Category Archives: Watchtower

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 7/17/17

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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 if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Hour of Devastation’s release weekend and the accompanying SCG event brought us a Standard format that, at least to those not glued to MTGO results, was fairly distinct from what we’ve been seeing. Sure, there were Mardu Vehicles, but there was also W/U Monument, B/G and Temur Energy, some zombies, and the winner was a Four-Color Control list that played…Dovin Baan? Huh?

Really though, the Standard results don’t mean too much for us at the time being. Seemingly more so than usual, these lists are heavy on rotating cards. Those W/U Monument decks are losing 20 of 24 creatures in the main. Emerge decks are losing all the card with emerge. Zombies are losing nearly all of their zombies. Vehicles hang on a little better, but they’re still losing Gideon, which has long been a key staple in the deck.

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Our best takeaway isn’t the decks themselves, but the cards. Find recurring themes, and cards that did well on camera. Then use this information to position ourselves well for the fall rotation.

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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 7/3/17

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 if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Starcitygame’s Invitational wrapped yesterday, and at the top of the pile stood…Modern Death and Taxes? Huh? It did well at Vegas not too long ago also. Is this deck…good? I refuse to believe it. There’s no way such a thing can possibly be a real strategy. It’s good against Death’s Shadow. That’s all I’m willing to accept. It’s been in the format forever, people have been trying to make it work for just as long, and the only reason it’s seeing any success now is because it’s a useful metagame predator.

There’s not a lot to work with there either, as best as I can tell. It’s not so much that the individual cards are basically bad (they are) or that there’s multiple printings of everything (there is), it’s that the cards don’t have any other homes, and their current home is not going to be a dominant force in the meta. Blade Splicer has never been less than a four-of in the deck, but where else are you seeing that card played? Leonin Arbiter, Mirran Crusader, Thalia — there’s nowhere else these are seeing play, which limits their desirability considerably.

Other than that, Hour of Devastation previews wrapped up last week. James and I covered most of it over on MTG Fast Finance; take a listen there for our full opinions. That will be hitting shelves shortly, just in time for everybody to stop playing Magic because the weather is nice.

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Matter Reshaper (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

One of the takeaways from this SCG Invitational is that Eldrazi Tron is beyond a (death’s) shadow of a doubt a top-tier contender in Modern. It was everywhere, both in the Invitational lists as well as the Open lists. It’s unlikely the deck will get any new tools for awhile, but it doesn’t matter, because the ones it got in Oath of the Gatewatch are so potent to begin with.

Last week, Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher foils jumped from $10 or so. They’re hanging around in the low $20s at the moment, and supply is quite low. I’m expecting these to pull to $30 soon. They’re the banner threats in the deck, and certainly the powerhouses of the strategy.

Thought TKS and Smasher are frequently the cards that get your opponent dead, Matter Reshaper is right behind them in a supporting role in virtually all successful lists. With an Eldrazi Temple he comes down on turn two, provides a respectable clock, and most importantly, there’s few clean ways to answer the card. A Path to Exile gets rid of Reshaper without providing additional advantage to your opponent, but Fatal Push, a major newcomer to Modern, still provides the trigger. This type of additional card resource in a deck that generally doesn’t play much in the way of raw card draw is remarkably useful, in the same way that similar effects in red decks are always put to good use.

With foils of both TKS and Smasher moving strong recently, and inventory of Reshaper thin as it is, this seems set up to cruise to $20 easily within the year.


Eldrazi Temple (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $30

Sorry to back-to-back Eldrazi specs, but what do you want from me. It’s been a consistently strong deck even after the bannings, and the prices aren’t yet reflective of its competency and power.

What makes Eldrazi Temple even more appealing than some of the other options therein is that it’s more flexible than, say, Reality Smasher. Nobody is ever going to play Reality Smasher without Temple, right? But you’ll certainly see Temple show up places without Smasher. Certain stripes of Death and Taxes that employed Wasteland Strangler ran it. Legacy Eldrazi decks have used it. It’s good in any wacky Eldazi deck that plays, you know, the real Eldrazi. Basically it’s the same concept as TKS and Smasher, except even more prevalent.

Without a doubt the largest knock against Temple is that it was reprinted in MM15, but that’s rapidly becoming less of an issue. It’s now been two years since that reprinting, and the excess supply has been absorbed by the market. Foil prices are shoring up and supply is dwindling, and after the egg-on-the-face moment that the most recent Eldrazi were, we’re unlikely to see Wizards eager to return to that particular tribe any time soon. There’s an ample supply of non-foil copies, so Wizards is probably safe to leave these alone for at least a year or two.

In that time, I fully expect foils to climb. It’s always a four-of, it’s a top-tier Modern deck, and there’s demand for Temple from all sorts of other places across the Magic spectrum.


Anointed Procession (Foil)

Price Today: $9
Possible Price: $20

Modern specs tend to draw my attention most frequently, since they often have the shortest time from purchase to liquidation, or at least, it feels that way. EDH hits are undeniably one of the best investment vehicles in the game though, and the rash of Inventions spiking is in no small part due to that. After all, Modern players aren’t the ones shelling out $200 for an Inventions Sol Ring.

Anointed Procession is the latest “duh” EDH card, as it’s the white Doubling Season. This means that A. GW decks get both cards, and B. decks without green (they exist, I swear) now have access to not quite a facsimile, but something close enough. If there’s one thing EDH players love — LOVE — to do, it’s poop out tokens. And double them. They even got a cool new tool in Hour of Devastation; God-Pharoah’s GIft. (Which could end up a Standard card itself, and my god, is it possible Anointed Procession could end up Standard playable in a deck piloted by someone other than Sam Black?)

Non-foil copies of Procession are in the $4+ range as it is, which amazingly enough, makes it the most valuable rare in Amonkhet! That’s nuts. With demand this high, there’s no way vendors can keep any copies in stock. Foil supply has got to be drying up rapidly.


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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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 6/26/17

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 if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Grand Prix Cleveland was a GP For Magic players in the same way that Eric Warheim is a comedian’s comedian. That is to say, it was limited. It was also a fairly quiet weekend overall. GP Vegas and the massive spoiler week were both in the rear view mirror, and there weren’t any further leaks of cards, meaning nothing new really broke out or spiked.

Perhaps most interestingly at the moment is the leaked Ixalan (ix-a-lon) sheet that reveals that planeswalkers are getting the ‘legendary’ supertype. Two possibilities exist here. The simpler of the two is that Wizards is bringing consistency to their card types. Since planeswalkers already behave in the same fashion as other legendary permanents, it makes sense they should have the same supertype. The other, less-occam’s-razor possibility is that they’re adding the supertype in order to set up a rules change in Commander that allows for all planeswalkers to be your general. That’s certainly more of a stretch, but it’s exciting to think about, no? Boy you thought Doubling Season was expensive before…

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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 6/19/17

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 if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Man, #GPVegas, right? I’m on about four hours of sleep right now, and I’d imagine anyone else that attended is in the same boat. Some Invocations were spoiled. Inventions Engineered Explosives was bought out. The Modern GP had a wacky top eight. Everyone who knew what they were doing spent way too much money on food and loved it. But man this Monday sucks.

Leonin Arbiter (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Inexplicably, there were two Hatebears decks in the top eight of Vegas. I’m not exactly clear on how that happened. Nevertheless, here we are. Hatebears has been a permanent fixture in the tier 2.5 bracket of Modern, and this weekend we saw that even mediocre decks can occasionally overperform.

There’s certainly a subset of players that enjoy this strategy, and that will continue to be true so long as you can attempt to tax and needle players out of the game. People were doing this with Maverick in Legacy six years ago, and the strategy is still around and kicking today.

Leonin Arbiter is a permanent fixture in Modern D&T, and while normally I wouldn’t be keen on cards from a semi-niche strategy like this, Arbiter has now gone quite awhile without a reprint, and I wouldn’t say Wizards is gunning to print him again. He could show up in Iconic Masters or Masters 25 of course, but it would be one of those “well I guess” reprints, rather than a “we need to put this somewhere.”

There are a few foils at $10, and putting two copies into the top of Vegas is likely to inspire more people to move into the deck, as it’s a sort of validation of the strategy’s competency and competitiveness. I’m not sure that’s true, mind you, but it will read that way to some. In any case, $10 for foil staple in a tier two-ish deck that’s now pushing seven years old isn’t a bad pickup. Sales of just a few playsets would put this firmly in the $20 range.


Dictate of Kruphix (Game Day)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

I’d say there were two exciting things to see in the Modern GP, and UB Taking Turns was one of them. It was certainly a wild list, with specific quantities that appear to be tested. Does that mean it’s actually a good deck, rather than just someone that got lucky at the wrong tables in Vegas? Maybe. The tools for some sort of turbofog list are basically all there, and it’s a strategy that has been successful in other formats multiple times. Death’s Shadow existed for years without anyone discovering it; the same could be true here.

Whenever a deck like this pops up on the radar, a small rush of players look to pick it up. Time Warp and Temporal Mastery would typically be the cards most poised to jump in price, but there’s suppressing factors. Mastery was just reprinted in MM3, and while it’s been longer for Warp, there are still four printings out there with well over 200 copies available. Part the Waterveil was just printed and has a huge stock. Exhaustion has 1,000 printings. (Although I went looking for 9th Edition foils, and I cannot find a single copy anywhere at any price.) Howling Mine is the same. I figured normal Dictates would be a good place to start, but there are 250 copies on TCG alone. Maybe eventually, but that day is not today, and it’s the type of card Wizards will reprint off-cycle.

I had forgotten there was a Game Day promo of Dictate though, and it’s sweet looking. A quick check sees just 24 vendors on TCG with copies. That’s a number I like to see. Over on EDHREC Dictate shows up in over 4,000 decks, which puts it on the list of most popular EDH cards in the last year. That’s another number I like to see.

Copies are available right around $4, and UB Taking Turns or not, that number is going to rise eventually. This Modern deck is only going to expedite that.


Chief Engineer (Game Day)

Price Today: $1.75
Possible Price: $8

UB Taking Turns was the first interesting thing at the Modern GP; “Blue Steel” is the other one. Zac Elsik, with such credits as Lantern Control and Nourshing Shoal Goryo’s, showed up with a Grand Architect aggro deck. He did not design it, mind you — please don’t yell at me in the comments that he stole the idea — he just tweaked it, and performed reasonably well with it, with a final finish of 11-4. (With three losses to Eldrazi Tron, apparently.)

Grand Architect is certainly where you may want to look first, but the time for that was a few weeks (or years) ago. At this point, that ship has sailed. Lodestone Golem has too many printings and too little demand. Master of Etherium is already pricey. Smuggler’s Copter is too new. Chief Engineer was printed in Commander 2016. But — just like Dictate of Kruphix — I forgot there was a game day promo of this guy.

With over 2,000 EDH decks running Chief Engineer, there’s clearly demand. For reference, there are 2,200 Breya decks in the REC file. He should also be an auto-include in just about any deck with an artifact theme. And, again, cool looking Game Day promo that’s never showing up again.

You can snag these for around $2 right now, less if you get lucky. There aren’t too many out there though. Most major vendors are out of stock or low supply, and TCG is down to 50 sellers. That’s not miniscule, but it’s not a large reserve either. I’m not expecting a sudden buyout on this unless the deck top eights another SCG Open or Grand Prix in the near future, but pressure on supply will definitely be constant, and there’s no more copies coming.


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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