Weekend Update for 5/26


By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Mishra’s Factory
$66.51 to $76.37 (14.8%)

Mishra’s Factory was the original “man” land. It allowed players to cast Wrath of God and then animate the Factory and attack with a creature in control decks.

It is still used in Legacy as a play set in Pox and Standstill decks.

These decks try to keep the board clear of creatures through heavy disrutpion and get there with lands that can attack.

They have also seen the occasional 3-1 in MODO Legacy dailies.

The rise in popularity of UWR Miracles also has people experimenting with Factories in Stoneblade builds.

I advocate trading into the hype while people are brewing. If you can turn a play set of these into some duel lands I would not look back.

9. Temple of Plenty
$6.00 to $6.91 (15.2%)

Scrylands are more powerful than originally assumed. We have seen pros running twelve scrylands to help smooth draws and fix mana for three color decks.

Temple of Plenty has seen full adoption in Selesnya and Junk builds in Standard.

I think that the scrylands are well positioned for rotation once the shocklands leave Standard.

I would trade for them with emphasis on this, Temple of Malady, Temple of Enlightenment and Temple of Silence.

8. Urza’s Tower
$2.46 to $2.84 (15.5%)

Modern season is quickly approaching.

Putting together the Urzatron is powerful in any format. It can be tough to recover from a turn three Karn Liberated or Wurmcoil Engine.

Different builds can throw out an early Batterskull or Sundering Titan which make it difficult if not impossible for aggressive decks to recover.

If you play the Urzatron in Gruul, Blue, Azorius or other combinations you need to have a play set of each of the three lands.

The biggest thing holding them back is their five printings including Chronicles and Fifth Edition where they were common.

It still think they are good solid holds. Anyone thinking of playing in the Modern format should at least pick up a play set of each to have to play with.

They are not powerful enough to ban and the biggest risk I could see would be further reprints.

7. Winds of Change
$1.86 to $2.15 (15.6%)

Nekusar, the Mindrazer decks continue to be popular and powerful. This is one of the most efficient ways to restock your hand and deal seven damage to each of your opponents.

There are still copies out there for less than a dollar. The spread on this card is less than a dime.

More Mind Seize decks will find their ways to retailers at the rate of two boxes per shipment.

That means more ninety-eight card commander decks than need tuning after True-Name Nemesis and Baleful Strix are sold.

These are still surprisingly easy to trade for and with such a low margin a pretty safe bet.

6. Necropotence (From the Vault: Exiled)
$14.97 to $17.97 (20.0%)

Necropotence is one the most powerful card engines every devised.

It is also one of the most iconic cards Wizards has ever printed.


This is the only foil copy available for Vintage or Cube players.

A lot of people are going to be playing with it in Vintage Masters online.

The beta shows the lowest price of $13 and the highest buylist of $10.

This shows a great deal of confidence in the growth of this card.

This is a great long term hold.

5. Apocalypse
$2.44 to $3.09 (26.6%)

This card is a rare from Tempest. That means there are not many out there. It is also on the reserved list so there will never be any more.

This card has a negative spread. You can buy it from one retailer and sell it to another at a profit.

This is as good a recommendation as I can possibly give.

Grab these any time you see them. They have probably been rotting in trade binders for years.

4. Tendo Ice Bridge
$3.59 to $4.58 (27.6%)

The power and flexibility of this land are considerable when you can reuse the counter using bouncelands and Amulet of Vigor. They are used as three of in that deck.

I have seen this card listed for $5 in a few places and some sites still have them for less than $3.

The beta on this card is only $0.42. That makes this a safe and smart target.

I would actively trade for these. The deck has already caused significant increases in the prices of Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Primeval Titan.

3. Urza’s Miter
$4.87 to $6.45 (32.4%)

This is all smoke.


I don’t think anyone is actually buying this card at this price.

I looked at ebay sales records and it looks like everyone is buying theirs for around $3. The highest buylist I see is $2.51 but most vendors are offering about a dollar less than that.

That tells me that there is not a lot of confidence in the price of this card.

It is an Antiquities rare on the reserved list but it really does not belong in any deck. It is a collector’s item but that does not explain the recent surge in interest it has seen.

Am I missing something here? Does anyone know what started this?

I honestly feel you could buy any early rare on the reserved list and it would be at least as valuable to you as this card.

For about the same amount you can get a Mana Matrix or Planar Gate.

Both of those are about as rare and have awesome applications in Commander or Cube.

2. Nether Shadow
$2.00 to $2.97 (48.5%)

Legacy Manaless Dredge is picking up in popularity and it shows.

Nether Shadow can safely be dredged away and will be back to fight, block or be sacrificed to Dread Return to reanimate Balustrade Spy or Golgari Grave-Troll.

The deck is a popular budget option for a format known for costing thousands of dollars to play competitively.

This deck can be put together for a little more than a preordered booster box of Conspiracy.

There are still a lot of budget cards in the deck that have room to grow.

Chancellor of the Annex is cheap and can keep opponents from landing a turn one Deathrite Shaman to attack your graveyard.

Flayer of the Hatebound is also a bulk card and adds a unique effect which can close games out of nowhere.

I expect the pieces of this deck to continue to grow as interest in Legacy grows.

1. Breathstealer’s Crypt
$1.21 to $2.00 (65.3%)

Here is a spec that I like!

Breathstealer’s Crypt is a rare from Visions. It is on the reserve list.

It gives you information. Everyone will know what everyone is drawing. It costs life or cards.

It is obvious what is going on with this card – it is the latest Nekusar target.

You make your opponents draw cards and drain their life anyway. You can deprive them of precious creatures and finish them off.

What is left for the Nekusar deck?

Kederekt Parasite, Otherworld Atlas and Reforge the Soul are all still bulk.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Boros Reckoner
$8.75 to $7.79 (-11.0%)

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx was not kind to the Minotaur Wizard.

The event came and went and not a single copy was found in the Top 8.

Even Monowhite Aggro and Boros Burn decks do not necessarily run him anymore.

The time to trade these away was a few months ago. Their only use was Standard and it has seen its day.

I would move them as quickly as possible because once rotation hits they will be bulk.

I would try to get scylands or even shocklands for them if you could.

4. Shatterstorm
$19.10 to $16.90 (-11.5%)

Shatterstorm is a powerful answer to Affinity decks in Modern and Legacy.

Unfortunately the popularity of these decks have waned as people have adjusted their sideboards.

This is part of the danger of investing in sideboard cards.

If they do too well then the threat is neutralized and demand sags.

This leaves and opening for the threat to return and for interest to rise again.

I would trade these away as it is on its way down. It jumped from $5 to $20 over the course of a few weeks. It has been trending down again.

Try to pick them up again once they drop below $10.

3. The Mimeoplasm (Commander’s Arsenal)
$13.75 to $12.00 (-12.7%)

We recently saw a burst in demand for Commanders. Every enemy wedge Commander that was under $10 was snatched up and an increase in price drove this card from $ $6 to $15 over night.

The frenzy is dying down and prices are settling.

The price has come down but it is stabilizing.

If you want a fun commander I would hold onto these. I expect the price the price to slowly start climbing from here. It just will not be at the rabid pace we have seen.

2. Shivan Reef
$7.99 to $6.88 (-13.9%)

Storm has been testing well in Modern. Shivan Reef helps fix mana and does not come into play tapped.

It has been steadily growing over the past few weeks. I would look at this as a speed bump.

Modern season is rapidly approaching. This could be a good opportunity to grab three or four if you are looking at playing UR Storm.

1. Oubliette
$9.35 to $7.21 (-22.9%)

Did you trade yours away yet? Everyone else is doing so.

It is an interesting card but not so powerful that I see a strong reason for the price.

If you want to exile a creature in black we now have Silence the Believers and Gild. I think this will just continue to decrease in value.

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Joining the Conspiracy

By: Cliff Daigle

I know that most of you here are enthusiastic Magic players. You’re likely to do a lot of trading, buying, and selling. You attend a range of events, from FNM to PTQ, GP and other large events. Wizards knows this and does things to make Magic an awesome game for you.

They also understand that a huge part of the playerbase is not here to gain value, or to win a tournament, or even to win a game. Many players are here because this game is a social interaction interwoven with a card game, and this interaction is tremendously fun.

That’s how we get Conspiracy.

I’m here to tell you that Conspiracy is draft- and multiplayer- based, and in a way that is going to be very, very fun. You are going to see people want to draft this set on a basis that I don’t think has been matched. Modern Masters may have come close, but the value on that set made it sought after in a different way.

I’ve been lucky enough to draft almost every set of Magic. I’ve drafted Unglued and Unhinged. I’ve drafted the Ice Age block. I’ve helped build Reject Rare Cubes for drafting.

Nothing is going to come close to what Conspiracy offers. The mechanics that alter the draft, even going so far as to add a ninth booster pack to the eight that are circulating. You get to peek at another pack, or see what else has been taken.


The gameplay mechanics are fantastic too. Will of the Council allows for democracy, unless you have Brago’s Representative and then you’re a dictator. None of the choices are ever weak either. You’re going to get a great effect no matter the vote, and ‘helping’ others decide how to vote is going to be a game within the game.

Dethrone is a simple and effective tool for deciding who to attack. I’m salivating at the thought of what effect is going to give other creatures dethrone. If we’re really lucky, we will get an effect that can be passed from player to player. “At the beginning of each combat step, all creatures controlled by target player gain Dethrone” would be something amazing to put on a creature. It’s super helpful that Dethrone triggers on the attack, not on the damage.

Parley is just a great way to peek at what other players will have going on. Reveals and bonuses are a way to make the information palatable to those players because you’re usually getting much more of a bonus.

I want you to go to the release events. Just play. Play as much as you can. This is a set that will reinforce the vast array of player types that Wizards has learned to accomodate. The same company that rules the Modern banned list with an iron fist also creates a set where Deal Broker is a card.

There are going to be some unique cards available in Conspiracy, and with the presence of foils, might be incredibly pricey. Of note so far will be only the third foil printing of Brainstorm and the first non-promo foil of Swords to Plowshares. Exploration, an Urza’s Saga rare that did not get the reserved list treatment, will have its first foil. Dack Fayden in foil will also command a hefty price tag, but if you’re looking for a lower bar of entry on your speculations, I’d suggest going after foils of the cards that affect the draft, like Cogwork Librarian.

Conspiracy is going to have a big effect on Cubes this way. Some purists won’t want to touch these sorts of cards, and I suspect that more will add them with gusto. Even the foil common versions will be worth a surprising amount after we’ve moved on to Magic 2015 and the Khans block.

There’s one more thing to note about prices and Conspiracy: We’re going to have an effect on Journey into Nyx – Born of the Gods – Theros drafts. If your FNM is doing Conspiracy instead of JBT, that’s going to keep Theros block cards a little more scarce. Modern Masters interfered with M14 this way and led to a dearth of Mutavault. It’s possible that Conspiracy makes Journey into Nyx cards even rarer than my 6:2:1 article would indicate. It’s possible that if Conspiracy sells well and get reprinted, it will affect the summer sales of M15 as well.

I’m seeing preorder boxes for pretty close to MSRP. Some are even below, as if this were any old booster set. This is not the usual 36 packs, and if you get the chance to put away a box or two, it will be an easy way to grow your money over time. Booster boxes usually are, but ones that offer a unique and fun format, AND AT THE SAME TIME are stuffed full of value, should be treated with respect and purchased freely.

And if anyone asks…I didn’t tell you. Shhh!

Channeling Emotions

By: Camden Clark

Emotions are an integral part of investing. They determine how we feel before, during, and after an investment that we make.

When it comes to MTG finance, there are very few articles deciphering the emotions within the context of Magic: the Gathering.

This is especially dire considering the effect emotions have on the game outside of speculation. As card game players, we are all subject to runs of good and bad luck. Respectively, we have ups and downs emotionally. Some people react to luck with superstition, some with rage, some with apathy. Regardless, we play this game that features the interaction between luck and strategy which is balanced quite well.

With investment in Magic cards the same emotions are at play. There are the ups and downs, the fear and bravery.

Except, this time, there is money on the line. It is more important here to be in tune with how you are feeling and how that influences the decisions you make.

Thus, it is valuable to take some time out to explore the reasons we make the decisions we make.


It is January of 2014. You have a few playsets of Remand but are concerned about a possible reprint due to its conspicuous absence from Modern Masters. Naturally, you fear a possible reprint of Remand which would depreciate the cards price. 

How about another hypothetical? You are on ChannelFireball.com at exactly 9PM PST. Travis Woo’s article is up. It has a new spicy brew that could pick up a lot of casual players. The brew features a card that is virtually bulk at the moment. But what if this deck doesn’t get any traction? Then you are stuck with these one-hundred of these bulk cards.

These hypotheticals are not far from real cases and fears people have. Fear can cause hesitation and lack of confidence. Conversely, fear can cause one to sell out too quickly before making any profit or even “cutting your losses.”

As much as fear is dangerous it is an important emotion to utilize as it provides a filter for all the potentially bad decisions you could make. I specifically use the terminology “in tune” because it quite accurately describes how you need to relate to fear. You need to take into account how fear may drive you away from these bad decisions but also how it could limit your decisionmaking.

One way to channel your fear is to do more research. To take one of the hypotheticals from above, if Travis Woo’s builds always cause a price jump on the cards that he builds around, let that guide your decisions as opposed to blind fear which can make you hesitate. The best antidote will be your own research and experience.

Ultimately, you have to be willing to take the dive or let a bad spec run its course. If you are taking major hits by selling out, choose not to sell out.

It all goes back to channeling your knowledge and experience as a player to determine from case to case where you should suspend your reservations or when it is best to move in.


It is easy to get wrapped up in your successes and feel unstoppable. If you are coming off many successes in speculation it can get difficult to say no to yourself. Investment may become an impulsive activity.

If you just made a whole bunch of money off of Restoration Angel, then Birthing Pod, you might be more likely to invest in the next Nivmagus Elemental. Controlling yourself after coming off a chain of wins is quite difficult and takes an enormous amount of self-discipline.

The best way to channel joy is to let it motivate you. Getting excited and pumped about wins should motivate you to examine what it was that made those decisions good decisions and rolling with those methods. It should influence you to do more work and try to replicate the wins you have just came off of.

However, do not let joy blind you. This is the main pitfall of this emotion. You have to stay rigid and do what works for you or you will get burned hard.

The best companion to euphoria is a healthy dose of fear. There are two types of stress, eustress and distress. Eustress is the positive type that motivates you to do things. Distress is negative and can cause you to have panic attacks. Channel eustress from fear to counteract the negative effects of getting overconfident.


How many times have you watched a twitch.tv streamer yell into their microphone and shut their stream off in frustration at the seventh land that has come off of their deck?

I have personally seen it far too many times.

Now how many times have you watched a popular twitch.tv streamer do the same thing?

I’m willing to venture a lot less.

Randomness is an inherent part of the game we play. We have to take risks and sometimes get punished for them.

Just like in Magic’s gameplay, investment is never a “sure thing.” There is always inherent risk in any investment. Many investments are a promo away from tanking.

It is very easy to get just as wrapped up in failure as in success.

The best thing to do is get some perspective. Take a break from the grind. It will make you a healthier and happier person. After you have taken a break, you will be able to approach everything with fresh eyes and not make rash, emotional decisions. Perhaps you even focus on playing the game you spend time investing in as opposed to only being focused on the bottom line.

It might be a good idea to reconsider why exactly you are into Magic finance when you get angry. The reason most of us get into MTG finance is because we like the game. You should get excited for playing the game and watching the players you like play it. That will reinvigorate you and refocus your efforts as opposed to wallowing in anger.


When you are making money it is easy to get complacent. You won’t pursue new avenues to make money or might even ignore great opportunities to make serious cash.

It is hard to determine when you are getting complacent or if it even matters to you. If you are making money it can be difficult to realize the potential of thinking outside of the box and opening up new opportunities for profit.

The main way to get out of a complacent mindset is to read what others have to say about Magic finance. Try something new. Do something that looks interesting or groundbreaking. Make sure you are recording your efforts efficiently and with a focus on learning. The best thing about evading complacency is the opportunity to learn something.

This extends to what you’ve already been doing. If you fail to gather valuable data and stretch the limits of the methods you are already doing you have gotten complacent. Learn more and you’ll achieve more.


Many people will think that these ideas and concepts are rudimentary. However, there is value in exploring them.

The game of Magic itself is a card game. It is a game of strategy. However, it is also a game of chance. Emotions run high in a game of chance. The same people who are attracted to games of chance are attracted to using that game as an investment platform. We are all victim to our emotions at one point or another. 

Just like playing Magic, we have to use strategy to mitigate chance in the finance aspects of the game. You should be reorienting your strategy constantly in order to maximize your profit.

The key is being cognizant of the fact that we are humans. We have emotions. We act and don’t act based on those whims. Once you have awakened this self-awareness you can be more effective and objective in your analysis.

The end all be all is that you have to focus on analyzing what it is that makes you successful or not successful. You cannot be an emotionless robot. You can use your emotions to make better decisions or try something new. Even anger can be channeled into something positive.

I have become enamored with a sort of meta-analysis of the investment actions we take. It is necessary to question the preconceived notions that we have in order to get better at what it is we do.

What experiences have you had with emotions running high or low in your investments? Leave it in the comments. Thanks.

Something Clever About Scry 3, the Future, and the Block Pro Tour

By: Travis Allen

This is going to be one of those rare weeks where I teach you guys something actually useful that you can apply yourself to situations down the road. The Block Pro Tour in Hotlanta just happened and we’re going to separate the signal from the noise. These PTs are important because they are a possible sign of things to come. The future can be changed, but it isn’t always. Even when things don’t shake out quite like this, the role players are still typically big parts of the story, just in a different costume.

Let’s start with what’s worth noticing. In the first instance of someone winning their first Pro Tour after being inducted into the Hall of Fame (I’m too lazy to find out if this is true), Chapin took home a well-deserved trophy. He played Spirit Jund, aka “a three color pile of the best cards in the format.” It just happened to show up in BGW this time around.

Manabases at a PT are a little tough to evaluate because they’re so constrained by lack of options. I’m sure if Pat had access to shocks his mana would look a little different. Even still, that’s a full-on set of Temples and Mana Confluence. The Temples are well-worn at this point and should surprise nobody. They’re all good, trade for as many as you can, etc etc. Four Mana Confluence is the bigger deal. Mana Confluence is unquestionably powerful, but it comes at a great price. When Overgrown Tomb comes into play you pay your two up front and you’re done. Drop your envelope full of money on the gift table as you come in and hit the open bar as many times as you want. Mana Confluence is a cash bar though, and it’s not cheap. After two drinks you’ve paid the same as the guy playing Overgrown Tomb, which means if you play it on turn one you’ve lost more life by the time you tap it on turn three. There’s a good chance you’re going to have to tap it a few more times as well. That Pat would play four of them means he’s really, really in the market for hitting his drops on schedule and doesn’t mind paying a butt-ton (that’s a real unit of measurement look it up) to do it. The format has been a little cool on Confluence relative to expectations, but it looks like we may be in for more of it in the future.

There hasn’t been a more “well dang better grab a set of that” card at a Pro Tour than Courser of Kruphix in possibly ever. There were twenty-eight – TWO EIGHT – copies in the Top 8, of a maximum thirty-two. Seven out of eight lists ran the full set in the main deck. It probably won’t be this heavily represented once we get M15 and #MTGKTK, but dang that is a lot of centaurs. It’s easy to say the metagame was weird and CFB represented a big part of the Top 8 and blah blah blah. Courser has been holding his own in Standard already so we know this isn’t just a flash in the pan.

Boros Reckoner was a solid $20 at his height and Courser looks like he could pull the same thing. That price was mostly a spike, but Reckoner easily hung between $10 and $15 for months at a time and climbed into the $18 range more than once. Courser will have increased by several dollars at least by the time we hit November barring some catastrophic metagame.

There’s a similar saturation of Sylvan Caryatid and Hero’s Downfall, but those are Theros rares and are therefore far less likely to be financially noteworthy. Remember the 6:2:1. Courser is that 2, but Caryatid and Downfall are the 6. Much tougher to see huge spikes. They are still going to be a big part of the Standard landscape in the fall, but there will be better places for trade equity.

Elspeth was expectedly a big part of the Top 8 as well, although not quite like manhorse. Even though she’s from Theros, just as Caryatid and Downfall are, I like her much more than those two. Why is that? For one, she’s a mythic. Even though she’s a 6 in 6:2:1, there are still roughly 1/8th as many copies as any given Theros rare, meaning the total number of absolute copies is on the much lower end of the scale. She’s also a planeswalker, which comes with an automatic demand multiplier. While Caryatid and Downfall are (conceivably) replaceable by something else, it’s very unlikely something will come along and be better at what Elspeth does than Elspeth. She sees roughly the same amount of play as Domri Rade does/did, and Domri went from $10-$15 to $20-$25 at rotation. Elsepth is still just about $20 and isn’t dropping much/at all this summer, so she should be a solid $30+ come September or October. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her crest $40 if the format shakes out in her favor. (Did you know she died at the end of Theros? I found out yesterday. Good riddance.)

Kiora popped her head in a few times which tells me she’s still going to be a reasonable option in the fall. She’s a lot less reliable than Elspeth is in terms of playability, but she’s certainly capable. I’m not as hot on her jumping as significantly as I am Elspeth, but she’ll definitely see a rise. If she’s around $15-$16 right now, then I fully expect $20+ with the best case scenario being $30 or so. Go ahead and trade for copies now, and if they get down closer to $12 trade for every single one you see.

Bringing up the rear are Ashiok and Xenagos. They saw the least play but I like them the most out of the four. They’re dirt cheap right now, scraping the price floor of playable Planeswalkers. If you trade for these  guys one of two things will happen in the fall: They’ll see no play and rise a little bit, or they’ll end up being awesome and rise a ton. Plan accordingly.

Thoughtseize is still good. It only stands to gain. Yawn.

Now we get to the part where I get to actually teach you something worthwhile. Block Pro Tours are a great look ahead, but there are always a few cards that look like they’re going to be a big deal in the fall and then fail to pan out. Anyone remember the four Devastation Tide and Tamiyo in Hayne’s Block-winning list from PT Avacyn? Finkel’s Dungeon Geists? Wescoe’s winning four Advent of the Wurms a year later? No? Not surprising. They were all nearly entirely absent from the following Standard. I got burned by the Advents but managed to dodge the rest. How?

The biggest factor in determining whether a break-out Block performance is sustainable is how well the card will fare when you add 500 more to the format. Let’s apply this concept to a card that was a big part of of the Top 8 that I didn’t talk about yet. How about, oh, Prognostic Sphinx. There were plenty of people out there on r/mtgfinance and elsewhere that were discussing it as a spec option. It was closing games on coverage and looking good doing it.

Prognostic Sphinx is a terrible spec.

Let’s start by looking at what other options the CFB team had for filling out that slot. They needed something that could close games, preferably with evasion, and it needed to do well in a grindy, slow Block format. Blue would be preferable, because they want access to Ashiok and Kiora.

What were their options besides Prognostic? Well, there’s Arbiter of the Ideal, a card that may do something for you the third turn it’s in play. You’ve also got Celestial Archon, which is expensive to bestow and doesn’t fit as well with the controllish GB shell they’ve got going. There’s also…Chromanticore? Medomai? Maybe one of the seven-drop black demons?

Prognostic Sphinx isn’t a bad card at all. In a Standard format with miracles it would be amazing. But in Theros Block, it’s just the best of a bad situation. What do you think the odds are that both M15 and Khans won’t bring a more powerful closer? They aren’t looking for the core of a deck here; they really just need a creature that get the job done. If Aetherling were legal, it absolutely would have been that. Hell, I’m fairly confident that Morphling would have been played instead of Prognostic if they had the option.

It also didn’t really have to be blue either. They were glad it was because it meant they got Kiora and Ashiok, but those may not be the right option in the future either. The core of the deck is clearly GB, and the third color could feasibly be anything, as evidenced by Chapin taking down the whole thing with GBW.

Furthermore, as card pools grow larger the decks tend to get cheaper and more aggressive. You can’t build a competitive aggressive sixty card deck with only twelve playable cards at two mana or less, but when the card pool doubles and you’ve got access to twice as many your deck gets lower to the ground and meaner. More cards smooths out mana curves as well. As a rule of thumb, the more cards you put in the pool the cheaper and faster the decks get. Need proof? Look at the speeds of Vintage, Legacy and Modern. What does this matter here? Prognostic Sphinx is slow. It’s on the pricier side of the mana curve. The conditional hexproof requires you to discard, meaning it’s probably going to take more time to kill your opponent. Scrying every turn sets up future turns, but it doesn’t actually put cards in your hand. It’s a slow, grindy creature at its best in a slow, grindy format.

All of this means that buying Prognostic Sphinx is just a complete waste of money. Remember that it’s a rare from Theros. Even if you got them at $.50, what’s your goal? What has to happen for you to make a reasonable amount of money? How many do you need to buy? Take a look at my article about my experience with Ghaves a few weeks ago. Even if you get in on Prognostic at $.50 each and it quadruples to $2, you’re probably barely making $10 an hour, if you even manage that.

Courser of Kruphix, Sylvan Caryatid, and Thoughtseize are powerful, inexpensive cards that can fit nearly anywhere. Planeswalkers are very powerful permanents that warp board states. Cards like Prognostic Sphinx are high on the curve and easily outclassed by other options. You can learn to identify the flashes in the pan by asking yourself directed questions about the metagame, the quantity on the market, and how easily it can be replaced in a larger format. Was there a weird Block meta that resulted in an odd card being well positioned? How many copies of the card in question are in the format? Was it printed in the large fall set, or the under-drafted third set? Could you imagine easily replacing the card with a card that’s legal in Standard right now? Is there casual demand? Are people likely to play it as a complete set?

Hopefully this walkthrough will give you the tools needed to make informed decisions when evaluating cards that show up at Block pro tours, and perhaps even speculating in general. It can certainly be tricky – the stack of Advent of the Wurm on my desk will testify – but at the very least, you should hopefully be able to dodge the obvious pitfalls.

And if you’ve got thirty or forty Prognostic Sphinx in your TCGPlayer order history, well, my condolences.