Category Archives: ProTrader

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Midpoint Pickups

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Since Standard is on a once-a-year rotation, I like to think about what’s on deck. Yes, we are about to lose two blocks in September, but there’s two that have another 18 months or so, and that’s what I want to focus on. Kaladesh and Aether Revolt are at their low points, so this is when I want to look for value.

I’m looking at cards that are being played, and are not as expensive as their amount of play might indicate. I’m not expecting huge gains, but I do want to think about increases in value, especially in trade or Pucapoints (if you’re still doing that).

Verdurous Gearhulk ($7.89): Considering what a beating this is, I’m surprised that this mythic is as low as it is, especially because B/G Snake decks are a thing. Sometime in the next 18 months, a Gearhulk deck will have a great tournament and this will easily break $10, likely hit $15, and possibly $20 again.

The graph for the green Gearhulk is exactly where I want to be: getting in at the lowest point.

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Dovin Baan ($3.16): I don’t see how this can get any cheaper, even if it doesn’t budge until rotation this is silly cheap for a planeswalker. I really like picking up specs that have good potential short term and long term. The fact that he’s the only planeswalker with the Dovin type is good for Commander too, since he’s a good fit in superfriends builds without being the seventh Jace.

Panharmonicon ($2.66): Shhh. Hush! Don’t say anything. Just slowly walk over to your store, grab all you can of these, and try to not look like you’re getting fantastic value. We’ve already seen this spike up to the $8-$10 range and it’s not gonna take much for that to happen again.

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The foil is still just 3x the value, which is very surprising to me. Buy for these. Trade for these. Don’t trade them till they spike, and if you’re into the long-term holds, the foils are going to be rock-solid.

Scrapheap Scrounger ($2.44): This is played in a huge number of decks and is always a four-of. Mardu has a target on its back, and that’s fine, but this is a card that requires the Magma Spray immediately or it’s going to just keep coming back. I’m shocked at how cheap this is, frankly, and if Mardu adds a card or adapts to the hate somehow, I’d expect this to climb to at least $5.

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship ($2.44): It’s an in-print mythic that just dominates the board and isn’t easy to answer. Heart of Kiraan is stealing a lot of the thunder, but this has become so cheap that I want to have a few copies just in case it pops up again.

Metallurgic Summonings ($1.25/$4.50): I want to try a couple copies of this card in the assorted control decks. I’m in love with Drake Haven right now but the potential of this card is astronomical. If you land it and live through the following turn, then your Glimmers come with a 4/4. You get a 2/2 when casting Grasp of Darkness. Your end-of-turn Pull from Tomorrow is as big as you want to make it. This is also a super-cheap mythic that is looking for the right deck, and should it hit, it’ll hit big.

Rashmi, Eternities Crafter ($1.37/$7.22): This is more of a very-long-term pick, as it is amazing in casual formats and why her foil price is six times higher. These are the best colors in Commander, and she’s going to get you some extra cards, no matter what. I love the foils a lot more but dollar mythics are always super intriguing.

Foil Paradoxical Outcome ($3): It’s a niche card, but that niche is Vintage. I appreciate when people try to make this work in Standard, with endless Bone Saw castings, but no, this is an Eternal card and I want to have some foils in long-term storage.

Cliff is an avid player of any and all casual formats, the weirder the better, going all the way back to his first tournament wins: Iron Mage, keeping a life total from round to round, and a grand melee where he cast a Hurricane for 43 and lived.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Checking in on Amonkhet

It’s been a month and the Pro Tour hype is over, and we are still adjusting and still innovating. I love that mono-black Zombies took it down, but I don’t love that much of the deck is going to rotate in six months. It’s gonna be a good time until then though!

Today I want to go over some of the movements of Amonkhet cards, and how far they might fall.

Gideon of the Trials ($20.69): He didn’t light up anything at the PT, so I’m not expecting much from him right now. We’ve also had hints that the Gatewatch is getting a little overplayed as a set of planeswalkers, so if he’s the only Gideon in the deck, he gets less good.

I do think there’s space for him to be good, we just haven’t seen the control deck that wants him yet. If he lands, and there’s a Fumigate or other wrath waiting to punish the opponent for overcommitting to the board, then I think there’s a whole lot of potential.

I’m not buying now, though, and he’s getting his price cut by a couple of stores. He’s gonna be $15 soon and I think he’ll be $10 by the time we get Hour of Devastation…which is where I’ll be getting in. I’ll be hoping for a double-up when he gets good.

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Rhonas the Indomitable ($17.72): Believe it or not, this card is increasing in price even as it sees almost no Standard play. The foil is only 1.5 times more, and the Invocation is about 3x. I think it’s casual demand causing this graph:

I am super impressed that this is rising slightly, when most of the mythics are on a slow decline. Sure, this is good in Commander, but I didn’t think it was this good. I don’t know where this will go, but experience tells me that it should be going down. I definitely am not buying this now, but the rise in price over time is fascinating given how little Standard play it’s getting.

Vizier of the Menagerie ($8.13): It’s lower than when it was released, and the casual demand has been mostly sated. A creature that helps you get more creatures is always going to have a special place in my heart, especially when it’s half the mana cost of Garruk’s Horde. It’s hit $6 and has crept up a little, but I’d expect that to go back down over the next few weeks. I’d prefer to pick this up in the $3 range, but $5 might be the floor. Very few green Commander decks would skip this card.

Glorious End ($1.82): So in case you’re not aware, there are streamers who can cause a card to spike quickly. This was featured the other day and while the deck didn’t light the league up, it’s closing in on bulk-mythic territory…which is always an intriguing pickup, especially considering how much longer this will be in Standard. When it gets to sub-$1, I’ll be looking to grab a couple of playsets, because when these spike, it’ll be glorious.

Dispossess ($.59): You’d think that with all the vehicles and Marvels and Scroungers running around this would at least be a sideboard card. I’m both surprised and not surprised Lost Legacy saw some play when Emrakul, the Promised End was the Marvel target of choice, but the goal there was to take down the monster, not the enabler. I wouldn’t mind having some of these in bulk storage, but that’s the purest of speculative targets.

Special bonus pick: Fumigate ($1.79): It’s a wrath that catches you back up. Yes, it’s bad against planeswalkers and vehicles but it’s seeing more play now than at the beginning, and lots of people are trying very hard to make UW Control good again. I think eventually they will get there, and I want to have some sub-$2 copies of this handy for when it cracks $5.

Cliff is a father, teacher, and casual enthusiast who recently finished a ‘Busted Uncommons’ cube, which Sol Ring is not in because it’s too busted. His Magic career boasts two PTQ top 8s that were 8 years apart. He whispers to his stack of Prophet of Kruphix every night, telling them they are good boys and their time will come.

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Pro Tour Amonkhet Finance: Standard Day 1

Check out our Pro Tour Amonkhet financial preview over here, and join us for round to round coverage in live blog style below all day. Look for color coded text if you don’t have time for the whole thing.

Before the start of the Standard Rounds, LSV highlights the cards he expects to see a lot of this weekend:

  1. Magma Spray
  2. Glorybringer
  3. Pull from Tomorrow
  4. Sweltering Suns
  5. Manglehorn
  6. Liliana, Death’s Majesty
  7. Censor

Round 4 (1st Round of Standard) starts at 2pm EST/Noon PST, Friday, May 12th, 2017 after three rounds of draft. Here’s how things are playing out.

Round 4: Martin Juza (2-1, Mono Black Zombies) vs. Masashi Oiso (2-1, New Perspectives Combo)

Coverage decides to start off with coverage of two of the newer decks, likely hoping to head off the potential Mardu narrative. Oiso, clearly well practiced with the new combo deck, quickly dispatches Juza, who amusingly posts an F6 note in the middle of the table as the Japanese player works through his combo for the win. In Game 2 Juza tables a strong offense backed up by a timely Transgress the Mind, and Oiso can’t find his combo pieces fast enough to hold him off. In Game 3 Juza is able to work around control elements from Oiso and advance to 3-1. N

Nevertheless, camera time has triggered the obvious buyout and New Perspectives is now bought out below $5. 

Round 4: Jacob Wilson (3-0, Temur Control) vs. ??? (2-1, Zombies)

Wilson takes this match down 2-1.

Deck Tech #1: Patrick Dickmann (Jund Gods)
Watch live video from Magic on www.twitch.tv

Patrick explains that he decided to run Amonkhet gods instead of planeswalkers due to the power of indestructible.

Deck includes:

Round 5: Joel Larsson (4-0,  BG Rites) vs. Kentaro Yamamoto (4-0, Temur Aetherworks Marvel)

Larsson is on a Cryptolith Rite deck sporting Bontu, the Glorified, a card that has been on my radar, but which hasn’t made much of a splash until now. Other cards include Vizier of the Menagerie, Walking Ballista, Catacomb Sifter, Manglehorn, Loam Dryad, Duskwatch Recruiter. Yamamoto manages to get an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger onto the table in Game 1 and puts Larsson on the back foot. Game 2 doesn’t go much better for Larsson, who stumbles on lands a bit early and never manages to accelerate out past the reach of Marvel activation from Yamamoto.

Round 5: Sam Pardee (3-1,  BG Rites) vs. Travis Woo (4-0, Zombies)

As we enter this match, the players are tied at a game  a piece. Vizier of the Menagerie">Vizier of the Menagerie + Cryptolith Rite is tabled by Pardee, while Woo has a hoard of zombies. Ultimately it is an active Ormendahl, Profane Prince that puts the match away for Pardee and moves him to 4-1.

I’m hearing that 25% of the field is still on Mardu Vehicles. Lower than it could have been, but still pretty high.

Deck Tech #2: BW Zombies

This build gives up a bit of mana consistency to have a much stronger sideboard.

Here’s where we are in the standings after five rounds. A lot of big names on this list:

Round 6: Patrick Dickmann (3-2,  Jund Gods) vs. Craig Wescoe (3-2, RW Humans)

Here we see coverage again making the choice to show interesting decks instead of the players with the best records overall. Be aware that this may make certain decks seem more important in the meta than they really are.

Game 1 hinges on a couple of missed land drops from Dickmann, leading to a quick concession in the face of overwhelming offense from the famed white mage. Game 2 is a tighter, more drawn out affair, but ultimately it is Patrick that takes it to even things up. In Game 3 Dickmann manages to keep the pressure on Wescoe, who draws a few too many lands to stay in the race. Wescoe drops to 3-3, while Patrick moves to 4-2.

Owen Turtenwald is now at 5-1 on Mardu Vehicles.

Deck Tech #3: Paul Cheon (UR Control)

Paul walks us through the UR Control list that has been posting solid results on MTGO lately. The highlights here include 4x Disallow, 4x Torrential Gearhulk and 1-2x Commit//Memory.

Round 7: Chris Fennell (6-0,  WB Zombies) vs. Marc Tobiasch (6-0, Temur Marvel)

IN Game 1, Chris Fennell manages to get a ridiculous mass of zombies onto the table, leveraging Liliana’s Mastery and a posse of Wayward Servant to make the pile of assets on Marc’s side moot. Zombies takes Game 1. The reach of the white splash via drain effects really paid off in this game. Wayward Servant is commonly available at $0.25, but could easily end up as a $3-4 uncommon this season if zombies proves out this weekend and through the next few major events. Diregraf Colossus inventory has been draining out at $3, and the card could end up at $6+ by the end of the weekend. The next game isn’t much better for the Marvel player, and WB Zombies in the hands of Fennell goes to 7-0.

Round 7: Ari Lax (4-2,  Temur Marvel) vs. Alex Sittner (4-2, U/W Spirits)

On the back table, Ari Lax casts an insane six Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in a game he eventually wins the first game against Alex Sittner on W/U Spirits after casting the Memory half of Commit/Memory. Sittner strikes back to even it up off camera, and in the third game Lax manages to find an Ulamog off Aetherworks Marvel to take out two potential attackers & lock up a victory to move to 4-3.

Deck Tech #4: R/W Humans (Craig Wescoe)

Craig is one of the only players on this list at the tournament so it’s unlikely to have much impact. This list is pretty similar to what we’ve see here.

Day 1 Metagame Breakdown

Here we see a solid falling off for BG Delirium decks, but Mardu Vehicles still making up a full quarter of the field. Marvel at nearly 20% could lead to further gains on their banner card (currently tough to find under $10) if it gets a strong contingent into Day 2 and on to Top 8. Zombies is the only other archetype over 15% and then we have 10+ other deck types with minor showings. This all suggests that the pros had trouble establishing consensus across teams on which decks were best in this newly minted format.

Round 8: Pierre Dagen (7-0,  BG Energy) vs. Oliver Oks (7-0, Temur Marvel)

Here we have a Marvel deck already well positioned for Day 2 success against one of the few aggro energy deck pilots. Marvel spins don’t quite pay off as hoped in Day 1 and Dagen is able to take the first game. In Game 2 Oliver again hits a low impact spin off his Aetherworks Marvel, netting a Servant of the Conduit against a board of aggressive threats (Greenbelt Rampager, Glint Sleeve Siphoner, Winding Constrictor) from Dagen. In the final game Oks ends up with a trio of Ulamog caught in his hand, and after many turns Dagen is able to put things away.

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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Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 3)

This is the third in my (now) four-part part series on making money on Modern cards in 2017. You can find the first part, covering the cards most likely to rebound from Modern Masters 2017, over here, and the second part here.

First off, let’s check in on the prices of the rares and mythics from Modern Masters 2017 to see how those potential specs are progressing.

As predicted, the shift in focus to Amonkhet and the continued availability of supply has lead to even the mythics that were rebounding demonstrating contractions since we last checked in. Tarmogoyf, LOTV, Cavern of Souls, Voice of Resurgence and Griselbrand have all fallen further and the mythics are, on the whole, down 15% since release. Even Snapcaster Mage is holding steady now in the low 40s. Same logic applies as before here: you can feel free to buy the highest demand cards at these levels, but there is no real rush on the rest and you can judge your entry point when you start to either a) see supply draining out or b) catch wind of additional supply entering the market.

MM17 rares have been following similar patterns, and they’re down an additional 2% in the last couple of weeks. Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa, Phantasmal Image and Abrupt Decay are showing shallow gains with the rest of the rares either holding steady or falling off further. Most of the fetches, Blood Moon, Goblin Guide, Death’s Shadow (which is up despite my red coloring in the chat above) and Damnation all seem fine here if you need them, and otherwise you choose your entry point as with the mythics.

A (Further) Look at The Cards Not Printed

Last week we took a look at some of the format staples that were not reprinted in Modern Masters 2017 that are likely to show gains, or have already shown gains. Let’s polish off that list before we move on to newer cards that may yield further gains next week.

 

As per a recent video by Rogue Deckbuilder (found here), the above are some of the most expensive and/or most popular cards in Modern (and beyond, eg Doubling Season) that weren’t featured in Modern Masters 2017. Let’s explore some of our more interesting options here for the purposes of financial speculation:

Dark Confidant

Dark Confidant

Dark Confidant was nearly one of my picks on MTGFastFinance a couple of weeks ago, as a perennial staple that got printed twice in Modern Masters (2013) and again in Modern Masters 2015 but not in MM17. Since the release of the new set in mid-March, this Jund staple has moved up $10 from $38 to $48 or so, but there are still copies out there closer to $42 and those seem like a solid pickup. I would expect Dark Confidant will hit $60-$70 before it sees another reprint as NM inventory across the three printings is relatively low for a Top 40 creature in Modern. Not a huge home run, but a solid hold that you can play with while it gains value.

Ancient Stirrings

Ancient Stirrings

This card is one of the most efficient card selection spells in Modern, so long as you’re on the hunt for a specific colorless card. Between Bant Eldrazi and various Tron builds there is plenty of Tier 1 demand for full playsets, and Lantern Control also runs the card. I called this on MTGFastFinance to move from $5 to $10 this year when it wasn’t reprinted in MM17, and it briefly spiked, but as a common vendors managed to restock fairly easily, and we’re back to the previous $5-6 plateau for now with a 150+ copies in stock on TCG. That could take a while to drain, but if you felt like going deep because of the demand profile, you could make a dent. We’re unlikely to see a reprint until 2019 so the odds are solid we hit my target sooner or later.

Mox Opal

Mox Opal

Mox Opal is a central card in Affinity decks in Modern and has been for years. It also sees lesser play in Lantern Control and Puresteel Paladin builds, and most recently as a four-of in the new Scrap Trawler/Krark-Clan Ironworks combo decks. Since January Opal has moved from $40 into the $55-$60 range and the printing of the Masterpiece version in Kaladesh means it’s pretty unlikely we see this again until 2019. There is also the outside chance of a potential banning in Modern as a card that enables unreasonable mana acceleration, but I suspect there are higher priority targets this year. All of that being the case, despite the odds that you could squeeze another $5-15 from this stone, I will be staying away from regular copies.  On the other hand Masterpiece copies are still available from some sources in the $90-100 range and I suspect that they will end up over $150 within the next 18 months so long as the card dodges the slight ban potential, as the inventory is already fairly low. I’ve picked up a few on that premise.

Aether Vial

Æther Vial

Aether Vial is consistently a four-of in Merfolk decks in Modern and Merfolk has been putting up reasonable numbers for a couple of years now despite many players looking down their nose at the deck. The card also shows up in Eldrazi Death & Taxes (my current deck) and GW Hate Bears, and it’s a four-of in those modestly played decks as well. Despite that, it’s barely a Top 100 card in the format, though it does boast some additional demand from Legacy Death & Taxes. This card is up a couple of bucks since the MM17 list was revealed, but inventory is not under much pressure, so it may be that Aether Vial needs another prominent home to drive the price towards $60 before a likely reprint in 2019. I’m not in a rush to get in on this action, but the Masterpiece versions around $90 are a bit more tempting, since they are likely to drain in fours (as opposed to something like Sol Ring) and should end up over $130 down the road.

Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds has been experiencing an upswing in play in Modern lately with many decks looking to generate value engines using Ghost Quarter to keep Tron lands and creature lands in check. Eldrazi Tron sometimes runs it main, or has a single copy in the sideboard. GW Value with Renegard Rallier, U/W Control and Lantern Control also make use of it, but not in much greater quantity. As such, most of the $60 price tag is being propped up by the fact that we haven’t seen a regular printing yet of this card in any of the Modern Masters sets. It was a Fifth Dawn rare, reprinted in 10th edition, and the Masterpiece in Kaladesh was the first new printing in years. The regular copies could edge up higher between now and Modern Masters 2019, where it is a likely inclusion, but it could also show up randomly in some other supplemental product in advance and the demand profile is too shallow to get me excited. The Masterpieces in the $90-$100 range are a good bet to beat $130 at some point, which is a solid return, and inventory is already low so if you like this, maybe you’d be better off looking at that version.

Master of Waves

Master of Waves

If you’re looking for a low value target with solid upside, you could do worse than this automatic four-of mythic rare that has earned a permanent slot in the Merfolk decks. Supply is still pretty deep because this was a fall set mythic, so there isn’t any rush here, but we’re not likely to see this again for a while. No deck but Merfolk wants it, but you only really need 50-100 new Merfolk players over the next year or two and some speculator activity to push this into the $6-10 range.  There’s also the fact that the fall set this year, Azatlan, seems to carry a strong merfolk theme, which one would imagine might give this deck a boost.

Mishra’s Bauble

Mishra's Bauble

This is a $50 uncommon featured in a deck that many see as too powerful to be allowed to be left unscathed by the ban hammer. Either a reprint kills this, or a banning does, because I can’t see this card surviving as a spec long enough to show worthwhile gains from this point on. If you had these sitting around and sold already, they likely paid for your Coldsnap boxes back in the day but I don’t want to be holding or acquiring a card this dangerous right now. Move along.

Ancestral Vision

Ancestral Vision

This is an odd card to be at $50 given that it doesn’t even crack the Top 100 most played cards in Modern. When it is played it’s usually in Grixis or U/W Control shells, but those decks haven’t been at the top of the metagame for years, and blue decks in general feel like they need a bit of help to break through. Sentiment seems to be warming to reintroducing Jace, the Mind Sculptor to the format, but that could easily fail to materialize. Then of course, As Foretold was revealed this week and brewers start wondering if casting this immediately off that slow (yet powerful) enchantment might be enough to kick of a dazzling display of control. All that aside, this is another price tag that is mostly propped up by limited supply, and only the suspend mechanic really holds it back from popping up randomly in a product release. That being said, supply is shallow enough that there is a chance the card could hit $70-80 on increased play, so your decision to move in is really a bet on success before a reprint.

Join me next week when we look at some of the up and comers in Modern that might make us some money if they can break through to the top ranks.

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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