Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Magic 2015 Casual Appeal

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By: Cliff Daigle

I want to reiterate a point I’ve made before: Trade everything you open at the prerelease. The prices are at their peak and demand is at the maximum. By all means, let people get the cards they are rabid for. Those cards are 95% guaranteed to be cheaper in two weeks, and cheaper still in six weeks.

There will always be exceptions, but the logic has served me well.

Now, let’s talk about what having casual appeal means from a financial sense. In the past couple of years, with the growth of EDH and Cubing, some cards have become very expensive, considering that the card doesn’t see play in organized formats.

Case in point: Vigor. It’s around $15 for a card that was a rare in a set that wasn’t opened heavily, is quite bad against removal and sweepers, but is terribly awesome in formats where you don’t care.

If a card has casual appeal in a new set, the price will stabilize higher than you think it should be, and then start to climb slowly over a period of a year or more. Primeval Bounty is a good example of this. It should be a bulk-price mythic, but it’s pretty awesome in casual formats (which includes the impossible-to-track ‘kitchen table’ 60-card deck builders) and never got as cheap as I thought it would.

If you pick up a card for its casual appeal, you’re looking at a long-term hold. You probably won’t be able to trade these away at a higher price for at least a year, and perhaps longer. As time goes on and the set becomes more of a memory, then prices start to creep upwards.

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On to some specific cards!

Ajani Steadfast – I referred to the ‘superfriends’ style of deck when I talked about the Mentor of Heroes, and there’s an aspect of that to this card too, since it can buff your other planeswalkers. His plus ability is rather weak, and I think that says more about the designs of planeswalkers over time, because if they are too good, they are overwhelmingly good. This would be one of the first planeswalkers I cut from the deck (there are 48!) and I wouldn’t feel bad at all. I would only pick up at $5 or less.

Garruk, Apex Predator – I don’t know if seven mana is too big a cost for Standard. He’s not going to get it done in Modern or Legacy, so even if he’s too good, he’s only around for a year. I’d trade him away right now, and not worry about his price for that year. The casual appeal is high, especially with lots of ‘destroy’ abilities, but the best long-term play might be to wait until rotation in 2015 and pick him up cheap then. I’d be in if he falls to $10.

Jace, the Living Guildpact – There is a lot pointing to a graveyard theme/focus in Khans of Tarkir, and this seems like a seed planted for such things. The +1 is not as good as a scry 2, but in a deck that can utilize the graveyard, he might be amazing. He’s got very high loyalty to start, too, and a universal bounce ability will always be useful. I suspect that speculation about the next block will keep his price higher than his play warrants until the block arrives, and then we will see if he has an Architect of Thought-like spike in him.

Liliana Vess – We’ve got multiple foil promos, three printings in large sets, and this little lady keeps on keeping on. I would imagine she stays in the $5-$10 range despite the new copies on the market. 

Nissa, Worldwaker – In a format where shocklands are rampant, I’m very glad that Farseek has rotated out and isn’t legal to play with new Nissa. In casual mono-green ramp decks, she’s rather insane. I do think that she’s going to be used in EDH with great trepidation, since having your lands be creatures is a drawback. I do not expect big things out of her price.

Perilous Vault – It’s a unique effect, and it’s colorless, so it can go into any deck. Nevinyrral’s Disk used to be an auto-include for similar reasons, and this gets around everything. There is no defending this, no protection, no indestructibility. Just a big red RESET button for your game. I think that this will not go far below $10, and it’ll be something that people will want to trade off of you for quite some time.

Sliver Hivelord – There will be healthy debate over whether this or Sliver Overlord should be the default Commander of the deck. Overlord finds the Hivelord, but being indestructible is a big draw. Either way, this is a card that will likely end up around $7, and the foils will be around $30.

The Soul Cycle – The Soul of Theros will probably be a little more expensive, due to how it buffs all of your creatures, but all of these will find their way into decks. Soul of New Phyrexia is the most intriguing to me, as a colorless creature, but all them offer powerful and repeatable effects.

The Chain Veil – Another card meant for the superfriends decks, only not good enough in Standard. In Standard, if you’re consistently activating ‘walkers, you’re ahead anyway. This is a ‘win more’ kind of card, and that’s the sort of card we love in casual circles! Four mana to use one Planeswalker twice is great, but if you have two or more than it’s just broken. It’ll be a niche card, so likely closer to $4 than $10, but the foils on this might get a very high premium. This is also an excellent candidate for a special printing, a Judge foil or some such.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled – I’m dying to put this in every EDH deck I can. It’s so powerful and it punishes so hard. I want to cheat it into play with Kaalia. I want to Pod it into play in response to things. I want to ramp into it and then laugh as others squirm. I don’t believe his price will ever be higher than a couple of dollars, or any of the five legends, but the foils might end up being a different story.

Scuttling Doom Engine – This might be a surprise card in the coming year. It’s big, reasonably costed, and doesn’t mind getting killed. It reminds me a lot of Thragtusk.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth – I hope you got rid of any nonfoils you have, because the supply on this is about to go up by at least three times what it was. Scarcity was the only reason the price was so high, and that problem is now solved.

Enjoy your prerelease!

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The Right and the Wrong of the Past Year

By: Cliff Daigle

Last week, I went over five of my best articles of the past year. Today, I’d like to go over some assorted statements I got right and wrong, and perhaps why.

The bad news first.

Planning Ahead for Commander 2013

I made two specific predictions in here. One, that the Zendikar fetches would be reprinted in these decks. Oops. But then again, we’re going to predict those reprints over and over again until they happen, because everyone wants them to happen.

I also said that the foil versions of Command Tower would be breaking $20 when these decks came out, and they have actually ticked downward. I still like picking these up in foil, as there’s been only two ways to get it in foil, and neither of which is easy to find in trade. As soon as someone trades for it, it goes into a deck.

Cents and Sensibility

While I firmly believe that Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is a plant for the coming block, it’s getting difficult to stomach trading for something at $10 and seeing it dip to the nearly $5 it’s at now.

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I’m only in for a dozen copies, so if it doesn’t pan out, I’m not too deeply in the red, but it’ll sting. I’d be likely to just sit on them and wait for the casual appeal to tick it back upward,

To happier subjects! Meaning, what have I been right about?

Where’s the Price Drop?

I stand by this, not in a financial sense but in a self-assessment sort of way. It’s important both professionally and personally that when you make a mistake, you look at why you made that error and how you can avoid it.

I think my biggest error there was overestimating how much M14 was opened. Several rares and mythics from that set have kept a high price despite seeing low numbers in play. All of M14 is about to rotate, and people have started to move on.

Side note: Garruk, Caller of Beasts has a Fair Trade price under $10. I’m trying hard to get these because they are just outstanding in any casual format. A plus ability that digs deep? Sold.

Are You a Collector?

You need to know this. Everything’s a reprint! Everything! This is sound financial advice, especially as we see Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Chord of Calling as incoming reprints. I believe that the originals will take a hit but they needed to. They didn’t see enough tournament play for their prices.

Don’t trade or buy cards that can be reprinted based on their scarcity. Pick them up based on how well they would survive a reprint.

Neat Tricks with MTGPrice

This is the first article I refer people to. There are a lot of features built into this site and you should take advantage. Prices, ProTrader, and more. I use these constantly and you should too.

I’m going to link to another article but it’s not yet time for me to evaluate how well I did:

October Price Rotation Targets

In a couple of months, I’ll be able to give that the right amount of time to see how well I did. Some I was right, some I was wrong. That’s one I’m looking forward to, mostly. Some things, I’m dreading.

Join me next week when we go over some Magic 2015 cards!

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Top 5 of the Year

By: Cliff Daigle

Today marks the 52nd article I’ve had published here. That’s a year’s worth of content, without skipping a beat!

I thought about reviewing all of them, as Mark Rosewater does yearly, but when I started to, it got a little daunting for a casual reader. So instead, I’d like to give you five specific recommendations from this past year.

#1 and #2: Trade it All and Don’t Buy Packs

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2013/07/12/prereleasekeeportrade/

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2013/07/19/thecaseforsinglesinm14/

These two articles are my first, and they hold up well, except for making me feel very sad about the trade I made and the beginning of Gatecrash, where I sent away a Polluted Delta for a sack of magic beans.

Still, the advice is solid: Trade everything as soon as you open it, and don’t buy packs when you want certain singles. Following those two pieces of advice will be a lot of the added value your collection gains over time.

#18 – The Value of Being Social

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2013/11/08/thevalueofbeingsocial/

While the focus here at MTGPrice is the finances, you can look at the social aspect in order to gain value and information. In this case, it’s free stuff! A stack of foil lands, altered cards, and a unique factor of having the EDH Rules Committee sign it all. It’s no wonder that this didn’t get to me until nine months after the contest ended.

#30 – Lessons from Owen

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2014/01/24/fivethingsowentaughtmeinonematch/

This particular match had me laughing for days. A friend of mine, hearing the story after the GP, said “This is worse than the dream where you go to school with no pants, it’s like you had less down there than a Ken doll.”

I try hard to make mistakes into lessons. We all screw up. When we do, we should try and see what happened, what went wrong, so we don’t do that twice.

I’ve been wishing people “Good Luck” ever since and meaning it.

#32 – Small Set Economics 6:2:1

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2014/02/07/smallseteconomics/

There is a good chance that this article is my best of the past year. We all know that the later sets are smaller, but doing the math made that sort of scary. I feel very good about the predictions for the Temples, especially the two of Journey Into Nyx.

While I mentioned it, it seems that Conspiracy is not affecting the drafts too much, the effect might be close to that of Modern Masters last year. Not a lot of stores were able to do more than one or two MM drafts, and while I found Conspiracy to be a blast in the drafting process, a lot of people are turned off from the one-pod, one-round aspect.

If your store is running Conspiracy events regularly, leave a comment or shoot me a tweet at @WordOfCommander and let me know. We’re trying to gain some idea of how much is being opened.

#48 – The Foil Gap

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2014/05/30/thefoilgap/

I’ve looked high and low for a consistent way to tell when something has casual appeal. I know what I like, what I’d want to play with, but I’m not perfect.

This method is good for showing appeal to groups that want something a little more special. Mostly, that’s casual players, but anyone who’s pimping out a deck will want a foil or a foreign foil. Note Abrupt Decay, as that’s going to get a reprint in the next year in a special product, but new foils won’t come along quite that fast.

Next week, I’ll be going over some of my predictions, to see where I’ve done well and where I’ve stumbled, and why. Informative, and humbling!

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More Trades From the Recent Past

By: Cliff Daigle

A while back, I shared with you some trades from my Deckbox history. Today, I want to revisit some more trades I’ve made.

My purpose here is to tell you what you can get if you get out at the height of value and pick up things that are currently undervalued. That is how I keep increasing the value of my collection, even while taking value out for EDH decks and other life expenses.

Again, at the time, these trades were about even, based on TCG’s mid price.

October 1, 2013

My: 4x Jace, Architect of Thought
Their: 3x Cavern of Souls, 4x Abrupt Decay, Deathrite Shaman

Remember when Jace hit $30? He was getting buylisted for $20 at his peak, but that peak was very, very short. You could have gotten him for about $8 in trade before summer, and not long after Theros came out, Jace spiked HARD.

jaot

If you were following certain people on Twitter (Travis Allen, et al.) then you could have seen people tweeting about the stacks of Jaces they had picked up for just this occasion. I could have sold my playset for $80, but instead I swung for the fences and went with this trade…and it’s hit. Cavern is a good bet to be reprinted, so I’m game to trade it away now that it’s nearly $20. Abrupt Decay has gone up a few bucks, Deathrite went down a couple, but those Jaces? Mega-ouch.

Amusingly, the weekend I did this trade, it was accepted on a Friday, and Jace was valued around $21. By that Monday he was $30 and I was annoyed that I hadn’t gotten more in trade.

This spike and the subsequent fall of Jace, Architect of Thought is why I’m so eager to trade for underpriced Planeswalkers now.

Current valuations: $22 vs. $114

November 21, 2013

My: Blood Crypt, Overgrown Tomb, 2x Temple Garden, 3x Stomping Ground
Their: 2x HP Plateau

Neither of these Plateaus turned out to be fakes, and considering their condition, that’s no surprise. It would have taken a lot of work to get them into such condition. They don’t look too bad in sleeves, and one went into an EDH deck, the other got traded at FNM for a fetchland.

With this trade, I want to reiterate something I and others have said: If you get a chance to trade in-print Standard for Reserved List cards, even in bad condition, even giving up 10%-20% in value, take it. It’s rare to find someone who’s willing to trade old for new, and when it’s ‘never get printed again’ old, grab it.

Current valuations: $62 vs. $80 ($40 for HP Plateau)

December 13,  2013

My: Hallowed Fountain, Stomping Ground
Their: Foil Prophet of Kruphix, Foil Temple of Deceit

During Return to Ravnica block I aggressively traded for shocklands. Their value wasn’t going to go down, and they are used everywhere, making them excellent trade fodder. I’m already up a little on this trade, but the foil Prophet is going to start climbing soon, as the shiny version of one of the best casual cards ever.

Current valuation: $17 vs. $21

January 13, 2014

My: Shardless Agent and Xira Arien (SP)
Their: 8x Prophet of Kruphix, 3x Rise of the Dark Realms (1 Japanese), 4x Thespian’s Stage (1 Japanese)

I know I’ve said it in multiple columns and on Twitter: Prophet is casual gold. In the past few months, it’s gone from under $2 to about $3, and that’s while it’s being opened. It’s not hard to see this as a $5 or more card by Christmas, especially if the rumors are true and Tarkir block is wedge-based. (Blue-Green-Red would be a wedge, such as Animar, Soul of Elements or Riku of Two Reflections.)

The only thing standing in the way of this being $10 in 18 months is the possibility of getting banned in Commander. I don’t see that happening, based on comparisons to Seedborn Muse, Winding Canyons, etc. It is possible, though. I’ve got 50 copies, and I expect to move around half when they hit $5.

Rise of the Dark Realms is something else you should be getting out of peoples’ trade binders. Especially as it makes a sweet combo with the recently-spoiled In Garruk’s Wake. Get to nine mana, wipe the board, and then get it all back the next turn.

Current valuations: $19 vs. $39

April 24, 2014

My: Armada Wurm, 3x Drowned Catacomb, Exquisite Blood, Glacial Fortress, Hinterland Harbor, Loxodon Warhammer (10E), 3x Mutilate (M13), Price of Progress (EXO), Thassa, God of the Sea
Their: 5x Aurelia, the Warleader, 2x Nighthowler (Game Day Promo), Prophet of Kruphix, Young Pyromancer (foil)

I’ve also spoken of my belief that Aurelia is a long-term growth prospect. This is one of the trades I’ve made to have a spare dozen of the angel. I hated trading away Thassa, because that’s only going to go up, but I have still increased my value. I’m pretty sure that Young Pyromancer is going to get reprinted, but it’s unlikely that the supplemental set it’s in will include foils. I’m going to hold this one until it’s at least $20.

Current valuations: $40 vs. $52

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