Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Trading for banned cards?


The recent bannings have opened up some unique opportunities, but of the five cards, three are not as appealing as two are.

Gitaxian Probe: It sees Legacy play but that’s not enough to hold up a price it used to have, but luckily this means we are spared a reprint of the Probe in Modern Masters 2017 this March. There’s no value to be gained here.

Reflector Mage: I like foils in the long term, as something to drive Commander players crazy, but as a recent uncommon, it’s not good enough for other formats. Pass.

Golgari Grave-Troll: Poor guy. Banned, then let loose at the same time as Cathartic Reunion and Prized Amalgam, then banned again. Too broken for the format, and then they made sure, and now it’s likely forever. Plus, he’s not good enough for Legacy Dredge, so I’ve got no interest.

However, I admit this: I’m actively trading for Smuggler’s Copter and Emrakul, the Promised End.

I’m not afraid of doing so, either. I’m not buying copies hand over fist, though playsets of Copter can be had for $17 and that’s a very steep decline from where it’s been.

I like trading for a few of these gradually, because I want to pick up these two cards at their lowest point. Allow me to explain.

Smuggler’s Copter is a fantastic card. The first time Wizards does a new card type, they push one or two of the cards, and that’s how we get Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or the Copter. They just didn’t know how overpowering it was going to be. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is close, considering how easily that can take over a board,

The Copter is intriguing to me for three reasons: First, it’s at its cheapest right now after the bannings. It was sitting pretty around $12, and now it can be had for $4-$5 each. The fact that it didn’t drop further is partially price memory, but partially optimism.

The second and third reasons are a pair of formats: Modern and Frontier. Copter hasn’t made a big splash in Modern yet but I want to be ready if it does. It’s popped up in a few lists, but nothing earthshattering has happened with it so far. It’s possible that the card is too consistent for Standard, but not good enough to make a splash in Modern.


Even though I’m not convinced of Frontier’s long-term potential, it’s already caused some spikes and I think there’s value to be gained here. I will let others make predictions about the format, but I don’t need to believe in the format in order to gain from its existence. I will note that the comparisons to Tiny Leaders feel appropriate at this point.

Emrakul, the Promised End is a different animal. No one is trying to break this card in older formats, but it’s a fantastic long-term gainer and it seems unlikely to be reprinted for quite a while. It’s one of only three Eldrazi with flying, and one of them is banned in commander, while the other is Eldrazi Skyspawner.


There is no shortage of decks in Commander that want to cast this card. Controlling someone else’s turn is incredibly powerful and shouldn’t be underestimated, and thankfully it’s a cast trigger, not an enters-the-battlefield trigger.

Emrakul is also a major character, the headliner of a small set, and one that was overshadowed to some extent in Eldritch Moon because Conspiracy 2 came out just a month and a half later. This impacted the amount of EMN that was opened and that’s also why Liliana, the Last Hope has stayed over $30. She’s not in a lot of decks, but she’s a fantastic card that was in a less-opened set.

(As an aside, the small sets are really getting treated poorly. We are barely going to have six weeks with Aether Revolt before Modern Masters 2017 shows up, and that’s just mean.)

I would gladly trade for foil versions of Emrakul, TPE right now, too. The multiplier is right about where I’d like it to be, not too high and not too low. I would expect steady growth from both prices as people trade for the card and they get put into decks and out of circulation.

I’d like to hear if you agree or disagree. Let me know in the comments, or head over to the forum!

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I whine about this every set, but oh how irritating it is that the whole set is spoiled today and yet I have to have this written ahead of time.

Some things are already in motion, and it helps to see what kinds of things people are obsessed with.

Animation Module – There’s a nearly-infinite combo with this and Metallic Mimic. Name Servo, and your tokens get counters. Pay mana and make more creatures. Repeat until you’re out of mana, but you’re spending one mana to make a 2/2 and that’s pretty awesome. Is it Standard-playable? Maybe.

Revolt as a mechanic – This is going to bust the Eldrazi Displacer decks right in half. There’s a lot of amazing Revolt triggers so far, and likely more to come. The Displacer activation is going to repeat and empower the trigger all by itself, and sure, play Panharmonicon with it.

Yes, it’s ridiculous in Standard with the new Aetherborn Warrior. But Displacer already had Reflector Mage to play with. Will this tip those decks over? I can’t wait to see.


I wonder if this mechanic is a clear sign that this was planned and tested for Oath of the Gatewatch only being legal till Amonkhet. We will see if this is the new oppression.

I’m also not the first person to point this out, but Revolt is disgustingly good with fetchlands, as well as any flicker effects. What’s that, Roon of the Hidden Realm? You’re asking for your turn. Fair enough. You’re good to go.

Fatal Push – This is exactly as good as it looks. It’s possibly better in Modern. It’s going to be one of the chase uncommons (seriously, some of these uncommons are pushed) but the foils are going to be highly sought after. Modern is going to play lots of these, and I think the play is to sell the ones you open early, and the ones you open for about the first three weeks, and then you start hoarding these. Gonna be legal for a long time!

Oath of Ajani – I’m highly skeptical of this card. If you want the cheaper Planeswalkers, you play a mana dork. If you want the bigger creatures, you want Always Watching. I think that people are going to be trying really hard to make this work, but don’t lose sight of how these are two effects that don’t work well together.

Release the Gremlins – I’m high on this, though. I think casual decks and Commander decks will be spoiled for choices, and you should delight in casting this for five or seven mana regularly.

Rishkar’s Expertise – Please don’t lose sight of how this card works. When it resolves, you draw the cards, and then get the free cast. So you can cast something you drew! Casual gold and a card I’ll be delighted to pick up at nearly bulk prices.

Disallow – Voidslime is a fantastic Commander card. It’s so great to have that flexibility, and now we have an upgrade on the mana cost. I think Disallow is going to be a heavy player going forward, as it’s a good answer to have against both Marvel and Emrakul. It’s not perfect, but you have the power to decide if you’re better off giving them the creature or letting them have your turn.

Hidden Herbalists – So in Modern, there’s a deck running Burning-Tree Emissary, Reckless Bushwhacker, and Goblin Bushwhacker. It’s not running Priest of Urabrask, but will it run the Herbalists to go with fetches? Someone’s trying already, I imagine.

Gonti’s Aether Heart – Wow. It’s six mana, but it makes a lot of energy and the energy decks will absolutely pop this into play.

Planar Bridge – Going to be a one-of in Tron, I suppose, though 14 mana to play and activate it in the same turn isn’t easy even for that deck. A great upgrade over Planar Portal and a card that will be added to the “Ban this card plz!!!@21!!” threads over in the EDH forums.

Invention Platinum Angel – Such the hotness. Can’t wait to have one. Price is going to be too high for what it does, but it’s so so beautiful.

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Resolutions, Past and Future

I’ve done it before and I’m bringing back the standby: The New Year’s Resolutions.

In case you want to delve into my past in this regard, here’s my list from last year, which includes a retrospective on the year before.

2016 was a pretty awesome year for me in Magic.

#1: Use PucaTrade to Acquire a Gaea’s Cradle.

Done! I paid a bounty, but my goodness, did it feel good to pick one up. I’ve chronicled my ups and downs with Puca in the past, but this year has been a very good one for me with Pucatrade. I’ve gotten a Cradle, multiple SDCC foils, a judge foil Sol Ring…yeah, it’s going well for me.

Like many others, I’ve had to work more at things since Future Site came along. There’s a lot of people who are trying to trade up via the site, and so it’s not as easy as it was. But I remain invested, and optimistic.

#2: Have a Regular Magic scene

Done! I don’t get to go as much as I want, but I’ve got good babysitters and an even better Commander group. Oh it feels nice, and there’s a healthy mix of insane combo and janky durdling.

#3: Trust my reads more

Working on it. I did a lot more selling than buying this year, though, and I’ve decided to stick to playsets of things. I keep my stack of 50-odd Prophet of Kruphix in a clearly visible location. I’m not one for going deep anymore.

#4: Get and stay organized

Mostly done. I’m down to two binders. One for trading and one for long-term holds that don’t go into storage, as well as my signed cards. I just prefer keeping them in a binder, rather than a box.

#5: Be on a podcast

I didn’t actually write this out here, I said it on Twitter, but podcasting is fun. It’s crossed off my to-do list, and I got to do casts with both James and Travis as they each went on warm vacations.

Ideally, I’d have the chance to do that more, but we will see.


So what are my goals for 2017?

#1: Make Day 2 of a Grand Prix

So I’m going to have a couple of chances at this, in a variety of formats. I haven’t done it yet, and I don’t think any less of myself for it…but I really want it. I mean, REALLY want it.

It’s going to take more practice and more discipline from me. I know that I trade with a clear eye and a calculating demeanor, and I am good enough at Magic to make a day 2. I’ve been at this long enough to have come close a few times, and this is a goal I should be able to pull off. I hope.

#2: Spend more money

It seems silly coming from me, someone who’s been writing about Magic finance for more than three years, but I’ve been taking a lot more profit out of my collection than I’ve been putting in. I sold my all-foil deck for a pretty penny this year, and that was satisfying indeed, even as it tore a piece out of my magpie of a soul.

Like many of you, I follow people on Twitter who sell cards every so often. I buy on occasion, when the value is there, but I know that I would be making more if I spent more. I’m not talking crazy stacks of money or cards, but I want to have a bankroll that is just for Magic, and not subject to the vagaries of how often I have to buy shoes for my kids.

#3: Build a Cube

One of the guys I play with has a powered Cube, and he loves it. He’s built and disassembled several over his career, and I want one.

However, I’m far too random for a stock list, and I am really leaning towards making mine an experience. I’m very likely to build the Reject Rare Cube, but I might pick a block.

It’s a nice feeling to know that there are enough people I play with regularly, that this Cube would see some play. I might foil it out, I might not. Foiling out something like this usually a profitable undertaking, but it’s so much work. I did it once and I’m not sure I have the patience for another go-round.

#4: Treat Magic as a social event, not just a game or a financial transaction.

I recently realized that a lot of my interactions around the game are ancillary to my primary goal: To have fun with other people.

Yes, I trade with an eye for value. I loathe being the one who gives up a $20 card for four $5 cards, unless that’s a playset of Eldrazi Displacer.

But what I get from this game hasn’t just been value. It’s been friends. It’s been fun. It’s been connections that I value highly, and I want a lot more of that.

You may have seen people recently questioning the EV of a Grand Prix Main Event. That’s valid, considering the prices. I’ll be writing about this exact issue as we get close to GP San Jose.

There’s a lot to be gained from everything else happening at these events, which really are conventions. Look around at a GP. Artists, accessories, a bazillion side events. Look at the people who got together for the first time in forever and rented a house together. Look at the kids and their parents playing alongside. Look at the sheer number of people having a blast, even the ones who simply measure their fun by how many unwanted commons they scoop up.

I want to keep my eye on everything that’s good about this community. There is a long way to go before it’s perfect, as we have too many players who aren’t welcoming or appropriate in their interactions, but the game is awesome and the people should be too.

Yes, 2016 has had a lot of awful things happen. Some are going to last for years.

Here’s to a better 2017, one filled with fun and Masterpieces and sweet brews and incredible stories.

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What I’m buying pre-Christmas

Oh do I love this time of year. It’s a lull, mostly, but I’m a big believer in buying yourself at least one present each year. Doesn’t have to be big. Just needs to be something you want…and probably something that someone else isn’t going to get you.

In other words…oh, have a meme.

I bought myself a card I’ve been craving for a couple of years now, a Liliana of the Dark Realms, SDCC version. Why? Because I’m silly and eBay has been good to me. I am awesome and I deserve it.

But you’re here to hear about other things you should be buying, and I’m here to oblige you.

Inventions and Expeditions!

I’ve promised myself that I am not going to get in on the speculation train when it comes to the other 23 cards that are going to get the Invention treatment. I’ve completely given up on that stuff (aside from the other Swords. That’s just a given.) and I won’t do it.

What I will do is get in on anyone who is letting Inventions and Expeditions go right now. Supply just got the smallest boost thanks to the Standard Showdowns, and people are overreacting for some of the most chase versions of cards. It’s a buyer’s market, and act accordingly. Ebay has some good deals, as do some of the bigger sites, and if you see them pop up on Twitter or Facebook, move in.


The little one-drop that could, I love this card for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that it’s around for six months longer than they planned for. That means untested interactions, overlooked combos, and a price that could hop nicely. I’m eyeing Standard here, as he doesn’t seem good enough for Modern.

The foils are terribly intriguing at sub-$4, because it’s a really great member of an iconic tribe. Being able to draw with him in a Commander deck is sweet, so I’m with you if you snag some shiny copies.

Eldritch Evolution

It hasn’t been broken yet. But that doesn’t mean it won’t. It’s harder to break, as it’s one-shot and then exiled, but the potential is there. We know how good this effect is, so we are just waiting for the deck to arrive. When it does, we want to have some copies ready for others who are following the leader.

Deploy the Gatewatch (foil)

Are you kidding me that this is down to $5-$6? It’s just too easy. Grab these. All of these. Don’t leave any behind. And then sit on them. You’re incubating value when you put these in the time capsule and don’t open it up for two years. It’ll get reprinted along the way, but almost certainly not in foil and that’s where we want to be. Lots of Commander players have the magpie’s eye for things that are shiny–including myself–and we want to feed that need.

Eldrazi Displacer

It’s worth repeating: This is a busted Magic card. Unfair. Powerful. Warping decks and minds around it. I love picking up foils and nonfoils. Get crazy.

Oath of Nissa

Heck yes do I love this at under $2. No one plays this in small amounts, it’s almost always the full set. It’s fallen out of favor because it doesn’t help out delirium the way Vessel of Nascency does, but this remains analogous to a green Ponder. It’s not as good, true, but it’s still quite strong. There’s also a case to be made for turn one this, turn two Oath of Ajani, turn three profit.

Linvala, the Preserver

If nothing else, she should see a spike soon if Panharmonicon decks take off. There’s a lot of powerful interactions in that deck, but nothing catches you up like she does. I’m surprised that Eldritch Evolution isn’t seeing play in those decks yet, but I keep trying to find ways to make it work.

She’s a small-set mythic, at $2, part of one of the best and most-loved tribes in Magic. If nothing else, she carries very little risk. Enjoy!

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