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.

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 2/19/18

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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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


I’d love to use this past weekend’s results to dive into what a Jace-laden Modern looks like but alas, we’ll have to wait one more week. Wizards made the (wise) decision not to apply the B&R changes to the format a week before both a GP and SCG Open. It’s easy to be annoyed about that on our end, as an audience clamoring to see how this plays out, but when you consider how many people had already spent weeks preparing for those events, it wouldn’t have been terribly polite to upend the entire format five days before they showed up on site. It’s fine; it’s just one more week.

There was a Modern Challenge that fired this weekend with the new list in place, so I ran through that, along with what I’ve been seeing on Twitter and in various articles. Jace was clearly a strong, but not overpowering card in the Challenge, although that comes with a big asterisk. For one, Jace is currently the most expensive card on MODO. One wonders how many people would have liked to use him but were simply priced out. Additionally, looking at the other decks that did well, it’s not exactly heartening. Burn, Tron, and Dredge were many of the non-Jace lists. How’s that for a gauntlet?

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 2/12/18

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Well. That comes as a bit of a surprise, doesn’t it? Jace, the Mind Sculptor, scourge of Standard, Modern ban list inaugural inductee, has at least one competently produced rap song written about him, is now legal in Modern. I’ve said for ages I think it’s a bad idea, and that even if they wanted to, the only way they could do it was with heavy reprint. We won’t know about the former for awhile, but with EMA last year and A25 (that’s Masters 25. What the hell, right?) a month away, Wizards decided the latter wasn’t a barrier any longer. Jaces were selling for $150 on the announcement and the cheapest copy is currently $130, so we’ll see about that.

Bloodbraid Elf was released too, which is great in its own right. I’ve never been so sure about anything in my life as I am about Wizards having screwed up banning BBE in the first place. It was clear as day that the problem with Jund back then was Deathrite Shaman, and that got the axe one announcement later. I heard several people even muse about DRS’ future in Legacy this weekend. It’s incomprehensible how many mistakes had to happen to let it out the door, and shameful that Wizards wouldn’t ban it in Modern since even though it was clearly way too good for the format, Return to Ravnica was new at the time and they figured it was easier to get rid of an innocent bystander. Man I’m still angry about all of that.

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Temporal Mastery

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $15

Adding Jace to Modern changes things in dramatic ways. When Golgari Grave-Troll was unbanned, you knew where to look. That card has a style. Jace though? If your deck makes blue mana, you’re going to find yourself considering it. And if it doesn’t add blue mana, you’ll consider adding blue so that you can add Jace. Think I’m kidding? Just wait. There are a million angles to consider, and I want to make sure some wild stuff ends up on your radar.

First up is Temporal Mastery. I’ve long had this one on my radar, and I was real bummed when it was reprinted in Modern Masters 2017 this past year. That takes a little of the wind out of the sails, but only the most crazy prices. A solid gain is still on the table.

You’ll remember that Temporal Mastery was a powerful card in Standard. It won Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, and it was floating around for awhile otherwise. (I particularly liked Reid Duke’s big temur list with four Primeval Titan.) It’s never made it into Modern though, outside of Taking Turns, because there isn’t a strong enough way to set it up. There isn’t even a sorcery-speed Brainstorm to work with. You had to do a lot of work to put this back on top of your library, and ultimately there was too much setup.

With Jace back to the party, you get to brainstorm every dang turn. Draw Temporal Mastery on turn two or three and you’re completely happy with that, because you get to play Jace a turn earlier (or on time, if one of your lands is a tap land). Find it in your hand, and you can use Jace to put it back on top of your library for next turn. Getting back-to-back Jace activations can be enough to completely swing a game when you’re against the wall and you’re trying wrest control the board and lock your opponent out.

Add in general casual appeal and the “it’s a time walk and they’re all popular” factor and it gets better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the longest shot here today. That’s why it’s so spicy though. At $4, these will be easy to sneak out of trade binders if someone finds a way to work it and Jace into a list together. If that ends up being a real deck? $15 should be no problem.

Creeping Tar Pit

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $55

In Standard and Extended (remember that format?) I think the card with the highest coefficient with Jace was Celestial Colonnade. You never saw one without the other. Colonnade was especially great because it could protect your Jace as well as threaten others, all while resisting Jace’s bounce itself. It was something else. And it will be again.

Of course, Colonnade is $60 today so uh, that ship has basically sailed. (I’m going to go look for mine, actually.) If it’s not in A25 (ugh) then the sky’s the limit I suppose, but we’ll hope that it is for now. If not Colonnade, what’s the next best land to explore?  Creeping Tar Pit.

It may come to pass that Tar Pit is even better than Colonnade in Modern. While there were a lot of important white spells in old Jace decks, that isn’t necessarily true today. Black is a serious contender in Modern between Thoughtseize, Inquisition, Fatal Push, Collective Brutality, and Liliana of the Veil. Your opponent going Thoughtseize, Liliana of the Veil, Jace is going to be lights out for a good number of decks.you’ve also got the angle that Tar Pit is unblockable. Colonnade’s flying is great, but in a format with no shortage of Inkmoth Nexus’ and Lingering Souls tokens, it’s possibly less able to connect when necessary. There are no such worries with Tar Pit.

Will UB become the defacto Jace control build in Modern? I don’t know. I do know that Tar Pit is quite well positioned with Jace’s return though, and with a single Worldwake printing, no reprint in A25 would leave the ceiling wide open.

Kolaghan’s Command

 

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $40

We should probably talk a little about Bloodbraid Elf, right? Alright, well, this heralds the return of Boom//Bust, whic- oh, right. Ok well now you can hit Beck//Call and cas- oh. Maybe Breaking//En- nope not that either. God damnit, Forsythe. God. Damnit.

It’s no secret that it didn’t really matter what you were cascading into with BBE. As long as your deck was full of good cards, things were going to work out well for you. That’s going to be mostly how this works out too. Hitting Liliana off their Bloodbraid is still going to be table-flipping maddening, but that’s not going to move the needle on Liliana.

BBE gimmick builds will probably focus on land destruction for a long while. You’ve got Fulminator Mage, as well as Stone Rain, Blood Moon, Blood Sun, and whatever other denial of service you want to sleeve up.

Excellent three mana spells are going to be better than they were though, and Kolaghan’s Command is poised to absorb much of that added demand. It’s a pretty loopy card, and even at its worst the value is excellent. It will be especially exciting when your opponent Thoughtseized an earlier BBE, and then you top deck a second BBE, cascade into Kommand, and return the first BBE. Eat it buddy.

There’s seven non-foil NM vendors on TCG right now. If Kolaghan’s Command isn’t in A25, how is this not a $35+ card?


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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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 2/5/17

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Heck of a weekend, wasn’t it? We started off Sunday morning with the bad guys winning (Lantern Control, not-Gerry), and finished off the day with the good guys winning (not-Patriots). And while they didn’t riot as hard in Bilbao as they did in Philadelphia, people enjoyed the return of the Modern Pro Tour just the same.

Before the top 8 even started, there were plenty taking to social media to express a desire to see something from Lantern banned, and that sentiment only increased with each successive round. Calls to do are are shortsighted, I assure you. While it doesn’t have the most ideal play pattern, the games are (typically) quicker than Eggs, and there’s plenty of reasonable interaction you can be playing. Especially when you consider how few people are even going to bother sleeving it up and showing up with it.

Collective Brutality (Foil)

Price Today: $35
Possible Price: $60

It’s sort of wild that it’s come to this, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion. Collective Brutality rapidly established itself in the Modern scene, and its popularity there has only grown. Looking through the PT IXR results, this much is clear. Of the top 8 lists, five are playing Brutality. The three that aren’t are UR Pyromancer, Humans, and Humans. Across the top performing decks, roughly 50% are running some number of the card. Did you catch that? Half of the best decks at PT IXR had Collective Brutality.

Calling $35 foils as having an upward trajectory is never a position I’m eager to find myself in, but there’s no denying it. The card is too popular in the format not to see continued gains. It was released in Eldritch Moon, the summer 2016 set. Don’t forget that summer sets are consistently the least opened sets in Magic. And when do you think you’re going to see it again? It’s highly suspect it shows up in Masters 25, and if it isn’t there, then what are the other options? We don’t have any other reprint sets on the horizon. That’s good reprint positioning for the eight most popular card in Modern.

Supply is low, it’s been popular for awhile, so there isn’t a glut of copies looking to hit the market if the price rises, and it’s used in all sorts of strategies, from midrange to control to combo. It’s likely Collective Brutality continues to rise, and could climb as high as $60 or more within 2018.

Mantis Rider (Foil)

Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $20

It’s been a wild ride for Humans, having started out the year as a “what deck won the tournament?” early in the year to being the most popular deck this weekend. I’ve been following it the whole way, discussing which cards I liked at which point of the deck’s run, starting with the easiest and scarcest cards. Now we’re here, and I’m talking about a Khans of Tarkir rare.

Humans was the most popular deck of the event, but it wasn’t the hottest performer. While it did manage to put two copies into the top 8, it didn’t have unreal conversion rates or anything. (Props to Hollow One for that. 100% for 13 decks I think?) An average conversion rate isn’t going to stop players from picking up Humans to play at their local store. It’s clearly a solid strategy, fun to play, and has game in most metas. Add in that most of it is quite affordable, and you’ve got a great onramp deck.

I was suspect that Mantis Rider would be an integral part of the strategy, as it seemed like a sort of filler card that was there as a serviceable human that could get kills, but would flex into a more useful, more technical slot once it was clear what the deck needed. Apparently that’s wrong, as Mantis Rider has been a four of in basically every humans list I’ve seen.

Foils haven’t moved much from their perch at $7 to $8 for a few months now. This is Khans of Tarkir, so we’re not going to see $70 or anything, but with Humans having proved themselves as a strategy, the deck is here to stay. Foil Mantis Riders will begin being eaten up, and a price tag closer to $20 won’t be far behind.

Utter End (Promo)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $15

Even with all the excitement of the Pro Tour, we can’t forget about our old friend EDH. It was the MTG finance engine of 2017, and we’ve got no reason to expect any different this year. Today I stumbled upon Utter End, a removal spell found in over 17,000 EDHREC lists (which makes it the 13th most popular multicolored card in the format).

I probably don’t need to go on for long here. 17k decks says a great deal. The rest of this comes from the fact that I’m talking about a Game Day promo, which is a promo type we’ve never seen reprinted with their full art treatment in, like, 10 years? Admittedly the art isn’t as cool as it could be, but you can’t have it all.

Copies are $3, which is pretty dang cheap for a such a popular card. Especially so when you notice how few vendors there are. 18 as of this writing. That’s a combination for explosive growth – a low buy in and not a lot of sellers. Probably won’t be like this for long.

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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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 1/29/18

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


If you’re watching social media, you’ll notice most of the pro community arriving in Spain. Players begin battling this Friday. Spain is six hours ahead of the east coast, which means by the time you’re watching at 9am on Friday, they’re done with draft and starting Modern. That works out well honestly; nobody cares about the draft anyways, so tuning in around the start of Modern is great.

On the Modern front, you’ve also got SCG who just announced a No Banned List Modern event at their “SCGCON” in June. That piqued interest immediately, as it’s not something that’s visited often, and it’s fun to see how things shake out in what’s essentially a new format. Fan favorites tend to be Hypergenesis, Infect, Storm, and Dredge.

Reflector Mage (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

When Humans first debuted as a Modern deck a few months ago, I laid out a few cards I liked, but advised caution. Spiking an event is possible for any strategy, and sustained results are needed before lasting price changes occur. Well, Humans has kept up its end of the bargain, with a slew of results since that first trip out. Just this weekend it was the Modern selection for the winning team in SCG’s team trios.

I want to tell you that Aether Vial is a good choice, since it’s always going to be a four-of and it’s great in other strategies too, namely Merfolk, which is also having a renaissance of its own, but it’s simply not worth it. The price to get in is too high, and the probability of future reprints is only slightly behind basic island.

Instead, I’ll talk about foil Reflector Mages. He’s been floating around in a variety of formats since having gotten kicked out of Standard awhile ago. He’s in several thousand EDH decks, a popular cube selection, and floats around Modern even without the Humans strategy. With Humans as a tier one aggro strategy, that means Reflector Mage is now a four-of in a tier one Modern deck on top of his other uses.

You’ll pay about $5 for foils right now on the low end of the market. With the upcoming Modern Pro Tour possibly putting the spotlight on a strategy that so far hasn’t hit the big stage yet, and continued popularity from other places, I suspect we’ll see foils above $10 before too long.

Merrow Harbinger (Foil)

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

It’s been a few weeks since Rivals of Ixalan hit shelves, and Kumena continues to be a popular general over on EDHREC. I don’t anticipate that he’ll be a long-standing top ten general, but he’s popular enough right now that merfolk prices are swimming upstream.

Merrow Harbinger is going to be nuts in any Kumena deck, if only because it fetches what I imagine is the best card in the deck, Merrow Commerce. (Thanks, tribal!) If fetching in 60 card decks is good, then fetching one-ofs in 99 card decks is insane. Of course, you can also go get another lord to pump up your team, or any other merfolk that would be helpful at the moment. Master of Waves probably won’t be a bad choice often either.

Foils are about two bucks at the moment. I’m a big fan of scooping these up at that price anywhere you find them. You’ll at least be able to get $5 or $6 out of them soon, and possibly even more, depending on how popular Kumena remains.

Birthing Pod

Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $20

With SCG’s No Banned List Modern announcement, people are gassed up to see what could spike. The obvious answer is Hypergenesis, for several reasons. It’s ancient, has one printing, is an entire archetype to its own, is only $2, etc. It’s not bad, honestly. I know you’ll see it elsewhere though, so I looked around to see what else was an option.

Aside from the obvious Hypergenesis, Infect, Storm, Dredge, and Caw-Blade, where else might people go? Birthing Pod was always popular when it was legal, and while it definitely needed to go, the people who ran those decks found them fun and interesting. It also may have the power to keep up with some of those other strategies (although no promises there). This could certainly send a few people in Pod’s direction.

It’s not just this event that has me noticing it, though. More importantly than this event, I see that it’s in over 13,000 EDH decks. That makes it one of the most popular green cards in the format. Add in that it’s only got a single printing, and low (but not non-existent) supply, and the ingredients are there for a healthy rise. At $7.50, you may be able to ride this right up to $20.


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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