The Watchtower 8/19/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs


By: Travis Allen

Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.

Vegas begins this weekend, and it’s disappointing, but the luster is definitely gone. When they were once every other year, aligned with Modern Masters releases, they were just often enough to remain an exciting spectacle you wanted to make an effort to attend. As a yearly event it’s just another con, competing for vacation time for Origins, Gen Con, HasCon, and all that weeby anime crap. The twist of the knife this year is that Hogaak is going to remain legal until August 26th, after the main event, which means there are going to be no exciting results or decks coming out of this event whatsoever. I’m sure those on the ground floor are going to enjoy it thoroughly, and I can’t say I wouldn’t too were I there, but it’s no longer the must-attend it was in years past.

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  ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.


Promo Packs and You

We are in a tiny bit of a lull. 

We know what’s in the Commander sets, and there’s been some price movement as a result, but no one’s got the decks in hand until August 23rd.

There’s no new previews from Throne of Eldraine to get us excited.

I want to take a moment this week and explain why the best thing you can do with the packs you win at FNM is to sell them.


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expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Backed By Data, Like Always


There’s a place in Northern Michigan called Bronner’s Christmas World. As you can imagine, the store is Christmas-themed. Very much so. All of the decor is Christmasy, the cafeteria serves Christmas dinner type fare year-round and there’s tinsel as far as the eye can see. Fake snow, glitter, the works. You want to buy a Christmas tree ornament with the University of Michigan logo on it? You’ve come to the right place. Stocking with your name (Bort) stitched onto it with the delicacy and care only one of Santa’s elves could manage? Bronner’s baby. It’s… frankly a little dystopian. It’s a wonderland at first, obviously, but after you’re there about 45 minutes and the initial charm has worn off and you start looking around for the employees, they won’t meet your gaze. They trudge around like the walking dead, and how could they not? It’s all Christmas, all the time. The store is open 364 days a year. Can you guess which day the staff is given respite from the unending onslaught of the holly-jolliest of occasions? Good guess, it is Christmas Day. The one break they get from the Twilight Zone-esque horror of perpetual Yule is the day they have to go home and spend Christmas with their own families. Understandably, the employees don’t often make eye contact. I am starting to understand how they feel.

There’s a new set out so I’m going to write a series of articles about the cards that people are going to play because that’s a thing we’re going to do every 3 weeks until the heat death of the universe. When people would complain about wallet fatigue and criticize WotC for releasing too many products in a year, I’d say “not everything is for everyone, they’re just compartmentalizing their bases a little more and catering to them individually” and that’s great for buyers but not great for people who pay attention to EDH because EVERYTHING AFFECTS EDH. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t sing a jaunty little Christmas tune and hotshoe into the back of the store to see if we have any more of the nativity set where the Three Wise Men are in Star Trek Starfleet uniforms and the baby is Spock. I’m just going to slap a price tag on the floor model and call it a day because, and I hope you’ll come to see the wisdom in this approach, the floor model is just as good.

You know what helps pick me up out of my doldrums? Surprises. And this set is full of them. Can you guess what the most popular commander is? Just guess. Don’t try to go on EDHREC and look, I’m literally going to show you in a second. You scrolled down, didn’t you? You’re 0 fun. Fine, here it is.

If you’d asked me to guess, I would have put Anje and K’rrik near the top, so it’s good I didn’t have to guess. Eggygirl is our number one commander for the week and we don’t have to like or understand that, we just have to adapt to a reality where that’s the case. Is this a bad Mayael or a better Mayael? Who cares? It’s the new hotness and there are relevant cards. Maybe you have some of them in your bulk.

Nesting Dragon makes eggs and that’s a good thing. It’s also one of the only cards worth anything in the Lord Windgrace deck from last year and that’s good. However, if you can snag those decks for $35 or even better, less, you can get cards totaling closer to $80 if you can get close to a dollar for dollar cards reliably. Realistically, you’ll be able to buylist everything for more than you paid and that’s worth doing, especially if Nesty here jumps to $10. I don’t know how long Atla hype is going to last, but this belongs in 100% of Atla decks. Buy these today.

If Congregation ever gets under a buck again, consider going deep. Something always seems to pop up to make it do something and even though it comes back down, you want to have copies when it goes nuts next time. I don’t think it will ever truly be bulk-tier again but I also don’t think they’re in a hurry to reprint it. Consider the $7 foils on Card Kingdom while you’re at it – they’re closer to $8 on TCG Player.

Foils of this have mostly dried up under $10 and I think that’s goofy but with multiple tribal decks wanting Changeling effects and this card making all of your creatures eggs and therefore a real beating when they Wrath, try and score cheap foils and try to get the non-foil copies you can out of bulk. They should move a bit – really bad cards did in Feather decks after all and Lorwyn bulk is harder to find.

This is never getting reprinted and we would do well to remember that. We would also do well to remember that with the exception of Mayael herself and a bunch of decks that don’t have access to Green mana, there has never been a better deck to Stampede with than Atla. You’re concerned with the top of your deck and running cards like Worldy Tutor, Congregation at Dawn and Scroll Rack to make those egg triggers count. This card was made for this deck.

Seems like the best time to grab these is 2013 and the second best time to grab these is right now before they go up any more. I don’t know what else to say about this card other than that it continues to go up, seems unlikely to get another reprint anytime soon and has really good growth. I wish I had gone deeper when I was buying these for my own decks but I always end up cutting this late. Atla decks won’t cut this, though – it’s literally everything they want in a card, and being 1 mana means they can always keep it up.

There are plenty more picks on the page. You don’t have to make it a Dino deck but a lot of people are and that’s worth knowing about. For a deck that screams “CASUAL” I am surprised to see it polling so well and I’ll be interested to see if it’s still on top next week. Right now people are speculatively throwing lists together but not as much buying cards because they don’t have the decks yet, so don’t buy what speculators are buying unless you don’t want anyone to sell the stuff to. You can buy a lot of 8th Edition Foil Rukh Eggs for cheap but that doesn’t mean you’ll sell them later. Until next time!

The Watchtower 8/12/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.

Magic has changed much over the last five years, to the extent that I’d say the delta over those five years is larger than the delta of the prior two half-decade blocks. One of the downstream impacts of these developments has been the increase of mid-summer activity. Time was that a few weeks past the core set was a dead zone, with little to no deck innovation or financial churn prior to the fall spoiler season kicking things off. You’d have two solid months to grab rares and mythics that headlined the spring’s block Pro Tour (remember those?) before upward swings began after college students began returning to campus’. Now there’s enough activity through June, July, and August to keep us plenty busy. Things may slow down in the latter half of August, with Commander spoilers finished and a new Standard tantalizing close, but even if that’s the case, two weeks is a lot shorter than two months.

Samut, Voice of Dissent (Foil)

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

As what may end up being the most popular commander out of Commander 2019, Atla was late reveal that grabbed the communities attention. Having a playable Naya legend is refreshing enough, after the seeming deluge of Sultai or Simic-based commanders we’ve had lately. Add to that that she’s a little meme-y — “eggs” — and you’ve got a recipe for someone popular. The icing on the cake is that she looks like she’s actually both good and fun; capable of generating a stream of random gigantic monsters.

Mechanically, there’s several things to focus on with Atla. Certainly populate, which is the whole theme of the Naya deck this year. Haste is going to be relevant, both for Atla and the stream of monsters she’ll enable. Some sort of self-damaging or sacrifice mechanic will be important as a way to chew through your eggs, and creature-type changing is excellent as well, since it lets you make every creature on your board an egg, perfect in the face of a wrath. (My secret tech recommendation for the deck is Aether Flash.)

It’s the haste that I first spied on Samut that caught my attention, and the untap ability that sold me. Samut will give Atla and all your egg hatches haste with which to attack or use abilities immediately, and being able to untap Atla for a second pass is gravy. She’s even a creature, rather than another card type, which means Atla can flip you into Samut, who can then immediately untap Atla for another pass. Sounds good to me.

Foils of Samut are where to look for now, since the non-foil supply is too deep, and there’s not enough additional demand from other sources. You can sneak in at $2.50 to $3.50 depending on where you look, which is just about the absolute floor of foil mythics. I’m expecting a slower burn here, since we’re several weeks away from Atla actually landing in players’ hands, and the turnaround after that won’t be immediate. The utility is there though, and we could see $10+ foil Samuts eventually.

Eldrazi Displacer (Foil)

Price Today: $6.5
Possible Price: $15

C19 Commanders are the talk of the town this week, but Golos remains in the top slot for the time being. Even once C19 hits shelves, Golos should remain popular. He’s a better Solemn Simulacrum that lets you play every spell in Magic, and doesn’t push you towards anything specific other than “have lands” and “play large cool spells.” This flexibility should ensure Golos is popular for quite some time.

A relatively popular creature in Golos is Eldrazi Displacer, which to be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed. Sure flickering Golos is good, but like, run Displacer just to flicker him good? It must be that flickering Golos is only part of the equation. Displacer lets you flicker all your other creatures — I notice Avenger of Zendikar one slot to the right — and acts as a slightly more expensive Maze of Ith, with the potential to scale up to multiple targets. Really, Displacer is just a powerful, flexible card, and I’m sure Yarok players curse the white mana symbol.

Displacer is great because unlike Samut, which has recently been activated by Atla, it’s already good. Displacer is in over 4,000 EDHREC lists which, while not a particularly impressive amount, reveals that there is at least a base of demand. Additionally, you’ll find Displacer is popular in Modern Hatebear style lists, which while quiet at the moment in the face of Hogaak, have been in the format for almost ever, and will continue to be so. 

Foils land in the $6 to $7 range today, with a reasonably healthy supply. Hatebears will continue to apply pressure, albeit slowly. Golos might turn that attrition up a bit though, and the open endedness means that every spoiler season brings forth the possibility of something busting it. (Zacama and Displacer is infinite mana, for example, and Zacama is suddenly seeing a lot of play in early Atla decks. Will Displacer start showing up there too?)

Jace’s Sanctum (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $9

Atla isn’t the only commander to upset the package face general. Elsha appears to be a considerably more popular Jeskai commander than Sevinne is so far. Elsha, you’ll recall, basically has Future Sight in the text box, along with Prowess for good measure. As such she’ll be something of a storm deck; perhaps not exactly so, in that it’s not trying to win with Grapeshot, but Elsha players will certainly be in the market to jam piles of spells every turn. 

Elsha lets you play noncreature nonland cards, which means it includes artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers in addition to instants and sorceries. I’ve no doubt that artifacts will find their way into the mix often, but there’s no question instants and sorceries will be far and away the most popular card time to chain together. As such, Jace’s Sanctum is going to do some heavy lifting. Since the deck is going to be a pseudo-combo deck in many instances, cards that allow you to set up to have a big turn down the road will be effective. Sanctum accomplishes this by saving you a mana on nearly all the spells you play, which means that for your four mana investment you could end up easily saving 10 or even 20 mana down the road. If that weren’t enough, the scry also means that you’ll be able to keep lands and creatures off the top of your deck as you go off, which is exactly what an Elsha deck is going to be looking for. Saving mana and fixing the top of the deck is basically everything an Elsha deck needs.

With the only foil printing from Magic Origins, supply has had plenty of time to drain. You’ll pay $4 to $6 today for a copy, but there aren’t many left at all. And since the non-foils are in the precon, there’s a whole lot of people about to be introduced to how potent this card is in their deck. We’ll be looking at $10 to $15 foils of Sanctum within six months, I’d wager.

Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.