Tag Archives: rotation

What does it mean?


So in case you missed it, we are back to one rotation a year, and that rotation will be in the fall, just as it used to be. But what does it mean? What cards and strategies are impacted? Should I buy now? Should I hold?

Well, it’s actually not that earth-shattering an announcement, considering that the old model didn’t have very long to take root. I freely admit that I don’t play a lot of Standard, so this decision was likely a reflection of conversations with R&D, vendors, distributors, local stores, and of course players. I don’t feel the need to parse the words of the announcement, but I do respect that they are listening to concerns and acting when they can.

A longer rotation means, for us, a return to what many of us consider ‘normal’ cycles with regard to the prices of cards. I have been watching Gideon, Ally of Zendikar for some time, and considering that a bellwether for what good cards should be expected to do financially. In this case, and in a lot of cases, cards aren’t spiking due to Standard demand. Cards were setting a price early and trickling downward, at different rates depending on how much it’s played.

Before the change, there was a point about one year after release when some middling to great cards would spike nicely. My favorite example from recent times was Hero’s Downfall.


Mmmm. Pure, undiluted value. That spike at the rise of Mono-Black Devotion. One of the things I love doing is hunting for the value that will be, and lots of us write about it.

With the 18-month schedule, it’s very difficult for that spike to happen. Cards are going to rotate out so soon, there wasn’t much time to enjoy your deck, especially for cards released in the second set.


Let’s look at Kozilek’s Return.


The power of the card, the need for a four-of, and that it was a mythic in a small set, all contributed to the gain in value, but I don’t think it went as high as it could have, because people knew they were getting a card just for the next few months.

Now, if you pick up some Gideons or Returns, you’re going to be able to play them until next October, making it a lot more palatable to drop the money on a playset.

Gideon is one example, and Return seems likely to pick up a couple bucks, but those aren’t going to grow a lot. I also think that while Liliana, the Last Hope is really well positioned against the swarm of aggressive and tiny creatures in Standard, being at $45 doesn’t leave much area for growth.


Ob Nixilis, Reignited – $4.90 – I know he’s an easily available foil in the Duel Deck that dropped in September, but this is a very cheap price for a strong mythic planeswalker. He does everything a control deck wants, and at worst, he’ll replace himself immediately before getting answered. Being in the Duel Deck is going to seriously cap his value, but cheap planeswalkers are always a solid investment.

Quarantine Field – $1.13 – It’s a bad deal at four mana, but good at six and game-breaking at eight. A dollar mythic is always going to get my attention, though I think Fragmentize puts a top on how high this can go.

Goblin Dark-Dwellers – $1.17 – This was the buy-a-box promotional card so there’s more of them, but this is a card good enough to show up in Modern. I’m a big fan of cards with nowhere to go but up, and we just got a good lesson in how good replaying spells can be, thanks to Torrential Gearhulk. Having flash makes the Gearhulk better, but I like this at a buck.

Oath of Nissa – $2.50 – It’s a rare from a small set that gets played as a four-of. I like getting these and waiting for them to go up to the $4-$5 range.

Cryptolith Rite – $1.37 – Have we forgotten how good these swarm decks can be? This is a real enabler of a card that has good potential to spike.

Declaration in Stone – $5.39 – An excellent candidate to go up now that it’s legal for six more months. If Prized Amalgam decks go up as well, then this or Descend upon the Sinful will really spike.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow – $8.41 – This is a very powerful card, and mythics from this set stand to do very well with the extra time in Standard. I’d look for this to spike by $5 or more when it hits big.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher – $11.41 – There’s two other mythics from this set that are $20+ and all it’s going to take is one good set of results at an SCG open or a GP for this to spike. The supply is rather low (remember, this lost time being drafted due to Conspiracy: Take the Crown) and this could easily be the third card to hit that price.

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BFZ and OGW pickups

Last week I looked at stuff I liked as we head into the home stretch of this set of three blocks.

This week, I want to look at Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, since we are at the halfway point for those sets. They will rotate out of Standard in about nine months, a schedule I don’t think I’m used to yet.

Ob Nixilis Reignited ($8): I have always loved this set of abilities. Draw a card, kill a creature, grind out a win with the ultimate. It’s seeing light amounts of play and that bodes well. People are aware of the card, and while it’s not a four-of, it’s an important inclusion in superfriends decks that want to jam planeswalker after planeswalker.

I can see this spiking to $15 if a list makes good use of it, and if GW tokens takes a big hit at rotation this should do well. Also on my radar is that if there’s a new Tamiyo coming in Eldritch Moon, then that’s one more option for an Esper control deck. Jace, Ob, Sorin, Gideon…that’s a powerful lineup and there’s no mass planeswalker removal.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($14): there are not many decks in Standard making use of this card, but he is definitely the newest tech in big-mana Tron and Ramp decks in Modern.


Even if he gets exiled somehow, casting Ulamog is a three-for-one guaranteed. Getting rid of two problems right now is also why this version of Ulamog is likely better than the original when it comes to Commander and Cube. It lacks the anti-reanimation clause of the Gyre but the 20 card exile is terrifying too. Seeing this get to $20 before the end of the year seems like a given, and $25 would be possible too.

From Beyond ($0.80): I love this as a long-term hold. This is several abilities all in one, all of which are useful. It’s a free 1/1 each turn. It’s a source of mana acceleration. It can even tutor for something big that you want to go find. This has great potential as a long-term casual hold, and you can get them at near-bulk prices.

Bring to Light ($0.81/$5.50 foil/$10 prerelease): I’m listing the foil prices here because the casual demand for this is much higher than the Standard/Modern demand. Normally, I’d expect to see this as about a $3 foil, as in the cases of Akoum Firebird or Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. The price is much more than that, and especially the prerelease foil, which is a real outlier. I like the card as a very flexible sorcery, with the potential to get very good in Modern. It’s also got a lot of potential as a casual card with a very low buy-in, and you can go after foils if you’re feeling it.

Thought-Knot Seer ($7), Reality Smasher ($4): So these Eldrazi and some others (one moment) have come down from their incredible showing at the Pro Tour, so good they got Eye of Ugin banned in Modern. They are so good so fast that they brought Simian Spirit Guide along for the ride, and they have really come down in price. These are small-set rares, and as I’m going to talk about next week, the Eldrazi are starting to be a menace in Legacy.

Eldrazi Mimic ($1), Matter Reshaper ($2): These are seeing less play than the two above, but when you’re going all-in on the colorless threats, they are incredible. Both of these are low-cost to get now and represent great profit going forward.

Eldrazi Displacer ($4.50): This card is one of the best flicker effects we’ve seen in some time. It’s good for you, allowing re-use of your own abilities. It’s bad for them, tapping blockers. It was a four-of in the winning Death and Taxes deck last weekend at an SCG Classic event. It’s for real. It’s also too cheap for the amount of play it’s going to see as we get farther and farther away from opening packs with these in them.

Linvala, the Preserver ($3.50): This is everything a control deck desires. She can gain you life and require two cards to deal with. She reminds me a lot of Timely Reinforcements, though not as easy to cast. She’s a small-set mythic, though, and we have a year for her to get used effectively. A caveat, though: as a legendary creature, she’s unlikely to be run as a four-of.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers ($3): With every spell that gets printed, this card gets better. What really makes it terrifying is the variety of threats that can be presented. Removal spells, discard spells, reanimation spells, you name it, all on a creature of decent size. I would love to see this played alongside Blightning, for instance, but Kolaghan’s Command is awesome too.

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PROTRADER: Shadows over Innistrad Rotation Review

I talked a lot last week about Rotation for Standard and how it is going to affect player interest in our most short-lived format. I also covered the cards from Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins that I thought fit well in this new world and evaluated their financial upside.

This week I’m going to complete that analysis — this time with Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch — to take us live into the new (and mad) world of Standard!

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Grinder Finance – Preparing for the Rotation Part 2

Last week I talked about what to look forward to for the future of Standard.  Today I’m going to take a look at what to sell (or really, what to look forward to in Modern).  Just to remind everyone, there are two sets rotating out when Shadows over Innistrad is released April 8th.

Source http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis
Source http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis

A lot of people get confused because it’s 2 sets in 1 set out and we’re in the last 3 set block.  In April, Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged will rotate out but not Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins.  Consequently people pondering whether they should get out of KTK and FRF cards will be unpleasantly disappointed.

anafenza 1rhino 1

As I’ve echoed many times, Standard legal cards will enter their final plummet right after the Pro Tour approximately 6 months before they rotate.  Most of these cards have already bottomed out and selling them at this point will not be a winning proposition if you plan to buy them back.  This doesn’t probably apply to card like Anafenza, the Foremost and Siege Rhino for most people.  It does apply to the best lands ever printed.  The allied colored fetch lands have a significant price tag attached to them while very close to rotation.


Many players think they can sell them now an pick them up in a few months after prices have dropped.  I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.  The best time to pick them up will  be between now and the end of May.

They’re the best lands ever printed

While they may not have the same price tag as Scalding Tarn or Misty Rainforest, the fetch lands are the best lands that Wizards of the Coast has ever printed in any format.  With only half of them and half of a set of fetchable dual lands, they have created one of the most powerful mana bases in Standard.  It’s really hard to knock cards that get played along Black Lotus in Vintage, right?  What it boils down to is that there will likely never be lands better than this and as players become more enfranchised they will need to own them.

There is not enough time before you need them again

Many players may not play Modern right now due to the extensive Eldrazi threat but they will soon after Khans of Tarkir rotates.  Modern PPTQ season starts July 10th and ends October 6th.  This coincides with the release of Eldritch Moon until the unnamed fall set.  3 months is not a long enough time for those cards to truly see any appreciable price declines.  We saw price increases in the summer months for Modern cards because of the drive to compete in these abundant local events.  If there are any sizable reprints in Eternal Masters (which comes out the month before Eldritch Moon) there could be some panic purchasing of Khans of Tarkir fetches to play in PPTQs the next month.  It’s possible we even see the Khans fetches increase in price if there is an announcement of no enemy colored (Zendikar) fetches in Eternal Masters.

Their Modern play is suppressed

The Eldrazi have brought back pain lands from the dead and quietly pushed most of the fetches to the sidelines.  I have a feeling once Eldrazi are not the best deck in the room we will see a bit more demand for fetches.  Many of those players may already own them but once Modern becomes less Eldrazi dominated we will see a resurgence of decks that play 8 to 12 fetch lands.  That being said, we don’t really have good data for the post Splinter Twin ban Modern.  Currently 9 of the top 10 creatures played are Eldrazi and the only one that isn’t is Spellskite.

Final Verdict: Buy or Hold

Single Card Analysis

Monastery Swiftspear by Steve Argyle
Monastery Swiftspear by Steve Argyle

The Monastery Swiftspear is one of the most expensive cards in Khans of Tarkir.  Despite being an uncommon, it out performs many of the rares in the set.  If you play it in Standard, you will probably eventually want to play it in Modern or Legacy so I’m going to advise you just hang onto your copies.  Despite having only ever-green keywords, it will be hard to find a place to reprint it in a Standard legal set due to it’s name.  This card will likely see long term gains similar to other lower rarity burn staples (Lava Spike, Rift Bolt, Boros Charm, etc).  It not being a common keeps it out of Pauper but that’s unlikely to affect it too much.  I think this is going to be a solid $5-8 card in 3-4 years.

Final Verdict: Hold

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon by Raymond Swanland
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon by Raymond Swanland

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is played in Modern, EDH, and casual circles everywhere.  A one-time printing (the supply is so low on the promo it doesn’t really make a dent), Ugin is poised to have tremendous long term growth.  He is a lot like Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker in casual appeal but his completely colorless casting cost makes him easy to play in any deck.  You can find him for $28 on TCGplayer and he still has a buylist of $20 so at this point I’m not sure it’s worth selling.  His historic low was $25 during June of 2015 when he saw almost no competitive play.  At this point I’m fine hanging onto them for a few years for him to climb back up.  If you’re on the fence, I wouldn’t sell foils or promos unless you needed the money as those have barely budged as the non-foil climbed.  The Commander demand for this card drives those prices.

Final Verdict: Hold

Monastery Mentor by Magali Villeneuve
Monastery Mentor by Magali Villeneuve

Monastery Mentor, like Monastery Swiftspear has a name that makes it a little harder to reprint.  The fact that Prowess is a tertiary keyword (source) in white means it will have less opportunity to be reprinted.  This card shows up in Legacy and Vintage decks so I feel like it would have already made the jump into Modern if it was a good fit.  At $15 I don’t feel like there is a particularly compelling reason to keep them if you don’t already play them.  There is definitely an issue with the prevalence of creature removal in Modern that could keep this 2/2 out of the spotlight for a long time.

Final Verdict:  Sell

Tasigur, the Golden Fang by Chris Rahn
Tasigur, the Golden Fang by Chris Rahn

Tasigur, the Golden Fang I think is in a slightly different realm than Siege Rhino.  His body is a similar size but you can often play him on the cheap with only 1 color.  While his legendary status has relegated him to a 1/2 of in most decks, I think he will be a great long term hold because he is a story character with a problematic keyword to reprint.  He also technically has a 3 color commander identity making him harder to print in Commander supplementary products. Tasigur has fallen a bit since he was printed in an event deck.  I think this is his price floor for the foreseeable future.  I also think foils are the better play if you’re picking him up to hold long term.

Final Verdict: Buy

Everything else I’m going to lump into a “probably unplayable in Modern” so you’re probably fine just selling them.  Granted, while the best time was 6 months ago, it’s better late than never.  I think this is an important time for players to suck it up and take their pennies on the dollar for cards they won’t play.  Otherwise you end up like me with a pile of Sylvan Caryatids and Courser of Kruphix and wonder where it all went wrong.

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