Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 9/17/18 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.


Guilds of Ravnica spoilers march on, and everyone is having a grand ol’ time with what we’re seeing each day. No question that the top card of the set so far is Assassin’s Trophy, the new Abrupt Decay that destroys any permanent (then gives back via Path to Exile). Expect to see the ripples of Trophy in every format beyond Standard. Modern, Legacy, EDH, cube, and possibly even Vintage will have cause to care about an unconditional two-mana removal spell that gets rid of absolutely anything. Time to pick up a few more copies of your favorite basics, because every deck is going to need a few extra in the new Trophy meta.

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The Watchtower 9/10/18 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.


PAX brought with it a tasty bag of Ravnica spoilers, which held us over until today, when they begin in earnest. I suspect we’ll get another Planeswalker, or one of the banner mythics, as Rosewater typically gets to show those off. I’m not anticipating anything that’s going to send me to TCGPlayer to pick up Standard cards, as that’s a market that’s felt like a fool’s game for years now. Those possibilities exist, but the more likely result is that I go looking for Modern cards. Some new rare or mythic that turns on a long-forgotten Kamigawa rare for a two-card combo is basically the dream scenario in spoiler season. A spell that creates an infinite loop with One With Nothing? I’m in.

World Shaper (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

This year’s slate of Commander decks continues to provide opportunities for growth. They’re holding consistent popularity week after week, having pushed Atraxa out of the top slot for the longest period of time since she was released, I believe. They’re doing far better than the tribal decks from last year, that’s for sure.

Of them, Lord Windgrace appears to be the most popular. Aminatou is close, but “lands matter” is just a theme too tempting for most. All the usual suspects are there — Gitrog Monster, Oracle of Mul Daya, Courser of Kruphix, Ramunap Excavator, etc. Joining the crew is relative newcomer World Shaper.

World Shaper came to us in Rivals of Ixalan, so he’s only been around since January. That hasn’t slowed his adoption rate though. He’s up to nearly 2,000 EDHREC lists, which is a respectable number for a card that’s only been around a few months. More impressively is that his stock numbers are depleting rapidly. There’s a handful of foils on TCG right now, and other than that? Basically nada. A card that can easily return five to fifteen permanents from your graveyard to your battlefield at instant speed (assuming you have a sac outlet) is absurd in decks that can abuse it, and solidly reasonable everywhere else. Grab copies at $4 and $5 now before they’re over $10 in 2019.

Blighted Woodland (Foil)

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

Long-time EDH players will remember Krosan Verge, a dumb land that lets you tutor for a forest and a plains, which most noteworthy did not need to be basic. Go find a Tropical Island and a Scrubland! Then get the Verge back and do it again! EDH is a great format. Blighted Woodland continues that tradition, just more reasonably.

Krosan Verge foils cost about $30, if you can manage to find one. I see one hiding out at SCG right now, but TCG has none. Where you will find Krosan Verge is roughly 11,000 EHREC lists. Meanwhile, you’ll find Blighted Woodland in nearly 15,000 lists. Yep. Despite something like 8 reprints on Krosan Verge, Blighted Woodland has found its way into more lists. Wild.

Of course, that raises the question of why a single-printed foil land in 15,000 lists is still $2. The obvious answer is “it shouldn’t be.” Plan accordingly.


Grim Backwoods (Foil)

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $10

Remember about forty seconds ago, when you were reading about having an instant way to kill your World Shaper? Hey, look at that! A good instant-speed way to kill your World Shaper with no opportunity cost!

In the same way that Blighted Woodland is a revisited and “fixed” Krosan Verge, Grim Backwoods is a revisited and I guess “adjusted” Miren, the Moaning Well. Sure, Greater Good gives you as many activations as you want for the same mana cost, and can also draw you a lot more cards depending on the creature, but that’s not the whole story. The rest of that story is that there is a boatload of enchantment destruction in EDH and it’s easy for Greater Good to get wiped out. It’s much less likely (although certainly not impossible, depending on how rude your playgroup is vis a vis Strip Mine and Crucible of Worlds) that your Grim Backwoods is going to get wiped out. Also, just run both.

Grim Backwoods has a single foil printing, and like Blighted Woodland, has gotten several reprints — including in Lord Windgrace. If Krosan Verge tells us anything, it’s that Wizards will be happy to reprint utility lands like this until there’s no paper left on planet Earth, but they’re going to be non-foil every time. That leaves a humongous opportunity for grabbing cheap foils. This could see an honest to god ten times multiplier within several months to a 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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The Watchtower 9/3/18 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.


Wizards used PAX as a big jumping off point for Ravnica’s Return (or whatever), as they normally do, and we got a pile of spoilers. Shocklands are back, just in case anyone was nervous. Convoke is the only returning mechanic (making me unsure of what to do with my Chord of Callings and having very little time to decide), and there are some cool looking basics. Other than that it looks like a fairly standard Standard set so far. Oh yeah, and also, there’s a new Masterpieces set too. They’re part of a separate product which contains eight boosters and one of each of the planeswalkers. For the privilege, you’ll pay $250, only through the Hasbro Toy Shop website. You know that one that crashes every time the SDCC promos come out because it can’t handle more than forty concurrent buyers?

Carnage Tyrant

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $30

We’ll begin by starting off this week with something I do rarely; talking about Standard cards. I know people are jazzed about the PAX spoilers though, and want to know what they mean for FNM’s favorite format. You probably didn’t see anything that made Carnage Tyrant look good, so let me explain.

Saffron made what I assume was a not-entirely-serious tweet regarding one of the newly spoiled cards, Quasiduplicate. It creates a token of a creature you control (ala Cackling Counterpart) for three mana. It also has Jump-start, the new Izzet keyword. Jump-start lets cast the spell from your graveyard by paying its mana cost, exiling it, and discarding a card. He pointed out that a strong line of play will be Carnage Tyrant on turn four (after ramping twice), then Quasiduplicate into Jump-start Quasiduplicate on turn five.

My suspicion is that this line of play is actually quite reasonable, and could in fact drive demand for Carnage Tyrant up significantly. Casting Tyrant on turn four means you need to ramp on turns two and three. That’s generally the play for a green ramp strategy; ramp for two turns, then start playing out nasty threats. Ramp strategies suffer a fatal flaw though. Most every card in the deck is either ramp or threat. A or B. Gas, or gas pedal. The issue lies in drawing too much gas, or too much pedal. Too much of one and not enough of the either means you’re not doing anything. And until they start printing modal spells that are either Rampant Growth or 8/8s, it will continue to be a structural problem with the strategy in general.

Where Quasiduplicate, and other spell-jack cards come in is bridging that gap. Spell-jack turns your ramp into late-game utility. Those Llanowar Elves and Rampant Growths that you draw on turn seven can now actually do something for you if you’ve got a Spell-jack card floating around. Allowing your ramp spells to play double duty may smooth enough of the rough spots of Go Big strategy to be a contender in Standard. Especially with a threat as potent as Carnage Tyrant. And what will the other Spell-jack spells look like? Something that draws cards with the ability would be fantastic. A four-mana divination isn’t good in most decks, but if you’re ramping on turn one or two, you can still play it on three, and then being able to run it back on turn six or seven by pitching a Rampant Growth is going to be big game.

Tyrant is a savage card, and popular to boot: he’s $15 to $17 as the 35th most popular creature in Standard. That’s awfully far down the list. Clearly there’s a lot of existing demand from casual level players keeping that price popped up. Add in any meaningful Standard relevance and we’ll see a meteoric rise.

Hallowed Fountain (MSP)

Price Today: $110
Possible Price: $200

With the return of shocklands, attention will be paid anew to the Expeditions series. Several years old now, these have had time to hit the market, pop, deflate, flatline, and bleed out of inventories again. To wit: all the shocks have climbed towards $100, and Bloodstained Mire, a fetch I picked up for about $85 to $90 three or four years ago, is now about $175. Across the board, this particular tide has lifted.

I went looking for an oddly under-priced shockland that I could recommend, preferably one that was 20 or 40% less than its peers. Unfortunately, there just isn’t any wiggle room. They’re all firmly at $90 or more, with no stragglers. So instead of picking out the one that’s under-priced relative to its peers, we’ll go the other direction. Assuming a relatively neutral starting position, which one is poised to jump the highest?

With Teferi reigning over Standard, Azorius is going to be the tribe to beat. Even if they aren’t in the initial slate of guilds, he alone will provide enough strength that other builds will warp to include him. With both Dimir and Izzet in the first set, I suspect we’ll see Teferi splashed into one of their shells. Either way, they’re going to want Fountain for the white.

If the shockland Expeditions can sit at $100 to $120 since January on Modern demand alone, they can easily push towards $200 with new and real demand. The biggest format in Magic suddenly making players care about them, now that they’re several years old, is going to drive a lot of players to consider picking them up. Even if only .001% of FNM players look into buying Expeditions, that’s still hundreds, if not thousands of players. There’s four copies on TCGPlayer right now.


Mina and Denn, Wildborn (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $15

While I wouldn’t have predicted it, this pair has become wildly popular in EDH. They’re in 6,000 EDH decks already, despite having basically a single relevant line of text. (And one that isn’t even all that impressive, honestly.) How often are you really giving something trample? It can’t be that often, right? That doesn’t really matter all that much in EDH, unless you’ve got some infinite/infinite shenanigans going on. I don’t know, I’ve never considered trample that significant in EDH. Maybe I’m foolish.

Regardless, the pair is certainly popular. And with Lord Windgrace’s arrival, they’ve only become moreso. At time of publication, we’re looking at 15 foil copies on TCG. One of which is already $10. Someone already bought out prerelease foils, so there isn’t anything left there. Why would you buy out prerelease foils and not the pack ones? I don’t know. But they did. This isn’t an unfounded play to make a $.50 foil $5 either. Pack foils have been hanging around $2 to $2.50 virtually since they were printed. Once Windgrace was printed, popularity picked up, as now there’s a legitimate tier one (popularity, not quality) EDH deck that wants a copy.

In any case, Windgrace shows no sign of slowing down. That’s on par with what we would expect, too. This year’s commanders should remain quite popular at least up through Christmas or so, especially so if they’re actually good and fun, which by all accounts they appear to be. So long as this steady flow of demand from the notoriously slow-to-move EDH crowd continues, these foils are going to keep disappearing.


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 8/27/18 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.


If Grand Prix Prague accomplished anything, it was letting us all know that Modern is still a vibrant format ripe for disruption. Hardened Scales Affinity did well last weekend, and it secured another top 8 in Prague, which is roughly the amount of success you need before the deck is worth considering beyond a statistical aberration. I can’t promise you that it will gain mainstream traction, but it’s cool to consider at least.

UW Control was all over the top 32 slots, with Jace and Teferi teaming up in something I imagine DeviantArt will reimagine as a hunky buddy cop duo. While they couldn’t crack the final tables, 8 of the 9th to 32nd place decks were some form of the UW control deck featuring the pair. Control decks by their very nature need to shift and evolve to meet the threats of the weekend, though there’s typically a core of cards that gives the deck its power. Jace and Teferi may be that core, and this may be the vehicle which delivers unto Modern the JtMS deck it’s been waiting for.

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Jace, the Mind Sculptor (Masters 25 Foil)

Price Today: $140
Possible Price: $200

As I mentioned in the intro, UW control had a big weekend. At the helm of every instance of the deck was Jace and Teferi. The pair were what enabled pilots to gain a stranglehold on the game and lock opponents out of coming back. Jace has been dancing in and out of Modern since he was unbanned, and this may be the deck that cements him as a pillar.

Worldwake foils have been infinity dollars since forever, and the Masters 25 and Eternal Masters printings didn’t change that. EMA hit the scene at around $300, and after dropping off towards $140, jumped hard ahead of M25 (lol) and has settled right around $200. M25 copies, meanwhile, started just over $160 and have dropped as low as $140 in some places. This means that today, right now, there’s about a $50 price difference between the M25 foils and the EMA foils. Can you think of any reason why the M25 copies are less desirable than the EMA oens? Because I can’t.

The elephant in the room on this is the FTV: Twenty copies at $75. The thing is, we can pretty much put that to bed now. Those copies are awful. They warp easier, look bad, aren’t as cool, whatever. Take your pick as to why they aren’t good. Those will sit closer in price to non-foils, while pack foils (from any set) will sit well higher.

Regardless of what happens in Modern, we should see this gap close, likely upwards. Additionally, I’d expect the foil prices in general on EMA and M25 copies to float north of $200, especially if we see UW control continue to perform well on the GP circuit.

Imprisoned in the Moon

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

No, this isn’t a Modern UW Control pick. If you take a look at the most popular EDH commanders this week, you’ll see both Estrid and Tuvix. Sorry, Tuvasa. (Estrid and Tuvasa together were 91 deck lists this week, one behind Aminatou and Yuriko.) Bant Enchantments was apparently a market that needed another serving, given how popular these two have been. This popularity is in spite of those two, since as commanders, they’re just completely flat and unexciting. Like, seriously. Tuvasa is just an absolute snoozefest.

Imprison in the Moon has been relatively popular in EDH since it was released in Eldritch Moon, with nearly 7,000 decks packing a copy. That’s strong adoption for a relatively new card. It’s going to keep increasing too, as it seems that there will be a surge in enchantment players over the next two to four months with more casual players taking their time to pick up the deck.

What I specifically like in Imprison the Moon that’s different from any other random enchantment card is that it’s blue. Many of the enchantment-matters commanders have been Selesnya or otherwise not-blue. Adding two Bant commanders that care about enchantments, and are good at caring about enchantments (albeit boring) means that enchantments going to be cemented in EDH as a more than just GWx. Anyone that was playing a GWx enchantment deck may find themselves migrating to Bant.

NM English copies are about $2 to $2.50 right now, with enough supply for a few months, but probably not much longer. Depending on how strong demand remains between now and January, I suspect we’ll see non-foi copies at somewhere between $5 and $8 by the spring. Foils are solid too, where you can find them at $5 to $7, but that well is much more shallow.


Oath of Teferi (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $15

It’s not enough that Teferi has to take over Standard and begin positioning himself as a pillar of control in Modern, he’s got to find a way into EDH as well. His planeswalker card may not be positioned to manage that, but his Oath certainly looks like it will.

There are a few things EDH players love doing, and blinking permanents is one of them. Many of the best cards in the format are such because of their absurd ETB triggers, and blinking them lets you relive that excitement time and time again. Enter (heh) Oath of Teferi, which blinks one of your permanents on its way in. It’s a delayed blink too, which lets you blink, for instance, your Sun Titan, cast a wrath, then have the Sun Titan return at the end of turn. (Which then returns something you destroyed in the wrath, which then returns…)

That’s only half of it of course, with the rest of the text letting you go wild with planeswalker activations. Most planeswalkers are a touch underpowered in EDH, but when you start triggering them twice a turn, they make up for that quick. Add in additional support, like Hardened Scales, and you can find yourself putting four to six loyalty counters on a Planeswalker in one turn. It’s a build-your-own Doubling Season!

A reader brought it to my attention that Hardened Scales doesn’t work with planeswalkers. First of all, a reminder that it’s illegal to correct my article. Second, even if Hardened Scales doesn’t work in this way, there’s other effects that certainly do, and they will also compound with multiple activations each turn.

Oath is very new, so supply is still fairly deep, and EDHREC doesn’t yet reflect what I suspect is the true popularity. Give it a few months, and as players are slotting them into their Estrid, or Tuvasa, or Aminatou, or Brago, or whatever decks, you’ll see fewer and fewer at $3.


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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