Tag Archives: Preorder

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Devastating Preorders


Hopefully you’ve read enough of what we write here to know that pre-ordering cards is usually a bad idea.  Cards are overhyped and usually very overpriced, but there’s something kind of unusual going on with Hour of Devastation: The preorder prices are remarkably…sane.

Today I want to look at a couple of the reasons why that might be, and if that means we’ve turned a corner as Magic vendors and players. We don’t want $40 Day’s Undoing, or $50 Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

Idea #1: We are more patient

We all know that a set’s value goes down over time as more and more packs are opened. That’s true of any set, for any of its time as the set that’s being opened at FNM and Grand Prix events. Even the Masters-level sets that are only reprints, those follow the same curve most of the time.

We’ve learned that unless you’re going to be using these cards the very very first weekend, you’ve got time.  Even waiting a week or two can be worth a lot to someone who isn’t a pro player. Preordering cards is devastating from a feel-bad perspective, and hopefully people who have done that have learned their lesson.

Imagine being someone who looked at the Amonket previews, and saw Gideon of the Trials. You know he’s good with the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar deck you’re already playing. You think, “It must be worth this much or people wouldn’t be paying this much!” and you plunk down $160 for a playset.

That card, one of the banners of the set, a three-drop planeswalker, can be had for $40 a playset now. So that’s a painful lesson to learn.

Is this permanent: God, I hope so. I fervently want to believe that players will not break their bank trying to get out ahead of the new cards, but I doubt it in the long-term.  New players might not listen to others who have learned, and new cards are always going to sucker us in.


Idea #2: We are stretching our Magic dollars

This is something that Wizards/Hasbro has been doing to us for a couple of years now: We are getting more and more Magic products each year, each designed to suck our wallets dry.

Have you seen this list? That’s a murderer’s row later this year, and that’s before you take into account all the stuff we’ve already had this past seven months, which includes a Masters set, three regular sets (I’m including Hour of Devastation) and two different Anthology releases.


I don’t think there’s a market for those who buy every single product released, but that’s a lot to spend money on.

Is this permanent: Unless the company decides to slow it down, apparently this is the world we live in.  Let’s also not forget that the Magic Digital Next program is also coming, and that might be a whole new siphoning off of money. Heaven help us, they are going to keep making a zillion products a year.  Budget accordingly.



Idea #3: The cards aren’t that powerful

I’m not saying that they aren’t good, but they sure aren’t backbreaking. The set (so far, the full set should drop the day this article is published) has a cycle of undercosted ‘exert sorceries’ where your lands don’t untap for a turn, but everything else looks to cost a little too much for that effect.

Perhaps this is the overcompensation of stuff like Smuggler’s Copter being two mana? Perhaps this was meant to be part of an 18-month Standard which was more midrange-focused? I don’t know the answer, or if from time to time, we just get a slightly clunkier set.

I want to reiterate that point, though: Just because we don’t have a ‘pushed’ card doesn’t mean these aren’t going to be players in formats going forward. Right now, though, only a few of the mythics and none of the rares are preordering for more than the retail price of a Fatal Push.

Is this permanent: Likely not. There will be undercosted, overpowered cards again. None of them have been shown in this set, though.

Idea #4: The cards are just worth less due to Masterpieces

This is an idea that’s been explored several times, and the summary is as follows: When Masterpieces are in a set, they account for some of the value of the set. If cards have a total value that’s higher than the cost of a box at the distributor’s price, then retailers will crack those packs themselves and sell the singles.

We saw this recently at work, with Battle for Zendikar block and Shadows over Innistrad block.  The Expeditions helped push the prices of other cards down, except for Gideon and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Basically, more packs of BfZ block got opened to find those lands, and that meant a lot more of the other cards were released into the world. When the Masterpieces weren’t present, we had a more even distribution of value.

Is this permanent: We already know it isn’t. While the Masterpieces are helping make Standard be the cheapest it’s been in a while, they are running out of cards quickly. There’s some real clunkers in the Invocation series. Divert? Super niche. Diabolic Edict? Who was clamoring for more copies of this? They have already announced that Masterpieces won’t be in every single set going forward, so this effect will certainly vanish.


Cliff is an avid player and frugal financier. His love of unusual Cubes and formats is resulting in some very interesting Magic experiences, and Grand Prix events have been offering him all sorts of new ways to play this amazing game.

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Grinder Finance – The Shadows over Innistrad Preorder Article

Hey guys, I’m a little this late this week as I was waiting for the maximum number of cards to be spoiled before putting out this article.  Spoilers for Shadows over Innistrad will end Friday so it is unlikely much will change between then and now.

With every set, the pre-order prices for most cards are astronomically higher than they end up.  There are some exceptions to that rule (I’m looking at you Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy) but the best bet is usually to buy the least amount possible.



I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the rare land cycle.  I think the pre-order prices for these are a little too high to recommend buying them all but I couldn’t fault you for getting the ones you think you are likely to play for the first month.  These should be $2-3 by this summer and then you can finish up your playsets.

Upgrading Old Strategies



Bought into the Eldrazi ramp deck recently? Here are my recommendations for pre-orders:


Deathcap Cultivator easily slots into the same spot as Rattleclaw Mystic and supports a black splash instead of a red one.  That might be the best going forward anyway since Kozilek’s Return doesn’t kill a lot of the new vampires or many older creatures.


Drownyard Temple has a great synergy with World Breaker but I wouldn’t recommend getting a whole play set.  One or two is probably all the deck can support anyway without cutting into Shrine of the Forsaken Gods or Sanctum of Ugin


With the additional ETB tapped lands, I expect ramp will find some mana earlier to use on Tireless Tracker.  It’s obviously a huge favorite to be a huge monster if you play a ton of lands.  It will help with some of the problems of flooding and isn’t legendary like Nissa, Vastwood Seer.  While this card might not be a slam dunk, the pre-order price of $2 or less is not much to lose.


Stay away from this card.  A lot of people are hypothesizing it’s synergy with Ruin in their Wake but the reality is this will often be much worse than Oath of Nissa.  At $4 most places, I don’t want to buy into what is likely to be a bulk rare.


Collected Company more your jam?  It’s likely that a Green/White based deck will be the bread and butter CoCo deck.  There are unfortunately not a ton of great cards to add to those style decks but there are a few that could make the cut.


Collected Company decks are almost always light on removal (the nature of a green/white deck).  Declaration in Stone gives you some more flexibility in removing troublesome creatures cleanly and doesn’t require a bigger creature, like Dromoka’s Command does.


Naturally, Hanweir Militia Captain’s flip trigger works well in a CoCo deck.  Putting 2 Hanweir Militia Captains into play during your opponent’s end step could spell big game.  This one is purely speculative as the next creature.


A deck with a ton of 3 or less drop creatures could be in the market for a reasonably costed flyer to draw some cards.  This one unfortunately matches up pretty poorly against Drana, Liberator of Malakir and Olivia, Mobilized for War so we will have to see how the meta game shakes down.  If we see a ton of Eldrazi Skyspawners and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet (which makes Deathmist Raptor worse) maybe this guy gets the nod.


For the mono-red Eldrazi deck I only have 1 recommendation.


I know it looks like a pile of garbage but the truth is this will be a very important sideboard card against “slower” decks.  Its great against Ramp and it will probably be great against Esper Dragons (or similarly controlling decks).  The worst case scenario is this is a Skizzik (or Ball Lightning, if you prefer that) that can throw off your opponent’s math.  Most of it’s text box is largely irrelevant if you kill them with it.

New Archtypes:

Some cards look deceptively powerful on paper but don’t realize any competitive play.  For the most part, anything over $15 pre-order price is too high to pay unless you are sure it will be good.  Here’s my shortlist of things I have (or would recommend) pre-ordering.


She’s cheap, she’s got reasonable stats, and she turns every spell you play for the rest of the game into an insane return.  Olivia’s ability to curb your flooding while still putting pressure means it won’t be hard for her to find a home.  I’m fine with pre-ordering these up to $15 if you are going to play them.

Archangel Avacyn / Avacyn, the Purifier

This is the best Serra Angel ever printed.  Glowing endorsement, right?  Well if you played with Restoration Angel during the first Innistrad block, you would know how powerful large flash flyers are.  Avacyn is really big, at a great rate, and doesn’t need much help to be effective.  She is largely immune to Reflector Mage.  Combined with Ojutai’s Command, Avacyn delivers the same lose/lose situation as Cryptic Command and Mistbind Clique did.  This is a card I’m not worried that we won’t find a deck for.

So Arlinn is definitely very good on paper.  Probably the best planeswalker in the set.  But I don’t think she will find a home.  Be on the lookout for when she drops.  I can’t imagine she stays anywhere over $20 in a month.


Don’t buy these cards.  They’re too hyped and probably won’t be good enough to maintain their price tag for more than a month.



All of the Planeswalkers have the Planeswalker tax.  Anguished Unmaking is fine but it’s also the Game Day promo and I’m not sure it can be played as a 4-of like Hero’s Downfall. Sin Prodder is a glorified Boggart Brute.  It’s “fine” but on average it will draw you less cards than Abbot of Keral Keep.  Thing in the Ice is purely an eternal card and as such will drop like a rock.  It’s unlikely to see too much play in a Standard format that has Ultimate Price, Grasp of Darkness, Silk Wrap, and Reflector Mage.

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