Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Reprints That Hurt

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By: Cliff Daigle

Case: Avenger of Zendikar. Maelstrom Pulse

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about cards in Standard that I feel are going to go up.

As someone who plays a lot more EDH than Standard, I can tell you that there’s some cards that have a value that’s purely based on their scarcity and age. Cards printed more than a couple of years ago were printed in noticeably smaller quantities. Wizards is stingy with precise numbers, but it’s been reported that each of the large fall sets since Zendikar in 2009 through Return to Ravnica in 2013 has been Wizards’ best-selling set ever. I can’t find that quote for this year, but I’m still looking!

One of the things that we have to be aware of is reprints. With three Limited Grands Prix scheduled for next May, it seems Modern Masters 2 is on the horizon. Some reprints will go up, some will maintain value, and some will go down.

Today, I want to go over some cards that I think would go down in value if printed in Modern Masters 2, a supplementary set (like Conspiracy) or a product like a Duel Deck or Commander.

Two examples of cards that lowered in value:

Avenger of Zendikar: As a mythic from Worldwake, there’s not a lot of these around. It was around $12 before being in one of the Commander 2013 decks, which lowered its price down to $6. The Commander version, with the same art and text but a different set symbol, is priced at half of that.

Capture

 

Maelstrom Pulse: This was in the $25 range as a rare from a small third set, and that wasn’t affected much by being a Grand Prix foil. When it was put into Modern Masters, the value fell to $10, and it’s not seeing as much Modern play since the introduction of Abrupt Decay. That swap for the cheaper mana cost has lowered the price on Pulse just a bit farther.

Spell Pierce: If I could go back in time to 2009, I would buy up all the foils of this card when they could be had for ten cents. The regular wouldn’t be a bad investment either. A reprint in MM2 seems quite likely, but the nonfoils won’t hold any value. Get out soon.

Splinter Twin: Another likely reprint, as the price has just gone up and up and up and up this past year. It’s $20 now, due to the set it was in, a large set with a short run and a high degree of popularity in Modern. Keep the ones you need, get rid of the rest.

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Leyline of Sanctity: The new Leyline deck in Legacy has caused a rise in this price and other Leylines, but this is an incredible sideboard card against Storm and Burn, and will see a reprint tank its value. Remember, the playerbase has more than doubled in the four years since it was printed.

Cavern of Souls: The price on this has been creeping steadily upwards since its rotation out of Standard. It’s in demand from every format, and is another strong candidate for MM2. Expect the dip in price when it does, and pick up all you need for Cubes and EDH then.

Worldwake man lands: Celestial Colonnade especially, but all of them are worth reprinting in a cycle, either in MM2 or some other set soon.

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The Eldrazi: Kozilek, Ulamog, Emrakul, and even It That Betrays. There’s always going to be a high demand for huge colorless creatures, and a reprint of these is going to happen soon.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope: She’s $30 purely due to casual demand. I will be very surprised if Avacyn or Linvala aren’t in the white Commander deck (Can I hope for Serra?) this fall.

Mana Reflection: We love doubling our mana. I played a game of EDH with a mono-Forest deck, with Rofellos on turn 2, this on turn three, and Genesis Wave for 14 on turn four. Good times.

Khalni Hydra: Sure, it can be free if enough stuff is already in play, but this is another that has a high price merely due to scarcity, not Constructed demand.

Maelstrom Archangel: Small set mythic, popular tribe, fun effect. Expect this to get cut by half when it gets another printing.

Sigil of the Empty Throne: This has already seen a minor bump due to the presence of enchantments in Theros making casual enchantment decks better. It got reprinted two years ago, and this is one of the cards where both versions have the same value.

Lord of Extinction: Purely a casual card, and one that would take a huge hit at its second printing. I’ve got one foil in one EDH deck and I sent all the others packing.

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Commanding Standard

By: Cliff Daigle

There are five wedges in Khans of Tarkir; five three-color combinations. Look at the back of a Magic card, choose one color, and add the two colors opposite. Those are the five wedges.

These wedges coincide with the color combinations of the original five Commander preconstructed decks. There is nothing guaranteed about Magic and reprints, but with the legends from the first set fetching some high prices, it’s worth looking at their prices, both now and if they are reissued into Standard.

There is precedent: Scavenging Ooze hit $40 as part of these decks before falling, and then being put into Standard last year. I am basing these ideas on reprints coming as rares, and not mythics. If these get the red-orange treatment, their value will be much higher.

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I’m also going to cover the Planar Chaos dragons, because we’ve been told that this set is all about dragons! If there’s a time to reprint these into Standard, there won’t be a more thematically appropriate one.

Abzan: Green, White, Black (commonly known as Junk)

In many ways, this wedge had already seen a lot of development as the Treefolk wedge during Lorwyn block. There’s even a unique three-color land for it in Murmuring Bosk, and the three-mana 5/5 that is Doran, the Siege Tower.

Legends: Teneb, the Harvester ($1), Karador, Ghost Chieftain ($7) and Ghave, Guru of Spores ($8)

First of all, neither of the new legends has had a foil version printed yet, so there’s not a more-demanded version. Being in Khans would mean that the foils commanded a true premium, as existing decks sought to upgrade their commanders.

Teneb is interesting, as there’s signs that this will be a set that utilizes the graveyard. I can see board states where you attack with your dragon, pay three to reanimate a blocker. That’s a useful line of play, though! Teneb would be bulk if reprinted as a rare.

Karador is a more universal creature, whereas Ghave would have been a great fit for Jund, with tokens and sacrifices all over the place. Ghave probably wouldn’t return until a Saproling-infested set, so I think Karador is more likely. He’s not going to warp Standard, because he can’t be replayed the same way as Commanders can. Ghave would be more problematic, I think, because it only takes one sacrifice effect for him to take over. Think Blood Artist, or Parallel Lives.

Both new cards would fall into the $3-$5 range if reprinted as rares, but the foils would be at least $20.

Jeskai: Red, White, Blue

It’ll be nice to stop calling this America, or some variation. This is a popular combination in Modern and Legacy.

Legends: Numot, the Devastator ($1), Zedruu, the Greathearted ($1.50), and Ruhan of the Fomori ($1)

Neither of the new legends has been foiled yet, and Zedruu’s would be more in demand. The ‘give it away’ style of deck is suprisingly popular.

There is a history of multicolored creatures having a higher power and toughness. Fusion Elemental as an 8/8 for five mana, or even Loxodon Smiter as a 4/4 for merely three mana. Ruhan would not be out of line, as just a big beater who is bad at defending. Zedruu would see no Standard play, though that wouldn’t stop people from trying. Cards and life are a big draw, but the creature is so vulnerable and there’s a lot of work to set up that first card and lifegain.

Numot’s ability ends games quickly in a duel. In an EDH game, you can hit one player, and destroy someone else’s lands, but head-to-head, it’s going to be over and fast.

I think Ruhan is more likely to be reprinted, both of these are about a dollar now. Reprinting them won’t affect that, and foils will have a higher demand for Zedruu than Ruhan. All three would end up as bulk rares, with a $10 foil for Ruhan and $15 for Zedruu.

Sultai: Black, Blue, Green (Most often, we refer to this as BUG and that’s another acronym I’ll be well rid of.)

Legends: Vorosh, the Hunter ($1), The Mimeoplasm ($6), and Damia, Sage of Stone ($12).

The Mimeoplasm was in Commander’s Arsenal, giving a foil at $12 that’s about double the original. Damia is at $12 anyway, because drawing cards is awesome. At seven mana, and needing to live a turn to refill your hand, I think Damia would be a safe addition to Standard. Her price would likely tumble to $2 or lower, though.

Vorosh’s ability is sort of silly in a duel. Take 6, then take 12. Not dead? Take 18. It has flying, so trample isn’t quite as needed, but in a world with Triplicate Spirits, chump-blocking seems likely. Just above bulk now, and bulk if reprinted.

A more interesting card is The Mimeoplasm. We have gotten several cards that hint at graveyard interactions, and this legendary Ooze might be a real combo piece. Imagine Satyr Wayfinder into Necromancer’s Assistant into Jace, the Living Guildpact. Activate that, then again the next turn. Your turn-five Mimeoplasm has a choice of nine cards to power up with. That’s a dream hand, but there’s going to be more to work with. I think this has a very good chance of being reprinted.

I don’t see The Mimeoplasm taking much of a tumble, but I would be very interested in the decks that utilize it. Expect the Ooze to be $3 or so if reprinted.

Temur: Red, Blue, Green

Legends: Intet, the Dreamer ($1), Riku of Two Reflections ($10) and Animar, Soul of Elements ($15)

RUG is popular in Legacy, especially with Shardless Agent. I’m going to need a pronunciation guide for the khans. Does this rhyme with lemur?

Intet is intriguing. These five dragons are big flyers that hit hard and win more for you. This ability saying “Draw and play a card for free” is quite broken in Commander games, and I’m not sure that the extra color of mana will be worth it for any of the dragons. We might prefer to give up on a point of power, but keep it single-color and just play Mahamoti Djinn. Reprinting Intet would be a very cheap card.

Riku wants a foil quite badly. He’s a popular general for EDH games, because he can get a lot of effect from just a little mana. The card would drop to $1-$2, but the foils might be the most expensive here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at $30 or more. Riku can go infinite with Regrowth and Time Walk-style effects, and in colors that offer ramp dells and counterspells. Standard is a different story, I can’t see such a costly and weak creature being useful.

Animar is the most linear and explosive of the 2011 legends. Believe me, it’s very easy to build a critical mass of creatures, and that doesn’t even allow for artifact creatures. Animar has protection from the colors that don’t use damage, so once he’s out of Lightning Strike range, he’s going to wreck. I believe Standard would try to use this, but I’m not sure how good it would be without things like Garruk’s Packleader and Primordial Sage to keep the engine running. I think the price would settle around $5, with foils being $20.

Mardu: Red, White, Black

Legends: Oros, the Avenger ($1), Kaalia of the Vast ($25), and Tariel, Reckoner of Souls ($8)

Oros has alternate art and neat foiling as befit a prerelease promo. That version can be had for just a couple of dollars, and while it’s handy to clear the board of small nonwhite flyers, you’re hitting in the air for six damage. This is probably the most useful of the abilities, as it can stabilize in a race.

Tariel is a very fun choice for reanimation decks, or decks that want to not be Kaalia. This price is entirely due to scarcity, and reprinting this card would tank its value to near-bulk levels. Seven mana for no immediate effect is not going to do much in Standard.

Now, Kaalia. If you click on the set of Commander cards, sorted by price (like this) then you’ll see that Kaalia is the second-most valuable card in the set. None of the other legends are within $10 of her, and the reason is because she enables three very powerful tribes. I have seen Kaalia decks that focus on just one of the three tribes, and that is a fun restriction. As an innocuous 2/2 flyer for a difficult mana cost (without green to fix mana, she’s tough to cast) she’s no big deal, but then she’s got a Dragon Tyrant crashing in alongside her!

I think that Kaalia has a good chance of being reprinted, primarily because this is a set that likes Dragons. Her price is going to come down significantly if this happens, though I’m not sure how far the Commander’s Arsenal version will come down. A lot depends on if the same art is used, because new art means there’s more than just a set symbol’s difference.

I don’t think that any of the Commander 2011 legends would break Standard, or Modern. Reprinting them as rares (if it happens, it would likely be a cycle at rare, we’re already getting Zurgo and the Khans as a cycle at mythic) would tank their value, but it would present some interesting decks to be built.

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The Pattern of Growth

By: Cliff Daigle

In the past couple of weeks, I and others have shared with you some advice on Theros block cards that are likely to go up during Khans of Tarkir block this coming fall/winter.

We aren’t basing these cards on pure chance, but on a series of previous cards that have hit a low as their block ended, then rose during the next.

Let’s go over a few of these so you can see trends to look for. I’ll be using the initial price, the 9-month price, the 14-month price, and the 2-year price. We are almost to that two-year mark, and as we get closer, prices will go even lower as the card prepares to rotate out of Standard.

Remember, all you have to do is set the slider to look into a card’s financial past.

Jace, Architect of Thought
Initial: $40
9 months: $8
14 months: $25
2 years: $5

While this cards exemplifies the trend I’m talking about, it’s far from the only one. As a planeswalker, Jace 4.0 had a high initial and preorder price, which lowered over the course of the block. He was an easy pickup at $8, and when he spiked, there was a lot if money to be made.

Desecration Demon
Initial: $3
9 months: $3
14 months: $10
2 years: $2

Pack Rat
Initial: $1 or less
9 months: $1 or less
14 months: $6
2 years: $2

desc dem

Both of these cards, as well as Underworld Connections, benefited from the rise of black devotion decks, and the reach of Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Pack Rat was a bulk rare, notable only for how impossible it was to beat in Draft or Sealed formats. Demon’s price was often lower than $3 because of the tokens everywhere his first year, especially off of Lingering Souls.

When these two hit, they hit big. They are back to a low price now because there’s no home for them in Modern, and there isn’t enough casual appeal to maintain the high price. Remember, you always want to sell into the hype. Don’t get greedy. If your $2 card hits $7 on buylists, sell or trade them all. Don’t agonize over feeling like you might miss more profit–take your profit and be happy. Just look back at Jace, AoT. He spiked then trickled down for months.

Supreme Verdict
Initial: $5
9 months: $3
14 months: $8
2 years: $4

I don’t have a lot of money to speculate with. I prefer to trade, not purchase, but when I have a dozen that I traded for at $3 get to a buylist price of $5, that’s a really good feeling. There’s a chance this starts creeping back up, because Modern might utilize this over Wrath of God. Keep in mind that this was the buy-a-box promo, so the supply is slightly higher for casual players.

Domri Rade
Initial: $15
9 months: $10
14 months: $30
2 years: $9

Domri, as a three-drop planeswalker, has mountains to climb. Cheap ‘walkers can rarely protect themselves, but he can grind out advantages, and his interaction with Courser of Kruphix led to his abrupt spike. It’s amusing to me how much this and Xenagos both want to be in all-creature decks!

Nightveil Specter
Initial: $2
9 months: $2
14 months: $10
2 years: $3

This was another card that went crazy with the premiere of the Devotion mechanic. It fit into the mono-black AND the mono-blue lists, both of which surged in popularity, and are still among the top archetypes. Being the Release promo didn’t make a difference to the price at all, something to keep in mind when a card is spiking.

Notable about this card is that there was a window between devotion being spoiled and this card exploding. This is why spoiler season brings out all the speculators, for good or ill. Boros Reckoner hasn’t made the same sort of impact, mainly due to the colors. Blue wants Thassa to be a creature and Master of Waves to make lots of tokens. Black wants the biggest Gray Merchant of Asphodel effect. Red does have the Fanatic of Mogis interaction, but that hasn’t proven to be as strong.

Mutavault
Initial: $15
6 months: $35
1 year: $25

These last two cards, being part of Core Sets, have a shorter time in Standard, but the curve is apparent. Started low (especially for being a reprint of a $40 card) then got very high as all sorts of decks started including the best ‘man-land’ ever, and is trickling downwards as we near rotation. It sees some Modern and Legacy play, mainly in tribal decks, but not enough to justify too high a price.

It’s a tribute to the consistency of Temples and shocklands that three-color control decks would run a few of these, often as an answer to opposing Mutavaults, but wow. Colorless lands in a three-color deck!

Archangel of Thune
Initial: $30
6 months: $15
9 months: $35
One year: $15

arch thu

There has been a real rollercoaster on this card in the past year.  As a mythic of a very popular tribe, her price is never going to be very low, especially at a measly five mana. She spiked when control decks boarded her in, a threat that grows and gains you life, and tricks with Mutavault help too.

These are only a few examples. There are historical ones too, but we need to keep an eye on what Magic is now, especially in terms of the number of cards printed.

I hope this helps you think about and identify the same trend in Magic 2015 and Khans of Tarkir!

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The Beginning of the Fall

By: Cliff Daigle

Welcome to Magic 2015!

Last week I went over some prices from this set, where I’d expect them to settle out.

This week, I want to note some current prices and start to track how fast they fall. They will almost all fall, because the release of a set will allow the mass cracking of packs, to fill preorders and stock inventory. Buylists also kick in, and let me say this clearly: if you open something amazing, trade it or buylist it ASAP. I opened a Sun’s Champion on release weekend and buylisted it for $25 cash.

So if you crack a Chain Veil, you’re going to get more for it this weekend than you are for quite a while. Trade it to that person who’s dying for it. Don’t be afraid to call it out in a store, seeking that person who wants it SO BAD!

Nissa, Worldwaker ($37) – The midweek spike on Nissa indicates that someone, or a group of someones, has decided that the preorder/prerelease price on her was too low. If this is due to testing for the Pro Tour in August, or some Standard combination of cards. (She is pretty amazing with shocklands…) We don’t know what the motivation is for this spike, but it’s happened very quickly, since the stock on this card is currently very low. We are about to get a lot more available, though, so unless she takes over quickly, her price will lower again.

Garruk, Apex Predator ($25) – The eBay price on this card has dropped about $10 in the past weeks, and at seven mana I don’t think he will be more than a two-of in decks that can play him. It is worth mentioning that in the right deck, Nissa can get Garruk out on turn four without working too hard. His price probably won’t go much below $20, from people who like playing lots of planeswalkers.

Ajani Steadfast ($15) – Here is the problem with this Ajani: at four mana, he requires others to protect him. Without other creatures, he is likely to die quickly and have no lasting effect on a game. His decline will be thorough, barring something very unusual.

Jace, the Living Guildpact ($12) – While this Jace isn’t quite as powerful as some of his brothers, his ultimate is something everyone wants to do. He starts at five loyalty, and it can go up to six immediately on turn four. That’s a lot of damage to do quickly, and if needed, his bounce is expensive but useful. Putting a card in a graveyard appears to be something that the next block will care about, so that sort of speculation will keep him from going more than a couple bucks cheaper.

Sliver Hivelord ($12) – The downward trend has begun for a card that was preordering at $15. I would expect to see the price climb a little as Sliver EDH players scramble this week to get their singleton, and after that demand is met, there’s nowhere to go but down.

Chord of Calling ($11) – Even if there’s a Standard deck that starts playing this, it’s a core set rare. There will be lots and lots of these in circulation, and it needs to be a rather ubiquitous card (like Mutavault this past year) for such cards to keep a price. It sees some Modern play, but probably not enough to see a price increase. It will get to $7-$10 before long.

Soul of New Phyrexia ($10) – Yes, it has a neat activated ability, but this is no Aetherling. To play it and keep the ability open is going to cost 11…and won’t protect from Banishing Light and the like. The price will drop by half.

Perilous Vault ($7) – I suspect that this card won’t go much lower. It’s too good and too scarce to stay in the $5 range. This will be the bane of many Commander games, but considering how easy it is to build a graveyard recursion deck, perhaps this is for the best.

Waste Not ($7) – Dump it now. This will be lucky to stay at $2.

Hushwing Gryff ($3) – Let me talk you out of hoarding this card, looking at it like it is Aven Mindcensor‘s second coming. The Aven is a $10 uncommon because of the set it was in and the number in circulation. We don’t get the specific numbers, but a Magic 2015 rare is probably lots and lots more common than a Future Sight uncommon, solely due to the number of cards printed and players who open packs. The Gryff is not going to hit $10 based on Modern appeal, and I don’t want to hear any more Mindcensor comparisons.

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