Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 4)


Welcome to the final installment in my  four-part part series on making money on Modern cards in 2017. You can find the first part, covering the cards most likely to rebound from Modern Masters 2017, over here, the second part here, and the third part here.

First off, let’s check in on the prices of the rares and mythics from Modern Masters 2017 to see how those potential specs are progressing.


MM17 mythics have been sliding modestly in the last couple of weeks.

Here we find ourselves just about on top of the Amonkhet pre-release weekend, and facing down additional MM17 supply that many vendors just received in a second wave. I suspect that much of that supply will be sold off as packs in the shops to maximize profits at this point, since the singles supply online is looking too deep to be very tempting. As a result, we’re looking at further price slides almost across the board on both MM17 mythics and rares.

Pretty much all of the relevant mythics have lost ground over the last couple of weeks, including Tarmogoyf, LOTV, Snapcaster Mage, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Craterhoof Behemoth, Voice of Resurgence and Griselbrand, with an average decline of -7%. Cavern of Souls is the only important mythic to be holding steady in the $35-40 range.  Overall, the MM17 mythics are down -52% since December 2016, -19% since release and -7%.

So now that we’re this close to Amonkhet, let’s see how my predicted entry points lined up with reality. Here are my March 8th predictions on how low the key mythics would get vs. where they landed:

  • Tarmogoyf (Target: $60 vs. Low: $78)
  • Liliana of the Veil (Target: $50 vs. Low: $70)
  • Cavern of Souls (Target: $25 vs. Low: $35)
  • Snapcaster Mage (Target: $25 vs. Low $35)
  • Voice of Resurgence (Target: $8 vs. Low: $10)

As you can see, from my earlier list only Voice of Resurgence has really fallen far enough to prove my predictions true. The rest of the high demand mythics have been bleeding value lately, but are still showing enough strength to make these earlier targets look like a stretch. Only repeated supply is likely to get us close to these targets at this point, and with Iconic Masters having been announced officially today, a supply push for MM17 in the late fall now looks unlikely. That being the case, I think you can feel confidant buying in to the mythics you need anytime in the next month if you need them to play with.  As far as speculation goes, I’m not going to be prioritizing these cards until I see the card supply dry up and I hear word that distributors aren’t sending out cases by the pallet any more.

Now let’s take at where we’re at with the MM17 rares.

Rares have also been sliding.

Predictably, though the rares have also slid another -7% since early April, the group is down more than the mythics overall since both pre-order season (-26%) and last December (-66%). That 66% drop since last fall is especially egregious if you are a fully committed Modern play with a large collection and not much to gain from Modern Masters 2017 reprints.

Looking at specifics, even the previously stalwart Zendikar fetchlands have fallen off their recover pace in the last few weeks, with losses around -6-7% for Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa and Misty Rainforest, with neutral movement on Verdant Catacombs and a bit of a bump (4%) on Marsh Flats.   There are over 120 listings on alone for all of these lands so supply is still piling up bit by bit for now. That being said, there really aren’t that many copies left of Scalding Tarn below $50 at present, so there may not be much point in holding out for sub $40 pricing in the absence of a major supply side event.


Here’s an overview of the targets I set for some of the rares in March vs. where we ended up:

  • Scalding Tarn (Target: $25 vs. Low: $40)
  • Verdant Catacombs (Target: $25 vs. Low: $40)
  • Misty Rainforest (Target: $20 vs. Low: $30)
  • Arid Mesa (Target: $20 vs. Low $25)
  • Marsh Flats (Target: $20 vs. Low: $25)

As with the best of the mythics, my targets were too optimistic for these high demand cards given how supply has played out so far. At this point I would be comfortable acquiring for personal use and Scalding Tarn, Verdant Catacombs and Misty Rainforest may yield reasonable gains over a horizon of 6-18 months pending any further supply side shocks. As I stated with the mythics, keep an eye on the total supply to decide whether to prioritize going deep. Poking around on Twitter, Facebook and various finance message boards may yield another 10-15% savings on your targets, so make sure to dig for your dollars.

Down 72% since Dec/16!

What about the rest of the rares? Here’s where my other price predictions ended up:

  • Damnation (Target: $20 vs. Low: $17)
  • Blood Moon (Target: $15 vs. Low: $16)
  • Goblin Guide (Target: $12.50 vs. Low: $15)
  • Arid Mesa (Target: $20 vs. Low $25)
  • Marsh Flats (Target: $20 vs. Low: $25)

We did better overall with the rest of the rare predictions. People told me I was nuts for calling the previously $60 Damnation to fall under $25, but here we are with it at $17. The reality is that this card’s demand was more urban myth than it was fact, and supply is currently still piling up. I want a couple of these for casual decks and cube, but I’m in no rush until I see a deal at $15/copy.

Likewise, Blood Moon has fallen hard from $45 and doesn’t seem likely to recover any time soon given the number of listings out there. This card is on my list of “cards they might get rid of at some point in Modern” so I can’t see myself being inclined to go deep on it no matter how low it goes. Goblin Guide has been bleeding out steadily since December, and may well get to my target. Either way, you’re already set up for a $100 discount per play set, so no definite reason to be shy if you need them now.

Death's Shadow

I didn’t comment on the likely price of Death’s Shadow up front, but so long as that deck doesn’t get banned out of Tier 1 status, picking these up at current prices ($7/$15 foil) seems like the most obvious place to start speculating on the reprints, though inventory isn’t low enough, even on this obvious staple, to make it a priority target.

The Up & Comers


Last week we took our second look at the cards that dodged a reprint in Modern Masters 2017. This week we’ll move on to looking at some of the cards that have just recently been printed or been making fresh waves in the format to figure out if there is any meat left on that bone.

Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality was largely underestimated when it debuted in Eldritch Moon in the summer of 2016. Even before Fatal Push set a new standard for black removal in Modern and Legacy, Collective Brutality was assumed to be too slow as a two-mana sorcery to see serious play. The mistake made by the detractors however, was almost certainly the flexibility provided by this powerful card. Depending on your immediate needs, Collective Brutality can get rid of a key combo piece, removal spell or sweeper, kill a creature, or help win a race with a significant life swing. The ability to use multiple modes via discard, both turns on madness and serves up a bonus to decks that want various card types in the graveyard anyway. The most recent Jund Death’s Shadow builds are a great example of a prominent deck that puts the card to good use, as do Dredge, Abzan and Grixis Death’s Shadow. Each of these decks tends to run a max of one copy in the main, with another 1-3 copies in the sideboard. In Legacy, B/R Reanimator runs 2-3 copies in the sideboard, and 4C Loam sometimes runs it as well.

Last August you could have had your fill of this emerging staple at $2, but now it’s hovering between $9-10. Most of the play isn’t in Standard, so this card could hold it’s elevated price tag (relative to other Standard rares) despite rotating in the fall.

I was in on foils early at $6 or so, and recently sold out closer to $20 based on my “greed limit” rules. It’s possible that foils near $20 are still a buy however as total inventory is very limited and the card could easily hit $30+ this year if demand is persistent. Being from a small summer set lessens overall inventory here, so performing better than say, Collected Company foils, might be reasonable.

Current Price: $10 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $15 ($30 foil)

The Mid-Range Eldrazi

Thought-Knot SeerReality Smasher

Thought-Knot Seer & Reality Smasher already occupy dual positions in the Top 10 creatures in the format by play volume and they are almost always played as 4-ofs. These two bad boys never see any play on any team but Team Eldrazi, but given that there are several possible flavors of Eldrazi in Modern, and that these cards see play all the way back to Vintage, we should at least feel them out. Another point in their favor is that Oath of the Gatewatch was a winter set rather than a fall set, meaning that there is significantly less of these around than say Smuggler’s Copter.

During Eldrazi Winter (Feb/March 2016), when Eldrazi decks were temporarily ruining Modern, TKS got up over $15, but has since fallen back into the $5-7 range. Given that Thought-Knot Seer currently boasts about the same number of total listings online as Death’s Shadow, despite coming from a set with wider distribution, it would seem like a relatively safe value store for next couple of years.

Reality Smasher only got up to $10 or so last year, and is currently available closer to $3, so it may represent the better deal here since both cards see roughly equivalent play. Matter Reshaper is also a constant presence in the Eldrazi lists, and at $2 it’s fairly attractive. Endbringer is a typical three-of in the Eldrazi Tron lists, and it’s just $.50, partially due to the presence of widely distributed promo card and partially because this card wasn’t caught up in the original hype last year.

Thought-Knot Seer
Current Price: $6 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $15 ($30 foil)

Reality Smasher
Current Price: $3.50 ($12 foil)
Target Price (2018): $6 ($20 foil)

Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista

Mostly through play in Eldrazi Tron as a four-of, this multi-format all-star from Aether Revolt was underestimated early, but quickly turned heads in multiple formats.  Paper copies spiked closer to $15 near the Pro Tour, but have since fallen closer to $10 as Standard interest has waned this winter. As a powerful colorless creature with a flexible casting cost, a built in mana sink and a number of interesting artifact and +1/+1 counter synergies, I definitely have interest in investing in the card long term, but I’d like to see what happens with the upcoming Standard list before I consider a move. Ideally, I think I want to look at the non-foils under $5, which likely means waiting until the 2019 fall rotation, but foils are already nearly dry under $20, and could easily hit $30, so I’d likely start with those now. I recently bought a few Russian pack foils for less than $50, and I expect those will be a really nice feature in my portfolio in a couple of years.

Current Price: $10 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $5 ($30 foil)

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Early in the summer of 2016, when Shadows Over Innistrad was nearing peak supply, you had a shot at Traverse the Ulvenwald close to $2. Fast forward a year and the card has posted up in the paint as part of the best brew in the format, Jund Death’s Shadow, where it is played constantly as a four-of in a deck that has no trouble at all hitting Delirium and turning this into a virtual Demonic Tutor. Consequently you’ll need to cough up $7 or so to get your hands on some, and I think you can safely pass on that if you missed out on the lower price tag.

The foils are another matter entirely, as there are very few available, and the different between the sub-$10 copies around and the $20 asking price on the 30th or 40th copies will not be a tough bridge to cross assuming that Death’s Shadow stays near the top of the metagame. The foil multiplier is also inexplicably low, especially for a set with no Masterpieces to hold back it’s price recovery down the road. Furthermore, even the death of Death’s Shadow aggro might not be enough to hold this card down long term, since the power level and casting cost are in the sweet spot that tends to get used in multiple shells over a long enough time horizon. I’ve been a pretty active buyer of foils near $10 over the last few months and I’m not done yet. In terms of solid specs, this is about as good as they come.

Current Price: $7 ($10 foil)
Target Price (2018): $4 ($20 foil)

Fatal Push

Fatal Push

There’s little doubt that this card represents the most important new kill spell in any format in recent memory. The problem, from a financial perspective at least, is that everyone was fully aware from the start and the card is an uncommon. Despite that lowly rarity, foils are hovering in the $30-35 range and the inventory is not particularly deep even at that price.  Aether Revolt will still be opened to some degree for the rest of the year, but we are almost certainly facing peak supply already or pretty close to it. Could this be a future $50 foil uncommon?  I think it might get there, but I don’t like the buy in prices as they stand so I think I’ll pass on this one in favor of more likely success.

Current Price: $6 ($30 foil)
Target Price (2018): $6 ($40 foil)

Join me next week when we dig deep into the Amonkhet opportunities in a new Digging for Dollars!

CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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What’s up, nerds?

I am going to finish up the spoilers today by talking about the stuff I missed last week because it hadn’t been spoiled yet or I didn’t want to. I also had some requests from you nerds, and I don’t want you to think I don’t read your comments so I’m going to address those points.

As a reminder, let’s take a look at the cards from Aether Revolt that are worth more than $2 now that it’s been a few months.

Not too many cards here.

Next week I’m going to talk the whole time about all of the cards that Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is going to make expensive because that’s what this column used to be about before everything Wizards did kept distracting me. Hapatra her(Him? Their?)self is unlikely to be a factor finance-wise but we’re not so much concerned with that. We’re all about throwing big rocks in the pond and studying the ripples they make and not so much caring about the price of the rock. I think Baral being $2.15 means that the conversation about Hapatra’s price is liable to be a short one. Still, next week’s conversation is bound to be a lively one as all of the -1/-1 counter tribal cards (Except Kulrath Knight, dammit) can go in a Hapatra deck and it’s the most popular of the new commanders on EDHREC.


Before I launch into the stuff I wanted to talk about this week, I had some requests last week and I’m going to address those before I move on.

Samut, Voice of Dissent

This card sure does have a lot of abilities. The question, though, is whether any of it matters. I think for this card itself to be relevant financially, it will need to get picked up in Modern or Standard and I’m not sure that’s going to happen. While it’s cool to have a Flash, Double Strike creature, are we going Voltron? I think you’re a bad Uril deck. Are you some sort of Naya commander, giving your creatures haste and untapping one of them a turn? Does that help you out at all? I can’t predict which cards will go up as a result of this printing because I don’t know what Samut players want. Neither do they. A brief trip over to EDHREC to look at the Samut page reveals a disorganized hodgepodge of random Naya goodstuff and a total lack of cohesion. Until something solid built around this card materializes, I’m forced to conclude that despite this card having every ability, it’s not going to be a force financially due to its lack of focus.

Vizier of Tumbling Sands

This is a real card and the cycling certainly doesn’t hurt its case, especially with creatures like Phyrexian Ooze and The Mimeoplasm out there. However, I don’t know that this will ever be worth actual money. I know this because I can compare it to something that is worth actual money.

Aphetto Alchemist is worth actual money. I’m not sure if anything outside of EDH is playing it (Whereas Fatestitcher got where it is because of use in Modern Jeskai decks) but EDH use has been enough to send this card surging into “actual money” territory which is a good place to be. The problem? The bulk of the use Aphetto Alchemist is getting is from Azami decks because Alchemist is a Wizard. Being a Wizard is very important in Azami decks and Vizier is a Cleric, not a Wizard. Being a blue Cleric is like being the Valedictorian at Summer School. If your plan is to snag free copies of Vizier out of draft chaff, box them for a minute and wait until you can buylist them for quarters, that’s a fine plan. If you want to do anything beyond that with them, good luck – I don’t see it happening. It’s a good card, but so what?

That’s all for requests this week, so if you had a card you wanted me to talk about and I didn’t, I’m sorry. Maybe we’ll talk about it next week before I get deep into Hapatrananigans. Nagananigans? Not snakenanigans, certainly – Naga aren’t snakes, guys, the cat god doesn’t make cats and I just said a creature with 11 keyword abilities isn’t a good commander. What’s the world coming to?

Anyway, here’s the stuff I didn’t talk about last week because it hadn’t been spoiled yet or I didn’t feel like it.


Gideon’s Intervention

This is Nevermore with way more flexibility. If you say the name of the card after it’s played, this still hampers it. Nevermore is in about 2,000 decks on EDHREC and has climbed to nearly $1 in price. I don’t know that this can get much higher than that despite being a better (albeit slower, which isn’t necessarily the best thing for a card that’s supposed to come down before another card) version of it. I still think this will impact the format and it’s worth looking after.

Vizier of Remedies

This plus Devoted Druid is infinite Green mana. I don’t know if you want that much mana, but that’s a thing you can do. This can also mitigate some of the pain associated with creatures that put -1/-1 counters on your own creatures or opponents trying to do that. This nerfs Hapatra, but that’s too narrow to bother jamming in your deck. This will be used to generate infinite mana with Devoted Druid and that’s about it. I think the price will start high so there isn’t much opportunity here, but be aware that this is part of a good combo.

Forsake the Worldly 

People play cards like Revoke Existence. This is better than that card in several ways.  It’s an instant, it has cycling and it still hits artifacts and enchantments. I’m not sure if this will be a staple, but I am generally in favor of flexible, instant-speed removal that isn’t a dead draw and this is those things. Foils may be money.

Lay Claim

I don’t know how inclined people are to do this, but I am generally in favor of replacing cards that cost 1 less mana but don’t have cycling. I use Take Possession in my decks and I have even used Confiscate a few times. If you have Confiscate, replace it with this for sure. I like this a lot in Maelstrom Wanderer, in fact, and this like replaces the Take Possession that’s in there since I don’t whiff when I draw this like I do with other expensive spells in that deck early when all I want to do is ramp my mana. I’m in the market for a foil of this, and maybe more.

Shadow of the Grave

Yidris decks want this for sure, right? If you’re dumping a lot of cards to a wheel effect, drawing back double is going to get you there and even if you have to discard down to hand size, you can easily find 7 cards that will win you the game or at least help you stabilize. I think this could be used, though maybe not enough to keep it from being a bulk rare. Still seems dumb in Nekusar, Leovold and Yidris, and those decks combine for a lot of play.

Faith of the Devoted

A new, better Lightning Rift? Sign me up.

Combat Celebrant

Things that do this thing are always playable. Find a way to blink this dude and/or give him haste and you’ve got a stew, baby! I’ve been known to put Bear Umbra on Hellkite Charger, so you know how I do.

By Force

This is very good. I don’t know if it’s better or worse than Shattering Spree but I’m inclined to say better unless you’re in Mono-red. This is savage, but maybe not as exciting as other variants.


This is bonkers. I’m not sure I’m replacing Acidic Slime with it, but this is just such a good hoser. It’s good to blink, it’s good not to blink, it’s maindeckable. I love this card. Love love love love this card. Get foils.

Gift of Paradise

Overgrowth is in almost 700 decks on EDHREC and this card is much, much better. Hargismb actually read the card and has a different take on it. I have changed how I feel.

Cascading Cataracts

This card is fun. I remember playing Crystal Quarry in a mono-black deck that used Last Stand to dome them for a ton because you only had Swamps. It was probably a decklist I got out of Duelist magazine but, whatever, I liked it. 5-color players are using Crystal Quarry enough that it’s a $5 card. This is better than that but not as rare so I bet this ends up around $3-$4ish in a year or two. Not bad for what almost assuredly starts out a bulk rare.

I think there may be a few more relevant cards but I think they’ll reveal themselves as people start to build decks. I’m going to talk to EDHREC about a custom report that ranks the cards from each new set based on the number of decks they’re in so I don’t have to do it manually. Next week there will be plenty to talk about and we can even spend the next few weeks speculating about which four tribes will be represented in Commander 2017.  Until next week!

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Watchtower 4/17/17

By: Travis Allen

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 to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.

Now that we’ve got the full Amonkhet spoiler, pros have begun brewing in earnest for the Pro Tour that will just be wrapping up about four weeks from now. Until then, we’re going with articles that get posted by (presumably) non-pros and whatever is happening over on the MTGO beta client. Then this coming weekend will be the first SCG Open with new cards and we’ll get our first true glimpse of Amonkhet Standard.

And then it’s all for naught! Amonkhet’s Banned and Restricted List update is next Monday, seven days from now. Most expect something to go – whether it’s Felidar Guardian, because why is Splinter Twin legal in Standard, or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, because he was never intended to exist alongside Gideon of the Trials, thanks to the rapid reversion to the two-year rotation cycle. Or even both, perhaps? Heart of Kiran? Will we get Emrakul, the Promise End back? We can’t say for sure, but one thing is for certain. People are expecting change, especially with how rotten Standard has been for awhile now.

Aetherworks Marvel

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

Remember this guy? It was terrorizing Standard for a brief window, and in parallel, had reached price tags of over $10, sometimes even $20. Vehicles and Copy Cat have since taken over Standard, especially after Aether Revolt, and Marvel has fallen by the wayside as a result.

Our biggest reason for keeping an eye on Marvel is the Banned and Restricted list announcement coming in a week. While it’s been chased out of Standard, the removal of either key Vehicles and/or Copy Cat pieces would blow a massive hole in the format, and I’m sure this would rush in to fill the void, at least temporarily. While Emrakul may be gone, most of the other tools are still there, and newcomer Approach of the Second Sun is weird, cumbersome, and deliciously tempting in a Marvel deck.

This isn’t a call to arms, though. Without a meaningful change in Standard, this set is only going to be more hostile to Marvel with cards like Manglehorn entering the fray. Our real decision point will be Monday morning. Yes, Monday morning – NOT the SCG Open this weekend. Don’t forget that that event fires before the B&R List update.

Mizzix’s Mastery

Krark-Clan Ironworks
Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

Mizzix’s Mastery was an early gainer out of Commander 2015, and since has been off the radar, as most Commander-only cards tend to be. “Off the radar” only applies to those looking at the radar though, which is a, well, two-dimensional way of looking at things. For those that track Commander cards long after the initial hype as died down, this has been a Thomas the Tank Engine, gaining slowly and slowly each week.

Supply is finally reaching critical levels, with only six copies left under $7 on TCG. You can score copies closer to $3 and $4 if you start digging, but not many. Once this dries up it will get relisted at $7 to $8, and while it will decline slightly at the start, it won’t take long to start climbing again. Eventually this should sit comfortably at the $9 to $12 range. It could take another year or so to reliably sell at that range, but we don’t invest in Commander because we expect rapid profits.

With reprints extremely limited to future Commander sets and maaaaaybe a Conspiracy-type set, we should have plenty of time to let these mature before overloading TCG with our spare copies.

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.

MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 63 (April 15/17)

MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: Apr 15, 2017

Segment 1: Top Card Spikes of the Week

Fiery Gambit

Fiery Gambit (Mirrodin, Foil Rare)
Start: $6.00
Finish: $16.00
Gain: +$10.00 (+167%)

Magister Sphinx (CFX, Rare)
Start: $3.25
Finish: $8.50
Gain: +$5.25 (+161%)

Wheel of Fate (C16, Rare)
Start: $1.50
Finish: $3.75
Gain: +2.25 (+150%)

Always Watching (SOI, Rare)
Start: $1.50
Finish: $3.50
Gain: +$2.00 (+133%)

Crumbling Ashes (SHM, Uncommon)
Start: $1.50
Finish: $3.00
Gain: +$1.50 (+100%)

Relentless Dead (SOI, Mythic)
Start: $5.00
Finish: $8.00
Gain: +$3.00 (+60%)

Long Term Amonkhet Specs:

Disclosure: Travis and James may own speculative copies of the above cards.


CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.