UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 8/7/17


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.

Eldrazi may have won the SCG Open in Syracuse (sorry I didn’t make it even though I tweeted that I would), but the far cooler deck was one that didn’t T25. It did get an early deck tech though, which was enough to spur interest in a dusty Rise of the Eldrazi mythic. Vengevine returned alongside Hollow One, which makes for an agreeable synergy. You use spells like Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion to dump Vengines (and Bloodghasts) into your graveyard, a process which makes those Hollow Ones free, so you cast them for no mana, which brings back the Vengevines. Then it’s into the red zone with you.

It’s a cool concept, and there’s possibly room for growth there. I find myself wondering if the deck wants Reforge the Soul or something like that. I also am guessing that we played far too few Street Wraiths in Modern before Death’s Shadow finally figured out that that’s a good card. Perhaps it’s because Gitaxian Probe is gone.


Standard looked more varied, although I suspect that it’s less that the format is all that balanced and more that many players didn’t feel like playing what’s inarguably the best deck in the room. There weren’t any impressive breakout strategies, but there was one card that caught my eye.


Sword of Feast and Famine

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $40

Commander 2017 spoilers start today, and at the time of writing, we’ve seen two cards sneak out of Europe. One is from the cat deck, and makes clear that there’s an equipment sub-theme to be found within. No surprises here; most of us figured that was in the pipes. It’s why several weeks ago I talked about Raksha Golden Cub. Cats typically lean on equipment to beef up their combat prowess, and this set will be no different.

Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, and Skullclamp have long been and will continue to be the most popular equipment. They’re also impossible to make money on if you’re a spec & flip kind of guy. While they’re solid gold for guys with cases in their local store, those of us looking to do some speccing can’t get enough out of the margins to make it worth it. That means we’ve got to look a little deeper.

Masterpieces Sword of Feast and Famine was just bought out. I don’t believe this is in response to the Cat deck, although perhaps. Most impressively, they’re selling through at the new price of ~$140. There’s real demand here, and we could see that manifest in the cheaper copies as well. MM2 and MED copies are around in the $20 range, and while there’s a supply, it’s not massive. If a hundred people who pick up cat decks decide they want a Feast or Famine, that will drain nearly all of the TCG inventory. If I told you that Sword of Feast and Famine was a $40 card, would you be surprised? I doubt it, and I think that’s why this is on its way there.

Leonin Arbiter

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

Death and Taxes is a bad deck, regardless of what variation or format you’re playing. It’s a bad deck full of bad cards for bad people. Bad people like you, who keep playing and buying bad cards.

And yet, the deck still sells cards. In fact, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has climbed to an impressive $12. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought it would have back when I was scooping them up during Dark Ascension. She’s finally arrived though, and almost entirely on the back of Death and Taxes. It also so happens that in virtually every deck Thalia is part of, Leonin Arbiter is part of. I’m sure there are lists out there that include Thalia and not Leonin Arbiter, but man, they are few and far between.

With Arbiter sitting at $5 and no second printing, nor a particularly deep well on TCG Player, he’s sitting pretty to hit double digits this year. A steady demand from D&T players over the years has sapped excessive supply out of the market too, so when this finally does pop, there isn’t going to be nearly the rush of copies available as there would be on a heretofore unknown bulk rare.

Verdurous Gearhulk

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $20

Did you know this card was this cheap these days? I didn’t realize. I thought it was still around $10, which would still be too cheap. What the heck? How is this reasonable? This card breaks open matches every single time it resolves. Abrade may have been printed, but just put the counters on a non-artifact creature and they’re still in for a world of hurt.

What’s most shocking to me about Verdurous Gearhulk is that Torrential Gearhulk, a card that sees considerably less play at the moment, is easily three times the price. What? Did these people not watch the same Pro Tour I did? You wouldn’t even know blue was a color of Magic had you watched Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. At the same time, Verdurous has been a staple of BG Constrictor for months, and made top 8 in Kyoto a few weeks ago, as well as the finals of GP Minnesota just a few days ago.

At $4, I’m in. What are the odds this isn’t a key mythic for green decks this October?

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?

Welcome back from the Red Menace! It’s an aggro world, and we’re all just living in it.

The Pro Tour win by Ramunap Red (albeit with a very big oopsie in the quarterfinals by his opponent) meant that several cards have spiked and spiked hard and some of them we saw coming.

The time for picking up cards for a big profit has passed, and it remains to be seen how many of these cards are going to keep their new price levels. This week, I want to look at how such gainers have done after previous PT success, and see how that bodes for the cards which has seen such impressive gains in value.

Before I get into the cards that spiked this weekend, I want to step backwards a couple of Pro Tours and see what patterns might exist.

Pro Tour Amonkhet had Zombies rising (couldn’t help myself) and Aetherworks Marvel all over the place, along with a healthy dose of Mardu Vehicles. Fatal Push cemented its status as a $7 uncommon, though its playability in Eternal formats is a big contributor there. There weren’t a lot of Amonkhet cards in these top decks. Lord of the Accursed was a four-of uncommon, and Dread Wanderer went from $2 up to $6 and has trailed back down to $2 now.

Pro Tour Aether Revolt had six Mardu Vehicles decks in the top 8. Notably, Heart of Kiran jumped to above $20 and has since been trickling downwards in price ever so slowly, as other decks have become more popular. It’s now $11 or so, and having only put two copies of the top 16 at PT Amonkhet, it didn’t bump up even a little.


Pro Tour Kaladesh has eight different decks listed in the top 8, and this was before the triple bannings. Torrential Gearhulk was in two decks, and it’s seeing enough play to stay in the $15-$20 range, but the graph here is truly fascinating:

I wrote the dates on the graph because I’ve never seen a card spike this many times in just a year. Will it keep doing so? Will it go up with each of the four Pro Tours left in its Standard lifespan? There’s even a minor bump for this recent PT, even though Gearhulk decks weren’t really a factor.

It’s also the outlier. Most cards that jump up in price at a big tournament have prices go back down, whether fast like the Gearhulk does, or slow, like Liliana, the Last Hope has.

Now that history has given us some clues, let’s look at the specific cards that have done well this past week and where they will likely be going:

Ramunap Ruins (Now $1.25, was $0.25, foils now $6): I can buy that this is a $1.50-$2 uncommon, as a four-of in the most popular deck. I do not understand this foil price at all. That level of foil multiplier is usually indicative of wild demand in casual or Eternal formats, and it’s just not popular. Commander doesn’t want this. Shivan Gorge will do half the damage but not lose you lands (and a specific land type at that). The Gitrog Monster decks can’t play this. Are people speculating that it’ll be good enough in Modern? I find that unlikely as hell. Please, enlighten me as to why this is such a pricey foil, and if you have a foil, I’d get rid of it ASAP.

I expect the nonfoils will end up at about $1, but if this deck spikes an event around Christmas, when the set is no longer being opened, it’ll hit $2 again.

Abrade (Now $3, was $0.75, foils $10): Again, I like this to stay as a pricey uncommon, even with the large amount of Game Day versions about to enter circulation, and if you think $10 is too much for a foil uncommon, the multiplier is with normal tolerances. I do love the flexibility in Cubes and Commander, as these are both effects you want access to. I think this set of prices will stay consistent for some time, and keep in mind that this will rotate out of Standard at the same time as the Vehicles block, so there will always be a good level of demand for the card.

Falkenrath Gorger (Now $2.50, was $0.50, foils $3.50): The price graph here is going to be a sad one. People are racing to the bottom on this card, as fast as they can. TCG has seven available for under $1, and a very large number under $2. It’s about to rotate, people have dug this out of bulk boxes, and it’ll crash back at bulk by rotation.

Hazoret the Fervent (Now $16, was $6, foils $25): I don’t agree with Travis that the time to sell is already past. Yes, there was a moment where it listed for $20, but if you got in at $7 or less you’re still making a fine profit. It’s in the process of trickling downward, yes, but if you have your copies, don’t panic-list them at $10 each or something. If Ixalan offers us one or two good cheap red creatures the deck will remain a strong part of the metagame. Gorger is rotating, as is Village Messenger, but I don’t think this goes below $12. I doubt we’re going to see the bouncing price of Torrential Gearhulk, but right now people are planning for the deck. We will have a period where the meta adjusts, and people stop playing it, and then the red menace comes back to prey on all the slower decks.

If the price goes below $10 again, I’ll have to think about picking more up. It’s got a limited time to be good, but we’ve already seen what it’s capable of.

Cliff is an avid watcher of just the draft part of the Pro Tour, but the games themselves are far less enthralling. He has been playing this game since late 1994, and making money off of it for far less time. You can find his insights on Twitter @wordofcommander or here on MTGPrice every Friday morning.

Brainstorm Brewery #250: A New Mayor In Town

This week Corbin returns and Jason finds himself in his first political office.  Doug tries to remain awake through a pro-tour recap, and then wakes up with two red-hot breaking bulk picks.  Listener emails cover the impact of finance “thought-leaders” on the market and how to adjust your EDH buying habits in light of more speculation on that format.  Pick of the week covers an invocation that can be targeted.

Douglas Johnson is our guest (@Rose0fthorns)

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Douglas Johnson is and will forever be merely a guest.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Rarest of them All

Magic cards comes in different rarities. There are commons, uncommons, rares, and mythic rares. So what comes after mythic rare? What could be more rare than that? Today, I will be going over some of the rarest, and subsequently most expensive, Magic the Gathering cards to ever exist. Some of these were created to be unique or rare from the onset, and others have incredibly small supplies left in the world. Others were created by accident altogether. Let’s check them out.

These two cards are known as Richard Garfield event cards, and are some of the rarest cards in the game. They are not tournament legal, for obvious reasons, and were never released in an official set. Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic the Gathering, gave these our to family, friends, and Wizards of the Coast employees to celebrate the birth of his first two children. There is estimate to be no more than 100-200 of these in existence, and because of that, they go for around $7,000-$10,000 each.

Richard Garfield commissioned the old school Magic artist Drew Tucker to create this one-of-a-kind card for his new fiance. Created in 2014, there is only one copy of this card in the world.

Try and say that five times fast. Shichifukujin Dragon was created in 2003 to celebrate the opening of the DCI Tournament Center in Japan. There is only one copy of this card in existence, and as a result, nobody will reasonably own one. The name is derived from Japanese mythology and relates to the Seven Deities of Good Fortune. Like the good fortune of the store that owns this beauty.

On the topic of one-of-a-kind cards, there is 1996 World Champion. Well, I’m sure you can guess what this was given out for. There is only one copy of this card in existence so good luck! In 2001, it was sold to a private collector for $17,500. By today’s standards, that was a steal. This and the Dragon above are both in the Guinness Book of World Records for rarest trading cards.

These are test prints. There are dozens of different cards, each with different variations, foil and non-foil. Test prints range from a few hundred dollars to over $1000. There are many types of test prints over the years, mostly done by Wizards to figure which foiling process and borders looked aesthetically pleasing. How they ended on today’s post-8th Edition foiling, I don’t know, but can we just go back to 7th Edition foiling?

Sadly, these test prints aren’t tournament legal, but cmon, you know you want to play with this Parallax Tide/Mountain hybrid. I know I do!

Did you know Exodus came in foil? Well… tricky question. It didn’t! These are test prints of cards getting the foil treatment before foil cards were ever released. Because of the limited supply and high playability of these cards, foil test print City of Traitors and Survival of the Fittest fetch thousands of dollars each. Talk about a nice way to upgrade a deck or cube.

Do I know what this uncut sheet of test prints would go for? No, and I am not even going to try and guess.

At first glance, this may just look like an ordinary foil Vedalken Shackles. But once you look closely, you will see it’s anything but normal. This is a Fifth Dawn test print, and it is extremely rare. There are also other rares from Fifth Dawn like this, Engineered Explosives, Rude Awakening, Staff of Domination, and Hoverguard Sweepers. I could see these easily being worth over $5,000 each.

Way back in 1994, there was another game being created called Wyvern. It was manufactured by the same company that did Magic, Carta Mundi. Well, there was a printing error, and as a result there were some commons from Fallen Empires were released with this Wyvern back. The cards look normal from the front, but have this back. Depending on the card, they can range from a few hundred to $1000, but most of Fallen Empires was a bunch of awful cards. Most players just look to try and complete a set (121) cards, but even that could take a lifetime of collecting.

Check out these sweet test cards from M15. I would killll for that Gilded Lotus. I love how when you breeze past them at a glace, they look like normal cards, but nothing like showing your opponent your Door to Nothingness and it saying “Test card to Nothingness enters the card tapped.”

I will talk about Summer cards shortly, but here is a textless Summer Island test print. I have no idea the value of something like this, but when any of us pick something as rare as this up, we can worry about price then. Deal?

Which would you prefer, Pokemon backed Magic cards, or Magic backed Pokemon cards? How about this, if you come across any you just give them to me? I like the sound of that.

Straight from eBay, here is a BGS graded 10 Beta Black Lotus. There are certainly way fewer of this card, in this condition than even the Richard Garfield event cards or Exodus test prints. And this came from a booster pack!

So what’s the asking price? Just a smooth $125,000. Got that lying around? Well, if you come up a little short, you can always make an offer on it. Here is the link if you are curious.


Well, I’ve died and gone to heaven. This textless foil Gaea’s Cradle came from an uncut sheet where all the cards had no text. You can also find other cards like this, including the tournament staple Duress. But, yeah, I want this more than any other promo in the world, just because I absolutely LOVE Gaea’s Cradle in so many formats, and this is just beautiful to look at. I would price this in the ballpark of $5,000.

Lastly, I want to talk about Summer Magic. I will reference MTG Librarities here to best describe this set for those who don’t know.

“When the Revised Edition was in production in 1994, a number of problems with the set became apparent. The colors were washed out, the picture for Serendib Efreet was wrong, and there was a growing concern with the Satanic images on some of the cards. The solution was to print a fixed version of the Revised Edition, code named “Edgar”, which has since come to be known as Summer Magic because it was printed in the summer of 1994. The cards were distributed in regular Revised Edition boosters… Hurricane was printed as a blue card and thereby became the most famous and most desired Summer Magic card of all… The artist name for Plateau was not corrected as well. Because of all these flaws, the entire print run was recalled and destroyed… However, a few booster boxes survived. About four cases (40 display boxes) accidentally made it to circulation… Estimation of the Summer population is at least, 130 to 150 Commons, 40 to 60 Uncommons, 30 to 50 Rares, 400 to 500 Lands… Summer Magic cards can best be recognized by their 1994 copyright date.” (Found on www.magiclibrarities.net)

Well that is a lot to take in, but just know that the cards from the Summer edition are extremely rare and sought after. Many people think that at some point they may have run into a Summer card just because it looks so similar to a Revised/Unlimited card to someone not specifically looking for it. However, due to the rarity of these cards, I wouldn’t worry much, chances are you didn’t run into one. Although, I will admit that the thought always lingers in the back of my mind.

The most famous and sought after Summer card is Hurricane. Also known as the “Blue Hurricane” due to its incorrect printing color. Personally, I think it’s cool, but I would much rather own a few Summer dual lands or a stack of basics as opposed to this. Beggars can’t be choosers, though, and I would absolutely not complain if this rained down onto my lap one day.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of the rarest Magic cards ever printed. There is an incredibly small chance that anyone reading this, myself included, will acquire these one day, but it is still quite easy to appreciate the history. Magic has been around for 25 years strong, and there may be new rarities down the line that will drop our jaws just like these amazing cards from years gone. What are your favorite Magic rarities? Do you own any of them? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
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