Tag Archives: cliff daigle

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Amonkhet Stock Watch

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There’s a lot of reasons why Amonkhet prices are falling as fast as they are, from Invocations to peak supply to a lack of new toys to play with, considering we’re about to get all of Hour of Devastation and we know a lot about Ixalan already.

With the Hour upon us, and prereleases next weekend, it’s time to take a look at the trajectories of some of these cards and see where they have to go. There are still packs of Amonkhet being opened, and while that’s going to exert some downward pressure, the historical data tells us that most prices won’t fall too much further.

Want some examples? Sure. Let’s start with a rollercoaster of a card: Panharmonicon.

 

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So it spiked to $10 right away as people tried brewing midrangey value decks with it, and those were sweet. They were not winners, and Panharmonicon had been trickling down ever since.

I didn’t highlight when Aether Revolt came out. Looking at the graph, can you tell when it did? Maybe you know release dates off the top of your head.

See that spike in January? That’s when Aether Revolt came out, and there were decks trying to brew with this again, and it tapered off quickly. (I think this card is a steal at $2, which you can find on eBay. Foils at $10 or less are even better value.)

How about something more basic? Botanical Sanctum.

You already know when the second set came out, and you can see how the price barely moved. The demand was pretty steady, until pretty recently when everyone figured out that Marvel was the best deck, and now it’s banned.

 

With this data in mind, let’s look at some Amonkhet cards and see where they might be going.

 

Rhonas the Indomitable ($13 nonfoil/$23 foil/$52 Invocation) – What’s interesting is how little play this is currently seeing in Standard. It’s become a spicy one-of in assorted Collected Company decks in Modern, as a powerful attacker and also another way to use infinite mana if you haven’t drawn the Duskwatch Recruiter. If something comes along to make it good, it’ll spike (generically useful advice!) but barring that, this will continue to trickle downwards and will likely end up at $10 or so.

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Gideon of the Trials ($12/$24) – Oh how the mighty have fallen. This was preordering for $40! I hope you’re not preordering anything from Hour of Devastation. Just don’t do it. Haven’t you learned? That’ll be its own article soon.

Anyway, Gideon v6 (I’m counting Kytheon, Hero of Akros) was heralded as an unstoppable force in Legacy, as a combo enabler in Modern, and as a three-mana planeswalker, shouldn’t be underestimated in Standard.

He’s played mostly in Modern now and is making no waves in Standard at this time. He’s going to end up at $8 or less, and hopefully you’ve learned your lesson.

Vizier of the Menagerie ($6/$16) – No one is trying to make this work in any constructed format. This is a casual card, all the way. It started out at $10, and hasn’t fallen very far, and that’s mainly because this is an auto-include in almost any green Commander deck, and that’s absorbing the supply at a pretty good pace. I actually don’t think this will fall any farther, and it’ll stay stable until we get to Ixalan, at which point it might even start trending upwards.

Glorybringer ($4/$10) – You’d be impressed at the number of big hasty beaters who have never had a big price. Thundermaw Hellkite. Stormbreath Dragon. Either version of Kolaghan. And so on. This was $10 at first but the price has stabilized, and I don’t think it’ll go any lower. A pickup of this at $4 (or less!) is a decent one, but I’m not going to get too happy or too deep. Not many decks will seek to run a full four of these.

Sweltering Suns ($4/$6) – Yeah, take a look at that foil multiplier. I can’t recall the last time foils and nonfoils of a rare were that close in price, but here we are. The card is showing up in a lot of sideboards in Standard, and it’s a fun card to put in your UR control deck. The extra spicy tech in that deck is how Thing in the Ice is going to come down anyway, and live through the Suns. Nothing telegraphs a sweeper like refusing to play a creature into it.

It’s not common for us to see a card slowly rise like this over time. Usually, we see spikes as someone figures it out and does well, but this is getting play here, and there, and in this sideboard, and it’s possibly better in Modern than Anger of the Gods (you want cycling or you want exile, take your pick) but it’s a card that is a good contender to keep going up. Three damage is enough to kill almost everything played before turn three, and if you can get the double red, it’s hard for this to not get at least two creatures. And it cycles!

I’m not advocating buying Sweltering Suns right now. It’d have to go up in price tremendously to be worth it. I would, however, trade for them slowly and hold onto them for a while, because it’s going to be climbing more.

Cliff is an avid Cuber these days, having played far too many Commander games that lasted two hours. He first opened a pack of Revised in late 1994, and has been writing about Magic for longer than he’s been a father. He’s always on the lookout for value or weird ways to play.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: What We Learned (so far!)

So I think we need to be honest: while a lot of the attention and coverage is on the triple Grand Prix in Vegas and all the associated silliness, there’s a lot still going on, especially as this is Announcements Week!

I’m not here to remind you of what’s happened. If you have a Twitter account, if you even glance at the Magic subreddit, if you engage at all the you’ll read this and not need me to tell you the base news, but there are some things worth taking away from all the stuff that’s gone on.

I’m going to be referring to this site quite often for the next year or so: the ‘Coming Soon’ page. This is a list of what’s coming out and when, though some specific dates aren’t on there, it’s at least a month/year listing.

Financially speaking, there’s a whole lot of things to be aware of. It’ll be up to you about what action to take.

The Masters Sets

We’ve had expensive times in Magic before. I don’t think we’ve had anything to compare to this, though. In one 12-month period, we will have had Modern Masters 2017, Iconic Masters, and 25th Anniversary Masters, or Masters 25 as they are calling it, and I devoutly hope a better name comes along before then. I get that it has to say ‘Masters’ in there someplace, to continue the naming convention, but wow that makes for awkward branding.

Those three sets represent 747 reprinted cards, in just one year. There might be some overlap, there might not.

Why we care: Reprint risk has been at an all-time high lately, and this is a pure minefield. Something like Conspiracy would at least have some new cards, but this is all reprints and all will likely have the one-foil-per-pack setup we’ve gotten used to.

I don’t know what they are going to print and speculation is rampant. We’ve had a lot of reprints covered in the Masterpiece series (more on that in a second) but right now, I’m taking stock of what I’ve accumulated and if the value has appreciated enough, I’m going to look at moving it. This many reprints in this short of time is a minefield, and I want to minimize what’s going to hurt. I don’t think you can escape, if you have a lot of cards you’re holding long-term.

 

From the Vault: Transform

One of the things that’s come up over the years is the logistical difficulties of printing double-faced cards, and how safe those are from being reprinted. I wonder if anyone thought this would be the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There’s only 92 cards that are completely double-sided, and 59 of those are from the last two years. Will they have fixed the terrible appearance of FTV? Will these somehow curl on both sides?

Why we care: The quick consensus seems to be that Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is going to be the expensive card of the set, and Delver of Secrets seems like an easy inclusion…and then what? I freely admit that I’d been quietly picking up foils of Archangel Avacyn, and that seems likely to take a hit. Are we going to get the Arilinn Kord reprint we didn’t need? There’s not a lot of value in double-faced cards, and what value there is, is about to take a major hit.

I think a Meld pairing is going to be included, but which? I think Hanweir, the Writhing Township is most likely the choice but who knows? Will we get the full Delver trilogy? Will they do something wild, like turn the Kamigawa flip cards into full transform cards? Who knows. Would we even care? I highly doubt the prices of old flip cards would budge if new double-sided versions were premiered this way.

 

The third Un-set: Unstable

I’m exceptionally torn about this. On one hand, playing with either of the first two silver-bordered sets was an amazingly enjoyable experience. On the other, I think I would pay full price to draft this…twice? Three times, tops? We have a recent example of how this model doesn’t always work: Conspiracy: Take the Crown. It’s a lot of fun, a unique draft experience, it’s got its share of valuable cards, and yet you can still get boxes dirt cheap.

Why we care: The basic lands. When we get around to opening these packs, we are going to expect some sort of unique land design. I don’t think they can match, much less excel, the standard set by Unhinged’s minimalist approach or the beauty of John Avon’s work. I do think these will look…nice. Pretty, even. But they will need to carry all of the value, since none of these cards will be worth anything else. Foils will likely not carry much weight either, as you can’t put these in Commander decks. How many thousands of Unstable cubes will need to be created for this to be valuable?

 

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The beginning of single-set blocks and the return of Core sets

This might be the biggest news of all, aside from the leaked cards. We’ve had things sort of like this before, such as a standalone third set (Rise of the Eldrazi, Avacyn Restored) or the big-big-small model of Return to Ravnica block, but this is going to be interesting. Sets will be opened for three months and that’s it. No more 6:2:1 of the three-set block, or the 3:1 ratio of two-set blocks. This is one and done. Supply will be pretty clear at that point. We also get Core sets back, which means reprint mania!

Why we care: I like the single-set model because I don’t have to worry about that trickle of packs during the second set. For example, as we go into Hour of Devastation, does the small amount of Amonkhet being opened mean the price of Anointed Procession will keep trending downwards? Core sets will likely be on the modern model of some reprints and some new cards, keeping the set interesting while providing a place to reprint stuff that might not have fit, flavor-wise, into some other block. Think of Stifle or Inquistion of Kozilek in Conspiracy 2.

 

The Ixalan Leaks

So someone who’s working on test prints for Ixalan (the set is three months away, the cards should pretty much be set in their wording, barring emergencies) decided to snap a couple of photos and spread the word. This is wrong and bad but not something that we can ignore.

Why we care: We’re about to get a new tribal-based block, with some interesting color shifts. Merfolk in green. Vampires in white! DINOSAURS! We are also about to get tribal Commander decks in August, so if stuff avoids reprints in that set and this, it’s got nowhere to go but up.

The Commander decks worry me, because, again, that’s a lot of reprints. Foils are probably safe, but only if they couldn’t possibly be in Ixalan. Something like Obelisk of Urd, where the nonfoil is an easy inclusion into a Commander product, but the keyword is ruling it out of Ixalan.

 

Masterpieces becoming rarer

Someone at Wizards must have said, “Holy crap, we’re already down to printing Divert as a super-mythic alternate frame chase card? We need to throttle back.” So Masterpieces will be back, just not in every single set. FTV: Masterpiece is probably just a couple of years away.

Why we care: Standard will be a little more expensive now without chase cards goosing the value of the product. I think this is the worst side effect of a good change. We’re too used to this, and it’s in our best interest to have this be something we are excited for, a bonus, instead of an expectation.

 

Cliff is an avid kitchen table player who’s loving the Drake Haven deck in FNM. He’s been at this since late 1994 and doesn’t appreciate being called iconic, though he’s extremely likely to build a foil Unstable cube. Find him on Twitter @WordOfCommander.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Stuff Worth Keeping from BFZ and OGW

Hello and welcome back! I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with acres of picks last week, so I’m back to talk about the other rotating block, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon.

To repeat myself from last week: These are the cards that I think are good to have as they leave Standard, either for their value in Modern/Legacy, or as long-term casual holds.

I don’t think I gave you a good example last week of such a card, so let me do so now: Thespian’s Stage, in foil or nonfoil. Here’s the graph of the foil:

During Theros block, you could get the foil for under $10. Even at rotation, you could get it about $10. But now it’s double that, and nowhere to go but up. The nonfoil has gone from dollar rare to $3 casual gold, and I’m pleased with either of those graphs.

Every time the Stage dodges reprinting, it ticks up by fifty cents or a dollar. If it gets reprinted in Commander 2017, I don’t think the price will get hit much but the foil will tick upward. It’s going to take a Conspiracy/Masters set to impact the foil very much, and that seems unlikely in the next year (It’s not Iconic, after all).

Shadows over Innistrad

Traverse the Ulvenwald ($4.50 nonfoil/$14 foil): Really, we should have seen this coming. Delirium isn’t just easy in Modern, it’s the focus of Tarmogoyf. Getting the ‘Goyf as big as possible as fast as possible is why Tarfire spiked. Gotta get that Tribal type!

I think the nonfoils are going to go down a little, maybe as far as $3, but then they seem like a very solid pickup. As ever, for Modern/Legacy or casual use, I generally like the foils more than the nonfoils to hold value and to resist losing much when they are reprinted. (Yes, that’s WHEN they are reprinted. That’s my view going forward. Can’t say when, but it is going to happen.)

Archangel Avacyn ($10/$22): The poster angel for the set, a double-sided mythic, she’s going to be very hard to reprint. It’s my understanding that the double-sided require a whole sheet, and then are added, so it’s not possible to throw one two-faced card into a regular print run. The flip planeswalkers of Magic Origins were done on their own, lots of languages to a sheet, so I feel confident in thinking that Avacyn is safe from reprinting for a while.

She’s at the lowest she’s been during her time in Standard, and frankly the foils are super appealing. The foil multiplier isn’t even three yet! Let’s get in on these and just be patient. The growth will be real.

Thalia’s Lieutenant ($2.75/$6): I want this to drop further. I’d like picking these up a lot more at $1.50 or less, but this price is likely an artifact of a couple of recent Modern decks that have a Human theme. I would truly love it if the triggered ability could affect Soldiers too, but it’s still a very good card. Every set has Human creatures, and with every good creature to add to the deck, this card gets better.

Prized Amalgam ($2.25/$5.50): It’s one of the centerpiece cards for Modern Dredge, it’s an automatic four-of in the strategy, and yet it’s this cheap. Foils being $5 on eBay seem like a complete gift to your future self. It’s true that the ban of the Grave-Troll made the deck a little less appealing, but here’s what is going to happen:

  1. People pack lots of graveyard hate in Modern, making Dredge a bad choice.
  2. People move their sideboard choices to other decks, because no one is playing Dredge.
  3. Someone makes the right metagame call at the right big event and Dredge takes it all.
  4. This price goes up by at least double.

I don’t know when that process will happen, but it’s only a matter of time.

Honorable mentions at $1 or less: Fevered Visions, Descend Upon the SinfulSeasons Past, Duskwatch Recruiter, Second Harvest.

Eldritch Moon

Gisela, the Broken Blade ($8/$20) and Bruna, the Fading Light ($1/$6): I like all the foil Meld cards going forward, but this pair having a mythic member AND being part of an iconic tribe means that I love the casual potential here. Bruna is already very good in Angel decks, and I can’t imagine not making space for her sister in Commander decks.

Gisa and Geralf ($1.60/$6): The high foil multiplier here is a very good indicator that you want to have some of these going forward. This card never had a huge supply, being a small-set mythic, and Commander players are taking these out of circulation. I’d much much much rather have the foil version, because I can see this being the headliner for some future duel deck (Undead vs. Survivors or some such).

Bedlam Reveler ($1/$4.50): Another big foil multiplier indicates the foil is sought after more, either in Eternal (where it’s seen some play) or casual play, where only the most dedicated of decks play this. I’ve written about this before, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but I can see this spiking pretty hard with just one good showing.

Deploy the Gatewatch ($1/$4): So about a year ago, while I was guesting on MTG Fast Finance, James and I had a polite disagreement about this card. I thought it was trash for Standard, but an excellent long-term hold. The card has gone up about a dollar since then, but it remains a ridiculously safe pick in foil. I suspect we will get some Gatewatch-themed special issue deck at some point, but until then, snag lots of foils and just wait. You’ll thank us later.

Honorable mentions at $1 or so: Mind’s Dilation, Sigarda’s Aid, Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, Decimator of the Provinces

Cliff is impressively devoted to Magic, in a range of formats. His greatest love has been Commander, but Cube is the new hotness and it’s not as clear as it used to be. Who will steal his heart and get that rose? Tune in next week!

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Things Worth Keeping (BFZ/OGW)

So here we are, getting leaked cards from the new set, and more leaked cards from another new set, just when I had thought we were in the boring part of the Magic calendar. Does Wizards really think they will get to Iconic Masters without some sort of idea what’s in there? Seems pretty unlikely, right?

I’m not here to run rampant with what could be, in terms of the upcoming Standard. I’d much rather take a look at what’s cheap right now due to impending rotation and what I want to have going forward.

Some of these will be picks based on long-term casual appeal, others will be due to their level of play in non-Standard formats.

Battle for Zendikar

Part the Waterveil ($2.16 nonfoil/$6.23 foil): This falls under a category of cards that are always going to have an appeal to the casual market, and the Turns deck keeps popping up as a Tier 2 strategy in Modern. I would prefer to be picking up the foils, but I like any version going forward.

Greenwarden of Murasa ($1.24/$2.99): It’s not seeing any play in formats outside of Commander, but it’s a mythic at a very low price. This is exactly the kind of card I want to have in long-term storage.

Foil Hedron Archive ($2.88): This card is at the sweet spot, it’s a bigger jump than Mind Stone and it’s pretty safe from reprints going forward. It’s not going to take long for this to be a $5 foil.

Foil Endless One ($3.36): I’m going to mention a couple more of the Eldrazi today, and the recurring theme is ‘seeing play in Modern and Legacy.’ I look for decks that want lots of copies, and that do degenerate things. I think it’s only a matter of time before a list using this wins a Legacy Open, and that’s going to jack this foil up over $10. Endless One and Eldrazi Mimic aren’t seeing as much play in Modern with Eye of Ugin, so this is Legacy territory.

Foil From Beyond ($2.32): I’m looking right at you, Awakening Zone. Yeah, that’s right. You’re worth more in nonfoil than this is in foil. I’ll give you that the combined printings of Zone likely don’t add up to the number of Beyond, but the long-term potential is there.

Foil Bring to Light ($3): I love this card. I love seeing toolbox decks. I love seeing casual four-and-five-color decks running this. I love the dedicated souls who’ve tried to make this happen in Modern over and over again. I also love that everything five-color is spiking, and a five-color tutor won’t be far behind.

Oath of the Gatewatch

Matter Reshaper ($2/$7), Reality Smasher ($4/$9), Thought-Knot Seer ($7/$19): I love all of these and I especially love them in foil. There is a non-zero chance that we get a special Eldrazi deck at some point, but having these in foil going forward is where I really want to be. Thought-Knot is already one of the strongest plays in Modern, being disruption and beater all in one.

Eldrazi Displacer ($3/$12): This is better than Mistmeadow Witch in flicker decks. Colorless mana is not a tricky thing in Commander, and this card is just shy of being Deadeye Navigator-level broken in that format. Luckily, it can’t protect itself, but it’s already a $12 foil based off its casual play. This is one of my favorite specs going forward, because so much of the available supply has already been soaked up by Commander players.

World Breaker ($3.50/$9): I like the foils here more, but the effect is exactly what Cubes and Commander decks want. Exiling instead of destroying is super relevant, but having to cast this instead of blink it is a drawback as compared to Acidic Slime.

Oath of Nissa ($2.50/$5): I love, love, LOVE this card as a casual pick. This is one of the best cards in the mostly-planeswalker Commander decks, and I want to have foils even more, as they are only a 2x multiplier at this point. It’s possible that this is the bottom, price-wise, now that four-color Saheeli decks are no longer in Standard, but even if it drops a little I like this in the long term.

Zendikar Resurgent ($0.85/$4): And here we are, Mana Flare and Glimpse of Nature all in one at a super-reasonable price. I really want foils more than nonfoils, as the reprint will happen in a Commander deck or other supplementary set. Foils on the long-term are going to creep upward in price slowly but surely.

Cliff is a Cube enthusiast who endlessly tinkers, tweaks, and changes lists, though only his Busted Uncommon cube gets drafted these days. His piece de resistance will be the Reject Rare Cube, though that will only get drafted once a year or so. He’s used deckbox, pucatrade, and now cardsphere to acquire and trade away picks, all with the goal of gaining value and spending as little cash as possible.

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