Category Archives: Digging for Dollars

Digging for Dollars: Oath of the Gatewatch

ADVERTISEMENT:


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)

ADVERTISEMENT:


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.

ADVERTISEMENT:


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.

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

ADVERTISEMENT:


Please follow and like us:

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)

ADVERTISEMENT:


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.

Please follow and like us:

Digging for Dollars: Magic Origins

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

So far, Magic Origins looks like a triumphant finale for the long-running summer core set of Magic: The Gathering. The final core set (soon to be replaced with the 2nd set in the 2nd block of each season) is chock full of subtle and original cards that many players, both pro and amateur alike, have been having trouble evaluating.

Unlike Dragons of Tarkir, which was widely panned as “for casuals”, only to succeed in shaking up the scene in both Modern and Standard, Magic Origins features a ton of cards that are seemingly powerful, but hard to evaluate, resulting in a mix of both over and under-costed cards currently for sale.  Also, like DTK, Origins is up against several previous set’s worth of very, very powerful cards that may preclude many of the new cards from seeing extensive play until the fall rotation in October.

Many of the best cards in Origins have already been identified, and it’s possible that too many are already priced for success. 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.

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

1. Nissa, Vastwood Seer (Mythic)

   

It may seem pretty odd to be calling out the most expensive card in the set as my top underdog pick, but hear me out. Nissa has already been called everything from hot garbage to Elspeth by both pros and MTGFinance writers alike. Personally, I’m with Pat Chapin on this one. I see a very flexible early utility creature that turns into a stellar late game draw once your ramp strategy has activated. I also see an iconic mythic that will likely be played as a 4-of when it’s played at all. The Standard meta is going to get shook up something fierce with the release of Origins, so anything could happen, but if Nissa pops up at top tables in some early Standard tournaments, I can easily see her pushing the upper limits of standard playable mythics. Also, with Eldrazi ramp almost certainly a thing once Battle for Zendikar is released in October, the trend-line would seem to favor the home team. Though her percentage returns wouldn’t be the highest in this list, the raw returns would still be $5-10 per copy, and potentially more in trade, especially if you can snag some at peak supply for under $20.

Now: $26
Target: $35-40

 

2. Erebos’s Titan (Mythic)

This big black beat-stick may be a bit lower on players’ radar screens than it should be. The triple black casting cost really reduces the number of decks it can be played in, but there are likely still potential homes in Black Devotion or BG Recursion strategies. Sure he’s big and cheap, but his true form is as a multi-faceted control hoser. His conditional indestructibility has the potential to turn off kill cards from decks that don’t have early drops or can’t keep them on the table, and his recursive potential is unlocked by any deck that either a) plans to use Delve (Tasigur, Angler, Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time) or b) plans to abuse Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector. He also beats Tasigur, Angel of Tithes and Siege Rhino in combat and survives Languish and Stoke the Flames/Exquisite Firecraft. The fact that he is so useful in turning on Erebos, God of the Dead may not end up being a thing, but it’s certainly worth testing to be sure. Between strong kill and Thoughtseize, mono-black certainly has the tools to make a run.

Now: $8.50
Target: $12-15

 

3. Abbot of Keral Keep (Foil Rare)

Here we have a rare with at least some potential to be as powerful as Snapcaster Mage. Using the Speculator 3000, I see a low casting cost, an aggressive body, and the potential to generate relevant card advantage in a low slung deck streamlined to abuse it. I have little doubt this will see some play in Standard while it’s legal, but in pointing the finger at foils I’m really saying that it might have a home in Modern or Legacy. Picture a deck with Snaps, Young Pyromancer, Delver of Secrets and this guy alongside a pile of 0/1 casting cost spells. StarCityGames is sold out at $9.99 and currently I can’t see many for sale under $20, which is steep without proven results. I’ll be target these around $15 if I can get them, ramping up my commitment quickly if I see tournament results or deck ideas that seem to drive the value.

Now: $13
Target: $50+

 

4. Evolutionary Leap (Foil Rare)

I feel reasonably confident that this is a card that will earn a spike within the next 2-3 years. Is it worth going deep on copies now without results hoping this is the next Collected Company in Modern? Probably not. CoCo is already giving green decks a somewhat similar option whose potential hasn’t been fully plumbed, and there are more reliable options for your hard earned dollars. That being said, this is more combo card (think Polymorph into an important creature off of a token) than a Birthing Pod to my eyes. Perhaps what it really needs to go off is reliable card stacking, a la Congregation at Dawn or Sensei’s Divining Top. It’s the perfect example of a card that most players won’t be able to rate effectively until they’ve seen a smarter player bring it to a top table and since I haven’t divined the proper build for it, this spec comes with a giant sized caution label despite the slight potential to be massive in Modern and/or Legacy.

Now: $15
Target: $30 (don’t hold your breath)

 

5. Harbinger of the Tides (Foil Rare)

Harbinger of the Tides needs a few things to happen to end up facing the right direction. Firstly, he needs to successfully slot into Modern Merfolk as everyone expects him to, and then put up a strong set of results that demonstrates he takes the deck up a notch. Hopefully, that deck wants four copies, though it’s possible they just don’t have all the slots available. If he could simultaneously find a home as a 3-4 of in a dominant Jeskai tempo strategy in Standard for a few months, that would certainly bode well for hitting the target below. Ideally I’ll be looking to scoop up a few sets under $15, looking to hold for a long term double up.

Now: $18
Target: $30+

 

6. Demonic Pact (Mythic)

Normally, I would be seeing this as a bulk rare, but the reality is that there are plenty of tools in the current Standard to make this work. With cards like Dromoka’s Command and Silumgar’s Command on deck to make sure you never actually lose the game, both Abzan mid-range and U/B control might be able to find reasons to run this.

My conditions for success here are as follows:

  • dominant deck runs 4 copies
  • or 2-3 consistent decks run 2-3 copies
  • and format stays slow enough for a do nothing 4-drop to matter

I’m also only 75% sure this isn’t playable in Modern or Legacy, since funny ways to donate it to opponents might be found.

Now: $3.75
Target: $7-10

7. Animist’s Awakening (Foil Rare)

This card has all the hallmarks of a Modern or Legacy card that will be forgotten about until the day the right combination of cards suddenly makes it spike off of a Top 8 performance that comes out of nowhere. You need to be generating a lot of mana already to make it sexy, so it’s really about finding interesting utility lands or lands with auto-win conditions and benefiting from them all coming into play at once.  If these dip towards $4, and I think they will, I’ll consider acquiring some to stash away in the long spec box.

Now: $10
Target: $20+ (long term)

Bonus Notes:

  • Day’s Undoing foils are over $50 on low supply at present. I’m a believer that someone breaks this in Modern and/or Legacy, likely in some kind of aggro or burn build. If it happens fast, this price will solidify and could climb to $100. If it doesn’t, I’ll be looking to get in on these under $20 with a willingness to wait until it gets snapped in two.
  • Hallowed Moonlight foils are carrying a 4x modifier at present on the assumption of Modern and/or Legacy play. I’d like to snag some under $10, which should be possible once we hit peak supply.
  • Liliana, Heretical Healer might be playable in Modern. I’m brewing with Athreos and Kitchen Finks at present to try and figure out the right angle.
  • Woodland Bellower may end up a big hit, and it may even be modern playable. I’ve got my eye on this guy.
  • Several cards in this set are over-priced already if they don’t find a home in a big deck in a hurry. These short-sell targets include: Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy (Foil) at $40+, Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh (Foil) at $40, Day’s Undoing at $14 and Kytheon, Hero of Akros at $14.

So there you have it, the long-shot specs of Magic Origins. Which ones are you going after and why? Anything I missed that you think has a shot at a big rise?

DFD: Dragons of Tarkir Update:

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

  1. Dragonlord Ojutai: $4 to $16 (+400%, 700% at peak)
  2. Sidisi, Undead Vizier: $3 to $1 (-67%)
  3. Zurgo, Bellstriker: $2 to $2 (0%)
  4. Stratus, Dancer: $2 to $1 (-50%)
  5. Surrak, the Hunt Caller: $2 to $0.75 (-62.5%)
  6. Blood-Chin Fanatic: $1  to .25 (-75%)
  7. Dragon Tempest: $3.50 to .50 (-85%)
  8. Boltwing Marauder: $.50 to $.25 (-50%)
  9. Icefall Regent: $1.50 to $1.25 (-17%)
  10. Profaner of the Dead: $.50 to $0.25 (-50%)

Dragonlord Ojutai is clearly the big winner here, and the amount of money I made on my 20 or so copies, easily made up for funds invested in 12 copies of Sidisi, Undead Vizier and Zurgo, Bellstriker that haven’t gone anywhere. It’s laughable however, that I set the ceiling on Ojutai at $8, when in hindsight we see one of the defining finishers of the format, and a card that has already seen Modern play.  (Having hit $30 earlier in the season, Ojutai now looks like a solid pickup for the fall if decks that want him can figure out how to get around the sacrifice effects that have rendered him less effective.)

The only other cards I offered up as solid picks were Zurgo, Bellstriker and Sidisi, and both saw some good early play before falling off the side of the metagame. That being said, both cards are still positioned reasonably well heading into the fall, though major financial gains will be difficult at this point without top table support. I suspect there may be a GB Recursion strategy that wants a couple of copies of Sidisi at the top end but it won’t be a 4-of unless Battle for Zendikar offers up a powerful ramp strategy to effectively reduce it’s casting cost.

Of the true long shots, none of them have yet managed to hit the targets I set for them should they see widespread play.

The results of DFD: DTK then, provide further proof that buying a full portfolio of long-shot lists like this is nearly always a bad strategy. Cards like Dragon Tempest, Blood-Chin Fanatic and Boltwing Marauder 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.

Note: One of my biggest misses from DTK was my complete predictive whiff on the power of Collected Company in Modern and the resulting explosion in the value of CoCo foils. Like everyone else I just saw a poor man’s Birthing Pod at a casting cost that seemed too high for the format. The ability to leverage instant speed status to recover from sweepers, get in under counterspells and occasionally combo off, has however, proven to be extremely powerful. Fortunately, I clued in earlier than most (about a week after publication) and managed to snag 20+ foils around $10-12. Today those foils hover around $40, and I also made strong returns on early acquisitions of Death Mist Raptor and the other Dragonlords, so DTK was a strong win on the spec sheet despite getting stuck holding 3 playsets each of Dragon Tempest and Descent of the Dragons 😉

See you next time and have fun at the pre-release!

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.

Please follow and like us:

Digging for Dollars: Dragons of Tarkir

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Dragons of Tarkir marks the culmination of the Tarkir story-line and a block that is likely to be remember fondly for providing one of the better limited environments and one of the very best Standard seasons in recent memory.  As this point of the year we are very close to having our Standard decks for the season reach the apex of their potential power, with just Magic: Origins now unreleased and nearly 2000 cards at our disposal.

However, despite some very tasty early reveals, the financial future of Dragons of Tarkir is pretty hazy as we look forward at the rest of 2015. As pointed out by Saffron Olive in his excellent article on the Estimated Value (EV) of the set, the current value of a box is well below the average set value of the  last few years, and certainly not worth cracking packs of at present. This is especially concerning because we haven’t even made it to release weekend yet, and normally at this point the hype around a new set is strong enough to drive prices up to a temporary high that lasts a couple of weeks. This is not the case with Dragons of Tarkir, and it leaves us wondering, what’s up with this set?

When digging for dollars with DTK, we have to ask ourselves whether the combined wisdom of the player base is having trouble identifying the currently undervalued cards hiding in the shadows, or whether we’re simply dealing with Dragon’s Maze 2.0, a set notorious for it’s ongoing lack of valuable cards.

For my part, I believe that Dragons of Tarkir is:

a) primarily targeted at casual players and that as such many cards will be bulk for a while before they pick up from casual/EDH demand

b) up against several previous set’s worth of very, very powerful cards that may preclude many of the new cards from seeing extensive play

c) overpriced thus far on the handful of good cards that fell victim to pre-order hype (ie Narset, Enlightened Master)

d) lacking in rares in mythics destined for Modern and Legacy play

This combination means that the set is largely lacking in major standouts for short-term gains and also that many of my picks will only have 18 months in Standard to find homes before they hit the bulk bins for years. Now on the plus side, the ever-shifting 2015 Standard metagame leaves a lot of room for price spikes on select cards whose decks find sudden success in high profile Top 8’s. The low EV of the set, much of which lies in the lacking mythic rares, also leaves the door wide open for some rares to hit the $10-12+ range.

All of that being said, I think there are some cards here worth picking out. 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. It’s also worth noting that summer often represents annual lows for Standard staples, so you really need to believe your deck is going to have a shot at taking off within the next few months to justify not waiting until the release of Modern Masters (2015) to dive in.

Here, presented in no particular order, are my picks for the cards in Dragons of Tarkir most likely to reward timely speculation, with all target prices assumed to be possible during 2015 unless otherwise noted:

1. Dragonlord Ojutai

Now: $5
Target: $6-8

Frankly, this dragon lord is being overlooked and underestimated. The funny thing is that it’s actually the new control tools on offer at common and uncommon that seem to make his inclusion in an U/W or Esper Control strategy a very likely event. Cards like Anticipate, Silkwrap, Banishing Light, Ultimate Price, Hero’s Downfall, Dig Through Time, Negate, and Treasure Cruise all help a deck using Ojutai to kill the opponent a real thing. Ojutai only costs 5, which is low enough for him to be a 4-of in a control deck that doesn’t feel like waiting around. This is a very nice casting cost for a potentially game ending threat that allows control to cast him early and rely on his hexproof to hold down the fort, or to use some of their new 2-mana counters or kill spells to back him up a bit later in the game. Heck, he loves it when you cast Crux of Fate and he plays very nicely with Silumgar’s Scorn, which is also much better than you think. The fact that connecting with him lets you cast a free Anticipate (the best blue card in the set) is just gravy.

2. Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Now: $3
Target: $5-7

Here’s a card I intend to go deep on, because I actually think this guy could be Modern playable at some point. Silver bullet strategies have been extremely powerful in the past, and there is a mountain of potential graveyard synergy to fuel his actions. Think Kitchen Finks. Remember, Diabolic Tutor type effects typically cost four mana, so we’re basically getting a 4/6 Deathtouch for one that just happens to block and kill Siege Rhino, Monastery Mentor, Goblin Rabblemaster, Surrak, Hunt Caller, etc. That body is stapled to the ability to sacrifice a creature we want in the graveyard anyway (Deathmist Raptor), or which has overstayed it’s welcome (Satyr Wayfinder), and then go get whatever answer we need to our opponent’s most pressing threat. Being able to choose between Thoughtseize, Ultimate Price, Hero’s Downfall or Dromoka’s Charm is no joke. Ultimately, I think the zombie snake is a 2-3 of, but that might be enough to earn a spike if someone figures out how to optimize his usage.

3. Zurgo, Bellstriker

Now: $2
Target: $4-5

Mono-red aggro now has all of the tools they could ever want to take advantage of control decks and new durdly decks that spend too much time fooling around with their new toys to drive home the killing blow. Make no mistake, despite his embarrassing new role in Tarkir society, Zurgo is one of the best red creatures in the format and highly likely to hit top tables in the first wave of new Standard decks debuting later this month. If the deck puts up consistent results, this card should hit $4-5 easily, and post-rotation this fall the deck should still be in great shape and set up to do even better during this weakest Standard field of the year.

4. Stratus Dancer

Now: $2
Target: $3-4

If mono-red ends up being a beating, the mono-blue devotion we’re all trying to resurrect gets that much better because Master of Waves is an absolute coffin nail against red. Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson posted a five-game match to Star City Games this week, and it showed pretty clearly that while blue devotion might not be what it was, it’s still a real deck.  This card is not the 2-drop that blue devotion wants, but it is the 2-drop that they’re going to need. As an early evasive threat that can counter instants or sorceries starting on turn 4, Status Walker is also playable in other tempo oriented strategies and will often be a 4-of when it’s being played at all. As such there is some slight upside to be had if you can prove out his value in your testing regiment and get in on some copies before anyone else notices how good this card is.

5. Surrak, Caller of the Hunt

Now: $2
Target: $4-5

In the not so distant future, Polukranos is going to rotate out of Standard, and people are going to realize that a similarly costed beatstick with haste is a pretty good way to get your game on. Green just so happens to be the strongest color in Standard right now, and that’s likely to last until at least the fall. In the meantime, plenty of people are brewing up R/G, Mono-Green and Temur builds that include this guy as a 2-3 of. Don’t be put off by his Legendary status. After all, Polukranos has already amply demonstrated that the first copy of a must-answer threat either dies to removal and frees up the second copy immediately, or it doesn’t die and you are clearly winning with a backup in hand. If some key pros (think Brian Kibler) end up making this work and get somewhere at Pro Tour DTK, expect this card to double in price on the spot.

6. Blood-Chin Fanatic

Now: $1
Target: $3-4

This guy basically dies to everything, right? Well, not quite. See, in the mono-black and B/W warrior builds they’ve usually run out of removal by the time you’re this far up the curve, and if your aggro deck gets hit with a sweeper, that’s just something you live with. The rest of the time, this guy starts doing a Gray Merchant of Asphodel impression once you get stalled out on the ground, and buys you time to finish things off. These decks were already Tier 2 prior to this set and now have additional options including Blood-Chin Rager (Falter effect), Pitiless Horde (Lava Axe), Ultimate Price/Silkwrap (Cheap Kill) and Arashin Foremost (Portable Beating and another target to double up from $1.50 to $4).  It’s entirely possible that we see one of these builds claim a Top 8 slot before summer in which case, this card could easily triple up. Otherwise this slides into bulk oblivion in a hurry.

7. Dragon Tempest

Now: $3.50
Target: $5-6

So, the future of this card and it’s effect on your wallet lies almost entirely on whether the Dragon Tempest/Descent of the Dragons combo manages to find a home in a Tier 1 deck before the end of the year. To live the dream you play some small creatures like Battlefield Thaumaturge, Sylvan Caryatid or Dragon Fodder/Hordling Outburst that are tough to kill reliably before Turn 5. You then cast both Tempest and Descent on the same turn, turn 3 creatures into 4/4 dragons with haste, they deal nine to your opponent directly, and then attack for 12. That’s 21 as early as turn 4 or 5.  Hour of Need can provide a backup combo plan. Your deck can be built U/R (for consistency) or U/R/G (to support Caryatid and possibly Sarkhan) and can easily work a transformational sideboard, swapping out the combo for a mid-range game plan with Thunderbreak Regent and Stormbreath Dragon.

8. Boltwing Marauder

Now: $0.50
Target: $2-4

This is a reasonably costed evasive threat that can attack for 11 when you cast Hordling Outburst and can’t be killed by Silkwrap or Ultimate Price. Dragon Fodder and Secure the Wastes are also real cards. Hornet Queen gives it (or something else) +10! The Boltwing is also worth a mere 2 quarters at present, likely because it’s totally overshadowed by flashier dragons. I’m picking up a few sets, just in case someone puts this to work.

9. Icefall Regent

Now: $1.50
Target: $3-4

This is part Dungeon Geists, part Frost Titan and both of those cards made top tables in Standard in seasons past. It’s also a very plausible top of curve if mono-blue devotion, U/R dragons or another blue mid-range strategy takes off. It turns Silumgar’s Scorn into straight up Counterspell alongside Ojutai. The rate is good enough on this card that it can easily triple if you see this on camera at some point.

10. Profaner of the Dead

A lot of people are completely missing that in Standard this card is going to bounce 75-100% of the opposing army against decks like GW Aggro, Mono Red, Mono Blue, G/W Devotion, Warriors even when it has to exploit itself. If you’re in some weird Sultai build this can even stay on board while you ditch something tasty to whip back the following turn. Whipping the Profaner back is still pretty ugly. This also has a future in EDH/Commander where you can bounce untold creatures while mining value from something big you wanted to die for value. At $0.50 this is already near it’s lowest possible price, and I’m in for 20 copies right off the bat.

Now: $0.50
Target: $2-3

 Dark Horse PickAvatar of the Resolute (foil)

Now: $1.50/$5 (foil)
Target: $4-5/$15 (foil)

It wasn’t so long ago that we got a 3/2 for GG and called it playable. These days we’re getting reach, trample and the ability to grow very quickly in the presence of +1/+1 counters and most of us are yawning. Let me be clear. This card is definitely playable, possibly even in Modern. Living the dream with this card is a deck that can field a couple of counter based creatures on turns 1 and 2 and play this as a 5/4 on Turn 3. A 4/3 on turn 2 could beat Tarmogoyf a lot of the time.  I’ve been testing a counters based Modern deck for a while, and it will love this card, falling into the ranks along with Bloodhall Ooze, Young Wolf, Scavenging Ooze, Experiment One, Strangleroot Geist, Lotleth Troll and Predator Ooze. The deck is nowhere near Tier 1 but eventually the bell will get rung on critical mass of good counter synergy based low drops will get hit and this card will see play.

Bonus Notes:

So there you have it, the long-shot specs of Dragons of Tarkir. Which ones are you going after and why? Anything I missed that you think has a shot at a big rise?

Fate Reforged Update:

In our Fate Reforged Digging for Dollars, I called out the following specs:

  1. Humble Defector (foil)
  2. Frontier Siege
  3. Yasova Dragonclaw
  4. Tasigur, the Golden Fang
  5. Torrent Elemental
  6. Cloudform (foil)
  7. Wildcall
  8. Dark Deal (foil)
  9. Reality Shift (foil)
  10. Soulflayer (foil)

From this list, Humble Defector, Frontier Siege, Yasova, Tasigur and Torrent Elemental all saw high level tournament play in the last few months. Tasigur and Frontier Siege might have even made you some money. I went pretty deep on Tasigur at $2, and that has easily paid for some of the specs here that were stillborn. Not bad at all given the time-frame but still proof that buying the full portfolio of long-shot lists like this is a bad strategy. You really need to figure out which of the options is the next Tasigur and load up, which is much harder than it sounds.

IMHO Cloudform needs time to find a Modern or Legacy deck. Dark Deal and Soulflayer are already seeing play, but their foils haven’t really taken off yet. Reality Shift is a consensus terrible card so far. Wildcall was utterly overshadowed by the success of Master of the Unseen/Whisperwood Elemental as the definitive manifest cards in Standard.

See you next time!

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.

Please follow and like us: