Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Commander 2014 Preparation

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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!)

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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.

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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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My Long Term Binder

By: Cliff Daigle

I would love to tell you that I am a true financier when it comes to Magic. I wish I could say that I buy hundreds of a card on speculation that it will rise, and cash out handsomely when it does.

If you follow individual writers on Twitter, you’ll see that some of us do indeed carry out this large-scale investing. I admit, I’m jealous sometimes when I see that Travis bought 50 of something or Jim has picked up a stack of sweet Japanese foils.

I’ve got two kids under the age of two, so I simply don’t have the funds for large speculations. If I have gone deep on a card, I’ve traded, laboriously, for every copy of that card.  I make it to FNM as often as I can, but I also do a lot of online trading.

For example: when Jace, Architect of Thought was $8, I traded for four. When it spiked last winter, I turned those into four Cavern of Souls and three Abrupt Decay. I’ve traded those Decays for six Hero’s Downfall plus a little, and two Caverns for five Thassa, God of the Sea. When those go up, I’ll trade for things I want for EDH decks, or more value in the future.

Today, I want to walk you through my long-term binder, and hopefully you get a sense of how to grow your collection’s value over time.

If you’re a regular reader of mine, some of these will sound familiar. I practice what I preach.

36 Prophet of Kruphix
Acquired at: $2
Target price: $5
Expected timeframe: One year or more

Yavimaya Coast being in Magic 2015 and Khans being about enemy wedges means that blue-green is a viable choice for colors this fall. If Riku or Animar are reprinted, expect Prophet to take off with either of those cards. Prophet is redundant in multiples, but this is one of the best things you could be doing in EDH, until it gets banned. It hasn’t yet, so I’m optimistic.

 

27 Thespian’s Stage
Acquired at: sub-$1
Target price: $3 or more
Expected timeframe: Years

This went up to $2 when the combo with Dark Depths was revealed, but it remains one of the best things you can be doing in Commander games. This is a cheap pickup and has good potential, as long as I can be patient.

8 Soldier of the Pantheon
Acquired at: $1.50
Target price: $3
Expected timeframe: less than a year

I think this would have a higher price if Selesnya Charm could target it. There will always be a white aggro deck, and this is two power for one mana with upside. I’m not expecting this to go crazy, just enough to make it worth trading away. It’s so low-risk anyway, even a modest gain will pay off nicely.

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10 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Acquired at: $5-$10
Target price:$10-$15
Expected timeframe: winter

This is a card I’m expecting to trade away at the height and then trade for a few at rotation in a year. I really like the long-term prospects on this, considering how good is is in casual formats. If devotion is a thing, it’ll need several of these and I’ll be happy to trade these away at an increased price.

 

8 Aurelia, the Warleader
Acquired at: $4
Target price:$8-$10
Expected timeframe:a year or more

I traded for these before we knew what Iroas, God of Victory did. Her price went up just a little, but she’s a mythic angel that does ridiculous things in the two most aggressive colors. I don’t see this sinking much when she rotates in October, and going on a slow upward climb. If you haven’t seen this used as a Commander, you haven’t lived!

 

7 Rise of the Dark Realms
Acquired at: $2
Target price: $5+
Expected timeframe: years

There’s not a lot else you want to do with nine mana. This being a mythic means that there’s a lot less as compared to In Garruk’s Wake, which is only a rare. I’m sitting on these for a long time. There’s a combo currently legal in Standard, this and the Wake. Kill them all, and then take it all.

 

8 Thassa, God of the Sea
Acquired at: $6
Target price: $10-$20
Expected timeframe: winter

This is a card I’ve been going for as a short-term target. It hasn’t showed up in Modern much, but it’s really powerful in heavy-blue decks. It sees some play now but that was when this was in print, and it will only take one strong finish for these to go through the roof.

 

10 Hero’s Downfall
Acquired at: $5
Target price: $10
Expected timeframe: winter

Another short-term target, this has got some great potential as this is an answer to lots of problems. It’s been $10 before as a card that was still being opened, and it won’t take much to get back to where is was, or higher

 

4 Foil Boros Charm
Acquired at: $8
Target price: $20
Expected timeframe: whenever Boros Burn wins a Pro Tour

I am sitting on a playset of these, because the foil price is so much higher. The charm is a great EDH and Cube card, and is a key Burn card. I’ve got a playset and a couple more in Commander decks, and I have no trouble seeing this get to a high price when something happens and it blows up. The nonfoil has already had an extra printing in an Event deck, so I’ve focused on foils.

That’s my Hold binder. Are there things I should add to it? What and for how long?

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Reprints That Hurt

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.

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.

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.

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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