All posts by Travis Allen

Travis Allen has been playing Magic on and off since 1994, and got sucked into the financial side of the game after he started playing competitively during Zendikar. You can find his daily Magic chat on Twitter at @wizardbumpin. He currently resides in upstate NY, where he is a graduate student in applied ontology.

The Watchtower 10/8/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


While the MagicFest this weekend was limited, we still got plenty of Guilds Standard with an MTGO PTQ, an SCG Team Open, and a Classic. They couldn’t be much more different either. MTGO saw a strong performance by Golgari strategies, particularly explore. Selesnya tokens took the top two slots of SCG’s Team Open (the only place they even showed up), while the Classic was all about Boros Angels (and Mono-Blue Aggro?). There’s a lot of data here, and undoubtedly a lot of noise. I’m going to try and find some of the stronger threads for you guys, which is no easy feat. Given this variety of well-performing decks, there’s no doubt a lot of them will fall away in the next few weeks.

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The Watchtower 10/1/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


I’m back from a week in California, and californians, I’ve got some things to tell you. First of all, I’m convinced Los Angeles is a manifestation of hell on earth and its denizens souls that have been bound to it for an eternity of suffering. It took us forty damn five minutes to park one evening. Hell world.

San Diego was beautiful. Your zoo is cool and there’s a bunch of beaches. Restaurant service could be better and people on yelp rated something akin to Olive Garden 4.5 stars, so there’s some work to be done there, but overall, good city.

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Anyways, Magic. I’ve been out of the loop a bit so I don’t know exactly what everyone is claiming to be the best sleepers at the moment. This is to your advantage though; I browsed through the Guilds cards and have picked out three that seem like they could be underpriced. If my guesses match up with others, then you’ll have a good reason to look closer.

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Ritual of Soot

Price Today: $1.25
Possible Price: $7

Back in the days of Rise of Eldrazi, Consume the Meek was a powerful sweeper. Only taking out the small guys meant your bigger threats could remain uncontested, and doing that at instant speed was even better. With Ritual of Soot we lose the instant speed factor, but we shave a mana too, which is probably roughly a wash.

Back in Consume days you had access to Day of Judgment, so decks looking for a sweeper could go that route if they really needed one. We don’t have access to an unconditional four mana sweeper in Standard these days. Obviously Ritual isn’t one either, but it means there’s no directly better sweeper that it can be replaced by.

Our closest comparison is Settle the Wreckage, which started at $2, and is now $7, having peaked at $15. I’m not quite that optimistic about Ritual, but I do think that a four mana sweeper than can have its symmetry broken is a strong tool to consider. I’m not loading up TCGPlayer to pay $5 for a set — buying cards during prerelease weekend is wrong 98% of the time — but I’d take these in trade at $1 all day.

Beast Whisperer

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $5

Is this the Dictate of Erebos of Guilds of Ravnica? Dictate was $.50 for awhile, and having been spared a reprint for quite some time, is a respectable $7. It took about two years to go from $.50 to $4, but if you had a large pile of them, that’s quite a healthy profit margin. Beast Whisperer could certainly swing that.

Drawing a card with each creature spell isn’t new, of course. You’ll find it on the banned Modern card Glimpse of Nature, and reasonably-popular EDH card Primordial Sage. Beast Whisperer is the latest iteration, and possibly the best. Glimpses problem in EDH is that it only last a single turn. While this isn’t an issue in Legacy and Modern, where you’re looking to play your entire deck in that turn, EDH is more interested in long-term card advantage than singular combo piece. Primordial Soul accomplishes that, albeit at six mana instead of four. I’m betting that’s a pretty big jump.

Many EDH decks should want Beast Whisperer, both today and in the future. If you’re green, you play creatures, and Beast Whisperer likes creatures. With a name like Beast Whisperer, how could he not? I’m expecting this to bottom out around $.50 or $.75 and then just keep rising in price in perpetuity.


Divine Visitation

Price Today: $6.50
Possible Price: $11

Divine Visitation is a fun card, both in execution and in form. (The flavor text is amusing.) It’s fairly easy to see where the appeal is here. Making a bunch of idiot bird tokens? (Birds are idiots.) Have some angel tokens instead. They’re four times bigger than idiot birds. Plus, they’re angels.

One only needs to look at Anointed Procession to see that there’s some real hunger for white token effects. Now, I’m not foolish. It’s possible that the doubling mechanic of Procession is going to be wildly more popular than the upgrade mechanic of Visitation. And that’s fine, really, so long as Visitation is anywhere near as popular. Most decks that will want Procession will want Visitation. And seeing as how Procession jumped from $1.50 to settle at $8 — immediately after release — that’s a lot of potential for a mythic. Some of that was based on Standard demand, but the possibility of that still exists in Standard. I’m inclined to say that turning your two 1/1s into two 4/4s is better than four 1/1s, but that depends on the meta I’d imagine.

Six dollars is still a little too high for me to be interested in purchasing copies. Hopefully we see this dip closer to the $2 to $3 bulk mythic range quickly, at which point snagging a good pile could be lucrative. You’ve got the short-term possibility of a Standard breakout, and even if you don’t get there, the long term EDH demand should easily catch this up to a $10 card or more.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


 

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The Watchtower 9/17/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


Guilds of Ravnica spoilers march on, and everyone is having a grand ol’ time with what we’re seeing each day. No question that the top card of the set so far is Assassin’s Trophy, the new Abrupt Decay that destroys any permanent (then gives back via Path to Exile). Expect to see the ripples of Trophy in every format beyond Standard. Modern, Legacy, EDH, cube, and possibly even Vintage will have cause to care about an unconditional two-mana removal spell that gets rid of absolutely anything. Time to pick up a few more copies of your favorite basics, because every deck is going to need a few extra in the new Trophy meta.

Spirebluff Canal (Foil)

Price Today: $13
Possible Price: $50

Of all the cards we could have anticipated would carry a $100 foil price tag coming out of Scars of Mirrodin, I don’t think Blackcleave Cliffs was anyone’s first pick. Why would it have been? BR lands have long been in the lowest tier of lands, along with WR and maybe WB. This, despite BR being a relatively common color pairing in major formats. For the longest time in Modern, Esper fetches and shocks were more expensive than their Jund counterparts, despite seeing appreciable less play.

Of the Kaladesh fastlands, Spirebluff Canal is best poised to become the new Blackcleave Cliffs. UR has long been a powerhouse combo, whether as a standalone, as a component of Jeskai, one of the most popular wedges of competitive Magic, or Grixis, a long-standing fan favorite. There won’t be a Modern event in which you can reasonably expect not to sit across from a Spirebluff Canal ever again.

Pack foils are available in the $12 range, but not many. And there aren’t many in stock in general. These will be $25, probably this year, and it won’t’ take long before they crest $30.

Winding Canyons

Price Today: $23
Possible Price: $60

As the reserve list continues to be a popular target for accelerated financial action, we want to keep an eye out for anything that seems underpriced given its utility value. There’s plenty of stuff that’s cheap but is unplayable; we want to find the cards that actually have a reason to be put into play in a normal game of Magic.

Enter Winding Canyons. Winding Canyons is “only” in about 3,500 decks, but that doesn’t concern me in the slightest. First, many players aren’t aware of the card. It’s from Weatherlight, and lacks some of the name brand recognition of other cards, so there isn’t quite as much brand value. Second, it’s not cheap. At $23 or so, a lot of players that would like a copy are getting priced out. Does that sound weird for EDH? While there’s no question that many cards are expensive solely because of EDH demand, the truth of the matter is that the lion’s share of players putting decks together simply aren’t going to fork over hundreds of dollars for each new commander they put together. It’s a silent majority type of thing.

Playing creatures as though they had flash is wildly powerful in EDH. Waiting until the end of your last opponent’s turn, activating Canyons, dropping half your assault force, and then untapping with what are essentially hasty creatures is going to be enough to end the game regularly. Not to mention all the places that flashing in a surprise blocker or similar effect is going to ruin someone. (Try flashing in an Elesh Norn some time.)

Winding Canyons has a similar supply distribution to foil Spirebluffs. Roughly 30 copies on TCGPlayer, a quick ramp from the initial price, and a stiff breeze away from doubling in price.

Beastmaster Ascension (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

It wouldn’t be a Watchtower without looking at EDH enough. Beastmaster Ascension is a green enchantment that lets you permanently +5/+5 your team — and not just the ones in play now, but any that you play later. In Standard, this was two mana too many to see competitive play, and it was tough to both turn on and then continue to get value out of. All the numbers change in EDH, where you can easily cast Ascension and then immediately swing with seven creatures, activating it in the same turn, and having a brutal army. Those 20 or 30 1/1s, which were overall not particularly threatening, are suddenly dealing lethal to everyone at the table at once.

If this sounds like some crap nobody cares about, think again. Beastmaster Ascension is the second-most popular green enchantment, behind only Sylvan Library. You’ll find this bad boy in nearly 17,000 decks. If you’re playing green (who isn’t) and you’re attacking (most are), this is in your list.

While there are five or six printings of Ascension, there’s still only the original pack foil. They can put this in Commander products until the end of time, but without another foil printing, this is going to keep climbing. Supply is also quite shallow. Grabbing these at $10 today is sure to payoff within three to eighteen months.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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The Watchtower 9/10/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


PAX brought with it a tasty bag of Ravnica spoilers, which held us over until today, when they begin in earnest. I suspect we’ll get another Planeswalker, or one of the banner mythics, as Rosewater typically gets to show those off. I’m not anticipating anything that’s going to send me to TCGPlayer to pick up Standard cards, as that’s a market that’s felt like a fool’s game for years now. Those possibilities exist, but the more likely result is that I go looking for Modern cards. Some new rare or mythic that turns on a long-forgotten Kamigawa rare for a two-card combo is basically the dream scenario in spoiler season. A spell that creates an infinite loop with One With Nothing? I’m in.

World Shaper (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

This year’s slate of Commander decks continues to provide opportunities for growth. They’re holding consistent popularity week after week, having pushed Atraxa out of the top slot for the longest period of time since she was released, I believe. They’re doing far better than the tribal decks from last year, that’s for sure.

Of them, Lord Windgrace appears to be the most popular. Aminatou is close, but “lands matter” is just a theme too tempting for most. All the usual suspects are there — Gitrog Monster, Oracle of Mul Daya, Courser of Kruphix, Ramunap Excavator, etc. Joining the crew is relative newcomer World Shaper.

World Shaper came to us in Rivals of Ixalan, so he’s only been around since January. That hasn’t slowed his adoption rate though. He’s up to nearly 2,000 EDHREC lists, which is a respectable number for a card that’s only been around a few months. More impressively is that his stock numbers are depleting rapidly. There’s a handful of foils on TCG right now, and other than that? Basically nada. A card that can easily return five to fifteen permanents from your graveyard to your battlefield at instant speed (assuming you have a sac outlet) is absurd in decks that can abuse it, and solidly reasonable everywhere else. Grab copies at $4 and $5 now before they’re over $10 in 2019.

Blighted Woodland (Foil)

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

Long-time EDH players will remember Krosan Verge, a dumb land that lets you tutor for a forest and a plains, which most noteworthy did not need to be basic. Go find a Tropical Island and a Scrubland! Then get the Verge back and do it again! EDH is a great format. Blighted Woodland continues that tradition, just more reasonably.

Krosan Verge foils cost about $30, if you can manage to find one. I see one hiding out at SCG right now, but TCG has none. Where you will find Krosan Verge is roughly 11,000 EHREC lists. Meanwhile, you’ll find Blighted Woodland in nearly 15,000 lists. Yep. Despite something like 8 reprints on Krosan Verge, Blighted Woodland has found its way into more lists. Wild.

Of course, that raises the question of why a single-printed foil land in 15,000 lists is still $2. The obvious answer is “it shouldn’t be.” Plan accordingly.


Grim Backwoods (Foil)

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $10

Remember about forty seconds ago, when you were reading about having an instant way to kill your World Shaper? Hey, look at that! A good instant-speed way to kill your World Shaper with no opportunity cost!

In the same way that Blighted Woodland is a revisited and “fixed” Krosan Verge, Grim Backwoods is a revisited and I guess “adjusted” Miren, the Moaning Well. Sure, Greater Good gives you as many activations as you want for the same mana cost, and can also draw you a lot more cards depending on the creature, but that’s not the whole story. The rest of that story is that there is a boatload of enchantment destruction in EDH and it’s easy for Greater Good to get wiped out. It’s much less likely (although certainly not impossible, depending on how rude your playgroup is vis a vis Strip Mine and Crucible of Worlds) that your Grim Backwoods is going to get wiped out. Also, just run both.

Grim Backwoods has a single foil printing, and like Blighted Woodland, has gotten several reprints — including in Lord Windgrace. If Krosan Verge tells us anything, it’s that Wizards will be happy to reprint utility lands like this until there’s no paper left on planet Earth, but they’re going to be non-foil every time. That leaves a humongous opportunity for grabbing cheap foils. This could see an honest to god ten times multiplier within several months to a year.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


 

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