Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Early Spoils

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By: Cliff Daigle

The new wedge set is coming, and for those of us who lurk in casual circles, Cubing and Commanding until our fingers bleed, there’s a lot of good stuff!

Allied Fetchlands – Yes. Oh yes. Get them while they are in print, save a couple for yourself, and do not attempt to buy them up and hold them. You’d be looking at a very long-term hold, minimum three years. This set is likely going to be the best-selling set ever (again) and it cannot be overstated that there will be a lot of fetches in circulation. Being an all-time seller means that prices are mostly going to stay low, since supply is so high.

Shocklands were useful as trade bait: If you could trade five cards valued at $2 for one $10 shockland, you had something that was much easier to trade. Fetches are going to work the same way: these will be very easy to trade away, so pursue them accordingly.

A pair of side notes about these fetches: First of all, in EDH games, crack that fetchland immediately. Don’t wait until right before your turn. Don’t make everyone wait that extra minute for your shuffle. Secondly, if Wizards is willing to put allied fetches into Standard, they will do that for the enemy ones as well eventually. I doubt we’ll get them while these are Standard-legal, but my guess is that Modern Masters 2 will feature the filterlands. It’s been said that they made the mana too good, especially alongside Vivid lands. Remember, everyone could and did play Cryptic Command without much of an issue getting that triple blue, thanks to the filters.

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The Khans (the five mythic legends): With the exception of Narset, they are all aggressive in their costs and sizes. As well they should be, for three colors of mana. I don’t see any of these as being super-expensive, but you’ll see Zurgo and Surrak Commander decks especially. surrakdragonclaw1

Surrak Dragonclaw and Animar, Soul of Elements work so well together, I feel myself building a Two-Headed Commander deck of some sort. Narset is stunning in how well she works with the Prowess mechanic, and everything else that cares about noncreature spells. That’s a deck I am looking forward to building.

Villainous Wealth – This is the newest game-ender X spell. No milling, this is exiling. Forget your Eldrazi or Gaea’s Blessing insurance. I will be looking to pick up foils of this, but the regular ones are going to be bulk.

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Hardened Scales – I disagree with James on this one. It’s going to be bulk immediately, and bulk for a long time. If it were in Standard with evolve, then maybe, but even with the counters and tricks available, and this working well in multiples, it’s not going to be good enough. Maybe it’ll be $1 in a year. I don’t think I will run it in my Experiment Kraj EDH deck. I wouldn’t bother with it in an Animar deck. I recognize the potential, but I doubt it’s going to get there.

Empty the Pits – It’s been mentioned a number of places: We love recurring things in casual formats, especially Commander. Delve cards are going to have to be very good in order to justify not playing things that bring back creatures. I think this is very good, and I’ll happily run one in my tribal Zombie deck, but remember, the XX mana cost is competing with token generators like Entreat the Angels and Gelatinous Genesis. The love of Zombies, though, will keep this at a couple of bucks.

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See the Unwritten – I’m calling it now. This is my Primeval Bounty, my Sliver Hivelord. The mythic that I don’t think will be worth much but will instead keep a surprising amount of value. I’m dying to cast this in my Jund all-creatures deck.

Clever Impersonator – When I read this, I was stunned. The flexibility on this card is just outstanding. This is another mythic that will keep a decent price despite not seeing a lot of Standard play.

End Hostilities – You’re going to want to play this in just about any white deck. This gets rid of so many annoying things! It will never cost you much to get, though. Supreme Verdict made it to $7 at one point, and I see this maxing out at $3.

Goblinslide – I would keep an eye on the foils of this card. This may be as good as, or better than, Young Pyromancer. Getting the tokens with haste is certainly big game, and anything that makes Goblin tokens has good potential.

We don’t even have the full spoiler, but we will soon! I’m really excited for this set. If you have the chance to draft it, remember that the trilands in Alara block became first picks by the end, because mana fixing is just that good. Enjoy!

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Value of a Symbol

By: Cliff Daigle

I have one all-foil Commander deck. It’s tribal Vampires, with Garza Zol, Plague Queen at its head. I didn’t plan to foil it out at first, it just sort of happened that almost all the creatures were foil and I kept finding good prices and trades for the lands and accessories. Eventually, I was 80% foil and took the plunge, swapping out things that could never be foil (Oh, how I miss having Shauku, Endbringer!) and trading for foil filterlands, scrylands, etc.

One thing I didn’t have until recently was a foil Reflecting Pool, because there was only one foil version from Shadowmoor. It has been super-pricey due to a printing error: all of the foils have a Plains watermark, increasing the collectibility. When Conspiracy came out, I knew this would be my chance to get a foil Pool at a reasonable price. 

Imagine my surprise, though, when I see that there’s a significant gap between the two foils, with the same text, art, and frame! There are indeed some people who feel strongly that they have to have the original (in this case, the first available foil, as the Tempest version has no foil) and are willing to pay a high price to have that. Wrong watermark or not, that’s a big jump in price due to collectors.

In honor of them, I’d like to share with you a few examples of how much value being ‘original pack foil’ can add. My goal here is just the cards that have an expansion symbol of difference, and I encourage you to add your own to this list in the comments. I’ve looked for them, but I am not perfect.

Akroma, Angel of Wrath – $20 for Timeshifted foil, $30 for Legions foil

Just $10 to get rid of the purple expansion symbol seems worth it. The Timeshifted sheet causes all sorts of collector headaches!

Eternal Witness – $25 for Fifth Dawn foil, $11 for Modern Masters foil

One of the most busted cards in Commander, the foil prices are surprising. There’s an FNM version with similar art by Terese Nielsen, but the easily-recurred way to reuse anything has massive casual appeal.

Elspeth, Knight-Errant: $89 for Shards of Alara foil, $65 for Modern Masters foil

Shards block foils have additional price pressure on them, thanks to the all-foil packs Wizards printed at the end of the block. This higher number of foils is mainly pushing prices on commons and uncommons down, and not that many people were willing to drop $15 on a single booster.

I once did a draft with these though, and it was a lot of fun to have all foils!

Blood Moon – $64 for 9th edition foil, $55 for 8th edition, $45 for Modern Masters

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How I wish we had some hard sales numbers on the different sets. It’s entirely possible that there are a lot more MM foils out there, because 8th and 9th were close to the dark days of Magic. This was a surprise find, though, I thought these would be more expensive, considering how good they are in Eternal formats, and how often Legacy and Vintage like to foil out their decks.

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker – $27 for Conflux foil, $16 for M14 foil

Another card that had extras due to the foil Shards packs, there’s also a Duel Deck foil with very different art to be had for the same price as a nonfoil.

Progenitus – $39 for Conflux foil, $28 for Modern Masters foil

The FTV foil is frankly unappealing next to the original, which had great tricks with clouds to make it clear just how huge The Soul Of The World is. If you have the extra $11 for the original, go for it.

Glen Elendra Archmage – $65 for Eventide foil, $27 for Modern Masters foil

A gap of a few dollars doesn’t surprise me too much, but this being more than double is really surprising. Looking at the price history for the Eventide foil, the price went up when Modern Masters was around. To be fair, that summer, lots of things went up as the hype to join the format was at its peak. Things have stabilized since.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth – $53 for Planar Chaos, $19 for M15 or FTV

The FTV is the same art but it is also the same vertically shiny foiling process that turns some people off. If you wanted to skip that, I’d respect your choice. This was the only foil available for some time, which may be why the price is still so much more.

Woodfall Primus – $34 for Shadowmoor foil, $18 for Modern Masters foil

For a long while, this was a strong option for Reanimator decks, blasting lands and setting the other person back significantly. And perhaps to do it twice! Ashen Rider is just an upgrade on that process, though.

Jace Beleren – $29 for Lorwyn foil, $17 for M10, $19 for M11

Weirdly, this effect is in place for Garruk and Liliana as well, but not Ajani or Chandra. Ajani Goldmane has a Pro Tour foil that might be affecting the foil prices. Garruk and Liliana have Duel Deck promos, as well as Duels of the Planeswalker cards, but these are still showing big steps in price from set to set.

If you’re hardcore about getting the first foil, be my guest, but keep in mind that in a lot of cases, you’re paying a premium for it. That premium is on top of the premium you’re giving to have foils in the first place. I understand completely, though.

Join me next week as we explore some of the spoiled cards and see what you’ll be seeing at kitchen tables for a long time!

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Price Warps

By: Cliff Daigle

I’m trying to collect a foil set of the draft-altering Conspiracy cards. It’s slow going for someone who doesn’t want to just buy them off assorted vendors. I much prefer to save my money and accumulate through trading.

The rare foils are not just in demand, they are hard to find. Those who want them want them BADLY and when they are acquired, they leave circulation as they enter into Cubes.

With the number never being too high to start with, and the urge to acquire very strong, that leads to a lot of weird things happening when it comes to pricing a card.

Last week, I found someone with a foil Lore Seeker on deckbox.org. I opened a trade and thus began the dance. Deckbox has a pricing algorithm of its own, since it no longer takes directly from TCGPlayer’s mid. When I added foil Lore Seeker to the mix, the value went up by $200.

This trader wanted five foil shocklands and a Badlands from me for this Lore Seeker.

Feel free to do a double-take at that price. Naturally, I flip tabs to MTGPrice and there it is at $100…but only available at Amazon or HotSauce. Hmmm. Fishy.

When there is a small supply of something, the few data points available can really warp perception. We’re good, but we are prisoners of the data.

I decide to look at a few other places. TCG has four available, three at about $200 and one at $100. Wow. My first reaction is something like “Really?” TCG allows you to price cards at whatever you want, so usually, what’s listed is stuff that stores or individuals really want to sell. These strike me as ‘hopeful’ prices, from three vendors who are okay sitting on cards as long as it takes.

There’s one place that allows you to not only sell, but it lists what things have sold for: eBay. Let’s see…foil Lore Seeker…completed listings…sort by date….presto!

Here is what foil Lore Seeker is selling for. There’s a range of prices, some luck, but there’s certainly nothing that sold for triple digits, and only one over $50.

What’s really telling is that lots and lots of vendors do not have this in stock. I don’t think there’s an organized buyout–I simply think that Cubers want this card very badly. It’s getting snapped up when it shows up, because it allows for another booster pack when it is drafted.

The Seeker is getting a very overinflated treatment. Conspiracy foils (see the cards here and the Conspiracies here) are about where you’d expect, with the mythic and Legacy/Vintage foils commanding a real premium. Foil Dack Fayden, as an awesome Vintage card, is not a surprise in the $250 range. Foil Marchesa, the Black Rose, as a sweet Commander card, is not that shocking at $90.

There’s an outlier at the top of the Conspiracies list, though: Worldknit. This is another incredibly sweet card to put into your Cube, because now you get to play everything ever! It’s got a Fair Trade Price of $100…with one Amazon seller. Uh-oh. A little searching on that, though, shows us that plenty of those can be had for around $15, on eBay or other sellers we don’t list in the FTP.

So when someone quotes you a ridiculous price, or at least a price that feels ridiculous, check it. Check it several ways. If it still feels like too much to you, walk away. There might be a buyout happening, or a price warp. Don’t trade $200 worth of cards for something that sold on eBay last week for under $20.

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Commander 2014 Preparation

By: Cliff Daigle

Yes, I’m thinking a lot about a set of decks that aren’t going to be available until November.

I’m of two minds about this set.

From a playing and flavor perspective, I’m stoked beyond words. I’m hoping to see Teferi, Serra, Freyalise, Jaya Ballard, and Leshrac as overpowered Planeswalkers and eventual judge foils. (There’s going to have to be a foil version somehow. They know that we want a foil to be our Commander!)

From a financial standpoint, I don’t think there will be a lot of immediate opportunity here. The first Commander set was put together and printed when the player base was significantly smaller, and while sealed product is at a premium, there aren’t many standalone stars.

Wizards has demonstrated this past year that if the preconstructed decks are bought in disproportionate amounts, then they will print disproportionate amounts. True-Name Nemesis is the case study. It started out at $50, as befits a powerful blue creature in Legacy in a limited printing. It was impacting the sale of Commander decks, as Mind Seize couldn’t stay on shelves.

The company turned around and started printing and sending out two Mind Seize per case instead of just one, and the demand appears to have been met, as TNN is down to $25, a price at which it’s not cost-effective to hunt for the deck.

The decks still carry a lot of value in the singles, but without the big-ticket item to immediately sell via buylist (and the rest of the deck doesn’t buylist well) things are in a reasonable state.

The reprinting policy is extremely relevant to us. If one of the five mono-color decks blows up this winter, the price will not hold. There’s a chance that if True-Name Nemesis isn’t reprinted, it might creep up again (more on that in a second) but the initial demand was met through adding additional supply.

Here is the behavior you’ll need to have for the five decks in November: Buy it soon, sell it fast, don’t try to make too much for too long.

The decks being mono-color offers the opportunity for many reprints of cards that could use it. I would expect a combination of very old and semi-old cards to go with the brand-new ones. I think that Wizards will use these products as a way to increase supply of some cards. If these cards are reprinted, there will be a drop in value, much like with the Commander 2013 cards.

In some cases, the price of a card will be unaffected by a reprint, or scarcity will keep a higher price. Hua Tuo, Honored Physician is an example. Hua Tao did not have a high price due to the ability, but the scarcity of the set. The same card in Commander 2013 is worth a dollar, and the original lost about $40 in value.

In case I haven’t made it clear: I don’t think there is much long-term value to be gained by trading or buying into expensive cards that can be reprinted in the next year. The combination of MM2 in May and these Commander decks creates too much uncertainty for my taste. Better to focus speculation energy and money on Standard cards. I mentioned a few reprint candidates two weeks ago, and here are some more. If you have any of these in quantity, I strongly urge you to cash them out or trade them away.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence – This angel is around $50, and is overdue for a reprint. Her ability is very relevant in keeping down the Splinter Twin decks of Modern, and is also great in dealing with the many utility abilities of Commander. This angel and Avacyn are locks in my mind to be in this set or Modern Masters 2. There’s a good chance that this deck has a tribal Angel feel, which would open up cards like Akroma, Angel of Wrath or Iona, Shield of Emeria as well.

Aven Mindcensor – One of the more expensive uncommons in Modern, a fresh injection of copies would tank the price by half or more.

Bloodghast – This card would work exceptionally well with the spoiled Ghoulcaller Gisa, with repeated sacrifices. I can see Gravecrawler being an easy include for the same reason.

Death Baron – Gisa’s tokens are Zombies. Making them better and deadly is very strong.

Nirkana Revenant – In an EDH deck with around 30 swamps, this is just ridiculous. Doubling mana is a favorite thing in casual formats, and using that mana immediately is a real beating.

Phyrexian Obliterator – It increased in price twice, is more than $35, and will never be easier to cast than in a mono-black deck.

Consecrated Sphinx – In a multiplayer game, this is capable of taking over. An opponent getting a copy means that two players can draw their entire deck!

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner – I like the benefit and drawback to this ability. You’ll have to pay twice to equip something, or use a different ability.

Spell Crumple – In case you weren’t aware, this is a $6 uncommon that was a two-of in one of the original Commander 2011 decks. A reprint will cause this price to plummet.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking – Yup, she’s more than $20. Watch out, because it’ll go much, much lower when she’s printed again.

Craterhoof Behemoth – A choice finisher in token or swarm decks, this seems like a for-sure include in the mono-green deck.

Oracle of Mul Daya – Oracle’s price was never this high when she was in Standard. Look at what this offers, and then Courser of Kruphix. Adding life and toughness while lowering mana cost does a lot for the card!

Regal Force – Oh, it feels good resolving this and drawing ten or more cards. It’s appropriately expensive.

Vigor – I realize that this is a card that dies to targeted and mass removal, but it’s really awesome until it gets killed. It has a price that reflects how popular it is despite being so easy to kill.

Dragonmaster Outcast – Oh, I hope this is in Khans of Tarkir block. If not, this and Kargan Dragonlord are strong candidates for the mono-red Commander deck.

Magus of the Moon – A Modern card that can be its own answer (my Hallowed Fountain can now cast Lightning Bolt!) this represents a very strong ability, and a card that would go lower when reprinted.

I don’t think that all of these are going to be in Commander 2014. I think there’s a good chance of them being printed in that set (or Modern Masters 2) and these are cards I don’t want to have in stock when their price tanks.

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