Tag Archives: Preorder

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: What did we miss?

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We are two weeks from Pro Tour Ixalan, and that’s going to offer some very interesting price changes. At least, that’s my hope. I really want something to dethrone Temur Energy, but the deck is consistent and powerful. Silver bullets are few and far between in Magic.

Before we get to the PT, though, I want to take a moment and acknowledge some lessons that we’ve all had to learn in terms of the prices of Ixalan cards. There’s a handful of cards that preordered for low prices and have spiked, hard, into two or three times the value.

What should we have learned from these cards? Why didn’t we see this coming? How can we apply these ideas to future sets?

 

Vraska’s Contempt ($4 preorder, now up to $10) – First of all, let me quote myself, from about a month ago:

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Vraska’s Contempt is good, but at four mana, it might be too much. Hero’s Downfall was super powerful, and the Contempt will see play as an answer to the indestructible/recurring Gods, but oh it stings. I don’t think Contempt will be a four-of, and that’ll keep the price reasonable.

What I predicted was true in terms of the numbers: Very few decks have the full four as part of the 75, and they are tending to start with three in the main. What I was wrong about was the popularity of control decks, even though there were a lot of Approach of the Second Sun decks running around. I simply underestimated the prevalence of control, a theme we will return to.

I have to admit, this one hurts the most. I knew that The Scarab God and Hazoret the Fervent are two cards helping define this format, and this card deals with both at instant speed. I should have seen this as a more expensive card. I made money off of Hero’s Downfall being positioned well!

Legion’s Landing ($2 up to $6) – It kills me that I could have gotten these for $2 and buylist them right now for $4. It stings, because I looked at this card and said, “It wins long games but it’s hard for a token for five mana to be worth it.”

I missed out on the confluence of casual demand for lands that make tokens, and Anointed Procession decks in Standard. I knew that Procession was a strategy, and had a lot of enablers, but I didn’t give enough credit. It’s not like this card spiked all the way to $10 or $15, but it does have enough interest to be worth a lot more than its preorder price.

Hostage Taker ($5 to $15) – When a rare is preordering for a few bucks, my thought is often “Well, we are going to open a lot of these packs and that price should hold.” For most rares, that’s true. For this Pirate, though, I just overlooked the smell of pure value. How amazingly powerful it is to remove a creature by playing a creature of your own. This card allows you to get even more value by getting the creature for myself! It requires an answer immediately or it’ll get to cast the stolen card! It’s also a fantastic answer to the two Gods mentioned before, especially if you get to steal it!

I thought of this as a Cast Out/Oblivion Ring sort of card, which was a gross understatement of the card’s power. Mea culpa.

Search for Azcanta ($4.50 to $14) – Remember how I said I underestimated control decks? Here’s the other card I just whiffed on. It’s a terrifying way to fuel the control player’s hand, but there’s layers on top of that.

The card is only two mana to get going. Legion’s Landing is the same way, being cheap to come down and flip relatively quickly. That’s important, because these legendary enchantments are low-impact when they come down. The card also is a form of ramp spell, because about turn four or five it’s going to become an extra land. This means Fumigate or Approach happens a turn earlier, a payoff that’s worth striving for.

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I truly underestimated how well it plays with Approach, digging you to the win a lot sooner, and also how you can have a Search for Azcanta in play and choose not to flip it!

Deathgorge Scavenger ($2 to $6): We are really short on effective ways to deal with stuff in the graveyard in Standard, and that’s a big part of why The Scarab God is tearing up the format. Until this dinosaur came along, we needed to exile creatures immediately, because the graveyard was a pretty safe space, difficult to interact with. Answers like Scarab Feast or Sentinel Totem are too focused, but this creature gives you an immediate effect, and a bonus couple of life, depending on what you wanted to exile.

I didn’t give proper credit to the dire need that decks and for an efficient and effective way to interact with the graveyard, perhaps it had just been so long since I saw one printed. This also fits nicely into one of the more popular decks in the format, the Energy lists.

Hopefully, now that I’ve looked at why I missed on these, I’ll be able to keep an eye on things that will play very nicely with Approach of the Second Sun, or deals with indestructible/recursive threats effectively. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for stuff that plays well with the legendary enchantments. For instance, how good is Thought Scour in combination with Approach and Search?

 

Cliff has been playing since Christmas 1994 and the gift of three booster packs in a stocking. Since then, he’s spent a lot of money on cards and made even more, with the goal of always being able to trade for cards instead of buying them. Follow him on Twitter @WordOfCommander or tune in every Friday here at MTGPrice.

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PROTRADER: Preorders and Prerelease Prices

Hello and welcome to the first weekend of Ixalan! I hope you’re going to have a great time at your local Prerelease, and every three months, I have the same advice: Trade it all!

These prices are at their highest for 95% of cards, and I will just play it safe and trade them all away. I’m going to be highlighting one or two things that I think have potential to rise, but I expect almost all of these to fall.

I’m going to start with the preorder prices, which have been really active for some of these cards.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: First Look at Ixalan

I love nothing more than preview season, though I really don’t like the giant dump of cards we got at the beginning of the week. That’s too much all at once for me to process and I suppose that means I’ve completely come around to like Wizards’ method of revealing the new set.

At the same time, thought, we have dinosaurs! Pirates! All kinds of tribal goodies!

Most relevant to us is that preorder season has begun. I know that usually, preodering is a really terrible idea, but recent sets have gotten better about preorder prices. It’s gotten to the point that so many stay away, and wait, and then some cards went up.

Today I want to look at some of the preorder prices and see if anything is worth getting in on.

Walk the Plank ($.50 preorder) – The flavor is amazing, and it’s a good card for just two black. It’s a sorcery, though, so this is not Fatal Push. It’s a bit worse than you think it is, being a sorcery. Very fairly priced.

Old-Growth Dryads ($3) – If you weren’t playing a basic before, then it’s time to do so. I think this has potential to grow, especially in foil. The presence of Path to Exile in Modern and Ghost Quarter have pushed people to include a couple of basics (even Tron with a miser’s Wastes, so this isn’t the slam dunk you want it to be. Best friends with Leonin Arbiter. There’s a very good chance that given the manabases possible in Standard, we’d skip out on basics when we want multicolor lands. This is the penalty for that strategy, and might be a more popular sideboard card than maindeck. In either case, this isn’t worth the $3…yet.

Revel in Riches ($0.79) – First of all, yes, this works with Anointed Procession. Alternate win conditions. Doubling token creation! I want this to be good, I really do, and it is going to be good in some sort of black control deck. I don’t think I like it as much as Approach of the Second Sun, though, so I don’t see this budging.

Herald of Secret Streams ($1) – This is pretty great in the strategies that want it. Thankfully, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar just rotated out and so people are going to have to go back to Verdurous Gearhulk/Rishkar, Peema Renegade for their counter needs. The downside is that you won’t want lots of this in your deck, as they don’t stack. I think it’ll have a good showing and make $2, but that might not be right away. Foils are a different matter, and given the appeal in Commander, I love foils of this at $5 or less. I wonder if this is a seed for a future set, given how +1/+1 counters aren’t a strong theme in this set.

Sanguine Sacrament ($0.50) – Pure lifegain is bad, but this is going to rise from the bulk in a few years. I have trouble seeing it as more than bulk while it’s Standard legal, though.

Tocatli Honor Guard ($2) – Torpor Orb is a very powerful Commander card if your opponents are addicted to value creatures, but having this effect in Standard is terribly intriguing. This dies to every removal spell being played, though, including a non-revolted Fatal Push. I think this price is spot-on for now, and in a couple months when it’s fifty cents, I’ll want to have a few tucked away.

River’s Rebuke ($1.50) – I despise this card, but at least it’s a sorcery, and not an instant as Cyclonic Rift is. I’m going to be picking up every foil I can at $3-$5 right away, though.

Sunbird’s Invocation ($0.50) – I love what this does, and I think there’s both some really strong long-term potential and yet there’s also a very high reprint risk. This is exactly the type of card that will be in Commander 2019. I will be picking some of these up for the casual appeal, especially in foil.

Settle the Wreckage ($1.50) – Too high a price. Commander won’t run this, and other formats likely won’t either. You’d need an absurd ratio, something like exiling three creatures and them getting just one land.

Carnage Tyrant ($8) – Not as good as Thrun, the Last Troll in Modern, so that outlet is gone. We have had a few giant hexproofers printed before, and Plated Crusher is about to rotate out. Same card, one less mana and can’t be countered. This is a trap. Don’t buy this unless you’re hellbent on doing this deck in week one. This might well be a good sideboard card, but those don’t tend to be this expensive. Some have said it’s a mythic for Limited, and it’ll end up pretty cheap.

Kopala, Warden of Waves ($2) – We are going to need to see more Merfolk to know if this is good in Standard. I’ll let you decide if you’d rather play this or play Kira, Great Glass-Spinner in your Modern Merfolk deck. I don’t want nonfoils yet, but I’ll be listening if the foils have a reasonable price, around $5.

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar ($7) – Makes Mayael good and Mayael’s Aria amazing. If there’s going to be a Dinosaur Commander deck, here’s the commander and just for fun, here’s the graph on the Aria:

The foil of the Aria can be had for $7-$8 right now, and that price isn’t going to last. I think $7 is a touch too high for Gishath, but I also think the casual appeal is through the roof on this.

Deeproot Champion ($1) – This is underpriced, to my mind. There are a lot of decks where this is better than Tarmogoyf, though the Champion has vulnerability early on. This can be thought of as permanent Prowess. So if that ability is decent in a deck, this card is bonkers. I especially am hoping to get foils for $3 or less early on.

Arcane Adaptation ($2) – Ah, combo pieces. Where would we be without you? I think this is a fair price for the card, but I want foils pretty badly. It’s a cheaper Conspiracy, a cheaper and better Xenograft. Neither of those has moved much, but this is the new one, and backup copies to combo decks are useful. Turntimber Ranger has a new buddy!

Vanquisher’s Banner ($2) – Travis and I talked about this on MTG Fast Finance, and it’s because this preorder price is too low. This should be $4 or $5. It’s total gas for the tribal decks that Wizards is pushing, and while it is expensive at five mana, it makes all of your creatures cantrips. That’s pretty outstanding, and I look forward to playing both this and Lifecrafter’s Bestiary at every opportunity.

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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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