Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 7/16/18 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.


We’re in a lull this week, with Magic 2019’s official release behind us, and Commander 2018 spoilers next week. In the interim, we’re left with Mercadian Masques and Legends cards getting picked off a few copies at a time, with little guarantee to how quickly any will sell. People are arguing about the Reserved List (again), and Battlebond foils are still proving quite popular with speculators.

Without much to go on, this week I’ll be considering some of what we do know of Commander 2018 so far, which is the four general themes – ‘Top of library matters,’ ‘Lands matter,’ Artifacts, and ‘Enchantments matter.’.

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The Watchtower 7/9/18 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.


Another Monday, another batch of cards to be on the lookout for. Otherwise it’s been a quiet weekend; we’re all still processing the Silver Showcase news, and the Legacy shakeup, and laughing at people that bought Stoneforge Mystics in hopes of it getting unbanned. Piles of irrelevant and useless Arabian Nights and Legends cards continue to disappear, and whomever is buying them is “making” money, assuming they can ever sell them. Oh yeah, Magic 2019 just had its prerelease too, so watch for those to start hitting display cases and online inventories. I don’t know about you guys, but Dominaria and M19 are completely running together in my head.

Astral Cornucopia (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $10

I spend a fair bit of time looking for cards with new demand profiles in EDH. Cards that suddenly find themselves with a new vector of demand can run low on supply rapidly, and prices often follow. This is not that type of card.

I may have written about Astral Cornucopia before, although it would have been quite some time ago. Whatever it was when I first talked about it, I still like it. Atraxa continues to be the most popular general, according to EDHREC, and I don’t just mean of all time. Every week, the most new decks logged are Atraxa. People keeping showing up and building that deck. Why? I don’t know. But they do, so she’s popular.

Once you’re sitting down and listing out cards for Atraxa, it’s a crime to not write down Astral Cornucopia. Depending on your board state it may end up mana-neutral the very turn you play it, with huge generation each turn after. In most decks, it’s too expensive to be worth it, but when those counters are basically free rather than three mana, the value equation catches up quickly.

So what’s going on with the card? Well, there’s a few copies left dotted around at $4 or so. It ramps up to $10 shortly after, so it wouldn’t be hard to bring the floor on that up to my predicted price to begin with. Even $10 is a soft ceiling though. If Atraxa really is as popular as she seems, and people really do keep building this deck, how does this card not completely disappear?


Hardened Scales (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $20

It’s been a few years since Modern could move the needle on a weekly basis, as many players have sort of “settled in.” That doesn’t mean prices don’t move, it’s just that changes aren’t as frequent, and they’re not as explosive when they happen. Today we’re looking at Hardened Scales, which isn’t exploding by any means, but it is a card being pushed by Modern.

Falling hard on the outside of the bubble at GP Barcelona yesterday was Hardened Scales Affinity. It’s an Affinity modeled more after the original builds, and even has some honest-to-god affinity cards! You’ll also see Hangarback Walkers, Walking Ballistas, and of course, Steel Overseers and Arcbound Ravagers. Every single one of those sees their effectiveness basically doubled with a Hardened Scales in play, since all their activations are separate triggers, which each count for Scales. In fact, if you play Arcbound Worker, then Ravager , then sac Worker to Ravager, you end up with nine counters on Ravager. Then sac Ravager to itself to move the counters onto Inkmoth and you’re at 10 already. Nifty interaction for sure.

Hardened Scales has been popular in EDH since it was printed, and is up to nearly 10,000 decks on EDHREC. That’s certainly in the top tier of EDH playables. (Doubling Season is at 14,000). Khans of Tarkir is also starting to get a touch long in the tooth, as it turns four years old this September. Heck, we’re probably going back to Tarkir next fall or something.

With healthy EDH demand, a possible new Modern appeal, and an aging printing, foil Scales have got a lot of things going for them.


Alhammarret’s Archive

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

There are a few things that are fairly universal within Magic, and one of those is players enjoying A. drawing cards and B. gaining life. It just so happens that with Alhammarret’s Archive, you can do both harder. Draw hard, life hard, win hard.

First and foremost, this is a slower burn than some of the other stuff. There may be a whole 15 copies of foil Astral Cornucopia left under $10. There’s 70 vendors on TCG for Archive, some with multiple copies. It’s a deep supply. It’s a “pick them up here and there in trades, and if someone has one on sale while you’re placing another order” type of card.

I’m bringing Archive up because even though supply is deep, it’s certainly a popular card. It’s in (ugh) over 9,000 EDH decks right now, and this weekend would have been the third anniversary of it having been printed, so like Hardened Scales, it’s starting to get up there in age. It’s going to be popular in casual circles, where they love doubling crap. See: Doubling Season’s popularity, even before EDH existed as a format. Foils aren’t going to be a big sell to the kitchen table crowd, of course, but kitchen demand will still help overall.

Archive could easily end up the next Doubling Season, or something close to it. Most decks gain life or draw cards, and Archive turbopowers both. Without a Commander set reprint, it’s on the way to $20, $25, or more.


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 7/2/18 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.


With today’s B&R update, Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe are gone from Legacy, while Standard remains, well, not fully intact, but intact as it was before today. DRS’ departure is certainly the biggest news here, if only for the sheer volume of the change. It feels like half the people playing Legacy have to go find four new cards to slot into their decks. Of course the change is more impactful than that; this isn’t just about downgrading to a less-effective version of DRS, as one may see moreso with Gitaxian Probe. DRS shaped the format considerably, with easy access to four colors, maindeck incidental graveyard hate, and reach against control decks who had otherwise locked up the red zone.

It’s tough to know what the greater implications of the DRS ban are, because it’s going to reverberate across the format several times. We do know one thing though, and that’s that the Legacy being played at the Pro Tour in August is going to be the most interesting that format’s been in years.

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Lion’s Eye Diamond

Price Today: $230
Possible Price: $400

Most immediately, I suspect Dredge is positioned for a resurgence in popularity. Removing DRS from the format is obviously a huge win for the deck. When something like half the room was packing a playset of one-drops that attacked the graveyard, it made your life a lot more miserable. Were those games unwinnable? I doubt it. But if the Dredge player had to choose between seeing DRS on turn one and not, I’m sure they’d prefer not.

Should Dredge really show up in greater numbers following this, or even if people consider it, Lion’s Eye Diamond has the biggest, fattest target on it. First of all, it’s a stupidly powerful card. In fact, I don’t think you can make the argument that it isn’t the most powerful card in Legacy in the abstract. Second, it’s going to be core to just about every Legacy Dredge build. Like yeah, I’m sure there are Dredge builds that don’t incorporate it, but is that just because it’s expensive? And speaking of expensive, it’s on the reserve list. We all know how that’s been going recently.

$230 is certainly a tough buy-in, but look at the facts. LED is absurdly powerful. Dredge, the deck where LED does the most work, has been under pressure by DRS for something like six years, and it’s only been getting worse. That predator is now gone from the ecosystem. Nobody has been paying much attention to Dredge or LED because of all of this, but now they will. Oh also it’s good in Storm and other combo decks. And other playable RL cards are $400, $500, and more.


Bridge from Below (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

If LED is your go-all-out purchase based on this news, this is the more subdued choice. Like LED, I can (kind of) imagine Dredge decks that don’t run four Bridges, but I don’t know what universe that’s correct. Almost the entire reason to run Dredge strategies is the ability to flood the board with a bunch of zombie tokens on turn one or two, and Bridge is what enables that.

Bridge got a reprint, but that was all the way back in 2013, in the first Modern Masters. Remember that the original MMA had a much smaller print run than the following Masters sets. So while we’re not just looking at the original Future Sight copies, the additional supply from MMA is much less than if it were in MM2 or MM3. Also, Future Sight foils are something like $55, while MMA foils are a whole $10. That’s an appealing gap.

There’s maybe forty or fifty copies on TCG of the MMA Bridge foils right now, and I’m sure some more scattered about. These are a strict playset though, so forty copies is only ten players. Add in that the price ramps up to north of $15 after about three playsets, and it’s clear that there’s a strong possibility of growth on Bridges.


Pir, Imaginative Rascal (Foil)

Price Today: $13
Possible Price: $35

Legacy is the hot news of the day, but realistically, the DRS ban will matter to far fewer people than will sit down to play EDH at some point today, so we can’t forget about that format entirely. While I try to focus on new commanders, and the cards those new commanders shine a bright spotlight on, it’s important to remember that popular generals continue to be popular. Atraxa, for instance, is still the most built commander this month. All the staples of that deck are going to have been picked clean by now, but new cards to the strategy will present opportunities. And since the deck continues to be built on a weekly and monthly basis, new players to the strategy are implementing those new cards.

Battlebond brought Pir to the table for Atraxa. He’s a personal Hardened Scales, except that he works for all permanents. Which hey, means your planeswalkers get an additional counter every time you place a counter on them, which is the most popular build of Atraxa. And since Atraxa is all about populating counters, and each of those is a trigger, one turn with Pir in play does a lot of work.

Battlebond foils have been on fire recently, and I suspect any of them that are popular are going to end up fairly pricey, ala Conspiracy 2. Pir is going to be up there, since he slots so well into Atraxa, as well as does other things, like fetch Toothy. There aren’t that many pack foils on the market right now, and I expect there will be fewer, and they’ll be more expensive, in a few months.


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 6/25/18 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.


With Magic 2019 fully spoiled (I think), it’s clear that Wizards wants to make core sets relevant for players of each level of engagement. New world order is clear and obvious across the set at common and uncommon, helping function as the upper level of the new player onramp. Rares and mythics up the complexity a fair bit, and also work to include a handful of welcome reprints, not least among them Scapeshift and Crucible of Worlds. We’re also getting a new cycle of the original elder dragons, and they’re seemingly much less elder and much more dragon this time around.

Otherwise it’s business as usual for our types. Standard is dead and irrelevant, and M19 isn’t going to change that formula. Trying to scope out what will be important in the fall is tough, as the Kaladesh and Amonket blocks are over-represented relative to Ixalan, or so it seems, at least.

Eldrazi Monument

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

While I slept on Najeela at release, since I saw her as a Warrior tribal card, it’s become clear that the more relevant text is the second paragraph. Extra combat steps can get wild in EDH real fast, and when you combine that with the potential to just go infinite with the correct combination of creatures, it provides a top end that players can lean into if they so choose.

There are a multitude of ways to set up that combo in this deck, as is the case for all combos in EDH. One of those paths is with Bloom Tender. If you have all five colors represented amongst your permanents, one tap of Bloom Tender makes all the mana you need to activate Najeela, which means so long as you can tap Bloom Tender every attack, you can just go ham. Wouldn’t your opponent kill Bloom Tender on the first attack though? Of course they’ll try. But if their strategy is to kill it with blocks, indestructible puts an end to that real quick. How does one get indestructible not only on Bloom Tender, but ideally the whole team? Why, Eldrazi Monument!

Monument is great as a card you can slam and then immediately win the game; your opponents may realize that your victory is withheld because if you attack your team will die, only for you to plop this down and get in. It’s completely fine every other turn though, as you can play out Monument with a few creatures in play, and so long as you can generate warrior tokens or any other type of disposable creature, you can keep it up indefinitely. Basically what I’m saying is that ever Najeela deck should be running Monument.

Of course Monument isn’t limited to Najeela either, which is why it’s in 10,000 EDH decks. Originally from Zendikar, it’s shown up in Commander 2015, and Commander Anthologies recently. Overall supply on non-foils is short. We’re not talking about “gone twenty minutes after this goes live” short, but certainly “less than 20 copies by winter” is realistic. Especially if Najeela drives a new generation of EDH players to acquire copies. Foils are great too at $20, though there’s maybe six copies, so it didn’t feel worth writing about exclusively.


Tatyova, Benthic Druid (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

Dominaria hasn’t been out long, but Tatyova has made herself at home rapidly. According to EDHREC, she’s one of the most built commanders this week, and this month. (And has been since Dominaria released.) She’s not on the all-time list, but give it a few months. Dominaria came out like two months ago.

Not only has she proven a popular commander, but she’s showing up in countless lists as part of the 99. This isn’t surprising. Gaining life is good. Drawing cards is good. And if you’re in green, a lot of lands will enter the battlefield, so that will happen a lot. A lot of cards, a lot of life. All good.

Pack foils are around $4 to $5 today, and I’ll tell you this up front, supply is deep. Deeper than I typically allow for when considering cards to watch for. But this isn’t a pick of the week article, it’s a “cards to be aware of out there” article. Tatyova isn’t going to be $20 this year. But she’s going to get picked up by every single EDH player out there, possibly in multiples in many cases. That’s going to drain supply eventually, and suddenly you’ll end up with one of the most popular Simic cards in the format with a dwindling supply of foils.


Hermit Druid

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $15

Muldrotha, while only two months old, is working overtime to overtake Atraxa as the most-built commander ever. He’s consistently been the most popular daily and weekly commander since Dominaria hit the shelves. Sultai is the best color combo for EDH (that isn’t 4c or 5c), and best of all, he’s completely generic. Build a tribal deck, or an enchantment deck, or a cards with art that makes you question your stated sexuality deck. Really, whatever. He just lets you play anything you want over and over.

One card that’s going to be exceptional in this strategy is Hermit Druid. Longtime players know that name as a supremely degenerate combo piece. Druid was part of a combo that could kill on turn one (I believe) in Vintage way back. When Legacy was spun off of Vintage it banned Hermit Druid from the onset, and he’s been there ever since. You’ll also notice that you don’t hear his name come up in discussion of “what could be unbanned in Legacy?” very often, because most authors realize it’s not something that makes the format better by existing.

This isn’t about Legacy though, it’s about EDH, and the fact that one activation of Hermit Druid can be, with proper deck construction, something akin to “G, T: draw 20 cards.” Sure they’re not in your hand per se, but with Muldrotha in play, they basically are. Nothing in EDH has really leveraged Hermit Druid as well as Muldrotha does. Between how good he is here, how underutilized he’s been so far, and how popular Muldrotha appears to be, I’d say that Hermit Druid’s time is just about upon us. Weatherlight copies at $4 are going to be getting snapped up as more and more people get on the Muldrotha train, and those few $30 judge copies are awfully tempting to boot.


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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