Category Archives: Watchtower

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 6/12/17

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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.


About twenty minutes after I post this article, Rosewater is posting his, titled “Metamorphosis 2.0.” It promises to be quite a shake-up, given that the last “Metamorphosis” article was the one that announced two set blocks and an eighteen month Standard rotation. I’d love to post my guess as to what we’ll see, but given that the truth will be revealed almost immediately, I’ll just end up insanely owned for no reason, so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

Whatever changes we see, I suspect none will have an immediate impact on card prices. The types of change that Rosewater is likely to discuss will have large, sweeping, structural changes on the markets for cards, rather than an immediate “oh shi-” as may occur with the change to split card rules, for instance. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear plenty of discussion on MTG Fast Finance this week and/or next about what it means for us.

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There’s a ban list update tomorrow, which may or may not include Aetherworks Marvel. I’m inclined to think they’d just leave it, but they did move the date up a little, and generally they’d only move B&R dates if there’s a good reason. While I’d love for them to axe Marvel hours before a Standard GP, don’t expect any changes to be in place this weekend, even if there is a ban/unban. If there is a ban, expect a flurry of sales both on site and nationwide as a result.

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The Watchtower 6/5/17

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.


We got three Standard GPs, and while the top 8’s didn’t look too bad, the combined top 32 tell a different story. Marvel made up 43%, which is nowhere near a healthy number at that stage of the tournament. Maybe if 43% had showed up with Marvel, but people that came prepared were beating it, and it was down to 10% or 20% by the top 32 it wouldn’t be as bad. But that’s not what happened, and Standard isn’t looking too rosy.

I suspect they wont’ ban Marvel. After all the turbulence of Standard so far, Wizards really doesn’t want to have to dip in a third time. Tournament attendance is always low during the summer months, so they may just opt not to touch it for the time being. There won’t be as many people showing up to FNM to experience the unpleasantness, and a lot of players are taking a break anyways, so the “Standard still kind of sucks” narrative may be much less likely to hang around on the fringes of player’s perceptions than “Wizards had to ban things a third time.”

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Either way, there’s definitely some Standard cards out there that will spike in October, and our goal is to get a bead on them. Meanwhile, Modern is vibrant and healthy, even if Death’s Shadow is probably a little too good, and EDH continues to churn out big gains week after week.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $30

This is an odd one, given how pricey Chandra already is, so bear with me.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance is Wizards continuing to turn the power level up on red planeswalkers to get them Standard playable. They’re getting a lot closer, and Chandra is consistently showing up in Standard at this point. Still, she’s only a one or two-of most of the time. You’ll see one maindeck copy, and maybe a second in the sideboard, or just two in the board. She hasn’t managed to quite make it into the top tier of Planeswalkers, where we see Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.

Today’s Standard is an odd one, because it wasn’t supposed to exist. The entire Battle for Zendikar block was originally planned to have rotated by now, so the interplay between BFZ and Amonkhet was not considered as much as would have been ideal. Marvel is dominating Standard, and it’s a strategy that Chandra isn’t really great in or against, so her current value is extra low. You’ve also still got Gideon, one of the best planeswalkers in Standard ever, exhausting all the the planeswalker slots in every deck that can possibly cast him.

With a current price tag of nearly $20, I’m not advocating you start scooping up copies. Rather, I’m telling you to keep an eye on it. Over the next two to three months Standard prices should start declining as the summer months peel players away from constructed Magic. I’m hoping we see Chandra drop to $15, or possibly even $11 or $12. That’s what I would consider the “as good as it’s going to get” price point. Then, once October hits and BFZ rotates, Chandra will hopefully see a resurgence as the best walker in Standard, and climb to $25+.


Collected Company

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $25

Vizier of Remedies has shaken up Modern by adding an easy two-card infinite mana combo. (It also made anyone with a bunch of Shadowmoor bulk a lot of money.) The gruesome twosome is showing up in a few different strategies, and Abzan Company is chief among them in terms of power level. The strategy has been a consistent part of Modern for awhile now, floating between tier one and two, and Vizier has likely pushed it firmly into the tier one camp.

As the name implies, the deck is a collection of small creatures that relies heavily on synergy and a way to put a few into play at a time. Collected Company is the best tool for the job on that front, as you can end-of-turn a game winning pair of creatures into play. It’s a powerful card in the strategy, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a list that didn’t run the full set.

Abzan Company isn’t the only place that you’ll find Collected Company either. Elves has taken to it, unsurprisingly, and it pops up elsewhere too. Hatebear, Zoo, Affinity (if you’re Japanese), and various tribal strategies, such as humans and spirits, also all play it. At this point, if you’re playing any green creatures in Modern other than Tarmogoyf, there’s a high likelihood that you’re also casting Collected Company.

As such, I’m a little surprised that it’s still as cheap as it is. $12 isn’t much for the 9th most played spell in Modern (and the most played green spell), especially as a single-printed rare from a spring set. There’s still some inventory out there, so it’s not like it’s going out of stock this week, but it’s not what I would consider particularly deep, especially when people need four copies at a time. I’d start looking for cheap copies now, because as long as it dodges Iconic Masters, I can’t imagine it doesn’t surpass $20.


Mind’s Dilation

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $7

Pretty straightforward one here. Powerful, amusing, and exciting, all perfect for EDH. It’s a mythic from Eldritch Moon, last year’s summer set, which means there are relatively few copies floating around. At a buck a piece, this is an easy one to grab when they’re available and cheap. Stash them for two or three years, and ship them in 2020. It’s not an exciting spec, but it’s solid and easy.


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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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 5/29/17

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.


Most people are out today, soaking in the sun, drinking at parades, celebrating their newfound permission to wear white, and generally enjoying Memorial Day. Meanwhile I’m slaving away to bring you only the hottest #mtgfinance insight. It’s a tough road I walk, I tell you.

Since we last spoke, the big news was the leak of several of the cards from this year’s Commander product. We already knew it was tribal in nature, and that there were four decks, rather than five, but we didn’t know who was invited to the party. With the leaks, we know that at least we’re getting a dump of new dragons. They run the gamut in sauciness, from the less-impressive but no less appealing Wasitora, a cat dragon (???), to O-Kagachi, the oft referenced but never carded spirit dragon from Kamigawa, to the Ur-Dragon, whose scion has been a staple commander of tribal dragon decks to this point. At least two are five-color, and we’re also seeing a wedge, an ally, and an artifact, so Wizards is certainly trying to include several options to accommodate whatever direction you’d like to head.

What we don’t know yet is the other tribes. If Wizards isn’t trying we’ll get zombies, goblins, and elves. If they’re looking to give us something a little more distinct, we’ll get lesser known tribes. There’s no shortage of choices of course: cats, birds, homarids, clerics, soldiers, hounds, hydra, uncle istvans, etc. And unless more leaks hit Twitter soon, it will be awhile before we know. Speculation abound!

I’m going to cover a couple of cards in anticipation of this news. Of course, the key thing to remember is that unless it’s on the reserved list, basically every single card is a possible reprint. If you’ve been listening to MTG Fast Finance you’d know that James and I are considerably more interested in foils in the face of this, since so far, Commander product hasn’t included foils beyond the generals themselves. So long as that stays true, tribal foils are safer pickups ahead of full lists being revealed. Once the full lists are released and we know what is, and more importantly isn’t, in the product, then all bets are off.

Belbe’s Portal

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $15

We’ll start off with my favorite this week; Belbe’s Portal. Needing to choose a specific creature type for it to work, the obvious downside, is completely mitigated when playing it in a tribal deck. It turns into three mana, put a dude into play. What’s not to love? It’s especially potent in non-green decks, as it’s a way to cheat on mana costs, something other colors frequently struggle to accomplish.

Our biggest concern here is, as referenced earlier, reprint concerns. It’s only got a single printing in Nemesis, and would make an excellent include in the Dragon deck, which is likely the tribe with the highest average converted mana cost. Of course, even if it is reprinted, I wonder how much that will truly matter. Let’s say it’s only in one of the decks; the dragon deck. How many players are going to remove it from their dragon precon? If 98% of people that buy the dragon deck leave it in there, as they should, then only a sliver of new copies make it into the wild. Consider that three other tribal precons are hitting shelves at the same time, if only one of them really wants the Portal, then supply likely won’t keep up with demand. Meanwhile, the appearance in a single precon serves as a reminder to a great many players that don’t know it exists in the first place.

Copies are available in the $3 to $4 range at the moment, and there aren’t many out there. Less than 25 NM copies on TCGPlayer, by my count. Without a reprint this is almost guaranteed to see a pleasant surge, especially considering global supply levels, and even with one, it probably sees a bump.

(Foils would be a great play if they weren’t A. already $25 and B. sold out almost everywhere. If you can find NM copies for less than $20, go for it.)


Zendikar Resurgent

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $12

Every set, Wizards slips a few cards in that may as well be banned in Standard, and nobody would ever notice, because they’re so obviously not for that format. Zendikar Resurgent is one of those cards.

Resurgent does everything EDH players want to do. It makes a bunch of mana every turn, and it draws you a bunch of cards. Seriously, green is such a stupid color in this format. Legacy and Vintage belong to blue. Commander belongs to green. Modern belongs to…is it black? You get Thoughtseize and Liliana of the Veil. I guess maybe white? I suppose my point here is red is just a garbage color all around.

As an Oath of the Gatewatch rare, supply on Resurgent is quite high at the moment. There are pages and pages of the non-foil copies, with a total volume of probably several hundred on TCGPlayer right this moment alone. One day this may turn out to be another Parallel Lives, and those that invested at $.75 would make a killing when it finally climbed to $6 or $7, but that is a loooot of bullets to dodge before it gets there. Someone could possibly make money speccing on this guy, but for each person that does, ten other people specced on a recent rare and then saw it reprinted three times in a single year.

Scanning the tribal pages on EDHREC, you’ll find Resurgent as a top enchantment in basically any deck that makes green mana. Tribal decks play lots of creatures, so they’re well able to make use of the second half of this card. Of course, it’s good in non-tribal decks too, so while this fall’s release will bump demand, there’s already plenty as is.

For Zendikar Resurgent foils are where it’s at. Copies are around or near $4 on TCG, and most major retailers are either sold out or listed noticeably higher. Every single dragon deck will love to have this available, and really, any deck looking to, uh, play Magic really would like copies. We could easily see foils in the $10+ range by the end of this year.


Duskwatch Recruiter

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $20

Our first two cards to keep an eye on this week were related to the new Commander 2017 product coming later this year. Our last card for the week is a Modern pickup for a combo deck that, while it was hardly needed, has gotten some new life.

Duskwatch Recruiter has been useful in the Abzan Company decks for awhile now in sparse numbers. With the recent printing of Vizier of Remedies though, the utility of the little werewolf that could has skyrocketed. Vizier of Remedies and Devoted Druid has rapidly become a mainstay of the Abzan Company deck, essentially remaking it in their image, and the two work in tandem to generate infinite mana. The difference between infinite mana and four mana when it comes to Collected Company is zero, so it doesn’t really help all that much there, aside from maybe casting it early. It’s better applied to Chord of Calling, but that still only gets you a single creature, and you don’t get the cast trigger either, so getting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn doesn’t do you much good. But – BUT – combine that infinite mana with Duskwatch Recruiter and you can now draw every single creature in your deck. So long as there’s a Walking Ballista in there, your opponent is dead on the spot. And of course, even when you don’t have infinite mana, he’s still a useful guy to have around when your deck has lots of small guys, many of which generate mana.

Roughly an infinity of non-foil Duskwatch Recruiters available. Foils, however, are in surprisingly short supply. TCG has maybe 30 copies at most, SCG is sold out, and most other vendors have zero to few available. Foil uncommon Modern staples have a way of sneaking up in price, and with Recruiter a solid component of the Druid/Vizier combo, I imagine he’ll follow the trend.


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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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 5/22/17

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.


This weekend featured two Standard Grand Prix and a team constructed event over in SCG land. Standard is reasonably healthy I suppose, all things considered, although it personally doesn’t feel like that when you consider what it feels like to play with or against Aetherworks Marvel. I’m inclined to say that Wizards is considering banning it, as it’s likely more represented than they’d prefer, and it’s an especially unpleasant play experience, but it’s hard to imagine them pulling that particular trigger again already.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Aetherworks Marvel are two of the biggest cards in the format, and they’re about $5 and $10 less than they should cost, respectively, for a couple of reasons, the primary two I’d expect that players don’t particularly enjoy this format and we’re headed into summer, a perennial lull for Magic.

Given all of that, I’m inclined to stay away from Standard for a little while longer. With even the best prospects trending downward, there’s better places to turn your attention. I’m looking over at EDH mostly today, especially with some cool new decklists floating around to discuss. Remember, people only have to think it’s good for it to spike!

Grand Architect


Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $20

Within the last two weeks or so, a Grand Architect Aggro strategy has popped up. Corbin recently did some streaming over here with it over here. So far it’s only been appearing online, but it could make the jump to the meatspace any day. This isn’t the first time we’ve been down this road with Grand Architect. Of course, last time they didn’t have Walking Ballista. Is that enough to put the deck into contention? Time will tell.

At the heart of the deck is the mana reduction granted by four Chief Engineer and four Grand Architect. Each turns all your dudes into Birds of Paradise for artifacts. There are 24 artifact creatures in the deck, so the idea is to resolve one or two Engineers or Architects and then vomit your artifact creatures onto the table all at once. It’s Affinity-esque, and makes me wonder if there shouldn’t be Cranial Platings somewhere in there. Meanwhile you’ve also got a set of Lodestone Golems in the main, which let you play a little of the Thalia game. Since both Chief Engineer and Grand Architect apply their reduction to artifacts, not just artifact creatures, it leads me to wonder if Chalice of the Void is supposed to be in here as well.

In any case, this is a fun little package that people have been trying to make work for a long time, and new pieces keep getting added each set. Of the list, Architect is the best positioned to jump in price. He’s the namesake of the deck, and probably the most important cog. Perhaps most importantly, he’s the card with the lowest supply. Chief Engineer, Etched Champion, Lodestone Golem, Blinkmoth Nexus, Cavern of Souls – all have been reprinted. Mausoleum Wanderer, Walking Ballista, and Smuggler’s Copter are all new. Supply really does position Architect well here.

Copies are available in the $3 range on TCG right now with fairly low supply. Copies are available elsewhere in reasonable numbers, both cost and quantity. There’s more out there than “$100 buys every liquid copy,” but not “bulk Kaladesh rare” quantity. If this deck picks up steam – if a few others record videos and post them, for instance – I’d watch Architect for a bump. Make sure you sell immediately into any spike though, since I don’t love the competitive outlook on this strategy.


Chord of Calling

Price Today: $8.50
Possible Price: $25

Amonkhet had all sorts of fun cards for Modern, none moreso than As Foretold. (It was hard not to stick Restore Balance in as something to watch out for this week.) More quietly, Vizier of Remedies slotted directly into the existing strategy of Abzan Company. Vizier is the reason Devoted Druid is like $15 now, because Vizier lets Druid make infinite mana while still doing the Viscera Seer/Murderous Redcap thing. Big get for the deck, Vizier is.

Abzan Company’s creature base isn’t terribly exciting for us, since so many pieces are so important. Viziers and Druids, obviously. Birds of Paradise. Kitchen Finks. Viscera Seer. Once you get all the combo pieces in, there’s not a lot of room to goof around. Two other slots are hard locks as well: Chord of Calling and the eponymous Collected Company.

Chord is getting close to that time frame of ‘spikable,’ and perhaps most compelling is the fact that the new combo with Vizier and Druid generates infinite mana. You can go grab Emrakul. Or Griselbrand. Or Duskwatch Recruiter and activate until you find Walking Ballista. Or Rhonas, and make something giant and smash into their stupid face. Or Spawnsire of Ulamog, which you then use to cast the fifteen Eldrazi in your sideboard. Whatever. They all work. The important thing is that your tutor piece, which can find one half of your infinite mana combo, also works very, very well with just flat out killing them on the spot. This is in contrast to Collected Company, which while extremely efficient and getting guys into play, doesn’t just kill your opponent on the spot.

Copies of Company start at $12 right now, and it wasn’t too long ago they were in Standard. Chord of Calling, on the other hand, is available for around $8, and the last time that guy showed up was just about three years ago in Magic 2015. Between those copies, and Return to Ravnica, there’s a fair supply for sure. Prices have rollercoasted quite a bit since then, with a spike to nearly $15 back when Shadows Over Innistrad released. It dipped through the release of Kaladesh, and is now up $1 since then. It’s not unthinkable that Chord keeps ticking for months to come, and could be strong double digits later this year.


Geralf’s Messenger

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

Amonkhet brought us zombies, and Pro Tour Amonkhet brought us Zombies. The well-worn tribe was out in force, and is currently a pillar of the Standard. But what about…Modern??? New additions in Dread Wanderer and Lord of the Accursed gave the deck even more options for a mono-black build, and perhaps most spicy is Wayward Servant, a powerful two drop that would push the deck into white black.

There’s no shortage of options for a Modern Zombie build for sure. Chapin covered one such possibility this week. If I had to pick a single card to match tribal Zombies with Wayward Servant, it would be Geralf’s Messenger. A turn two Servant followed by a turn three Messenger (that then dies) is six damage on CITP effects alone. That’s one hell of a beating. Perhaps the largest barrier for Zombies to overcome is that it simply wouldn’t be able to race the unfair decks. A healthy mix of discard and maybe some Thought-Knot Seers could feasibly overcome that though…

Messenger is in the $5 range right now, but keep in mind that there’s zero competitive demand driving that. He’s gotten to that price point on casual demand alone. Without a reprint he’s bound for $10 as is, and if even ten people out there decide to build Modern Zombies, we could see the price double easily. A 5-0 performance would absolutely put Messenger on people’s radar long enough for a healthy upwards swing.


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