Category Archives: James Chillcott

Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan: Day 2 Analysis

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So far this weekend at Pro Tour: Rivals of Ixalan, we’ve seen our assumptions about Modern play out pretty much as expected. The field of pros was largely unable to table a definitive solution to a format with this many viable decks and the Day 1 Meta breakdown demonstrated this clearly.

An amazing 23 (!) decks made up at least 1% of the field coming into this weekend which is a far cry from what we’ve seen in recent seasons of Standard. It also illustrates why the pros seem to have gravitated towards playing the decks they know best rather than attempting to out maneuver the meta with a fresh brew. With so many possibilities, meta gaming must bow to skillful play.

5C Humans, Affinity, Burn, Tron and Grixis Shadow made up the largest slices of the field, but none of them represented more than 10%, and combined the Top 5 archetypes were still less than 38%,

In a field like this our best bet is to focus on emerging tech foils and multi-archetype staples that are in low supply.

So far we’ve already seen several of the foils for 5C Humans dry up and sales should be solid heading into next week if the deck does well in Top 8 and solidifies it’s position as part of the Tier 1 Modern gauntlet.

To attempt to figure out what might move this afternoon as the Top 8 is settled, we should take a look at which decks boasted the best Day 1 to Day 2 conversion rates.

First, let’s flag the worst performing archetypes so we know what to consider avoiding in spec land:

  1. Titan Shift: 37.5% (6 of 16)
  2. Dredge: 52.9% (9 of 17)
  3. Mardu Pyromancer: 53.8% (7 of 13)
  4. U/R Gifts Storm: 56.5% (13 of 23)
  5. B/G Mid-Range: 55.6% (5 of 9)

Despite Gerry T’s deep run with Mardu Pyromancer, the conversion rate for the deck overall should give you some pause on speculating in that direction. Primal Titan doesn’t look like a great bet, and the field seemed to be ready for both Dredge and Storm strategies.

The Top 5 conversion rates belong to:

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  1. Traverse Shadow: 84.6% (11 of 13)
  2. Eldrazi Tron: 76.9% (20 of 26)
  3. Jeskai Control: 73.9% (17 of 23)
  4. Tron: 68.8% (22 of 32)
  5. 5c Humans 67.4% (29 of 43)

Despite a relatively small sample size, it could be that the Traverse Death’s Shadow builds may have been underestimated coming into the tournament. Traverse the Ulvenwald foils are still available around $10, but supply is pretty shallow and this card also sees solid demand from the Commander/EDH scene. Modern Masters 2017 Death’s Shadow foils are also relatively scarce, and could make a move towards $20+ from $12-14. The fact that there are two versions of the Death’s Shadow decks also provides some insulation against meta shifts on that spec.

Traverse the UlvenwaldDeath's Shadow

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Both of the main flavors of the Tron builds were top converters which further entrenches that archetype as one of the giants of the format. With most versions running multiple copies of Wurmcoil Engine as their mid-tier threat, you might want to have a look at how few Masterpiece copies are still floating about under $90, with potential to push $120-$150 this year. Other versions are also worth a look but I’m a bit worried that this card could show up in Magic 25 this spring. Karn Liberated hasn’t seen a reprint since Modern Masters 2015, is often played as a 4 of in Tron builds and only has two printings total, so should it dodge a reprint in Magic 25, a move on non-foils from $70 to $100+ on low supply could take place. For the record I think a reprint in the first half of 2018 is likely, but roll the dice as you may. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon hasn’t yet seen a reprint outside his promo version, and I’d bet on Karn seeing a reprint first, so picking up a few of these at $30 with the assumption it will get to $50 before a reprint could work out as well.

Karn LiberatedWurmcoil Engine

A quick glance at the Jeskai Control lists would suggest a couple of decent targets. Supreme Verdict is likely to be the best sweeper in Modern and EDH for quite some time, and if you’re looking to pick up a foil, they can be had for as little as $7 after the recent reprint in Iconic Masters. Search for Azcanta has made strong inroads into the blue decks in the format, so you might want to have a look at the foils on these, especially the ultra rare Japanese Buy-A-Box version with the alternate map art on the back.

Supreme VerdictSearch for Azcanta

You can see my notes on the 5CHumans cards in play from the setup article yesterday over here.

If you’re feeling like targeting a long shot, perhaps take a look at Hollow One or Flamewake Phoenix foils from this sexy deck brought to the tournament by Ken Yukuhiro, who is now at 12-2 with a solid shot at Top 8. This deck had a 100% conversion rate to Day 2, on a small sample size.

Why the focus on foils you ask? Well, most of the cards mentioned above boast fairly deep supply in non-foil, so foils are the safer shot at leveraging low supply into some profit or savings.

If you’re looking for more specs, take a look at the list of most played cards at the tournament and cross check against supply levels: https://magic.wizards.com/en/events/coverage/ptrix/day-one-metagame-breakdown-2018-02-02

Dech Tech #5: Lukas Blohon on Esper Goryo’s Vengeance

This deck abuses the interactions between Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Obzedat, Ghost Council that leave them in play after being brought in via Goryo’s Vengeance.

I’ll be checking back in as we see the Top 8 decks emerge. Stay tuned!

12:15pm EST: Top 8 looks like it will include at least:

  1. Pascal Vieren: UR Pyromancer (watch Thing in the Ice foil prices)
  2. Luis Salvatto: Lantern Control
  3. Ken Yukihiro: BR Hollow One (watch Hollow One + Flamewake Phoenix foils)
  4. Gerry Thompson: Mardu Pyromancer (Bedlam Reveler foils)
  5. Javier Dominguez: 5C Humans (lots of price motion likely)
  6. Reid Duke: Abzan Mid-Range (unlikely to generate much movement)
  7. Jean-Emmanuel Depraz: Traverse Shadow
  8. Andrea Mengucci: 5CHumans

This is a diverse Top 8, typical of the current state of the format and it’s anyone’s guess what will come out on top tomorrow. Keep an eye on the inventory levels for the key cards mentioned above.

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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Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan: Financial Preview

The first Pro Tour of 2017 is already rolling along in Bilbao, Spain. In the wake of major upheaval in the Standard format with another round of recent bannings, we find ourselves instead faced with the only Modern Pro Tour of the year, and the first in quite some time.

As per usual the world’s best players have been holed up in Spanish hotels and rented homes for the last week or two, all seeking to answer the only query that matters: is there a fresh deck or reconfiguration of existing archetypes out there that will allow them to catch the field off balance while offering consistent play against the known quantities in the field?

With $250,000 USD on the line, and  $40,000 for the champ, players looking to Top 8 need to marshall both luck and skill to lock down the trophy.

Taking a look at the results from the last major StarCityGames Tour Standard tournament, the Top 8 field features elements both familiar and relatively recent. Here was the Top 8 from SCG Open Cincinnati.

For much of 2017, the analysis of Modern as a format has been that the format supports many different archetypes, to the point where some pros have complained that it is difficult to metagame for with only fifteen sideboard slots. Of course the pros also claim that they can solve most formats when they bring their full team resources to bear, so this tournament will be an interesting stress test for the Modern format as a whole.

Entering into this weekend, the online meta would suggest that the top decks in the format are:

  • BG Tron (7.66%)
  • Jeskai Control (7.46%)
  • Grixis Death Shadow (7%)
  • Affinity (7%)
  • Burn (6%)
  • 5C Humans (5.44%)
  • Eldrazi Tron (4.23%)
  • U/R Gifts Storm (3.23%)

It is worth noting that the Pro Tour currently requires that players succeed in a mixed schedule of booster draft (RIX/RIX/IXL) and constructed play with 3 rounds of draft overnight , followed by 5 rounds of Modern starting around 7am EST/4am PST, Friday.

For we finance types, this is not a super exciting scenario. With a wide open field, play skill and nuanced sideboard choices + luck may carry the day, and that’s without accounting for the six rounds of draft that tug against constructed success ratios. My gut says that you are most likely to do well with emerging tech that makes a deep run at the tournament. I would also be looking at 5C Humans staples that are in waning supply if that deck holds up with a solid conversion % for Day 2 and/or a strong run in the Top 8.

Will any of the teams find a way to unlock a hot new deck with solid game against the entire field? Will a fringe deck from the early weeks of the format suddenly end up perfectly positioned to take off? Will there be a chance to get in on a must-have card that shows early promise or will the hype train leave the bandwagon speculators out in the cold without enough buyers come Monday morning? Follow along as we explore Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan all weekend!

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Day 1 Notes

During an interview on the floor, fellow Canadian Jon Stern outlines that he expected Affinity, Burn, and Tron to be the best/most popular decks but notes that he may have underestimated 5C Humans.

Deck Tech #2: U/W Control w/ Pierre Dagen

Dagen calls out Field of Ruin as potentially the best card in Modern.

Foil Bedlam Reveler has been drying up for a while and an appearance on camera seems to have pushed it over the edge. Could settle closer to $20+ this weekend.

Aether Vial is a key card in 5C Humans, Death & Taxes and Merfolk, and though the supply is pretty deep from multiple printings, $100 copies of the Masterpiece version look like a good deal right now. Could see those hitting $150+ in 2018.

Thalia’s Lieutenant foils are drying up under $10, and could end up closer to $20 if Humans reinforces it’s Tier 1 status this weekend. Champion of the Parish has only ever had a single foil printing, and these are scare under $15 now, with upside to $25+ easily possible. Mantis Rider foils, once utterly ignored, are also now in very low supply under $10. Phantasmal Image foils, most recently reprinted in Modern Masters 2017 are also dried up under $15. The other card from 5C Humans that looks tempting is Ancient Ziggurat. I got in on this one at $3.50 or so in quantity when the humans deck first showed up, but even closer to $8 there could be upside to $20 this year if the deck keeps doing well and the card dodges a reprint. Foils cresting $35 from $20 could also happen. Cavern of Souls, printed in MM17, is looking poised to regain $80 with multiple tribal decks in Modern pushing it forward.

Deck Tech #3: 5 Color Company Humans

Willy Edel breaks down his decision to replace Aether Vial with Collected Company in his take on 5C Humans:

Editor’s Note: We will not be providing round by round coverage this weekend, due to  scheduling but we will provide relevant notes as the weekend progresses. 

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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MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 97 (Dec 9/17)

MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: Dec 9th, 2017

Segment 1: Top Movers of the Week

 

Card Set Old Price New Price Increase
Call to the Netherworld (foil) TSP $2.00 $15.00 +$13.00 (+650%)
Nevermaker (Foil) MOR $0.75 $3.00 +$2.25 (+300%)
Storage Matrix (Foil) 9th $4.75 $9.00 +$4.25 (+89%)
Custodi Squire (Foil) CSP  $1.50 $2.75 +$1.25 (+83%)
Mesmeric Orb (Foil) MRD $15.00 $21.00 +$6.00 (+40%)

 

Segment 2:  Picks of the Week

James’s Picks:

Image result for as foretold

Card Set Confidence (1-10) Timeline Current Price Target Price
As Foretold (Foil) AMK 8 6-12+ months $12.00 $25.00 (+108%)
Whir of Invention (Foil) KLD 7 6-12+ months $4.00 $10.00 (+150%)
Paradox Engine (Foil) AER 8 3-12+ months $13.00 $25.00 (+92%)

 

Travis’s Picks:

Image result for detention sphere

Card Set Confidence (1-10) Timeline Current Price Target Price
Detention Sphere (Foil) RTR 7 6-12+ months $6.00 $15.00 (+150%)
Thassa, God of the Sea (Foil) ROE 7 6-12+ months $17.00 $40.00 (+135%)

Segment 3: Metagame Review

James and Travis went over the Modern portion of the results from the SCG Invitational, noting Whir of Invention being used as a four-of in the new version of Lantern Control, and Search for Azcanta showing up in more and more decks.

Segment 4: Topics of the Week

The guys talked over when to get out of failed specs, and reviewed a grab bag of other topics.

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MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 96 (Dec 2/17)

MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: December 2nd, 2017

Segment 1: Top Movers of the Week

Card Set Old Price New Price Increase
Ashen-Skin Zubera (Foil) COK $0.40 $3.50 +$3.10 (+775%)
Pattern of Rebirth (Foil) Urza’s Destiny $28.00 $64.00 +$36.00 (+129%)
Rakdos Charm (Foil) RTR $4.50 $9.50 +$5.00 (+111%)
Tinker (Foil) Urza’s Legacy $18.00 $35.00 +$17.00 (+94%)
Condemn (Foil) DIS $7.00 $12.00 +$5.00 (+71%)
Pongify (Foil) PLC $9.00 $15.00 +$6.00 (+67%)
Blind Obedience GTC $7.00 $12.00 +$5.00 (+71%)

 

Segment 2:  Picks of the Week

James’s Picks:

Image result for cyclonic rift foil

Card Set Confidence (1-10) Timeline Current Price Target Price
Cyclonic Rift (Foil) MM17 9 3-6+ months $15.00 $30.00 (+100%)
Liliana of the Veil (Foil) MM17 8 6-12+ months $140.00 $200.00 (+43%)
Garruk,Apex Predator (Foil) M15 7 3-12+ months $20.00 $35.00 (+75%)

 

Travis’s Picks:

Image result for cheatyface

Card Set Confidence (1-10) Timeline Current Price Target Price
Cheatyface UNH 8 3-12+ months $3.00 $6.00 (+100%)
Return to the Ranks (Foil) M15 7 3-12+ months $2.50 $10.00 (+300%)

 

 

Segment 3: Topic of the Week

The guys went over the temporary approval of silver bordered cards for EDH as well as some forward looking comments on Modern Masters 25.

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