Category Archives: Watchtower

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 11/6/17

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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.


With Pro Tour Ixalan, Wizards decided to try something different. Rather than have the Pro Tour two weeks after set release, they moved it back to five or six weeks after. On the surface it’s a reasonable idea. Pro Tours tend to “solve” a format, or at least move it much closer to that point than it has been up to that point. Having the PT so close to the set’s release means that the format ends up solved quickly. Pushing the PT out more than a month means that players get awhile to explore before the pros show up and streamline things. Overall, the goal is that a format has more of a natural evolution to it.

That is not what happened. Instead, the first weekend that Ixalan was legal, people showed up to the SCG Open with basically the same decks that top 8’d the Pro Tour. Turns out that energy is not only a parasitic mechanic, similar to infect, and most of the Kamigawa block, but it’s also more powerful than anything else people are doing much of in Standard. Between that and Hazoret, that was like 75% of the room or something. Rather than having the Pro Tour reshape and evolve Standard in the middle of the season, it just further solidified the format as is.

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How little the Pro Tour had an impact is obvious early Monday morning. Browsing MTGPrice, or any other resource, finds only a single card with a price change worth noting (Angel of Invention). Nothing else really moved. Normally after a Pro Tour three or four cards have spiked. Nope. We saw no cards perform in a new way, so prices just didn’t budge. Oh well. Guess it’s back to EDH and maybe Modern until, uh, February?

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 10/30/17

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.


Triple limited GP weekends are such a bummer, aren’t they? Not only are they objectively boring to watch (my uncle that works for Wizards told me so), they also don’t give us any financial tech. Zzzz. To make matters worse, SCG had a Legacy open this weekend. Since like nine people play that format it doesn’t really matter what decks show up, nothing is going to be worth anything. That leaves us with an SCG Modern classic, and MTGO I guess.

Thankfully the Modern classic had some spice. In an impressive repeat, Humans in fact won the whole dang thing. Now classics are just about the smallest event that we’re likely to care about, so it’s not like it won a PT or something, but even still, it says a lot about the deck that it can succeed with consistency like this. Flashes in the pan are exciting but they’re not worth investing in. New sustainable archetypes, however…

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Fiend Hunter (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $10

Without a doubt, there’s a lot of interesting cards floating around the humans build. Even more so when you consider that the list is adaptable to meta changes. It may be playing zero of some human today that it will want four of a month from now (Magus of the Moon??) I’ve talked about a few of them over the months, and you’ve no doubt heard others covered elsewhere. Today I’m going to look somewhere else in the list though.

Fiend Hunter has been a permanent part of most Magic formats since he was printed. Various Modern decks keep a copy or three around, choosing to Chord for him, or Company into him, or whatever. Legacy sees him show up now and then. He’s in 6,500 EDH decks. I’d guess 90% of cubes contain him. He’s simply a useful creature anywhere players are tapping lands.

So far we’ve only seen him in the board of the Modern Humans list. Maybe he’ll move to the main, maybe he won’t Even if he doesn’t, it’s clear that he’s usually going to have space somewhere in the 75. And with foils at $5, I smell an opportunity. Supply is low across the board, across multiple US platforms as well as foreign markets. With only a single foil printing, $10 doesn’t seem like a stretch at all, and even $15 is reachable.

Eldrazi Temple (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $40

While it didn’t take home a trophy, Eldrazi still had a solid weekend, with a 3rd place Modern finish and 4th place Legacy finish. Another weekend, another impressive result in two formats from otherworldly lovecraftian horrors.

We aren’t looking for any breakout performances here. Humans is the new kid on the block angle everyone is excited about, and Eldrazi is the format workhorse that keeps quietly putting up results, with price tags that behave similarly. Specifically, it’s the foil Temples that are worth keeping an eye on.

At $15, these aren’t exactly cheap, but keep in mind just how popular — and consistent — this strategy is. Depending on how you measure it, the deck is six to nine percent of the Modern metagame, and only slightly less of the Legacy meta. Of course there’s also Eldrazi variants, like Eldrazi Death and Taxes, as well as EDH decks, casual sixty card decks, etc.

You’ve got a powerful, consistent tribe with demand across multiple formats. Their key absolutely-five-of-if-it-were-legal land has two foil printings. Pack foils are $50. MM2 foils are available around $15 today, but without any more copies, I’d expect this to keep turning upwards towards spring of next year.

Iroas, God of Victory (Foil)

Price Today: $22
Possible Price: $40

Dinosaurs have been a popular tribe over on EDHREC lately, so I figured I’d peek around their page and see what I could find. It’s mostly dinosaurs from Ixalan (obviously) but there’s only so many playable of those, and some cards make for strong support. Iroas is apparently one of those cards.

He wasn’t my first choice, actually. There was something else I was looking at that I figured was more interesting. That is, until I checked their play statistics. It turns out Iroas is in 8,200 decks, which is probably three times more than I had expected to find. 8,200 is a lot of dang decks. That may be top 100 cards in the format. Iroas! Who’d have guessed.

Anyways, despite his popularity, I don’t hear much of him. He seems to be one of those sleeper cards that’s popular but nobody really realizes. At the moment, you can find foils at $22 or so. There’s only 16 copies on TCG at the moment though, so there isn’t a deep well to draw from. We’ve got a surprisingly highly-played god with a twenty dollar foil and little supply. Looks like a gainer to me.


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 10/23/17

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.


Standard mostly took the week off after last week’s bout of nationals. All we got was the Standard Classic, and there wasn’t too much exciting in there. Four energy decks, some Ramunap Red, and the whole thing rounded out with a Mardu Vehicles and an Abzan Tokens list. Wizards is hoping that delaying the Pro Tour means that Standard won’t be solved as quickly in the rotation, but it’s looking like that’s going to backfire, and rather than the Pro Tour solving Standard too fast, the rest of the world is going to solve Standard and the Pro Tour is just going to be an SCG Classic with more well-known players.

Sitting down at my computer, I was planning on telling you to take a look at foil copies of Kumena’s Speaker and Merfolk Branchwalker, since while supply would be on the higher side, I’d expect them to slowly move, given that UG seems to be the future of Merfolk. Imagine my surprise when I found zero copies of Speaker left and only four or five of Branchwalker. Oh well. Find them at your LGS maybe?

Harbinger of the Tides (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $13

While those Merfolk uncommon foils sold out, there’s still some other juice to be found in the list. Harbinger of the Tides showed up in Magic Origins two years ago, and was fairly quickly well-received by Merfolk players. While it’s not a lord, it does all sorts of useful things. You can play it as an instant natively, it flips blockers or otherwise problematic threats, and you get to cheat on mana with Aether Vial, similar to Silvergill Adept. Just yesterday we saw the UG Merfolk player use Merrow Reejery to tap a Fiend Hunter, then Harbinger the Hunter back to its owner’s hand in order to get back a lord he needed.

Harbinger looks to fill an important role in Merfolk, that is, it’s a threat with an a spell stapled to him. These dual-purpose creatures are extremely important for the deck, since a bunch of 2 mana 4/4’s probably wouldn’t be good enough on their own. Add in some “draw a card” and “Vapor Snag” onto the bodies though, and you’re in business.

Harbinger recently got a reprint in Commander 2017, but that’s fine by us, since we’re more interested in foils anyways. Supply is relatively deep, with 50 separate vendors on TCG right now for pack foils. Prices start at $3, and climb from there. We’re not expecting an overnight flip here or anything, but as a strategy that’s got an established fanbase, new Standard support, and recent tournament success, there’s a lot of ingredients in the pot for a strong growth pattern.

Ancient Ziggurat (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

UG Merfolk didn’t actually win this weekend, that honor goes to 5c Humans. It’s not called 5c, but between Mantis Rider, Mayor of Avabruck, and Xathrid Necromancer, well, it’s 5c. It’s a fun list to watch, and probably feels solid and agile at the table. I was particularly impressed with Mantis Rider in the few games I caught, as a Hierarch trigger and then a Thalia’s Lieutenant counter made it a serious threat in the air while still being able to play solid defense when the time came.

There’s lots of nifty cards in this list, and some of them I’ve written about before. I’m more interested in Ancient Ziggurat this week though, for a few reasons. First and foremost is that it’s a land, and lands are always good. Second, it’s basically mandatory for any 5c, or even 4c tribal deck. You’re going to want four every time you sleeve a deck like this up. Third, it’s got cross-deck appeal. Today it’s Humans. Tomorrow it may be Slivers. Then perhaps 4c Vampires. You get the idea. Regardless of what tribe you’re bringing to the table, Ancient Ziggurat is going to be a go-to.

There are roughly 35 pack foils on TCG right now, which is on the lower end of things. You’ll find plenty of those Duel Deck foils but holy moly those are terrible. Ugly, warpy, etc. Ziggurat had an FNM promo as well, and is already at $8.50 or $9 today, with maybe ten copies available. Both pack foils and FNM copies are posed to keep moving upwards with Humans’ recent success, and pack foils are certainly the cheaper ride up.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder

 

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

Do you know what the sixth most built commander on EDHREC is? You probably know the first; it’s Atraxa. You also may know second and third belong to Meren and Breya, respectively. Not many will know sixth though. I didn’t before I looked today. Turns out, it’s Yidris. I was surprised by that, especially by how badly my own Yidris list went down in flames.

There’s not a lot of arithmetic necessary on this one. Atraxa has 4,000 decks on EDHREC, and the cheapest copy is $17. Yidris has 2,100 decks and the cheapest copy is $3.50. Why does the sixth most used general, with half the decks of the most built, have a price tag that’s one quarter of the price of Atraxa? It is, as they say, a mystery.

Yidris is an awesome looking commander, his popularity is obvious, he’s in great colors, and this is likely to be the only foil printing available for quite some time. I’d be shocked if picking these up sub-$4 didn’t result in some pleasant returns somewhere down the road.


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 10/16/17

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.


Nationals was back this weekend, and people were loving it. Players across the world took part in their country’s event, and it was clear across social media that this wasn’t just another tournament, that Nationals means more to people than just another GP. Nationalism is not always such an innocent motivator, but at least this weekend, it brought out the best in countrymen. Especially Brazil, whose team of three — yes, all three — are Pro Tour champions. One is even in the Hall of Fame! Hardly a fair fight, guys.

Nationals brought us Standard lists, the SCG Open brought us two Modern events, and EDH continues to be a driving force in the markets.

Confiscation Coup

Price Today: $.25
Possible Price: $3

While UB Control won US Nationals, various forms of energy took 9 out of the top 16 slots, including second place in the hands of Gerry T. In every single one of these lists we can find at least one, and usually two or three Confiscation Coup. Wizards has a long history of printing various permutations on Control Magic, and some have been quite good (Threads of Disloyalty) while others have been unplayable (Willbreaker). Confiscation Coup is looking to land firmly on the top half of the scale.

It’s not so much that Coup is a pushed or especially powerful card, so much as it is that energy is not a balanced mechanic. As a result, Coup ends up playing as one of the best Mind Controls ever, since it isn’t an enchantment, but rather a sorcery. This alone is a meaningful difference. Add in that The Scarab God and Hazoret the Fervent are two major threats in the format, threats that are highly resistant to typical forms of removal, and you’ve got a recipe for permanent control effects to rise to the top.

Coup is never going to be an expensive card, let’s make that clear. It is a useful card though, and it could end up moreso in the coming weeks. If you’re able to snag these for $.25 each, you’re going to have no trouble trading these away for $1 or even $3 each at your local store. For armchair speculators like myself whose primary outlet is selling online they’re probably not worth it, but if you still grind trades locally, a couple of cheap stacks of Coups could turn into some real cardboard on the trade tables.

Angel of Sanctions

Price Today: $1.75
Possible Price: $6

Blue sorceries aren’t the only way to deal with annoying gods. Back in Amonkhet Wizards gave us another answer that’s been quiet thus far; Angel of Sanctions.

Sanctions clears out Scarab Gods and Hazorets while simultaneously presenting an evasive threat, which is beyond helpful when you’re trying to not die to your opponent’s best card and also close out the game. Given that Sanctions is a temporary answer, closing out the game is of course important.

Sanctions’ four toughness is particularly appreciated against red, where Lightning Strike isn’t enough to finish it alone. Then, even if they do manage to destroy Sanctions (but not with Fatal Push!), you can just embalm it to run it back. Sanctions isn’t a permanent answer to either Scarab God or Hazoret, but it can typically manage for at least several turns. And all of this is just about those two threats. Don’t forget it hits all non-land permanents, which means you can aim it at God Pharaoh’s Gift, Anointed Procession, and other annoying creatures, Walking Ballista chief among them.

At $1.75 for a playable, useful mythic, I’m tempted. I’m not expecting this to blow up or anything, but it could easily show up in more strategies than we’re seeing today. How about a 4x Hostage Taker, 4x Angel of Sanctions deck? Makes me long for Eldrazi processors again. In any case, it’s not hard to see how Sanctions could make the climb to $5 or $6, maybe even more.

Heirloom Blade

Price Today: $.75

Possible Price: $5

On the Commander side of things, tribal continues to dominate the most popular decks of late. One of the biggest hits out of Commander 2017 to join along in that ride is Herald’s Horn, with a price tag today of $6. Heirloom Blade is at $.75, and it’s possible that’s out of sync with where it should be.

Herald’s Horn is currently logged in 1,700 EDH decks. Heirloom Blade isn’t in quite that many, rather, a little over 800. That puts it at about half the popularity of Herald’s Horn today. Both are in two Commander 2017 decks, so it’s not like one is more available than the other. If we assume these numbers should be in equal ratios, Blade should cost about 50% of Horn today, or about $3.

And that’s just today. Tribal will continue to be popular for several more months, with Rivals of Ixalan promising to continue the trend set forth in Ixalan. That means more cards that help tribal strategies and more attention on those types of decks. All of these new tribal tools also make other tribes more attractive. My personal project, Clerics, is far more viable now with more cards like Horn and Blade floating around.

There’s no reason Blade shouldn’t cost nearly $3 right now, and that number should rise over the coming months as supply drains and there are more signals to push people to tribal strategies.


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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