Needs Improvement

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By: Travis Allen

As 2013 winds down, it marks the end of the first year I’ve been operating as a “professional” Magic financier, and by “professional” I mean “for some reason someone pays me to talk about it.” I’ve been doing it in an ever-increasing capacity for about four years now, with being hired by MTGPrice being my foray into the public domain. I’ve really enjoyed the entire experience so far. Being given the platform to write and speak about a topic that engages you during your most valuable of resources, free time, is incredibly rewarding. Finding an activity in your life in which you feel emotionally rewarded is a requirement for a sense of self-actualization, something many of us will seek and few will find during our lifetimes. For me, getting to write and talk about Magic is a step down that path.

Weakness

But for all I’ve gotten out of this field, both monetarily and mentally, I’m still just an apprentice. For each thing I do well, there are several things I do poorly, or even worse, I don’t do at all. Self-awareness and self-criticism is difficult and occasionally painful, but I feel it necessary that each of us is able to confront ourselves and own up to our mistakes and weaknesses. Being able to look back at your body of work and say “this is what I could have done better” leaves you open to critique and ridicule, some of it well deserved. Not all want to face that. In order to improve though, one must be able to accept these faults, admit them, and work to better themselves. At the very least, if you’ve made these shortcomings public then others can take you to task for a failure to do anything about them. A fear of public shaming may not be the most noble motivation, but its power to drive us to action is inarguable.

I have two hopes for this exercise. First, whether through inner motivation or public accountability, I hope to become a better trader, writer, and speculator. This will in turn give me the knowledge necessary to provide more valuable and helpful information to all of you down the road. My second goal is that through my own process of admittance, some of you will be able to recognize similar traits in yourselves. Perhaps your confidence level will rise upon seeing another underperform in the same way you do, or maybe you’ll find a way to improve you weren’t even aware of before. Either way, the end result is ideally the same: Everyone is better off. With that said, let’s see some of the ways I suck.

 

Pay More Attention

This is probably one of my more egregious errors. I write for MTGPrice.com, a website whose front page is a list of cards that have seen price movement in the last 24 and 168 hours. Yet it’s rare that I actually bother to check each morning when I wake up to see what has been active. You would think I would make an effort to look at the website who is kind enough to host my articles each week. There’s a lot of valuable information nested in those gain and lost lists if you’re willing to check them on a daily basis. Cursecatcher has jumped nearly $6 in the last two months, and if I had been paying attention, I could have seen the rise start, talked to others about it, and ultimately made a purchase. Instead, I read about it on Twitter after it was already over $7 and too late.

Cursecatcher

If you don’t do your homework, you can’t make money riding price waves. Reading about cards in articles is often too late unless it’s purely a spec call, and even Twitter often only gives you a window of a few hours. Sometimes you don’t even get that luxury, as the only people who saw the card rising kept their mouths shut so they could capitalize. In order to catch cards before they jump, I need to be watching closely and be open to buying into types of cards I normally gloss over because I know less about them. That leads nicely into my next problem, which is that I need to

 

 

Knock it Off With Pet Cards

I think we probably all do this a little bit, but I’ve become very aware of doing it myself in the last few months. As a player, I have a real affinity for green. I’m not entirely sure why, as I tend to deviate towards combo rather than beatdown any time I have a constructed PTQ or GP. It’s probably just a combination of loving to put lands into play and cool looking creatures.

Whatever the reason, I find myself frequently gravitating towards green. When browsing trade binders, I always pay special attention to the green pages. A disproportionate number of the cards in my spec box have green mana symbols somewhere. I’m more likely to pay attention to your case for a card if it’s green.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with preferring one color over another, but when that personal bias seeps into your business practices enough to result in potentially negative influences, you need to take stock. I’m more likely to make bad purchases (Vorel of the Hull Clade?) if they’re green, and less likely to buy into good opportunities if they aren’t. This bias will cost me money in two different directions. If I’m going to improve, I need to be willing to move on not just Simic cards, but Rakdos, Boros or Izzet as well.

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Do More Research

Several months ago I read Nate Silver’s “The Signal and the Noise” and found the book quite interesting. (It was an excellent read, and if you enjoy the MTG market, you’re sure to find the material intriguing and relevant. I’ll be covering it more in a future article.) One thing that struck me about his baseball statistics breakthrough was that the information had been there for quite some time, available for anyone, but it wasn’t until someone really dove in and applied fundamentally good math that real knowledge became available. The information was just sitting there – how come nobody was capitalizing on it?

Advent of the Wurm

I find myself in the “not doing anything with it” camp more often than I’d like. I bought a bunch of Advent of the Wurm, and someone almost immediately informed on Twitter that it was in an event deck, which would surely suppress it’s price. (Hey look, there’s that green bias.) Oh. Whoops. If I had taken two seconds to look that up, I probably wouldn’t have bitten that particular bullet. If I spent some time doing price history analysis, looking for past behavior of similar cards, and digging in to buylist spreads, I’d definitely be further ahead than I am now. Instead, half the time I have reason to consider a card, I look up the price on a few websites, think about it for a few minutes (seconds), then make a decision. Hardly the most informed approach.

 

Take My Own Advice

At some point in the past, I believe I mentioned on Twitter that people should really be grabbing Mutavault, because it was $12 and highly likely to climb. Even if I didn’t say it out loud, I know for a fact I was thinking it. But I kept putting it off and putting it off, and here we are now, with Mutavault at $26 and I have a whopping three copies. I’ve felt similarly about Domri around the same price point, yet failed to purchase any myself, again missing the boat.

9990081

It’s possible that some amount of this is only seeing the calls I missed, and not the calls I connected on. Perhaps, perhaps. However, I seem to recall without any real doubt that both Mutavault and Domri would rise in price. There was basically no way they couldn’t. I think I hesitated to make the move because the price of entry was higher than I’m comfortable with. I’m completely ok buying into my hunches when the cards cost $.30, but much less so when they’re $12, even if the $12 card is a far better bet. In the future, I need to be more willing to make commitments to calls I’m sure of with less worry about the cost. If I’m that sure the card will rise, then the initial expense shouldn’t matter because I’ll come out ahead regardless.

This is only a few of my shortcomings when it comes to buying and selling Magic cards. There are definitely plenty of others, but I’m not sure my fragile ego can handle much more for now. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on improving this small selection. I encourage all of you to consider similar reflection.

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The Mythic that Wasn’t

By: Jared Yost

This week I would like everyone to take the opportunity to check out the the MTGPrice 50 biggest gainers and losers of the week. I like to utilize this page in order to keep on top of weekly trends for Standard cards because Standard tends to be the most volatile format from week to week. By having an easy-to-reference list, you are able to clearly spot trends that you may otherwise miss just watching an official Wizard’s stream, Starcity live stream, or becoming occupied reading the countless other deck tech articles that exist.

Take a look at this list that was generated Friday 12/13/2013 of the week’s Top 15 losers in terms of price:

In the top 15 losers of the previous week, 13 out of the 15 are mythic rares. The other two cards in the list are Hero’s Downfall and Boros Reckoner. Hero’s Downfall is experiencing a price drop because more and more Theros packs are being cracked, so copies are entering the market every day. I will remember where Hero’s Downfall ultimately settles because it will be a good indicator for similar removal in the future. Since Wizards seems to be moving much of the good removal to the rare slots rather than uncommon, it will be important to know what to expect. Boros Reckoner is experiencing a shift downwards this week because it is seeing less and less play in Standard as the metagame moves away (at least for now) from red based devotion. Both blue and black devotion prevent Boros Reckoner from reaching his full potential (battling in the red zone.)

Outside of the two rares that made a guest appearance, I would like to draw your attention to a phenomenon I am calling “the mythic downgrade.” This event happens a few months after a set release, during which the mythics in Standard are currently being oversold and the market is in the process of readjustment (due to several factors, which I will elaborate on). With 13 out of the top 15 losers being mythic this week, it’s clear the mythic downgrade is in full swing.

 

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Elspeth has received a downgrade from the previous week mainly because she typically only appears as a single or double. Even though she appears in about 20% of the current Standard decks, she only averages slightly below two copies. With many lists only needing a single copy, there isn’t nearly as much demand to prop up her price, as we see in cards like Sphinx’s Revelation or Thassa.

I expect this trend to continue because she is prohibitively expensive mana-wise for a Planeswalker. The only other Planeswalker that costs six that is seeing play is Garruk, Caller of Beasts, and for green decks that high mana cost can be ameliorated alongside of Nykthos. U/W Control is not making crazy mana like that, and until it does I don’t see Elspeth appearing in quantities of 3 or 4 in decks any time soon.

 

Stormbreath Dragon

Stormbreath Dragon

Alas, my favorite dragon in Standard is seeing a decline in price as well.  As opposed to Elspeth, Stormbreath Dragon regularly sees play as three or four copies in the same deck, so that isn’t our culprit. The reason that Stombreath Dragon is dropping (for now) is because of that pesky “protection from white” clause. Not that it’s a bad card, but like I mentioned above, black and blue right now are the colors to beat. Stormbreath Dragon’s pro white doesn’t do much against Gray Merchant triggers and a sea of elemental tokens, so until the metagame shifts to white being a dominant color again Stormbreath Dragon will continue to see only moderate amounts of play.

 

Xenagos, the Reveler

Xenagos, the Reveler

Ah, Xenagos – the Planeswalker spin on Gaea’s Cradle. In my opinion, Xenagos is so close to being good but is outshined by Garruk. Since Garruk is mono-green, he is much more efficient in devotion builds as he is so much easier to cast with all green mana from your Nykthos activation.  Xenagos has been dropping since the release of Theros because he doesn’t have a deck that really synergizes well with him, unlike Garruk. Similar to Elspeth, you don’t need many copies if you are playing him – two to three at the most. Making free Satyrs with haste is pretty awesome, but I think Garruk will need to rotate before Xenagos will really start to shine. The floor for Xenagos hasn’t approached yet and I would expect him to go lower as more Theros is released.

 

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

Ashiok has certainly fallen from the highs that she saw when Theros was first released:

Unfortunately, there just hasn’t been a good deck to fit her into except for Esper control which isn’t even seeing a lot of play right now – Ashiok is currently found in less than 5% of the field. Under the right circumstances Ashiok can be a real beating, but the popularity of the devotion decks has pushed her to fringe play. I would expect the price to continue to go down for a little while longer (since we currently have the blue/black scryland, and even this isn’t enough to make her see play) until a more viable control deck is able to exist in Standard.

 

Purphoros, God of the Forge

Purphoros, God of the Forge

Purphoros was talked about last week on this blog, and I agree with the reason for the price drop – a God that has plenty of potential but no way to realize that potential yet. Continue to expect his price to go down until that potential is realized. On the more speculative side, I believe that Purphoros’ floor is not far away and once the price drops down so far as to make you scratch your head – that will be the time to start getting them. Clearly a casual and EDH all star, (and possibly the Gods being the next Eldrazi a few years from now?) in the long term you can’t go wrong.

 

Heliod, God of the Sun

Heliod, God of the Sun

I’m still reeling from the initial buy-in that I made for Heliod when Theros was first released. I was wrong about his role in the early Theros metagame, and the price has readjusted to show me the error of my ways. Heliod continues to drop from $8 and I expect it to bottom out around $3-$4 the way the price is trending.

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However, new sets produce new opportunities and I think that within their Standard life each God will have his or her time to shine. Like Purphoros, Heliod can be a great casual target if you want to start picking them up when they get really low. Just don’t wait too long, because I still have high expectations that one day, hopefully one day, Heliod might be good…

 

Domri RadeVoice of Resurgence

Domri Rade
Voice of Resurgence

I’ve mentioned both of these mythics in some of my previous articles, but back then I portrayed these mythics in a positive light. Looks like I need to reevaluate my stance on these Standard staples.

For their respective decks, both Domri and Voice are played in droves – hardly do I see a list that plays fewer than four copies of either card. So, why are they going down in price? I believe the answer lies in the fact that those players that want to play Domri or Voice already have them (the cards have been out for far longer than the Theros mythics I mentioned,) and aren’t doing anything particularly new or exciting. Standard has been pretty stale lately, with little innovation of the full 75. Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth didn’t give us much good insight either because many players had to cancel their travel plans due to the humongous snowstorm that pummeled the area on the weekend of the tournament. This allowed some fairly crazy decks to get into the top 8 of the tournament such as this R/W Burn list.  So until more demand presents itself for these cards, either through 1. more players wanting to play Standard and the rise of the Magic player community or 2. the establishment of greener deck strategies, it could take a new set to be released before Domri or Voice are shaken up price wise.

 

Chandra, PyromasterTrostani, Selesnya's VoiceArchangel of Thune

Obzedat, Ghost CouncilBlood Baron of Vizkopa

All of the cards here have changed fewer than 1% since the previous week, so I will go through them all and see why they have been stagnant.

Chandra, PyromasterChandra has stagnated in price for now because she currently sees play at most as a single or double, just like other Planeswalkers in the losers list. Until she starts putting up more impressive numbers, I don’t expect an increase in her price any time soon. She seems to have leveled off until a new strategy capitalizes on her.

Trostani, Selesnya’s VoiceTrostani has experienced several jumps and dips in price throughout her life in Standard, so her stagnation could signal the beginning of another price dip until a G/W populate strategy shows up again. A great target for the long term, but I wouldn’t expect a huge price jump soon unless G/W populate breaks out with a new set release.

Archangel of ThuneArchangel of Thune has tried to work in so many decks, but at the end of the day it is mainly a casual card which is the primary buoy of it’s price. I would expect Archangel to stay around $15 throughout the rest of its Standard life and increase in price if another strategy next year can fit it into the deck. Otherwise, stay away unless you absolutely must have them.

Obzedat, Ghost Council and Blood Baron of Vizkopa – Both of these Orzhov titans have seen their price increases happen already. Blood Baron went from $8 to his current $18 and Obzedat went from $7-$8 to his current $10 in the fall. Both have flat lined since then. For Obzedat, this is because there are only a few strategies he can fit into well and thus his price is mainly held up by casuals and the EDH crowd. Blood Baron is a tournament staple, so the reason his price hasn’t moved much in spite of that is because most everyone who wants them has them and often he isn’t played as a playset. In control shells, Blood Baron is typically played as a two-of and occasionally you’ll see three, barring B/W Control. As Standard plays out over the next year, I can definitely see Blood Baron possibly going up again. Obzedat, until a better deck opportunity presents itself, will continue to hang out around $10. There is definitely still time for Obzedat to pan out if he can find the right deck though.

That’s a wrap! Hopefully this article gives you some insight to the current prices of many mythics in Standard and why they seem to be dropping or stagnating in price. Also, check out the Top 50 list on MTGPrice regularly so that you won’t be behind the trends from week to week on all the best Standard cards. The list gives you an idea of cards headed in either direction, so keep watch!

Accessories

There’s a hidden set of costs to playing magic.

We don’t often talk about it, either. We mention it in passing sometimes when it catches our fancy, but it’s a real thing. I’m talking about everything you use while playing the game. Sleeves, dice, playmats; the list goes on and on. Magic has exploded over the past few years, and the accessories that you use while playing have seen a similar growth.

One of the things I want to make clear is that you don’t have to spend this money. This is money you choose to spend in order to upgrade a certain part of the experience.

Sleeves

Allow me to sound like an old fogey for a moment. I was there when “blackbacks” were first introduced to the gaming public. Everything until that point was based off of baseball cards. You had penny sleeves, or you had the big thick top loaders.

Magic was being played on benches, on concrete or brick, on anything really, stored in boxes all without sleeves. You would shuffle Magic cards just like you would a deck of playing cards. This meant a lot of damage very quickly to your cards, especially in terms of edge wear. Akroma, Angel of Wrath

Sleeves with opaque backs changed everything. Not only were you keeping your cards from getting all scuffed up, you were also able to hide damage already done. This was immediately relevant to me, as I had some specific cards that had locational damage. As I recall, I had a Lord of the Pit with a bent corner.

Within the popularity of the black sleeves, the companies sensed a desire for more variety. Before long, you could have your green deck with green sleeves, your blue deck with blue sleeves, and so on.

Now you’re able to spend a significant amount of money and get just about anything you might want on your sleeves. I’ve seen custom inserts, and I imagine that fully-customized sleeves with personal art choices are not far away, if they don’t already exist. You can double or even triple sleeve your cards. There is a lot of discussion and a lot of personal preference when it comes to sleeves.

I like having different sleeves for different decks. I have been fortunate enough to find zombie sleeves for my Zombie deck and shiny foil vampire sleeves for a shiny foil Vampire deck. Personally, I can vouch for the durability of Dragon Shields. Shuffling an EDH deck can be tough on your sleeves, and can cause them to split or burst. The KMC perfect fit are another winner for me; my go-to perfect fit sleeve for the rarest of my cards.

Dice

If you want to further refine the unique experience of the game, dice represent an easy way to do that. You have an array of colors, and even an array of materials. Stone, wood, metal, bone, etc.

Magic’s history is also full of special dice, such as spin down dice with different set symbols, or translucent dice from the Premium Deck Series.

It is surprisingly easy to find very expensive dice. Especially exotic material dice, which can run $30-$40 for a set. If you want to get really fancy, look up iron dice and the many varieties they offer. Be careful if you have a few iron dice; they can really destroy plastic ones if kept in the same container and left to rattle around.

Similarly, dice boxes can fetch all sorts of prices, depending on how intricate a display you opt for. My wife and I brought coffin-shaped dice boxes complete with ghost and spirit counters with us to Worlds when Innistrad was the draft format. If you choose to look on Etsy or Ultra-Pro for custom boxes, you’ll find more than you expect.

A momentary aside on dice and life: Once you start using a notepad for life totals, you’ll never go back. All you need to do is bump a life die once and you’ll see the simple genius of writing things down. I have a six-inch stack of notepads that I have accumulated from the last few big events I’ve attended – all you need to do is see which vendors are giving them away at a GP or the like.

Playmats

You don’t need to use a playmat in many circumstances. Sleeves and a tablecloth work just fine. But playmats are useful for marking off your own territory, keeping yourself organized, and as a way to add structure and routine to your game.

Most large events have an official playmat, and it’s possible to find just about any of your favorite card arts if you look hard enough. If you went to GP Las Vegas this past summer, you can expect to fetch $40-$60 for just the playmat on eBay today. There are other ways to acquire unique playmats as well. Judges for certain events receive them, Gameday winners get one, PTQ Top 8 earns a playmat…the list goes on.

If you happen to have a Spellground mat big enough for two players sitting in a closet somewhere, go take a look at eBay and see if yours is in good enough condition to fetch a few hundred dollars. It’s from 20 years ago, and it doesn’t give special shuffling powers, but collectors are collectors.

It’s worth noting that custom playmats can be had from many Magic artists, or you can go online to have a custom playmat made from the image of your choice. All of these things are possible – if you’re willing to spend the money.

Deck Boxes

reg_dual_deckbox_open

Sure, some of us make do with a plain white 800-count baseball card box, but there’s so many other options out there! I’ve made custom deck boxes from booster boxes, I use fat pack boxes to hold EDH decks, and it seems that whenever I see a container of some sort, my first thoughts are of cards.

Currently, I use a Dual Deck Box from Ultra-Pro when drafting. One side is for sleeves, the other is for dice and counters. I’m a huge fan of deck boxes that have a space for extra things, like tokens and dice and maybe even a pen. I’ve been impressed at the number of options available to us, especially if you want to go all-out on Etsy for something one-of-a-kind.

Binders

True story: I’ve got some Ultra-Pro pages that are more than ten years old. They have the outlines of cards in them, and they look a little dingy, but they are still quite effective. I much prefer binders with three rings over binders that have a set number of pages, mainly because if I rip a pocket, I want to be able to replace that page.

I also really like binders which zip closed, and have handles or straps. I’ve seen too many big thick binders drop and spill precious pages because the owner didn’t have a solid grip.

Tokens

Token3

Hanging out at assorted forums, I’ve learned how to make my own tokens. Here’s an example of one I made for my token-themed EDH deck, which has Sliver Queen as the general.

I made a card with Kerrigan as the Queen, so the tokens had to be Zerglings!

Custom tokens like this are one way to personalize your experience. I’ve known people who carry a bag of green army men, or other small and cheap figurines. I’ve also seen large stacks of the official tokens, and as someone with a Zombie deck, the Unglued versions are by far the best.

Carrying Cases

In the event that you aren’t content with a backpack for your gaming needs, there are a few options from companies who want to make this easier for you. Personally, I prefer the backpack over the duffel bag, but to each their own. You’re probably going to try some different options before you settle on the one you like.

Dragon Eggs are something I’ve seen used, but were a little too small for my taste. I really like the pocket for a life pad, though! My wife uses an Ultra-Pro Gaming Case, and while that’s awesome in a lot of ways, I don’t want to carry that as well as a binder.

My goal with this is not to tell you what to buy. In my opinion, the only thing you *must* have is sleeves, simply because it protects your investment or hides preexisting damage. If you’re at a major event (competitive REL or higher,) I also feel you should be using a notepad to track life totals. Everything else is optional, and is going to come down to what you want out of your Magic experience. As I said, I’ve used a lot of different accessories over my Magic career, and what I’m using now might not be what I’m using next year. For instance, have you seen this spicy number from Ultra-Pro? I haven’t used it, but if that front compartment holds a life pad and a pen, it’s going to be hard to resist…

Dallas the Tundra and Cheap Standard Cards

This past weekend was Grand Prix DFW, and the entire experience was marred by an Ice Storm. Roads were covered in sheets of ice, three hour drives dragged into the tenth and eleventh hour, and Twitter told the story of pro after pro giving up and going home after their umpteenth cancelled flight. It resulted in an abnormally small GP, warping the field to be considerably soft, as many professionals were unable to attend. Ice Storm

The top eight had the word “Mono” in it a bit less than previous GPs, but we still saw devotion to black make an appearance, as well as a nearly-mono red devotion list. The winner was Marlon Gutierrez’s Orzhov control deck, which looked a lot like Esper just without blue and a ton more removal and discard. He was packing the full set of Blood Barons in the main deck, hoping to capitalize on his resistance to much of the popular removal and significant lifegain capabilities.

Blood Baron was $7 at one point before everyone collectively realized what the card said and he was $20 almost overnight. He’s now down towards the $18 range, and hasn’t see any real bump from GPDFW. I think it’s possible we’ll see him tick up a little bit in the near future, but I would be surprised if he climbed above $22 or $23. He should crater pretty hard by the time rotation rolls around, at which point you should be willing to snag plenty of copies, as casual demand will keep him up for years to come.

Desecration Demon and Pack Rat made their usual appearances in both the winning list as well as the black devotion list, and continue to hold strong at $10 and $3 respectively. Don’t be afraid to ask for real cards in trade with Pack Rat these days. He’s in everything, and if people want to use it, they should expect to trade away relevant cardboard.

Hero’s Downfall was popular again, but like Blood Baron, didn’t see any real movement based on the results of the event. The next North American Standard GP is in late January, which is where many role-players like Downfall will see a rise in price if it’s going to happen this season. Trade for them now at $10, and don’t be in a rush to ship them.

Mutavault was everywhere again; no surprise there. Get used to it, as it’s going to be in 50% of top eight manabases until September. It’s now easily $25, a few dollar increase from the last time I mentioned it a few weeks ago. The ceiling is probably around $30, which I’m guessing we’ll brush our heads against during January or February. If it wasn’t rotating this fall I’d peg it to go even higher. At this point, that’s all that will keep it from being a $40 rare.

Supreme Verdict

While there wasn’t anything I would really call a breakout performance, UW certainly made an impressive showing after being rather quiet lately. Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict, and Detention Sphere were out in force, with a healthy amount of Jace and Elspeth rounding out the package. Jace has rebounded to $20 after slipping as low as $14 after the JvV announcement, at which point people noticed the release date said “May” and stopped the firesale. Like Blood Baron, I can see him ticking up a few more dollars, but I don’t think we’ll see him crest $25, especially with a very clear date of auxiliary supply on the horizon. Elspeth has lost a ton of value lately, falling to $20-$22. To her credit, It took awhile for her to get there from her prerelease days of $35. I would guess we’ll see her continue to decline through the summer, and late next fall we’ll see a resurgence.

Sphinx’s Revelation should behave similar to Jace and Blood Baron at this point; that party has mostly come and gone. Keep in mind that it will probably drop of the face of the earth come September, as it’s not good enough for any other formats, and is hardly a “cool” card. Don’t get stuck holding the bag. Meanwhile Detention Sphere is also still seeing a lot of action, and I’m hoping its price reflects that in the near future, mostly because I bought 30 or 40 of them before they announced the event deck. I hate event decks.

Supreme Verdict seems low to me right now, especially given how much devotion decks play on the battlefield. By the way, did you happen to notice that MTGSalvation put the three Scrylands from Born of the Gods in their spoiler? It includes the UW land and the GW land. That bodes very well for Verdict, and Bant in general. On top of that, Verdict will continue to remain relevant in nearly every format even after rotation, so this is a strong pickup $4-$5. Even if it doesn’t hit $10 during this season, a number which seems entirely plausible, the floor shouldn’t be much lower than $3 or $4.

xenagos

Lately while keeping abreast of cards I’ve seen a lot of powerful effects that are considerably lower than I realized, and I want to put some of them on everyone’s radar. First of all, have you noticed that Xenagos can be had for as little as $8 on TCG? That is very low for a Planeswalker that just put two copies into a top eight that was very soft to a pile of satyrs. I’m not saying he’s going to pull a Domri, but there is no way he stays this low forever.

Continuing in the trend of underpriced Planeswalkers, Ashiok too is quite affordable, with plenty of copies under $9. He’s already proven his chops, so we know he’s at least capable. Given how popular both mill and Planeswalkers are with casual folk, there’s no way he doesn’t rebound at some point. Grab your copies and hang on. And if you’ve got a little extra cash this time of year, might I suggest some Korean copies? Visions of Meloku.

I see two copies of Chained to the Rocks available for $.44 cents each right now, with quite a few under a $1. That’s awfully cheap for a very powerful removal spell; just barely above bulk. Mizzium Mortars is a $3 card. Is Chained that much worse? It’s hard to say without knowing what the lands will be next fall, but I would be awfully surprised if those wrought iron chains don’t end up costing more than pocket change at some point. Purphoros, God of the Forge

Speaking of rocks, Purphoros is down in the $7-8 range. Ok, I wasn’t really speaking of rocks, but whatever. Overall he was the most expensive god during the prerelease season because of an obviously very powerful triggered ability. We haven’t seen much come of it yet, but there’s a whole lot of time for him to matter yet. Keep in mind too that not only could he become a legitimate force in Standard, that ETB trigger is ripe for bashing people with in more combo-oriented formats. How about a Genesis Wave deck? Or some sort of elf brew? I don’t claim to know the best way to go about it, but it’s possible we end up seeing him in decks that never plan on turning him on in the first place.

Speaking of gods (hey that time it worked), Anger of the Gods is easily purchasable under $2 these days. I wouldn’t be rushing out to purchase them at the moment, but this is a legitimate sweeper with a powerful clause. Firespout has seen a lot of play in Modern, and Anger may manage the same. That exile clause may be mostly irrelevant in Standard unless its sweeping away weird leaf-deer things, but it matters quite a bit in older formats where Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, and Scavenging Ooze are mainstays.

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