All posts by Jim Marsh

I have a degree in Economics and have been playing Magic off and on since Revised. My current streak is from Eventide through the present. I am a financial Johnny. I love building creative and fun deck while minimizing the cost of the game we all love. My Magic habit has been funding itself for almost a year through trading, buying and selling collections from an initial investment of less than $50.

Circle of Protection: Life

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By: Jim Marsh

Introduction: Daring Thief

I was in sixth grade when I was introduced to the darker side of the world of Magic. I sat across from an unfamiliar player in my school library and played a game much like any other. I probably cast a turn one Wall of Wood followed by a Wall of Ice to hold off attackers until I could cast a large threat like Serra Angel or Gaea’s Liege.

During one of my Untap steps a hand reached from behind me and grabbed my library. I turned around and chased down the purported thief. I walked back to my game to find my opponent and the rest of my cards missing. It was not until years later that I came to realize that the thief and my unknown opponent were working together. They would probably get together later and review their haul and split the proceeds between them. 

I thankfully did not own any Power or even those fancy dual lands that everyone was so keen on. I could probably replace what was taken for a couple of twenties at the time but at that age the loss was devastating. We as players form emotional attachments to our decks and as financiers we are keenly aware of the value tied to inked cardboard.

I have often read of tournament reports that were marred by stories of Vintage or Legacy decks that have gone missing or Cube players that do not return every card they drafted either by mistake or design. There have been numerous articles on blogs and websites about natural disasters that devastate homes and leave collectors starting again at square one. We belong to an amazing community and often those articles are followed up with friends and even strangers donating booster boxes, decks and small collections to help them rebuild.

When I am not spell slinging I am an Insurance Agent and so I would like to take an article to describe what we can do as players to protect ourselves from financial and emotional loss.

Collector Protector

The first thing I did after realizing that this was a topic that would interest you was to call up one of my underwriters. In the insurance world your agent will sell you a policy but the underwriter is the one that needs to review it and make sure that the risk is one that the carrier is willing to bind.

I asked the underwriter if they would be willing to insure a large collection of Magic cards. They were aware of them as a vague concept. They thought of baseball cards that you somehow play a game with. They told me that they would be willing to insure a collection of cards that was sitting safely in binders but that if they were used to play games that the risk would be uninsurable. They figured the Wear // Tear of game play would destroy the cards. I had to explain to them about the concept of protective sleeves. This settled them down a little. This underscores the importance of discussing your collection with someone who at least has a basic understanding of the concept of a trading card game.

The first lesson about insurance is that you are responsible for taking all reasonable precautions to protect the asset that you are asking the company to cover. This means that having a bunch of cards sitting in a shoe box may not get the job done. You want everything neatly organized in boxes or binders. I am not saying you need to sleeve every card in your collection but making sure that everything is appropriately stored and organized lets the insurance company feel that you are taking things seriously. I would also keep my collection away from any water sources or out of reach of small children and pets.

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Reparations

If you are a homeowner with a mortgage you are required to have home insurance. Many of you apartment dwellers probably have renters insurance policies in place. I am going to discuss policies in general but coverage will vary from company to company and policy to policy so you will want to discuss this with a knowledgeable agent or company customer representative. If you are a vendor or derive a significant portion of your income from the sale of cards you will want to make sure that you have a Business Owner’s Policy in place with coverage for Inventory and Business Property.

Your Basic Home Insurance policy covers the most common causes of loss including theft, fire and accidental discharge or overflow of water. These are probably the biggest risks that you are concerned about. The term Home Insurance can be misleading. The policy will cover your Personal Property anywhere in the world and not just in your home. Keep in mind that your average policy will not cover flood or earthquakes. They get their own specialized policies.

No policy is ever going to cover neglect or intentional loss. You cannot play Rip It or Flip It and send the bill to your insurance company for the foil Tarmogoyf you unwittingly destroyed.

Your policy will list an amount next to Coverage C which is your Personal Property. This number is probably five or six digits. It is easy to look at that and never give it a second thought since you are covered. Keep in mind that this is meant to replace everything you own in the case of a total loss. This is the maximum that they will pay out in a claim situation. The company is more than willing to settle at a lower number if you cannot substantiate the loss that occurred.

If you read through your policy you will notice that there is a section that sets Special Limits for Personal Property. There are certain types of assets that have built in limits in your policy. Collections including stamps, comic books, coins and trading cards are among the types of assets that will normally be included. Most policies will set of limit of  around $1,000 as the maximum payout for any one loss. A single Modern or Legacy deck could max out that coverage and then some!

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Catalog

Most of you will want to have your collections listed as Scheduled Property. This is how insurance companies cover Valuable Items. You will want blanket coverage for your collection. The instinct for an insurance agent that is scheduling personal property is to individually list each and every card on the policy. If you own a set of the Power 9 and that is all you care about insuring then this may be reasonable. Chances are that you have a collection that has tens if not hundreds of thousands of cards. Those cards probably range in price from pennies to hundreds of dollars each.

One of the advantages to having Scheduled Property instead of using your Personal Property coverage (in addition to higher available limits) is that you can insure your cards at Replacement Value instead of Actual Cash Value. Actual Cash Value is what you paid for the cards. This can be difficult to determine in some cases if you obtained a card through a trade or opening booster packs. If you have been playing for more than a couple years then you have probably want to cover cards like Sensei’s Divining Top at their fair trade value of $27 instead of the dollar you picked them up for when Champions of Kamigawa was still in Standard. Replacement Cost is how much it costs to replace the item at today’s market price.

The first question you will be asked is the value of your collection and how you calculated that amount. I highly recommend using the My Collection tool available for free on MTGPrice.com. It helps you enter your collection and track the value of your cards. You can both import and export spreadsheets so that you can update the value of your collection once or twice a year.

If a subset of your cards are stolen like your Cube or your Shardless Sultai Deck then decklists will be an invaluable resource to you. If you are anything like me then you have thousands of cards of bulk commons and uncommons laying around. You may not choose to list every copy of Rampant Growth that you have accumulated over the years but listing X thousand cards at $5 per thousand is reasonable and efficient ways to insure larger collections without bogging yourself down in endless minutiae. It is also relatively easy to keep track of a small list of sealed product like Booster boxes of Modern Masters or Innistrad that you are saving for a rainy day.

Order histories and receipts for major purchases can be helpful. I would recommend taking digital photos or a video of your collection. Make sure that you are close enough to the cards that you can easily distinguish the condition of your cards. If your cards are signed or altered then be aware that they will probably be considered damaged. You will want to keep your photographs or video somewhere safe that is not in your home. In the case of a fire it does you no good if your documentation is lost with the collection. Fortunately cloud storage has made this convenient and in many cases free.

High value cards especially those over $1000 may require an appraisal. You will be expected to pay for this yourself but unless you are holding Power or a Splendid Genesis then you will probably not have to worry about this part. This  will vary based upon the requirements of the insurance company that you are working with.

The cost of adding this coverage to your existing policy or getting a separate policy will obviously vary based upon the amount of coverage that you are purchasing but prices can range from the price of a draft a month to several hundred dollars a year.

Wake of Destruction

In the case that something is stolen or destroyed then the first thing you want to do is to document the loss. In the case of theft call the authorities and file a police report. This may not result in a grizzled detective canvassing the town and hunting down justice by any means necessary but it will provide paperwork showing that you have taken all necessary steps to potentially recover your property. The police and claims adjustor will want a detailed list of what was taken and having a handy spreadsheet will be infinitely more useful than a pencil and notepad after the fact. Emotions will be running high and you may not be able to remember if you traded away three or four Jittes for fetchlands earlier this year. I would also contact your local game store owner and let them know to be on the lookout for someone looking to sell a deck or cube that is identical to your own.

I spoke to a number of insurance companies in preparation for this article and one thing that surprised me was the number of underwriters who feel hesitant to take on new business of this kind due to fraudulent claims in the past. This is where your photos and videos will be worth their weight in gold. It is an unfortunate reality of the insurance industry but due to fraud Adjustors have to treat every claim as a potential crime against the company until you can prove how honest and trustworthy you are. As I said before during a loss you can feel hurt and vulnerable so having an Adjustor call and cross examine you in a half accusing tone can be very jarring and upsetting. The sooner you produce your evidence and they figure out that you are not trying to pull on over on them then the sooner the mood will lighten and checks can be approved.

Fiery Conclusion

Hopefully nothing does happen to your valuable collection. I know you have put in a lot of time, effort and memories into your cards. I hope that this was helpful and informative. Part of good Magic finance is protecting what we do have in an unpredictable world. If do follow this advise you will be able to breathe a little easier in the knowledge that if something happens to your cards then you will be able to rebuild and replace what you have lost. I know that this covers a lot of generalities but the ultimate details will be determined by your insurance provider of choice. This will vary from country to country, company to company and even across different policies depending on your endorsements and ultimately will be up to the Claims Adjustor that is assigned to you. This should at least leave you better equipped to start the conversation with your agent and to be prepared in case anything happens. I am open to any questions below and will do my best to give you as accurate and answer as possible without offering guarantees that I cannot substantiate.

I also want to take this time to announce that my time writing about the game we all love has come to a close for the current time. I have loved the opportunity to discuss cards with you and have enjoyed tremendous support from everyone here on the site. It has been a blast. However real life is making great demands on my time and I find myself having to make sacrifices to meet those demands. I wish everyone well as you embark on an exciting new metagame.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll miss you Jim! Our sincere thanks for all your hard work and excellent articles! (AY)

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Weekend Update for 10/4/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker (Khans of Tarkir)
From $26.32 to $30.49 (15.84%)

If the first weekend of Khans standard is any indication then Sarkhan is the planeswalker we will be seeing the most of during the coming months.

He is being run in a variety of Standard Midrange and Control decks in every combination of colors that include red. He also somehow made his way into some Monogreen Devotion decks. He is usually used anywhere from two to four copies depending on the needs of the deck.

He is removal, a threat and his ultimate promises insane card advantage. It is everything that a Planeswalker should be. If you cast him and attack with his dragon form you can ensure triggers for Ferocious, Raid and Prowess. He just goes with everything.

Some stores are already pricing him at up to $40.

If we look at the Top 8 decklists from both SCG Standard tournaments on 9/28/2014 we see that eighteen copies of Sarkhan were used in nine different decks.

There were twenty-five Stormbreath Dragons across six different decks. Yet Stormbreath is half the price of Sarkhan. This inequity will be rectified as more Khans is opened. Theros was the most opened set when it came out and Khans is going to shatter that record.

I would try to trade any copies of Sarkhan for two copies of Stormbreath Dragon or rotating Return to Ravnica staples like shocklands and Abrupt Decay. In a few months this will look a lot better in your binder.

9. Sylvan Caryatid (Theros)
From $12.08 to $14.87 (23.10%)

I stated a few weeks that I thought that Courser of Kruphix would be the most played creature in Standard after rotation. Courser is doing well for itself but not as well as Sylvan Caryatid.

There were forty-two copies of Courser in the two Top 8s this weekend. Caryatid beat that by a full play set.

You cannot overestimate the importance of early color fixing and acceleration in a wedge set.

It was even used in the Modern Jeskai Ascendancy deck that took first place at tne IV Arcanis Deluxe Main Event. Caryatid is also making its presence known in Modern Gift Control and Loam decks.

Since it is seeing Modern play I am scratching my head why regular copies are almost the less than $20.

I could see regular copies going for that this weekend. Grab some foils instead.

8. Treasure Cruise (Khans of Tarkir Foil)
From $14.99 to $19.49 (30.02%)

Apparently a conditional Ancestral Recall is still really good.

It was a piece of Modern Jeskai Ascendency and was playing as a four of in the winning UR Delver Deck in the SCG Legacy Open in Edison on 9/28/2014. It was played alongside Brainstorm, Ponder and Gitaxian Probe. That should tell you something about relative power level of the card.

The foil copies are commanding a premium but they are commons. I would unload mine as soon as possible. Modern and Legacy players love their foils but as more boxes are opened the price of these are going to coming down. Just think of the foil Ensoul Artifacts that have sunk from $20 to $13 over the past few weeks.

As you draft make sure you do not let any foil Cruises pass you by.

7. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Khans of Tarkir)
From $4.50 to $6.13 (36.22%)

Sidisi is going to be a popular commander. She works well with Dredge and Reanimator strategies which are always popular in the format.

She can also enable a color combination for zombie decks.

She has not seen any real competitive play yet so I am leery of picking copies up.

Foil copies will be a good hold for the long term. They are $15 but buylists are offering $10. I would not mind trading for them around that price.

6. Sultai Charm (Khans of Tarkir Foil)
From $4.94 to $8.44 (70.85%)

It gets rid of most creatures, artifacts and enchantments or just draws more gas.

It has been used in Legacy Sultai Delver decks. It is extraordinarily strong in Control and Midrange decks. There is almost never a time when most of its modes are not active.

All of the wedge charms will be popular in commander and casual formats. I would target foils. Some like Sultai Charm that are used in Modern or Legacy will be excellent long term holds.

5. Jeskai Ascandency (Khans of Tarkir Foil)
From $5.23 to $8.98 (71.70%)

Outside of fetchlands I saw more conversations about this card than any other. Johnnies were hard at work making infinite combos out of jank but they finally got there.

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It won got first place in the IV Arcanis Deluxe Modern Main Event.

If you have any foil Cerulean Wisps I would sell them into the hype as soon as you can.

Jeskai Ascendency Storm is going to be a presence unless it gets banned. If you were fortunate enough to get your copies for $3 a few weeks ago you have already tripled your investment. I say take your earnings.

4. Ashcloud Phoenix (Khans of Tarkir)
From $2.80 to $5.69 (103.21%)

Ashcloud Phoenix is a recurring evasive threat. It is only played in the sideboard of Jeskai Midrange and nowhere outside of standard. It will probably settle back around $2 where casual interest holds other phoenixes.

I cannot find any justification for the price spike. I would trade these away to anyone who expresses any interest.

3. Monastery Swiftspear (Khans of Tarkir Foil)
From $9.51 to $24.99

Do we have the new Goblin Guide or Vexing Devil? The short answer is probably not.

It was included in that first place Legacy UR Delver deck in SCG New Jersey as a play set in the main deck.

It will be popular in Red Deck wins and in absolutely nuts with Searing Blaze or Searing Blood.

It is easy to stare at it and think of magical Christmasland where you can play a few Lightning Bolts and Gitaxian Probes and push through for large chunks of damage. It is also easy to see it staring across the battlefield at a Deathrite Shaman or Stoneforge Mystic with an empty hand and be impotent in a way that no Goblin Guide will ever be.

I could be wrong. I would rather sell the card at its likely high and let others figure out its role in the metagame.

2. Mantis Rider (Khans of Tarkir)
From $2.07 to $6.24 (201.45%)

I have always had a soft spot for Lightning Angel. They took one of the most efficient and evasive threats and made it even more efficient.

It plays offense, defense and loves to help you convoke Stoke the Flames when all is said and done.

Speaking of Stoke the Flames, did you know that it is now a $4 to $5 card? Trade those away for painlands and scrylands while you can.

I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of Mantis Riders clogging the skies during Khans standard. It is a great inclusion in Jeskai Midrange.

SCG New Jersey had two copies of Jeskai Midrange in the Top 8 including the winner of the tournament.

I know this will sound a little repetitive but I cannot stress how much Khans will be opened soon. Your best bet is to take all of these winning cards and convert them into staples or cash before supply catches up to demand.

1. Glittering Wish (Future Sight)
From $2.42 to $14.99 (519.42%)

Glittering Wish has been sitting around Modern sideboards for a long time but Jeskai Ascendancy really makes it sing.

The deck plays three copies of the Ascendancy in the main deck and one in the sideboard. The four copies of Glittering Wish allow the player to find the crucial combo piece or any of the toolbox of answers out of the sideboard.

This will be Glittering Wishes’ finest moment. Sell into the hype before Wizards has to emergency ban Jeskai Ascendency.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Sorin, Solemn Visitor (Khans of Tarkir)
From $29.10 to $27.02 (-7.15%)

Sorin did alright for himself this weekend but he was overshadowed by Sarkhan. Sorin is great in Mardu Midrange and Control decks.

He has tremendous synergy with Butcher of the Horde, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Brimaz. The decks threats are impressive and versatile.

Unfortunately only one copy made either Top 8 on the 28th.

It is hard to justify a $30 price tag without the results to back it up. I think he will continue to drop but I would keep an eye out if he gets below $15.

4. Griselbrand
From $21.86 to $20.09 (-8.10%)

He is the threat to reanimate in Modern and Legacy. You can use Sneak Attack, Omniscience, Dread Return, Show and Tell or whatever else you like but if you are in the market to cheat creatures into play then chances are you have a play set of Griselbrand alongside Emrakul.

The reason his price is dipping is that he has been announced as the 2015 GP Promo. Everyone who enters a GP Main event in 2015 will receive a copy.

I decided to look back on the price history of cards that had previous GP Promos Goblin Guide and Batterskull.

Both of them had their lowest prices after the announcement of the promo but before distribution. The reprint did not have any detrimental effects. You could point out the rise of Legacy Burn or the printing of True-Name Nemesis that helped the cards get a new foothold. The important thing is that Wizards want the promos to matter. It wants their promo cards to appear on camera and make people dream of being in the GP themselves. It supports the decks.

This should alleviate your worries that Griselbrand is going to be banned any time soon.

If you see anyone offering Griselbrand at $10 or $15 because there is a reprint coming up then you make the trade. Keep a binder full of them. You will not be sorry.

3. City of Brass (7th Edition Foil)
From $68.63 to $50.96 (-25.75%)

City of Brass is a staple of Legacy Dredge and TES. It shows up in Commander decks and Cubes of all variety.

Unfortunately it has some new competition in the form of Mana Confluence.

Those other formats will use both but given how many printings City of Brass has I would invest in copies of Mana Confluence instead. Trade away any excess copies you are sitting on.

2. Anafenza, the Foremost (Khans of Tarkir)
From $7.98 to $5.85 (-26.69%)

She is efficient and will be a tremendous commander. She works well with Kitchen Finks or any other creatures that appreciate +1/+1 counters. She hates out graveyard strategies which are very popular in Commmander and casual games.

She has not found a home in any competitive decks and so she will continue to drop in price. It has too much competition in the three mana slot. She is competing with Brimaz, Abzan Charm, Courser of Kruphix and Hero’s Downfall.

She will drop to around the $3 range until a home opens up or someone decides to build around her.

1. Surrak Dragonclaw (Khans of Tarkir)
From $12.21 to $7.92 (-35.14%)

Five mana? Any five mana card that is being played in standard right now has haste or is Planeswalker. We just cannot wait a full turn to see any action.

His flash is a nice work around but we need more pieces to make Temur work. Jeskai, Mardu and Abzan all have shells to build off of. Sultai and Temur have not had the same cohesion yet.

I think that is only a matter of time. He will continue to decline until someone does find a way to break him. Maybe a Temur Yisan build?

I could see grabbing copies once they are $3 to $4 copies. His effect will always be popular with casual players who hate having their fatties countered. He also works very well alongside Animar in Commander.

I would keep my eye out on foil copies in another few months when the prices will be the lowest.

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Weekend Update for 9/27/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Battlefield Forge (10th Edition)
From $5.13 to $5.56 (8.38%)

M15 drafting has officially come to an end. More packs will be opened of course but it will be a trickle compared to the past few months. Why open a core set when there are wedges and fetchlands to release into the wild?

Battlefield Forge will be used in decks that want consistent mana early on and do not intend the game to continue for long.

Mardu will want to use it in aggressive decks.

Jeskai will want it for the combo deck featuring Jeskai Ascendency that everyone is trying to make happen. I am kicking myself for not picking up a few play sets at $2 each but such is the life of a Magic financier.

Modern Boros Burn and Jeskai Twin decks have also used a couple copies to supplement their mana base so demand will never go to absolute zero.

This will keep the lands in demand but with so many printings it can only get to about $7 or so. This means you can hold onto copies you already own and wait for the price to creep up but there is not enough room to really advise trading for Forges.

9. Temple of Malice (Born of the Gods)
From $5.22 to $5.66 (8.43%)

Slower decks in Standard will want to forego the pain and can make use of the scry lands. Temple of Malice is better served for Mardu midrange or Grixis control strategies.

I have even seen some deck brewers tinker with Temple of Malice in Jund aggro and Burn strategies.

Temple of Malice comes from the much maligned Born of the Gods so there are very few of them compared to the Theros temples. This does not convince me that Malice is going to go much higher than $7.

I still feel the smart money would be going for the Journey into Nyx temples.

Temple of Epiphany would be for Jeskai Midrange or Control. Temple of Malady is perfect for a grindy Abzan deck.

8. Purphoros, God of the Forge (Theros)
From $6.31 to $6.90 (8.43%)

Purphoros is primed to make an impact in Standard. We now have Raise the Alarm, Triplicate Spirits, Hordeling Outburst and the potentially terrifying Empty the Pits. He also pairs up brutally well with Bloodsoaked Champion.

He already seems some play in variations on Boros Burn, Gruul Chord and Red Devotion decks.

Modern has seen him shoe horned into Soul Sisters and abusing Norin the Wary. Some Birthing Pod lists include him in the seventy five.

He is not only a legendary creature but a god and that is going to go a long way towards making him a staple of kitchen tables for a long time to come. I really do not see any downside to hoarding some copies and potentially some good upside.

7. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea (Saviors of Kamigawa)
From $10.69 to $11.74 (9.82%)

Mikokoro is a legendary land that is used sparsely. It is sometimes seen in Modern Hatebear, TurboFog and Enduring Ideal decks.

It is best utilized in decks that create situations where the extra cards cannot be used effectively.

It allows you to pile on the card advantage when paired with Spirit of the Labyrinth and activated on your opponent’s turn after their draw step.

It is yet another group hug card for every Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck.

The decks that run copies only need one or two copies. They are fairly fringe decks with the exception of HateBears but it has not really been making waves lately. This is going to continue to grow slowly but steadily but I do not see a reason to rush on getting copies.

6. Kiora, the Crashing Wave (Born of the Gods)
From $17.97 to $19.91 (10.80%)

Kiora wants to help midrange and control decks accelerate or buy enough turns to establish the battlefield.

It can be used in a wide variety of decks. Temur Chord and Monsters decks are the most likely. Sultai Mindrange and Control decks could used her in generating additional card advantage. It will require a skilled pilot but will be a powerful strategy.

Kiora has even seen very limited eternal play. Restore Balance in Modern and Punshing Sultai in Legacy have both played with it.

Foils have recently jumped from $36.36 to $47.79 over the past few weeks.

She does not have the power level of Xenagos, the Reveler so I do not see why she has the same price tag. Her supply is significantly lower but the decks that do want her are content with only one or two copies.

I would trade her away into the hype.

5. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver (Theros)
From $9.82 to $11.00 (12.02%)

Ashiok had been a $7 card in the not too distant past. It can be a powerful finisher in decks that are grinding out victory with card advantage.

Ashiok will be used in Sultai and Grixis versions of Midrange and Control decks.

Its second ability will be well served by efficient wedge creatures whose power is much more efficient due to strenuous mana costs. Ashiok just sees a free Mantis Rider for three loyalty counters.

Ashiok has been a $20 card before. I think a few tournament results and some price memory will be able to push it back into that range.

I would trade for them given the opportunity. This is especially true if people still think of it as a $7 to $8 card.

4. Soldier of the Pantheon (Theros)
From $3.05 to $3.49 (14.43%)

Soldier of the Pantheon will be playing dual roles for the coming year.

As a 2/1 for one mana with quasi-evasion it is as aggressive a threat as you can possibly ask. The same protection combined with the life gain clause will allow midrange decks to hold off much larger threats once it becomes outclassed.

How many one mana creatures can endlessly hold back Savage Knuckleblade or Surrak Dragonclaw?

The focus on wedges will give Soldier of the Pantheon another chance to shine. This will help it get past $4 soon.

Soldier of the Pantheon was a rare in a heavily drafted large set and was included in an Event Deck. This will probably keep it from hitting $5.

Time your outs and trade them high. Hopefully you picked them up as toss ins when they were below $2.

3. Flames of the Blood Hand (Betrayers of Kamigawa)
From $5.08 to $5.97 (17.52%)

Can you believe these were under $2 only two months ago?

Eidolon of the Great Revel really put burn on the map.

Shocklands and fetchlands are as cheap as they re ever going to be. This has allowed more players to transition from Standard to Modern. New players in a format tend to gravitate towards budget decks and known archetypes while they get used to everything.

Burn decks are both. They are also a gateway deck from Modern into Legacy. Both versions of the deck rely on a lot of the same staples.

This has been pushing up the value of cards for the deck. You can still grab Fire and Lighting copies for the same price. Modern and Legacy players love foils so I would get those instead.

I would also keep my eyes open for foil copies of Skullcrack. It is only $5 and plays a similar role to Flames at one mana cheaper. Prices are down due to Standard players offloading them for rotation.

2. The Rack (Antiquities)
From $5.51 to $9.51 (72.60%)

Players have been trying to make The Rack work in Modern for a while. Liliana’s Caress was more efficient than Megrim but The Rack is often a Lava Spike with rebound that you only have to pay for once.

Return to Ravnica gave us Shrieking Affliction. Foils of it can still be found for $2 and you should jump on those.

Waste Not from M15 may have finally given us the critical mass of cheap effects that bump discard from a rogue deck to fringe play.

Who does not want free zombies, cards and mana for playing Raven’s Crime over and over?

The rack was $4 only a month ago.

The only foil version of the card is from Time Spiral. I see it on eBay for $8 and I see vendors offering $10 for it. There is something there. Grab these. You will be glad you did.

I would also play both sides and grab some cheap Obstinate Baloths.

1. Sorin, Solemn Visitor (Khans of Tarkir)
From $11.98 to $27.40 (128.71%)

We all know that pre-release prices are guaranteed to be inflated. This is especially the case with planeswalkers since retailers do not want to be sitting on the next Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

It is normal for Planeswalkers to pre-order high and to sink back down to reality as they are introduced to the rigors of actual play.

It is unusual for one to jump up like Sorin does. He can be a slower Talrand’s Invocation which is great in limited but not really that exciting in constructed play.

His +1 makes racing impossible and makes token decks happy. He provides a free Cruel Feeding for your entire team.

He is going to be seeing some experimentation in Mardu Tokens and Orzhov Midrange. He seems custom made to team up with Brimaz.

He is already $30 so how much higher do I think he can get? The answer is still the same as any other Planeswalker at release. Trade him away as soon as your draft is over.

There is a 90% chance you will thank me for that later.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Courser of Kruphix (Born of the Gods)
From $17.28 to $16.03 (-7.23%)

Courser is still a fantastic creature. He will be played in every single deck with access to green mana and he just makes fetchlands seem unfair.

He is going to be in Abzan Control, Sultai Midrange, Jund and Naya Monsters not no mention RG Chord and probably more.

He is even showing up in Modern Jund, Birthing Pod and GB Rock decks.

The problem is that he is in the Clash Pack. Courser cannot maintain a $20 price tag when you can go online and order a Clash Pack for $22 that gives you a Courser along with a lot of other good cards like Nykthos and Prophet of Kruphix.

I doubt he will go down much further because he does provide incredible value but his ceiling does not provide much room to grow. He is a fatnastic place to store value and will be very liquid if you are looking for something to trade for.

4. Tidespout Tyrant (Dissension)
From $7.25 to $6.67 (-8.00%)

Tidespout Tyrant was one of the top targets in Legacy Reanimtor and Food Chain decks.

Unfortunately those decks only need a single copy each and neither have really been doing very well in the metagame.

It is still a bomb in Commander but with so little play and so much competition at the top from Griselbrand and Emrakul I think Tidespout has had its day. I would trade these away.

3. Birds of Paradise (8th Edition)
From $5.45 to $4.84 (-11.19%)

Despite being one of the most printed rares in the history of Magic I still feel Birds are underpriced.

They are a staple in Modern Melira Pod and any green decks that want a variety of colors right off the bat. Its role has become diminished since the widespread adoption of Noble Hierarch but it is still one of the best one mana creatures ever printed.

It is a tremendous way to start enable Jeskai Ascendancy Storm to win on turn two.

It is a staple in Commander, Cubes and casual decks the world over.

Foils can command a premium. Did you know that the 7th Edition Foil buylists for $85?

You can still buy some cheap regular copies as low as $3.51. I would stock up. I think M16 will feature Birds of Paradise and really help the wedges shine.

Even if that is not the case the day will come when it will be back in standard and prices will jump to $10 for a copy. In the mean time you can always move them to your casual friends.

2. Blood Moon (8th Edition)
From $19.65 to $16.57 (-15.67%)

Blood Moon is a powerful sideboard card that punishes greedy manabases and shuts down powerful lands like Gavony Township and Tectonic Edge.

The printing of more fetchlands in Modern makes it slightly worse but it will still hold a place in powerful decks.

Modern uses it in Affinity, UR Delver, Twin, Red Deck Wins and Pyromancer decks.

Legacy uses it in Jeskai Miracles, Sneak and Show, Imperial Painter and it plays a crucial role in Goblin Stompy.

Copies from The Dark can be had on ebay for as little as $20. This is a steal considering some vendors are currently listing them for as much as $45.

1. Brainstorm (Friday Night Magic)
From $109.99 to $85.17 (-22.57%)

There used to be two ways to get foil Brainstorms and both had the same artwork.

Conspiracy came around and introduced a fresh new supply for a fraction of the cost of the older and scarcer copies.

Brainstom is still one of the best draw spells ever printed and is a frequent addition in decks that run blue.

Legacy uses it in OmniTell, Sultai Delver, UW Miracles, ANT and more.

The recent SCG Legacy Open in Atlanta on 9/14/2014 featured twenty four copies in the Top 8.

It is only a common but it is a staple that will be played until it is banned. Legacy players will need four copies and will want foils for their decks.

I think the Mercadian Masques foil will maintain much of its value for being an old frame foil of a set that was opened in such small numbers compared to the sets today.

FNM copies lost their luster as the Modern frame version. Conspiracy provides a ready and cheaper supply. I think it is instructive to see that earlier this year FNM foils were only $20. I do not think it is going back that low but you should get out before we find out how low it will go.

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Weekend Update for 9/20/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Aether Vial (Modern Masters)
From $23.19 to $26.15 (12.76%)

Magic the Gathering is in an interesting place right now. Shocklands and fetchlands are both relatively affordable at the moment. This lowers the barrier to entry into the modern format.

It would be nice to think that modern decks will suddenly become cheaper because you can now set up your entire mana base for less than a play set of Scalding Tarns would have cost you earlier this year. The truth is that Modern staples will increase in price as more people explore the format. This will be even more noticeable with budget modern decks.

Aether Vial is a powerful addition to modern and Legacy Merfolk, Hatebears, Death and Taxes and even some Goblins decks. It is also a powerful inclusion in Commander, Cubes and casual decks that like cheap and efficient creatures.

Most Top 8 lists in Modern or Legacy will feature at least one deck that packs a play set of Vials.

On 9/7/2014 the SCG Legacy tournament in St. Louis had two Legacy Death and Taxes decks make Top 8. The modern portion of the tournament had a Hatebears deck get second place.

This steady growth will only continue.

I do wonder why the FTV Relics copies are only $30.94 and the foils are only $34.53. I would try to pick up a few before the price correction boosts them up to $50 to $60.

9. Memnarch (Darksteel)
From $6.89 to $7.99 (15.97%)

Memnarch is an interesting commander. The rules have to be adjusted slightly to make him work but he is well worth the effort if you want to generate a lot of mana to steal everything at the table.

He has not seen any competitive play. His need for lots of blue mana make Mono-Blue Tron seem unlikely to include him. He is far too expensive for affinity decks.

I do not expect anything more than slow sustained growth from him. You can purchase the Archenemy copies for as little as $4.99 and sell them for up to $6.27.

8. Battlefield Forge (10th Edition)
From $4.47 to $5.22 (16.78%)

It is not worth discussing current standard decks this week except to look forward to a new Standard in six days time.

Aggressive Mardu and Jeskai combo decks will run Forges as additional copies of Mana Confluence. This makes it one of the better positioned painlands since these are the colors that want to end the game quickly before the lands can do much damage.

I think that Boros Burn will disappear as an archetype in standard but it will always have a home in Modern.

I expect all of the enemy painlands to stay in the $4 to $7 range for the duration of their standard stay depending on the metagame.

7. Goblin Rabblemaster (M15)
From $8.48 to $10.70 (26.18%)

I have to admit that I have been constantly surprised by this card. I thought it would fall back down to $3 at rotation but instead it is sitting pretty at nearly $11.

Rotation time usually is the best time to be playing quick and aggressive decks. Red Deck Wins is usually a winner out of the gates as everyone is figuring out the metagame.

Goblin Rabblemaster is positioned nicely to lead the charge. It will also work very nicely with cards utilizing the Raid mechanic.

It is surprising me even more that it is seeing some experimentation in larger formats.

Legacy Goblin Stompy is a deck that can quickly play a three mana goblin on turn one and uses Trinisphere to set everyone back while it deploys threat after threat. It took second place in a MODO Legacy Daily on 9/12/2014.

It has also seen some sideboard play in Modern burn decks.

The card is nearly $11 so I think the time to get into it has passed but foils are only $17.32. It is a big gamble but if it does get picked up by Modern and Legacy then this is the best time to get in.

If you want to play it safe then this is about as high as the card is likely to get. Cash out now.

6. Trickbind (Time Spiral)
From $4.23 to $5.49 (29.79%)

Trickbind is picking up a little steam. Fetchlands are getting a lot of attention and cards like Trickbind, Shadow of Doubt and Squelch are easy targets to ruin someone’s day when they try to crack their fetch.

It is played in Legacy OmniTell as well. The deck managed to take top spot on 8/24/2014 in the Master Game Summer Legacy tournament.

I would not get too excited though. It was only a single copy out of the sideboard.

I would sell or trade away copies into the hype. Earlier this year you could get copies for $3. You are almost doubling your money.

5. Eidolon of the Great Revel (Journey into Nyx Foil)
From $24.98 to $32.5 (30.14%)

Eidolon of the Great Revel has been making a splash in standard, modern and Legacy Burn decks.

Can you believe these used to be $8?

If you have quadrupled your money and want to cash out that is respectable. I do believe that these will continue to be a long term hold.

The SCG Legacy Open in Atlanta on 9/14/2014 had a Burn deck make Top 8. This is getting to be a regular occurrence for the deck.

I will take a moment to say that the tournament had three Berserk Poison decks in the Top 8 as well.

Right now foil Blighted Agents are $10.51. Foil Glistener Elf is only $2. They are both commons from New Phyrexia. Glistener Elf enables a possible second turn kill. I would pick up as many as you can before the price corrects itself.

While we are on the topic the Commander copies of Invigorate can be purchased for $0.99 and sold for $1.17. The Invigorate foils are $12 as well.

4. Sundering Titan (Darksteel)
From $4.31 to $5.91 (37.12%)

So you want to be “that guy.” The one that summons a Sundering Titan through ramp, reanimation or abuses it with flickering.

It is a staple in Commander and Modern lists. It is a brutal way to punish people for greedy mana bases using shocklands, dual lands in addition to basic lands.

It is used in modern Gruul Tron, Mono-Blue Tron, Legacy MUD, Vintage MUD and Stax.

It has been reprinted in small quantities in Archenemy and From the Vault: Relics.

Due to its mana cost it is usually only played as one or two copies when it shows up at all.

It has been getting some attention recently in Stockholm.

Khans of Tarkir PTQ on 8/16/2014 had a Top 8 with two GR Tron decks in the Top 8 including the winner. Two weeks later at the GPT on 8/31/2014 Gr Tron placed second place.

Very few cards hit the battlefield with such a resounding thud.

You can purchase From the Vault copies for as little as $4.98 and sell them for up to $5.81. I think they are a solid pickup in the long term.

3. Thoughtseize (Theros Foil)
From $52.66 to $77.22 (46.64%)

I was going to compose a list of decks that run Thoughtseize but it is pretty easy to say that any deck that taps swamps for mana in Standard, Modern and Legacy is either running it or asking themselves tough questions about whether or not they should run it. It is an answer to almost everything.

Some decks like legacy Elves even splash black just to board in Thoughtseize out of the sideboard.

Mono-Black Devotion is going to be releasing its stranglehold on standard but foil prices are derived from Modern, Legacy, Vintage and Cubes. I am afraid commander does not count for this particular card due to constraints of the format.

Modern PTQ Khans of Tarkir at Riccione, Italy had three out of the Top 8 decks were running Thoughtseize. This includes the winner. A total of twelve out of thirty-two possible copies appeared in decklists.

I feel that this is the new price. If you got cheap copies when Theros came out then this is a great time to take some profit. If you are more patient these will be a solid hold until the next time it is reprinted.

2. Crystalline Sliver (Friday Night Magic)
From $10.15 to $15.93 (51.57%)

Sliver Hivelord has gotten everyone excited about building sliver decks.

It can make your entire team indestructible but sometimes that is not enough. Crytalline Sliver can keep your slivers safe from ill timed disruption like Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile that might ruin an otherwise unstoppable offence.

The wonderful thing about slivers is that there is always an appeal. This is a safe hold for a long time to come. This is all the more true since Wizards has been using hexproof rather than shroud in recent years. I doubt we will see any reprints any time soon.

1. Metalworker (Urza’s Destiny)
From $13.73 to $25.58 (86.31%)

Metalworker has just been unbanned in commander. This means you will soon be seeing infinite mana courtesy of Staff of Domination, Umbral Mantle and Voltaic Construct among others.

You can win the game anyway you want with your infinite mana. My personal favorite way is through Golem Artisan.

There are plenty of other ways to abuse the large swaths of mana it is capable of generating.

Metalworker has been featured in Legacy and Vintage MUD decks as well as Vintage Stax.

This news makes for a huge pay day for anyone who happened to be holding onto Metalworkers. I would observe the example of Bitterblossom’s unbanning in Modern. It spiked immediately due to the frenzy of players trying to get their hands on the card and trying it out in the format. This new format only requires a single copy per player so I would sell into the hype as quickly as possible.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Merrow Reejerey (Lorwyn)
From $6.20 to $5.63 (-9.19%)

Merrow Reejerey is a feature in Modern and Legacy Merfolk decks.

Unfortunately it has seen its place in the deck challenged by newcomers Master of Waves in Modern and True-Name Nemesis in Legacy.

The sweet spot for Fish tends to be two mana so even a three mana lord that accelerates mana and taps down blockers is only featured as a two of.

The Reejerey will continue to decline until it hits around $3. I would get out now. It is only used in an unstable spot in a pet deck for now.

2014 modern state championships – maine

4. Living End (Time Spiral)
From 8.82 to $7.92 (-10.20%)

Living End is used solely in the appropriately named Living End Modern deck. It is an all in reanimator deck which is easily hated out with an early Rest in Peace or a timely Bojuka Bog.

It has been falling in favor in the Modern metagame. It has been over a month since it has been in a Top 8.

This deck tends to be cyclical. When reanimator decks fade a bit and graveyard hate is removed from sideboards it will rise again. This has caused the price to be nearly half the $15 it commanded at the beginning of the month.

I would grab a cheap play set or two and wait for the deck to come back into favor.

3. Mutavault (Morningtide)
From $26.81 to $23.65 (-11.79%)

Mutavault has been everywhere in standard and it will happily continue to be played in several Modern and Legacy decks.

I would wait another month or so. Mutavault will be as cheap as it will ever be as standard players unload their copies to pick up new fetchlands. If you can find any copies under $20 I would move on them and hold onto them.

They are an excellent long term investment.

2. Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni (Betrayers of Kamigawa)
From $7.49 to $6.44 (-14.02%)

I need to make a confession. I love Ink-eyes in all of its casual glory. It combines ninjas, rats and reanimation. It is hard to kill and helps rebuy enters the battlefield effects.

None of this make it a great investment. It is not played in any competitive format. It is still a casual favorite and will show up in Commander decks.

Wizards of the Coast seems determined to keep reprints accessible. It was a prerelease promo, was in Planechase 2012 and was reprinted again in From the Vault: Twenty.

It has been on a slow decline for a while. Casual appeal will keep it out of bulk range but I could easily see it getting to $3 to $4 before you know it. I would keep your one copy for any fun decks you want and sell the rest.

1. Elspeth, Knight-Errant (Shards of Alara)
From $20.45 to $17.56 (-14.13%)

I suggested above that Ink-Eyes has been reprinted to frequently to keep its price up. Supply is exceeding demand.

The same case could be made for Elspeth. She is a strong planeswalker and sees play in Modern Orzhov Tokens and even Naya Zoo. Legacy runs her in Esper Stoneblade and Stoneforge Bant.

She was in Shards of Alara and you could get her in the all foil packs. She had her own Duel Deck vs Tezzeret. Wizards printed her again in Modern Masters. This summer they packaged her in the Modern Event deck.

The deck that wants to use her most can now get her prepackaged with a Sword of Feast of Famine. It will take a while to recover from all of these printings.

She is just so strong that she has been holding onto value. I would move any copies that you have. Eventually it will be reprinted enough to get it into the $10 range.

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