Category Archives: Digging for Dollars

Digging for Dollars: Aether Revolt

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By: James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Aether Revolt swoops in this week to find the mainstream Magic: The Gathering in a bit of a weird place. In the aftermath of a return to the 24 month Standard rotation cycle, a trio of aggressive Standard bans and the specter of a ban cycle with twice as many announcement dates, investing in uber powerful Standard cards just got significantly riskier.

So how does one go about trying to make some money on Aether Revolt cards?

Well, as per usual now is the time to sell the set if you’re already holding. If you intend to crack cases and sell singles, you should already have them in hand, as within two weeks or less you’ll be dealing with a saturated market and prices that have fallen to lows as much as 40-50% below starting prices. At present there are over twelve rares and mythics from Aether Revolt priced above $5, most of which will fall back to earth in the coming weeks.

Secondly, as a small winter set packed with unique cards that are practically dripping with combo potential, Aether Revolt is likely to end up with a bunch of cards that don’t quite have the necessary pieces to make it in Standard, only to show up in other formats down the road as folks figure out the most efficient combo shells.

Finally, with the Masterpiece Inventions present in Aether Revolt, the Expected Value of the rest of the set is similarly impacted in the same way as it was with Kaladesh and the recent Zendikar block. On the flip side the set is more densely packed with complex and interesting cards than the average set, which bodes well for the potential value of sealed product once it leaves print.

Note: there has been some confusion in the past over the intent of this article series, let’s get clear. Digging for Dollars is about looking for opportunities that aren’t played out yet, not identifying the most powerful cards in the set, or the obvious cards most likely to see the biggest gains. Many of these picks need planets to align to earn you money, so make sure you’ve exhausted your best options before you go digging folks. Where a card has not yet found it’s bottom, or has been hyped above it’s value, I will try to identify the proper entry point.

For Aether Revolt we’re going to break up our specs into three categories: Standard Breakout Targets, Potential Eternal Staples and Long Term Casual Targets. The first group generally needs to find a home within the year in multiple standard decks to do well for you. The latter two groups are mid to long term holds that you should be aiming to acquire at their forthcoming peak supply lows for solid potential future gains.

STANDARD BREAKOUT TARGETS

1. The Expertise Cycle

Yahenni's ExpertiseSram's ExpertiseBaral's ExpertiseKari Zev's ExpertiseRishkar's Expertise

Now (In order): $5/$4/$2/$2/$1
Target Buy Price: $1
Timeline: Short to Long Term (0-12+ months)

I know one or more of these cards is going to make waves, I just don’t know the what, where, when, why or how. The potential for abuse is clearly high when we’re casting spells for free, but the marginally playable base effects and the sorcery speed could end up making some of these too clunky in context. Let’s take stock of our options:

Yahenni’s Expertise: This card is an inferior damnation at the same cost that lets you drop a 3-mana planeswalker, a kill spell or a threat onto a theoretically empty board…in the right metagame. The ability to take out a few threats and get one into play will almost certainly show up in Standard, and could hit Modern in the right shell. It’s notable that because this is a sorcery (as is every card in the cycle), it doesn’t work well in decks that run a lot of counters. The card is expensive for a rare at present, so I’m steering clear for now.

Sram’s Expertise: This is the only card I’ve tested out so far, and I think it has a likely home as a 1-2 card value accelerator in B/W tokens for Modern. The ability to play this into a Liliana of the Veil, Intangible Virtue, Lingering Souls, Bitterblossom or Smuggler’s Copter is a solid turn indeed. The ability to Snapcaster this back in the late game might also have potential, though I can’t quite picture that shell yet. I like it, but I want it cheaper.

Baral’s Expertise:  At five mana, this is likely too slow for Modern, where many of the creatures you might want to bounce might be deactivated creature lands, protected by counters or hexproof boons, or already licking their chops from killing you the turn before. In Standard however, I can easily picture a control strategy that wants to bounce your early plays on five, casting Gideon, Ally for Zendikar for free and making a token. Value!

Kari Zev’s Expertise: A great threaten effect typically wants to find a home in a red aggro deck so fast that removing the first solid blocker and swinging with it puts the game away. If you aim to go deeper, you might then have a sac outlet on hand to remove the card from play permanently, and all the better if that outlet happened to be the card you played for free. Maybe there’s a deck that wants this in Standard in the next eighteen months, and maybe not. Maybe the Modern meta gets so aggro heavy that this becomes relevant in something like Naya Zoo, but it’s pretty tough to find free slots in those hyper efficient decks whose curve generally stops on two mana. I’m not very excited about this one so far.

Rishkar’s Expertise: Ok, so draw a bunch of cards off my biggest threat and then cast one of them for free? Sounds like EDH heaven to me. This card is going to get down below $.50, at which point I’ll buy twenty copies as a long term penny stock for Commander. The foils should be acquirable around $2-3, and that price range will trigger my acquisition motion. The fact that this only costs five means it will end up getting played in something sweet in Standard, and has an outside chance of being interesting in Modern, but that’s just gravy here.

Ultimately, as with many of the cards in this article, it will be time and new cards that are most likely to eventually unlock the true power of these open ended powerhouses. So far, all I know is that I want to be holding cheaply acquired play sets in multiples when the value train rolls through town.

2. Mechanized Production

Mechanized Production

Now: $4 ($10 foil)
Target Buy Price: $2 ($4 foil)
Target Sell Price: $8 (+300%)/$16 foil (+300%)
Timeline: Short to Long (0-24+ months)

There are inevitably going to be faster ways to kill people, but the allure of alternate win conditions is usually enough to get people brewing, and with all of the artifacts lying around in this set, I can picture a world where this ends up being a 4-of in a Blue/White servos deck that casts Baral’s Expertise into Sram’s Expertise into Servo Exhibition or something and wins with this card on Turn seven or eight while hiding behind Metallic Rebuke. A Metalwork Colossus deck might find room for this as well. The fact that this card starts cloning a potentially dangerous card on your side long before it actually wins the game helps justify the experiment. On the other hand, most of these “alt win” cards fail to get anywhere financially, so I’m not really interested unless the card gets down to $1, or shows up on camera in something sweet that can actually win games consistently.

 

POTENTIAL ETERNAL PLAYABLES

3. Greenwheel Liberator

Greenwheel Liberator

This card has a non-zero shot at seeing play in Modern and will definitely see play in Frontier. If you cast this off a cracked Fetch on your second turn, this is a 4/3, which is a solid rate. If your first turn involved the casting of Hardened Scales, this thing is a 5/4. The card could easily end up as a 4-of in Standard as well, though Revolt is somewhat harder to turn on in the format at present than it is elsewhere. At some point a Hardened Scales deck may hit a tipping point in Modern and finally be worth playing in lieu of Affinity, Naya Zoo, Burn, Infect or Death’s Shadow.  That time may even be near, but even if it isn’t, being an elf never hurts a card’s long term prospects. If you think you are going to play it this year, $4 play sets are a perfectly reasonable expense that might yield longer term benefits. At $3, foils are also pretty safe, and may get as low as $2 if the card doesn’t make a splash. I’m not prioritizing this card, but I’ll definitely own a set.

Now: $0.75 ($3 foil)
Target Buy Price: $.50 ($2 foil)
Target Sell/Trade Price: $4 (700%+)/$8 foil (+300%)
Timeline: Short to Long-Term (6-36 months+)

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4. Whir of Invention

Whir of Invention

Now: $1.50 ($10 foil)
Target Buy Price: $1 ($5 foil)
Target Sell Price: $5+ (400%)/Foil: $20+ (+300%)
Timeline: Long Term (12 months+)

Between Improvise and the Expertise cycle, the predominant theme of future money cards from Aether Revolt is going to be the same thing that has resulted in countless busted cards from Magic’s past: reduced casting costs.

As a flexible artifact tutor that can achieve reduced cost via tapped artifacts, Whir of Invention is basically the blue Chord of Calling, a card that has already proven itself to be Modern playable many times over. I don’t need too much convincing that completing artifact based combos or searching up relevant threats is a powerful and flexible package that is going to end up at the center of a new archetype somewhere along the way.  With foils currently holding a 7-8x multiplier, clearly I’m not the only one with designs on making this work. Keep an eye out for delayed success to trigger lower prices and you have a solid prospect worth stashing away.

5. Sram, Senior Edificer

Sram, Senior Edificer

Now: $1.50 ($6 foil)
Target Buy Price: $0.50-1 ($3-4 foil)
Target Sell Price: $5+ (900%)/Foil: $20+ (+400%)
Timeline: Long Term (24 months+)

What’s important here is that this guy sets up value and combos with three different card types, and two of them (Auras/Equipment) already had significant role players (eg: Puresteel Paladin, Argothian Enchantress, Eidolon of Blossoms) waiting for some additional redundancy to show up. Being a Legend might dissuade some decks from playing a full play set, but then again, the effect might be more important than having a copy trapped in hand if this ends up driving a new Modern deck. I’m happy to start with foils near my target, on the basis of inevitable EDH/casual play, and move in on non-foils at peak supply to accumulate 20-30 copies for whatever unfolds beyond the obvious.

6. Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista

Now: $4 ($12 foil)
Target Buy Price: $1 ($4-5 foil)
Target Sell Price: $5+ (900%)/Foil: $20+ (+400%)
Timeline: Long Term (24 months+)

Walking Ballista is the latest in a long line of artifact creatures that will be underestimated by many at first glance, despite already showing up in a pile of proposed deck lists and enjoying a hype spike. The important thing for the long term here is that this clunky looking construct wins the game on the spot whenever you have access to either a lot of mana or a lot of +1/+1 counters. There are all sorts of potential combos floating around that can use this as a finishing move. Myr Retreivers + Krark-Clan Ironworks + Arcbound Ravager kind of stuff, but perhaps a more elegant solution that requires fewer puzzle pieces will reveal itself.

Over in Frontier, brewmaster Anthony Cameron has been working on this deck he’s calling The Terminators. Check out this more feasible nut draw on Turn 2:

In Standard, the card fits into the GW Tokens deck with Nissa and Rishkar, Peema Renegade, or possibly into GB brews that work with Winding Constrictor. It will also end up seeing play in the myriad counter based EDH decks.

The price is too high at present to be chasing after this one, but keep an eye out for falling prices at peak supply or if the card fails to perform in Standard and stock away a few for future brewing efforts.

7. Inspiring Statuary

Inspiring Statuary

Now: $1.50 (Foils: $5)
Target Buy Price: $.50-$1 (Foils $2-3)
Target Sell Price: $5+ (+900%)/Foils: $10 (+250%)
Timeline: Very Long Term (36 months+)

Again with the cost reductions, but that’s not the whole story. What I really love about this card is that it offers brewers the ability to think wayyyy outside the box, reaching for a world where they can get a bunch of artifacts into play more easily than other ramp options, with an end game that involves casting either a) a non-artifact spell that wouldn’t normally be easy to ramp into and benefits from board state full of tapped artifacts or b) a cost reduction ability like the one on Etherium Sculptor that lets you chain a bunch of spells in a flurry for purposes yet unknown. Cards like this are hot garbage right up until the exact moment their true calling is uncovered, and are likely to get real low and let you stock up at your leisure, but keep an eye out for articles or camera time that could change the game plan in a hurry.

Of course, Inspiring Statuary will just slot right into a new Standard deck, as proposed by Kenji Tsumura:

8. Indomitable Creativity

Indomitable Creativity

This card could easily end up getting busted down the road. Sure, it costs three solid red mana just to get going, and is therefore an effectively awkward 4-5 mana spell, but that spell is a multi-tutor for a flurry of busted cards that pop out of your deck to wreak havoc.  In comparison to past cards with similar effects, such as Shape Anew or Nahiri, the Harbinger, Indomitable Creativity has the benefit of being able to tutor for either redundant game ending threats or combo pieces that effectively do the same thing. The fact that you can also use this to remove potent threats on your opponent’s board while going off is a nice bonus.

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The key to making this all work out is that you want the only artifacts or creatures in your deck to be things that win the game. Sure, you also need a way to generate artifacts or creatures that doesn’t include casting those card types, but that’s not too tough in formats beyond Standard. One approach is to use spells to get token creatures or artifacts into play to set things up.

Take a look at this rough brew I threw together:

Here we use point removal ot hold down the fort, and look to translate Bitterblossom and Lingering Souls tokens into Emrakul, Platinum Emperion and/or Blightsteel Colossus on five or six mana. That has my attention.

Now: $1.50 ($6 foil)
Target Buy Price: $1 ($3 foil)
Target Sell Price: $6 ($10+ foil)
Timeline: Very Long-Term (36+ months)

9. Hope of Ghirapur

Hope of Ghirapur

Now:  $5 (foil)
Target Buy Price: $2 (foil)
Target Sell Price: $10 (+400%)
Timeline: Long Term (24+ months)

For this to ever be a thing, a few things need to line up. You need a meta where you can consistently get a 1/1 flyer in for damage and where stealing your opponents ability to cast non-creature spells is powerful. You’re really doing it if you figure out how to recurse this thing and give it Haste, perhaps via Thopter Engineer. Trinket Mage and Ranger of Eos can go find this card, and Leonin Squire can bring it back. Master Trinketeer makes it bigger, and Silence and Isochron Scepter could form the nucleus of a soft lock. I only listed the foil prices above because the formats I can see this being most useful are Legacy and Vintage, where Xantid Swarm has been useful out of the sideboard. This one is a definite long shot, but it sets off my spidey senses and I’ll likely pick a few up once they get cheap for a casual Thopters deck if nothing else.

Long Term Casual Targets

10. Metallic Mimic

Metallic Mimic

Now: $4 ($10 foil)
Target Buy Price: $1 ($3 foil)
Target Sell Price: $6 (+500%)/$10 foil (+333%)
Timeline: Long Term (24+ months)

Prices on this card are high for a rare so far, likely because the open ended synergy it represents in nearly every format is obvious, but I have a feeling that the one format it won’t make a splash up front is Standard, and that should mean that peak supply and summer sales will get us to our price targets to stock up for the long game.

Do not underestimate the power of a universal utility “lord” that can slot into almost any tribal deck and carries the additional benefit of conveying blessings via the distribution of +1/+1 counters instead of a standard buff. The counters certainly matter if your tribe can double up the bonus under a Hardened Scales or similar effect and a colorless lord adds flexibility to multi-color tribes.

In my Legacy Slivers deck for instance, Mimic gives me a full sixteen lords on two, which could be enough to push my clock up a turn. Here’s my updated list:

I live for colorless cards that can slot into dozens of decks in multiple formats, and gain additional synergies over time. I’ll be going pretty deep on this spec when the price floor is reached.

11. Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Rishkar is going to see play in Standard and everyone knows it, so you’re likely going to need to wait for the renegade elf to fall out of the meta before you get a shot at better pricing for the long term. As with Sram, being a legend hurts a bit, but the supreme utility of both buffing creatures and turning them into Llanowar Elves is going to be popular in casual circles for years to come. Interactions with Atraxa, the other “cares about counters” commanders, and Hardened Scales/Doubling Season only bolster the appeal.

Now: $4 ($7 foil)
Target Buy Price: $2 ($4 foil)
Target Sell Price: $8 ($20 foil)
Timeline: Long Term (12+ months)

12. Paradox Engine

Paradox EngineParadox Engine

Geeeeeeez. This card looks like it fell off the back of the Urza’s Saga block delivery truck and got delivered to Kaladesh by mistake twenty years late. Make no mistake, this card is busted. There are so many ways to abuse the “cast something, untap everything” ability strewn across the history of Magic that it’s going to take years to uncover them all. Our best case here is that no one figures out how to bust it in Standard or Modern for a while, which should should set up a solid entry point by later spring/early summer.

At minimum, foils will be at a premium in Commander/EDH given enough time for supply to drain out of the market, so it might be tougher to find a deal on those and the Masterpiece printing should end up the gold standard on the card in EDH regardless. This thing isn’t Sol Ring or Rings of Brighthearth good because it really wants permanents with mana or tap abilities in quantity to hit full potential and as such, can’t just slot into any old deck. That being said I will be keeping a special eye on the price of the Masterpiece Invention version of the card in Europe, hoping for some sweet arbitrage opportunities.

Now: $5 ($20 foil/$55 Masterpiece)
Target Buy Price: $3 ($10 foil/$25 Masterpiece)
Target Sell Price: $10 ($30 foil/$50 Masterpiece)
Timeline: Long Term (12+ months)

13. Oath of Ajani

Oath of Ajani

Now: $2 ($5 foils)
Target Buy Price: $0.50 ($2 foils)
Target Sell Price: $5+ (+900%)
Timeline: Long Term (24+ months)

There is a world where GW will end up playing this in Standard, but so far it’s not looking to promising. As a result, I think you’re going to see this card sink down to bulk status in a hurry, at which point I’ll be looking to go fairly deep for the long haul. Counter based team buffs and cheaper PWs will both have a shot in EDH, and casual demand will buoy the card a few years out if nothing else on the back of the unique set of effects. There’s no rush to get push your chips in, but it’s a nice pet card to stash a pile of.

Cards You Should Be Selling

1. Heart of Kiran ($15+)

Heart of Kiran

Card is good, will see play in Standard, but mostly as 2-3 of, and likely only in GW alongside Nissa and Gideon. It gains more options as more sets appear, but I think this falls under $10 before a better long term entry point appears in summer.

2. Saheeli Rai ($20)

Saheeli Rai

Sure, Saheelis from Kaladesh, but her hottest combo is from Aether Revolt and the possibility of a ban in five weeks make this a definite sell. Either the deck does too well, and gets the ban hammer, or it doesn’t do very well, and demand for Saheeli flags. The middle ground where the deck is good, folks keep buying in on it but it doesn’t cause trouble is too narrow for my liking. If you were in below $10, selling into this hype train will leave you with solid profits regardless of what happens next.

So there you have it. Anything I missed that you’re on top of? Logic to kill one of the specs? Have at it. Let’s figure it out!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Digging for Dollars: Shadows Over Innistrad

By: James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Shadows Over Innistrad picks up where we left off five years ago, revisiting a plane that delivers on both flavor and play-ability.  After the ripples of dissatisfaction that seem to have marred our collective experience with returning to Zendikar, the flavor home run on Innistrad is a welcome boost to fan satisfaction. In terms of card power however, SOI seems to be a set rich with unique, subtly powerful cards that are likely to make their mark at some point down the road.

So what does this mean for those of us looking to make some money on Shadows?

First off, on average, now is the time to sell the set if you’re selling. If you intend to crack cases and sell singles, you should already have them in hand, as within two weeks or less you’ll be facing a saturated market and prices that have fallen to local lows as much as 40-50% below starting prices. At present there are over ten rares and mythics and SOI priced above $10, a completely unsustainable cohort of power cards that will be cut by half within the next few weeks.

Secondly, as a large set packed with cards that are tough to evaluate, but with a lot of potential both mid and long term, the prospects for SOI cards are likely to be a mix of short-term Standard spikes and long term breakouts unlocked by rogue deck building and the printing of companion pieces.

Finally, with the Expedition-style Innistrad Echoes  rumors now debunked, card values from this set will be less repressed than they were in Battle for Zendikar.

Now as there has been some confusion in the past over the intent of this article series, let’s get clear. Digging for Dollars is about looking for opportunities that aren’t played out yet, not identifying the most powerful cards in the set, or the obvious cards most likely to see the biggest gains. Many of these picks need planets to align to earn you money, so make sure you’ve exhausted your best options before you go digging folks. Where a card has not yet found it’s bottom, or has been hyped above it’s value, I will try to identify the proper entry point.

This time around we’re going to break up our specs into three categories: Standard Breakout Targets, Future Modern Staples and Long Term Casual Targets. The first group generally needs to find a home within the year in multiple standard decks to do well for you. The latter two groups are mid to long term holds that you should be aiming to acquire at their lows for solid future gains.

STANDARD BREAKOUT TARGETS

1. Nahiri, the Harbinger

Nahiri, the Harbinger

Now: $10
Target: $20+
Timeline: Short to Long Term (0-12+ months)

Nahiri tops my list largely on the basis that she is a solid card in Standard that may have a shot at turning into a significant card in Modern. Yes, Modern. This afternoon I watched a Jeff Hoogland Modern stream to find him running two copies of Nahiri in his KikiChord deck, only to run up against a WR Humans deck that started aggro, established early board presence, dropped Nahiri and proceeded to find Emrakul for the win. It’s especially nice that you can discard your single copy of Emrakul to Nahiri for extra value and have it shuffled right back into your deck for future shenanigans. Without top 8 camera time, she may not ever get there, but any $10 mythic that may show up in multiple Modern decks deserves a second look. Her floor is between $6-8 during her Standard tenure, so there’s not much risk in picking up a play set to use, with solid potential upside.  In Standard, Nahiri has mostly been showing up in WR Eldrazi and Naya Superfriends builds. Last weekend, Jacob Bard placed 12th in the SCG open running four copies in the main.

I’m in for three play sets for now, and my confidence is at 60% that this will pay off before she rotates out of Standard. Foils are already around $30, which is pricing for success in Modern, but if I see some closer to $20 my wallet may open.

2. Olivia, Mobilized for War

Olivia, Mobilized for War

Now: $10 (try to acquire around $20 at peak supply)
Target Buy Price: $7
Target Sell Price: $14 (+100%)
Timeline: Short to Mid (0-12 months)

The vampire queen enjoyed significant hype pressure shortly after she was announced, as we all assumed that SOI would cough up a serious BR Vampires aggro deck. Instead testing showed that there wasn’t quite enough power in the tribe, nor enough relevant madness cards, and Humans turned up in force as the best aggro deck. The thing is, we still have another set to go in this block, and we may well get the one or two aggro oriented vampires in Eldritch Moon that are necessary to put Olivia back on the table. If the new vampires are sexy enough, you may be able to unload into a preview spike regardless of whether the deck breaks out. If none of that happens, look to nab Olivia around $5 during summer lulls, as she has a solid chance of topping $10 a few years down the road on casual demand alone. Pick confidence at 6/10 on this one.

3. Fevered Visions

Fevered Visions

The key with Fevered Visions is that you get to draw first, which is a big step up vs. many of the previous Howling Mine variants. Last weekend Todd Anderson was on camera at the SCG Invitational, abusing the heck out of this card in his innovative UR Control build in Standard. In that Pyromancer’s Goggles driven deck, four copies of Visions come out of the sideboard to put slow moving opponents in a very uncomfortable position. The ability to redirect the damage triggers to take down planeswalkers is a sexy bonus. There is every reason to believe that the meta could adapt within a reasonable time-frame and possibly push this deck out of the format, but I’m happy to pick up copies of this card under $1 now, with the knowledge that they could easily hit $3-4 in a few years on creeping casual demand or a break out Modern appearance. If you wait it out, you may be able get these on sale somewhere this summer around $.50. The skeptic in me is keenly aware that Dictate of Kruphix is still widely available at $1, so my confidence in the pick is a mere 5/10.

Now: $0.75
Target Buy Price: $0.50
Target Sell Price: $3+ (+300%)
Timeline: Short to Long (0-12 months)

POTENTIAL MODERN PLAYABLES

4. Traverse the Ulvenwald

Traverse the Ulvenwald

In a world where you can’t reliably achieve Delirum, this is a pretty lame land retrieval spell. In Modern or Legacy however, where stocking the graveyard fast and early is relatively easy, the prospects for a card that can tutor for any land or creature for just one mana are worth paying attention to. Lengthy Commander games are even more likely to find you with the necessary four card types in your graveyard to turn on the powered mode here.

It could take some time, but I expect this card will find a home in Modern sooner or later. Foils are currently around $10, but if this ends up played in a Tier 2+ deck in Modern at some point you may be able to unload over $20, after getting in around lows of $6-8. My pick confidence rating is 6/10 here.

Now: $4
Target Buy Price: $2-3
Target Sell Price: $10 (150%+)
Timeline: Long-Term (12-36 months+)

5. The Gitrog Monster

The Gitrog Monster

Now: $7
Target Buy Price: $5-6
Target Sell Price: $15+ (115%)
Timeline: Long Term (12 months+)

Potential Commander in EDH? Check. Unique set of powerful abilities that ooze synergy? Check. Big dangerous body? Check. Mythic and memorable? Check, check.

All of that is enough is to convince me that this card will eventually top $15. My guess is that it takes a few years, unless of course, someone figures out how to bust it in Modern, and it ends up as a 3-4 of. As a 1-2 of in a single deck, regular copies would still likely need some time to top $15. Foils are currently priced for success at $20, but I’d be more interested at $15, and will look for deals over the next couple of weeks. Pick confidence of 8/10.

6. Drownyard Temple

Drownyard Temple

Now: $2
Target Buy Price: $1.50-2
Target Sell Price: $10+
Timeline: Very Long Term (36 months+)

This card has gone under the radar for most players, but as Todd Anderson has demonstrated in gleaning value from the card in UR Goggle Control, being able to pay discard costs with Temple can be pretty sweet. This is not an uber-powerful staple by any means, and the growth is likely to be slow and steady for 3-5 years, but I think you’ll get a chance to get these under $2, and get out down the road as high as $10 when the implied synergy becomes valuable in a previously unseen Modern deck that wants either discard cost reduction, extra landfall triggers, or both. Lands with snyergistic upside are some of the best long term targets, so there is little to fear here. Pick confidence is 8/10.

Long Term Casual

7. Startled Awake

Startled AwakePersistent Nightmare

This card is no Glimpse the Unthinkable, but it does provide casual mill players with a form of inevitability and thirteen cards off the top is a lot in sixty card formats.

Now: $3 ($7 foil)
Target Buy Price: $2 ($5 foil)
Target Sell Price: $10 ($20+ foil)
Timeline: Very Long-Term (36+ months)

7. Relentless Dead

Relentless Dead

When this card was revealed during spoiler season for SOI, everyone was convinced it was going to be an automatic 4-of staple in Standard, and speculation about Modern play-ability was being bandied about. But then the zombie deck components failed to show up in the full set list, and this card has been on the backslide ever since. Long term the power level is high enough that between potential synergies with Eldritch Moon cards, Modern potential and casual demand, I’ll be happy to stash some copies away once the price drops low enough. This is the kind of card that gets played as a 4-of when it is played at all, and that’s a great place to be with a mythic that can show price growth from any of one of multiple angles.

Now: $11
Target Buy Price: $5
Target Sell Price: $10+
Timeline: Mid-to-Long Term (6-12+ months)

8. Seasons Past

Seasons Past

Note: This article was written the Thursday before the Pro Tour. Apologies that this card spiked before you got to see this guys. 🙁

This is a green mythic that can draw an entire grip full of cards on Turn 4 or 5 in kitchen table magic pretty reliably, and has all the hallmarks of a card that will be forgotten only to get bought out in five years and spike over $10. It’s by no means a high priority, but $2 mythics are largely risk free, and I’d be stoked to stash several playsets away if they up cheaper during an online sale or at summer lulls. It’s also not impossible that someone will find a use for this in Standard on camera before it rotates, which could push it over $5 in a hurry.

Now: $2
Target Buy Price: $2
Target Sell Price: $5+
Timeline: Short-to-Long Term

Cards You Should Be Selling

1. Archangel Avacyn ($40+)

Archangel AvacynAvacyn, the Purifier

There is no doubt at all that Avacyn could stay a $40+ card for parts of her career if the meta breaks right and for long enough to drive demand beyond her peak supply period later this month. My fear is that the format is going to relegate Avacyn to one major archetype, and that, like Dragonlord Ojutai before her, she will fall under $15 before peaking once again during a future meta shift. If you are playing the card, it’s a hold, but any extra copies are a solid trade out right now and will cover nearly 1/2 of a box to find more cards you need.

2. Arlinn Kord ($25)

Arlinn KordArlinn, Embraced by the Moon

Yeah, I know you love werewolves, and flip planeswalker werewolves are awesome, but this card is going to end up under $15 within the month. There a couple of potential shells for Arlinn in Standard, and she could be anywhere from 2-4 copies in R/G Aggro build, a R/G Eldrazi build or some kind of “super friends” deck. None of that is going to change the fact that she is much more likely to fall below $20 heading into peak supply than she is to peak over $30. The one caveat is if she wins a major standard tournament, or starts putting up consistently dominant results on MTGO leading into a buy out, but I find that unlikely. Once she’s closer to $10 she’ll be more tempting, but keep in mind that most planeswalkers peak early, fail to earn their keep and fall back to reality in a hurry without ever enjoying major demand in Standard. Get out now and you’re unlikely to be upset about it later. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets above $15 is a certain exit point as well as I see the card ending up $8-10 within a month or two.

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3. Relentless Dead ($11)

Relentless Dead

As stated above, get out now, and look for any entry closer to $5 when folks realize they have no good place to play this away from the kitchen table and before potential partner cards show up in Eldritch Moon spoilers.

4. Westvale Abbey ($12)

Westvale AbbeyOrmendahl, Profane Prince

Don’t get me wrong, Westvale Abbey is a very real card, a likely Modern Tier 2 staple and a future acquisition target around $4-6, but as a rare in a large set it is highly unlikely to hold above $10. Sell now, get in later.

Oath of the Gatewatch Update

In Digging for Dollars: Battle for Zendikar, I called out the following specs as undervalued cards with some chance of financial success (shown with original and current pricing):

1.  Goblin Dark Dwellers (Promo): $6 to $3 (-50%)
2. Thought-Knot Seer (Foil): $25 to $40 (at peak, +60%)
3a. Slip Through Space (Foil): $1.50 to $3.00 (+100%)
3b. Expedite (Foil): $1.50 to $1.50 (+0%)
4. Stone Haven Outfitter: $.75 to .50 (-33%)
5. Eldrazi Mimic (Foil): $3 to $20 (at peak, +670%), now $8
6. Sea Gate Wreckage (Foil): $7 to $7 (+0%)
7. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar: $16 to $13 (-19%)
8. High Demand Oath Expeditions: Various
9. Wastes (Foil, Kozilek Art): $10 to $15 (+50%)

The Oath portfolio did relatively well in a short period of time, largely on the back of my being out in front on the Eldrazi Winter thing. Early testing showed Eldrazi to look utterly busted, and I correctly called Though-Knot Seer and Eldrazi Mimic foils in time to set you up for solid gains if you got in before everyone realized it was all going to get banned. Mimic still has some long term potential as it gets turned on by colorless rather than Eldrazi creatures, and Thought-Knot Seer foils are actually looking tasty again around $15 given that folks are already showing the deck can be competitive without Eye of Ugin, and given that Eldrazi is very real in Legacy and highly unlikely to be attacked with a banning there. Eye of Ugin expeditions can be found right now as low as $70 and that is a very tempting entry point.

Expedite foils haven’t gone everywhere, but Slip Through Space foils have already doubled up, and I expect both to be $5 down the road when they Top 8 something nasty that involves a lot of cantrips.

Goblin Dark Dwellers promos are the better art of the two options, and are now as low as $3. This card is going to be a 1-2 of Modern staple for a long time in at least Jund and Grixis decks, and I like the card a lot at current pricing. Stone Haven Outfitter is down to a very tempting $.50 and the entry point is excellent. Sooner or later equipment combo becomes a thing, and this card hits $5. Could be a year, could be give but I already have 100+ copies, and I’ll look for more on sale this summer. Sea Gate Wreckage foils haven’t moved much, but that’s because they were targeted for long term growth. Check back in on those two years from now. Kozilek Wastes full-art foils have already gained 50% and will easily beat $20 within the next year or two. A good call there.

And here were the cards I advised be sold:

1. Lesser Expedition Lands: Various, But By & Large Down by 10-40%
2. Kozilek, the Great Distortion: $20 to $6 (-70%)
3. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet: $8 to $20 (+150%)

Lesser Expedition lands and Kozilek were good sell calls, having shed significant value from their peaks. Kozilek can be had now around $7-8, and I like that entry point for slow future gains with potential in Standard and Modern. Kalitas ended up doing much better in Standard than he was set to when I made the call to sell him, but the larger miss was seeing his potential in Jund for Modern. Mea culpa.

Battle for Zendikar Upate

In Digging for Dollars: Magic Origins, I called out the following specs as undervalued cards with some chance of financial success (shown with original and current pricing):

  1. Drana, Liberator of Malakir: $15 to $8 (-47%)
  2. Oblivion Sower: $5.50 to $8.75 (+60% at peak)
  3. Retreat to Corelhelm (Foil): $12 to $4 (-67%)
  4. Woodland Wanderer: $4 to $1 (-75%)
  5. Emeria Sheppard (Foil): $8 to $5 (-38%)
  6. Painful Truths: $1.50 to $3 (+100% at peak)
  7. Bring to Light (Foil): $16 to $6 (-63%)

So far, this list isn’t doing very well. Let’s see what’s going on.

In many ways Battle For Zendikar has played out as we predicted. The presence of some very expensive lottery tick – er, I mean Expeditions has held down the price of most of the cards in the set, and if it weren’t for fetch/battle lands driving insane mana bases, Standard would have been pretty affordable this season. Those Expeditions found their lows during peak supply in late November, and have since rebounded, just as I expect the Oath ones to. Moving forward it will be worth keeping an eye on Expedition pricing, as boxes of BFZ around $90 may get pretty tempting next fall if the prices climb high enough on the sexy lands.

Drana, Liberator of Malakir is a decent card that simply hasn’t found a home. I’ve been running two copies in my WB Aggro/Control build in Standard for months, but most players find her to have too little board impact in a format that is contending with fast aggro decks and angelic bombs. If she hits $5 I’ll take another look, hoping for new synergies in Eldritch Moon with long term casual as the backup plan.

Oblivion Sower peaked around $9, but has since fallen back to $3, which is a very solid entry point for a Modern playable mythic.

On the long term side, the Retreat to Corelhelm deck hasn’t posted a big result in Modern yet, but that’s a good thing here because you can now get in on the prospect of this busted card eventually doing big things for just $4 per foil. I love that price. A Bant Company deck did well on camera at the SCG Invitational last weekend running the combo with Knight of the Reliquary, and sooner or later it will stick.

Emeria Sheppard foils are back up to $5 now, and I endorse stashing some of those away for future EDH/Casual angel gains. Painful Truths is flat vs. my buy price, but you had a solid chance to trade out for a double up when it was peaking in early winter. Bring to Light has collapsed, but both cards have foils carrying a whopping 10x foil multiplier, a sure sign that people expect them to do big things moving forward. Both cards are seeing experimental play in Modern, and some enterprising pros are already swearing by Truths in Legacy, so grabbing a bunch of these at current pricing for long term gains seems reasonable.

Magic Origins Update

In Digging for Dollars: Magic Origins, I called out the following specs as undervalued cards with some chance of financial success (shown with original and current pricing):

  1. Nissa, Vastwood Seer: $26 to $18 (-28%)
  2. Erebos’s Titan: $8.40 to $1  (-87%)
  3. Abbot of Keral Keep (Foil):  $13 to $20 (50%+)
  4. Evolutionary Leap (Foil):  $15 to $6 (-60%)
  5. Harbinger of the Tides (Foil):  $18 to $6 (-67%)
  6. Demonic Pact:  $3.75 to $3 (-20%)
  7. Animist’s Awakening: $10 to $4 (-60%)

So far, the only solid win from the list was Abbot of Keral Keep foils, if you rode the earlier spike above $20. I correctly identified that the card was Modern-playable and likely to rise on demonstrative play. As it turns out, the card is seeing play in both Grixis and Temur decks in Modern, including the innovative Temur Prowess deck played to a solid finish last year by Patrick Chapin. Since the fall spike noted in our last check-in, these foils have fallen back to $10 or so as the price of Jace has continued to rise. I’d recommend moving in on the card at this price if you haven’t already, as I still predict a future price over $20 on further Modern play.

As for the rest, Erebos’s Titan and Pact never got anywhere, but Abbot, Leap and Harbinger all represent excellent long term value. Of the three, Harbinger and Abbot are the most proven, so focus on those.

So there you have it. Anything I missed that you’re on top of? Logic to kill one of the specs? Have at it. Let’s figure it out!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Digging for Dollars: Oath of the Gatewatch

By: James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Oath of the Gatewatch follows through on the promises of Battle for Zendikar in a big way, rounding out the potential of the Eldrazi tribe with a cadre of fantastic creatures stretching right up the curve. Via the continuing Expedition lottery tickets, Wizards of the Coast continues their (by all accounts successful) bid to boost set sales while lowering the cost of playing Standard.

So what does this mean for those of us looking to make some money on Oath?

First off, now is the time to sell Oath if you’re selling. If you intend to crack cases and sell singles, you should already have them in hand, as within two weeks or less you’ll be facing a saturated market and prices that have fallen to local lows as much as 40-50% below starting prices.

Secondly, this is a small set packed with great cards with a lot of potential both mid and long term, which places it in the same realm as Magic: Origins, a set that should lead to $160-200 boxes within a couple of years as it goes out of print and the cost of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy stops repressing the price of the double fistful of Modern/Legacy playable rares in the set currently under $3.

Finally, the Expeditions are less desirable, but there will also be less of them, as Oath will only enjoy about six weeks in the spotlight before previews for Shadows Over Innistrad takes over.

Here, presented in order of likely upside, are my picks for the cards in Oath of the Gatewatch most likely to reward timely speculation, with all target prices assumed to be possible during 2016 unless otherwise noted:

1. Goblin Dark Dwellers (Buy-a-Box)

goblin_dark

If there’s a rare that seems to be getting lost in the shuffle thus far, this has to be it. It’s worth remembering that Buy-A-Box promo status is often an indication of quality, a la Supreme Verdict and Sylvan Caryatid. Let’s compare this guy to Snapcaster Mage. Snaps is 1U for a 2/1 Flash body that requires you pay the cost of the spell you want to recast. So Snapcaster Mage into Bolt is a total commitment of three mana, but Snaps into Kolaghan’s Command is five mana. On the other hand, GDD at five mana gives you +2/+3 and menace on your threat in exchange for flash. Perhaps more importantly, GDD gives Grixis control decks a great top end in Modern, allowing them to run a package of sweet spells that all double up off of 4 copies each of Snapcaster Mage and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, with Goblin Dark Dwellers appearing as a likely 2-of. As a five-drop creature there are no guarantees the card is fast enough, but I will certainly be testing to figure out if he makes the cut.

In standard Goblin Dark Dwellers, could easily end up as a 4-of in a great deck that leverages Crackling Doom and Commands of various flavors to create an impenetrable wall of recursive control elements.

A Kenji Tsumura brew to consider.
A Kenji Tsumura brew to consider.

The buy-a-box version has stunning art and looks incredible as a foil, and I see this as an easy double up given enough time. The fact that you get these free when you buy a box means there are a lot of copies, but it also means that your buy-in cost can be zero if you’re cracking boxes and willing to hold for a while. As for additional copies, I’d be targeting them around $6-7.

Now: $8
Target: $15+
Timeline: Mid-Term (6-12 months)

2. Thought-Knot Seer (Foil)

Stunning in foil!
Stunning in foil!

Yeah, this isn’t an under the radar pick. In fact, these foils are already sitting around $25, which is pretty high for a new rare that hasn’t won anything yet. That being said, I see this monster as the spiritual cousin of Goblin Dark Dwellers. As GDD is to Snapcaster Mage, so to is this card to Vendilion Clique. It’s slower, but you get a bigger body and they don’t get a (random) card back until they manage to kill it. The real driver here however is the busted combination of Eye of Ugin and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, which turns Eye into a better land than the hallowed Mishra’s Workshop.

In magical Christmas land you drop 4x Eldrazi Mimic off of Eye on Turn 1, and follow up on Turn 2 with Thought-Knot Seer, clearing away their solution card, and attacking for 16. (Alternatively, drop Vile Aggregate off a Mountain and attack for 20.) Even when you have normal hands, TKS is going to come down early, mess up their plans and set the stage for Reality Smasher and Ulamog to finish things off. His power level and flexibility in Standard is on par with Siege Rhino, so I expect this to be a 4-of in multiple formats. Also, the foils are incredible, especially in Japanese, Korean, and Russian. I suspect you’ll see some deals around $20 as we hit peak supply so have your funds at the ready.

A word of warning, however. If an Eldrazi build in Modern dominates the tournament and makes Top 8 at Pro Tour: Oath of the Gatewatch next week, don’t be surprised to see Eye of Ugin get banned to bring the deck back down to a reasonable power level. Losing Eye could relegate Eldrazi to Tier 2/3 in Modern and slow or reverse growth.

Now: $25 (try to acquire around $20 at peak supply)
Target: $40+ (if Eye of Ugin isn’t banned)
Timeline: Mid-Term (6-12 months)

3. Expedite/Slip Through Space (Foil)

These guys are probably under your radar, but let me get you up to speed. One mana cantrips are dangerous cards, and ones with effects that enable combo or aggro strategies are well worth paying attention to as foils, even if they’re commons. Both of these cards can be found in foil for under $1.50 at present, but Expedite has implications in Jeskai Ascendancy and UR Aggro builds for both Standard and Modern. Slip Through Space may also find a home in Modern Infect as a 1 or 2-of since it can help get through the final few points of infect damage and close out the game.

Here are a couple of Standard deck shells to drive home the potential.

Note the use of cantrips with Prowess and Delve to end things fast.
Note the use of cantrips with Prowess and Delve to end things fast.
Jeskai Ascendancy will come out on top again, sooner or later. The card is insane.
Jeskai Ascendancy will come out on top again, sooner or later. The card is insane.

Now: $1-$1.50
Target: $5+
Timeline: Mid-Term (6-12 months)

4. Stone Haven Outfitter

Will White Weenie Equipment hit critical mass?
Will White Weenie Equipment hit critical mass?

I’ve already bought 60 copies of this guy around $0.75 and I intend to go deeper if he bottoms out under $.50. This card has all the hallmarks of a role player that is waiting for its’ deck to hit synergistic critical mass. He passes the vanilla test with flying colors, providing a Crusade style effect to equipped creatures and yields card advantage if they choose to let him live to deal with the equipped threat. Once he’s the last man standing, he can even suit up and enjoy his own bonus.

There are already plenty of interesting comrades for this card. Have a look at just some of the options that may one day make this a card worth having stashed away in the long term spec box:

Now: $.75
Target: $4+
Timeline: Long-Term (12 months+)

5. Eldrazi Mimic (foil)

While his fellow rare teammates Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher soar on early hype at $15 and $7.50 respectively, the lowly Eldrazi Mimic isn’t even commanding the regular 2x foil multiplier, with regular copies at $2 or so and foils around $3.

This seems out of wack to me, given the number of broken hands this card can lead to without even thinking too hard about it. Consider the following (utterly unlikely) opening hands:

Yeah, you’re taking 16 on Turn 2, and having your solution stripped.

Now you’re taking 20 on Turn 2. How’d that taste? Now how about some Legacy action?

Know what that hand means? It means you’re probably dead at the hands of a one mana 12/12 trampler by Turn 4.

All of these hands are pretty unlikely, but none of that changes the fact the Mimic represents an open ended amount of synergy with big colorless creatures that can enter play cheaply. At $3 for foils on a potential 4-of in Modern or Legacy or casual decks, I’m in for $100 worth right off the bat.

Now: $3 (foil)
Target: $10+ (foil)
Timeline: Mid Term to Long Term (6-12 months+)

6. Sea Gate Wreckage (reg/foil)

Now: $3 ($7 foil)
Target: $10 ($20+ foil)
Timeline: Long-Term (12+ months)

This subtly powerful land has all the makings of a long-term all-star. With Expeditions and so many potential 4-ofs in this set set to make a splash, cards like this that will be played as 1-of or 2-of and slowly acquired for Cube and EDH, will enjoy repressed prices for a while.

You aren’t likely to make much on this card in 2016, but I’ll be looking to get in at peak supply for around $2 for regular and $6 for foils on the assumption that I’ll be putting 50 or 60 copies away for a couple of years waiting for the inevitable 100% spike on TCGPlayer as people realize there aren’t that many copies lying around in inventory after all.

7. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar (maybe..)

 

I opened a Nissa at the Pre-Release and she was a solid lynchpin in my Scion focused deck trying to go wide, but she never felt back breaking even when she was giving three to four creatures a +1/+1 counter. As such, I’m not convinced that this is a card whose ascendancy you want to assume.

That being said, she is a 3-mana planeswalker, a gang that has been traditionally known to run the streets. At that casting cost, she could be run as a 4-of in a planeswalker/oath synergy based build like that proposed by Kenji Tsumura today.

Kenji does super friends for standard...
Kenji does super friends for standard…

I’m holding off on Nissa, but as a mythic, this is a card you will want to watch out for Nissa to show up in a sweet deck at SCG Atlanta this weekend. If she makes a good showing there, expect her to gain some ground. If she doesn’t find a moment in Standard, she falls to below $12, and you get the chance to stash some away for the long haul, where she is fairly certain to end up a $20+ casual all-star.

Now: $16?
Target: $25+ (pending results)
Timeline: Short-to-Mid Term (0-12 months)

8. Expeditions (The Good Ones)_

The time is not yet right, but in the next couple of weeks, the prices on the best of the Oath Expeditions will be injured by peak supply and you will get your chance to load up. Keep in mind that Oath Expeditions are naturally more rare than their fall release counterparts, as the winter set sales will not match BFZ, no matter how cool the set is.

Of the three high demand ones, I’d recommend chasing Horizon Canopy before the others. Eye of Ugin has the biggest growth potential, as fear of banning will likely drag the price down closer to $125, whereas not getting banned could result in a high demand 4-of land with stunning art having been under-priced early on. My guess is that WOTC lets the Eldrazi get freaky for at least a year before banning Eye of Ugin, but let’s see how the Pro Tour shakes out. If an Eldrazi deck fails to Top 8, the coast may be clear to move in.

Current: Tomb ($90), Eye ($150), Canopy  ($110)

Target Buy Price: Tomb ($75), Eye ($125), Canopy ($90)

Target Sell Price (Long-Term): Tomb ($125), Eye ($200), Canopy ($150)

9. Wastes 184 Full Art (Foil)

wastes

In opening my four boxes of Oath of the Gatewatch, I took note that the total # of Wastes lands per box was roughly one for every four packs, or 9-10 per box. This is a pretty low number. The total number of foils wastes I opened alongside 10 foil full art basic lands? Exactly zero. This leads me to believe that foil Wastes, and especially the preferred Kozilek version (#184) will be in very high demand down the road a piece.

These cards are currently available in the $10-15 range, but there really aren’t that many out there yet, so you may get a shot in the $8-12 range. Give it a year, I would guess these will be over $20 so long as the Eldrazi deck sets up shop in Modern and Eye of Ugin doesn’t get banned. Either way, I still like these a lot longer term assuming they don’t start printing them regularly.

Now: $10-15
Target: $20+
Timeline: Mid-to-Long Term (6-12+ months)

Cards You Should Be Selling

 

  1. Lesser Expedition Lands ($50-80)

The rest of the Expeditions are not likely to see high demand, and though they will rise over time, at current pricing you can pay for most of a box or pick up some key cards you need by trading them out. Get it done.

2. Kozilek, the Great Distortion ($20)

As with Ulamog before him, the new incarnation of Kozilek is a great long term mythic that is likely to bottom out closer to $12 before he rises again. I have to yet to be convinced that Kozilek is preferable to just running 4 Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger in Standard or Modern, and I suspect this mythic will get played almost exclusively in the sideboard of the Standard Eldrazi deck, or at best as a 1 or 2 of. That’s not enough to hold position as the 2nd most valuable card in the set, especially with so many good 4-of rares nipping at his heels. Sell or trade out now, and seek a low entry point.

Note: Now foils on the other hand are just awesome long term holds. Just go ahead and stash those away and check in in 2019 when they are over $100.

3. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet ($8)

If Drana was any indication, this kind of legendary mid-range Standard only role player isn’t likely to make a huge splash. He’s hovering around $7, which is already low for a mythic, but I don’t see this doing much in the short term. You should be able to score copies for the long term around $4-5, at which point I like it on casual demand alone. Also, he works with zombies and vampires and we’re headed to Innistrad, so heads up.

Battle for Zendikar Upate

In Digging for Dollars: Magic Origins, I called out the following specs as undervalued cards with some chance of financial success (shown with original and current pricing):

  1. Drana, Liberator of Malakir: $15 to $8 (-47%)
  2. Oblivion Sower: $5.50 to $8.75 (+60%)
  3. Retreat to Corelhelm (Foil): $12 to $4 (-67%)
  4. Woodland Wanderer: $4 to $1 (-75%)
  5. Emeria Sheppard (Foil): $8 to $4 (-50%)
  6. Painful Truths: $1.50 to $2 (+33%)
  7. Bring to Light (Foil): $16 to $6 (-63%)

So far, this list isn’t doing very well. Let’s see what’s going on.

In many ways Battle For Zendikar has played out as we predicted. The presence of some very expensive lottery tick – er, I mean Expeditions has held down the price of most of the cards in the set, and if it weren’t for fetch/battle lands driving insane mana bases, Standard would have been pretty affordable this season. Those Expeditions found their lows during peak supply in late November, and have since rebounded, just as I expect the Oath ones to. Moving forward it will be worth keeping an eye on Expedition pricing, as boxes of BFZ around $90 may get pretty tempting next fall if the prices climb enough.

Drana, Liberator of Malakir is a great card that simply hasn’t found a home. I’ve been running two copies in my WB Aggro/Control build in Standard for months, but most players find her to have too little board impact in a format that is contending with perfect mana and multi-format all-stars like Siege Rhino and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Moving forward, as both an ally and a vampire, and given that we’re headed back to Innistrad and more vampires later this spring, Drana may find fresh legs, but I have trouble recommending you buy in until something definite develops, since further lack of play could push her into bulk mythic territory around $5-6 and signal a long term buy plan.

Oblivion Sower is on the cusp of finding a home in both Modern and Standard decks, so I feel confidant he’ll keep moving in the right direction despite the dual printings so long as Eye of Ugin doesn’t get banned.  Woodland Wanderer looks like the Savage Knuckleblade of BFZ; a big, bad boy that can’t get no respect in the face of even larger Eldrazi. Once Siege Rhino rotates out, he may find his path, but I’ll hold off on $1 copies until I see some camera time at this point.

On the long term side, the Retreat to Corelhelm deck hasn’t posted a big result in Modern yet, but that’s a good thing here because you can now get in on the prospect of this busted card eventually doing big things for just $4 per foil. I love that price. Emeria Sheppard foils are down to $4 as well, and I endorse stashing some of those away for future EDH/Casual angel gains. Painful Truths is up a bit, and Bring to Light has collapsed, but both cards have foils carrying a whopping 10x foil multiplier, a sure sign that people expect them to do big things moving forward. Both cards are seeing experimental play in Modern, and some enterprising pros are already swearing by Truths in Legacy, so grabbing a bunch of these at current pricing for long term gains seems reasonable.

Magic Origins Update

In Digging for Dollars: Magic Origins, I called out the following specs as undervalued cards with some chance of financial success (shown with original and current pricing):

  1. Nissa, Vastwood Seer: $26 to $18 (-28%)
  2. Erebos’s Titan: $8.40 to $1  (-87%)
  3. Abbot of Keral Keep (Foil):  $13 to $11 (-15%)
  4. Evolutionary Leap (Foil):  $15 to $6 (-60%)
  5. Harbinger of the Tides (Foil):  $18 to $6 (-67%)
  6. Demonic Pact:  $3.75 to $3 (-20%)
  7. Animist’s Awakening: $10 to $4 (-60%)

So far, the only solid win from the list was Abbot of Keral Keep foils, if you rode the earlier spike above $20. I correctly identified that the card was Modern-playable and likely to rise on demonstrative play. As it turns out, the card is seeing play in both Grixis and Temur decks in Modern, including the innovative Temur Prowess deck recently played to a solid finish by Patrick Chapin. Since the fall spike noted in our last check-in, these foils have fallen back to $12 or so as the price of Jace has continued to rise. I’d recommend moving in on the card at this price if you haven’t already, as I still predict a future price over $20 on further Modern play.

As for the rest, Erebos’s Titan and Pact look dead for a standard career, but Abbot, Leap and Harbinger all represent excellent long term value. Of the three, Harbinger and Abbot are the most proven, so focus on those.

So there you have it. Anything I missed that you’re on top of? Logic to kill one of the specs? Have at it. Let’s figure it out!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Digging for Dollars: Battle for Zendikar

By: James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Battle for Zendikar is a weird set from a historical perspective, and quite likely a heavy piece of foreshadowing for how WOTC intends to market Magic: The Gathering for the foreseeable future. By inserting a truly lottery ticket-like upside to opening packs in the form of Zendikar Expeditions, Wizards of the Coast boosts set sales while keeping the cost of playing Standard lower. If it works out, and all signs point to the fact that it will, we can expect generally cheaper Standard decks paid for by our willingness to roll the dice on fancy foil goodies.

So what does this mean for those of us looking to make some money on BFZ?

Firstly, if you managed to get your hands on a case of BFZ at a reasonable cost, and you have both the time and outlets to crack it and move it while demand still exceeds supply (before mid-October, ideally), you have a decent shot at making most of your money back on the back of a couple of Expeditions lands and a double fistful of key mythics. This could potentially leave you with hundreds of cards to support your Standard and EDH decks at the cost of your valuable time.

Now, if instead you were hoping to find some tasty speculative buys that others are missing, your window of opportunity may have already passed. Many of the best cards in Battle for Zendikar (e.g., Undergrowth Champion) have already been identified, and it’s possible that too many are already priced for success for us to expect much in the way of short-term hidden gems. Remember, however, that you’re really going to see the greatest returns if you skip the armchair theorizing and buckle down to test the decks ahead of the curve. The combination of battle lands and fetch lands means that four- and five-color decks are very real options this fall, and as such, several cards are still being evaluated in an outdated context.

Here, presented in order of likely upside, are my picks for the cards in Battle for Zendikar most likely to reward timely speculation, with all target prices assumed to be possible during 2015 unless otherwise noted:

1. Drana, Liberator of Malakir

When I started writing this article 36 hours ago, this was far and away my best pick for a BFZ mythic about to take off like a rocket ship. Initially, Drana was available on pre-order for around $10, but as more people have started brewing and testing with this flying war machine, the price has started to push up, especially in the last 24 hours or so. The risk is consequently rising, and I believe that Drana needs to make the top eight at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar to hold a price over $15.

That being said, this could easily turn out to be the Dragonlord Ojutai of BFZ, a powerhouse, must-answer four-of in Abzan Aggro, a Hardened Scales variant, or something entirely new. If it looks like the premier card in a tier-one Standard deck for the next few months, Drana could spike above $25, and make a playset or two a solid way to pay for dinner.  On the other hand, if Drana fails to prove herself early on, look for her to drop below $10 with the rest of the unplayed mythics and open up a more attractive entry point for potential greatness in a different metagame sometime before spring 2017. If you’re looking to get in now, however, move fast. Even as I type these words, copies are drying up and pushing the few remaining copies closer to $20, with not much meat left on the bone.

Now: $15
Target: $30+

2. Oblivion Sower

  

When a mythic is this far up the power curve and gets better in environments with fetch lands and delve cards, it’s worth at least considering getting in on the action. Oblivion Sower was one of the earliest mythics revealed from the set and a promising financial prospect. Then it became clear that the card was included in the associated Duel Deck for the set and we all backed off. The thing is, Polukranos was also a powerful midrange creature with a sweet ability included in a Duel Deck, and he experienced two spikes over $15 despite that fact. There also might be an Eldrazi or dragon (or both!) ramp deck that wants this guy to play mid-game defense and search up the lands to get the really big guys like Atarka and Ulamog onto the playing field. Again, this pretty much needs to be a three- or four-of in a major deck to have a chance at a spike, but you won’t find me surprised if it does.

Now: $5.50
Target: $10+

3. Retreat to Coralhelm (Foil)

  

In case you missed it, this card might be the next big thing in Modern, alongside the dashing Knight of the Reliquary. Ari Lax wrote an article about it yesterday, and essentially what it says is that both of these in play means having as much land and as big a knight as you want. It also allows for all sorts of toolbox shenanigans, including finding unique lands and making cards like Hangarback Walker and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy even more powerful. Knight of the Reliquary has already jumped on the hype, moving from $5 to over $10 in the last couple of weeks. Foils of Retreat to Coralhelm are sold out on Star City Games at $8, and my guess is they will restock above $12. This doesn’t leave much to gain in the short term, but a few years of success could see this card above $20 like foils of Deceiver Exarch.

Now: $10-12
Target: $20 (long term hold)

4. Woodland Wanderer

If I had to point at the rare creature from BFZ that most benefits from a Standard format that can support four-color decks with ease, this would be it. Easy to cast as a 6/6 with pseudo-evasion that plays excellent defense, this guy makes Siege Rhino stay home and shrugs off burn spells. My testing in both Bring to Light and four-color Hardened Scales brews says he’s an unremarkable but always welcome role player that multiple decks may run as a four-of. That means he’s got a shot to be one of the few rares in the set to gain value rather than lose it.

Now: $4
Target: $8+

5. Emeria Sheppard (+foils)

You might need to hold onto these for a while to yield a decent return, but I’m finding it very hard to believe that a card this busted should be $1 in a world where I can use reanimation spells to put it into play and fetch lands to abuse it. First we need a reanimation spell worth casting, but still. At the very least, foils are solid long-term holds for Commander, especially if peak supply knocks them down into the $5 range. For now, I’m picking up 20 of these for $20 and adding them to the spec closet.

Now: $1 ($8 foil)
Target: $3-4 ($15+ foil)

6. Painful Truths

If we end up in a Standard format full of three- to five-color decks that all want to cast Siege Rhino, then I have a feeling this card will end up in high demand. Anytime you can cast it for full value and aren’t facing aggro pressure, you’ll be happy to have it, but it goes without saying that aggro often dominates this early in the season, so you may be able to snag a few copies around $1 before it finds a time to shine. Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and Abzan Charm all rotate this spring, which would leave this card sitting pretty for a modest spike.

Now: $1.50
Target: $5

7. Bring to Light (foils)

There is in fact little doubt in my mind that a Bring to Light deck will make top eight of a major tournament this fall. The card is at minimum a way to play up to eight Siege Rhino, which is insane, and a deep toolbox besides. Still, Siege Rhino is arguably the best fall rare in Standard, has been all year, and still has trouble holding $4. As such, what I’m really wondering is whether Bring to Light is going to end up in Modern in some sort of value or combo deck. My gut says yes, and I’m looking to snag some copies under $15 at peak supply to follow through.

Side note: Siege Rhino foils, up as high as $20 on Modern play last winter, are now back around $8. This is a definite buy, folks, though you could risk waiting until rotation to get an even better deal.

Now: $16?
Target: $30+

Honorable Mentions:

  • Felidar Sovereign dropped from $10 to $1 on the reprint, but should easily recover to $3 or $4 in a few years. Seems like safe fuel for a future buylist order if you don’t have anywhere better to stash some cash.
  • Blight Herder isn’t a $1 card either. It’s seven power and eight toughness for five mana in any situation where your opponents are using delve, and the three little guys give you the option to ramp to eight mana the next turn or cast something for three right away, effectively making the 4/5 body cost two. That’s also four bodies to sacrifice to a Nantuko Husk, Bone Splinter fuel, and all sorts of things to be doing in EDH or Cube. If it finds a Standard home, it goes to $3 or $4 right away, and otherwise, it finds the same price point within a few years.
  • Part the Waterveil is a Time Walk variant and a mythic. Sometimes it makes a hasty creature you can attack with twice in its wake. It’s currently $2.50 and will almost certainly top $5 to $6 by 2018.
  • Crumble to Dust foils clearly have Modern applications and are currently around $7, with a solid shot of falling toward $5. It’s only an uncommon, but this could be a future $10 to $15 sideboard card in foil.
  • Bad puns aside, Void Winnower shuts down Siege Rhino, Dragonlord Dromoka, Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, Gideon, Jace, and well, half the format. It also has at least half of an evasion ability and can’t be blocked by tokens. What it doesn’t have is a graveyard recursion spell to help it make a splash. After all, if you’re going to nine mana, you might as well go to ten and cast Ulamog. As such, I suspect you are going to get a chance to nab this card below $4 pretty soon, and that might be a decent long-term hold if someone figures out how to put him to work.

Cards You Should Be Selling

  1. Expedition Lands

Be honest with yourself. You’re not going to be getting full playsets of these. They’re too expensive to play with, and the market has already fully priced these out to a level that is unlikely to be sustainable heading into peak supply in late October. In the long term, returns on the fetch lands especially may be reasonable, but cards this expensive are far less liquid than regular staples and you may find some sweet deals around the holiday season when folks are dumping them to pay for Christmas gifts. There’s also the fact that their rarity may be more like two per case rather than one per case, which if true, means they are twice as common as we thought. Sell into the hype and buy yourself something nice.

2. The Planeswalkers

Kiora is underwhelming in testing so far and Ob Nixilis is looking like a one- or two-of in a few decks, so I expect both of these cards to drop from current levels down towards $10 to $12. A reprint in the spring Clash Pack could further maul their value. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar looks like the real deal, but seeing as how he’s already closing in on $40, I’m happy to be unloading my prerelease copy into the hype looking to snag him later under $25 as necessary. Of course, if you’re planning on playing a full set next week, you might as well hang on to him, since he may win you enough games to pay for the difference.

3. Ruinous Path

It’s worth noting that Hero’s Downfall spiked to over $10 at one point, but the lack of instant speed really hurts in a format that is already missing good instant-speed removal on the early part of the curve. Even still, I’m betting against this holding $8 and recommend you trade out for better targets before the price starts to tumble.

4. Undergrowth Champion

This guy is looking pretty solid in my testing, but he’s not going to be a multi-deck role player. Get out immediately, and nab a playset once peak supply knocks this back closer to $10.

Magic Origins Update

In Digging for Dollars: Magic Origins, I called out the following specs as undervalued cards with some chance of financial success (shown with original and current pricing):

  1. Nissa, Vastwood Seer: $26 to $20 (-25%)
  2. Erebos’s Titan: $8.40 to $2  (-76%)
  3. Abbot of Keral Keep (Foil):  $13 to $20 (+53%)
  4. Evolutionary Leap (Foil):  $15 to $8 (-53%)
  5. Harbinger of the Tides (Foil):  $18 to $8 (-56%)
  6. Demonic Pact:  $3.75 to $3 (-20%)
  7. Animist’s Awakening: $10 to $6 (-40%)

So far, the only solid win from the list is Abbot of Keral Keep foils. I correctly identified that the card was Modern-playable and likely to rise on demonstrative play. As it turns out, the card is seeing play in both Grixis and Temur decks in Modern, including the innovative Temur Prowess deck recently played to a solid finish by Patrick Chapin. That being said, the card is still readily available around $18, which is a bit higher than my earlier entry point of $12 to $15, but still a very solid pickup. I’d recommend moving in on the card at this price if you haven’t already, as I still predict a future price over $30 on further Modern play.

Nissa is seeing play, but rarely as a four-of, and Jace has stolen a lot of her value, so she’s shaved a few dollars off instead of spiking. Of the other potential Standard winners, Erebos’s Titan and Demonic Pact have found fresh lows, and so far don’t seem to be showing up in any lists for this fall. That being said, they still have one more rotation cycle to come to the forefront, so lay your chips where your heart leads you. Erebos’s Titan especially works well with ingest and delve, so maybe there’s something there to be found.

The good news, however, is that Evolutionary Leap has yet to find a steady home in Modern and foils are down to $8, which is an entry point I find compelling. The card is too rich of a value engine with tokens and toolbox creatures to stay low forever, so I’m moving in on some more copies. Likewise, I’m a bit mystified as to how Harbinger of the Tides foils are down to $8 with it being a three- or four-of in Modern Merfolk, especially with that deck doing so well lately. Regardless, I’m down for a few more sets at that price.

The results of DFD: Origins, then, provide further proof that buying a full portfolio of long-shot lists like this is nearly always a bad strategy. Cards like Demonic Pact and Erebo’s Titan too often hinge on the emergence of a specific linear deck, whereas flexible and powerful cards like Snapcaster Mage and Abrupt Decay offer up multi-format appeal that can be tucked into a myriad of decks.

Huge Miss of the Last Set

   

Along with the rest of the MTG finance community, I completely missed the power inherent in a Merfolk Looter with a flexible upside when first exposed. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy has since emerged as a viable player in both Modern and Legacy, as well as one of the top five cards in Standard. I recently called Jace foils out as a top buy, and indeed they have spiked to over $80 since then, earning me some solid profits on the copies I managed to nab before the spike.

So there you have it. Anything I missed that you’re on top of? Logic to kill one of the specs? Have at it. I’m not sensitive.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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