Category Archives: Watchtower

PROTRADER: The Watchtower: 1/23/17

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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. And watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


Aether Revolt’s official release weekend brought us the first SCG Open of the new Standard format, and it came out…cats blazing? The crazy cat lady combo that we all feared, that is Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian, showed up but didn’t dominate. It had a reasonable showing, with three in the top eight, but all lost in the quarterfinals. The top three decks of the event were various flavors of GB aggro, with a GW build rounding out the top four that’s likely to become hybridized with GB in the future. Looking through the top 64 and conversion rates, GB Aggro and Saheeli are two of the pillars, with Mardu Vehicles, GW Tokens, and a smattering of other strategies rounding things out.

Key cards in GB began spiking Saturday morning, and as of today, Walking Ballista is up well over $10. Verdurous Gearhulk doubled, and Rishkar, Peema Renegade is in the $5 range. The GB well is already pretty dry with these jumps, but remember that the first weekend of Standard is often not the same metagame as the Pro Tour.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower: 1/16/17

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. And watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


Aether Revolt had its prerelease this weekend, which means there were virtually no telling events that took place. Constructed Magic in general had a quiet weekend. Next weekend is the release, which won’t be much different, and then two weeks from now we should see things changing as SCG Opens begin firing. Even MTGO didn’t update their ban list until a few days ago, and as such I only see two Modern league results with the appropriate cards banned. Jund, Infect, and Shadow Zoo are nowhere to be found among them. I doubt we’ve seen the end of any of these strategies, though I suspect they’ll need to regroup and figure out what the meta and their appropriate lists will look like now.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower: 1/9/17

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. And watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


Wow. Now that was an announcement. If you somehow missed it, Wizards told us that in four hours we were getting the Banned & Restricted List update, one week early, and then dropped an especially large hammer:

Standard:
Smuggler’s Copter is banned.
Emrakul, the Promised End is banned.
Reflector Mage is banned.

Modern:
Golgari-Grave Troll is banned.
Gitaxian Probe is banned.

It’s going to take a lot of weeks, words, and work to figure out what all of this means across Standard and Modern. This week I’ll do my best to capture the surface level of these changes, but please give me some leeway for not catching any huge shifts that may come about. I’m sure even the pros are sitting around scratching their heads about where to go from here right now.

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BANNED’MRAKUL: Early Banned & Restricted Announcement Jan 9th/17

Hey all,

Wizards of the Coast surprised everyone this morning by announcing the Banned & Restricted list changes for all official formats a week earlier than was planned.

Here are the results:

Ok, so that list was a bit, er, unexpected. Let’s unpack the signals.

Standard

Emrakul, the Promised End

Emrakul, the Promised End is banned because, as part of the various flavors of Marvel Aetherworks combo decks she represents a massive feel-bad scenario as early as Turn 4. The ability to put Emrakul into play in the early game and absolutely wreck opponents on the spot has been a central figure in the perception that we were in the midst of a “bad” Standard format since a few weeks after the release of Kaladesh. Now that sales of Eldritch Moon are no longer a priority, shaking up Standard carries massive benefit as we head into the release of Aether Revolt and Amonkhet, and this ban was widely discussed in the context of potential fixes for the format heading into the announcement.

Smuggler's Copter

Smuggler’s Copter was targeted for being so pushed that it was impacting the diversity of the format. Translation? It gets played in too many decks, but it also reduces the chance that many other cards will get played, including other Vehicles and Planeswalkers, of which we have several incoming in upcoming sets. Still, this is going to be a tough pill to swallow for the many Standard players that bought full play sets and the stores that are carrying heavy inventory of the card. My head is now on swivel for this card to crash in price immediately, and I will be looking to pick up foils on the cheap in case it ends up making a splash in Modern (via aggro, Ensoul Artifact or BW tokens builds) or Frontier continues to grow (where it may be safe for now given the unsanctioned nature of the format and some folks desire to make use of their copies.)

Reflector Mage

Reflector Mage is a very odd choice that WoTC explained was necessary to ensure U/W Flash didn’t run rampant in the format with the other bans on the table. I’m not sure I agree that such a ban was necessary, but at least this one doesn’t cost us much money. Had they targeted Archangel Avacyn, Spell Queller or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the financial body count would have been getting pretty high, so a powerful lower cost target makes some sense from that angle.

The most important takeaway from all of this is that Wizards is more than willing to ban for participation issues rather than big tournament/on camera dominance. This factors heavily into the safety of future specs since any card that might be deemed to be impacting sales is now at risk.

Modern

Gitaxian Probe is a card that has been discussed as ban worthy by many pros on the basis of being too flexible, too easy to cast and too useful in sussing out the likely shape of a game in Modern. In decks like Infect and Death’s Shadow Aggro the card allows a pilot to dig deeper, check whether the opponent has a relevant answer in hand, and fill the graveyard with Delve count. The card doesn’t win games by itself, but eliminating it makes some of the most dominant aggro decks a little weaker, and hopefully provides some breathing room for other strategies to rise.  Thankfully, I sold any spares I had lying around months ago as ban whispers were rising, and I hope you did the same.

Golgari Grave-Troll now holds the dubious distinction of being a card that has been banned not once, but twice in Modern. In fairness, Drege did not look like a threat when the big green guy last came off the list, but the printing of Prized Amalgam and Cathartic Reunion in particular helped turn the deck into a finely tuned juggernaut capable of ridiculously explosive and non-interactive game play. There was a good time to sell this card earlier in the year, and I hope you took the chance if you were holding because we are highly unlikely to see this card at relevant top tables again any time soon.

New B&R Schedule

The other noteable announcement is that we are now going to get B&R changes before and after Pro Tours. Here are the details:

From a financial perspective this is going to make speculating on especially strong cards a bit more risky, since there is now an official safety valve on hand should things get out of hand. This should be read as a measure being introduce primarily to ensure that Standard seasons stay on track in terms of sales and participation, since problems of this kind can’t really be easily discerned on this schedule for Modern, since there are no longer Modern Pro Tour stops.

Make sure to note the relevant days in your calendar so that you can stay on top of things moving forward.

James 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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