Tag Archives: Magic Origins

Last-minute Pickups from Origins and DTK

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Well, we are at the end of the old blocks. Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins are rotating out in two weeks, the brewing with Kaladesh has all our attention, and there’s a prerelease to go play in! I love this time of year.

I especially love the rotation time, because this is when I want to invest the most and get the most for my money.

I’m looking for cards seeing fringe play in Modern and Legacy, I want to have some cool foils, and I want to check for underpriced but powerful Commander cards. I am keenly aware that the Masterpiece series means even more reprints, on top of extra sets, theme decks, and all of the ways that Wizards has to add to the supply of a card. It’s possible the old ways are no good, but they can’t reprint it all! Diversify with me.

For the most part, I expect these to grow slowly over time, with the potential to spike hard.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy – $24 regular/$65 foil/$190 SDCC promo – This sees a significant amount of play in Modern and Legacy, and I know lots of people are noticing how low this price has gone. It’s true that there is a black SDCC promo version, and that puts a ceiling on how high the foils can go, but picking up these in nonfoil is perfectly fine, as it’s due to do something amazing again. It will not take much to spike in either Eternal format.

Alhammarret’s Archive – $4/$11 – One of the best casual cards around, and a leading candidate for a reprint. In Commander, this is busted right in half, and will rightfully get you targeted by the rest of the table.

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Starfield of Nyx – $2.50/$7 – So I would love this card, and I would marry it, and I would build a house out of these cards, except…there’s going to be a Masterpiece series of enchantments and it seems like this is easy-peasy one of the best enchantment enablers. It’s Opalescence plus reanimation all in one card.

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Sphinx’s Tutelage – $1.50/$5 – Mill cards always have life. This has seen the smallest sprinkle of Standard play, but this is a pick for the unseen masses. It’s easy to reprint, but really, it’s just an awesome card. It takes something we all love doing and turns it into a weapon. I’ve seen this card just chainsaw through Commander players, a sign that not enough of us play Gaea’s Blessing or other such cards.

Collected Company -$11/$33 – If you think this is due to get banned, stay away. I think that it will not get banned in Modern, and for a card that’s an automatic four-of in some incredibly powerful strategies, a rare from a big set that was only opened in a small set…it’s very tempting. There are Clash Pack copies that are keeping the supply greater, but this is a format-warping card that must be respected.

Narset Transcendent – $7/$21 – She’s not down to the $5 threshold that I usually look for in underpriced planeswalkers, but her price is surprisingly high for a card seeing so little organized play. She can’t protect herself, but that isn’t quite as relevant for casual formats. I like having this card, and the trajectory is due to start climbing upward.

Sarkhan Unbroken – $4/$13 – I think this is cheaper than Narset because he’s three colors. He’s more powerful on his own, but he can’t doublecast spells the way Narset can, and his ultimate requires some sweet dragons to tutor up. That Dragon emphasis is what intrigues me, though, especially at a measly $4.

Kolaghan’s Command – $6/$21 – This is a pretty amazing card in Modern and Legacy, and the nonfoil has already spiked to $20 once in its career. I’m in, and I will feel vindicated when it breaks $10. When it’s over $15 again, I’ll take myself out to dinner.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier – $2.50/$7.50 – I like having copies of this around, not because Jund decks in Modern are about to abuse it, but because it’s a really amazing Zombie. Angels, Dragons, Elves, Goblins, and Zombies are likely the top 5 tribes, and the appeal cannot be overstated.

Foil Impact Tremors – $2 – It’s only half of Purphoros, God of the Forge, but if you want this type of effect in your Commander deck, you want redundant cards. I wasn’t expecting this foil to be this high a multiplier, but that’s a sign of the casual appeal. When I notice that, I want to have some of these in stock.

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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.

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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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PROTRADER: Breaking Down Standard

We are currently facing one of the most expensive Standard formats in Magic‘s history. As many writers1 have already pointed out, this is largely the fault of fetch lands, which have risen in both price and amount of use.

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Jace, the $40 Origins Mythic

Blue is Back in Standard

For a set that is still being drafted, I find it hard to believe that there is a mythic that is $40 and still rising within the set.

However, Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy has spiked to levels (for blue mythics) we haven’t seen since the last time Jace spiked this hard in Standard. And last time he kept going, past $100 eventually.

Let’s be clear – Vryn’s Prodigy is no Mind Sculptor, nowhere even close. First of all, Prodigy is a creature – a Merfolk Looter that will flip into Telepath Unbound once yet get five cards into your graveyard. Granted, this is pretty easy to accomplish, especially in decks based mainly around spells like Jeskai Tempo or Esper Dragons.

Even once he is flipped, he still affects the game only in marginal ways for each ability. Giving creatures -2/-0 is not bouncing them, he isn’t Fatesealing your opponent out of the game, and he isn’t giving you direct card advantage and/or selection. So what’s the deal? Why is this new Jace’s price, whose power was initially dismissed out-of-hand initially by many players, starting to mirror the version so good that it was included in From the Vault: 20?

Let’s view this from another perspective, that of Nissa, Worldwaker.

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Nissa also started out very high, around $30, and eventually hit $50 while in Standard and stayed there for about two to three months. Then, the decline started happening. By January of this year, she dropped to around $20 and has slowly been decreasing ever since. Now, she is around $10 and will probably go lower once she rotates out of Standard. I think that the new Jace will follow a similar trend. But only because I have Nissa to base him off. Let’s compare how Jace is different than Nissa, and how that could affect his future price.

First, Nissa is green which is arguably one of the strongest colors in Standard. Blue has been argued to be on the weaker side of the spectrum these days, since counterspells, removal, and card draw have been getting worse and worse over time. The decks where Nissa was included were some of the strongest in the Standard metagame, and there were no shortage of Pro’s that extolled her virtues both on camera and through the written word. Her abilities are really good if you can get her online, especially against control decks as she can create an army out of your lands over time. Jace being blue means that if he continues to be amazing, he will be included in basically every blue deck since the options for blue have been limited these days. This will, of course, make the price go even crazier eventually.

Second, Nissa costs five mana while Vryn’s Prodigy is only two. There is a colossal difference between two and five mana, which is why we see Jace being included as a playset in all decks that play him as a card. Another reason Jace is included as multiples in the decks he is featured in is because he can enable decks with combos to initiate them faster since his primary function in the deck is to loot, loot, loot. He is also a great target to use up your opponent’s removal, as you really aren’t losing much if he gets killed early (he’s only a 0/2 after all) and you will gain big over time the more he is left alone. So, Nissa was limited to two copies max in the main decks (with one or two copies in sideboards if control was big in a particular metagame) and Jace will see more copies played in decks since opponents will remove him early, which means you want more copies to replace those that are going to bite the bullet early game.

Finally, the last difference between Vryn’s Prodigy and Nissa is eternal applications. Check out the following stats for recent decklists that have featured Vryn’s Prodigy.

  • Modern, Splinter Twin – 22% of decks
  • Legacy, Grixis Control – 25% of decks
  • Legacy, Esper Stoneblade – 29% of decks
  • Legacy, Sultai Delver – 50% of decks
  • Legacy, Jeskai Stoneblade – 25% of decks
  • Vintage, Mentor – 29% of decks

Granted, the number of copies per deck is mostly restricted to one or two copies, but there is a clear breakthrough of Vryn’s Prodigy into Legacy since he is seeing play in at least four different archetypes that we know. This explains why his foil version is already $90 and climbing. I expect that he will break through to Modern as well once more blue decks pop up over time. The most surprising is Vintage, which as we know only the best of the best break through to see play. For Jace to see play in Vintage, either it was very good tech for the moment (which could be the case, I’m not a Vintage expert by any means) or his looting and flip to pseudo-Yawgmoth’s Will is actually a nice addition to decks that want to continue flashing back cards from their graveyard. All in all, the eternal play could be a flash in the pan for something like Vintage but I really think that Jace has staying power in Legacy since he is seeing play across at least four different archetypes as another way to (cheaply) help control the game.

All in all, Vryn’s Prodigy is one of those cards that is deceptively powerful. He could be compared to cards like Pack Rat, where if you never played against it you might think it isn’t that good, but once you get beat because of it you’ll forever be changed.

How about Vryn’s Prodigy’s price moving forward? I think Vryn’s Prodigy is going to drop once Origins approaches rotation as all Standard rares will, though the foil isn’t going to move much in price if he is already seeing play across several different eternal decks. If we base his price off Nissa’s, but alter it to include the fact that he is being played as playset in Standard decks and blue needs all the powerful tools it can get to be good, I think this could be his price trajectory:

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 7.04.18 PM

My boldest prediction is that Jace could hit $60 while in Standard, but only because he is currently being utilized as a playset in many blue decks. If that changes, then $60 will look like a silly prediction. Right now though, no one’s laughing at his $40 price. Being featured as a playset in, say, a Pro Tour winning deck could seal the $60 deal through winter. Eventually though, by August of next year he should be back down to around $15, if not before then if his time in Standard dwindles prematurely.

Hung Up on Hangarback

I also wanted to mention how Magic Origins was a preorder bonanza based on the past and current prices of the chase cards. You had the chance to preorder Vryn’s Prodigy and Hangarback Walker at bottom dollar prices. That’s not something that we see happen very often. Nissa / Goblin Rabblemaster were the previous pair from the last core set, and Rabblemaster was cheap initially but Nissa was never below $10. Usually the cheap preorder is either one or the other. This time players had a chance to get both!

While I and many others missed out on these preorder opportunities (since they almost never work out favorably) we shouldn’t get hung up on what we missed out on. This is the fastest way to drive yourself crazy with Magic finance. The best way to get back on track is to figure out where the metagame is going and how we might prepare for it.

We know with Battle for Zendikar that we’re continuing to get strong multicolored cards – both Converge and Devoid multicolored cards have been spoiled and several of them seem spicy enough to see Standard play. With all the converging and devoiding that is going to be happening the future, we know that Hangarback is going to continue being good since it is a colorless creature that slots into everything from aggro to control. What other conclusions might we draw from multicolored still being supported heavily?

Khans Uncommon Tri-Lands

The Khans  tri-lands will continue, along with fetchlands, to support these multicolored combinations. I expect the price of these lands to hold strong through Battle for Zendikar, with the off chance that one or more might go up at least $1 due to heavy Standard play.

Aggro Champions

On the flip side, aggro cards will be great against these slower 3+ color strategies that emerge. Cards like Monastery Swiftspear should rise to meet demand for decks like Red Deck Wins that exploit slower formats. Aggro also tends to be good shortly after rotation, since the format is still being figured out and the aggro deck’s linear strategy is easier to pilot than the emerging midrange or control deck’s strategy.

Rotation Staples

If you don’t have the time or energy to try and figure out the format, why bother? Just get a list together of eternal playable staples that are about to rotate and start picking them during the next few months after rotation. With Thoughtseize leading the Theros pack of rotation cards that are definitely going to hold value and even increase over time, there are certainly multiple other cards from the Theros block (and M15) out there that will be good long term holds. Granted, these cards aren’t going to turn you a quick profit, but they will hold value long term which one of the primary strategies I advocate with #mtgfinance.

That’s all I have for this week! As always, let me know what you think in the comments and on Twitter @gildedgoblin.

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