Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 8/13/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


One week out from Pro Tour: Nexus of Fate, and things are mostly ok. One Turbo Fog deck made the top 8 of Brussels, but none cracked the ceiling of Orlando. There were three and four lurking in the top 25 and 32 of each event though, so it’s certainly clear that despite what I imagine is every single player showing up to those events with clear knowledge that it would be the deck to beat, Nexus of Fate is still powerful enough to (reasonably) overcome. Prices aren’t too absurd at the moment at $25 a copy, which makes it one of the most expensive cards in Standard, but not the most, and not a seemingly unacceptable rate for for the format in general. We’ll see how October goes.

If anything, the real problem is Teferi. I’ve seen several pros on Twitter lately remark that every single line of text on that card is poorly designed. His +1 is deceptively protective, since while it doesn’t give you a direct blocker, it provides resources to thwart attacks, and his ultimate (which is your plan A with Teferi, as I understand it) is one of the most miserable ways to lose a game possible.

I was curious to see if I could include him this week as a card to watch despite an already-high price tag, but that just wasn’t going to fly. You’ll pay $35 on TCGPlayer to take home the cheapest copy on the market. For comparison, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar was only more expensive than that for a week or two immediately after release. He was south of $30 for like, 95% of the time he was legal in Standard. Interesting.

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The Watchtower 8/6/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


There you have it, folks. Wizards’ biggest celebration of Magic to date, the 25 year anniversary of the game, the culture, and the community. Are you reveling in the shared euphoria of a sense of belonging and camaraderie? Are you still annoyed at how badly Wizards botched the Silver Showcase?

There’s no doubt it was fun to see a Pro Tour that brought something to the table for everyone. My timeline was filled with Legacy enthusiasts that haven’t seen their format of choice on the big stage for years. It was great to see the best format (Modern) again as well, as it’s a thrilling watch that doesn’t also require an absurdly deep pool of knowledge to understand the subtle decision points and ramifications as an observer. Also, Standard was there I guess.

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I’ve seen a few calls to push the Pro Tour to all teams, and I don’t inherently hate the idea. Competitive teams are of course something we’re quite familiar with, both in professional sports, and also e-Sports; e.g. League of Legends and Overwatch. Competitive gaming doesn’t have the mandate that teams are inherently superior though. Gaming’s proto-competitive environment, fighting games, has always focused on individual personalities over teams. Starcraft, the second original competitive scene, was all about individuals as well. And with Twitch’s outrageous success, personalities are almost always cultivated on an individual basis, even if the streamer is part of some greater organization.

It’s not clear to us yet whether teams or solo is the best way to move forward with Magic, and I’m sure Wizards will be crunching the data to try and determine that. There’s also the money factor to consider; as the Pro Tour is deemphasized, are teams more financially viable, or less?

Stubborn Denial (Foil)

Price Today: $9
Possible Price: $20

Perhaps the hottest deck of PT25 was ChannelFireball’s UB Shadow deck in Legacy. Now, I’m the last person that’s going to advocate buying cards simply because they show up in Legacy, unless the card is older than dirt and has a supply commensurate with the format’s demand ceiling. Stubborn Denial isn’t just a Legacy card though; it’s popular in Modern as well, and even manages some play in EDH as a nearly-permanent one-mana counterspell.

Of course, Legacy is still going to spark some additional demand for the card where it didn’t really exist before, and with a low supply, it won’t take many actors to drive the card to a new price plateau. Death’s Shadow hasn’t done much in the format prior to this, and seeing the (second) best team at the Pro Tour show up with it is going to turn a lot of heads. With Deathrite Shaman’s departure, players are hungry to see what that means for the format, and with a new Shadow deck on the scene (which conveniently only plays two dual lands), players are getting both a new possibly top tier Legacy deck, and a “budget” deck.

There’s more than single-digit copies remaining, but not that many more. Perhaps 50 total on TCGPlayer, with a few more scattered around? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bulk of them under $13 or so scooped up in the next few weeks, and then a slower burn on the way up to $20.


Phyrexian Revoker (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $25

Another card that drew my attention while browsing the PT25 lists was Phyrexian Revoker. Both Death and Taxes lists that showed up in the top four cut were hard on Revoker, as it severely taxes one exact card in your opponent’s hand. (Just so happens it’s a tax they can’t pay.) Expect to see a lot more D&T around Legacy now, as DRS was the biggest reason it wasn’t more prevalent in the past. D&T is definitely a format staple now, especially given that it runs no duals, and the expensive lands — Wasteland and Karakas — have each been reprinted recently.

Revoker isn’t only a Legacy card, of course. (If it were I doubt I’d be talking about it.) You’ll find it in a variety of Modern strategies, from Eldrazi, to Humans, to Hatebears, to Elves. It’s not a lock in any of those, but it’s a sideboard tool many pilots turn to when trying to solve specific problems for their unique builds. It’s even in a respectable 4,000 EDHREC lists, which means a fair bit of people are revoking in the social format of choice.

Mirrodin Besieged foils are already just under $20 (and there’s two), so it’s not a stretch to imagine the roughly 20 Magic 2015 copies left getting there soon too. Nobody is going to be playing less of this card in the future, and it’s firmly entrenched itself as a staple of Legacy and Modern, with EDH just behind.


Reflector Mage (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

I remember a few months writing that Humans may have just been a flash in the pan, and I couldn’t recommend buying the cards because it may not be sustainable. Heh.

Humans is probably the biggest deck in Modern right now. That’s a far cry from not having existed just a year ago. (I think it’s been less than a year.) Reflector Mage is solid component of the list, with the two Humans decks in the top four running 4 and a 3/1 split. He’s got a chunky little body, staggers opponents with the tempo loss, is fun to Image or Restoration, and in general is a solid utility human.

Reflector Mage is fun in EDH too, of course. Setting back a single opponent’s single creature isn’t the tempo advantage it is in Modern, but when you can set up an engine, it gets real obnoxious, real fast. Not like there’s any shortage of targets, but Deadeye Navigator lets you basically upheaval your opponent’s boards. Brago lets you do it every turn, as does that entire deck basically. There’s no shortage of other ways to abuse Reflector Mage in EDH.

There’s 30ish foils on TCG right now, but only fix or six under $10. Buying at under $10 is basically already a profit, and with the tear Humans is on, these are going to keep getting vacuumed up.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


 

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The Watchtower 7/30/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

@wizardbumpin

Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.

Commander 2018 previews have wrapped up, and the general consensus is that while there’s some true gems, overall it’s a slightly less exciting release than it’s been in the past. Primarily there’s a sentiment that while the MSRP has been raised $5, the value in the box is less than in the past. You’ll find fewer high dollar reprints than you used to. That doesn’t make it a bad product, of course, but Reddit needs to be angry about something.

 

While the value in the box isn’t setting a watermark, it has a less tangible value, and that’s that the themes presented are less explored in Magic’s history. Opening up space to work in means you aren’t just pulling out your same list of 50 EDH staples for those colors and tossing 10 unique cards in; if you try, you can get a good 30 or 40 unique cards in the lists. Most of those are also going to be dirt cheap, since demand on them has been low up to this point.

Rooftop Storm (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $20

I’m focusing on Varina, Lich Queen a lot this week, because she could very well end up being the sleeper commander of the product. Varina is a zombie deck in Esper colors, something we haven’t had before. Sure, people have played Ertai, the Corrupted or Oloro, Ageless Ascetic as a Zombie deck before, but that’s not a zombie deck. Furthermore, not only is Varina our first true Esper zombie commander, she’s actually good. Attack with zombies, get cards and life. She’s not clever, but she’s useful, and that’s great.

Zombies are just about the most popular EDH tribe that exists, and I’m actually sort of shocked that foil Rooftop Storm is still only $6. The time for this to be $15 or $20 has long since passed, making this a real freebie this week.

With only a single printing in Innistrad, Rooftop Storm is approaching “there are EDH players that weren’t born yet when this was printed” territory. We’ve got no reason to think it’s coming back anytime soon, and those foils are especially going to be less and less common. I can’t see how these aren’t approaching $20 in the real near future.

Necromancer’s Covenant (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

Varina bringing white to the table for zombie builds is exciting because it opens up a suite of cards to the most popular tribe in the format. For example, do you see many Varina lists existing without Anointed Procession? (I wanted to make that a pick this week, and while I do see it trending upwards over time, it’s going to be a slow ramp.) Amonkhet brought about white zombie cards, but there wasn’t really a place to play them yet. Now, they’ve got a true home in the 99 format.

One card that would be phenomenal in my Sidisi deck is Necromancer’s Covenant. This does a bunch of things at once. 1. Exiles every creature in someone’s graveyard. Eat it, Meren. 2. Makes a boat load of zombie tokens. 3. Gives them all lifelink, so you aren’t just completely dead on the crack back. If you can find a way to bounce it, even better. (It’s possible this card should be in Aminatou, actually.) Overall, just great stuff.

Having white in the casting cost has historically made Covenant nearly unplayable, simply because there weren’t many BWx strategies that would have wanted to devote a slot to it. Varina is a huge avenue for this to make a splash in the format. Add in that it’s a single printed card from Alara, and you can see how the foils are ripe for profit.


Staff of Domination (Masterpieces)

Price Today: $70
Possible Price: $150

One of the less-celebrated new commanders is Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice. Let’s be honest: this guy’s a jerk. His whole shtick is copying stuff that’s already going to be broken and annoying. I looked at a couple of sample lists, and it was thirty mana rocks, Paradox Engine, and Planar Bridge. Who wants to play with that guy?

Even if he’s a snot, people are going to build the deck, and they’re going to need cards for it. One of those cards is undoubtedly going to be Staff of Domination. That card is rarely fair, and for that reason, it’s going to be popular. In fact, it was on the EDH ban list for three years. (Kind of a short prison sentence, but whatever.) I’m sure there are infinite combos in there with Tawnos and the untapping ability. Doubly so with his namesake Candelabra.

Of course I’m talking about the Inventions copy, not the the pack copies. People sitting down to build Tawnos are going to take a long hard look at the Inventions copies, decide that it’s worth plunking down the extra $50, and picking one of those up instead. After all, the Inventions overall feel so safe, everyone’s heard about the prices going nutty, and you’re guaranteed to find a use for the card even after you pull apart Tawnos in a few weeks after your friends refuse to play with him again.

Given that the price gap between pack copies and Inventions is a lowly 2x multiplier, there’s certainly vertical room on Staff of Domination. A price tag well north of $100 is an easy threshold to hit, as it’s a well known component of the format, and the Inventions copy is going to be the only good foil with the original art, ever.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.



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The Watchtower 7/23/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.


There are not many weeks that are as exciting for the Magic market as Commander preview week. Standard preview weeks are fun and exciting of course, but they don’t move too many needles outside of that format, and it’s not a particularly profitable format at that. Commander previews though? Hoo boy. Here’s an example: Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor. She’s got the odd ability to create tokens under your opponent’s control, and then even odder ability to take them all when she leaves play. (Most odd of all is that they’re 1/1 survivor tokens. Probably not finding those in that new minifig run Hasbro is putting out.) A card like Varchild is going to draw attention to all sorts of cards that otherwise have gone unnoticed.

A lot of cards are going to get bought up this week. If you’re quick on the draw and have a good read on what people will find popular, you can clean up over the next few days. Even if you aren’t paying attention, some of the stuff in your bulk box may suddenly be worth pulling out.

Temporal Mastery (Foil)

Price Today: $17
Possible Price: $35

I said last week that the Esper ‘top of library’ deck was the most curious, and with the reveal of all four commanders, I still think that, although in a slightly different way. Each of the other three — Jund’s Lord Windgrace, Bant’s Estrid, the Masked, and Izzet’s Saheeli, the Gifted track closely to their ascribed theme. It’s not to say that they won’t be popular, but rather, looking at them, we can see what the deck inside is (mostly) doing. It’s fairly spelled out. Aminatou, however, is still somewhat of a mystery.

We can read the text on the card, and see what she does, but extrapolating that through the rest of the deck falls flat. Her +1 allows you to swap the top card of your library with one in your hand, which of course is what’s behind me talking about Temporal Mastery here. Following that is a generic blink effect, which on its surface, doesn’t do much with the top of your library. What’s going on there? (Aside from being an infinite combo with Felidar Guardian, and an easy turn-four win if you toss Altar of the Brood in there.) Finally her ultimate is one of the most curious in the game’s history, which picks has every player pick up all their nonland permanents and pass them one seat to the left or right. What? (Also: Teferi’s Protection lol). Reading through Aminatou, it’s still tough to understand what’s happening in the 99.

Anyways, Temporal Mastery. There’s no more obvious auto-include if you’ve got Aminatou as your general. Putting cards from your hand on top of your library is the entire reason to play miracles in your deck. I would have picked some others too, but you’ll notice that basically every rare or mythic miracle has been reprinted enough to make sure there’s no real slam dunks in there. Devastation Tide foils are the closest, but eh.

Temporal Mastery though — about $17 or $18 for Modern Masters 2017 foils right now, and not many out there. It’s an already reasonably popular card that sees action in a variety of places, and now we’re getting a commander that demands you use this card. Supply should dry up fairly soon.


Eldrazi Conscription

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $20

Bant’s commander is Estrid, the Masked, and as promised, she’s all about enchantments. Truth be told, Estrid doesn’t do much Eldrazi Conscription on the face. Sure you can untap whatever creature it’s on, but like, whatever. Conscription itself doesn’t make untapping the creature particularly thrilling in the way that something like Burning Anger would. (Which you can’t play in this deck.) Her minus ability doesn’t do a lot with this either. And really, even her ultimate only interacts with it inasmuch as it does for all other enchantments.

Still, that’s all beside the point. Here’s what matters. There’s a new commander that wants you to play with enchantments, and as far as auras go, Eldrazi Conscription is as big and bad as it gets. (Bonus mid-paragraph pick: foil Sovereigns of Lost Alara.) Your dude is huge, you get annihilator triggers, they trample, it’s the whole package. The only thing that’s going to be annoying is that there’s rarely going to be a creature on the battlefield that’s more of a target than the one that’s been Conscripted.

And that’s where the Estrid, and the deck’s theme comes in. There’s going to be plenty of support in this deck for returning enchantments from the graveyard, cheating them into play, and in general getting as much use out of them as you can. Just like graveyard reanimation means you see the best creature at the table over and over again, a deck built around enchantments is going to mean you see the best enchantment over and over again. Thus, your support for Eldrazi Conscription.

Someone bought a foil copy from me recently which is what got me thinking about this card. It’s a little tough to tell you to buy in at $25, which is where the foils are, mostly because even if they hit $50 or $60, they’ll move slowly. (Still, probably not terrible.) I like the non-foils more, since everyone that plays this deck will want a copy, and even if they only go from $12 to $20, that’s still a healthy move, and you’ll sell a lot more non-foils than foils. All of this with the caveat that it doesn’t show up in the Estrid deck of course, which may certainly come to pass.


Splendid Reclamation (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $10

Over on the Jund side of things, Lord Windgrace dumps lands into your graveyard in exchange for drawing more cards. A couple of +2s and suddenly you’ve got an entire extra mana base in the yard and you’re almost at ultimate. Fire off a Splendid Reclamation and you’re getting a huge boost in mana production at the low cost of having drawn a bunch of spare cards.

We don’t have to work hard to figure out that Reclamation is good; it’s in over 6,000 decks on EDHREC at the moment. It’s one of the most popular cards in The Gitrog Monster, a commander with a similar engine. You’ll find it in various other places too, although it’s certainly at its best in the frog horror deck.

Eldritch Moon product was sparser than some of the other sets that year, in part based on when it was released, popularity of Standard at that time, etc. Other cards from the set, e.g. Collective Brutality, have done quite well. As far as sets go, it’s more fertile ground than most other recent releases for valuable cards.

With Lord Windgrace coming in a month or so and a new batch of players on the Jund land lifestyle, there will be another pile of players looking to pick up Reclamations. Foils at $4 are going to dry up with no new line of supply, and we should see them land comfortably around $10 sometime later this year.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.



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