Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 6/11/18 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.


Comedy is looking at the results of the SCG Con ‘No Ban List Modern’ event. First place? Eldrazi. Not Cloudpost Eldrazi either. Just…Eldrazi. Like, nearly card-for-card that Eldrazi lists from Eldrazi Winter a few years ago. They tossed in two Umezawa’s Jittes and that was basically the only difference between this totally unchained, absolute most monstrous deck one could assemble with the Modern card pool, and what people were showing up to FNM with in February 2016. Awesome. Oh and also like ten of the top sixteen decks were Eldrazi too so that’s something. What’s even funnier is that second place is honest to god Miracles, which isn’t even legal in Legacy anymore. Hell of an event.

Champion of Lambholt (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

Champion of Lambholt has been a quiet favorite of mine for awhile. Sure you can put Craterhoof Behemoth into play and just smush everyone’s faces into the mud, but sometimes that doesn’t work for a variety of reasons. They counter Behemoth, or you can’t get the mana together, or they counter the trigger, whatever. Champion works from the other direction; rather than coming down as one big spell to wipe away the game, Champion builds up over two or three turns to grow from an unassuming three mana 1/1 to a 10/10 that makes your entire team unblockable.

It’s taken awhile to really burn through the stock of Champion. It was released in Avacyn Restored (and is still the only foil), and EDH wasn’t quite as popular back then. As EDH has grown Champion has been picked up by those in the know, that were playing long enough to spot it and recognize it for how good it could become. Supply has finally just about emptied, and we’re going to see this restock a good bit higher once all the $5 copies are gone.

It’s got all the ideal markings of a valuable EDH foil. A single foil printing, six years old, and over 10,000 EDH decks. To add fuel to the fire she’s also a warrior, and guess what was just printed? A 5c warrior legend that wants to attack and has been one of the most built commanders of the last week? Lambholt’s Champion’s time has come.


Fellwar Stone

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $50

In the last few days, some readers have pointed out on Twitter that there’s a growing 93/94 EDH scene. That’s exactly what it sounds like; EDH played with cards legal in 93/94. Those sets, in case you weren’t clear, are the following:

Limited Edition Alpha
Limited Edition Beta
Unlimited
Arabian Nights
Antiquities
Legends
The Dark
Fallen Empires

Alpha and Beta cards are obviously already insane, so if we want to think about where to start, it wouldn’t be there. Rather our best bet is going to be between Unlimited and The Dark; sets with remarkably low supply that don’t have quite the same name recognition as Alpha and Beta. Furthermore, we would want to consider cards that may not already be amazing in 93/94, but would be stellar in an EDH format. We already know what’s good in normal EDH, so that should help direct our attention with this fledgling format.

If you’ve played EDH a single time you know what the most popular cards in that format are — mana rocks. They’re played in every single deck, and they do a ton of work. Every deck starts with them. Given that, what mana rocks are available to 93/94?

Well, Mana Vault, but those are like $100 for Unlimited copies so uhh, forget it. Fellwar Stone isn’t as obscene in terms of power level, but it’s also only $10 to $15 for NM The Dark copies. If this format sees even a modicum of popularity, that price will absolutely not hold steady. Will 93/94 EDH become a thing? I don’t know. But if it does, colorless mana rocks are going to be right along for the ride.


Barl’s Cage

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $30

Keeping on the 93/94 EDH train, I’d also like to look at Barl’s Cage. Don’t bother reading the card text on Cage — or any card from The Dark, for that matter. Just read the oracle: {3}: Target creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step. Notice there’s no tap ability on there either, just pay three, you don’t untap. You can’t keep something tapped for multiple turns by choosing not to untap it ala Tawnos’ Coffin, but you can hit multiple creatures every turn, so it’s roughly a wash I’d say.

Cage is colorless, which means every deck gets to play it, which is a big deal. Take a look at the quantities of cards played in a single color relative to artifacts and you’ll see the difference. Eternal Witness is one of the most played cards in normal EDH at like 50,000, while Sol Ring is at just about 200,000. Lightning Greaves, the second most-played colorless identity card, is over 80,000. Colorless matters when considering EDH adoption rates.

Cage also strikes me as appealing because the overall creature quality in 93/94 is terrible overall. There simply isn’t a depth of useful creatures in the format. Creatures were a bad card type in Magic for a long time. A few existed, but overall, there’s no depth to that pool. As such, Cage being able to tap down one to two creatures means it can squash possibly all of the creatures worth attacking with. Compare that to this type of effect in regular EDH, where any one of ten creatures in play at any time can be remarkably dangerous.

At $1 for The Dark copies, if you think 93/94 EDH is going to go somewhere, you can’t find a better position.


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 6/4/18 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.


Typically, this is where I would talk about the Pro Tour that wrapped up about 15 hours ago. We’d look at dominant archetypes, scour them for keystone cards, and try to identify potential pillars of the new Standard in October.

Except that the Pro Tour was a wasteland. Look at the top performing Standard decks — Mono-Red Aggro, Red-Black Aggro, Red Vehicles, Red Menance, Red Scare, Red Square, Seeing Red, Redoubled Efforts, uhh, RedderRabbit.

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There isn’t even any blood in the stone that is the control lists. I was all set to look for key UW Control cards, except that the first Ravnica set won’t have Azorious — they’re getting Dimir instead. Which means Teferi, and Lyra, and History of Benalia may not be part of the control archetype. Instead we should be focusing on the black control cards, since that’s the strategy that’s getting paid. Once Standard prices deflate over the summer, mid-August perhaps, it will be worth trying to find opportunities. Until then though, we’re going to be focusing on EDH, maybe the reserve list, and Modern, should the opportunity arise.

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Swiftfoot Boots (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

First up this week is Lightning Greaves’ cousin, Swiftfoot Boots. A touch more expensive in the activation cost, but that’s because you get to upgrade from shroud to hexproof, which is not a negligible difference, as any equipment-themed deck will tell you.

Swiftfoot Boots is the third most played artifact that isn’t a signet. It goes Sol Ring, Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots. 72,000 decks, according to EDHREC. That’s, as they say, “an assload of decks.” I do not need to give you more reasons why you should believe me that this is a desirable, in-demand card.

Boots have been reprinted a lot. After their initial run in Magic 2012, they were in Commander 2013. And Commander 2014. And Commander 2015. And Commander 2016. And Commander 2017. And then Masters 25. You’ll notice that only two of those have foil printings — the original Magic 2012 run, and now Masters 25. People that didn’t want to spend $15 on foil M12 copies got a break with M25, since they’re now down around $5. That’s where we are now, and it’s not going to last. Pick up your foil M25 copies before they’re $15.


Kodama’s Reach (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

Cultivate is the most played sorcery in EDH. The second most played is Kodama’s Reach, which is the original version of the functional reprint that is Cultivate. Kodama’s Reach is like Swiftfoot boots. It has its original foil printing, a zillion Commander printings, and a second foil printing. (Although the order is a bit difference I believe.) Point being that there’s two foil copies of Kodama’s Reach – the original Kamigawa one, and the Modern Masters one.

I do not need to tell you that neither Champions of Kamigawa nor Modern Masters are recent sets. Modern Masters was 2013, and Champions of Kamigawa is even older than that. And without any more Masters sets on the horizon, there are basically no foil reprint venues on the table right now. This year’s core set I guess? That’s it though.

You’ll find roughly ten foil MMA printings of Kodama’s Reach on TCG right now, and zero — yes, zero — NM foil Champions copies. Of a card in 45,000 EDH decks.


Command Tower (CMA)

Price Today: $60
Possible Price: $100

We’ll wrap up the week with a bigger ticket item. Command Tower is the most played land in EDH, behind only basic lands. (Amusingly enough, none are played in 100% of decks they could be). Like Kodama’s Reach and Swiftfoot Boots, it’s found in nearly every Commander set. Anyone building an EDH deck is going to get to the mana base, and there’s a good chance the first card the scribble down on the back of the Denny’s napkin is “Command Tower.” Its utility only continues to grow, as we see more viable five-color decks enter the fray in the way of Ramos, Dragon Engine and Jodah.

There’s two foil copies of Command Tower available. One is the judge promo, which is fairly cool. Fairly. But honestly, not as cool as the Commander’s Arsenal printing. The judge promo has the original art, which is, come on, just not that cool. Sort of a bland…tower. While the Commander’s Arsenal printing isn’t blowing anyone away, it’s at least got some color in it, which is an improvement over the judge copies.

In any case, judge copies, where you can find them, are $100 or more. Commander’s Arsenal copies, of which there are like six available, are between $60 and $70. Probably not going to be long before that gap closes and both copies end up at $120.


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 5/29/18 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.


I don’t know about you guys, but I was glad to have a long weekend away from Magic. Putting everything aside for several days to sit out on a lake and never think about anything important is necessary occasionally. What’s less necessary is eating the entire 96 hours that you’re gone and making yourself sick constantly with all the garbage. That’s the real Magic finance, right there. Not making yourself sick on Memorial Day with brownies.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled (Foil)

Price Today: $9
Possible Price: $15

Game Knights, the Commander focused video series put out by Josh Lee Kwai and Jimmy Wong, has become fairly popular, to the point that they’re able to influence card prices with the content produced (unintentionally, of course). Most recently an Atheros deck utilizing Shadowborn Apostle appeared on an episode, and now suddenly Athreos is one of the most-built decks on EDHREC this week. Let me know the next time you’re going to do this, Josh.

Browsing Athreos, Ob Nixlis (the Unshackled one) jumped out at me. Ob Nix is deliciously obnoxious in EDH, chunking players for a whopping ten damage every time they search. Opponents that aren’t dumb as bricks typically aren’t going to be losing much life to this, since they’re not going to be casting Rampant Growth if it costs two mana and ten life, but you do get to basically Mindlock Orb the table. Such an effect will vary between annoying and debilitating, depending on what strategy your opponents are employing.

Ol’ Shakleless came around in Magic 2015, and not since, which makes him about four years old now. That was before every card could show up as a prerelease promo, which means the only foil copies were pack foils. That foil supply has dried up fierce, and the few copies that are left will run you about $8 to $9. Once those last few copies get snapped up, we should see foils land comfortably in the $15 to $20 range.


Kambal, Consul of Allocation (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $15

Another nugget on the Athreos page is Kambal, Consul of Allocation. Kambal is especially juicy because he’s flying under the radar in two formats, not just one.

Obviously he’s useful in EDH; that’s how we found him. He clocks in at just a scoch under 5,000 EDH decks, which is a respectable volume, if not overwhelming. Needling players the table round for only three mana is something that all those Rhystic Study players will enjoy thoroughly when their deck doesn’t have access to blue. As long as players in EDH cast noncreature spells there will be room for Kambal in the format, so uh, he’s not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, Kambal has been doing work in Modern too. You’ll find him in sideboards in Humans, Mardu Pyromancer, Eldrazi Aggro, and various other brews. He’s something of a Eidolon of Great Revel, except not in red. For a deck that’s trying to get low to the ground and then make it difficult for opponents to get back in the game, Kambal is an excellent angle of attack. At worst he’s a three mana flag bearer that also drains your opponent for two, and that’s if the very first spell they cast is removal targeted at Kambal. Any other spell they cast first is gravy.

You’ll find a couple more copies than Ob Nixilis on the market, but we’re not talking about hundreds. There’s twenty or thirty floating around on TCG right now, which isn’t red alert levels of supply. It’s like, orange alert? It’s blackwatch plaid alert. It’s “people are going to keep picking these up for Modern and in a few months they’ll be over $10” alert.


Hostage Taker

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $12

As we enter June (the month), we find ourselves hitting the nadir of Magic prices. Summer is always a slog for basically every price index in the game. People simply don’t think about or play as much Magic when it’s nice out. Friday nights people want to be grilling, at the beach, at the park, and generally somewhere other than humid, never-air-conditioned card stores. I’ve memories of sticking to tables trying to play in July and August and it was miserable.

Point being that cards that will hold double digit prices in the fall can be quite cheap right now, as everyone ignores them and goes off and does other things. Speaking of which, remember when Hostage Taker was $15 and one of the best cards in Standard? That may come to be true again! We don’t know yet. Hour of Devastation gods will be absent, of course, so exiling Scarab God won’t be as crucial, but that doesn’t mean she won’t have plenty of targets. Depending on what Ravnica brings us, the exile ability may be especially useful once more.

Prices on Hostage taker have cratered, thanks in part to a shifting metagame and the time of the year. Come this fall, if things break a specific way — that’s an if, by the way, not a when — prices could skyrocket north of $10. Keep an eye on Hostage Taker and any Ravnica leaks; Hostage Taker may once again have her time in the sun.


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 5/21/18 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.


In what may be the strangest announcement day so far, we heard nothing about any future Masters sets and nothing about Commander. We did get a single spoiler for Battlebond — which has full spoilers starting today — news that there’s a three set Ravnica block this fall (which we all knew already), and finally that China is getting its own Standard format. Huh? Announcement day should be exciting and build hype for things to come. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that literally nothing here was set up to make people excited about the next six months of Magic.

History of Benalia

Price Today: $19
Possible Price: $40

Losing Masterpieces has had at least one benefit for our types; Standard prices aren’t flattened nearly as hard as they were over the last few years. No longer are high value bonus cards shackling singles prices to an average price closer to $50 or $60 a box. Now they can stretch up towards $80 and $90, which means the highest demand cards can really stretch. Just take a look at Karn and his $60 price tag.

While Karn has been the quickest and biggest winner, there’s still room for others. We’ve seen Teferi, Lyra, and History of Benalia pick up ground too. My suspicion today is that of those, History of Benalia still has room to grow, as odd as that may seem.

Looking through a variety of Standard results, you’ll see that nearly every deck with white in it is playing Benalia. And not just one or two either, typically all four. Walking around the floor of GP Toronto I saw the same thing; knight tokens galore. History of Benalia is shaping up to be one of the best cards in Standard. If you’re control, it provides another strong axis to attack on. If you’re aggro, it’s hard to find a better use of three mana. And if white midrange shows up, I expect it will be useful there as well.

Twenty dollars isn’t a cheap buy-in price for a Standard mythic. But we’re seeing that singles prices are very different in a post-Masterpieces world. When this October rolls around and 45% of decks are running a playset of Benalia, it’s not going to be $20.


Mycoloth (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $20

Dominaria brought with it several appealing new appealing new commanders, including the (literally) dank Slimefoot. The Saproling King, Slimefoot has given new life to an array of saproling-related cards that had otherwise languished in obscurity, Elvish Farmer chief among them. Then there’s Mycoloth.

Mycoloth is found in 10,500 EDHREC decks. That puts it in the top 50 or so most played green cards. Considering the competition, that’s impressive, especially since you probably didn’t realize how popular Mycoloth is. I sure didn’t. Not only is Mycoloth remarkably popular, but he (it) was popular long before Slimefoot made the scene. Which means we’ve got a strong base of popularity to start with, and now we’re throwing fuel on the fire.

You can find some — very few — foils around $6 right now. They’ll be gone in short order and then foils will post up in the $15 to $25 range, where they’ll sit until the return of devour, whenever that is. It’s not looking to happen anytime soon.


Grand Abolisher (Foil)

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $50

While I didn’t realize Mycoloth was so popular, I knew Grand Abolisher is. Making everyone shut up while you take your turn is great in all decks, and especially so in others, where you’re able to execute your combos in relative peace. Nice Path to Exile you’ve got stranded in your hand, idiot!

While non-foil reprints have shown up three or four times now, there’s still only a single foil copy available; the Magic 2012 printing. Those came out in 2011, which means this June or July Grand Abolisher will turn seven years old. How time flies, eh? Since then, Grand Abolisher has ended up as the 11th most played white card in Commander. What a fun coincidence this year; born in 2011 and now he’s 11th.

There’s a handful of foils still floating around at $20, and given how old Abolisher is, and how popular he’s been for so long, we aren’t going to see any more flooding the market. These will continue to get snagged, and then the cards just going to be $40 or $50 and we’ll all just say “oh, ok.” So if you’re interested in abolishing at a great rate, don’t sleep on this guy.


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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