Brainstorm Brewery #248 – We Really Tried


This week the cast discusses the current state of standard, including deck diversity, cheap deck option, and sneaking Gideon into sideboards.  The power of suggestion drives Corbin to custard, and Jason briefly disappears from the cast.   Listener emails cover Pucatrade and consumer confidence.  DJ reviews some coming changes to the patreon, including chances to frost Jason’s  hair.  Strangely, breaking bulk features as many rares as pick up the week.

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Douglas Johnson is and will forever be merely a guest.

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We’ve had one weekend of Hour of Devastation being legal for Standard, and there are some cards at surprising prices. I want to go over a few with you today and see what these trajectories tell us.

Something to note that’s a bit different about this set, as opposed to most other sets that have come out in the past few years: This set was regarded to be a little clunky when it was first revealed to the world, a bit underpowered as compared to what was already legal for us to play in Standard.

This led to some impressively low pre-order prices, and starting out that low has put more cards than usual on an upward trajectory.

On to the biggest gainer of the set so far, a card no one predicted would be selling for $4-$5 on eBay a week after release…

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Cliff has been writing about Magic in some format or another for six years now, a terrifying length of time. He has two kids, a full-time job, and an endless sense of humor about the fact that these pieces of cardboard keep being worth money! His goal is always to buy low and sell high, and is an avid user of Cardsphere. Follow him on Twitter @wordofcommander or tune in every Friday here on MTGPrice.

Pro Tour Announcements and Modern Finance

Have you seen the big announcements regarding the Magic Pro Tour? If not, now is a good time to take a look!

My personal excitement aside, this is a great time to discuss some financial ramifications regarding the changes. Here are a few takeaways that I will discuss from this.

  1. Bigger prizes + Bronze level will lead to a slight increase in players grinding for the Pro Tour
  2. Modern being offered as both a Pro Tour format and qualifying events leading up to it will lead to more players playing high level Modern.
  3. With more interest in Modern, prices will go up due to demand.

More money!!!

My view:

So as a collector/investor what do increased prize payouts mean for you? Even if you aren’t someone interested in getting onto the Pro Tour, there will absolutely be more players willing and eager to do so. The Pro Tour prize money is increasing, including the 25th Anniversary Pro Tour which will award $1,000,000 total in prizes. Financially speaking, the EV of playing in Pro Tours just went up. With this payout increase we will see at least a small increase in the number of players trying to qualify. Thus, we may see a small increase in the price of tournament staples.

Opposing view:

Prize payouts for Grand Prix increased a few years ago and the numbers at Grand Prix didn’t spike in any meaningful way. So isn’t it possible that increasing prizes isn’t an effective way to increase tournament participation?


Yes and no. Healthy formats, well-run events, coverage, and EV combined are effective ways to increase tournament participation. Recently, Grand Prix have spiked their entry fee by roughly double and are not increasing payout accordingly. Additionally, the lack of coverage over the last few years was abysmal and certainly led to less hype and notoriety of the events. These easily overshadowed what could have been a slight boom of players entering Grand Prix.

With Pro Tour slots being more coveted than ever I predict larger turnouts for PPTQs, RPTQs, and Magic Online events. These could lead to an increase in the price of many tournament staples, but those will primarily be tied to the health of the format and game in general. It is still something to keep in mind.

Bronze and what it means

My view:

Along with the increased prize payouts, the addition of the Bronze tier in the Pro Player’s Club means that there will be more players qualified for RPTQs. This will lead to more players aiming to hit the 10 Pro Point threshold. Not many will get there, but the increase in players attempting it should be noticed.

Opposing view:

A few more players at RPTQs won’t affect my card prices, because it isn’t a large enough scale to matter.


I think the variation in attendance will be slight. Attendance numbers only slightly contribute to card prices. So in the end, yes, I think the prices of tournament staples will only slightly increase. Combined with the removal of the Masterpiece Series from most sets, we could see mythic rares in particular be pricey after the coming Pro Tours.

Modern is back!

My View:

Don’t be fooled, Modern is a Pro Tour format and I am more excited than ever to see its return to the big stage. With big name pros playing optimized, tested, and tuned decks we will see top tier staples go up in price. Modern cards are extremely susceptible to big spikes in price, usually only quelled by reprints or bannings. Even when a deck falls out of favor, the price hardly moves much, as has been the case with cards like Goryo’s Vengeance and Scapeshift.

Opposing View:

People who have been into Modern already have the cards and aren’t going to be reinvigorated by the Pro Tour.


Having a few Grand Prix scattered around and having a showcase at the Pro Tour are two entirely different beasts. Exposing more people to the format, especially with the contrast to the awful Standard environments of the last few years, will grow Modern further. More growth, means higher prices.

What about qualifying events?

My view:

According to the article, there will be Modern PPTQs for a three month span in mid-late 2018. This means that Modern staples should see a significant uptick in price. After all, these cards will now be usable to get you onto the Pro Tour. You know, the one with 4x the prize pool.

Opposing View:

There is too small a window to qualify for the Pro Tour via Modern. Additionally, there will be Sealed qualifiers at the same time, so less events for Modern overall.


These points are valid, but if history is any indicator, when PPTQ season (formerly PTQ season) rolls around, the formats that feed that Pro Tour see their tournament staples increased in price. If you want to sell some Modern cards I would do so in that time span. If you are looking to pick up Modern cards, I would get a feel for a deck you like and save up for it long before that time frame.

Which cards should you invest in?

As an investor, there is huge opportunity when it comes to Modern. The format has a large player base and regular events at both the Grand Prix and LGS levels. With it being displayed annually on the Pro Tour, and the reintroduction of the “Modern season” of qualifying events, there will be productive time frames to buy and sell modern staples.

Personally, I stick to the staples when it comes time to invest, and the more universal playability the better. I stay far away from casual cards and fringe spikes from Modern decks that are showcased on Twitch or in articles. I want the professional results and the pro player backing behind cards I suggest picking up.

Kind of cards I avoid:

Rite of Passage 

Intruder Alarm 

Phyrexian Soulgorger  

Allosaurus Rider 

Geralf’s Messenger  

I avoid cards like these because they are often novelty or “flavor of the week” combos that will never go anywhere in Modern, and for good reason.  Can you do well getting in cheap around $0.25-$0.50 and selling for $4.00 on cards like this? Sure! It’s just not the grind I enjoy myself.

Kind of cards I would consider:

Karn Liberated

Fulminator Mage

Rest in Peace

Fatal Push

Collective Brutality

I am not saying I would invest in any of these particular cards at the moment. I am just trying to illustrate the type of cards and the juxtaposition between the “do’s and don’ts” I have for investing. Because what is powerful in Modern and the state of reprints are always unpredictable, there is rarely a definitive individual investment to be made.

Is Modern a Pro Tour Format?

My View:

Yes, Modern is a Pro Tour format. It belongs on the Pro Tour because it is another fun way to play Magic and is promoted at many levels including at Grand Prix.

Opposing View:

Modern is not a Pro Tour format because it doesn’t sell packs and they have to ban/unban cards to spice it up.


As a once-per-year event, Modern doesn’t need shaking up. Will WotC ban or unban cards right before a Modern Pro Tour to “make things more interesting?” It’s possible. However, they do not need to do so. There will be plenty of powerful brains at work trying to solve the format. With Modern being as open and large a format as it is, there is little chance everyone will decide on the same unanimous deck unless something is truly broken. In fact, Standard has a way better chance of being broken for a Pro Tour and leading to stagnant matchups and games.

These announcements have me super excited! I just had to get writing and discussing as soon as possible. What are your thoughts on the announcements? What do you think of the future of Modern and Legacy with their appearance at the Pro Tour? Time will tell, but I know it’s going to be a wild ride.

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

First Spikes Count

Hello again,

We talk sometimes about second spikes on cards. I’m going to pretend that both you didn’t know that sometimes we talk about that and also that you don’t know what that means. When a card’s price is at a certain level and it jumps up rapidly, due to a large amount of the supply being bought out and retailers restocking the card at a much higher price, it’s said to “spike” and I can’t believe I feel like I have to explain this, like who even doesn’t know what that means? Let’s get through this. We mention “second spikes” when we talk about a card that has spiked once due to some circumstance and then, later after the price recovers a little, spikes again to different or sometimes even the same circumstances.

The first spike causes the price to go up which means dealers need to restock which usually means buy prices go up and finance people start feeding the dealers copies. Stores that have mispriced copies either change the price or they get bought at the old price, meaning the cheap, mispriced copies disappear forever and the new price is the new price, mostly. That means when a card spikes a second time, most of the copies are concentrated in the hands of dealers so without cheap copies to mitigate the new demand and dealers free to establish the new price, prices spike much higher and faster the second time. You probably knew all of that but since I want to talk about first and second spikes, it didn’t kill us to go back over it.

We’re seeing a lot of second spikes lately on cards that were spiked by Nekusar and Leovold because of The Locust God. I avoided writing about The Locust God initially because it felt like all we were going to see were second spikes on wheel cards. While that’s true to an extent, the Locust God is distinct from Nekusar in Leovold in a way that’s obvious in hindsight but wasn’t a factor I considered initially when I was evaluating it as a commander. That difference could cause some “first spikes” nestled among the second spikes and let you buy in at the ground floor on some important cards in a deck people seem excited about.  What are we in danger of missing by focusing on the sexier, second spike cards that are more obvious?

How Are The Locust God and Nekusar Similar?

They’s is both the Magic cards.

Welp, I think we’re done, now. See ya!

You need more analysis than that? Fine. OK, since they both scale off of the number of cards a person draws, wheel effects seemed appealing right off the bat. By “off the bat” I mean, “it took like months for that stuff to go because all anyone cared about doing with Mind Seize was busting it for the Strix and Nemesis, not building Nekusar” but eventually, pieces of human excrement (this is an opinion piece) started building the deck and cackling like a Lich King whenever someone played a spell and got domed by Forced Fruition.  Playing a Windfall to make everyone pitch a bunch of cards then get domed when your full hand made them draw a dozen cards added to their feeling of helplessness. It’s not much fun to play against and they get enough cards that they can build their web of hate.


Similarly, The Locust God loves wheel effects. You dump a hand and draw all new cards and suddenly the table is dumping the cards they tutored for and getting mystery cards and you have an army of Locusts. Wheels help you keep an army of critters ready to alpha strike and keep your irrelevant cards out of your hand while letting you cycle for new stuff.

How Are They Dissimilar?

Well, while Nekusar players casting wheel effects domes your opponents for a lot of damage when they draw cards, it doesn’t help you per se. Sure, if you sock away a lot of land in your hand and wheel it away, that’s good but if you cast a wheel with an empty hand it would have the same effect on your end game because you’re trying to hit them for damage. You can play spells like Forced Fruition because you’re trying to put them between a rock and a hard place and grind them out with Howling Mine effects and wheels.

The Locust God players don’t want the opponent to wheel. Sometimes it screws them, but sometimes it helps them. Nekusar doesn’t care how many cards they draw that are good because ultimately they won’t live long enough to use it and they will likely just get wheeled again. Half the time, Locust God players would prefer only they got to wheel. That’s an interesting proposition when you realize that while generic wheels have been good from Nekusar to Leovold to The Locust God, wanting “personal” wheels all of a sudden turns on cards that weren’t used before. You could chase the Portal Winds of Change to $50 or you could get on the bandwagon of first spikes at the ground level. What are some cards that The Locust God will uniquely make go up that weren’t good in Nekusar decks?


This is a card designed for you in a Locust God deck. You don’t lose cards, you just bottom them meaning you could conceivably loop back around. You can also have easier (theoretical) access to them if you shuffle. Really, though, this is just about turnover. Keep on cycling hands and watch those Locusts fill the board. Find your skullclamp and your Mana Echoes, kill them with Impact Tremors. Boom.

Foil Moil doesn’t look too bad, either, below $5. Ravnica is pretty old and there are probably fewer copies of Mindmoil than there are of Mythics from Innistrad so once supply dries up, it’s likely to gallop out of control. I normally think saying “just buy the foils” is really lazy intellectually and it requires you to find people who want to foil out their Locust God deck rather than just spend that $20 on cards for another deck, but Foil Moil could his $20, at least temporarily. This is one to grab now while it’s still relatively cheap.

Arjun, the Shifting Flame

Mindmoilmancer is a pretty saucy commander in his own right. If you build around him, throw in a Locust God. If you build Locust God, throw in an Arjun. Commander 2015 stuff is never going to get cheaper unless it’s reprinted and while the Mizzix deck wasn’t super exciting, the value needs to come from somewhere. These are bought up, as evidenced by seeing Daxos decks still on shelves to this day, and it’s likely Arjun was underrated until now. This is a mythic-level card from an out-of-print set and it’s like a buck. You’d have to suck bad to not make money on this card. This is in 3/4 of the decks registered on EDHREC so it’s clear EDH players are aware of this card. With Locust God continuing to be opened and with people just now taking their completed Locust God decks to the shop to trounce people, there is upside here.

Tolarian Winds

Could be too late on the foils as they are selling out (I mentioned this on BSB last week and multiple listeners have sent me pics of the 7th foil Winds they bought) but there is hope, I think, for Beatdown Box copies. It may sound odd at first, but if you look at Portent, the Ice Age copies moved less than the Ice Age precon deck copies. If you remember, when Coldsnap came out, they made Ice Age block precons with Ice and Age Alliances cards in them and Portent got a reprint.

The Beatdown Box version could have similar upside. Tolarian Winds has a few too many printings to really move from one deck (that’s why we like Mindmoil but not Jace’s Archivist, for example) but foils are already irrevocably spiked and other premium versions could be next.

Magus of the Wheel

This is close to popping off as well. It’s got the exact same supply as Arjun but appeals to Nekusar players, also, as well as Feldon, Yidris and Vial Smasher players.  This was a card we liked as a Nekusar card but just needed a push, and a push it got with The Locust God decks.

Impact Tremors

When you see something like this discrepancy, it means a card is moving.

The Market Price is good for showing you what things used to sell for, which is great when prices are pretty stagnant. People sold foil Impact Tremors for $3.50 +/- last week? List yours for $3.50 +/-. That is, unless you check the currently listed Median and it’s double the Market Price. When do you see that? Why it’s when something sold steadily at a price then got restocked higher. It means the price moved. Look at what things used to sell for but also look at the listed Median. It may be the same but it may not. In this case, it looks like Foil Impact Tremors is about to double in price, so get those copies under $6 while you still can. It’s a win condition, it’s a foil from a bad set and it doesn’t need a third thing.

Check out the EDHREC page for The Locust God for yourself if you think there are cards I didn’t mention (there are) that might get there (they might). Foil Forgotten Creation? Enter the Infinite (finally, right?)? You decide. I gave you a few tasty fish here to sample, but if you think you’ve learned to fish on your own, give it a try. As always, the comments section is reserved for the Guatemalan company that tries to sell us cheap NFL jerseys no matter how many thousands of Spam posts our filter catches and also for people telling me I’m wrong and/or telling me I wrote a great article. Sometimes it’s both. As long as it’s not neither, we’re in good shape.  Let’s see if we have some C17 to talk about next time. Until then!