Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader



By: Jason Alt


Yes, I want to talk about legendary creatures. As is our custom here in this column, I want to look at EDH-specific cards and their financial futures. EDH impact is unique and has a few quirks and legendary creatures are obviously going to be highly impacted by EDH.

But to what extent? And how do we differentiate the impact of EDH from the impact of other formats? Understanding this effect is going to help us know what to do in the future when we see cards that look like they’ll be EDH-only cards. Believe me, they’re easy to spot. Legendary creatures with unique abilities look amazing when a set is being spoiled. People mentally build around them right off the bat and make plans to acquire the cards as soon as possible when the set comes out. People can’t wait to build around that hot new commander. So how do we know when to preorder or target during the first week and how do we know when to, well…

Wait for it?



Some sets just look… you know. Just ridiculous. M15 was a set like that, Dragons of Tarkir was another. Sometimes they clearly want to let EDH players know they’re aware we exist and they want to pander to us. If you look at M15, there are a ton of cards that look really saucy for EDH.

You kiddin’ me?


Wow. Daretti says hello.

This cycle is nuts!

I love to Polymorph!

They can’t all be gems

Bruna, anyone?




They know Goblin Welder is a card, right?

Look at all these sweet EDH cards! This set is stacked. Stacked, I tells ya!

So When Did I Go In For Cash On This Stuff?

I mean, not yet. It was a relatively recent set, but let’s look at the price graphs on some of these cards now that we’re past peak supply.


Remember when we had high hopes and thought this card would maintain a price of an entire dollar? The hubris. The hubris.



The foil isn’t exactly blowing my mind, either. Look at the buylist price… it’s going down. Dealers get less and less confident in this card the farther we get from the release.

Kurkesh isn’t exactly a staple, though, is he? How about a card that people are excited to use as a commander?


Yisan is a better card that’s not in much better shape. Huh. Clearly things would be better if these cards were mythic rares rather than regular rares—that much is obvious. Are there any EDH-focused non-mythics in M15 that are better price-wise that we can compare these to? Yep.


What’s going on here? While Sliver Hive is colorless and can therefore technically go in any color deck, it’s also pretty narrow. It goes in sliver decks and really nowhere else. You can’t even use it as an Urza’s Factory since you need to have a sliver out to power it. One factor? This card is obvious to everyone that it will be a solid pickup. You don’t need to know anything about how to build a slivers deck to know that this goes in it. Just read it.

The same person who can look at Crucible of the Spirit Dragon and say, “Dragon players’re gonna love thems a big old bunch of this card,” (they didn’t) can correctly surmise that Sliver Hive is a solid pickup. Everyone is going to be all-in on speculating here because it’s so juicy.

Another factor is that this is EDH-strong but not EDH-specific. This means it can go in four-of formats as well. Casual players will snap these up a set at a time to jam in their sliver decks. There was even talk of a sliver deck in Standard. It never materialized, which is too bad, since if it didn’t happen when M15 came out, it will likely never happen. That’s a shame. Still, there was a lot of attention given to this card.

What about some other cards that may be closer to Sliver Hive than they are to Kurkesh?


Someone is really trying to make something happen here. Artificial spikes notwithstanding, there is real, organic demand here obscured by some mild dickery.  This is a card that will end up in casual as well as EDH decks, and can be jammed as more than just a one-of. A picture is starting to develop here.


If a card has any cross-format applicability with a casual format other than EDH as well as with EDH, we’ve seen there is a mild bump. If there is applicability with a competitive format, there is a larger bump, but all that really serves to do is obscure our data. However, it is still worth exploring a bit.

Tasigur is a very good EDH commander.


However, he’s also a very good card in formats like Modern and Standard and this new format where people play using their hands to try and prevent their opponents from throwing a ball through a metal ring and—nope, no, that’s definitely basketball I was thinking of, and this card sucks in basketball. He’d get picked after me and I show up to play pickup hoops wearing jean shorts and a Rush T-shirt. Still, he’s good at just about everything that doesn’t require a 30-inch vertical.

Can we try and parse out how much of his peak price and hell, even his current plateaud price is due to EDH alone? I have an idea.


Subtract from Tasigur’s current price of roughly $6 Shu Yun‘s current price of about one-half of one dollar and you start to see what’s going on. Shu Yun is pretty good in EDH himself and he is a Tiny Leader to boot. Even Tasigur can’t say he’s a Tiny Leader (an effect I won’t even speculate about because I don’t fully understand how Tiny Leaders affects prices because I am part of the group known as “everyone”), so Shu Yun has some things going for him that Tasigur does not. EDH has kept this above bulk while Tasigur enjoyed a brief stint at $10.

And Shu Yun is certainly above bulk. He’s nearly worth 50 percent more than Dragonscale General. Thanks for the boost, EDH!

Let’s work on coming to a conclusion or two before we look at some more factors.

What we are seeing here is that non-mythic legendary creatures that are basically EDH-only cards in the post-mythic era are really suffering. They’re having a hard time gaining any traction despite being really cool cards and despite EDH growing at a phenomenal rate and Wizards supporting the format directly by printing cards with that format in mind and including those cards not only in regular sets but also in the special supplementary product they have created just for that format. Wizards is doing a lot to support EDH.

Why are the cards suffering? Simple. EDH would have to be growing at a rate that is four times the rate that Standard is growing, basically. I realize that’s a gross oversimplification, but looking at it qualitatively rather than quantitatively, it’s not far from the truth. EDH just doesn’t consume cardboard the way Standard does. Unfortunately for EDH speculators, Standard is where non-Magic players usually join. FNM is at the front of the funnel and our format is a tributary. EDH is overwhelming for someone who has never played Magic before, anyway. So large growth has to occur on the Standard side before it gets to the EDH side, and that growth will exacerbate the problem we’re having with non-mythic, EDH-specific cards being worth essentially bulk as players bust packs at an unprecedented rate trying to get the cards they need for FNM.

Things are stacked against cards like Kurkesh. It’s narrow. It’s mono-colored, meaning it goes in just red decks. Not only that, it can’t go in all red decks since it’s very specific to artifact decks given its ability. It was from a recent set. It’s non-mythic in the post-mythic era. People bought a lot of M15: more than any core set ever. By the time you get all the way down the list to “Kurkesh is very good at what it does” it doesn’t matter anymore. The balance is weighted so heavily against the card that it scarcely matters.

Other Formats Matter. Sometimes

So far we’ve only looked at non-mythic rares. I did that deliberately, because being mythic is a huge boost to a card’s potential. Not only that, other format applicability is going to profoundly affect mythics compared to non-mythic rares. If you have a card that has some competitive applicability, say in Modern where it was featured in a Woo brew, that would be huge for the card’s price potential. Man, what if the card were a phenomenal EDH general, too? Like… bannably good. What if a card were playable in Modern, was mythic, and was such a good commander that people complain about the card warping their local metagame?

How much would a killer card like that go for? $5? $10? Even if most of the play it saw was in EDH, a smattering of cross-format applicability is bound to make the card expensive. Can you think of any cards like that?



A dollar. A dollar and change, but still a damn dollar. It’s trending down in price as we pass peak saturation of supply. Dealers aren’t very excited, either, and you can see the demand from dealers (the blue line. I haven’t mentioned that the blue line is buylist price for like… the entire time I’ve written for this site. I really hope most of you got that from context) actually diverging from the retail price. That augurs poorly, usually.

When was the best time to sell Narset? Right the hell away, it turns out. When is the best time to buy? Not yet, that’s when.


Even the foil isn’t wowing me right now, although we’re looking at a healthy 10-times multiplier, which all but confirms that the EDH community is very, very aware of Narset.

So what do we do if most legendary creatures that are EDH-only won’t have the advantages Narset has like being mythic, featured in a Woo brew, and being a once-in-a-block busted commander like Nekusar or Rafiq?

What do we do if an EDH-focused legendary creature card with a lot of advantages isn’t getting there and worse ones certainly won’t?

Wait For It

That wasn’t just a pun in the title. I think when a legendary creature comes out, you’re almost always going to have to wait if it’s an EDH card. Sometimes a very long time.


Too soon.


No, not yet.


Not yet.


Eh, look at that spread getting BIGGER. Yuck.


Think we may be onto something…


Woah. Look at that growth. People who bought at rotation and sat on these did okay. EDH obviously loves this guy and he’s a sweet commander, but goblins players use him, too. What’s our multiplier look like?


Only double?! So we’re just beginning to see the real growth. The foil is about to diverge from the non-foil and dealers seem to agree.

So How Do We Hit the Next Krenko?

  • Identify the Krenko.

The next Krenko is going to be a powerful general with a cool ability. Relevant tribal affiliation never hurts. The card will be mostly overlooked by competitive players.

  • Buy at rotation.

Krenko hit its lowest point a year after its release, when it rotated out of Standard. This is about what we expect. He’s a sicko commander, and when Purphoros was spoiled in late August 2013, we saw some price movement in Krenko’s price. Growth has been nice and organic. Buying at rotation was the best time to guarantee we’d buy at the cheapest he’d ever be. Lots of Spikes dump their cards at rotation and we want to be there with our wallets out. Buy at the blue line, not the green one if you can.

  • Wait for it.

You will wait a few years. Magic 2013 was released in July of 2012. It’s not yet July of 2015. The next Krenko could get spoiled in Battle for Zendikar and we’d have a long wait.

What Do We Not Want to Do?

  • Don’t preorder like 90 percent of the time.

Sure, maybe you could have gotten a cheap(er) Dragonlord Dromoka, but it wasn’t EDH that made that price go up and you’re better off just waiting for EDH-only stuff to tank. People will be impatient initially and pay whatever price and then they will wait until they get around to building the deck.

Legendary creatures look really sexy on spoiler sheets, but I think I’ve made the case that they are a trap almost all of the time and the play is to sit on them. We’ll figure out what the next Krenko is together, and as soon as we identify that card, well, we’ll know what to do. We’ll wait for it.


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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Meta Report, 2 May – 10 May

By: Guo Heng

Welcome to the second instalment of The Meta Report, a weekly column dedicated to analysing the evolution of the metagame and the financial implications that result from it.  This week we will be looking at both paper results (IRL) and Magic Online (MTGO) results. The previous weekend saw two Standard Grand Prix – Sao Paulo and Toronto – with a starkly different metagame in the top 8, and StarCityGames Open Portland. Grand Prix Paris took place last weekend with a top 8 that resembled that of Toronto. We would also look at 307 decks from the MTGO daily events which took place over the past week.


Before we begin, let’s review last week’s calls and see how they have performed.

Last Week’s Calls

Deathmist Raptor – Last Week: Hold; This Week: Sell

Deathmist Raptor Price 11 May

After a stellar showing at Grand Prix Toronto last week, with half the top 8 running a full four copies of Deathmist Raptor, the mighty morphing dinosaur’s price hiked from $20.51 to $23.68. My call for the raptor this week would be a sell call. With the Dragonlords taking up a large chunk of the set’s value, I suspect $24 is pretty close to the ceiling for Deathmist Raptor. On top of that, the first wave of Dragons of Tarkir redemption will be processed this Wednesday and would start hitting the market next week. Deathmist Raptor’s current spread is 37%.

Den Protector – Last Week: Sell; This Week: Sell

Den Protector 11 May

Den Protector grew more than I expected when I put a sell call on it last week. If Deathmist Raptor’s showing at Grand Prix Toronto was stellar, Den Protector’s was interstellar. There were 25 Den Protectors in the top 8 of the Grand Prix an as a result Den Protector’s price grew from $5.32 to $8.65.

My sell call on Den Protector last week was made based on conservative decision making. While Den Protector was seeing a lot of play in Standard, I was not confident that her price could grow further as she staple she may be, she nevertheless remains a single-format rare. With redemption coming in two weeks (as of last week’s article), Den Protector would be hard-pressed to maintain her price of $5.32 amid the other high value cards in the set and the line of play with the lower risk would be to sell at $5.32.

While my prediction that the meta would shift towards more Den Protector due to megamorph synergy’s favorable position in the metagame came true, I was wrong about Den Protector’s price trajectory. I did not foresee that Den Protector would be that prevalent.

Now at $8.65, I am going to put another sell call on Den Protector. I’d be damned if she breaks $10 even after the influx of supply from redemption.

Collected Company – Last Week: Hold; This Week: Sell

Collected Company spiked over the weekend when Yohan Dudongon brought a sweet four-color Collected Company brew to 9-0 at Grand Prix Paris and narrowly missed the top 8 by a single win. Collected Company is now sitting at a TCG-mid of $9.75. If you are holding on to any copies, now would be the right time to sell. Again, with redemption hitting the market next week, $10 is probably the ceiling for Collected Company.

Now lets get to the juicy stuff.


The Three Large Events from the Previous Weekend

 Grand Prix TorontoGrand Prix Sao PauloSCG PortlandIRL Total
Abzan Aggro1236
Esper Dragons213
Ojutai Bant Megamorph22
Abzan Control22
Atarka Red (Tokens)112
Esper Dragons Mentor11
Sidisi Whip Megamorph11
Abzan Megamorph11
UG Collected Devotion11
Mono Green Aggro Megamorph11
RG Dragons11
Mardu Dragons11
GW Aggro w/ Megamorph & Collected Company11
GR Devotion11

I’ve separated Grand Prix Paris from the three major events which took place on the previous week as Paris occurred one week later and its metagame could be a reaction to the metagame in the three events.

The  most successful deck from the previous weekend was Abzan Aggro, appearing in all three events’ top 8. As Abzan Aggro is a relatively old archetype, it’s dominance has little implication on the price of its components. It was the third most played archetype in the RPTQ top 8s in the week before.

Esper Dragons was the second most successful deck, and while the table showed the total number of Esper Dragons to be three, the real number is four. I’ve separated Ricardo Nunes Martins’ innovative build of Esper Dragons which sported four Monastery Mentors. Ricardo’s take on Esper Dragons looks enticing, but it may be a one hit wonder as no one else was able to replicate Ricardo’s success with the deck. It only appeared once in the MTGO daily events in the week that followed the deck’s debut.

The centrepiece of Esper Dragons, Dragonlord Ojutai, is currently perching at a height of $37.99, after another spike.

Dragonlord Ojutai Price

Definitely sell your extra Dragonlord Ojutai now.

The top 8 at both Grand Prix Sao Paulo and Toronto contained a starkly different metagame, with the Toronto top 8 revolving around the megamorph synergy while the Sao Paulo top 8 resembled that of the  previous weeks. The megamorph synergy was touted as the most efficient way to beat Esper Dragons, which may explain the prevalence of Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor.

Grand Prix Paris Last Weekend

Den Protector was still popular at Grand Prix Paris last weekend, with 19 copies of it in the top 8.

Mono Red2
Abzan Aggro2
Abzan Control1
GW Collected Megamorph1
RG Devotion1
Abzan Megamorph 1

Although the top 8 consisted of six different archetypes, Den Protector was found in five of them (the only deck that did not run Den Protector was Mono Red). Two of those archetypes, Abzan Aggro and GR Devotion only had Den Protector in their sideboard.

There were only 11 Deathmist Raptors in the top 8, a slight dip from the previous weekend’s Grand Prix Toronto where 16 Deathmist Raptors were prowling the top 8.

Even though the megamorph duo are still exerting their grip on the metagame, I have place a sell call on both of them as it is likely that the both of them have already hit their ceiling, and with redemption hitting the market next week, it is unlikely to see them make any significant gains. Especially Den Protector.

Magic Online Daily Events 2 May – 8 May

Let’s take a look at the metagame from last week’s MTGO daily events to see if we could spot new developments to combat the megamorph threat and at the same time keep Esper Dragons, Mono Red and Abzan Aggro in check.

 MTGO Total
Abzan Aggro33
Esper Dragons32
Mono Red32
Abzan Control28
Atarka Red (Tokens)28
Mardu Dragons21
GW Aggro w/ Megamorph & Collected Company16
Ojutai Bant Megamorph10
RG Dragons10
Abzan Megamorph7
Temur Midrange/Superfriends7
GW Aggro w/ Megamorph6
GW Aggro w/ Collected Company6
GR Devotion6
Jeskai Tokens6
Esper Dragons Narset5
Mardu Midrange5
Mono Black Aggro4
GW Devotion4
UB Dragons3
UW Control3
Sidisi Whip Megamorph3
UR Burn w/ Atarka's Command3
RB Dragons3
Bant Heroic3
UW Dragons2
UB Control Adrian2
Abzan Reanimator2
RB Aggro2
Temur Dragons2
Esper Dragons Mentor1
4 Color Dragons1
Sidisi Whip1
Abzan Splash Ojutai1
UG Collected Devotion1
UR Artifact Aggro1
Mono White Aggro1
Mono Green Aggro Megamorph1
Mono Green Aggro1
RB Dragons w/ Dragon Whisperer1
RB Reanimator (Swift Hellkite)1
GW Heroic1
Red Devotion1
BW Warriors1
Jeskai Aggro1
Jeskai Superfriends1
Temur Aggro1
Naya Dragons1
Naya Aggro1

As we can see, the top five most popular decks in the MTGO daily events last week were the usual suspects. However, a relatively new archetype gained ground in the metagame and secured the sixth spot on the list. Mardu Dragons has been around as a fringe archetype or simply as Black-Red Dragons which posted a few results in the RPTQs, but it was Edgar Magalhaes piloting Mardu Dragons to the finals of Grand Prix Toronto that popularised the archetype.

Dargons for the win.
Dargons for the win.

The current incarnation of Mardu Dragons is pretty much the aggressive Black-Red Dragons shell with Crackling Doom, Seeker of the Way and Soulfire Grandmaster added. Mardu Dragons is designed to combat the top dogs of the metagame. A combination of Crackling Doom and Foul-Tongue Invocation means you are unlikely to die to Dragonlord Ojutai which Esper Dragons leans on heavily to win. Seeker of the Way and Soulfire Grandmaster provide enough life gain for you to survive the early game against Mono Red or Atarka Red. A playset of Anger of the Gods in the sideboard ensures that dead dinosaurs remain dead. Stormbreath Dragon is the best card to play against Abzan Aggro and this deck runs four copies of it.

While Mardu Dragons is theoretically very well-positioned in the metagame, the deck was absent from last weekend’s Grand Prix Paris top 8 and there was only a single copy in the top 16. Nevertheless the archetype is a relatively new one, and it may take a while for its prowess to be felt.

Unfortunately, the financial implications of Mardu Dragons being propelled to tier one is limited. The deck’s key cards comprise mostly of cards from old sets whose price has settled. Dragonlord Kolaghan was only present as a singleton in the sideboard.

Other notable new developments include a few Blue-White Control lists running Narset Transcendent together with Secure the Wastes.

Narset in UW

Narset has dropped from her high $30s to just $22.66. Her spread is still at 46%, so there is not much interest here financially. Narset has room to drop with redemption coming and Secure the Wastes is still above $3.

A card that was in the sidelines but began to see a little play last week was Dragon Whisperer.

Dragon Whisperer

A couple of Mono Red builds that moneyed the daily events last week sports a few copies of Dragon Whisperer in their mainboard. A card whose ability relies on formidable trigger may seem out of place in a Mono Red deck with a mean creature power of 1 but anyone who has played against Mono Red could attest to their goblin tokens taking over the board if left unchecked. Plus Goblin Rabblemaster’s trigger also works well to help Dragon Whisperer achieve formidable. Her addition to the deck provides Mono Red with a bit of mid-game power and buffer against land floods, but to be honest she seems like a win-more in the Mono Red shell.

At $6.12 with a 57% spread, Dragon Whisperer evokes no financial interest at the moment, but is worth keeping an eye on if more Mono Red builds begin to adopt Dragon Whisperer.


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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: MM2015 — The Unofficial MTG Stimulus

As a response to the Great Recession of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve initiated a multitude of stimulus programs. They initiated a massive bond buying program and they lowered interest rates to virtually zero. These two actions were done in an attempt to stimulate our economy and drive healthy motivation for investment in stocks.

The jury is still out on how sustainable the program was (is). Some dissenters will likely criticize the stimuli for years to come no matter the outcome. But regardless of what your political leaning may be, the resulting market performance since is impossible to argue with.


Turning back to MTG finance, one could argue that some particular cards have also been going through some economic turbulence. Original dual lands come to mind immediately – especially the out-of-favor color combinations. Other Legacy staples have also pulled off their recent highs by a measurable amount. Some Modern staples have also spiked recently, only to retreat to a lower price point.



What’s to become of this developing trend? Could Magic be due for a Great Recession type of pullback?

Certainly not. The game is as healthy as ever. In fact, this week I present a new thesis that supports a new surge in some card prices. Allow me to explain.

Modern Masters 2015

Who’s excited for the release of one of the highest EV sets upon release of all time? Who’s pumped up to participate in or watch the largest MTG tournaments ever? Who’s eager to draft this set, which will definitely be a Limited crowd-pleaser?

No matter your perspective, it’s difficult to argue with the hype behind Modern Masters 2015. Even if you are a complete skeptic, dripping with disdain for some of the wasted rare slots in the set (Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder?!), you’re likely excited about the future prospects of the cards that dodged reprint this set. Speculators have been very busy lately…


Six of the top ten price gainers last week were Modern cards that dodged MM2015 reprint. The Tron lands were noteworthy absences, and clearly Inkmoth Nexus and Serum Visions are strong buys on the news. Or at least, they were strong buys before the market overreacted, sending copies up excessively high overnight.

My conclusion for Modern Masters 2015: while I’m personally not ecstatic to be opening $10 packs with a high likelihood of obtaining a sub-$1 rare, the swirl this set is generating amongst the MTG finance community is nearly tangible. I’m delighted to witness hours of debate on Twitter about card prices. The buzz should continue through GP Vegas without a hitch.

If ever there was a time to engage in MTG speculation and finance, now would be it. And with the return of a Modern PTQ season, we’ve got even more reason to get excited about Modern.

MTG Stimulus: Part 1

When the Federal Reserve bought up many billions of dollars of bonds, they infused a large amount of cash into the economy. Then they reduced rates so low that there was practically no good place to park money other than into investments. The result: a rapid decline in unemployment and multiple years of double-digit gains in the stock market.

Turning back to Magic, we need to recognize how tentative people were with buying into Modern with the knowledge that a massive reprint set was on the horizon. It’s always a feel-bad when we buy cards only to watch them tank in price due to reprinting. Therefore, I suspect players and speculators held cash on the sidelines waiting for Modern Masters 2015 to be fully spoiled. Only then would there be high confidence in which targets would be safe to buy into.

Well, last Friday we received the complete spoiler from WOTC. Various absent cards created quite the surprise – namely, Tron lands, Serum Visions, Aven Mindcensor, Blood Moon, Inquisition of Kozilek, Azusa, Inkmoth Nexus, and more. It’s no surprise that many of these cards are on the move as players and speculators acquire copies for the upcoming Modern season.


In rapid-fire fashion, everyone is infusing cash into the MTG economy as they scoop up copies of the “safe” cards. This pseudo-stimulus is a combination of self-fulfilling prophecy and pent-up demand. Now that speculators know what cards are likely to further increase in value, they can invest with confidence. After all, what better place was there to invest funds than something like Inkmoth Nexus once we were certain it wasn’t in MM2015?

Now Inkmoth Nexus is a $20 card, and it will likely climb higher in the coming months. As speculators cash out on the movement they’ll have additional funds with which to work. What are they going to do with all their newfound profits?

MTG Stimulus: Part 2

I’ve got a couple ideas of where this money will go. First of all, there will likely be some great buy opportunities on my radar once MM2015 hits the market: namely, the popular reprinted cards. The Modern staples of the set are likely to sell off a bit in the coming weeks, due to both panic and the increased supply. The same thing happened with MMA on a card like Cryptic Command.


Modern demand sent this card up to around $45 in Spring 2013, but the MMA reprint caused a rapid decline back to the $30 mark. But about eight months after the sell-off, Cryptic Command rebounded like never before, shooting up to $70.

Now once again, we’re seeing a rapid sell-off. The blue instant is already back down to $50, with momentum suggesting this could go even lower. But this begs the question: will history repeat itself? Will Modern grow in popularity even more, sending Cryptic’s price right back up to new highs in eight months? It’s certainly not impossible, and I’d wager this was WOTC’s plan. They are hoping to support and stimulate interest in the Modern format with these Modern Masters sets, and time will tell how successful they will be with round two.

Either way the reprinted cards in MM2015 are bound to sell off, but eventually they’ll bottom. When that happens, we as speculators should recognize the buying opportunity screaming at us. And with their newly-minted coin from the recent movement in non-reprinted cards, they’ll buoy the MTG economy into these headwinds.

If you’re not bullish on the Modern format, or if you’re concerned about further reprints in other sets, I have some good news. MM2015 reprints aren’t the only solid buys once the dust settles.

As players discover their Inkmoth Nexus and Serum Visions are suddenly worth a bunch more, they’ll be likely to sell/trade excess copies away. Additionally, [lucky] players will suddenly come into all kinds of money when they pull Goyfs, Cliques, and Bobs in their MM2015 packs, not to mention a lineup of Eldrazi. What will the lucky ones do with their valuable pulls?

While it’s true some players will determine that opening a Goyf is the perfect motivator to sleeve up Abzan Midrange in Modern, I suspect many others will be cashing out of their valuable pulls. After all, if we are assuming the Modern Masters 2015 reprints are likely to lower prices, that means the market must see increased supply. That’s natural supply & demand logic – for the price to drop, demand must drop (not likely) or supply must rise. If supply is rising, that must mean people are selling more copies. Likely this will mean their newly-opened copies…after the initial panic, such as what we’re seeing in charts like Cryptic Command and Noble Hierarch.


As players cash out of their Modern staples, what do you think they’ll look to buy? I saw a well-phrased tweet last weekend from an individual I have high respect for in the MTG finance community.


I can’t vouch for Pucatrade specifically, but I condone his overall strategy 100%. Judging by all the favorites this tweet received, I can tell we’re not alone in this sentiment. Moving high-dollar Modern cards into equities on the Reserved List is a brilliant strategy. You’re basically capitalizing on short-term price fluctuations in the Modern market by moving into cards that will never see reprint again. Even if Inkmoth Nexus does rise to $30 during Modern season, we know it will see reprint eventually, right?

Meanwhile, Tropical Island will never see reprint.


This particular dual land has been out of favor for months now, but perhaps the recent stimulus of MM2015 is just the catalyst needed for movement. Although not on the Reserve List, Wasteland is another Legacy staple that could use some stimulus – the Nonbasic land has stumbled over 50% from its highs.

If high-end Legacy staples aren’t your forte, then picking up other Reserve List cards may be a more optimal strategy. We just saw Ragnar jump in price on Tiny Leaders speculation; why not grab a couple Lady Evangela? I hope to in Vegas, in fact. Or better yet, pick up a couple Old Man of the Seas (Old Men of the Sea?). These have been gaining traction lately. I even see casual stuff like Divine Intervention and Island of Wak-Wak show up on the MTGStocks Interests page on occasion. Not only is this on the Reserve List, there’s really nothing else like it. I have a sneaking suspicion Wizards will never again print a card that forces the game to end in a draw. And what casual Reserve List discussion is complete without mention of my favorite Magic card of all time, Shahrazad?


You’ll never see a sudden buyout of this card, but it’s worth noting how the top buy list price has gradually been on the rise for the last 2 years.

No matter your personal preference, moving out of spiking Modern cards or recently-opened MM2015 goodies and into Reserve List favorites is a tried-and-true strategy I recommend. It’s a great way to lock in profits and reduce risk at the same time.

Wrapping It Up

A significant amount of money is going to exchange hands this summer. Speculators will rampantly acquire non-reprinted Modern cards. Players will be opening high-dollar cards left and right. This will lead to a sudden surge of value in the MTG economy – a type of stimulus.

My prediction: this stimulus will be just what the MTG economy needed for the past few months. Modern interest will jump and demand for Legacy and casual staples will go higher as well. If you want to get ahead of the curve, consider moving into cards on the Reserve List now, as Xemit suggested. I’ve provided a few sound suggestions, and I’m sure there are many others worth considering.

The tide will rise once more, lifting all ships. Therefore it is a great time to have exposure to MTG assets. My portfolio is currently the largest it has been since I sold out of Legacy over two years ago, and I look forward to seeing my holdings appreciate in value in the coming months thanks to this unofficial stimulus.

Sig’s Quick Hits

  • If you have a large quantity of Modern stuff to move, one sound acquisition target is Bazaar of Baghdad. In fact in the last couple weeks Star City Games increased their price on the Vintage staple from $399.99 to $449.99 for NM copies. It’s a steep price of entry, but you can be confident in this long-term investment’s prospects should MTG continue to grow.
  • One Modern/Legacy card that is not seeing nearly enough buzz is Slaughter Pact. The card managed to dodge reprint in MM2015 (unlike in MMA), meaning we’re not getting any new supply of this rare. Every time I search for the card on SCG’s site, it is out of stock. Today is no exception, and the $10 price tag is almost guaranteed to rise as we head into Modern season.
  • Lion’s Eye Diamond gets very little buzz in the MTG finance community, but the Reserve List card has been a Legacy staple for years. Currently SCG is sold out of this one as well, with a NM price tag of $86.29. There are probably a few more exciting pick-ups to target with newfound profits, but no one can argue with the low risk of LED. The card is off its highs much like other Legacy staples, and this stimulus could help rekindle interest.
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Today’s topic is Coldsnap, a set that has a very unique place in my heart. I’ve been playing Magic for a while now, and Coldsnap was one of the few sets I missed the release of. That’s because, in July of 2006, I was living on a bus traveling the US as a Drum Corps International competitor1. It was the longest streak of not playing Magic in my life, but I still thought about it all the time.

In fact, at some point in the summer, my mom forwarded to me a Magic magazine that had come in the mail, and it was all about the upcoming (or perhaps, by then, released) set. I devoured it, reading it cover-to-cover almost nightly, and dreaming about getting home and drafting. Of course, I barely had enough time to catch my breath before college started when I got home, and if I drafted the set once, I can’t recall it. The good news, for me at least, is that even if I missed Coldsnap, I more than made up for it when Time Spiral premiered later that year.

We are going to go through the set alphabetically, hitting every rare and any commons or uncommons of note. This was a set that was designed largely with draft in mind, so there is a reason why a lot of the Cs and Us are going to feel underpowered when projected against the Modern format as a whole.

The Cards


Adarkar Valkyrie: This card was actually one of the bigger hits in the set, until reprints in Modern Masters (the original) and Commander 2014 cratered its value. The price on these is about a buck, with foils from Coldsnap being roughly $15 (MM ones are around $8). This is a Casual/Commander/Cube card, and no deck that I’ve seen in the last nine years wants more than one copy. Low potential here.

Adarkar Windform: Is the reason why we are skipping a lot of the commons and uncommons. Boom, roasted.

Allosaurus Rider: This card was the prerelease foil and also appeared in Duel Decks: Elves vs Goblins (and therefore, in the Anthology also). It’s the kind of card that would be interesting in Modern, but the “free” cost is way too expensive. Putting yourself down two cards in green is just not doable most of the time. I don’t expect to ever see it in a deck unless WOTC puts it there.

Arctic Flats (and friends): Let’s knock this whole cycle out right here. This uncommon cycle is probably some of the better pulls in the set. All of the non-foils are worth between fifty cents and a dollar, and all of the foils are between three and five bucks. I’m not sure how much potential upside is left, but these are always worth looking out for in foil bulk boxes.

Arcum Dagsson: If you want to play with the seventh-best mono-blue general in EDH, it’s going to cost you about $5 (or $20 foil!). The card is technically some sort of tutor or combo enabler, since you can search your own library, and he is also kind of an answer to Blightsteel Colossus. I’ve been playing this game for a long time, and I am having serious trouble figuring out off the cuff how to make this guy good. Maybe Genesis Chamber, and then like, getting the Fifth Dawn Stations out? Summoning Station doesn’t seem to make artifact creatures (who knew?), so I don’t even think you can start with that one. Long story short, this guy is competing with very strong roster of playable Commanders, and he is very likely not going to make the cut. Limited upside, if any.

Balduvian Fallen: I just wanted to say that I had a Balduvian theme deck when I was in middle school. I even learned their tavern song! I was a pretty awesome kid.


Balduvian Warlord: I had to read this about three or four times to figure out what it does. It was not worth it.

Blizzard Specter: I didn’t really remember this card, but I checked it out, and the foils are about $5. This card seems pretty sweet for cube, is evocative of a popular older card, has a restriction that limits reprintability (Snow), and has positive flexibility. This is the kind of thing that I love to look for. I’m not sure that I want to buy them all out, because I don’t think there is demand for it, but it’s another bulk box hero, and maybe something you target to bridge a “close, but not quite there” trade.

Boreal Druid: I only looked this up because I played the card in Standard, but the foils are apparently $2! If Skred Red ever comes roaring back to popularity, expect these to have sneaky upside. Also, this does produce snow mana, which isn’t totally clear if you weren’t playing at the time.

Braid of Fire: This card was worthless up until the M10 rules changes and the removal of mana burn from the game. Now, the card is a solid ten bucks, with foils at fifteen. That kind of spread tells me that either the foils are undervalued, or (more likely) the non-foils are overvalued. This card doesn’t start to give you serious amounts of mana until three turns after you’ve cast it, and that’s assuming you have a reliable mana sink, they don’t have an Abrupt Decay, and neither player has put an aggressive enough clock on the other so as to divert attention elsewhere. I think this card is still priced so high because people don’t want to be caught off guard if it does break out, not because it already has.

Brooding Saurian: This card wasn’t worth very much, and then it got reprinted. Foils are still around $3 because the reprint was a Commander deck, and so it only got a non-foil printing. I guess if that Donate Goat guy is in your Commander environment, then you can play this? It’s a foil rare that does something weird and will likely never be reprinted again (at least, not in foil), so feel free to pick some up, but only below their current retail, and expect to own them for a very long time.

Chill to the Bone: This card was much more impressive before Murder, Go For The Throat, and Hero’s Downfall. This was on my foil snipe list for a long time, though, so just as it is important to know what foils are worth snagging, it’s equally important to know which ones are dead ends.

Coldsteel Heart: Did you realize that this card is two bucks? Did you know that the foils are over twenty? Two-mana artifacts that can produce colored mana are actually very rare, so this card gets the benefit of slotting in somewhere that WOTC doesn’t go anymore (colored mana producing artifacts start at three, but you can get one colorless for two). This is a great Cube card, and it helps ramp non-green Commander decks, so those are two major boxes to be able to check off. We may see a reprint, but it won’t likely be in foil.

Commandeer: Another popular Cube and Commander card that is sometimes compared to Force of Will. It is not Force of Will, but it is pretty good in the formats that don’t really want or need Force of Will. It takes over the kind of big, splashy spells that are more common in those wider formats, and the two costs (pitching two blue cards or paying seven mana) are much more tolerable in EDH than Modern or Legacy. I could see non-foils getting reprinted in a Commander box or some other off-shoot product, but I’m not sure if it will be in a product that has a foil printing (which would really only be Modern Masters X). Foils are probably a safe bet, since most people are only going to need one. A similar card that I really like? Spelljack. It’s a foil rare from an older small set that has a unique, Commander-friendly ability.

Counterbalance: So when I did my Future Sight piece, I only talked about cards below about five bucks. This time, I’m doing the full set, so I get to talk about a couple known entities, this being one of them. Counterbalance is a $16 uncommon, a nearly $100 foil, and the namesake of a very infuriating popular Legacy deck. I can buy a box of Coldsnap over in Tampa for $325 right now (ignoring tax), which puts the packs at just over $10. This card is one of only two non-foils in the set that has a retail price of more than a booster pack. With 55 uncommons in the set, you are really only guaranteed to open 1.74 Counterbalances per box. I say all this to make the point that Counterbalance at its current price is probably a good deal, since there are not going to be many more Coldsnap packs opened, and the card is so rage-inducing powerful that it really can’t be reprinted in a meaningful way. This card is so good, it got Krosan Grip to see play.

Cover of Winter: This card is very bad and dumb.

Cryoclasm: This, along with Deathmark and the rest of the hosers, has been reprinted a varying amount of times, but I just wanted to say I personally like this card.

Darien, King of Kjeldor: There are a lot of legends in this set! This guy is a very flavorful commander option, and possibly some sort of terrible combo piece. I expect foils are safe for forever, and we will (maybe) see a non-foil reprint somewhere far down the road. His name restricts him from being reprinted in a lot of places, and the fact that he kinda stinks prevents him from going in most other sets.

Dark Depths: This is the best card in the set, and it is not close. Unfortunately, Dark Depths is currently banned in Modern, and even though I think it would be fine in the format, it’s not likely to come off the list anytime soon. This card has literally no ceiling. I’m not buying in at this price, and I’d probably sell mine off just to move them into more diversified holdings. This card has potential, but not momentum. I’d rather own Thespian’s Stages.

Deepfire Elemental: This is probably a foil sleeper. Very good card for the C3 crowd.


Diamond Faerie: This gets better every time aggressive Snow creatures are printed, so never.

Field Marshal: Reprinted in M10, but still $5, and a $10 foil. This definitely goes in your Darien, King of Kjeldor theme deck, and I feel like this was in that white soldier Legacy (or was it Vintage?) deck that everyone2 fell in love with a little while back. SCG is entirely sold out of this card (both printings), and it’s a perfect fit with the C3 crowd. I like it, but there’s nothing that keeps it from being reprinted in any future standard set.

Frozen Solid: I liked the Scourge art better. This has the superior flavor text though.

Fury of the Horde: This is a combo piece in Modern! It was reprinted in the Speed vs Cunning Duel Deck, which is why the non-foils are only two bucks. Foils are safe, but this card really only goes in one deck, so that limits the upside.

Garza Gol, Plague Queen: This card does a lot of good things, but is in the same colors as Nicol Bolas, Thraximundar, and a couple other generals. She is not better than either of the two I listed, nor is she popular enough in Magic’s canon to swing people in her favor. Foils will always have a shred of appeal, but if she was a good Commander option, her non-foils wouldn’t be seventy-five cents.

Garza’s Assassin: Foils are five bucks. Art is pretty cool. Limited upside because his best ability will scare off a lot of players, and there are just better things to do in the formats where he is playable. Three black pips if you want to build a black devotion deck in Modern!

Greater Stone Spirit: Shout-out to Ocarina of Time.

Grim Harvest: This is a Pauper card, and sometimes it shows up in weirder cubes. I actually liked this card a lot, even though it uses up a LOT of mana. Worth looking out for.

Haakon, Stromgald Scourge: This is my kind of card. More popular in Cube than anywhere else, he is also buoying the price of Nameless Inversion. He’s more of a parlor trick than a serious threat, but there are enough people like me willing to buy them that he’ll always have some upside. People know who he is.

Heidar, Rimewind Master: People don’t know who he is, and for good reason.

Herald of Leshrac: This card just feels so old school, it’s one of the few pieces in the set that really nails the resonance they were trying to go for. Foils are currently $6, but if you told me they were double that, I’d absolutely believe you. If Guy Fieri started playing Magic around Beta, he would call this a slam dunk flavor bomb.

Hibernation’s End: I know Birthing Pod is banned, but this is not the answer.

Into The North: Foils are worth noting because they can grab Scrying Sheets, Mouth of Ronom, or any of the snow duals we mentioned at the top of this article.

Jester’s Scepter: Sell these to that Juggalo that plays FNM at your store. He’ll love them.

Jokulmorder: It’s a leviathan, which means something to a very small amount of people. At a dollar, I guess I’m a buyer for a handful of foils, but I could also probably just flush that money down the toilet instead.

Jotun Grunt: Eli Manning’s Invitational card. Sees (or saw) Legacy Zoo play, but that was a long time ago. Foils are still $8 because of price memory and Cube.

Juniper Order Ranger: Foils are $5, but there is room to grow since the reprint was non-foil only (Duel Decks: Knights vs Dragons). This card is popular with a lot of different crowds, and works kind of like a Melira in some of the Pod-esque combo decks. Your Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap plus sac outlet pluf this guy is infy.

Karplusan Minotaur: Cumulative Upkeep: Flip a coin. NEXT!

Krovikan Mist: Also a pauper card, and actually a pretty strong little beater.

Krovikan Rot: The next victim of Tiny Leaders speculation?

Lightning Serpent: Splashy rare with some EDH (Horde of Notions) appeal.

Lightning Storm: This is actually a kill condition in some decks, which is why the foils are around $12. There’s a very limited market, as the people who can kill you with this could have very likely Inkmoth plus Kessig Wolf Runned you, like, twenty turns ago.

Lovisa Coldeyes: If she pumped herself or cost a little less, she could be a powerhouse, but she doesn’t so she isn’t. Maybe a commander, but I’d rather play Kamahl.

Martyr of Sands: The only one in her family to really make something of herself. Too bad it’s that stupid Martyr deck. I hate this card, but I’m also genuinely surprised foils aren’t twenty.

Mishra’s Bauble: Thanks to Pat Chapin and that Tasigur deck, this card is pushing ten bucks. This could be in Modern Masters 2015 for all we know, at which point it will plummet back to earth. Is this really any better than Gitaxian Probe?

Mouth of Ronom: It’s a land that kills stuff, and that’s pretty good. Higher upside if it didn’t require a critical mass of snow lands.

Ohran Viper: No longer a Constructed powerhouse, this did make its living as a cool Cube foil. Limited upside since its reprint in DD: Jace vs Vraska has put way too many non-foils on the market.

Panglacial Wurm: This card is worth money and that is very strange to me. I guess in Commander you can be searching your library and still have seven mana open.

Perilous Research: Cube foil sometimes.

Phyrexian Etchings: Anyone who thinks this is a worthy spiritual successor to Necropotence has not played with Necropotence enough.

Phyrexian Ironfoot: This card was Standard playable, if you ever want to know how miserable life was then.

Phyrexian Soulgorger: Three mana to attack for eight once (without trample!) and sacrifice three creatures? Neat.

Rimefeather Owl: An automatic inclusion in any RUSH theme deck.

Rimescale Dragon: It’s a dragon from a relatively unpopular set that you can get a foil of. That is why the foils are $8.

Rite of Flame: Storm staple in the formats they let you play it. Honestly can’t say if we will ever see another printing of this card. If not, the $10 foil price tag will look like a steal in the future.

Rune Snag: Technically better than Mana Leak. Foils are probably underpriced.

Scrying Sheets: If you are going to play with snow lands, then this is really your major payoff. Not sure we will ever see it again, just because it requires so many other pieces to even be worth looking at. Also, it’s not legendary, even though most decks that have this are Cube, Commander, or Tiny Leaders (if a Tiny Leaders deck even exists).

Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper: Another multicolor general who is not competing for starting reps. See Garza Gol.

Shape of the Wiitigo: I really regret committing to talking about every rare.

Sheltering Ancient: Foils are worth about four bucks, even though this card is probably not worth it. Good versus creatureless control decks.

Skred: YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! This is my favorite card in the set, and probably one of my favorite cards ever. Foils should be six-hundred dollars and everyone should play snow lands in Modern.

Snow-Covered Basics: Expect these to follow Skred’s meteoric rise.

Soul Spike: People were going nuts for this card a year or so ago, and I am still not sure why. Still, foils are ten, so… just know that.

Stromgald Crusader: Somehow worth more than several rares in the set. This card would have been a Pro Tour champion if it was printed ten years earlier. Foils are about $5. Also, there is a white version of this card that is worth way less than this one.

Sunscour: A bad Wrath of God that can sometimes be cast for free, although, again, you really don’t want to. Foils are worth something just because they are foils of a Wrath of God variant.

Tamanoa: A card in the best creature colors that only works with non-creature sources of damage. Pass.

Thrumming Stone: Relentless Rats.

Vanish Into Memory: We designed this card! This card is our fault.

Vexing Sphinx: This is a rare. That is all.

Void Maw: See also: Vexing Sphinx.

White Shield Crusader: This is that white dude I was talking about.

Woolly Razorback: There are some really bad cards in this set.

Zombie Musher: I think it’s pretty cool that they used what appears to be an Iron Maiden album cover for card art.

Zur the Enchanter: Well, at least we are going out with a bang. This is a very Spiky EDH General, and one of the few degenerately poweful cards in the set. This card is probably too good to reprint, except for maybe in a future Commander box. Foils are safe, but have a narrow audience.

Thanks for sticking around to the end! That was a long one. If you see anything in this set that you like, I have to think that the restrictive price of sealed product (versus the overall lack of quantity of good cards) will buoy prices. Any foil that falls under the $10 booster pack price tag that you like is probably worth looking into. Thanks for reading, and if you have any suggestions for my next set to review (not next week, but sometime in the future), let me know!



1 Ironically, my organization was also named “Magic.” Between the game, the drum corps, and my NBA allegiance, I get impressive mileage out of five letters.

2 “Everyone” = Me and Nick Packard.

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