Category Archives: Watchtower

UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 8/14/17

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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.


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.

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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.

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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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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 8/7/17

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.


Eldrazi may have won the SCG Open in Syracuse (sorry I didn’t make it even though I tweeted that I would), but the far cooler deck was one that didn’t T25. It did get an early deck tech though, which was enough to spur interest in a dusty Rise of the Eldrazi mythic. Vengevine returned alongside Hollow One, which makes for an agreeable synergy. You use spells like Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion to dump Vengines (and Bloodghasts) into your graveyard, a process which makes those Hollow Ones free, so you cast them for no mana, which brings back the Vengevines. Then it’s into the red zone with you.

It’s a cool concept, and there’s possibly room for growth there. I find myself wondering if the deck wants Reforge the Soul or something like that. I also am guessing that we played far too few Street Wraiths in Modern before Death’s Shadow finally figured out that that’s a good card. Perhaps it’s because Gitaxian Probe is gone.

Standard looked more varied, although I suspect that it’s less that the format is all that balanced and more that many players didn’t feel like playing what’s inarguably the best deck in the room. There weren’t any impressive breakout strategies, but there was one card that caught my eye.

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Sword of Feast and Famine

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $40

Commander 2017 spoilers start today, and at the time of writing, we’ve seen two cards sneak out of Europe. One is from the cat deck, and makes clear that there’s an equipment sub-theme to be found within. No surprises here; most of us figured that was in the pipes. It’s why several weeks ago I talked about Raksha Golden Cub. Cats typically lean on equipment to beef up their combat prowess, and this set will be no different.

Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, and Skullclamp have long been and will continue to be the most popular equipment. They’re also impossible to make money on if you’re a spec & flip kind of guy. While they’re solid gold for guys with cases in their local store, those of us looking to do some speccing can’t get enough out of the margins to make it worth it. That means we’ve got to look a little deeper.

Masterpieces Sword of Feast and Famine was just bought out. I don’t believe this is in response to the Cat deck, although perhaps. Most impressively, they’re selling through at the new price of ~$140. There’s real demand here, and we could see that manifest in the cheaper copies as well. MM2 and MED copies are around in the $20 range, and while there’s a supply, it’s not massive. If a hundred people who pick up cat decks decide they want a Feast or Famine, that will drain nearly all of the TCG inventory. If I told you that Sword of Feast and Famine was a $40 card, would you be surprised? I doubt it, and I think that’s why this is on its way there.


Leonin Arbiter

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

Death and Taxes is a bad deck, regardless of what variation or format you’re playing. It’s a bad deck full of bad cards for bad people. Bad people like you, who keep playing and buying bad cards.

And yet, the deck still sells cards. In fact, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has climbed to an impressive $12. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought it would have back when I was scooping them up during Dark Ascension. She’s finally arrived though, and almost entirely on the back of Death and Taxes. It also so happens that in virtually every deck Thalia is part of, Leonin Arbiter is part of. I’m sure there are lists out there that include Thalia and not Leonin Arbiter, but man, they are few and far between.

With Arbiter sitting at $5 and no second printing, nor a particularly deep well on TCG Player, he’s sitting pretty to hit double digits this year. A steady demand from D&T players over the years has sapped excessive supply out of the market too, so when this finally does pop, there isn’t going to be nearly the rush of copies available as there would be on a heretofore unknown bulk rare.


Verdurous Gearhulk

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $20

Did you know this card was this cheap these days? I didn’t realize. I thought it was still around $10, which would still be too cheap. What the heck? How is this reasonable? This card breaks open matches every single time it resolves. Abrade may have been printed, but just put the counters on a non-artifact creature and they’re still in for a world of hurt.

What’s most shocking to me about Verdurous Gearhulk is that Torrential Gearhulk, a card that sees considerably less play at the moment, is easily three times the price. What? Did these people not watch the same Pro Tour I did? You wouldn’t even know blue was a color of Magic had you watched Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. At the same time, Verdurous has been a staple of BG Constrictor for months, and made top 8 in Kyoto a few weeks ago, as well as the finals of GP Minnesota just a few days ago.

At $4, I’m in. What are the odds this isn’t a key mythic for green decks this October?


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 7/31/17

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.


How many jokes do you think you’ll read about “seeing red” over the next two weeks? I bet it’s a lot. Over four this week alone, I’d bet.

Ramunap Red was obviously the deck of the tournament, with a silly representation in both the top 8 and the best performing decks. Appropriately, Earthshaker Khenra and Hazoret the Fervent have taken off as a flurry of activity unfolds in an attempt to capitalize on both. It’s far too late now to make money here of course, and if you haven’t sold through your Khenra and Hazoret inventory yet, you’re actually far too late.

Beyond Ramunap Red it looks like Zombies and GB Constrictor are solid decks, but we’re talking about maybe a third of the top performers? Blue and white were both virtually nonexistent here, which is pretty funny when you think about it. Two colors simply didn’t exist at this Pro Tour. So much for that new, healthy Standard guys! Ah well. That’s fine by me, because while all the grinders and FNM players are looking at red, we can turn our attention to blue and white, which will undoubtedly come roaring back in a big way later on.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 7/24/17

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 didn’t pick up too much this weekend to get excited about. With the Pro Tour this coming weekend, the two Grand Prix were limited. SCG ran a team event, which is nifty, but I’m underwhelmed by most of the decklists I’m seeing over there. I’m also still exhausted from my excursion into Toronto on Saturday.

One of the more interesting cards on our radar for the Pro Tour, Champion of Wits, has already moved the needle enough that it’s too late to look at buying in. Nothing else has drummed up enough conversation to get me excited yet, and given that it’s the last PT before rotation, I don’t think we’ll see nearly as much action out of this as we may other events. I think I’ll be watching this weekend strictly as a fan of Magic and nothing more.

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