UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Ixalan Revealed!

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Sorry for the delay, everyone, but the full reveal of Ixalan needed me to do some revising.

This set has some amazing cards, and powerful synergies, so there’s a few things I’m immediately drawn to and are worth some coverage.

Let’s get to some themes and some cards!

Theme #1: White’s aggression is back!

Adanto Vanguard is a 3/1 for two mana that can become indestructible, really discouraging blocking. There’s also a straight 3/1 for two mana, a two mana lifelinker, and a legend in Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle which will enable white and black decks to get wide quickly.

Red/White as an aggressive combo is pretty pushed, considering that we’ve got Territorial Hammerskull to go with Ahn-Crop Crasher, so blocking is quite passé now. Sheltering Light is also pretty outstanding as a one-mana trick, saving your creature from any number of bad things and giving you a scry.

The white decks are lacking a good anthem effect, for now. Red-White does get Makeshift Munitions, which is a variation on the always-powerful Goblin Bombardment, but having a mana cost makes the effect profoundly worse for you.

I want, very badly, for Kinjalli’s Sunwing to do some work, but the truth is that we had Thalia, Heretic Cathar in Standard for two years and she wasn’t good enough. I doubt the Sunwing will make a huge impact either, but I’m hopeful.

Theme #2: Izzet Ascending

Star of Extinction fits right into decks that were running Hour of Devastation, and the other board-wiping effects are Dusk/Dawn, Fumigate and Bontu’s Last Reckoning. Less than impressive, and expensive on all counts.

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However, there’s an Amonkhet card that fits into the early part of red: Sweltering Suns. I think this card is about to be adopted pretty widely as the cheap sweeper of choice, leading into Hour or Star. There’s not even a Selfless Spirit to worry about anymore. Red also gets a wide range of pinpoint damage spells, the best of which is Lightning Strike. Suns is right now in the $3 range, and considering how much it’s likely to get played, it looks primed for a jump to $5 or maybe even $10 depending on how the first week’s results go.

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I am really hoping that the Izzet control decks play one or two Sunbird’s Invocation, but I doubt it. Important to note that these effects do stack if you play more than one! The presence of Opt might give Lightning Strike a lot more value, but now I’m really living in a magical Christmas land.

I think Jace, Cunning Castaway is neat but underpowered. It’s going to take you three turns to get to two 2/2’s, and I’m not buying him yet. I love the design and simplicity of Overflowing Insight, but we just got Pull from Tomorrow, which is a stronger card in almost every respect. It’ll be a bulk mythic soon.

Perilous Voyage, though, that’s a trick and a half, as is River’s Rebuke. Spell Swindle is going to show up as a two-of, to just end the game with mana advantage. Red/Blue has an amazing array of tricks and spells, and they also get two phenomenal transform lands. Search for Azcanta seems like an easy inclusion, as does Vance’s Blasting Cannons.

If you think Spitfire Bastion is too slow for closing out a game, then you clearly never saw Standard when Nephalia Drownyard was the finisher of choice, and the Bastion is loads faster. I’m very high on the legendary transforming enchantment/lands, except for the black one. Note that not all of them are legendary, you can have more than one Spires of Orazca in play.

Theme #3: Dinosaurs!

We have a lot of enablers for the saurians, and that’s going to put a lot of decks into FNM play. Some reduce costs, some give us mana (and then get bigger! What an awesome card Drover of the Mighty is!) and dinosaurs also get the finisher of choice in Carnage Tyrant. It’s not hard to imagine this “giant, implacable death lizard” getting played on turn four.

The Tyrant is in a tough spot, as when he’s good he’s phenomenal, but I’m not sure if six mana allows him to be a four-of. He’s preordering in the $10 range, and I think week one he’ll bounce higher, then begin to trickle downwards.

I think my colleague Travis Allen was right about Samut, the Tested last week on MTG Fast Finance. If you can get copies under $4, that seems like a big win to me. She got a little bump recently:

Wow. Buylisting for fifty cents! I’ve never seen that. I think Tibalt never got that low but I’ve blocked him from memory. Her buylist has shot up to over $2 now, and that means stores are hoping too. When buylist price and retail price get closer together, something’s up. Let’s see if she pays off.

Theme #4: Pirates!

While Pirates have a cool lord and some nifty tricks, I’m not sold yet. I don’t see many big payoffs, though stealing permanents with the new Admiral Beckett Brass is a good time. I simply don’t see that as a huge win, considering that if you’re getting in there with three relatively-undersized Pirates, you’re likely winning that game anyhow.

I like a lot of the individual cards, but the big payoff just isn’t there yet. Maybe in the next set?

Vraska’s Contempt is good, but at four mana, it might be too much. Hero’s Downfall was super powerful, and the Contempt will see play as an answer to the indestructible/recurring Gods, but oh it stings. I don’t think Contempt will be a four-of, and that’ll keep the price reasonable.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: It’s Time to D-D-D-D-Duel!

I don’t play Duel Commander and I don’t think it matters.

OK, Good night, everyone! We’ll see you next week!

Ok, apparently I’m being told that I have to write an entire article this week and if my hypothesis is that Duel EDH doesn’t matter for prices, I need to prove it. Great. That sounds sort of tedious. It’s much easier to prove that something does something than that it doesn’t do something, right? Basically the only way I can do that is to look for something it should be doing if we at all understand what it would be doing if it were doing something and then look to see if that thing’s not being done and if it’s not being done then the thing that should have been doing it clearly didn’t do it because nothing’s doing it in which case that thing isn’t capable of doing the thing we thought it could do. Still with me? Crap. I really thought you’d read that and give up and go read a different article. I’m really going to have to delve into this, aren’t I? OK, fine. I welcome the challenge.

Does It Do Anything?

Remember earlier when I said “look for something it should be doing if we at all understand what it would be doing if it were doing something and then look to see if that thing’s not being done and if it’s not being done then the thing that should have been doing it clearly didn’t do it because nothing’s doing it in which case that thing isn’t capable of doing the thing we thought it could do”? An example of that would be to try and isolate cards that aren’t played in Legacy or multiplayer EDH and then see if the prices are where they would be if that format could affect prices. The only other option is to try and look at a card that’s played in just multiplayer EDH and compare it to a card that’s played in 1v1 plus multiplayer and see if the card played in both formats is higher in price than can be explained by another factor.

The reason I wanted to talk about Duel EDH at all is because I saw that Edgar Markov was pretty popular this week on EDHREC.

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Of the 5 decks more popular than Adgar Markov this week, 4 of them are in the Top 5 decks ever and all of them are in the Top 7. Edgar is pretty popular this week despite the Dragons and Wizards seeming so much sexier. You see why I like to wait until there is data to start trying to figure out which cards are going to go up? It’s almost like there’s a method to what I’m up to. If you predicted Edgar Markov would be the most popular commander a few weeks after the set came out, congratulations. Also, I don’t believe you. Also, prove to me you’re right more often than you’re wrong and aren’t just some lunatic who makes ridiculous pronouncements on reddit and who makes a snide “I told you so” post the 1% of the time you’re right. What’s that, you predicted there would be a cat deck based solely on the inclusion of Wasitora in the Dargon deck? Your powers of deduction are Sherlockesque to be sure! You should be looking for D.B. Cooper. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, I’m calling you a liar.

Keep Reading, Liar

Maybe some of you did predict that a pretty durdly, expensive Vampire would be tearing it up, I know I didn’t. What we did know was that the creatures with Eminence (all of which were put in the front of their respective boxes. Eminence in front? Sounds like a put-on) would be annoying to play against because you can’t interact with them at all, which is why we all hate Oloro and want him to stop making the person who keeps track of life totals have to keep track of so many life total changes and why don’t you be scribe, Greg? You’re the one gaining two stupid life a turn and continuously wrathing the board so we can’t even kill each other. Oh, Austere Command into Fumigate. Real cool, Greg. You can write down your own lifegain from Fumigate, Greg. I’m going home.

Edgar Markov is making his mark on EDHREC but he’s also being touted at the best 1v1 commander from all of Commander 2017 so it’s worth looking at what that entails and whether it matters. I don’t think it matters, and I am going to have to prove that.

Look Mom, No ‘Rec

In order to even look at this wacky format that I’m not sure is a factor but am keeping a somewhat open mind about, I can’t really use EDHREC. That’s scraping sites that are basically exclusive to Multiplayer EDH players and in the cases where they’re not strictly Multiplayer decks, there’s no real way to separate the 1v1 data from the Multiplayer data that I can see and that makes the site sort of worthless for this one particular instance. While I’m on the subject, I was accused after last week of being a shill for EDHREC. Ummm, what? A shill is someone who is paid by an entity to act as an enthusiastic customer to drum up excitement for those goods or services and all I did was tell people about new features that I was excited about brought to you by a company that pays me money and holy $^#& I’m an actual shill. In my defense, I was advocating using EDHREC for EDH price research long before my enthusiasm for the site landed me a job so at best I’m a reverse shill. You know who isn’t paying me? MTG Top 8. Not yet, anyway.

MTG Top 8 is a repository for competitive decks and that means if there are 1v1 tournaments, they’ll have the lists, especially for MODO events. These reports will be pretty useful for us and the page for Markov decks may not be populated with that much data, but there is a feature on this site that I like.

You see it?

Compare decks? How useful can one site be? When you generate that report it gives you a list of all of the cards in all of the decks with a column for each deck and a green check mark by the cards that are in all of the decks. Knowing what’s a consensus “staple” (I’m using ironic quotes because our sample size is comically small here).

We’re getting a consensus with Markov decks and from a financial standpoint, it’s pretty disappointing. First of all, you can basically eliminate the lands because while there was some consensus there, it looked like a Legacy deck landbase. Off-color fetches like Polluted Delta abound and there were ABU duals in the decks. It’s simultaneously useless to say “Badlands is a pretty good pickup, guise” since every dual spiked recently and also, 1v1 EHD isn’t a reason to pick up ABU duals. Legacy and Modern have so much demand for a card like Mutavault that even if every 1v1 deck ran Mutavault, there would be no way to separate the 1v1 signal from the “ubiquitous in any format that can support tribal” noise. There is nothing we can glean from looking at lands.

Similarly, the spells are pretty useless. As an EDH player coming from a 40 life format, seeing spells like Rift Bolt and Searing Spear makes me roll my eyes. Those are fine spells in this wacky 100 card Legacy format, but they don’t scale well when you’re trying to kill Jin-Gitaxis or Vorinclex and the 2 mana that Searing Spear costs could be a Go For The Throat. There is nothing interesting in the spells and I checked every one.

That basically leaves us with creatures. There was some consensus on some of the creatures but even that was a little disappointing. The format really emphasizes a low mana curve for an aggro deck like this, meaning Gifted Aetherborn, Bold Impaler, Heir of Falkenrath and Olivia’s Bloodsworn make the deck whereas EDH staples like Necropolis Regent and Mephidross Vampire are nowhere to be found. There is basically no overlap between EDH and 1v1 except for a small handful of cards like Olivia(s), Guul Draz Assassin and Bloodghast.

I’m not really able to conclude that this format doesn’t affect prices of EDH cards but it doesn’t even really use EDH cards. What I can say is that Edgar Markov, a very popular Multiplayer and 1v1 commander is like $4 on Tcg Player and Inalla is like $1.25. Is any of this predictable? I’m not so sure it is, but Vial Smasher randomly spiked a lot in like February based on 1v1 before it was banned. I think 1v1 cards are such a small percentage of EDH cards as a whole that you can pay attention to the format if you want to, and with MTG Top 8 data so quick and easy to parse for the most point, you won’t spend too much time on it, but I’m not going to really cover it here unless something seems pretty compelling. I think when spikey players grab ahold of a card there is a tendency for them to create larger waves and make a more profound change in prices based on their buying behavior and it’s probably not necessarily predicated on demand 100%.  Remember, EDH demand made Food Chain a $7 card for years – it spiked to $40 because it was in a Legacy deck and even then it was 2 years after it first spiked based on the printing of Misthollow Griffin because that deck finally got a Top 8 at something. Food Chain wasn’t a $7 card, probably, but it wasn’t EDH that made it the price it is today, no matter how much ex post facto justification people want to throw at it. Spikey formats put a lot of eyeballs on a card even if it’s a format that frankly I don’t see a ton of people playing. Markov could be the next Vial Smasher and with the $28 or whatever people are charging for Teferi’s Protection, there isn’t much pressure on any card that isn’t that card to go up in value from the Vamps deck meaning some of the other stuff in there has some upside.

What About Edgar in Multiplayer?

I’m glad I pretended you asked that. While I didn’t see any ripe targets after scrutinizing all of the 1v1 decks (Feel free to check my work and see if you think I missed something) I got to work on Edgar’s EDHREC page and found a few things you might like.

Bloodsworn Steward

This seems pretty juicy to me. Not all partner decks want this effect but the ones that do are almost all red or will have red somewhere in the partnership. Bruse Tarl especially was born to marry with this card. The fact that we can snag a $34.99 MSRP Vampires deck with a $28 Teferi’s Protection in it means there is a lot of depression in the prices of the rest of the deck considering the rest of it basically has to be $7 total and there is a $3 land in it for starters. This might even see play in 1v1, but I don’t think that matters as much as the fact that this is brutal paired with Bruse and whomever else is paired with Bruse in some sort of 3-way pairing.  Check out Exhibit A.

There will be no Exhibit B. The prosecution rests. BIATCH. While the graphical behavior of this card isn’t the healthiest-looking, it still shows cards of this nature have some upside in a pairing-based world. I expect growth from our 4/4 for 4 beatstick.

Mephidross Vampire

What’s that? A sicko combo piece is getting new upside based on it being in a relevant tribe? Check out the blue line representing buylist pricing – dealers are paying attention to this card and raising their buy prices. As buy price and retail price begin to converge, that means a price correction is inbound and you want to be Holden like Caulfield when that happens. This has demonstrated an ability to be $10, which means there aren’t likely to be a ton of these mispriced in boxes and binders and a run on supply means there are fewer cheap copies to soak demand which usually means an increase in both buylist and retail. A price correction seems likely inbound.

Vampire Nocturnus

With cards like this, sometimes the 60 card casual demand which can soak up four copies at a time is enough to mitigate the fact that this has two printings (albeit at mythic) and a $5 promo version (actually 2, one non-foil) running around. This card is pretty absurd, although a little awkward to cast in a 3-color deck. Still, it’s hard to justify excluding this and dealers are clearly increasing their buy price which means a sell price increase isn’t far behind. Buy these from Card Kingdom, put them in a box for two months then send them back to the buylist for $5 profit a copy, that would be my guess. Or just offer to let them hang onto the cards and send you a check for $200. They usually don’t go for that, but you can try. Mention how much in postage it will save both parties.

Finally, I would keep an eye on Exquisite Blood. Vampire decks love the effect and with Sanguine Bond completely getting its pants pulled down this month with two reprintings in rapid succession, it’s never been easier to get half of the combo. You know when McDonald’s gives people a million Park Place tabs on their fries but only gives out a few Boardwalks to make sure that people never win but all of them think they can win? I think barring a reprint (in what? 25 years of Magic?), Exquisite Blood is $25 and Sanguine Bond is $0.25. Get in and get out, I think.

I think that although I’m unconvinced that 1v1 has a non-hype effect on cards, I think it’s easy enough to keep an eye on it that I’ll bother with it from now on and maybe you should, too. It beats being surprised when something becomes the next Vial Smasher, especially if it’s something terrible like Arabho. Until next time!

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 9/11/17

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.


First of all, kudos to Wizards. In what some of us considered to be an audacious and foolhardy challenge, they claimed they were going to not spoil a single Iconic Masters 25 (IMA) before the live draft event at Hascon. People and the internet being what they are, I figured this would only spur people harder to leak cards ahead of time. Yet as 1pm on Friday rolled around and packs were being handed out, I realized that not a single card had made it to Twitter ahead of time. That’s truly impressive.

Now that the full IMA list is out there and we all know what’s in the set, hype has unsurprisingly taken a drive off a cliff. We got excited about Mana Drain, Horizon Canopy, and Ancestral Vision. It’s cool that Serra Ascendant is in. Dragon Tempest at uncommon is lol. Original art Thoughtseize is an unexpected treat, and foils of that are going to be obnoxiously expensive. In general these reprint sets are needed, and exciting ahead of time, although once the full list is out we’re all smoking a cigarette and ready to go exploring.

Ixalan spoilers continue today and they’ve been juicy so far. Sort-of-Gaea’s-Cradle is leading the pack, with foil preorders at $75 or something laughable. This is going to be in high demand but also keep in mind it’s a rare, not a mythic. Ixalan in general is looking to be of relatively lower power level than some of these past Standard sets, but the themes are cool, and there’s a handful of appealing cards, not the least of which are the flip cards. As spoilers wrap up this week (I think), start thinking about what may pull ahead in Standard in a month.

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Brainstormbrewery #255: Back When Decks Were Cereal-Box Names

 

Patreon patron David Windmiller joins the cast as our very special guest this week to talk finance, legacy deck names, and the benefits of solar power.   With an extra guest, the cast veers off coarse into discussions of Duck Tales, potential finances feats for DJ, and podcast advertising memes.  Corbin discusses his upcoming vacation and fear of being tracked.   Pick of the week and breaking bulk each have an extra entry, including a spicy old common card from our guest.

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