All posts by James Chillcott

WEEKEND TOURNAMENT COVERAGE: OCT 24-26TH

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by James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Weekend Summary

Across three major Standard tournaments this weekend, the story is clear: we are facing one of the most interesting and diverse Standard formats in recent memory. Sure, Jeskai Wins still managed to take down two of three major tournaments (Grand Prix Stockholm and SCG Open Minneapolis) but overall the field looked far more open than even a week ago with a number of new archetypes popping up as serious contenders for best deck in standard.

Across all three Top 8’s, here’s the archetype summary:

  • 4 Abzan Mid-Range + 1 Abzan Aggro
  • 4 Mardu Mid-Range (1 Winner)
  • 3 Jeskai Wins (2 Winners)
  • 3 Temur Mid-Range
  • 2 Whip Decks: 1 Sidisi UGB/1 GB
  • 2 GB Enchantress
  • 2 G/R Mid-Range
  • 1 Mono-Red Aggro
  • 1 U/W Control
  • 1 Jeskai Ascendancy Combo

Keep in mind none of these decks can be considered lucky shots as all of them survived 12-18 rounds of Swiss. Clearly this is a format that will reward careful meta-gaming and skilled play as it evolves.

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Noteable cards of the weekend included:

  • Whip of Erebos: So powerful it has defined at least 3 different archetypes this year, this theoretically vulnerable artifact enchantment put multiple players over 100 life this weekend. If there is anything holding it back it’s the potential for these decks to generate incredibly grindy games that have trouble closing out despite the huge life gain. Perhaps something like Empty the Pits is needed to mop up?  Moving forward look for some upward pressure on the price towards $4-5 if these decks continue to perform.
  • Sidisi, Brood Tyrant: In the Sultai Whip versions, Sidisi performed well all weekend and looks set to climb.
  • Keru Spellcatcher came out of nowhere in the Top 8 semi-finals to steal a game for a Temur player that looked lost. It’s a one-of in a single Temur build so far, but my ears are perked up on the potential for a rise above bulk status.
  • Hornet Nest: Likewise, the RG Monster builds running four main deck Hornet Nest did some very nasty things to unsuspecting opponents and it’s possible that this M15 rare can snag a slot in more main decks if the ground keeps getting clogged up by mid-range decks.
  • Doomwake Giant & Pharika: The GB Enchantress decks may or may not catch on, but their ability to chain enchantments entering play through Pharika and the -1/-1 happy giant of doom might be one of the best one-sided wraths options in the format.

In other news Eternal Weekend crowned new Legacy and Vintage champs this weekend. In the Legacy portion of the tournament the buzz was all about the dominance of UR Treasure Cruise/Delver strategies, and it was a surprise to no one that the new Ancestral Recall clone took down the tournament with relative ease. Foil Treasure Cruise, which should by all usual standards by headed to $10 or less, is holding up well at $30 so far with only the spectre of a winter banning to hold it back thus far.

For the Timmies in the room, the presence of a Slivers based deck in the Top 8 had to be a highlight of the weekend, making all of those old rare Slivers in my trade binder shiver with anticipation of a Sliver revival.

The Vintage tourney was won by Marc Tocco playing his Oath of Druids deck with Griselbrand to a big win! Noteable cards in the Vintage decks included the strong showings by Dack Fayden, Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, much as expected.

Main Coverage

Between a European Grand Prix, the SCG Open Series and the TCGPlayer 50K Championship, we have several prominent Standard tournaments this weekend worth keeping an eye on for shifts in the metagame. With Eternal weekend unfolding to crown champs for Legacy and Vintage, we’re also seeing the ascent of Treasure Cruise in U/R Delver builds. Here’s how events are unfolded and what it means for your paper magic collection.

Grand Prix Stockholm

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Top 8

Another standard Grand Prix Top 8 is on the books, and again we see strong evidence that this format is wide open for anyone with a creative deck and skillful play to challenge the top tables.

Here’s our Top 8 archetype breakdown:

  • 2 G/B Enchantress
  • 1 Jeskai Wins
  • 1 Mono-Red Aggro
  • 1 Temur Mid-Range
  • 1 GB Whip
  • 1 Sidisi Whip
  • 1 Abzan Mid-Range

Quarter-Finals:

  • Jeskai Wins ( Matej Zaltkaj) vs. G/B Enchantress (Matteo Cirigliano): Jeskai wins
  • Mono-Red Aggro (Gionvanni Rosi) vs. Temur Mid-Range (Einar Baldvinnson): Temur Mid-Range wins
  • GB Enchantress (Lukas Blohon) vs. Sidisi Whip (Christian Seibold): GB Enchantress wins
  • Abzan Mid-Range (Thiago Rodrigues) vs. Jeskai Wins (Alexander Pasgaard): Abzan Mid-Range wins

Semi-Finals:

  • Temur Mid-Range (Einar) vs. GB Enchantress (Blohon)
  • Abzan Mid-Range (Thiago)  vs. Jeskai Wins (Matej)

Finals:

  • Temur Mid-Range (Einar) vs. Jeskai Wins (Matej)
  • Matej takes down Grand Prix Stockholm with Jeskai Wins in convincing fashion. Congrats Matej!
  • In post interview coverage Matej explains that Dig Through Time should be a 1 of max in the deck to avoid clunky draws and stay fast.

Day 2

Day 2 Metagame Breakdown by WOTC coverage staff shows Abzan down to just 30% of the field, with Jeskai Wins joined by Mardu Mid-Range, both at 14% of field.  Sidisi Whip is the breakout deck of the tournament so far with multiple copies at the top tables and over 7% of the Day 2 metagame, again demonstrating that this format is far from binary and far from solved.

Mikael Magnusson is playing a Riddle of Lightning UR CounterBurn control deck leveraging Treasure Cruise/Dig Through Time for big damage alongside main deck Steam Augery, Nullify and Anger of the Gods. He’s 7-3 going into Round 11. Keru Spellsnatcher masquerading as an Ashcloud Phoenix jacks a Jeskai Charm pointed at it in morph mode to make one of the sexiest debuts of the tournament! Even jank rares are seeing play in KTK Standard. Magnusson then goes on to play an excellent Game 3 and go to 8-3 to keep his Top 8 dreams alive with his rogue deck design.

Round 12 Feature Match showcases UW Heroic vs. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo, highlighting just how deep the top tables are running at this 1000+ player tournament. Jeskai Combo goes to 10-2 looking very much alive as a viable top table contender.

10:20am EST: Christian Seibold wins his final match to run 12-2-1 and likely lock up a Top 8 berth with an attack from his Sagu Mauler out of his Sidisi Whip deck. Worth keeping an eye on Whip of Erebos, Hornet Queen, Sagu Mauler and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant as events unfold. Sagu Mauler is my pick for underrated beater in a standard where many decks have trouble dealing with outside of hornet tokens.

10:35am EST: This battle for Top 8 between Lindstrom and Juza demonstrates the raw lifegain potential of Whip of Erebos while also showcasing the extremely grindy nature of it’s matches against other mid-range decks, that often push the match to full time and potentially deadly draws.

When are 3 Wingmate Rocs not enough? When the Whip is in the house!
When are 3 Wingmate Rocs not enough? When the Whip is in the house!

Day 1

Grand Prix Stockholm represents the first major Euro-Standard gathering of the season, and so far the tournament is unfolding along expected lines.

After 9 rounds, heading into Day 2 the following players were all at least 7-1-1:

  • Sidisi Whip (Christian Siebold): 9-0
  • Temur Mid-Range (Einar Agu Baldvinsson): 9-0
  • Abzan Mid-Range (Oskar Skold): 9-0
  • (Thiago Rodrigues): 8-1
  • UB Control (Thomas Pettersson): 8-1
  • (Matej Zatlkaj): 7-1-1
  • Black/Green Enchantress (Lukas Blohon): 7-1-1
  • Temur Aggro (Christoffer E Larsen): 7-1-1

Note: We’ll post decks for these players as they are posted.

TCGPlayer 50K Championship

Day 2:

Mardu Mid-Range featuring Butcher, Elspeth and Wingmate Roc takes down the TCGPlayer 50K Championship in the hands of Andrew Baeckstrom!

Finals: We have a Mardu Mid-Range playoff for the finals! Butcher of the Horde will be on the podium this weekend no matter what, potentially exerting a bit of upward lift in his price. (Limited to this archetype, the ceiling is likely $4-5 unless it starts winning more broadly.)

Semi-Finals: There’s not a single Abzan or Jeskai deck left in the Top 4! Instead we’re treated to two Mardu Mid-Range decks, a Temur mid-range and a very sexy new R/G build. What a healthy format!

  • RG Mid-Range (Caleb) vs. Mardu Mid-Range (Cody)
  • Mardu Mid-Range (Andrew) vs. Temur Mid-Range (Eric)

Update: It appears that there may be a 4-way prize split going on with the semi-final competitors, with highly casual games in motion.

Quarterfinals:

  • Mardu Mid-Range (1st, Andrew Baeckstrom) vs. Abzan Mid-Range (8th, Josh McClain). Baeckstrom advances on the back of some strong play with Crackling Doom.
  • Temur Mid-Range (Eric Flicklinger) vs. Mardu Mid-Range (Brian Weller Davis). Temur takes this down to advance.
  • Mardu Mid-Range (Cody Lingelbach) vs Jeskai Ascendancy (Byrd)
  • RG Mid-Range (6th, Caleb Durward)  vs. Abzan Mid-Range (3rd,  Ray Perez). Caleb’s innovative RG deck (running 4 main deck Hornet Nest) handily puts Abzan to bed, locking it out of Top 8 on the strength of a back-breaking Setessan Tactics.

Day 1:

After 15 rounds a Sunday Top 8 has been declared, and here’s how it breaks down:

  • Mardu Mid-Range (Andrew Baekerstrom)
  • Mardu Mid-Range (Cody Lingelbach)
  • Mardu Mid-Range (Brian Weller-Davis)
  • Abzan Mid-Range (Raymond Perez Jr.)
  • Abzan Mid-Range (Josh McClain)
  • RG Mid-Range (Caleb Durward)
  • Temur Mid-Range (Eric Flicklinger)
  • Jeskai Ascendancy Combo (Mark-Antony Byrd)

Of special note here is the fact that the Mardu Mid-Range decks shoved into 37.5% of the Top 8. Sure, Abzan still nabbed 2 slots, but a win for Mardu here could be signal that the downward trend on Butcher of the Horde could reverse back into the $6-8 range, especially if the pattern repeats elsewhere this weekend. The presence of R/G Monsters, Temur Mid-Range and the Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks also demonstrates that many of their key cards need to be watched for action.  For Temur this means Savage Knuckleblade, Crater’s Claws and Rattleclaw Mystic are possibly on deck for gains. For Ascendancy, the central enchantment could easily be undervalued after losing value this week.

By far the most interesting deck in this Top 8 is the R/G Mid-Range piloted by Caleb Durward.  Running a full 4 copies of Hornet Nest in the main is a possible early sign that that card is undervalued in this format. A couple of sick on camera plays based on killing the Nest himself to drop blockers or attackers into play at key moments underscored some real under the radar potential that could see this card upgraded from sideboard to main deck duty in a broader context. Also of note in the deck were 3 main deck Setessan Tactics, set up to combo with the Hornet tokens deathtouch ability to wipe the board.  Appearances by two copies of Nissa, Worldwaker and 3 Xenagos, The Reveler, both planeswalkers most players had nearly written off as Tier 2, are also worthy of note. A win in the finals would put this practically brand new archtype into the spotlight and further demonstrate the depth of the current standard metagame.

 SCG Open: Minneapolis, MN, USA

Day 2 Top 8

Here’s our SCG Open Top 8 breakdown for the week:

  • 2 Jeskai Wins
  • 1 Abzan Mid-Range
  • 1 Abzan Aggro
  • 1 U/W Control
  • 1 Temur Monsters
  • 1 Mardu Mid-Range
  • 1 G/R Monsters

Quarterfinals

  • Mardu Mid-Range (2nd Donovan Schulz) vs G/R Monsters ( 7th, Derek Thill): R/G Monsters (Thill) wins
  • Temur Monsters( Robert Caladere) vs. U/W Control (Jeremy Bylander): U/W Control (Bylander) wins
  • Jeskai Wins (Aaron Glick) vs. Abzan Mid-Range (Nick Paulson): Abzan (Paulson) wins
  • Jeskai Aggro (Andrew Johnson) vs. Abzan Aggro (Mike Rekow): Jeskai Aggro (Johnson) wins

Semi-Finals

  • U/W Control (6th Jeremy Bylander) vs G/R Monsters (7th, Derek Thill)
  • Jeskai Aggro (Andrew Johnson) vs. Abzan Mid-Range (Nick Paulson): Jeskai Aggro (Johnson) wins

Finals:

  • U/W Control (Jeremy Bylander) vs Jeskai Aggro (Andrew Johnson)
  • Jeskai Aggro takes down the event in the capable hands of Andrew Johnson to demonstrate that Jeskai is still a Tier 1 standard mainstay

 

 

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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WEEKEND PRICE UPDATE: OCT 25TH/14

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. This week, the story is much more about what’s falling than what’s rising as the overinflated EV (estimated value) of Khans of Tarkir packs starts to fall back to earth.

5 Winners of the Week

1. Waves of Aggression (Eventide, Rare): $2.15 to $4.49 (+109%)

Format(s): Modern + EDH

The upswing on this card is squarely rooted in it’s appearance in a new Modern combo deck that uses Goryo’s Vengeance to bring back Narset, Enlightened Master and take extra attack steps to demolish the opponent as early as turn 2. The card is likely to fall back a bit before enjoying a slow but steady increase as additional uses are found, but I would be a seller on any stray copies I happened to have lying around.

Verdict: Sell

2. Hushwing Gryff (M15, Rare): $1.31 to $2.72 (+108%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern

It pulled some Top 8 camera time at the Pro Tour a few weeks back and word has slowly been spreading that this card might be one of the best answers to cards like Siege Rhino, Wingmate Roc and Sidisi by blunting their comes-into-play abilities. With Rabblemaster already proving that M15 rares carry strong gain potential, the question now becomes whether Gryff can find multiple homes and set up shop as a staple or fall back toward bulk on limited top table play. I stored 12 copies at $1, but I’m in no rush to unload now as a future home in Modern seems likely and the post-fee profits aren’t very compelling as of yet.

Verdict: Hold

3. Perilous Vault (M15, Mythic): $6.93 to $8.66 (+25%)

Format(s): Standard

The big gainer’s fall off pretty quick this week, but the big Vault shows it still has some gas in the tank as an M15 mythic with applications in multiple control builds in the new standard that have interest in wiping boards completely.  This card needs some top table finishes in the near future to push over $10 and towards $15 so I’m now comfortable holding until we see how the format evolves, with an eye to getting out if things shift heavily toward aggro.

Verdict: Hold

4. Shivan Reef (M15, Rare): $7.49 to $8.65 (+15%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern

The price on this heavily reprinted rare dual land is being pumped up by the widespread adoption of Jeskai Wins and Jeskai Ascendancy decks. You had a shot at picking these up this summer under $3, so now is a good time to get off the train if you’re holding. Otherwise, you can reliably wait until next summer to get back in for your personal collection.

Verdict: Sell

5. Thoughtseize (Theros, Rare): $16.24 to $19.49 (+20%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern + Legacy

Thoughtseize is to Theros block as Abrupt Decay was to Return to Ravnica, meaning that it’s a multi-format all-star you should have been snapping up by the dozen when the card as under $10 during the summer lows.

Verdict: Hold

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5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Jeskai Ascendancy (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $4.42 to $2.61 (-41%)

Format(s): Standard

This combo bad boy is dropping for a few different reasons. Firstly, it hasn’t been posting enough top table results to make people really respect the card in Standard. Secondly, there’s the general downtrend of KTK rares that is finally kicking in as more product floods the market. Finally, there’s the fear that the card will be banned in Modern this winter for degeneracy. For what it’s worth I think it’s much more likely that Treasure Cruise gets banned in Modern instead of Jeskai Ascendancy as there simply aren’t enough high profile Modern events between now and the next ban list release to prove the combo is too dominant to live.  At $4-5 this was a hold, but if we can get copies under $3 I’m a buyer as the card has applications in many formats and the Standard deck could easily improve with help from forthcoming sets.

Verdict: Buy

2. Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $10.29 to $7.82 (-24%)

Format(s): All Constructed Formats

This drop has nothing to do with the power and reach of this card, and everything to do with the general decline in KTK card prices that will unfold into the holidays. Over $10 I was a seller, but in the $5-7 range I’m a buyer for long term holds since the card is an all-time all-star , with the caveat that a slight ban potential in Modern could injure the spec in a big way.

Verdict: Buy

3. Wooded Foothills (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $13.06 to $10.98 (-16%)

Format(s): Standard, Modern, Legacy, EDH

All of the KTK fetchlands are headed south as expected, and should settle into the $8-14 range depending on Standard usage by the holidays. Interestingly Polluted Delta is still holding the highest price of the five, a situation that should correct itself in favor of Foothills and Windswept Heath, ie the two lands that are actually seeing the most standard play. I’ll be buying a couple of full playsets of these lands, but I’ll happily wait until they bottom out to snatch them up.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

4. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic) 36.56 to 31.51 (-14%)

As predicted a lack of dominant play and the downtrend for KTK is pulling Sarkhan down a bit. If you’re going to play him, feel free to hold, but if not, I’d be looking to trade into fetches at their lows, since their long term potential far exceeds Sarkhan, who won’t be a great target for gains until he rotates. For him to bounce back this fall, the Mardu planeswalkers deck that Brad Nelson and crew ran back at GP Los Angeles last weekend needs to post some big results across a few important tourneys to unseat Jeskai Wins and Abzan as the assumed dominant decks.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

5. Nissa, Worldwaker (M15, Mythic) $40.59 to $36.94

Is she powerful? Of course she is? Is she owning top tables? Nope. Price memory should keep her over $30 for a while longer, but she’s really not winning enough games to justify this price.

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • See the Unwritten is my pick for one of the few undervalued cards in Khans of Tarkir. Easily available around $4, this card has major short, mid and long term upside potential in Standard, Modern (possibly) and EDH.
  • Russian boxes of KTK are sold out across Russia. Think about that for a second. An entire country is old out. They’re drafting English KTK because they’ve cracked everything they could get their hands looking for foil fetch lands. If you’re local LGS is holding foreign Japanese, Korean or Russian boxes, you should be pouncing all over them. Throw them in the closet and smile hard in 2 years when you flip them for 150+% upside.
  • The 2014 SDCC Black Planeswalkers sets are available online below $325 and many vendors are offering above $400 for the 6 cards contained within. I traded a set for $465 in store credit last week. This makes no mathematical sense so get on it.

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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Weekend Tournament Coverage: GP Los Angeles + SCG Worster Open

by James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

10:15pm UPDATE: Daniel Scheid takes down GPLA with G/R Monsters, beating Mono-Red Aggro, and proving that Stormbreath Dragon is far from being obsolete in the new fall Standard format. Daniel reports that he went 7-0 against Abzan during the tournament to nab the win. Anger of the Gods also looks better in the face of a likely upswing in Sligh style decks since it’s already so solid against Jeskai, Mana Dorks and Mardu early plays.

6:30pm UPDATE: Here’s the GPLA Top 8 Decks:

  • 2 Abzan Aggro
  • 2 Abzan Midrange
  • Mono Red
  • Boss Sligh
  • Mardu MidRange
  • GR Monsters

Another week of KTK Standard is nearly behind us and the story is a fairly exciting one. Despite cries of dismay at the possibility of a new binary Standard format composed of Jeskai Aggro & Abzan Mid-Range, this weekend has unfolded across North America with a clear signal of diversity.

Several new archtypes have emerged at the top tables of Grand Prix Los Angeles, including Mono Red Aggro (Eric Pei) and Temur Mid-Range (Brian Kibler).

In terms of the total metagame on Day 2 of the tournment, the promising breakdown was as follows (Decks/Percentage):

  • Abzan Mid-Range: (47/24%)
  • Jeskai Wins: (44/23%)
  • Abzan Aggro: (16/8%)
  • Green Devotion: (15/8%)
  • Mardu Mid-Range: (12/6%)
  • R/W Aggro: (8/4%)
  • G/R Monsters: (6/3%)
  • Sidisi Whip: (6/3%)
  • Temur Aggro: (5/3%)
  • U/B Vault Control: (5/3%)

Sure, the two best decks from PTKTK represented 47% of the field, but the next 40% was broken down across 8 different archtypes.

Decks hunting for Top 8 at the Grand Prix currently include:

  • Temur Mid-Range (Brian Kibler)
  • Mono-Red Aggro (Eric Pei)
  • Jeskai Wins (Austin Bach)
  • Mardu Tokens (Brad Nelson)

Over at the StarCityGames Standard Open held in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Top 8 broke down as follows:

  • 1st: Jeskai Wins (Trevor Humphries)
  • 2nd:  Mono-Red Aggro (Dylan Murphy)
  • 3rd: Abzan Mid-Range (Andrew Boswell)
  • 4th: Jeskai Wins(David Shiels)
  • 5th: Abzan Mid-Range (Scott Robins)
  • 6th: Abzan Mid-Range (Elliot Wolchesky)
  • 7th: G/B Devotion w/ See the Unwritten (Steven Jack)
  • 8th: Temur Mid-Range (Andre Batista)

Regardless of how the GP plays out, the sheer number of different deck archtypes (with many builds varying by as many as 12 cards), mean that we are facing an open season where skill, careful testing and sideboard planning are likely to be rewarded as the weeks unfold.

So where does this all leave us from an #mtgfinance perspective?

Well, despite the broad play seen by a plethora of KTK rares and mythics, the fact remains that the expanding supply from cracked packs should continue to drag down the overall set value as we move closer to the holidays. We’re likely to see mild spikes this week on some of the freshly proven performers this week including Butcher of the Horde, Savage Knuckleblade, See the Unwritten and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, all of which are clearly viable as top tier cards in Standard for the season. Butcher and Knuckleblade can easily hit $4-5 and as undervalued mythics Sidisi and See the Unwritten should be possible to challenge $8+ in the near future, despite only having homes in one archetype.

Crackling Doom, Whip of Erebos, Doomwake Giant and Eidolon of Blossoms are all also live to hold or increase value slightly based on their expressed viability.

It’s also possible that inertia and price memory will force a milder curve until they redouble their results at upcoming tournaments.

It’s worth noting that though several new archtypes and their banner cards have proven themselves, Jeskai Wins and Abzan Mid-Range are still all over the top tables and clearly still circling the podium. Heck, even devotion and heroic sub-themes did far better than anyone imagined throughout the weekend. With no clear losers, it will be tougher for the new cards to drain value from fallen soldiers.

Budget focused players will be happy to note that strong finishes by the relatively cheap Mono-Red Aggro deck makes affordable Standard a real possibility for the budget conscious this fall.

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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WEEKEND UPDATE FOR OCT 18TH

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. Overall, with the release of Khans of Tarkir still echoing through a refreshed and dynamic standard metgame, most of the movers and shakers are found in that format.

10 Winners of the Week

1. Astral Cornocopia (Born of the Gods, Rare): $.39 to $.88 (+208%)

Formats: Standard + EDH + Eternal Potential

I would love to claim I saw this one coming based on my 50+ copies, but in reality I only snagged them as a bulk rare with clear combo potential in early summer without any clue they would be playable in the scariest combo deck of the season (Jeskai Ascendancy). The Jeskai combo deck plays this card as a zero casting cost artifact with the slight potential upside of being a mana rock if necessary (it never is). It’s worth noting that the card can easily be swapped out for Briber’s Purse in standard, which should limit it’s short-term price below $3 unless it makes a showing in an eternal format in some random combo deck at a top table.

Verdict: Conditional Sell (on entry points below .$50)

2. Perilous Vault (M15, Mythic): $3.54 to $5.13(+145%)

Formats: Standard + EDH/Casual

Put simply it is the emergence of the U/B Control builds at the Pro Tour that is driving the resurgence in this card.  As a sweeper that can clear the board of everything but lands, the card gives control builds game against both creatures and planeswalkers out of the mid-range deck as well as stray enchantments and artifacts out of Jeskai Ascendancy.  Expect the future of this card to depend on how many control decks keep making top tables over the next few months. A faster field will put it to sleep and leave it as a spec to look at next summer for future EDH and casual interest.

Verdict: Hold

3. Pearl Lake Ancient (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $2.31 to $5.13 (+124%)

Format: Standard

As with Perilous Vault, Pearl Lake Ancient is under the spotlight as a somewhat reluctant finisher in various Jeskai and Dimir control builds for standard. The combination of Prowess, Flash and some resiliency to 1-for-1 removal makes PLA a reasonable top end for decks that can survive to that point. I have been a seller at the new price, having bought in to 20+ copies around $1.50, mostly because I think the card is merely good rather than great, and could easily fade from memory if the format shifts. It has no future in other formats and I wouldn’t want to be caught holding a bunch beyond the peak. On the other hand, if it posts a prominent finish at GP Los Angels this weekend, it does have upside potential similar to Wingmate Roc given it’s mythic rarity. Keep an eye on our wrap up coverage of the major tournaments Sunday night for clues.

Verdict: Sell

4. Rakshasa Deathdealer (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $1.63 to $4.09 (+66%)

Format: Standard

Initially speculators held off this card on the assumption that it would follow a similarly unexciting trajectory to Fleecemane Lion, another solid beater from a fall set that peaked over $10 in Nov ’13 only to fall to the $2 range later that season. Ironically the Deathdealer made a strong debut at PTKTK alongside the lion with both cards offering major coordinated offensive power in Mike Sigrist’s aggro Abzan build.  Despite the flexibility of the Abzan deck builds, I’m a seller of this card in the $5-6 range as we still have a ton more Khans product to be opened and the card isn’t likely to cross the border into older formats.

Verdict: Sell

 5. Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $8.16 to $12.58 (+54%)

Format: Standard, Modern, Eternal.

If I had to pick a card to be the Snapcaster Mage of Khans of Tarkir, this would be it. Initially overshadowed by the more hyped Treasure Cruise, it was soon revealed that Draw7/Pick2 is actually more powerful than Draw3, especially in control/combo decks that need specific answers or combo pieces to close out games. It’s so powerful, it’s popping up in pretty much any Standard or Modern deck that can cast it and wants the effect, and that’s a lot of them. As a rare in a heavily opened set it will have trouble holding a price point above $10-12 this season, but it deserves the better than average price curve and will be a definite spec once it floats lower on available copy volume heading into spring and summer. As an eternal and EDH gem, I’m holding multiple copies, English foils, Japanese foils, and multiple foreign copies. It’s a card worth trading into and acquiring wherever you find it. The only real question is whether the new delve cards will be too powerful in modern and lead to fresh bannings but we’ve got time to see how that plays out this winter.

Verdict: Sell (Short Term), Buy (Mid-Term/Long-Term)

6. Siege Rhino (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $7.40 to $10.50 (42%)

Here is your leading candidate for the best creature in Standard and a virtual swiss-army knife in the current format. It’s an efficient beater, blocker and de facto counter spell against burn spells. It helped multiple Abzan builds dominate the Top 8 of PTKTK, it reverses starts against Aggro and Tempo that look unwinnable, it tramples over green ramp creatures, and it’s up 40%+ this week as Abzan takes the early mantle as the deck to beat. As a KTK rare it’s current level leaves little room for growth, so I’m a seller, looking to cash out from $4 pre-orders and reinvest for further profit potential elsewhere.

Verdict: Sell

7. See the Unwritten (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $4 to $5.62 (+41%)

This is a card to watch. There is a strong legacy of green cards that leverage early ramp into massive creatures on board, and it’s easier than ever right now to push an early 4 power creature into 2 behemoths given the plethora of ramp creatures and mid-range power creep. The growth this week was based on some Green Devotion play at the Pro Tour leading into Hornet Queen, but with a strong possibility of Eldrazi and/or massive Dragons showing up in Standard later this year, there is definitely runway left for this undervalued mythic. I’m a buyer under $6.

Verdict: Buy

8. Wingmate Roc (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $14.88 to $20.12 (+35%)

Format(s): Standard

With Abzan (WGB) decks dominating the top 8 at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir last weekend, Wingmate Roc has had plenty of camera time lately. The card has more than proven itself as a solid role player in any mid-range deck that can afford the mana cost of 3WW. In a standard format where folks are generally trading 1-for-1 against removal, adding two solid threats to the board for the cost of one can be big game against an exhausted hand. The card’s price is definitely vulnerable to metagame shifts, and it has no future in older formats, but it’s also seeing play in Jeskai Control and Mardu builds so it should be able to hold $15+ for most of the season.

Verdict: Sell

9. Glittering Wish (Future Sight, Rare): $15.99 to $19.36 (+21%)

Easily found for as little as $2 just 6 weeks ago, Glittering Wish was always a strong card waiting for the right deck. As a Future Sight era rare it is basically a Super Mythic, and the 1000% increase isn’t that surprising given the trajectory of other rares from that set in recent years once they found a home. Driving the trend is the pivotal nature of Glittering Wish in the modern version of the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck where it serves as an extra 3-4 copies by fetching the central combo piece from the sideboard as necessary. So long as it’s Ascendancy rather than Wish that gets banned this winter (a result most consider likely), there is more room for upside here, so long as another deck finds a use for it. Even still, I’ve been a happy seller at this price point, because the upside from here is unlikely to outpace other options.

Verdict: Sell

10. Blood Moon (9th Edition, Rare): $16.24 to $19.49 (+20%)

Format: Modern + Legacy

At a time when many Modern cards are floating lower, the utility of Blood Moon in shutting down the increasingly complicated mana-bases in Modern and Legacy is still gaining traction. The card hasn’t been printed for a while and the recent boost is attributable at least partially to the increased prominence of Burn and U/R aggro strategies in older formats made possible by the emergence of Monestary Swiftspear. This is a card that’s fine to hold if you’re looking to play it and easy to sell if you see a chance to reinvest elesewhere.

Verdict: Hold

Noteable Losers

1. Savage Knuckleblade (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $4.31 to $3.21 (-26%)

Format(s): Standard

The Estimated Value of a box of Khans of Tarkir is still too high at present, and with such a highly opened set, something has to give. Prime candidates will continue to include powerful but under-performing cards like Savage Knuckleblade that aren’t showing up at enough top tables to hold their value. Pending a strong finish of note, this card is headed to $1-2.

Verdict: Sell

2. Rattleclaw Mystic (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $5.85 to $4.64 (-21%)

Format(s): Standard

Despite showing up as a four-of in the Jeskai Ascendancy standard deck, the Mystic is largely unrepresented compared to stronger rares found on the upswing this week from Khans of Tarkir. As such, expect it to settle in around $4 and look to snap copies up quickly if it posts a strong finish, since a metagame shift could easily see this come back up in the $6-10 range.

Verdict: Hold

3. Empty the Pits (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $5.34 to $4.30 (-19%)

Format(s): Standard, Modern + EDH/Casual

The power isn’t in dispute, but it’s unclear whether Empty the Pits can find a home in a powerful graveyard centered deck in Standard that can put up great results. Even when it shows up, it’s often just a 1-2 of. As a long-term pickup this card has strong potential as a mythic in the $5 range that could easily hit $15-20 in a few years.

Verdict: Buy

Quick Hits:

  • Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Surrak Dragonclaw and Butcher of the Horde are all down 15%+ this week because they aren’t showing up in top table decks yet. All three can easily reverse course on better news. Keep an eye out for bargains, especially on the mythics.
  • Fetches have been a “sell” since the pre-release and will continue to be until they fall under $10-12 broadly as befits their status as fall set rare dual lands that are only seeing limited play in standard. Look to buy a ton of these next summer during fal set discount season.
  • I recommend selling boxes of Modern Masters which can be unloaded in the $360-400 range right now. Unknowns around the potential release of Modern Masters 2 as a global release make possible reprints from the 1st set a distinct possibility I don’t want to hang around to see proved wrong. The profits are solid for a 16 month hold, so I’m all out, saving only one box for way down the road.

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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