Pod itself. I’ve been snatching up $10-15 foil copies of Siege Rhino, as I can easily see them hitting $30+ in a post-Treasure Cruise world in Modern. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant was on the back bench for the first half of the fall standard season as Jeskai Tempo, Abzan, Temur and Jeskai Ascendancy decks dominated the scene, but as the season continued, the grindy Whip of Erebos decks emerged as the value mongers of the format, and Sidisi, as a 4-of mythic, provided strong returns on the $2 low prices I was paying in late October.

Note that the key with almost all of these cards was that they were cross-format all-stars, with most of them being played in at least 2 formats. Also, each card often appears as a 3 or 4-of, and only Sidisi is Legendary.

Our goal then is to similarly identify the cards from Fate Reforged that are currently the most underrated and undervalued, and which have the best shot at crossing formats or at least achieving dominant positions in standard.

Here are my picks for the cards in Fate Reforged most likely to reward early speculation:

  1. Humble Defector (Foil)

Formats: Standard, Modern, Legacy, Vintage

Humble Defector is my top pick for underrated cards in Fate Reforged. To my eyes, as an aggressive 2-drop that can easily be leveraged as a card drawing engine and combo enabler it is very likely to find a home in multiple formats as cards are noticed or released that enable his most broken possible turns. Many players seem to be getting hung up on the fact that this card can end up in the hands of an opponent, but focusing on this drawback largely misses the point of this card. You see, ideally, the deck that makes the best use of his ability will be built to ensure that he either a) doesn’t live long enough to let the opponent draw cards or b) steals him back. Regardless, with all the card draw, presumably nested within an Aggro, Combo or Burn shell, the opponent shouldn’t be around very long even in the worst case scenario.

Of special note is how well Humble Defector combos with the utterly broken standard/modern/legacy combo piece Jeskai Ascendancy. With Ascendancy and Humble Defector in play and cantrips in hand, you have the potential to draw 4-8 cards in the same turn, ultimately bouncing (Retraction Helix) or sacrificing (Collateral Damage) Humble Defector after drawing your cards and possibly even attacking for 3-4 damage in lieu of his last card draw trigger. If that doesn’t peak your interest, nothing will. Note that even in situations where the opponent actually gets to use Humble Defector, you got your cards first, they aren’t likely to be set up like you are to abuse him, and they then have to give him back for you to further abuse. It’s also worth noting that Humble Defector is a great card to play politics with in EDH.

Now as an uncommon, I’m much more interested in foils and foreign foils of this guy than I am regular copies, as I believe that it’s only a matter of time before he finds a home in a broken deck in the older formats.

2. Frontier Siege (Non-Foil/Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/EDH

There are a few things people are missing with this card at first glance. Firstly, it generates GG at the start of both of your main phases (both before and after your combat phase), which is to say, this is a ramp spell that generates 4 mana per turn at the cost of 4 mana. Now it’s true that you don’t get all of the mana at the same time, but if you had 4 mana to put it into play, you now have 4 mana in each of your main phases, which means that in a green, deck you probably just ramped from 4 mana to 8 mana on turn 4, with the caveat that you can cast two 4-drops but not Ugin. If you have permanents that can make use of the extra mana, such as enchantments, equipment or pump effects, all the better. The 2nd mode on the card seems kind of narrow, until of course you realize that it combos with both Hornet Nest and Hornet Queen, in that the Hornets now act as Nekrataals when they hit the board. This card is commonly available under a $1 at present, and could hit $4-5 if it ends up being heavily played in Standard within the year. Foils are out there in the $3-5 range, and seem likely to achieve $10+ down the road.

3. Yasova Dragonclaw (Non-Foil)

Formats: Standard

Sure, she dies to everything in the format, but so does Monastery Mentor and Goblin Rabblemaster and they’re still top cards. She’s also a Legendary Creature, which never helps, but a lot of people are missing some of her potential shenanigans. She is likely a Standard only kind of gal, so that doesn’t help her odds to make us money, but Trample is actually more useful in this format than most folks realize. Still, no less a player than Frank Karsten has proposed her presence in a deck seeking to abuse Humble Defector and Collateral Damage, and he points out the following set of potential interactions:

  • Humble Defector + Yasova Dragonclaw: Draw two and immediately steal it back from your opponent [on the attack] to draw two more.
  • Humble Defector + Collateral Damage: Put the activated ability on the stack and sacrifice it in response. You get to draw 2 cards, and your opponent won’t get anything in return.
  • Yasova Dragonclaw + Collateral Damage: Attack your opponent with his own creature and then sacrifice it to kill another one of his creatures.

All of that sounds good, but I still don’t expect Yasova to get there early in the season switchover. As such, she could drop as low as $1, at which point I’ll be looking to get in on a few playsets, if further reasons to play her have popped up, looking to exit around $3-4.

4. Tasigur, The Golden Fang (Non-Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/Legacy/EDH

This guy has been discussed plenty, but no one seems quite certain whether he’s the real deal. At $3 pre-order he may head lower before he heads higher, but he could also hit $6-7 if he makes it to an early top table as part of the reformulated Whip deck. The downside here is that he’s a Legendary creature, and as such, unlikely to be used as a 4-of. On the upside, he hits on a number of interesting angles, including low casting cost (due to Delve), the ability to fuel future graveyard/Delve cards later in the game, and his ability to rebuy your best cards, as manipulated by other Delve costs being paid. His single black casting cost and hybrid mana ability cost also means he could end up in decks we haven’t thought of yet, and in color combinations other than Sultai. That’s a lot of power for a card that will often be cast for 2-3 mana and I suspect that we see Tasigur find a home as a 2-3 of in Whip decks and settle in the $4-5 range once folks move on to opening Dragons of Tarkir instead of Fate Reforged. There’s also a possibility people will want foils down the road for EDH or Legacy or Modern, as he’s likely big enough to tussle with the best, so tread that path as you will since they’re still under $10 at present.

5. Torrent Elemental (Non-Foil)

Formats: Standard/Legacy

I totally missed this card on my first pass, outside of possible niche Legacy applications with Force of Will (as a card that can be exiled and provide future value). Then a few notable deck builders drew my attention to the fact that the card can also be exiled by Delve spells as part of their casting cost, and that a Whip/Delve/Tasigur deck is likely to be a thing in the very near future, based on early testing results. I’m still not completely sold, as I’m not sure this thing is ever going to be a 4-of, and could easily be pushed out of the resulting deck in favor of better metagame choices. Nevertheless, any “maybe” mythic  available under $3 is worth a look because if it becomes a mainstay it could easily rise into the $8-10 range.

6. Cloudform (Foil)

Formats: Standard/Legacy

One of the biggest problems with trying to pull off tricks with Manifest is that whatever you throw out there as a 2/2 is likely to be vulnerable until such time as you can flip it up. Now in standard it’s not clear that Manifest got enough support to “get there”, but in older formats many players are overlooking the potential to abuse your library with manipulation like Sensei’s Divining Top , Worldly TutorPonder or Serum Visions, and manifest a Phyrexian Dreadnaught or Hooded Hydra for very little mana. A 12/12, flying, hexproof creature or a 5/5 flying, hexproof creature that leaves behind 5 1/1s is nothing to scoff at. As such I’ve been snagging these foils under $3 (maxing at 6 sets) on the assumption that someone is going to find a fun Tier 2 deck in an older format at some point that makes these a very solid value. One deck list I’ve been fooling around with mixes elements of Reanimator and Show&Tell with Cloudform, Brainstorm and Faithless Looting to ensure we’re sneaking something awesome into play on turn 2 or 3 one way or the other.

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7. Wildcall (Non-Foil/Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/Legacy

If a Manifest deck makes it even to Tier 2 in Standard in the next 18 months, than the 50 copies of this rare card I’ve acquired for $.50 are going to look pretty smart. As with Cloudform, the potential is there for broken shenanigans in older formats as well, so I’m happy to sit on these for a while even if nothing develops in standard. The bottom line is that Wildcall always provides a creature of the size appropriate to the turn you draw it on, a subtle feature that should not be underestimated. Give it enough things worth manifesting and it just gets better, and it’s worth noting that placing counters on things is an added bonus that can be abused.

8. Dark Deal (Foil)

Formats: Modern/Legacy/Vintage/EDH

Call me crazy, but this isn’t different enough from the banned Windfall template to make this unplayable. Sure, you get one less card, but you see X-1 additional cards for 3 mana, where X was your initial hand size, all while stocking your graveyard with exactly the things you wanted to get there. Think combo, delve, reanimator, etc. You may also disrupt your opponent, though you’re just as likely to fix their hand. Nevertheless, I suspect this card is breakable as a combo/enabler piece in older formats and with foils going for around $2 I’m happy to pick up a few sets. At the very least Nekusar decks will run this in EDH, giving your cheap foils a fine fallback position. As an uncommon with no likely prospects so far in Standard, steer clear on non-foils.

9. Reality Shift (Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/Legacy/Vintage

This card is half Path to Exile and half Swan Song, and it’s almost certainly playable in Vintage and Legacy. It exiles a creature for 2 mana, which is twice as much as Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares. This must be balanced however against the fact that it’s in blue, the undisputed best color in eternal formats and the most frequent partner for burn spells. Being able to remove big threats easily while (probably) leaving a slow 2/2 clock on the board might actually be better than giving the opponent a land or some life, especially if you were sweeping, burning or otherwise ignoring their creatures anyway. It’s possible that the card even shows up in standard, since it answers most threats in the format easily and cheaply, and it’s drawback can be worked around in the air. StarCityGames.com quietly sold out of these at $2.99 and $3.99 during pre-orders, so if you can snag these in that range you should be in good shape for when they start popping up in powerful decks.

10. Soulflayer (Non-foil/Foil)

This bad boy is hanging over the next phase of KTK Standard like a giant, nasty question mark. Is he an auto-include in Sultai whip decks? Will it be worth it to pair him with Chromanticore and live the dream? His current pre-sales at $2.50 and $5 for non-foils and foils respectively reflect curiosity present in the absence of certainty. Myself, I don’t think we’re dreaming big enough.   In Standard you can get a 4/4 Flying, First Strike, Lifelink, Vigilence and Trample creature with Chromanticore, sure, but you could also just use Sagu Mauler to get Trample/Hexproof, or Siliumgar to get Hexproof/Flying which may be the better option in a format with tons of removal flying around. Reflect on the fact that in Legacy you can go: Swamp, 2x Dark Ritual, Emtomb Silumgar, Soulflayer and have your bad boy ready to party on turn 1 with very little chance of a valid response from your opponent beyond Force of Will. Start brainstorming decks that can dump 2-3 relevant creatures with the full mix of abilities into the graveyard early in the game and things really get nasty. In Standard I give this guy a 50/50 shot of hitting full potential and getting up to $6-8, but I think his foils actually have more upside as his combo partners are only going to get more numerous as time goes on, and could easily reach $30-40 with a top table result.

Honourable Mention: Silumgar & Atarka

 

I think both of these wild wyrms are being underestimated, especially given what’s likely to show up in a certain set called “Dragons of Tarkir”, coming our way in only a couple of months. Siliumgar, the Drifting Death, is likely a strict upgrade for UB control vs. Pearl Lake Ancient at a time where that deck is also gaining Reality Shift, Ugin and Crux of Fate. Hexproof and flying are a big game in the current standard, as is dodging the sweeper effect of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and killing the myriad of expected tokens when you attack a la Doomwake Giant. He’s also a great blocker until you find your Crux and go on offense. He’s probably only a 1-2 of, and his ceiling is therefore likely around $4-5, but with a ton more dragons coming this spring, he can only get better. Atarka on the other hand is looking like a custom made finisher to pair with See The Unwritten and Stormbreath Dragon. In the current standard it’s not tough at all to cast STU on turn 4 off of Savage Knuckleblade for Ferocious and end up with a 6/4 Double Striking attacker to take the first kill spell while Stormbreath or Hornet Queen mops up. And that’s just with the tools we’ve already got.  Like Silumgar, Atarka is pre-ordering for just $1.50 and I suspect it will slide to $1 once the floodgates open on online sales and I fully intend to grab at least 12 of each once we get there.

So there you have it, the long-shot specs of Fate Reforged. Which ones are you going after and why? Anything I missed that you think has a shot at a big rise?

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 12TH/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. Soul of Theros (M15, Mythic): $1.97 to 3.76 (+91%)

Overlooked summer set mythics are a good place to be if they suddenly find a home in standard at the top tables. Soul of Theros has been earning his bones for weeks now, as a top of curve finish assister in a 4-color Whip of Erebos brew that makes Siege Rhino’s and Hornets look very threatening indeed. The deck often runs the full 4 copies, because many of them end up in the graveyard where they ride the train straight to value town. If the fever spreads, the top end on this is likely around $5-6 but with how often the Standard metagame has been shifting this season, I wouldn’t count on it. If you had pack copies or copies you got under $2 sitting around, trading out for other staples is perfectly reasonable at this point.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade

2. Choke (8th Edition, Rare): $4.09 to $6.34 (+55%)

With the dominance of U/R Delver brews in specific and blue cards in general throughout Legacy and Modern over the last year, interest in Choke as a solid sideboard answer that slows their game to a crawl has been building. The card has only been printed twice, in Tempest and 8th edition, so it’s possible it will show up Modern Masters (2015) at rare, but otherwise this has a decent shot at pushing $10 within the next year or two given that blue shows no signs of ever giving up the trophy for most powerful color in magic.

Format(s): Modern/Legacy

Verdict: Hold

3. Hooded Hydra (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $1.66 to $2.07 (+25%)

It’s not clear whether Manifest is actually a standard playable mechanic, or even which colors it would use as accents, but if the deck proves to be real, Hooded Hydra is almost certain to be a big part of it. The key is that Hydra can flip up from manifesting as a 5/5 for GG, (possibly larger depending on how it ended up manifested in the first place), and then leave behind 1/1 tokens when it dies equal to it’s power and toughness. That’s a minimum of 10 P&T for a bargain basement price, and the scenario it presents is removal/sweeper resistant. Folks are clearly brewing, and the previously ignored KTK mythic now has a shot at mid-season glory. 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. Sliver Hive (M15, Rare): $2.19 to $2.54 (+16%)

The Sliver tribe has been enjoying a resurgence since the plethora of new options printed in M15 last summer, with both Galerider Sliver and Sliver Hive already having made some folks some solid money along the way. Sliver Hive peaked around $5 in late summer on casual demand, sliding back later last fall on KTK hype season disinterest. As less M15 is opened however, the card is selling out here and there, and steady casual demand should easily push it back towards $5 within the year, and $10 within 2-3. It’s also worth noting that Counter-Slivers is a very real Tier 2 deck in Legacy and the deck runs 4 copies of this card as a rainbow land with no penalty and bonus token making upside. This is a great long-term spec in every scenario that doesn’t include Commander 2016 or 2017 being tribal based with a Slivers deck.

Format(s): Legacy/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Buy/Hold

5. Jeskai Ascendancy (KTK, Rare): $2.58 to $2.96 (+15%)

Jeskai Ascendancy has been a pillar of the 2014-2015 standard format since it’s debut, and the card still has myriad applications in both tempo and combo decks across Standard, Modern and Casual so long as it stays un-banned, which seems likely at this point. It hit a natural low in December and should now oscillate between $2.50-4 heading into summer, being somewhat held down by the value of fetchlands in Khans of Tarkir. Long term, if left legal in Modern and Legacy the foils only get better as specs as more combo pieces get printed, so that’s where I’ve been stashing some cash.

Format(s): Standard/Modern/Legacy

Verdict: Buy (Foils)

 

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Temple of Malice (Theros, Rare): $3.61 to $3.07 (-15%)

Red/black dual lands are like the ugly cousin no one will ask to the dance. Without a deck in Standard that centres on black and red cards, and with little hope of play in older formats, this Theros temple is banking on little more than EDH demand for single copies. Get out of any extras, you only need these to play at the kitchen table and they’ll be $1.50 by mid-summer.

Format(s): EDH/Casual

Verdict: Sell

2. Anger of the Gods (Theros, Rare): $2.52 to $2.92 (-14%)

This underrated sweeper is at an interesting crossroads where the fact that it’s edging up on Standard rotation is facing off against steadily increasing relevance in a format that looks like it will enter spring dominated by token decks and the mid-range decks that battle them. I’d prefer to steer clear of extra non-foils and instead pursue foils on the basis that the card may stay relevant in Modern for a long while as a 1-2 copy main or sideboard role player against the low casting cost value/aggro decks.

Format(s): Standard/Modern

Verdict: Sell (Buy Foils)

3. Ashcloud Phoenix (KTK, Mythic): $4.36 to $3.82 (-12%)

Between Shaman of the Great Hunt, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Mantis Rider and Flamewake Phoenix, red decks are going to have a cornucopia of options for mid-game threats to present. Until we know which builds are most effective at hitting the Top 8 of the big tourneys, I don’t want anything to do with a card like this that many players have already turned away from in many builds even before Fate Reforged goes legal.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Sell

4. Goblin Guide (Zendikar, Rare): $19.98 to $17.83 (-11%)

This is a great card and a major staple in both Modern in Legacy, but it’s near the front of the line to get reprinted in Modern Masters (2015) this summer so it’s time to get out if you’re not playing your copies and get back in on some $10 versions in June.

Verdict: Sell

5. Sorin, Solemn Visitor (KTK, Mythic): $18.62 to $16.67 (-10%)

As with Sarkhan last week, this is a great Standard card with plenty of life left, just moving through a normal price cycle and probing natural lows. I’m interested in picking up copies in the $12-13 range if we get there as the regal vampire lord could easily hit $20+ again next fall. If there’s something to be learned from the trajectories of other mid-game ‘walkers like Kiora, Ajani, and Xenagos, it’s that they’re value is highly dependent on the metagame of the day. For now, I rate him a hold, but I wouldn’t go deep on him above $10.

Verdict: Hold

Quick Hits:

  • Contrary to the reactionary thoughts of many a player, Black Lotus and the Power 9 are holding their newly acquired higher price tags set after GPNewJersey across the industry. Lowest TCG on an SP Unlimited Black Lotus is now $4999, and StarCityGames is back to offering $4500 buylist on them. If they keep moving at these levels, I think that the whole group may test new highs in 2015 5-10% higher.
  • (Repeat) 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.
  • (Repeat) 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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WEEKLY MTGPRICE.COM MOVERS: JAN 4TH/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. Whip of Erebos (Theros, Rare): $4.23 to $5.68 (+34%)

With Whip decks holding down the fort as one of the core pillars of the 2014-2015 winter Standard season, it’s no surprise that this central feature of the recursive mid-range decks has been sliding up. Given that the card was available for as little as $1.25 in late summer 2014, there was some solid profit potential to be realized here if you pushed your chips in on this powerful card ahead of the curve. With relatively little Theros being opened these days, it could perhaps top out at $7-8 in a best case scenario, but I’d be happy to get out now with the inevitable rotation decline on the horizon for early summer.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell

2. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $4.74 to $5.54 (+17%)

We’re not yet at peak supply yet for Khans of Tarkir staples, as the set is going to be drafted alongside Fate Reforged for a couple of months before being left behind in the wake of Dragons of Tarkir and Modern Masters (2015 Edition). As such, buying in now on this card may not be ideal, since a early summer lull is likely unless the graveyard decks keep putting up top table performances. That being said, I love the card in both foil and non-foil for the long term as it’s a great casual/EDH card with a unique effect and a palatable casting cost. I’ve been picking up quite a few copies in the $3 range along the way, looking to double up within the year on half the stock and hold the rest long term.

Format(s): Standard/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Hold

3. Shivan Reef (M15, Rare): $7.23 to $7.82 (+8%)

If Standard has proven to have a color combination of near infinite variation this fall and winter, it must be red, white and blue. Between the token, tempo and Jeskai Ascendancy combo variants, this oft-reprinted pain land has been in high demand and is on track to carry on the fine tradition of blue/red dual lands leading the pack on price. If you picked up copies last summer in the $3-4 range, now is a fine time to be trading out or selling off, as they are unlikely to move much higher before rotation.

Format(s): Standard/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Sell

4. Emrakul, The Aeons Torn (Rise of the Eldrazi, Mythic): $52.61 to $56.84 (+8%)

Don’t be fooled by the short-term variability. As a confirmed reprint for Modern Masters (2015 Edition), Emrakul should have nowhere to go but down. You’d be wise to exit on any copies you’re holding while you can.

Format(s): Modern/Legacy/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Sell

5. Lilianna Vess (M15, Mythic): $7.12 to $7.69 (+8%)

The lesser Lilianna is seeing occasional play out of Abzan mid-range decks as a 1-2 of aimed at generating additional card advantadge in the grindy world of mid-range deck on deck violence. She could top $8, but if you got in last summer around $4, or had older copies sitting around, go ahead and get out now while the getting is good since she’s unlikely to increase her presence in the metagame any further before rotating out again next fall and her multiple printings and midling power level make her a poor long term target.

Format(s): Standard/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Sell

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Coalition Relic (Future Sight, Rare): 6.19 to 4.99 (-19%)

Now normally Future Sight rares are a great place to go looking for cards that could explode in price, but the presence of Chromatic Lantern in the EDH scene and high chance of a further reprint of this lesser card put non-foil copies of Relic far down the list of interesting pickups. The recent downswing doesn’t seem to have a definite source, but I’d stay away just the same.

Format(s): EDH/Casual

Verdict: Hold

2. Zurgo Helmsmasher (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $1.19 to $1.04 (-13%)

While his fellow Khan Narset is looking pretty tasty right about now, Zurgo isn’t getting enough love from any format to even consider jumping in. Just accept that he’s going to be hanging out in bulk bins and move on.

Format(s): Um, none.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

3. Omniscience (M13, Mythic): $10.75 to $9.50 (-12%)

This card on the other hand is chock full of broken potential and is really just waiting on a Top 8 showing or two to shift into high gear. It also needs to not see a reprint any time soon, but that’s looking unlikely given that notable reprints are largely about keeping Modern affordable or filling gaps in Standard at present and this card fills neither role. Because it’s already hovering around $10, it’s the kind of card I’m not into hunting until I see it do something drastic on camera, but be ready to pull the trigger fast if that ever happens.

Format(s): Modern/Legacy/EDH

Verdict: Hold

4. Sarkhan, The Dragonspeaker (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic) $16.59 to $15.17 (-9%)

If you’ve been holding copies of Sarkhan since the September 2014 pre-order period, you’ve already gone on quite the ride, with copies peaking in the mid $30’s before steadily declining to half that level due to softening Standard play and literal tons of product being opened. That being said, I’ve been starting to acquire copies under $13 where I can since I fully expect him to have a 2nd coming either due to dragon specific cards this spring or general scarcity next fall. It’s not a spec I plan to go really deep on, but I’ve got a few sets waiting for the bounce.

Verdict: Buy/Trade

5. Fulminator Mage (Shadowmoor, Rare) $41.12 to $38.86 (-5%)

Here’s another card waiting for an excuse to climb a bit more, likely in the form of the banning of treasure cruise and the general rebounding of the value of Jund strategies in Modern. This kind of land destruction isn’t something WOTC seems eager to reprint, but he could still show up in MM2 this summer and wreck all the lovely gains he’s made over the last few years up from as low as $6 in early 2013. If you don’t need your extras, leave some potential and risk on the table and reap the rewards of a sweet spec.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

Quick Hits:

  • 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.
  • 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.

ADVERTISEMENT: Looking for a deck box to match your play style and personality? Look no further! Check out the Grimoire Beta Edition – a spell book looking deck box with stylish cover art that fits you

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