Category Archives: Watchtower

UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 1/22/18

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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.


Between Rivals of Ixalan’s arrival and the ban list update, Standard got quite a shakeup. This is no more apparent than in the top 8 in the SCG Standard Classic, which saw two copies of Mono Red (obviously), the return of Mardu Vehicles, two different takes on dinosaurs/big monsters, and in a callback to Theros, WU Auras. Tenth place even had a full set of Favorable Winds(!?). Standard certainly looks promising, as any week one event that ends with two red decks in the top two slots means that nobody has figured out the actual best deck yet. Given how many Ghalta, Primal Hungers were floating around in the top 16, I have high hopes.

Meanwhile there’s a Modern Pro Tour in like, two weeks. First one in awhile. That should be fun. It’s the first Pro Tour I’m likely to watch, since uh, probably the last Modern Pro Tour. The format may be terrible for Wizards’ bottom line, but it sure is fun to watch!

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Desperate Ritual (Foil)

Price Today: $5-6
Possible Price: $12

One of the decks that seems to have gained the most ground in the last few months in Modern is Baral Storm. Whether you’re playing the Gifts version or not, it’s definitely been gaining metagame percentage for awhile, and is now one of the top ranked combo decks in Modern. Things are only looking better for the deck with Blood Sun, which allows it to play main deck pseudo-Blood Moon without disrupting it’s own mana base, while also cantripping in matches where it isn’t useful. Will Blood Sun actually make the deck? Got me, but it’s a new tool at their disposal.

A Modern Pro Tour is coming up, we know that. We also know Storm has been targeted by bans like eight times or something silly in Modern’s history, yet still exists as a tier one list. We also know that it’s a favorite of HoF-caliber players. Finkel has shown up with UR Storm at like every Modern Pro Tour? Or close to it. Having the best players in the world on an archetype is going to make it look good, even if it’s not.

Between the rise in the strength of the deck since Baral’s printing, and a few conditions on the immediate horizon that could trigger price spikes, I wanted to find somewhere the money could go. Right now I’m liking foil Desperate Ritual. It’s the best fast mana in the deck, and we haven’t seen any copies since 2013. Depending on whether you’re looking at MMA or COK, prices are in the $5 to $7 range. If Storm does well at PT ROI — especially with Blood Sun, which will get people more jazzed to try the deck than if it didn’t have a cool new card — we could see foils empty out, and I’d expect prices to land in the $12 to $20 range if that happens.

Meddling Mage (Judge)

Price Today: $35
Possible Price: $80

Modern certainly looks different than when I was playing regularly. Humans has become a legitimate tier one deck, and is possibly the second-most popular aggro deck in the format. I remember reading Sam Black’s theoretical article on the topic way back when Mana Confluence was released. Wild.

Anyways, it’s looking like the consensus list has four Chris Pikula’s main these days. It’s not surprising, as the card is a kick in the teeth for any combo deck and some amount of irritating for everyone else. Add in that it’s on theme with the tribal component, and you can lead into it with Kitesail Freebooter to see what’s in their hand, I understand why it’s a mainstay in the deck.

Non-foil copies from Alara and Planeshift have hit about $20, which is certainly a change. I remember the ALA copies costing $3 or something. Foil PLS copies haven’t been cheap in forever, but ALA copies have hung around $20 for some time. They’re still just above that, but with non-foils starting at $17, that gap is going to widen soon. We’ve seen this trend before. A card grows in popularity as part of a good deck, and demand is based on people playing the card in tournaments. Non-foil prices move first, and eventually catch the foils. Players start buying foils because why not, and then the foil price jumps out ahead by 25 to 100 percent.

Meanwhile, the Judge foils are sitting over there at maybe $35. With ALA pack foils at $22 to $25 and primed to move hard, Judge copies are tempting. Especially because A. they’re fairly old (a single run in 2006), and B. they look cool. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see the Judge copies hit $75+, especially if Humans has a good run at the Pro Tour.

Deepchannel Mentor (Foil)

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $9

I’ve always got to check in with EDH for at least one card. One of the hot decks right now is Merfolk, helmed by ROI release Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. Sounds like a friendly guy. Normally I wouldn’t expect a UG creature to be a tyrant, but hey, that’s why I’m not on the Wizards flavor team.

Kumena and his new slew of merfolk is driving people to the tribe in 99 card decks. The community has flirted with merfolk a few times, but the commanders have never been strong enough to stick. Kumena may change that. He makes commander damage easy, he’s a card drawing engine built in, and even permanently powers up your squad. Pair him with Merrow Commerce to completely take over a game.

If you’ve been listening to MTG Fast Finance (and why haven’t you? We just had @ToddStevensMTG on to talk ROI) you’ll know that a few merfolk cards have jumped since Kumena was spoiled. One hasn’t so far that I think is a good choice, and that’s Deepchannel Mentor. He’s a little pricey at six, but essentially makes your entire team unblockable. Considering that Kumena’s third ability is all about powering up your squad, and every Kumena build is going to be running as many Seedborn Muse effects as possible to abuse this, you’ll be able to turn your 12 dorky merfolk into a serious threat awfully quick. If you’ve got ten or fifteen guys on the field and drop a Commerce or Seedborn, tap your team twice a turn for three turns, then cast Deepchannel Mentor, everyone is going to be dead on the spot.

Deepchannel is another old merfolk, and foil copies were sparse before Kumena showed up. If you can catch them under $3, which is still possible, they should be good for $10 before long.


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 1/3/18

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.


Rivals of Ixalan spoilers are off and running, and they’re fast and furious. With only a week of spoilers, we’ll have the full set by this weekend, if Twitter is to be believed. Each morning’s deluge makes for an exciting, if perhaps slightly rushed, week.

In the inverse of clouds and their silver linings, the dark clouds lurking on the periphery of our otherwise lovely summer day of spoilers is that Standard finance is arr eye pee RIP’d. All of these Rivals cards are going to be sweet, and there will be some awesome budget-friendly builds out of your preferred content producer, but ultimately they’ll all be irrelevant because energy is stupid and the most expensive Standard deck is barely more expensive than a playset of fetchlands.

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Master of Cruelties (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $25

Changes in life totals that set function by setting the value to a specific number, rather than a change of a specified degree, are a good bit more powerful in EDH than in normal Magic. Sorin Markov or Magister Sphinx setting a player’s life total to 10 is half a point below the midpoint in Standard. In nearly best case scenarios, setting someone’s life to 10 deals about 10 damage. In EDH, where the starting life total is 40, changing the value to 10 is a reduction of 75%, dealing 30 damage if the player is at the starting life total.

Master of Cruelties works the same way, but instead of reducing it to 10, it reduces it to 1. Considerably more savage.

He’s been popular since Dragon Maze’s release, and has found life in both 60 card and 99 card decks. EDHREC reports 4,200 decks running him, which is a healthy number. You essentially get to kill one creature each turn during combat if you’re playing fair, and if you’re not, you just make him unblockable and essentially kill someone in one swing.

What’s most appealing here isn’t his raw power or how many decks make use of him, but rather the supply. I count six NM copies on TCG right now, all around $15. I wouldn’t expect to see a major surge in price, but this could easily restock around $25 to $30 in the next few months.

Archetype of Finality (Foil)

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

When the new year starts with world leaders threatening each other with the size of their nuclear button, deathtouch creatures feel appropriate. Archetype of Finality makes sure you’re the only person at the table with deathtouch, perhaps one of the best keywords in EDH, behind hexproof and maybe haste. Giving all of your tokens and various 1/2 value creatures deathtouch is remarkably obnoxious, since it means you can attack fairly safely and also serves as a useful rattlesnake. In a deck like Meren, which is full of small value creatures, it means it’s much harder for your opponents to crash in with their 6/6s and 9/9s.

Her play pattern is a bit less thrilling than Master of Cruelties, with only 2,400 EDH decks listed, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still sufficient demand to push prices up over time. I love that we’re looking at the original Born of the Gods printing here, since those enchantment creature frames look phenomenal in foil.

Less than 10 copies remain on TCG right now, which is promising. I don’t expect them to fly off the shelves, but they should all sell this year. What’s especially exciting is how cheap she is right now. With copies at $2, she could feasibly quintuple and people would still be willing to pay the new price tag, since it would barely be $10.

Invocations

 

Price Today: $30s
Possible Price: $80s

While I don’t have any specific Invocation I’m eyeing today, overall they’re a portfolio worth keeping an eye on. There’s no arguing that these were received poorly at launch, as they were the least legible, least cohesive, and least interesting Masterpieces set released. Prices reflected that, and most bottomed out quickly and hard.

We’re now pushing a year since Invocations was released, and are likely near the bottom of their absolute floor. With collectibles of this nature, especially ones that start with such an inflated price, it can take awhile for them to settle. Once they do, the slow trickle begins, and two years later you find yourself with copies worth twice what they were in not-distant memory.

Given the overall reaction to Invocations, I’d expect Wizards may never revisit the frame. We don’t know whether or not they will with Expeditions and Inventions, but if they do decide to go back to some or all of these, Invocations will be a distant third. They’ll stand in Magic’s history as a divisive and maligned frame, and the least-Magic frame in Magic. There will be demand for that from collectors and purveyors of odd things, which is where the slow trickle will stem.

Over the next one to three years, I’d expect prices on many of these to turn northward, perhaps quite considerably. Keep an eye out for any that look underpriced, and where buylist is getting awfully close to retail.


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 12/26/17

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.


Merry Christmas! At least, that’s what I’d be saying if I had written this article yesterday. But I didn’t, I’m writing it today. So happy boxing day, I suppose.

Unsurprisingly, there’s not a lot of hot Magic action around this time of year. As such, I’m going to focus on reviewing some EDH stuff I think is worth keeping an eye on. See you all in 2018! There’s no chance it won’t be worse than this year.

Astral Cornucopia (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

At some point a ways back I recommended this card.  While it hasn’t exploded since then, I still think this is about as ripe as they come.

Most decks will find Cornucopia to be a middling mana rock. Put three in, get back one immediately of any color. Fine, but not thrilling. Especially when you can play Thran Dynamo. You can get more out of it later in the game by pumping tons of mana into it, which is a nice bonus depending on the deck, though that’s something of an edge case.

There are certain decks that are well positioned to make use of Cornucopia, and those that are will find it to be the best mana rock in their deck. Chief among those decks are Atraxa, with her ample proliferate effects. With a Cornucopia on the field, ever proliferate also adds a mana, permanently. It also happens to be the case that Atraxa is the most popular EDH general ever built. Fortuitous!

You’ll still find a few foils out there at $3, but not many. Prices tick up to $4 and $5 after a few copies, and then there’s basically none left. It’s a quiet time of year so nothing is going to happen right away, but we’ve got a large base of demand for this card and no product releases on the horizon that would change that.

Champion of Lambholt (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

No one paid much attention to Champion back in Avacyn Restored Standard, and really, why would they have. It was slow, fragile, and there were a lot of other, better things to be doing.

Champion has found a better life in EDH, where spot removal is sparse and she can be powered up rapidly. (For some truly good yucks, plop down a Craterhoof Behemoth and turn your board of donks into an unblockable torrent of suffering. (Kind of surprising we don’t have a Torrent of Suffering card, right?)) Even when you’re not turbo-charging Champion, two turns of normal EDH play will make her a threat to be reckoned with. Even one or two triggers are useful, since they prevent hornet and zombie tokens from getting in the way.

Her ability to make the declare blockers step infuriating for opponents hasn’t gone unnoticed. You’ll find Champion in an impressive 9,500 decks. There aren’t many tiers of cards above that in EDH. You’ll find foils around $5, but probably not more than three or four sets. A creature this popular, with such low availability, is on trajectory to hit a double digit price tag in 2018.

The Chain Veil (Foil)

 

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $30

The Chain Veil isn’t a new card to speculators. Prices spiked almost exactly a year ago, with foils leaping from $8 to $20. They settled after that, only to leap again from $15 to $35 this past September. They’ve again started to settle again, with the cheapest copy at $15 right now. I wouldn’t expect that to last all of 2018 though.

Chain Veil is a reasonably popular EDH card at around 3,500 copies. That’s solid, but not staggering. What’s so great about it isn’t massive demand, but rather how unique it is. There’s nothing else in the game even remotely similar to the Chain Veil, and anyone looking for this type of effect has nowhere else to find it. If you’re playing Planeswalkers Atraxa, arguably the most popular of the Atraxa builds, there’s no substitute. You have to have this card. I also like that it’s going to be popular in 60 card decks, since it plays so well with a card type we know is appealing to the kitchen table crowd. I don’t expect a major supply of foil demand from that crowd, but it’s not insignificant.

With Chain Veil’s price history, low supply of cheap copies, and “coolness,” it’s on track to at least double again this 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.


Please follow and like us:

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 12/18/17

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.


It’s been another quiet week in Magic finance, especially with both GP’s having been limited. We don’t have much in the way of breakout cards to discuss, but that’s fine. The lack of hype or excitement around anything allows us to look to other, less sexy, but still reliable options. With Commander no less popular today than it has been all year, it’s a great place to park money earmarked for longer term investments. (Assuming all that money isn’t just being funneled into bitcoin.)

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