Tag Archives: battle for zendikar

The Return of the Curve

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Oh, what a good day this is. We’ve had a few weeks since the announcement that Standard is back to one rotation per year, and I couldn’t be more excited.

It’s not exactly the same as it was, and that’s going to be an issue going forward. Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon are going to rotate at the same time as Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch. My tendency is to assume that things are the same as they were, and that’s not the case. Rotation is not equal, some are 18 months and some are 24 months.

When the change was announced, there was a big winner: Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

gideon

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Gideon’s gained more than $10 since then, and I love seeing this curve come back. About a year after a card came out, there would be something to happen to trigger demand on the card, and here we are, seeing that increase in demand.

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The increase in time really benefits Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, which gained six months. So today I want to look at some cards from those sets which have some potential and can give us some strong gains. One of the things I really look for is a low buy-in price. If I’m not spending much, that means I’m at a low risk of losing value if these speculative picks don’t pay off.

Regrettably, some of these won’t pay but the ones that do are really going to make me look good and make my wallet happy.

Part the Waterveil – $3.64 – Every kooky blue deck tends to play this as a finisher. Chaining them together is generally good enough, but I think there’s going to be a Metallurgic Summoning deck eventually, and this is going to be the top end of that deck. If nothing else, it’s an extra turns card, and those have proven to have some long-term casual appeal. With the exception of Temporal Trespass, at least.

Ob Nixilis, Reignited – $4.58 – I don’t care that it’s a Duel Deck card. It’s got room to grow. It’s incredibly effective at any point in the game, it’s powerful, and it’s still got nearly a year to make a splash. People are resisting it, but remember how well it did at the Pro Tour.

Ruinous Path – $1.74 – Black decks have all the removal. Being able to spend mana and solve a problem on the board is incredibly powerful. I’ve touted this card before and while it’s not as good as Hero’s Downfall, it’s one of the best solutions to problems on the board. To the Slaughter has popped up in decks, and this is better by far.

Linvala, the Preserver – $2.42 – This small-set mythic isn’t going to be a four-of, but if Panharmonicon decks really take off, this would be a super fun addition, capable of three creatures and ten life! It’s good in control decks, as a top end and a card that can take a game you’re losing and turn it into a game you win.

Thought-Knot Seer – $5.85 – We haven’t been lacking for colorless lands, and with Aether Hub being one of the most popular lands around, colorless mana is going to remain a useful thing. Thought-Knot is one of the most powerful things you can do with this mana, and as a popular card in Modern, there’s a lot of value to be had still.

Chandra, Flamecaller – $7.04 – Don’t forget, there was a time that she was $35! She’s got the perfect first curve, as she was adopted initially. She has a problem where she doesn’t play well with the newer Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but that card is dropping fast and I think there’s good room for growth with the big-sister version. Imagine that at Pro Tour Aether Revolt, there’s a red deck that tops out at three of these. A double-up to $15 is the low end.

Eldrazi Mimic – $.91 – I have some high, high hopes for this card in the Metalwork Colossus decks. Barring that, as I’ve written before, I am optimistic about the Eternal potential of this card.

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PROTRADER: A 2015 Year-End Review

Many will look back at 2015 with shaded glasses, unwilling to think critically about the data that now lies behind us. Money can no longer be made in 2015, so it’s easy to strictly focus on what’s ahead, ignoring valuable lessons from behind. It is certainly easy to do so – humans are creatures of habit, and our conscious mind is inherently lazy. That’s all right, don’t feel bad, my mind is lazy too.

But this morning, as I ponder the most important trends to me throughout 2015, I force myself to think critically about where I am today and where I want to focus next year. So at the risk of giving you yet another cliché “year in review” article, I think it’s important I share some really impactful observations throughout 2015. These five trends will be based solely in data, and require heightened scrutiny next year as I continue to strive towards my MTG financial goals – a full tuition for my son’s college education.

One day at a time.

Observation # 1 – The Impact of Fetches and the Super Mythic Rare

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PROTRADER: A Farewell to Khans

December: the time of year when players start to get bored of the new Draft format. Battle for Zendikar is a deeper set than most, and I’ve fired more than 30 events in the last couple months, but it’s starting to lose its luster. Part of the problem is that the set doesn’t really have a ton of value in it. With the rotation of Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged, however, we may see that change.

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Standard Deck Value Check

There seems to be an uproar this Battle for Zendikar standard season with the price of Standard decks. Never before since the original Zendikar block have Standard decks reached heights bordering on $1,000 – at least during the first few weeks of the set’s release. However, the price of decks has settled back down even though everyone is playing three or four colors since we have fetchlands and fetchable duals in Standard.

Looking at the price of top decks of the format, we are safely now below the $1,000 mark.

Price of Standard Decks as of 11/21/2015

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Unfortunately, many of the decks are still over $500 with two of them (Dark Jeskai and GW Megamorph) even bordering on the $700 mark which I still think is way too expensive for Standard. As others on MTGPrice have pointed out, this boils down to a combination of fetchland reprints and the last Magic Core Set being released. The reason that the Core Set is important here is because it is released right in the middle of the summer, which is a known downtime when it comes to players purchasing cards, which lead to the price of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy reaching the lofty heights of $80 and up for a short time.

Now as we approach December, the price of Standard decks are starting to settle down again but they still feel expensive to me. Where are the current values of the decks now?

Abzan Aggro

Since Abzan Aggro now contains a full playset of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, we know who the main offender is here. Also, Den Protector is still around $13, which is lower than its previous high of $16 but still very expensive for a rare. Its unusual for rares to maintain a price this high for very long – I mean, even Snapcaster Mage wasn’t much more than $20 during its lifetime in Standard, and it was one of the more dominant cards of the format. I’d keep a close eye on Den Protector since Dragons of Tarkir will be Standard legal for longer than Khans and Fate, so Den Protector might break $20 if it continues to be a strong inclusion in green strategies moving forward.

Hangarback Walker is also a good chunk of the price, even with an event deck printing to help get copies out there. I feel like we’re going to encounter another Thragtusk situation here, since even that had an event deck printing and still reached highs of almost $30 during Innistrad Standard. Funny how some of these situations mirror Innistrad Standard so closely, but I guess history is doomed to repeat itself until we are fully into the new Standard rotation schedule that Wizards has planned out for all future sets.

Ultimately though, the largest chunk of the deck’s value is of course from the lands. Playing twelve fetchlands, four manlands, and a few of the new battle lands, that is close to $250 tied up just in the mana base. This isn’t a good thing, definitely not from a player’s perspective, and I’m hoping it is going to get better once the fetchlands rotate from Standard.

Dark Jeskai

Jace, Vrn’s Prodigy takes up a huge chunk of the deck where four of them will cost you almost as much as the fetchlands in the deck priced together. It is pretty funny of me to say this, but I would much rather trade four Jaces for twelve fetchlands than I would ever want to keep holding four Jaces. I think he is going to drop like a rock when he rotates from Standard, and many players are going to be (rightfully) pissed off when he starts plummeting in price back down to the $20 or lower range again. I realize that Jace has plenty of eternal appeal in Modern through Legacy, but do you really think that is going to make his price continue to command $30 or higher upon rotation? I’m not that confidant, especially when I know fetchlands have proven to be very lucrative in the past.

Speaking of fetchlands, I think the ones in this deck in particular (Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, and Polluted Delta) are still pretty lowly priced considering how the Zendikar fetches ultimately ended up in the $50 and higher range once Modern became a thing, and blue ones reached heights so high that people’s heads were spinning for a while. Do I think we’re going to see $80 to $100 (or above) Polluted Deltas eventually? No. But I do think they have a great chance of hitting at least $50 during the height of Modern seasons in the future. Not this Modern season of course, but a few years down the line you’ll be very happy that you stocked up on blue lands in particular once Modern ultimately becomes the eternal format of choice.

Esper Tokens / Esper Control / Esper Dragons

      

Again, we have Hangarback Walker, Gideon, and the manabase taking up the majority cost of the Esper Tokens deck too. The cards are the same, just assembled in a different order alongside of choices like Secure the Wastes and Wingmate Roc to help generate creatures as the game goes on. I expect Gideon to keep dropping until around February / March of next year, once Oath is released and players have their eyes on new cards coming out from the new set. If he still continues to be a powerhouse, he could retain a high price due to the lower power curve of Battle for Zendikar overall but even then I still think he is due for  drop as we proceed through the winter doldrums.

Besides lands, Little Jace and Ugin are the big offenders from Esper Control, along with Dragonlord Ojutai for those decks that may maindeck him or bring him in from the sideboard for certain matchups. Ugin is interesting to me – his price isn’t going down any time soon, yet I can’t help but feel he will take a hit in some way upon rotation even though he is one of most popular casual planeswalkers to come along since the release of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker – you know, being Bolas’ counterpart and all. I like holding onto extra copies but we all know that the even deck / supplemental product printing for Ugin is going to be a matter of when, not if. I think it is best for extra copies be moved, especially since we are in the hype of R/G Ramp that is jamming a full playset within the main deck.

Finally, Esper Dragons is definitely packing the Dragonlord Ojutai’s, along with again Little Jace and the lands to accompany the deck. The pieces are again just reconfigured to make the maximum use of the “dragons matter” spells from Dragons of Tarkir, which we’ve all seen are excellent when used to their full effect. Dragonlord Ojutai is without a doubt tanking upon Dragons of Tarkir rotation but could see a huge spike when Khans and Fate Reforged rotate, since he is one the powerhouses that is remaining to help the Esper Dragons deck continue to be a force in the metagame. Keep a close eye on him and sell into any hype he might see when Khans/Fate Reforged rotate in the upcoming months.

GW Megamorph

     

We have a mix of high value cards here in the form of Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Dromoka’s Command, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (along with of course lands, but at this point I believe that goes without saying). Interestingly enough, none of these cards are rotating at the next rotation schedule, so I think GW Megamorph should be heavily watched to see where the core pieces of the deck are going in price since fetchlands are going to rotate soon too. I wonder especially if Dromoka’s Command is in for another spike – copies were super cheap after the event deck printing, and they have rebounded nicely over the past few months as Dragons of Tarkir is drying up and players have been focused on the expedition lottery in Battle for Zendikar.

I guess what I’m saying is that GW Megamorph is still going to be a huge force in the metagame even once rotation happens, so I expect at least one, if not several, of the cards to experience spikes (at least in the short term) after Khans and Fate rotate.

4C Rally

Finally, the last somewhat expensive deck is 4C Rally which makes use of Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors to defeat opponents by overwhelming them with creature value. Little Jace again is a huge offender in this deck and even Collected Company is still commanding an $8 price tag – certainly better than the$16+ it was once it exploded into Modern, though still one of the more expensive pieces of the deck. I definitely think it can potentially be higher priced once rotation happens. Collected Company is the card to watch from this deck, as Modern demand in addition to Standard demand could propel it past $10 again despite the event deck printing.

Wrapping Up

     

All in all, yes – Standard is expensive but at least we’re not shelling out $1,000 for decks at this point and they are only going to get cheaper once the fetchlands rotate from Standard. Keep an eye on all Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins staples, as the upcoming rotation will not be affecting them negatively in price and several of the current staples will probably see significant gains once the new metagame shakes out. As always, I love to hear your thoughts in the comments so let me know what you think about my analysis and what your own has been since Battle for Zendikar has been released.

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