Tag Archives: specs

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Price Targets for Iconic Masters

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This…this is weird.

We are neck-deep in atrocious spoilers for Unstable and yet the set that’s getting opened this weekend is Iconic Masters. I’m not a marketing or economics major, but it seems something is off about this timing. We’ve known this set for months, a few folks drafted it at HasCon and all I want to do is mess around with Contraptions and Host creatures.

There’s another factor at play with Iconic Masters: Somehow, this set is dirt cheap to buy. The EV is there, with 16 rares and mythics that match the price of a pack, but why am I going to drop $30+ on a draft at my LGS when my pals and I can chip in for a box at $160-$170?

With this set, I’m not going to buy any boxes or any packs. The far better bet will be to choose the prices I want and see if cards settle to those ranges. The availability of boxes makes me think that this isn’t going to tick prices downward, it’s going to yank the rug out from under them and expose a giant hole.

I am open to being wrong, but the box prices are worrisome to me. We’re only going to be opening this for a month (Unstable lands December 9, so four weeks?) so that’s going to mitigate the damage, but I can’t help thinking that this is going to torpedo a lot of prices.

Here’s my targets, with their current prices.

Mana Drain ($90): So this represents the chase mythic of the set, the headliner, and I think it’s about to tank hard. I think this drop into the $50 range, and $40 wouldn’t shock me. There has been a judge foil, to go with the original, and now the rest of us are going to get a crack at it. Question is, what’s the demand? No one needs a playset, so is it going to be all EDH decks? It’s a pretty phenomenal card in there and in Cube, but that’s going to fill pretty fast. The people who were drooling for a cheaper version are going to get their wish. I will be looking to pick these up around $40-$60.

Ancestral Vision ($19): This is a card that has really ridden the rollercoaster over the years.

The truth is that while it feels really great to resolve this as a control player, Modern has become a bit too fast for this card. For right now, anyway. I fully expect that in the fullness of time, someone will build a control deck that sweeps away the aggressive decks and defeats the combo players. That time isn’t now, though. I know this will go below $10, but it’ll have to fall further to interest me, maybe to $7.

Flusterstorm ($31): This is another card that’s about to take a beating. I can’t find a Legacy or Vintage list that uses more than two, and that’s a bad sign because this is a rare. I think it’s going to drop into the $10 range, and I’m not sure I’d want to pick any up. Where’s the demand? This goes in some Cubes, but it seems like trash in Commander.

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Aether Vial ($30): We keep getting this card, but never ever in Standard again: Darksteel, FTV, Masterpiece, Modern Masters, and now here. It’s dropped in price before and always recovered well, so I don’t think it’ll fall far. $20 would be my target, especially because when people want this, they want the full set. That bodes VERY well for future demand.

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Thoughtseize ($15): This is a difficult call to make. Let’s go to the history:

It’s easy to forget that Thoughtseize was worth ninety dollars at one point before being in Theros. Even now, the original is worth about twice as much as the Theros version. We’re back to the original art and flavor text, which means little when a card is played as much as this is. It’s awful in casual formats, worthwhile in Cubes, and it’s among the most-played cards in Legacy and Modern. The demand is real, but the question of how much supply worries me.

Here’s the bottom line: It’s going to trickle down to $10. Will it go lower? I don’t think it will, and I’ll be content to stock up at $10 and wait. It’s played too much to stay that low for long, and if growth is slow, well, I’ll be patient until it gets back to a buylist of $10 and move on.

Glimpse the Unthinkable ($12): This is already half the price of the original Ravnica version, and is going to test the premise ‘casuals love mill cards enough to keep prices high.’ This will be a $5 card. It’ll stay a $5 card for quite a while after that, and I won’t want to get any.

Cryptic Command ($23): Lorwyn. Modern Masters 1 AND 2. Invocation, and a textless promo. That’s a LOT of printings, and two different alternate looks for those with a taste for either. This sees some Modern play, and that helps, but I can’t help feeling that a lot of people who want a Cryptic or four have them already. This will drop by at least half, and that casting cost is going to rule out a lot of Commander decks…though EDHREC has it in 11,000 decks already.

I can’t imagine this stays above $20, and only if it goes below $10 will I be interested. Getting in at $15 and waiting  is just going to take too long to be useful.

Cliff is an avid cuber and Commander player, and can be found investigating all sorts of unusual formats. His first boosters were in late 1994, and the years since have seen a range of spikes, sellouts, thefts, and triumphs. Catch his articles here every Friday or on Twitter @wordofcommander

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Stuff Worth Keeping from BFZ and OGW

Hello and welcome back! I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with acres of picks last week, so I’m back to talk about the other rotating block, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon.

To repeat myself from last week: These are the cards that I think are good to have as they leave Standard, either for their value in Modern/Legacy, or as long-term casual holds.

I don’t think I gave you a good example last week of such a card, so let me do so now: Thespian’s Stage, in foil or nonfoil. Here’s the graph of the foil:

During Theros block, you could get the foil for under $10. Even at rotation, you could get it about $10. But now it’s double that, and nowhere to go but up. The nonfoil has gone from dollar rare to $3 casual gold, and I’m pleased with either of those graphs.

Every time the Stage dodges reprinting, it ticks up by fifty cents or a dollar. If it gets reprinted in Commander 2017, I don’t think the price will get hit much but the foil will tick upward. It’s going to take a Conspiracy/Masters set to impact the foil very much, and that seems unlikely in the next year (It’s not Iconic, after all).

Shadows over Innistrad

Traverse the Ulvenwald ($4.50 nonfoil/$14 foil): Really, we should have seen this coming. Delirium isn’t just easy in Modern, it’s the focus of Tarmogoyf. Getting the ‘Goyf as big as possible as fast as possible is why Tarfire spiked. Gotta get that Tribal type!

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I think the nonfoils are going to go down a little, maybe as far as $3, but then they seem like a very solid pickup. As ever, for Modern/Legacy or casual use, I generally like the foils more than the nonfoils to hold value and to resist losing much when they are reprinted. (Yes, that’s WHEN they are reprinted. That’s my view going forward. Can’t say when, but it is going to happen.)

Archangel Avacyn ($10/$22): The poster angel for the set, a double-sided mythic, she’s going to be very hard to reprint. It’s my understanding that the double-sided require a whole sheet, and then are added, so it’s not possible to throw one two-faced card into a regular print run. The flip planeswalkers of Magic Origins were done on their own, lots of languages to a sheet, so I feel confident in thinking that Avacyn is safe from reprinting for a while.

She’s at the lowest she’s been during her time in Standard, and frankly the foils are super appealing. The foil multiplier isn’t even three yet! Let’s get in on these and just be patient. The growth will be real.

Thalia’s Lieutenant ($2.75/$6): I want this to drop further. I’d like picking these up a lot more at $1.50 or less, but this price is likely an artifact of a couple of recent Modern decks that have a Human theme. I would truly love it if the triggered ability could affect Soldiers too, but it’s still a very good card. Every set has Human creatures, and with every good creature to add to the deck, this card gets better.

Prized Amalgam ($2.25/$5.50): It’s one of the centerpiece cards for Modern Dredge, it’s an automatic four-of in the strategy, and yet it’s this cheap. Foils being $5 on eBay seem like a complete gift to your future self. It’s true that the ban of the Grave-Troll made the deck a little less appealing, but here’s what is going to happen:

  1. People pack lots of graveyard hate in Modern, making Dredge a bad choice.
  2. People move their sideboard choices to other decks, because no one is playing Dredge.
  3. Someone makes the right metagame call at the right big event and Dredge takes it all.
  4. This price goes up by at least double.

I don’t know when that process will happen, but it’s only a matter of time.

Honorable mentions at $1 or less: Fevered Visions, Descend Upon the SinfulSeasons Past, Duskwatch Recruiter, Second Harvest.

Eldritch Moon

Gisela, the Broken Blade ($8/$20) and Bruna, the Fading Light ($1/$6): I like all the foil Meld cards going forward, but this pair having a mythic member AND being part of an iconic tribe means that I love the casual potential here. Bruna is already very good in Angel decks, and I can’t imagine not making space for her sister in Commander decks.

Gisa and Geralf ($1.60/$6): The high foil multiplier here is a very good indicator that you want to have some of these going forward. This card never had a huge supply, being a small-set mythic, and Commander players are taking these out of circulation. I’d much much much rather have the foil version, because I can see this being the headliner for some future duel deck (Undead vs. Survivors or some such).

Bedlam Reveler ($1/$4.50): Another big foil multiplier indicates the foil is sought after more, either in Eternal (where it’s seen some play) or casual play, where only the most dedicated of decks play this. I’ve written about this before, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but I can see this spiking pretty hard with just one good showing.

Deploy the Gatewatch ($1/$4): So about a year ago, while I was guesting on MTG Fast Finance, James and I had a polite disagreement about this card. I thought it was trash for Standard, but an excellent long-term hold. The card has gone up about a dollar since then, but it remains a ridiculously safe pick in foil. I suspect we will get some Gatewatch-themed special issue deck at some point, but until then, snag lots of foils and just wait. You’ll thank us later.

Honorable mentions at $1 or so: Mind’s Dilation, Sigarda’s Aid, Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, Decimator of the Provinces

Cliff is impressively devoted to Magic, in a range of formats. His greatest love has been Commander, but Cube is the new hotness and it’s not as clear as it used to be. Who will steal his heart and get that rose? Tune in next week!

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Hitting Bottom

Modern Masters drops today! It’s so awesome! Value all over the place, depending on the amount opened. We will be keeping an eye on the prices, but drops of 30-50% should be expected. A lot of cards have fallen that far already, and as time passes we will have to keep an eye on the value of MM3 cards.

Today, though, I want to focus on Kaladesh and Aether Revolt cards that are good targets for increasing in value later on. Some stores are going to keep opening those in drafts and events, but all the hype is on Modern Masters, and we are about a month away from Amonkhet prerelease events.

Prices for the Kaladesh block are at their lowest right now. Supply has been maximized, and those who need cards have gotten them. We are now at the point where if a card gets popular in Standard, it’ll spike, because they aren’t getting opened anymore.

This is also when I want to get cards that I think are good long-term investments, due to casual appeal or playability in Eternal formats.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary – $1.20/$4 foil – This is one of the easiest picks around. Have you played with this card? It’s amazing in any format where you can resolve it without dying, and you play creatures. Commander loves this card, and a scry 1 might help this be good enough in Standard. Creature decks run out of gas, and drawing a card per creature cast is rather phenomenal. I’m advocating this due to the casual appeal, but I am not ruling out that this spikes anytime before the big set of Fall 2018. My low end of this is $3-$4 in two years, but Standard could push that issue sooner.

Foils are awfully appealing at a mere $4. They started out at $10 on release, and it’s a card that you have to come up with a good reason against if you’re a green Commander player. I want all of these at $4. Just all of them. They are going to be leeched out of the market as time passes, so be ready when they slowly climb back to $10 or more.

Whir of Invention – $1/$5 – This is a card looking to be broken. Brewers are trying hard with this and Inspiring Statuary, but I feel the Whir will get broken first. It’s also a card you can put into a deck that’s almost all artifacts, where the Statuary needs both lots of artifacts AND big spells that aren’t artifacts. Whir is also much better in casual formats, being something that I can easily see every Commander deck playing to go find that Darksteel Forge or whatever you need. I love getting in on a dollar card with upside we haven’t found yet. It’s quite possible that either of the blocks coming have artifacts worth tutoring for. I think this will find a home in some decks in Modern at some point, and doubling will be conservative.

The foils are also super appealing. It’s very easy to add this card to a deck with a few choice artifacts in Commander, so seeing the foil go up to $10-$15 within a couple years is a very believable idea.

Release the Gremlins – $0.75 – I’m surprised that this isn’t seeing more play in sideboards, but it’s such a cheap card and we are so lacking in artifact removal in Standard that I want to have some of these around just for the scalable potential. It’s not going to blow up Modern or Legacy, not when Shatterstorm is legal, but this might have Commander appeal too. This is more likely to be a Standard spike, and otherwise might need a very long timeline to pay off in casual circles.

Planar Bridge – $2.50/$11.50/$43 for the Invention – For an in-print mythic, this is surprisingly low. There is the Invention version that soaks up some of the demand from Commander players that have to have it, but it’s still a card that the format desires. I want to have some of these around, and frankly most of my Commander decks should be playing it, but my hesitance is all due to the reprint risk. This is super reprintable, and as long as the value stays low, it can be added to a preconstructed Commander deck pretty easily. I think this risk is present in all of my picks today, but the fact that this is totally colorless gives an extra layer of risk.

Personally, I’m in favor of you getting the Invention right now if you want it, and have some foils for speculation. I think that the casual demand will have this foil up to $20 by the end of the year. I’m not expecting Tron decks to blow this up, it would be a one-of at best and that wouldn’t bump things hugely.

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