Tag Archives: cliff daigle

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Checking in on Amonkhet

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It’s been a month and the Pro Tour hype is over, and we are still adjusting and still innovating. I love that mono-black Zombies took it down, but I don’t love that much of the deck is going to rotate in six months. It’s gonna be a good time until then though!

Today I want to go over some of the movements of Amonkhet cards, and how far they might fall.

Gideon of the Trials ($20.69): He didn’t light up anything at the PT, so I’m not expecting much from him right now. We’ve also had hints that the Gatewatch is getting a little overplayed as a set of planeswalkers, so if he’s the only Gideon in the deck, he gets less good.

I do think there’s space for him to be good, we just haven’t seen the control deck that wants him yet. If he lands, and there’s a Fumigate or other wrath waiting to punish the opponent for overcommitting to the board, then I think there’s a whole lot of potential.

I’m not buying now, though, and he’s getting his price cut by a couple of stores. He’s gonna be $15 soon and I think he’ll be $10 by the time we get Hour of Devastation…which is where I’ll be getting in. I’ll be hoping for a double-up when he gets good.

Rhonas the Indomitable ($17.72): Believe it or not, this card is increasing in price even as it sees almost no Standard play. The foil is only 1.5 times more, and the Invocation is about 3x. I think it’s casual demand causing this graph:

I am super impressed that this is rising slightly, when most of the mythics are on a slow decline. Sure, this is good in Commander, but I didn’t think it was this good. I don’t know where this will go, but experience tells me that it should be going down. I definitely am not buying this now, but the rise in price over time is fascinating given how little Standard play it’s getting.

Vizier of the Menagerie ($8.13): It’s lower than when it was released, and the casual demand has been mostly sated. A creature that helps you get more creatures is always going to have a special place in my heart, especially when it’s half the mana cost of Garruk’s Horde. It’s hit $6 and has crept up a little, but I’d expect that to go back down over the next few weeks. I’d prefer to pick this up in the $3 range, but $5 might be the floor. Very few green Commander decks would skip this card.

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Glorious End ($1.82): So in case you’re not aware, there are streamers who can cause a card to spike quickly. This was featured the other day and while the deck didn’t light the league up, it’s closing in on bulk-mythic territory…which is always an intriguing pickup, especially considering how much longer this will be in Standard. When it gets to sub-$1, I’ll be looking to grab a couple of playsets, because when these spike, it’ll be glorious.

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Dispossess ($.59): You’d think that with all the vehicles and Marvels and Scroungers running around this would at least be a sideboard card. I’m both surprised and not surprised Lost Legacy saw some play when Emrakul, the Promised End was the Marvel target of choice, but the goal there was to take down the monster, not the enabler. I wouldn’t mind having some of these in bulk storage, but that’s the purest of speculative targets.

Special bonus pick: Fumigate ($1.79): It’s a wrath that catches you back up. Yes, it’s bad against planeswalkers and vehicles but it’s seeing more play now than at the beginning, and lots of people are trying very hard to make UW Control good again. I think eventually they will get there, and I want to have some sub-$2 copies of this handy for when it cracks $5.

Cliff is a father, teacher, and casual enthusiast who recently finished a ‘Busted Uncommons’ cube, which Sol Ring is not in because it’s too busted. His Magic career boasts two PTQ top 8s that were 8 years apart. He whispers to his stack of Prophet of Kruphix every night, telling them they are good boys and their time will come.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Pre-Pro Tour Increases

The Pro Tour starts today!

It’s in Nashville, so if you’re in the USA reading this, the Standard portion is just getting started without any giant lapses or time gaps.

As I’ve said before, I don’t like trying to buy out cards as they get featured, but I love that there’s a wide-open format and there are some card prices I want to look at from this new set.

Many of these prices are still high, as the new set has a lot of packs yet to be opened. It’s only been legal for a couple of weeks, so we will see. I’m highlighting cards that have seen a bump this week leading up to the PT, and even if they climb higher in price, I’m expecting them to fall as more and more copies are opened.

A caveat: This is all pre-Pro Tour. Stuff might be spiking as you read this. I don’t have any insider information, just a good understanding of what trends to check.

Pull from Tomorrow ($4.50): The comparisons to Sphinx’s Revelation are not warranted, though this is a powerful card. What makes it underrated, so far anyway, is how good it is with the counterspell suite available to us. Control players can leave up Disallow and a Censor or something, and if no juicy target is cast, they can draw a bunch of new cards. The counters are good right now too, with Essence Scatter and Negate and Dispel and even Horribly Awry for exiling spells. You can run a range of spells and use Pull to find what you need.

Notice the upward trend on this card, as a good showing on this is going to cause quite a spike. Players are going to run three or four of this per deck, and a quick spike to $10 seems easily done.

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Drake Haven ($3.66): I’m going to call it now: By the end of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, we will have seen a Cycling deck do very well. This is a janky, build-around card that is remarkably difficult to deal with. Forsake the Worldly is seeing some play as a card to deal with Scrapheap Scrounger, and that’s about the only sideboard card I’d be afraid of if I was the cycling deck.

The card has spiked about 50% in the last couple of days, likely on the back of some good results and publicity online, and from being a blast to play. I confess I’m fooling around with this deck, and I think I’m going to be playing Standard with it soon. I would also expect some new toys when Hour of Devastation comes out.

Fetid Pools ($5.74): I think that cycling lands are good. If the deck doesn’t have X spells to cast, or even if they do, these are worth an inclusion. The two that have blue are seeing a little more of a spike than the others, I think because people are trying hard to make Engulf the Shore good. Having the flexibility to cycle these away cannot be overstated, and we can see that people are chasing this one a little more than the other color pairs:

Not a coincidence that black and blue are the base colors for the cycling decks, and that this would be the most expensive land. Cast Out makes the deck Esper, and Irrigated Farmland could be the next to rise.

Glory-Bound Initiate ($1.93): This is one of the sneakier cards that I’m watching. There is not a turn where exerting this is bad, and it’s got real potential as a Human, or use Always Watching (which has already spiked) to make this a 5/5 lifelink attacker on turn three. It’ll be a four-of in the aggressive decks, and it’s already gone up 30% during this week.

I really hope this card ends up at a dollar or less by the end of Amonkhet, because this is going to be a mainstay of aggressive decks for the next two years.

 

Cliff Daigle has been an avid Magic player since 1994. Commander, Cube, Type 4, he’s never met a kitchen table format he couldn’t get into. Except Tiny Leaders. That sucked.

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Preparing for BFZ Rotation

I wrote a lot of words when 18-month Standard was introduced. Many many pixels were burned out with the weight of speculation about what would happen to prices.

So now, we are looking down the barrel of the realigned plan, with Shadows Over Innistrad block and Battle for Zendikar block both rotating at the end of September. That’s about five months away, but with this current infusion of energy and vitality into Standard brewing, I want to look at what’s worth keeping till the end and what you should be getting rid of soon.

Battle for Zendikar

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar ($25): I would get rid of any extras you have. He’s got some appeal outside Standard, especially as he makes an Ally every turn, but he’s a small presence in a couple of Modern sideboards and that’s it. He’s still the defining card of Standard, though, while he remains legal.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($23): I recognize that this card is about the best thing that Aetherworks Marvel can cast, and is a four-of in those Standard decks. Keep in mind, though, that this is also one of the best things to do in Modern Tron, and is also a popular card in the semi-niche Legacy Cloudpost decks. The foils available for $40 or less are something I would like to have going forward, as the Commander appeal is high. Keep all you have right now–he’s not going to dip far, if at all, when he rotates.

Sunken Hollow ($4) and the other double-check lands: If you think Frontier has a future, this is a fun spec. Fetches will be legal, and these would be among the choices for fetchable duals, since shocklands aren’t going to be allowed. I’m not going to load up on these, not yet. There is a market for these until September, as manabases are going to play lots and lots of duals (and Islands especially, for Engulf the Shore).

Part the Waterveil ($3.50): I don’t think these will fall very much, but this is among the best of the Time Walk effects in the modern day. I’m going to be trading for these on sight for the next year as a long-term hold.

Oath of the Gatewatch

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet ($22): If you like Golgari, or delirium decks, you love this card in Standard. Otherwise, he’s ready to take a big dive. I don’t want to have any at all in my possession when rotation hits. Keep your four if you love the deck in Standard, but he’s a one-of in Modern Jund and while he’s good in Commander, he’s not good enough to keep his price high. A loss down to the $10-$12 range seems likely.

Kozilek’s Return ($11): I’d get out of this card too. It’s already done some funky tricks with its price during its time in Standard, and it’s seeing very little play outside Standard. Get rid of them.

Chandra, Flamecaller ($7): Overshadowed by the Torch, and it’s going to lose some big value at rotation. Sell/trade away all of your copies.

Thought-Knot Seer ($7): The spotlight is off of the Eldrazi in Standard, but my goodness, this is a popular card in older formats. I’m advocating that you keep the ones you have, and aggressively go after more, especially the $20 foils that will be popping at some point.

Eldrazi Displacer ($7): Thought-Knot shines in Modern, and Displacer is not only good in that format but it’s an all-star in Commander. I’m in for picking these up in foil or in nonfoil. We know that the Commander decks this year are tribal, and having one of those decks be Eldrazi seems unlikely.

Oath of Nissa ($4): Not worth keeping, and I’ll get in on some foils after rotation if they fall to about $3, as I think that’s a good entry point for the effect in Superfriends Commander decks.

Sea Gate Wreckage: ($1.50/$3): I’d be picking these up all over the place going forward. I love the potential when it gets lower and lower, but it’s seeing just enough play to keep it out of bulk territory.

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PROTRADER: Unbanning Speculation

How about this week for bannings and unbannings! Gotta love when changes happen all over the place, in an apparently random way. The end result is important, though, and I think the Felidar ban is good for Standard. Shake it up!

This week, and next, I’m going to look at the currently-banned cards in a couple of formats and see what I’d like to have on hand in case of unbanning. Protean Hulk made some amazing gains when it was unbanned in Commander, and frankly, I’m looking forward to seeing how I can abuse the card in a couple of different decks.

I didn’t see the Hulk coming, but I did have a stockpile of Kokusho, the Evening Star when it got unbanned, and that was a nice play. So let’s start with Commander this week, and see what we can speculate on and what we should not get.

Power Nine: Not coming off the banned list ever, the RC is pretty clear about this. Mana Vault being legal is indeed an inconsistent application of their ‘no fast mana’ rule, but if you can get Power you should do so on general principle.

Chance of unbanning: less than 5%

 

Library of Alexandria: So this card is not legal, while the literally-twice-as-expensive The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is. I would advocate owning a Library, as it’s got nowhere to go but up. There’s a chance this gets unbanned in Commander, since lots of disgusting things are legal.

Chance of unbanning: 25%

 

Balance: This has been banned for a long long time. If the effect was limited to creatures, it’d likely be unbanned already, but the effect on lands and hand is a very unfair and unfun experience.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Biorhythm: The RC is not big on ‘play this and win’ cards, so I don’t think Biorhythm ever gets banned. I’d like to say something like ‘Green players need to stick it to those creatureless Blue players!!’ but the truth is that G/U decks are super strong. Jerks.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Braids, Cabal Minion: This would be okay except that mana acceleration is so very good, and it’s easy to get this out early and lock the game down. If you’re locking everyone else down, go ahead and giggle, but everyone else hopes you die of paper cuts.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Coalition Victory: I feel like this should be legal, and considering the hoops that have to be jumped through, I think this has real potential to be unbanned at some point. It is a rare from a small third set (plus the Timeshifted version) and people would immediately jump on the hype. I would advocate picking some up, considering that regulars are fifty cents and foils are under $3. I get that you’re thinking ‘But it wins the game on the spot!’ and my reply would be “Look at this Reddit post and tell me Protean Hulk isn’t just as bad?”

Chance of unbanning: 65%

 

Channel: Fast mana is not good, especially with Eldrazi running around. I don’t think this is ever unbanned.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn: This was a sore point for a long time in the EDH community, and the banning felt inevitable. This wouldn’t get cheated into play much, but it was not terribly hard to build a deck that accelerates well to the spaghetti monster. I think it’s unlikely but possible, and its use in Modern and Legacy already has affected prices.

Chance of unbanning: 10%

 

Erayo, Soratami Ascendant: This prevents people from doing things, and it’s in blue, so you’d likely need three spells to get rid of this. Unfun and noninteractive means it’s probably never coming back. However, it’s already at $9/$24 foil, indicating that there’s a lot of people who like this card.

Chance of unbanning: 5%

 

Fastbond: What makes this card busted is the potential with Crucible of Worlds, paired with Strip Mine and Wasteland. The problem isn’t someone playing three lands on turn one, it’s someone paying a life to destroy a land.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Gifts Ungiven: I always forget this card is banned, but really, it needs to be. It’s super busted, to go find Time Warp, Time Stretch, Relearn, and Call to Mind. I call that the ‘Flipped Table Special’ and that’s before I get into Unburial Rites combos. It’s already at $5-$7 due to Modern and other formats, despite being in two different Modern Masters sets.

Chance of unbanning: 25%

 

Griselbrand: Nope. Sorry. Never. Starting at 40 life and without even a ‘shuffle me from the graveyard’ clause, it’s far too good. I played with it during the short period it was legal, and it’s precisely as busted as you fear.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Karakas: It’s not that the effect is unfair, it’s how free it is being on an untapped land. A lot of Commander decks wouldn’t fold to this, but it’s so easy and free and tremendously effective.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Leovold, Emissary of Trest: I’m aware that this was designed while Tiny Leaders was hot stuff, and either ability would have been fine separately, but these two together are unfun. That said, I think he’s too expensive to spec on right now, even though I don’t think he will be banned forever.

Chance of unbanning: 15%

 

Painter’s Servant: Originally, this was legal and Grindstone was ruled to be too good. The RC decided to switch the cards, and Grindstone is now legal. I highly doubt that this ever gets unbanned, but it’s not a zero-percent chance.

Chance of unbanning: 10%

 

Panoptic Mirror: Cast it. End of the turn, imprint a take turns card. Defend until it’s your turn. Take all the turns. GG. Never ever, sorry.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Primeval Titan: This was a longtime battle to get banned. It’s severely powerful, and fetches up whatever you need, though most often it was Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The presence of this card quickly becomes a battle of control and copy effects, or one person gets way far ahead on mana. This isn’t coming off anytime soon, but it’s just good enough in Modern that I wouldn’t mind having a few on hand.

Chance of unbanning: 10%

 

Prophet of Kruphix: Oh, I want this to be unbanned. Please. Please! I’ve got a stack of these that I traded for at $1-$2 each. Infinite turns on one card is too good, though, and this card enables everything in the two best Commander colors.

That being said…I’m glad I already have my stack. This is a ridiculously good card in casual circles, and it’s at a low point in its price history.

Chance of unbanning: 15%

 

Recurring Nightmare: This was ruled to be too good in 2008! That’s nine years of degenerate graveyard interactions. Graveyard hate has gotten much better, and the creatures have gotten far better. I have abused this in Cube and this would be much more likely to be unbanned if returning it to hand weren’t part of the cost! It’s already a $12 card, and is pretty much a Cube staple…and I want to have some of these on hand.

Chance of unbanning:30%

 

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary: I don’t think he’s as big a problem in the deck as he is when he’s the commander, but he’s busted right in half.

Chance of unbanning: 10%

 

Sway of the Stars: Resetting a Commander game is lame. There’s just no other word for it. The best way to use this is with Jhoira of the Ghitu, and suspend a couple of big things to resolve after this.

Chance of unbanning:5%

 

Sundering Titan: I’m going to let loose a contrarian opinion here: I think this card isn’t terribly unfair. It can only hit lands with basic types, and that skips over a lot of lands that see a lot of Commander play. Yes, it hits basics and duals and shocks, and the battle lands and the new cycling duals, but that’s it, aside from the corner cases. I know that my three-color decks aren’t dependent on those lands, enjoying checklands, manlands, filters, Temples, etc. I think there’s a chance here. It can be had for $5, $20 in pack foil or a $35 Invention. There is room for significant growth.

Chance of unbanning: 75%

 

Sylvan Primordial: So this got banned pretty soon after it came out, and mainly because it destroys lands and then gets you more lands, enabling whatever shenanigans you’re into. You end up with one person having all their Forests out, and no one else has lands in play, once you start flickering or recurring this in some way.

That said…is it really worse than Hulk ending the game on the spot? This is a super-attractive speculation, as you can get this at nearly-bulk prices, and foils are just over $2.

Chance of unbanning: 50%

 

Time Vault: Considering all the ways there are to take infinite turns in Commander, I’m sort of surprised this isn’t unbanned, but the RC is not known for consistency, as previously noted.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Tinker: I feel like artifact decks don’t need the help. I really don’t want Blightsteel to be in play on turn one or two.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Tolarian Academy: This isn’t allowed, but I can play other degenerate and fast artifacts? Again, I wonder if the Hulk gets out of the penalty box, there’s got to be a chance for this, right? It’s at $32 now and it would jump to at least $100 if unbanned.

Chance of unbanning: 20%

 

Trade Secrets: So the rationale for banning this was when two players decided they wanted to draw all the cards together. That seems more like a failure of the social contract than anything else, but I think this will get re-evaluated eventually. Nearly a bulk rare, only a $3 foil.

Chance of unbanning: 45%

 

Upheaval: I already want to kick Cyclonic Rift to the curb, and this is even worse. I won’t have anything at all in play!

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Worldfire: Same as Sway of the Stars above. Just silly.

Chance of unbanning: 0%

 

Yawgmoth’s Bargain: Academy Rector is already super annoying, and this would be neck-and-neck for the best target, alongside Omniscience. This card spiked earlier this year for reasons I can’t seem to find, but it’s on the Reserved List anyway. Having a few on hand would only be prudent.

Chance of unbanning: 15%

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