Category Archives: Watchtower

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 9/4/17

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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.


Ixalan spoilers have been trickling in at a fair clip so far, and we’ll be getting far more in the very new future. Most recently we saw Huatli, Warrior Poet, joining Jace, Cunning Castaway as two of the three planeswalkers of the set. Huatli strikes me as sub-par, with a rough pairing of a five mana converted mana cost and three starting loyalty, and a poor plus ability next to a reasonable zero activation. Her “ultimate” isn’t bad though, as it lets you either clear up problem creatures, or alpha strike unblocked. Maybe there’s a dino deck that can leverage her well, but excepting that, she’s not doing much for me.

Over on the EDH side of things Wizards keep trickling in. Supreme Inquisitor is showing up on spike lists today, although that’s most certainly people reaching. Other wizard cards, such as Sigil Tracer continue to sell through at a strong clip, and they’re not the only tribe to see a bump, with Scourge of the Thrones another popular seller this week.

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The bulk of “easy money” from Commander 2017 has been made, but there will certainly be sustained demand over the coming months. Remember that these decks only just hit shelves, and for many players, it isn’t until they get them in their hands, play a game or two, and then start to evaluate what to do differently that they start making their purchases.

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Bristling Hydra (Foil)

Price Today: $1.50
Possible Price: $8

Two more Standard GPs, and two more strong results for Temur Energy. I spoke about this deck a few weeks ago through the lens of Glorybringer, and now I’m returning to it because I think Bristling Hydra is worth keeping tabs on at this point as well.

Over in Turin two lists made top eight, and DC saw one as well. One thing has been consistent in every single Temur Energy list I think I’ve looked at in the last three months, and that’s the full four-of Bristling Hydra. It’s the lynchpin of the deck, and showing up with less than four at this point is looking like a fool’s errand.

What makes this really worth watching is that nothing rotates in October. Like, nothing. The main deck loses a whopping two lands. Other than that, it’s Kaladesh and Amonkhet all the way down. Compare this to any other tier deck out there and you’ll see they don’t have the same luxury. With Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, all the Eldrazi, and most of the zombies hailing from Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad, every other list is leaving a lot of meat behind this fall.

Plenty of copies exist out there, of course, but with such impressive results week after week and the fact that it’s going to be the unquestionable best deck on day zero, we could see a great deal of that supply dry up fast. If Temur Energy becomes the deck to beat, it’s not hard to imagine Hydra at over $5 a copy.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle (Release Promo)

Price Today: $11
Possible Price: $30

If you’ve been watching MTGO results for the past few months, you’d notice the amusing and tenacious presence of Valakut combo. So much so, in fact, that mtgtop8 is now showing Valakut Combo as the most represented combo deck in the format. That happened quietly, right? Did you realize that? I certainly didn’t. I knew it was being played, but the most popular combo deck in Modern? Huh.

Players seem to have settled squarely on a RG build, using full playsets of Primeval Titan and Scapeshift to deliver the dirt. A couple of Summoner’s Pacts act as Titans five and six, making sure this deck is always ready to deliver the damage on turn four. One or two Chandra, Torch of Defiances round out the heavy hitters in main, and other than that, there’s a familiar mixture of Sakura-Tribe Elders, Farseeks, Lightning Bolts, and Search for Tomorrows. All in all, not an especially clever build, but clearly an effective one.

The core of the deck, the card from which the deck derives its name, is of course Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. There’s still been only one printing so far, which has pushed non-foils into the $10 range. Pack foils hang out around $15 at the moment, and release promos are available at $11 to $12.

Those release promos are the ones I’m interested in. With Masters 25 next spring apparently focusing on Pro Tour-winning cards from the last 25 years, there’s a reasonable chance we’d see Valakut make an appearance. It was the only deck that could realistically hang with Caw Blade back in the day, which is quite an honorific to wear. A reprint in a masters set is likely to come with the pack art, which isn’t particularly impressive or interesting. Meanwhile the release promo art is darker, foreboding, and dangerous. It’s got a real Mordor thing going on. It’s the preferred art for sure, and it’s likely that the only place you’re ever going to get it is on these promos.

Working under that expectation, promos at $11 are appealing. There aren’t many left out there, and with Valakut’s growing strength and popularity online, it won’t be long before it begins to transition in earnest to paper. Once that happens, these promos will be well positioned.

Aura Shards

Price Today: $9
Possible Price: $25

Everyone that pays any attention to EDH whatsoever knows this is a majorly important card in the format. If your deck produces both green and white mana, there’s a very good chance you’re in for aura shards. It allows you to basically cast a merged Purify/In Garruk’s Wake in a single turn if you’ve got the ability to generate tokens. Persistent enchantment and artifact removal is excellent, and the fact that it’s one-sided is icing on the cake.

Somehow there are still only two printings of this; Invasion and the original Commander. As such, there is not exactly a bountiful supply. Over on TCGPlayer right now there are 38 total sellers across both copies, and that includes every condition and language. Filtering down to NM English, there’s far fewer. The story is similar on most major vendors.

As alluded to, this card is popular. How popular? According to EDHREC, it’s in 23% of 45,084 decks. That’s a lot of Aura Shards. With supply as low as it is and the card as popular as it is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see inventories dry up any day now. Once that happens, it will be a $20+ card until Wizards deigns to pop out some 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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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 8/28/17

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.


With no non-limited events this weekend, I don’t have much to draw from on that front. No exciting Standard or Modern decks materialized that we get to go over with a fine tooth comb. There is a Banned and Restricted List update today, but A. I’m not expecting any changes, and B. even if there are, the buyouts will be so fast that waiting to write about them in this article would be pointless. If you’re reading this before the B&R list update goes live, just remember to buy from reputable vendors.

EDH activity has been a flurry lately with the Commander 2017 decks finally on shelves. I’ve personally seen a lot of Bloodline Keepers moving, and Scourge of the Throne has picked up considerably within the last week or so two, with what appears to be a buyout under $20 having occurred over the last 24 hours. Urza’s Incubators and Cryptic Gateway similarly went last week. The immediate well of C17 picks is drying up, but the longer-term stuff is certainly still on the table.

Since there’s no recent decklists to go over and EDH is coming down off a high at the moment, I’m going to flip through some Modern results from smaller events to see what’s hiding out.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 8/21/17

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.


GP Denver brought with it an interesting narrative; three players made top 8 (and took home the trophy) with the exact same 75. I’m not certain that’s ever happened before, and it was nifty to see. What’s more interesting is that they did it with what’s virtually a block deck. A scant two cards in the main weren’t from Kaladesh or Aether Revolt. That’s some nice parasitic design Wizards. Good job guys! Who would have imagined adding a new resourced that could only be obtained and spent by a small subset of cards would have that effect.

That means it’s worth turning our attention to the deck a little more closely this week, as it’s still going to be functioning at full capacity after the October rotation. That allows players to buy in today and still have a solid deck in three months, which will help shore up card prices there.

We’ve also got the on-going buyouts of cards from the reserved list and otherwise ancient sets, and EDH remains fertile as ever. Inventory levels indicate dragons to be the most popular tribe, which makes sense I suppose. It’s the least interesting to tenured players, but there’s no shortage of appeal among the casual crowd.

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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 8/14/17

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.


Since we last spoke there were four(!) Modern events; two Grand Prix, an SCG Open, and an SCG Classic, as well as the full Commander 2017 spoiler. Such action! Such excitement!

I’m touched on a card today that jumped out at me across all four Modern events, although I’m sure if you took the time to dig closely  you could find other appealing targets. Modern is a diverse and rich format right now, which is obviously excellent for players. It’s a little stickier for us, as there’s nothing dominating — and thus earning an outsized price tag — but it does keep the doors open to unknown decks spiking an event and spiking a price.

Meanwhile the Commander set this year is reasonably linear, which makes finding the specs much easier, and there are several key omissions. My favorite is Cryptic Gateway, which has no reason not to find a home in every single tribal deck ever built, and is especially powerful with the new Mirri. Wizards has also sparked a lot of interest in the financial sector, but overall, all four are appealing to many players, and there’s no arguing that C17 is one of the best-designed sets we’ve seen from Wizards in awhile.

Champion of the Parish

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $12

Both a Grand Prix and the (admittedly smaller) SCG Classic both found themselves with a humans in deck in their top eight, and each contained a playset of Champion. They weren’t even the same deck, as one featured the Knight of the Reliquary/Retreat to Coralhelm combo, and the other one eschewed it for a more direct “I’m going to shove creatures down your throat until one of us is dead” strategy.

Many useful creatures in Modern happen to be humans. Thalia, Noble Hierarch, Eternal Witness, and Knight of the Reliquary are all the same tribe, and they’re all cards you’re happy to play regardless of that vector. Once you’ve already got a pile of humans, it’s not a leap to add in one or two humans-matter cards to turn up the pressure. Champion of the Parish is one of the best of the bunch in that regards, with a copy on turn one representing a serious threat through the entire game. It rapidly grows out of Lightning Bolt range, and while it’s always vulnerable to Fatal Push and Path to Exile, that’s hardly enough of a reason to not bother at all.

At the moment you can find copies in the $3 range. There’s a fair bit, but it’s been a long time since it was printed, and humans seem to be ever so slowly growing in popularity in the format. Bant Knightfall continues to put up results every now and then, and the latest printing of Thalia seems to have encouraged more tribal strategies as well. So long as Humans continues to see success on the larger stage, I’d expect the price on Champion to begin moving north.

It’s worth pointing out that foil copies are also appealing, with seemingly far less supply and an attractive multiplier.


Riptide Director

Price Today: $.75
Possible Price: $8

Patron Wizard may have been the buy-out target after last week’s Commander 2017 lists were released in full, but Riptide Director is the card I’m more interested in. When there’s a new commander that just straight up domes people for seven when you tap a bunch of wizards, there’s clearly an existing appeal to put as many of them into play as possible. Director is going to make sure you keep the fuel up by just being a Concentrate – or easily better – every turn.

What’s especially appealing about Riptide Director is that it doesn’t feel like people have quite caught on yet. I’m sort of shocked prices are still below $1, actually. After all, there are two banner “wizards matter” cards – Patron, and Director. Patron Wizard’s market price is $10, Director’s is $.89.

Continued insistence on my part isn’t going to help much, so I’ll wrap it up. Four mana, draw a bunch of cards, do it every turn, $.75. Where’s the hesitation here?


Krosan Drover (Foil)

Price Today: $.5
Possible Price: $8

A subset of dragon support cards exist that are in virtually every dragon deck. Dragonspeaker Shaman. Dragonlord’s Servant. Crucible of Fire. There is, however, one that seems to have gone mostly unnoticed. I’m speaking of Krosan Drover.

Even to me this is an unknown card. I’m sure I’ve seen it before — like, laid eyes upon a piece of cardboard with this printed on it — but I didn’t at all remember that it exists. Which is surprising, because I played a lot of Magic during the Onslaught block. It makes basically all your dragons cost two less, which is a huge boon with such expensive creatures, and makes it a lot easier to pump out two in a turn.

Nonfoil copies are a trap; there are far too many out there, and far too many that could be added if there were reason. Foils from this block are increasingly rare though, and these are no different. What’s especially appealing here is that even if they are reprinted (and we have no reason to believe they would be, especially given that they list a specific Magic location), the old border foils will retain their appeal. With a price tag of a whopping $.50 per copy, if you can score several at a time they strike me as particularly appealing.


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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