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 4/24/17

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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.


Well, uh, so much for a fresh, new, exciting Standard, eh? It’s not much of a stretch to say that nearly everybody, even those that wouldn’t have cared for the decision, were expecting a ban on Felidar Guardian. After Wizards openly admitted that it was a mistake in the first place, and seeing that it’s now nearly 40% of the metagame, and possibly an even larger percentage of Standard top eights, how could they not get rid of the combo? Removing Copy Cat would dramatically open up the format for all sorts of strategies to try and find their home, an excellent recipe for a Pro Tour.

Instead, Wizards changed nothing in Standard, and we’re left with existing Standard + Amonkhet, rather than New Standard. While Amonkhet brings new tools to the table, (and I find myself wishing I could reasonably spec on Manglehorn), I’m suspect that we’ll really see any especially exciting shakeups. Our most likely universe is the one in which there’s a bunch of Copy Cat and Vehicles players, each with some clever tech for mirrors, and then 10% of the room playing something different, of which one or two will manage to make T16.

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It’s disappointing, especially from a market perspective, but what can you do? Join us again in about two months when we go through this song and dance once again. For today, I’m going to skip Standard, simply because I’m not sure where to turn. Glorybringer is already up to $5, and beyond that, a lot of pros are talking on Twitter about just locking Copy Cat now and moving on to drafting. Once I have a better idea of what changes to Standard may look like, I’ll start covering cards over there.

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Odds/Ends

Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $15

I’m as surprised as you are, but it’s my duty to share these things with all of you. If ever there were a longshot with a payoff potential, it’s Odds//Ends.

As some of you may recall, there was a change made to the way split cards are handled in regards to their converted mana costs. This came as a blow to their playability, with cascade spells no longer able to hit the cheaper half, Brain in a Jar no longer able to cast them, and other similar effects. Well, it turns out there’s a silver lining to all of this. The downside of not being able to cast split cards with cascade effects is that…you can’t cast split cards with cascade effects.

Practically, this allows decks that rely on cascade cards to now be able to play split cards without worrying about connecting with them. This is a considerably smaller scope than before, but it could have corner applications. In this case, it’s Ari Lax pointing out that there’s now a counterspell that’s playable in Restore Balance and Living End decks. (He built a URx Living End deck, in case you were wondering how he’s casting it.) Odds works by either A. countering their spell, or B. making a copy of their counterspell, which then counters their counterspell. Technically Determined of Bound/Determined is better at keeping your spell uncountered, but Odds//Ends lets you stop opposing combos, something Determined decidedly doesn’t. Odds only works half the time in that scenario, but half the time is better than none of the times, right?

Copies are floating around $.75 right now, and honestly, I don’t know why. They are though, and there aren’t that many, all things considered. Like Protean Hulk, it’s from Dissension, which means the supply is as close to zero as you can get in Modern. If this ends up a common component of these style decks, expect to see the price hitch up towards $3 or $4. It’s not a big gain, but if you can snag these out of $.25 or $.50 rare boxes, or you find them for cheaper than TCG somewhere online, there’s very little risk involved.


Protean Hulk

Price Today: $4.50
Possible Price: $30

While I was writing the intro to this article, Protean Hulk got unbanned in Commander. Know any quiet shops that don’t see a lot of online business? Now’s your chance. For most of us, this is a “there it goes,” not a “here it comes.” Sorry, I can’t tell people to slow down. I’m sure TCGPlayer is being bought out as I type these words.

Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was on the EDH ban list, but then again, it’s not the type of card I would ever seek to play. The mere fact that Hulk’s legality status has changed will probably bring the card to the attention of many players that simply didn’t know it existed, because they’re not the type of person to know a random rare creature from Dissension, and nobody in their EDH playgroup was running it (because it was banned). Now that they’ll see it out there, there could be a “oh, that’s a card? I need that!” moment for a lot of players. It helps too that the card is quite good in EDH; saccing this to any random sac effect allows you to set up an instant kill, if you so desire, or even just value engines if you don’t. There’s probably some engine in there with Eternal Witness, Restoration Angel, and a few more copy/bounce effects that will let you drag every creature in your deck under six mana into play.

Protean Hulk was sitting at $4 to $4.50 before the unban. He’s been on the (very remote) fringe of Modern a few times, which pushed him north of $10 for half a day, and has since hung out in the “people hope this combo gets good some day” price range. Now with EDH legality, once the dust settles, I expect copies to sell for at least $8 to $10, and depending on what Jason Alt tells people to think about this card, it could end up above $20 if it’s as evergreen as some of the other green monsters.


Body Double

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $5

Since I started playing EDH, I was surprised that Body Double was as cheap as it is. It’s relatively inexpensive, gives you a copy of the best creature that’s been cast all game, and enables all sorts of shenanigans, either from being flickered or because of its zero power. Given that most cards I find myself saying “huh, that’s surprisingly cheap” eventually end up not, and Protean Hulk, Body Double’s most dangerous enabler, is now legal in EDH, I think Double is worth turning our attention to.

Modern’s most common variant of the combo required Mogg Fanatic, Viscera Seer, Body Double, Reveilark, and of course, Protean Hulk. That’s across all five colors, and given that this is EDH, it would be nice to streamline that a bit. It’s likely this could be streamlined in terms of color requirements, especially given all the tools available outside of Modern. Instant kills aren’t required to make Body Double useful, though. If you just assume that eighty percent of people who now need a Protean Hulk also need a Body Double, and add in that a bunch of people may not realize they should have been playing this card already, and you can see how demand can mount fast. If you find yourself saying “claiming that eighty percent of people who bought a Protean Hulk would need Body Double is ridiculous,” mind I remind you that A. shut up and B. blue is the second best color in EDH, and the best color to pair with green.

Copies are available in the $1 range, and possibly lower if you dig hard. Inventory isn’t especially low, but it’s lower than some of the other cards we talk about in this series. There’s about forty-ish copies of the original on TCG right now, and maybe one hundred of the duel deck printing. That’s the only other printing of the card other than Planar Chaos though, a set many EDH players probably don’t even realize exists. Add to that that there’s probably over 100 EDH decks represented at your local store alone, and you can see how that reserve may dry up fast if there’s a glut of players looking to Double their Hulks.

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 PROTRADER: The Watchtower 4/17/17

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.


Now that we’ve got the full Amonkhet spoiler, pros have begun brewing in earnest for the Pro Tour that will just be wrapping up about four weeks from now. Until then, we’re going with articles that get posted by (presumably) non-pros and whatever is happening over on the MTGO beta client. Then this coming weekend will be the first SCG Open with new cards and we’ll get our first true glimpse of Amonkhet Standard.

And then it’s all for naught! Amonkhet’s Banned and Restricted List update is next Monday, seven days from now. Most expect something to go – whether it’s Felidar Guardian, because why is Splinter Twin legal in Standard, or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, because he was never intended to exist alongside Gideon of the Trials, thanks to the rapid reversion to the two-year rotation cycle. Or even both, perhaps? Heart of Kiran? Will we get Emrakul, the Promise End back? We can’t say for sure, but one thing is for certain. People are expecting change, especially with how rotten Standard has been for awhile now.

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Aetherworks Marvel

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

Remember this guy? It was terrorizing Standard for a brief window, and in parallel, had reached price tags of over $10, sometimes even $20. Vehicles and Copy Cat have since taken over Standard, especially after Aether Revolt, and Marvel has fallen by the wayside as a result.

Our biggest reason for keeping an eye on Marvel is the Banned and Restricted list announcement coming in a week. While it’s been chased out of Standard, the removal of either key Vehicles and/or Copy Cat pieces would blow a massive hole in the format, and I’m sure this would rush in to fill the void, at least temporarily. While Emrakul may be gone, most of the other tools are still there, and newcomer Approach of the Second Sun is weird, cumbersome, and deliciously tempting in a Marvel deck.

This isn’t a call to arms, though. Without a meaningful change in Standard, this set is only going to be more hostile to Marvel with cards like Manglehorn entering the fray. Our real decision point will be Monday morning. Yes, Monday morning – NOT the SCG Open this weekend. Don’t forget that that event fires before the B&R List update.


Mizzix’s Mastery

Krark-Clan Ironworks
Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

Mizzix’s Mastery was an early gainer out of Commander 2015, and since has been off the radar, as most Commander-only cards tend to be. “Off the radar” only applies to those looking at the radar though, which is a, well, two-dimensional way of looking at things. For those that track Commander cards long after the initial hype as died down, this has been a Thomas the Tank Engine, gaining slowly and slowly each week.

Supply is finally reaching critical levels, with only six copies left under $7 on TCG. You can score copies closer to $3 and $4 if you start digging, but not many. Once this dries up it will get relisted at $7 to $8, and while it will decline slightly at the start, it won’t take long to start climbing again. Eventually this should sit comfortably at the $9 to $12 range. It could take another year or so to reliably sell at that range, but we don’t invest in Commander because we expect rapid profits.

With reprints extremely limited to future Commander sets and maaaaaybe a Conspiracy-type set, we should have plenty of time to let these mature before overloading TCG with our spare copies.


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 PROTRADER: The Watchtower 4/3/17

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.


Amonkhet spoilers keep rolling, and so far, it seems the community’s reaction is muddled. With Invocations having left such a bitter taste in the mouth of many, it seems players are receiving the set a tad more cynically than normal. That’s impressive, considering how cynical Magic players are to begin with. 

So far, the money card appears to be As Foretold. While the card itself is far too expensive right now to consider, it’s all the things that it does that people are eager about. The rules change I griped about last week hoses split cards, but the free cards like Restore Balance and Living End got a huge boon in that card. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and once the set is legal, it will be exciting to see what crops up on MODO and beyond.

Amonkhet spoilers finish this week, and then will begin the exciting month before the Pro Tour. I’ll be watching the first SCG Open eager to see something compelling. (I’ll probably turn it off after round two.)

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

This is probably the first time I’ve talked about Krark-Clan Ironworks (KCI) in this article series, but it isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the card in general. KCI is a long fringe favorite in Modern, solely enabling the Eggs archetype that we’ve seen crop up in various formats. While KCI wasn’t involved in the version of the deck that got banned, it’s been the clear successor to the deck. At a few events both in the meatspace and online it’s managed success, but nothing large enough to push it too far. The recent printing of Breya, Etherium Sculptor jumped it from $4 to $10, and after a month off, it’s back to climbing again.

Recently Michael Jacobs, a semi-pro player that’s been on the quieter side of things, tweeted that he’s 18-5 with a new KCI build. This one makes use of Scrap Trawler to create cascading chains of value, and I’m sure all sorts of devious tricks await those who make the effort to dive into the deck.

KCI has a current price tag of $10 and there’s very little supply out there. Add to that that it’s already spiked twice before, which means there isn’t a lot of liquid copies left to flood into the market on the back of a price spike. Vegas is in two months, and a lot of players are going to have Modern on the brain. If this particular strain of KCI Eggs takes off, expect the namesake to claim healthily.


Mistbind Clique

Knight of the Reliquary

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

That these two cards happen to basically have the same price and outcome profile doesn’t mean I’m just being lazy ok.

Nobody was really paying attention to the Modern Classic this weekend. It’s not surprising; it was a Legacy Open, which is one of the few times necrophiliacs can publicly enjoy their vice. If you had made a point of stopping by the Modern results though, you may have noticed that UB Faeries came in not only 3rd, but also 13th.

When Fatal Push was spoiled several canny players noted that it could mean big things for the disgraced Lorwyn tribe. With four main deck copies in both lists, it would appear it has had at least a small impact on the deck’s viability. What’s even more interesting is the relative lack of Ancestral Vision, with only two copies in a sideboard between both lists. That means there’s a lot of other room for prices to grow, since there isn’t a playset of a corner $60 mythic capitalizing budget space.

Like most cards I discuss, supply on Mistbind Clique is already extremely low. I’m not sure exactly when this will trip, or even if it certainly will, but it’s definitely got the profile and the potential to make brave investors a fair return.


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 4/3/17

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.


Welcome back! I took a week to go do things that weren’t Magic, but now I’m back and wishing I weren’t. Why? Well bear with me.

Watery Grave

Ancient Stirrings

Price Today: $11
Possible Price: $20

No, Watery Grave isn’t what I’m annoyed about. Rather, Watery Grave is an excellent card to keep an eye on because of the rise of various Modern decks which all use Blue and Black. Among them are Death’s Shadow, Grixis Control, Reanimator, Sultai Control, etc. None of these play a staggering amount of the card, but added up they create a healthy pocket of demand, and most importantly, supply is drying up.

There’s a handful of $11 copies on TCG Player right now, and then some at $12 and $13, but it only takes a couple of playsets before we hit $15-$20. Checking major vendors, there’s even fewer copies below $20, where they’re even in stock. Anecdotally, after turning my TCGPlayer inventory back on after my vacation, I sold every copy I had overnight, after they had sat stagnant for months.

With the Zendikar fetchlands in Modern Masters 3, prices on Modern manabases are continuing to fall. In light of that, it may finally be time for shocks to begin rising, and it looks like we’re starting with Watery Grave. Of course, how many times have we heard that before?


Knight of the Reliquary

Knight of the Reliquary

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $15

It isn’t Knight of the Reliquary either. No, Knight is an ok card for ok dudes. It used to be a big part of Modern, then a bunch of sets got printed and it mattered less, and then about a year and a half ago it became slightly meaningful again after Retreat to Coralhelm popped up in Battle for Zendikar. Since then, he’s been hanging out on the edge of the format, retreating every now and then. (A few times at GP San Antonio, the team Modern GP this past weekend.)

Friday’s Amonkhet spoiler gave us reason to pay close attention again. We saw what everyone immediately decided should be called bicycle lands.

These are the first lands with cycling to hit Modern. Every land with cycling so far hails from Urza’s Saga, Onslaught, or the Commander product. With the bicycle lands, there’s suddenly cycling lands to play with Knight of the Reliquary. These aren’t just cycling lands either; they’re quite solid. They cycle, they make two colors of mana, and they’re typed, which means you can fetch them. They always enter tapped, which is unfortunate, and likely to keep them from tier one status, but any mono or dual-colored deck is going to at least think about these. Additionally, they potentially signal the Onslaught cycle lands showing up as a common or uncommon cycle in Amonkhet. Will they? We have no idea. But once we’ve got these five, five more at common aren’t inconceivable.

Supply on Knight of the Reliquary is reasonably high right now, with prices around the $8 range. If the bicycle lands have a strong showing in Modern, that could change real fast. With a bicycle Knight deck (heh) cleaning up at the top tables, we could see her double quickly, with absurd prices possible if the deck sustains.

Addendum: stealth bans

Here’s what I’m agitated about. Twenty minutes ago, a Wizards account made an unassuming post in a Magic subreddit.

Never mind the fact that I’ve got over 100 Beck//Call and half as many Breaking//Entering, which are now 100% useless because of this announcement. What’s especially irritating about this is that they’ve effectively banned 10 or so cards, on a random Monday evening on Reddit. It’s not like they hit any tier one decks or anything, but it’s still bad precedent.

This of course renders all the split cards, such as Beck//Call, Breaking//Entering, and Boom//Bust irrelevant. The recent Expertise cycle in Aether Revolt is considerably less interesting now. Brain in a Jar has lost potency. Free spells are still safe for now, such as Restore Balance and Ancestral Vision. For Now.


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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