Category Archives: Watchtower

UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 6/19/17

ADVERTISEMENT:


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.


Man, #GPVegas, right? I’m on about four hours of sleep right now, and I’d imagine anyone else that attended is in the same boat. Some Invocations were spoiled. Inventions Engineered Explosives was bought out. The Modern GP had a wacky top eight. Everyone who knew what they were doing spent way too much money on food and loved it. But man this Monday sucks.

Leonin Arbiter (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Inexplicably, there were two Hatebears decks in the top eight of Vegas. I’m not exactly clear on how that happened. Nevertheless, here we are. Hatebears has been a permanent fixture in the tier 2.5 bracket of Modern, and this weekend we saw that even mediocre decks can occasionally overperform.

There’s certainly a subset of players that enjoy this strategy, and that will continue to be true so long as you can attempt to tax and needle players out of the game. People were doing this with Maverick in Legacy six years ago, and the strategy is still around and kicking today.

Leonin Arbiter is a permanent fixture in Modern D&T, and while normally I wouldn’t be keen on cards from a semi-niche strategy like this, Arbiter has now gone quite awhile without a reprint, and I wouldn’t say Wizards is gunning to print him again. He could show up in Iconic Masters or Masters 25 of course, but it would be one of those “well I guess” reprints, rather than a “we need to put this somewhere.”

There are a few foils at $10, and putting two copies into the top of Vegas is likely to inspire more people to move into the deck, as it’s a sort of validation of the strategy’s competency and competitiveness. I’m not sure that’s true, mind you, but it will read that way to some. In any case, $10 for foil staple in a tier two-ish deck that’s now pushing seven years old isn’t a bad pickup. Sales of just a few playsets would put this firmly in the $20 range.


Dictate of Kruphix (Game Day)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

I’d say there were two exciting things to see in the Modern GP, and UB Taking Turns was one of them. It was certainly a wild list, with specific quantities that appear to be tested. Does that mean it’s actually a good deck, rather than just someone that got lucky at the wrong tables in Vegas? Maybe. The tools for some sort of turbofog list are basically all there, and it’s a strategy that has been successful in other formats multiple times. Death’s Shadow existed for years without anyone discovering it; the same could be true here.

Whenever a deck like this pops up on the radar, a small rush of players look to pick it up. Time Warp and Temporal Mastery would typically be the cards most poised to jump in price, but there’s suppressing factors. Mastery was just reprinted in MM3, and while it’s been longer for Warp, there are still four printings out there with well over 200 copies available. Part the Waterveil was just printed and has a huge stock. Exhaustion has 1,000 printings. (Although I went looking for 9th Edition foils, and I cannot find a single copy anywhere at any price.) Howling Mine is the same. I figured normal Dictates would be a good place to start, but there are 250 copies on TCG alone. Maybe eventually, but that day is not today, and it’s the type of card Wizards will reprint off-cycle.

I had forgotten there was a Game Day promo of Dictate though, and it’s sweet looking. A quick check sees just 24 vendors on TCG with copies. That’s a number I like to see. Over on EDHREC Dictate shows up in over 4,000 decks, which puts it on the list of most popular EDH cards in the last year. That’s another number I like to see.

Copies are available right around $4, and UB Taking Turns or not, that number is going to rise eventually. This Modern deck is only going to expedite that.


Chief Engineer (Game Day)

Price Today: $1.75
Possible Price: $8

UB Taking Turns was the first interesting thing at the Modern GP; “Blue Steel” is the other one. Zac Elsik, with such credits as Lantern Control and Nourshing Shoal Goryo’s, showed up with a Grand Architect aggro deck. He did not design it, mind you — please don’t yell at me in the comments that he stole the idea — he just tweaked it, and performed reasonably well with it, with a final finish of 11-4. (With three losses to Eldrazi Tron, apparently.)

Grand Architect is certainly where you may want to look first, but the time for that was a few weeks (or years) ago. At this point, that ship has sailed. Lodestone Golem has too many printings and too little demand. Master of Etherium is already pricey. Smuggler’s Copter is too new. Chief Engineer was printed in Commander 2016. But — just like Dictate of Kruphix — I forgot there was a game day promo of this guy.

With over 2,000 EDH decks running Chief Engineer, there’s clearly demand. For reference, there are 2,200 Breya decks in the REC file. He should also be an auto-include in just about any deck with an artifact theme. And, again, cool looking Game Day promo that’s never showing up again.

You can snag these for around $2 right now, less if you get lucky. There aren’t too many out there though. Most major vendors are out of stock or low supply, and TCG is down to 50 sellers. That’s not miniscule, but it’s not a large reserve either. I’m not expecting a sudden buyout on this unless the deck top eights another SCG Open or Grand Prix in the near future, but pressure on supply will definitely be constant, and there’s no more copies coming.

ADVERTISEMENT:



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.


Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

ADVERTISEMENT:


Please follow and like us:

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 6/12/17

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.


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.

ADVERTISEMENT:


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.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards

ADVERTISEMENT:


ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Please follow and like us:

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.”

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.


Please follow and like us:

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.


Please follow and like us: