UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 10/9/17


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

Congratulations to Huey and the Peach Garden Oath for a strong showing at the World Magic Championship this weekend. Ok now that that’s out of the way, what the hell, everyone that competed. Every single list coming out of this event was a complete snoozer. Ramunap Red. UB Control. Temur Energy. That’s it. That’s like, every single list that showed up. We’re 100% familiar with Red and Temur Energy. UB Control flirted with the idea of being new, but really, it’s just Scarab God, Torrential Gearhulk, and a bunch of commons and uncommons.

If anything had a good weekend, it was Search for Azcanta and Vraska’s Contempt. I wanted to talk about Search last weekend, after it was showing up at the Open, but at $5 I couldn’t recommend it. Well now we’re here with it at $15 and thbpt. I wasn’t sure if Contempt could pull a Hero’s Downfall, as each additional mana on those effects is rough, but it would seem the exile clause is enough to make it worth it, with Hazoret and Scarab running around.


We’ll have to wait until the next Open, or even the Pro Tour for a change to see the juicy lists, I guess.


Heart of Kiran

Price Today: $5.50
Possible Price: $20

While the only vehicle being driven this weekend was Aethersphere Harvester, don’t count Heart of Kiran out yet. It’s without peer in Standard, and even if it didn’t have a place at Worlds, it doesn’t mean it won’t be part of the broader landscape as the format rolls out.

There’s no need for me to sell you on how good Heart of Kiran is; last season’s metagame proves that enough for me. Instead I’ll remind you all of the sage Warren Buffett wisdom: “be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” Within the context of Magic, it basically serves to put you one step ahead of the trends. Be fearful about your Searches and Contempts — sell them. Be greedy about great cards everyone has forgotten about for the moment — like Heart of Kiran.

A few copies are out there around $5.50, and that number is still dropping daily. Before the Pro Tour we could see it firmly under $5. I can’t predict the future (which may come as a surprise) so I can’t guarantee this is going to return to the format. If it does though, expect prices to climb to $15 or more in a hurry.

Geist of Saint Traft

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $15

It hasn’t been in the public eye quite as much lately, but Modern is still a robust, exciting format that tens (hundreds?) of thousands play regularly. It’s not unreasonable to say that it’s in the best shape it has been in years. A relative newcomer to this healthy metagame is a deck that goes by several names: Jeskai Tempo, Patriot Geist, Jeskai Midrange, whatever. What’s important is that they all play Geist of Saint Traft.

A former darling of Standard, Geist fell into disuse after rotation many years ago. People have been trying since Innistrad previews to get him into Modern, and for the most part, they’ve failed. I’m not clear on what specifically has changed in the format to finally let him in, but something did, and he’s smashing faces now. Given that he swings for six each turn, your opponent is likely dead in three attack phases, which is good beats for what is often a fairly controlling strategy otherwise.

Geist was reprinted in Duel Decks: Blessed vs. Cursed, which hasn’t helped his price of course, but there aren’t actually that many on TCG Player. Less than 100, mostly all $8 or so. There’s also no more than 30 of the Innistrad printings in basically the same boat. I particularly like the Innistrad copies, as we’ve seen several times in the past that people like original pack printings much more than the promo deck printings. (Knight of the Reliquary has been an example of this in the past.) At this point I don’t think many people own Geist, since it hasn’t been considered a staple card in the format the way so many others are, e.g. Snapcaster Mage. If this begins to turn, we’ll see Geist coast right on up into the $15 to $20 range.

Path of Ancestry

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

The more I play EDH, the less I like lands that enter the battlefield tapped. I know I’m not the only one that feels that way, but in this case, I don’t think that matters. Path of Ancestry showed up in all four Commander 2017 lists this year, so supply is healthy, but that hasn’t prevented the card from climbing north of $3 already.

Path is effectively a five color land that likely lets you scry once each turn, so long as you’re playing a tribal deck. Even if you aren’t on a tribal strategy it’s still a painless “all colors that matter” land with occasional upside. That may end up being it’s greatest boon; that not only does it have solid utility in tribal lists, it’s completely playable in non-tribal four and five color decks.

My biggest concern with Path of Ancestry, and this should surprise no one, is how reprintable it is. And it will be. But until then, attrition will take its toll on Path, possibly quicker than we may expect. Could it be a $6 card by January? I suspect so. $10 by July? Sure, why not? There’s going to be a lot of demand behind this, and until Wizards prints it into the ground ala Command Tower, prices are going to continue to rise.

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 PROTRADER: Will these prices hold?

The first week of Ixalan Standard is in the books, and we’ve got some cards that have taken a big leap financially.

I want to look at a few of these cards, at the jump they have taken, and figure out if those prices are the price they will stay at. There’s a lot of factors to consider at a time like this, and some money to be made. I’ll make money either by selling now, buying now, or holding out.

Heroic Intervention ($2-$5 this week): This is worth looking at because it’s a great Standard answer to Fumigate, as pointed out by our reader hargismb. It’s in enough sideboards to cause a decent spike, and $5 feels about right.

That said, I’m not convinced. I can’t tell if it’s my own bias against this card, but it’s bad in a lot of situations where you’d hope it would be good. I don’t want to play this card, I’d rather have proactive ways to get cards back in Commander. I would be trading these away like mad at $5, especially since you likely didn’t get them at that price.

Approach of the Second Sun ($0.75 – $3): Alternate win conditions are always going to have a certain appeal, and this one offers a certain inevitability. Counterspells or bust! The assorted Approach decks had a pretty good first week, and I don’t think this is done growing.

I am in favor of trading for this card until it gets to $5 or so, and I think buying copies for a total price under $2 is a winner too, but only if you’re going to trade the card away. The margins eat you alive if you buy at $2 and sell at $5. It’s not worth it in that context.

Hostage Taker ($5-$18): This was the card of the weekend, doing work in a variety of decks and it’s earned that praise. This pirate is an awesome creature, demanding an immediate answer before you get control of their creature. It plays very well with The Scarab God too!

However, it’s a rare from the current set. It’s been a long time since such a card held a price at or above $10, so I’m telling you to let these go pronto. Get as much as you can as fast as you can, because hype or not, this price just can’t hold.

I will be watching this closely, though, because when we aren’t opening Ixalan packs, this will be a prime contender for a jump back to $15-$20 in a few months.

Fumigate ($0.50 – $4): Wrath effects have often ended up in the $5 range, and I don’t think this will be much different. It’s a year old, and I think this will be no different. I’m getting out of extra copies, and I’m putting some of my profits into a few sets of Dusk to Dawn, as Dusk appears to be the best pairing if Approach needs some extra removal. Bontu’s Last Reckoning and Yahenni’s Expertise are also good specs on this basis and won’t cost you much.

Gifted Aetherborn ($1-$2): There is a black-red aggro deck doing well online right now, and this is a four-of in that deck. I would be raiding my old draft boxes with gusto, because if I can buylist a stack of uncommons for $1 each (or more!) I’m all over that. You have to strike while the iron is hot, though. This deck won’t be popular forever, so you’ve got just a few weeks to sort your uncommons out and get them in the mail. Ebay auctions are closing near to $10 a playset, and that’s really tempting too, even with the fees.

Deathgorge Scavenger ($1.50 – $6): The winning deck and the 3rd place deck each ran a playset of this Dinosaur, mainly for the ability to mess with Scarab God interactions. (Each deck also played a miser copy of that God, and bringing this back Eternalized must have felt great!) Again, it’s an in-print rare but the necessity of some graveyard hate appears to be the hot tech right now. Six bucks feels a touch high, I imagine this settles a dollar or two lower than that, unless the next sets give us more graveyard recursion. This has great potential as a spec if it drops to $1-$2 at rotation.


Fetid Pools ($4 – $8): What makes the cycling duals great is the interaction with the checklands from Ixalan. Play the cycling land tapped, and all the checklands come into play untapped, so you can cycle the extras away. Value ensues.

Fetid Pools was the biggest gainer, due to control decks, but Irrigated Farmland isn’t far behind and all of them should go up another dollar or two. I’m letting all of my spares go, and I’ll be picking these up at rotation for the long-term Commander value.

The Scarab God ($25 – $40): If you’re going to play it in the next year, bite the bullet and grab your copies now. I suspect this is going to hit $50, as a small-set mythic which casual demand has made more scarce than most. This God is awesome in Zombie decks and offers so much value in a Commander game, it’s no surprise that the combination of format demand results in a super-pricey card.

I’d be surprised if this fell below $20 at rotation, too. Being on an Invocation isn’t helping the price much, the gameplay value is just ridiculous in casual games.

Samut, the Tested ($2 – $5.50): Travis picked her a few weeks back at $2, and said that $10 was his target. It’s a two-of in a deck that finished 45th at the SCG event but has won some online leagues. I’m going to trust him on this, and tell you to hold this card a bit longer. My inclination is to take the double-up and get out, but if you got in at $2, then it’s all profit. Hold on a bit longer, as she needs a bit more publicity, camera time, and a publicized win. Then sell out with huge profit margins!

MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 86 (Sep 22nd/17): Ixalan Review with Todd Stevens

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: Sep 22, 2017

Segment 1: Top Card Spikes of the Week

Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms (7th, Foil Rare)
Start: $100.00
Finish: $500.00
Gain: +$400.00 (+400%)

Morphling (Judge Promo, Foil)
Start: $25.00
Finish: $90.00
Gain: +$65.00 (+260%)

Chronozoa (Planar Chaos, Foil Rare)
Start: $6.00
Finish: $17.00
Gain: +11.00 (+183%)

Cryptic Gateway (ONS, Foil Rare)
Start: $22.00
Finish: $56.00
Gain: +34.00 (+155%)

Carnage Tyrant (IXL, Foil Mythic)
Start: $11.00
Finish: $26.00
Gain: +$15.00 (+136%)

Aether Flash (7th, Foil Rare)
Start: $5.00
Finish: $10.00
Gain: +$5.00 (+100%)

Maelstrom Nexus (Alara Reborn, Foil Mythic)
Start: $30.00
Finish: $60.00
Gain: +$30.00 (+100%)

Segment 2: Picks of the Week

James’ Picks:

Gideon of the Trials

  1. Gideon of the Trials (AMK, Foil Mythic)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $25.00 to $50.00 (+25.00/100%) 6-18+ months)

2. Spell Queller (EMN, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $12.00 to $25.00 (+13.00/+108%, 6-12+ months)

3. Obelisk of Urd (M15, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $8.00 to $15.00 (+7.00/+88%, 6-12+ months)

Travis Picks:

Cyclonic Rift

Duskwatch Recruiter

  1. Cyclonic Rift (EMA, Foil Rare)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 9: $13.00 to $25.00 (+12.00/+92%, 6-12+ months)

2. Phyrexian Arena (CSP2, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $15.00 to $35.00 (+20.00/+133%, 0-12+ months)

Todd Stevens Pick:

Samut, the Tested

1. Samut the Tested ( Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $3.50 to $10.00 (+6.50/+185%, 0-12+ months)

Disclosure: Travis, Todd and James may own, or intend to own, speculative copies of the above cards.

Segment 3: Metagame Week in Review

The guys went over the results of SCG Open: Louisville, a Modern tournament where Jeskai Control took the top two slots. Spell Queller and Traverse the Ulvenwald were mentioned as relevant forward looking specs.

Segment 4: Topic of the Week

Current SCG Tour leader Todd Stevens joined the crew to break down the best and worst cards and specs from the newly released Ixalan set, including notes on Standard, Modern and EDH cards.

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

Unlocked Pro Trader: Dino-Might


I am really sick of talking about tribal decks. I want to talk about something that isn’t tribal and I’ve been doing that on Gathering Magic where I can. Since they decided to integrate Commander 2017 with Ixalan (which is neat, don’t get me wrong) they have mostly tribal commanders in Ixalan as well as the tribal commanders in Commander 2017. Most decks being built now are tribal. I want to talk about Marvin Feins or whoever and I’d like to talk about Tishana (as boring to build as I imagine Tishana is going to be) and it doesn’t matter because I have to talk about where I think the money is. I can’t ignore data because that’s irresponsible. So as much as I would like it if Tishana were likely to matter, I’ll save that for my Gathering Magic article next week (which you should absolutely read, by the way. If you find this article valuable, that is. It’s free to read, they can justify paying me if people read it and I talk about EDH cards which it turns out I’ve established are relevant) and focus on a deck I don’t even want to talk about a little bit but which was built 3x as much as Tishana.

Tribes Ruin Everything

I don’t pretend to understand EDH better than basically everyone who plays Magic and I’m certainly not inclined to pontificate that I can figure it out faster than that group of people known as “everyone.” I was worried that I would miss the boat entirely by waiting to get build data from EDHREC on the Commander 2017 commanders. It turns out everything worked like normal this time – we had a wave of people buying specs as soon as they knew the decks were tribal and most of those specs were bad. We had another wave of people buying when they knew what the tribes were, and most of those specs were bad. The prices on those cards are likely ruined forever, but organic demand didn’t drive them and you’re likely going to get stuck with your copies unless you bought a very small amount, in which case you didn’t really speculate. If you predict a card going from $2 to $20 and you bought 10 copies, you weren’t confident or ballsy and you didn’t get rewarded. If you predict 10 cards going from $2 to $20 and you bought 0 copies, you’re me, but that’s another story.

The third wave after the first two “Uh, I think I can figure out that a tribal Wizard deck is going to play Patron Wizard, EDH isn’t that tough to figure out, guy” speculators, we had the “normal” wave of cards going up based on people figuring out what people were actually doing. It took me a long time staring at Mairsil to figure out anything I wanted to put a cage counter on but the internet figured it out eventually, I wrote an article about Mairsil stuff like a month after Commander 2017 came out and those cards are popping off, a few a week. It’s 2015 again! So while the tribal decks make people think they knew what they’re doing get super confident, we can still do our normal thing.



Hateflayer popped this week, but it had been growing steadily recently and as we predicted, Mairsil gave it a lot of upside. Let’s compare a card like Patron Wizard which is at $20 instead of the $3 Hateflayer is currently selling for.

So we have 4 decks that were running it before and 94 new Inalla decks (it’s OK in Inalla, don’t get me wrong) jamming it. Do we think the spike to $20 was justified? Do we think it hangs out there? I’ll leave that for the bro finance crowd who thought it was super obvious to buy every Wizard despite none of the older Wizards really playing all that well with Mairsil or Kess at all. The decks were called tribal but 2/3 of the marquee commanders and like all of the other random commanders like Taigam(s) don’t care about tribes, really and certainly not in the way everyone who bought in the first two waves “knew” it would matter. $20 Patron Wizard is a joke but if you are one of the few people who need it for Inalla, the joke’s on you.

The stuff in the Mairsil deck that no one predicted when the card was first announced but going up later when we had pricing data leads me to believe that even though tribal stuff is “obvious” to some who think being able to make simple, superficial observations means that all of this is easy, we’ll still be able to make money by seeing what players are actually playing, buying before supply dries up and selling into the increased demand like always. Tribal decks screwed up a lot but they didn’t screw up everything.

Stupid Tribe of the Day

I don’t want to talk about dinosaurs but I sort of have to. Gishath isn’t a card that is particularly exciting to me but it’s getting built kind of a lot this week.

Anything that gets over the Atraxa hump is worth discussing. I predict I have to dig down a little bit to (I want to let you know that at this point in the sentence I conceived of and immediately abandoned an idea where I’d make a bunch of puns about an archaeological excavation for dinosaur specs and how they are like dinosaur bones. I don’t want you to think I’m the kind of guy who can’t resist a dumb metaphor but I also don’t want you to think I’m not smart enough to figure out there was an opportunity there). Gishath is made up almost entirely of terrible, bulk rare dinosaurs and uncommons plus the same tribal stuff that is going to go up a little but do you want to be paying $20 for a card that’s going to hit $23? With this many Gishath decks being built, there is going to be money to be made and it’s going to take some work to find it but we’ll do it.

Xenagos, God of Revels

An amount of reprint risk that I would classify as “moderate” has a lot of people spooked. Could this be in some duel deck? Maybe Inconic Masters? Basically, people are worried about this going in Commander 2018 and if it’s not, I think this is a real opportunity. This is doing an odd Shepard Tone thing with the price graph but I really think we’re at a tipping point. I don’t like to buy deep into specs that I advocate because I don’t want to be accused (more) of trying to pump and dump cards. It never feels good even when it’s ridiculous. I won’t say who but he knows who he is, accused me of trying to pump and dump Tropical Island because I said it would correct to be more than Bayou since it was less than Bayou at the time. So I guess if being ethical gets you nowhere, I might as well throw a couple hundo at Xenagos and see where it Xena…goes….from there? I probably won’t, but I should.

Real talk, there are only 139 listings on TCG Player right now, this goes in every Gishath deck plus it’s nutty in other decks plus it’s a decent commander in its own right. You can find these for like $7 online. Why isn’t this more money? Because the demand is organic and that doesn’t set off any alarms. You’re flirting with some (moderate) reprint risk (reprinting Iroas in a Commander set spooked people) but you’re also looking at some real upside. This is the second best Theros era God and it can break the $10 mark easily and from there, they sky’s the limit.

Selvala’s Stampede

This card isn’t Expropriate, but it’s a beating. With Conspiracy 2 being such a wildly unpopular set, it’s tough to get the packs moving. What’s driving sales? Leovold, a card banned in EDH? Packs that contain cards that can only be used in drafts? People drafting it? With boxes selling on eBay for basically dealer cost, Conspiracy 2 cards are on the way up. Unless they’re reprinted, something that’s doubtful in the case of a lot of the cards, demand is going to begin soaking supply. Selvala’s Stampede has a lot going for it and it’s particularly good in the Gishath deck. Some Legacy demand would sure be nice but since that’s not going to happen, we’re going to have to rely on scarcity, which is fine because scarcity is giving Conspiracy 2 cards all it’s got. 6 mana is super doable in EDH, it’s especially doable in a dino deck with a high mana curve that requires a ton of ramp and it’s asymmetrical. At $2 this card is pretty bananas, and with Leovold not as in-demand, expect the value from the set to go somewhere if the boxes are to maintain even dealer cost.

Congregation at Dawn

The second spikes are always the tastiest and while demand petered out after the first brush with greatness, new demand is coming for this card. Gishath is a “the top of your library matters” card and this stacks the deck for you, making sure you hit what you need. Triple Worldly Tutor seems pretty good to me for under a buck and we’ve seen this flirt with $5 absent organic demand. With more copies likely concentrated in the hands of the dealers and unable to mitigate a second spike, this card could climb to around $3-$5 and stay there. It’s a gamble so I think your best bet is to do what I do and buy collections and yank these out of “bulk” all the time. Foils are already $5 and those are even less reprintable and as lazy as that is intellectually, it’s a safer place to park money. Do I think enough people are going to foil their dinosaur deck that this is going to make more than one person money? Not really. Foils are great for someone to think of it and make some money selling the few copies they’re going to sell on TCG Player but they’re not great calls to give advice to thousands of readers. Maybe you can all fight each other for the few  copies left on TCG Player. You can count on reddit to make a “ZOMG BYEOUT!!!1” post when the stock gets low, you can count on a few lunatics to buy a foil card that’s useful in EDH (somewhat) and you can count on me taking credit for nailing another spec weeks early in my oddly prescient article series that no one reads.

1509 total decks is nothing to sneeze at. I thought maybe Dinosaurs might be a better deck than most to try and foil out since a lot of the dinosaurs are dirt cheap even in foil, but then you’re trifling with foil Urza’s Incubator, Mirari’s Wake, Cavern of Souls, etc and you’re stuck with a lot of cards from Commander 2017 that can’t be foil but you really want to be. In general, I don’t think people want foils of bad cards as much as people who sell one or two copies of that card a year claim.

Tribal Stuff

Herald’s Horn keeps going up and Path of Ancestry doesn’t. I’m not sure what to make of that. Horn presold for like $2 and is now like $6, Path presold for $3 and is now like $3. Sure, Path is in twice as many precon decks, but you want to know something interesting?

It’s twice as popular. I’m not saying those two effects should cancel each other out, and with Horn being buried in the terrible cat deck, supply isn’t quite at a 2:1 ratio in the world. Both cards are good but the price only moving on one of them is a little puzzling. Horn isn’t 3 times as good as Path and Path’s price isn’t commensurate with its popularity. All I know is that both cards are great and the fact that there is pent-up demand for them for tribal decks that aren’t being built from the precon means there will always be net demand. Who’s opening a precon, building a deck out of it and cutting either or both of these? In the case of Horn, you’re maybe building a Mirri or (the cat blacksmith, not interested in taking the time to look up his stupid cat name this close to the end of the article) deck and maybe you don’t need Horn, but I bet you don’t cut Path. These cards are going to be good forever and they’re awkward to reprint unless the Commander set has a tribal theme (even just within the one deck, doesn’t have to be set-wide).

Next week I’m not sure what I’ll have to talk about, but hopefully more people build Tishana and it will be interesting. I’d love to force my agenda on this conversation but we really have to go where the money is and this week there were 3 times as many Gishath decks. Next week, a lot could change. Until next time!