PROTRADER: The Watchtower 7/17/17

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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.


Hour of Devastation’s release weekend and the accompanying SCG event brought us a Standard format that, at least to those not glued to MTGO results, was fairly distinct from what we’ve been seeing. Sure, there were Mardu Vehicles, but there was also W/U Monument, B/G and Temur Energy, some zombies, and the winner was a Four-Color Control list that played…Dovin Baan? Huh?

Really though, the Standard results don’t mean too much for us at the time being. Seemingly more so than usual, these lists are heavy on rotating cards. Those W/U Monument decks are losing 20 of 24 creatures in the main. Emerge decks are losing all the card with emerge. Zombies are losing nearly all of their zombies. Vehicles hang on a little better, but they’re still losing Gideon, which has long been a key staple in the deck.

Our best takeaway isn’t the decks themselves, but the cards. Find recurring themes, and cards that did well on camera. Then use this information to position ourselves well for the fall rotation.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Price Movement on HOU

Hello and welcome to the new world of super-cheap cards that aren’t worth the cost of packs or boxes!

Well, that was at the beginning of this week, anyway. Not a lot has changed, either, but there are some cards that have changed price in surprising ways over the past few days, and I want to look at what’s happening.

A note: I’m not always sure why a card is moving, as we don’t have any tournament data to look at yet. We have a very small amount of 5-0 results from Magic Online, but the saga of Wizards and data suppression is its own lengthy article.

Still, price movements online and in paper can tell us some things, and I always like a clue on the first weekend.

The Scarab God ($15 now, up from $9 this week): Can we take a minute and reflect on how silly it is that no one bothered to give these Gods names? Is that part of the appeal or something? A testament to the power of the Moriarty-Dragon? It’s irksome to me, but I’m old and a curmudgeon.

The card has crept up about 50% this week probably because it’s a brutal EDH card and it doesn’t take much to have this be a game-defining effect. The ‘each opponent’ clause is pretty darn fantastic, and having a relevant graveyard ability is important in Commander as well. I think this price bump is not here to stay, as people will get their copies and the price will trickle back downwards.

Neheb, the Eternal ($4.50 now, was $2.50 this week): I cannot imagine a world where people are playing this over Glorybringer in Standard. Same mana cost, but one is far more impactful immediately than the other. I suspect this bump is due to the casual market as well, I’ve seen people trading for it at this price, and I’m staying away. Show me the combo in Standard, I know it’s capable of dumb things in Commander.

Razaketh, the Foulblooded ($6 now, was $10 a week ago): First off, the foil multiplier is nearing four on this card, so you can imagine it’s tearing up Commander games. I haven’t seen it in action myself, but it seems pretty degenerate and worst of all, it’s lots of tutoring and can be done at instant speed. I was really in on Griselbrand when it was printed, and that banning took a whole cycle to happen. If Razaketh survives the first banlist update from the EDH Rules Committee, then I’ll be listening, but for now, I’m staying away.

I don’t want to hear about reanimator decks playing this in Modern or Legacy either. The requirement of an additional creature just costs too much when you’re playing this on turn one. Griselbrand gets your seven back immediately.

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Bontu’s Last Reckoning ($4.50 now, was $3 last week): Is this worth it? There is not a comparable card to look at, oddly, but I’m cautious. I suspect this is going to be a card that gets more play than we are first expecting…for the first couple of weeks. People are testing this card, and the price is going up. Usually that means it’s going to get played this first weekend, so I’ll be keeping track of events to see if it’s pulling its weight.

Fraying Sanity ($2 now, was less than a buck a week ago): You’ve heard it from a million writers: casual players love their mill cards. The list is long yet not consistent, though. Sure, Consuming Aberration is $2, but Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker is still $1. I would be dumping Fraying Sanity at $2 right now, in trade or in what you can get in cash.

That’s my plan for right now. I’m expecting this card to drop like a rock, it ought to be fifty cents or less in a month. I don’t think the foils will ever drop below $5, though, and that’s where I would prefer to be. I get it that the effects stack, and the second is quad damage…but I can’t deny this:

Sometime in the next 18 months (this set rotates out in September 2018) there will be a mill deck featured someplace and this card will spike. I would plan on selling into that hype.

Hour of Devastation ($8 now, was $3 a week ago): This is the card that I first thought of. We already have some pretty good UR decks, and now those decks get a sweeper that can even deal with planeswalkers! This is going to make a big impact early and alongside Abrade, makes UR able to deal with the vehicle/walker cards that are usually so resilient to wrath effects.

I think this isn’t done going up. It’s going to break $10, and might even get close to $15 in the early hype. It won’t stay there, as this is too mana-intensive to be a four-of in the decks that want it, I’m expecting it to be a defining card of the format for some time, though. I’ll say that this stabilizes at a solid $10.

Ramunap Excavator (Now $7, was $4): Being the release weekend promo means that there will be more foil copies out there, but this card is just amazing in a format with fetchlands. I’m not sold that it’s Legacy-worthy, but I can see the appeal. Playing this alongside Wasteland is a repeated kick in the teeth. Yes, it’s amazing with Glacial Chasm too.

The thing is, though, I have a hard time believing that all the cards in this set are super-low-priced. Most cards are trending down, as they should, but it’s clear that the Excavator is getting enough value to invite purchases. I just can’t justify buying a promo rare at this price. I would be shocked if it bumped to $10, because it would have to start trending down from there.

The counterpoint is Sylvan Caryatid, a card which had a high points above $15 and is still $2. If the Excavator has legs in the eternal formats, that’s a possible price.  We will have to wait and see what the early adopters do. I won’t be shocked if it’s showing up in the eternal formats, and I won’t be shocked if it sees no play.

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Draft enthusiast. He believes in keeping one, maybe two playmats max and tends to enjoy the side events more than the main attraction at a GP. Ever since getting his first Revised packs in 1994, he’s sold cards for a new transmission, a sweet bed, and even the security deposit when moving into a new place. Find him on Twitter @wordofcommander or Fridays here at MTGPrice.

Brainstorm Brewery #247: Meowloro

After several weeks of new and returning guests, the show return to its regular lineup of hosts and DJ.   With a lull before the new set drops, a ton of knowledge is shared as the cast hits breaking bulk, pick of the week and clears a swath of listener emails.  Topics include how to track price movements, finding rare booster packs, building relationships with GP vendors, and speculations on Commander 2017.   We learn that Corbin is to blame for terrible deck names, and Jason does his best impression of Wizard’s customer service.

Contact Us!

Brainstorm Brewery – Website – E-mail – Twitter – Facebook – RSS – iTunes – Stitcher

Corbin Hosler – E-mail – Twitter – Facebook – TCGPlayer

Jason E Alt – E-mail – Twitter – Facebook – MTGPrice

Douglas Johnson is and will forever be merely a guest.

Too Impatient to Wait in the Weeds

I said we would talk about the Commander 2017 leaks this week and even though I’m not super duper inclined, let’s do it. More leaks happened, and it seems like Wizards isn’t running a very tight ship these days. Employees of print shops, dumbdumb LGS owners and even the employees of places like Gamestop are all conspiring to make sure we have stuff spoiled for us. It’s disheartening. I haven’t even really looked at the Ixalan rares even though a lot of them are spoiled because I’m not ready to worry about that stuff yet. I’m barely ready for Commander 2017 but everyone else seems jazzed, buying up all the stupid kittycat cards on the internet. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today – which stupid kittycat cards you should buy based on the stupid kittycat commander and how the right answer might be “None of them.”

This might end up the impetus for some bad buying decisions and some even worse building decisions. There’s a lot to unpack here given what we know in total about Commander 2017 but even though I’ve seen two of the “Eminence” creatures spoiled and rolled my eyes super hard at how every commander is Oloro, now, I still feel like we don’t actually know enough to really start buying cards discriminately. Indiscriminately? Sure, that’s covered. Every card with a picture of a kittycat on it is being bought out, including cards like Waiting in the Weeds.

I don’t know if that’s the right play. We have some data to look at to see if there are better things we can be doing with our money. It’s pretty obvious to see a kittycat commander and buy kittycat cards, but are you going to have people to sell those cats to? Are you hoping to sell to players or other speculators? I’m a little more skeptical about cat cards than a lot of the other people I see advocating buying cards like foil White Sun’s Zenith and I’ve also been writing about EDH finance for longer than anyone else. I’m going to try to prove to you that those two things are related.

Is Meowloro Even A Good Card?

Ehhhhh.

We have a commander that can boost a cat  from the command zone or battlefield and also, when they attack, boost a small number of cats. It’s expensive to summon, mana-intensive to use its main ability and it is a complete non-bo with all of the rest of the cards I see selling out. If you’re trying to go wide with a cat deck, you’re better off with Crovax, Ascendant Hero as your commander. I don’t say that because Crovax is a good choice, I say that because Arahbo, Roar of the World (Even his name is stupid) is a bad choice.

The decks I have seen brewed (First example, Second Example, Third Example) don’t have much in common except a lot of them seem terrible, they run a lot of bad cards and they don’t seem to run many of the “obvious” pickups I see touted in finance circles. Like it or not, the durdles who are hardcore about this deck enough to make their decks on Tappedout before the other 99 cards in the deck are revealed are basically who is going to be building the decks. What they buy later matters more than what speculators buy now, and they still aren’t going to buy anything until they get the actual physical copies of the decks in their hands. We’re seeing stuff spike predicated on Commander 2017 but it’s not players buying the cards. Some of those specs are going to hit, but why use a scattershot approach when we can be smarter? Put simply, decks made around this card are liable to be bad and bought for novelty. Novelty still slangs boosters and singles, don’t get me wrong, but if you think this deck is going to be more important than the other tribes, I bet it’s not and I don’t care how well Regal Caracal is selling right now.

Will we see a deck built around Meowloro that’s actually some manner of Green-White midrange deck that doesn’t go wide because his abilities don’t lend themselves to the kind of “go wide” build that White Sun’s Zenith, Waiting in the Weeds and other touted specs go in? Will we see a cat deck built around another card in the 99 un-spoiled cards in the deck? It’s possible. How likely is it?

Will We See A Good Cat Tribal Deck At All?

People say they really want a cat tribal deck. But people say a lot of things and I tend to want to buy based on what people are doing rather than what they say they will do. Remember the Ezuri deck and all of the brutal decks people built taking a bunch of extra turns with Sage of Hours? Was that what people said they were going to do? I remember people saying that a card that wasn’t Ezuri was the money card.

I’m not implying cats will be as bad and underwhelming as snakes, but I am implying that typically, tribal decks need a lot of traction and don’t usually get it. I bet a lot of people build dragon decks, but I bet a lot of people put dragons from the dragon precon in other decks, too, and dragons are basically one of the three strongest tribes in Magic. Kaseto is helming fewer than 300 decks on EDHREC and the results are similar for other tribes that aren’t slivers or some other ridiculous tribe. Even Oldzuri is hovering around 600 decks so it’s tough to imagine a Cat tribal deck doing much better. Tazri is ally commander and we’re talking 800 decks there which sounds impressive but then we look at the decks we should compare Kaseto to. We have 1,257 Ezuri Claw of Progress decks, from the same precon as Kaseto and not strictly elfy. Meren comes in at 2,250 decks. We’re looking at only 1,000 decks total running Sliver Hive across all Sliver commanders. Compare that to 3,200 Atraxa decks to see what it takes to move cards. Atraxa is insanely popular and it’s going to take insane popularity to move cards like Brimaz, something I don’t think Meowloro is up to. I expect it to be closer to 300 decks than 3,000 and that’s a problem.

What Do We Do Instead, Smart Guy?

I’m getting to it, damn.

There won’t be 3,200 cat decks off of the back of this set, there just won’t be. Like, if there are, I’ll eat my hat. My hat is a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, so it’s not the craziest bet (I learned from Michigan legend EDT that you should specify a tasty hat) but I’m still going to have to eat a bunch of fruit that’s been on my head. Do I look like I eat fruit? Don’t answer that. Also, don’t bother answering when I say “How many cat decks do you think will come out of this set?” because the answer is “not enough.”

You want to buy a bunch of foils that won’t be in the deck, be my guest, but the rest of us want to make money and have buyers for the cards we come off of. It takes the Gitrog Monster’s 1,000 decks to make an old bulk rare hit $10 and stay above $5 in my estimation so if we’re buying cards much, much newer than Squandered Resources, they’ll need to be in way more decks.

I advocate waiting until the lists are published because non-speculators are slow to pick up cards and you’ll have time, but if you insist on buying stuff now, don’t buy kittycat cards, buy stuff that could go in more than one deck based on the precons. I have a few more targets.

Steely Resolve

This card is already on the creep toward $10 and I think if this isn’t reprinted, it’s a reasonable assumption that this hits that. Corbin said on BSB this week that he thinks the fact that this references Shroud rather than hexproof makes it a little tougher to reprint. If you insist on being impatient, I’d say grab these now. Once tribal builders are aware of this card, they’ll be willing to pay up to $10, I think and in the month following this card not being reprinted (in that case) it will climb to that amount. I’m waiting for confirmation, but if you’re feeling ballsy, you can take riskier bets than this.

Cover of Darkness

Everything I said about Steely Resolve applies to Cover of Darkness except for the fact that it says Shroud. Instead, it says Fear. If they’re not inclined to reprint Steely Resolve for that reason, they won’t reprint Cover for the same reason. This is great with zombies, a tribe that The Scarab God has reminded people to build.  I might as well complete the mini-cycle (Red and Blue didn’t get a card in this cycle) with..

Shared Triumph

It’s a weak anthem effect but it’s also pretty cheap. This has the highest reprint risk of the bunch and I’m not bullish on this, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about an entire cycle of cards in case someone stumbled upon this card and wondered how I felt about it. I don’t care for it, but it’s a card.

Descendants’ Path (Foil)

This is down from its historic high and I think that’s noteworthy. Durdle Eldrazi decks pretended they were going to play this card and while some still do, this is mostly an EDH card. I think there is a medium reprint risk but since I’m trying to find picks for lunatics who won’t wait for the full spoilers, this foil is a decent pickup and seems almost 0 risk considering it’s a second spike on a card with cross-format appeal that goes in tribal decks with green, something both of the tribal decks spoiled so far have.

I still advocate waiting for full spoilers and I don’t think if 300 people total register Meowloro on EDHREC (I’m still calling him that because I forgot his real name and don’t want to even scroll up to find it) you’re going to find enough people to offload your foil Scythe Tigers or whatever other foolishness you bought. I think if you’re not going to be smart and wait along with me, you can at least buy smarter. Mitigate reprint risk and buy cards that appeal broadly so you’re not relying on the few people who build one bad deck to bail out your bad spec. Foil White Sun’s Zenith Bad. Foil Obelisk of Urd, better.

That’s all I have for you this week. Until next time!

 

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