By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week.

5 Winners of the Week

1. Survival of the Fittest (Exodus, Rare): $36.60 to $50

Most of the players who started after 2010 have probably never even played with or against this utterly broken value/combo enabler from 1998. In combination with Recurring Nightmare the card makes up a creature tutor/recursion combo that makes Birthing Pod look tame by comparison. Considering it’s only legal in Vintage and busted kitchen table games, Survival of the Fittest has shown surprising gains this week, most likely due to a buyout by MTGFinance folks looking to flip into some hype once they set the higher plateau. If you’ve got some lying around, go ahead and try to unload to free up cash for more valuable targets.


2. Chalice of the Void (Modern Masters, Rare): $13.98 to $18.66 (+33%)

Oddly Chalice took a while to really gain momentum as it’s role in holding down the overbearing power of Treasure Cruise decks stocked with a ton of single mana creatures, cantrip spells and bolts became more and more important in both Modern and Legacy this season. Now that’s it’s finally peaking we’re just hours away from a banned list announcement that might make it significantly less important to the metagame. That being said, unless we stop printing good spells that cost one mana, this card will keep gaining value pending a further reprint that should be at least a few years off yet. Getting on the train now is definitely late to the party, and I think I’d wait for a trough post the assumed Treasure Cruise banning before acquiring more. Foils have also been doing well, but I exited with good returns on those over the last month looking for fresh targets with more short-term upside.

Format(s): Modern/Legacy

Verdict: Hold

3. Hooded Hydra (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $2.15 to $2.62 (+22%)

Hooded Hydra is up another 20%+ this week, adding more gains and hopefully building towards a possible higher plateau. The more I consider the Manifest decks, however, the less inclined I am to believe this deck style ends up doing damage in Standard this winter. On the other hand, I am now more convinced that there are Modern and Legacy applications for Manifest, and that’s its good creatures worth flipping up for cheap and perhaps more specific card selection tools rather than Manifest cards that we need to make it work.

From last week:  “If it makes a key deck tech or a top table this month, expect it to hit $5-6 in a hurry but success is nothing more than a guess at this point so don’t sleep on the info if you choose to go deep. Personally, I think this card will get there sooner or later, so I’ve got about 20 copies sitting around acquired under $1.50.”

Format: Standard/Casual/EDH

Verdict: Speculative Buy

4. Soul of Theros (M15, Mythic): 3.76 to 4.55 (+21%)

Soul of Theros was up again this week, and though the advance wasn’t quite as explosive as last week (+91%), this is still a card that’s gone from bulk to nearly $5 in a very short period of time and made some folks money both in paper Magic and online. It remains to be seen whether the 4-color Whip of Erebos brews, where Soul of Theros adds power to value poster children like Siege Rhino and Hornet Queen in the late game, will end up in a top position with Fate Reforged going legal next week, but I suspect it will still be a powerful and consistent deck, look very threatening indeed.  You should be selling into this hype because we’re almost certainly within a couple bucks of the top of this hype curve.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade


5. Orzhov Pontiff (Guildpact, Rare): $7.44 to $8.99 (+21%)

Pontiff has been a roller coaster ride lately, spiking to $20 or so a week back on the strength of it’s camera appearances during a prominent Modern tournament in Value Pod, especially against Cruise/Delver/Pyromancer decks. If you didn’t sell immediately, you’ve lost value, but there is still time to get out at a good price if these guys have just been sitting around in your collection or bulk box. What happens after the B&R Announcement today is anyone’s guess, so contextually powerful creatures like this one are not where you want to be placing bets just now.

Format: Standard/EDH

Verdict: Sell/Trade

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Whip of Erebos (Theros, Rare): $5.79 to $5.25 (-9%)

So long as Whip decks stay good after Fate Reforged goes legal next week, this price plateau is likely to stick. No reason to keep holding. Get out now ahead of rotation doldrums.

Format(s): Standard/EDH/Casual

Verdict: Sell

2. Mana Confluence (Hourney Into Nyx, Rare): $12.29 to $11.18 (-9%)

For this land to recover, your deck needs to be both powerful and desperate to fix your mana at the cost of 5% of your starting life total per use. I’m out, but if you feel like a 4-color or 5-color deck will dominate this spring, you can feel free to make a gamble on a candidate to hit $20 again if it happens. If on the other hand you believe, as I do, that Dragons of Tarkir will have additional mana fixing along different color pairs, this looks mediocre at best.

Format(s): Standard/Modern/Legacy/EDH

Verdict: Sell

3. Kiora, The Crashing Wave (Theros, Mythic): $9.41 to $8.74 to (-7%)

Kiora performs best when she doesn’t have to worry about flyers or token hordes or reprints in a Duel Deck. Get out while you can.

Format(s): Standard

Verdict: Sell

4. Hero’s Downfall (Theros, Rare): $8.43 to $7.84 (-7%)

This kill card is THE SOLUTION almost every time you draw it in the current standard format, except when you’re facing down tokens.dec. The format’s diversity, however, requires a plethora of kill options for different decks, necessitating less than 4 copies of Downfall for many of the decks that want it. As such, there’s not much chance of solid upside heading toward rotation. I’m selling my foreign copies and moving on.

Verdict: Sell

5. Shivan Reef (M15, Rare): $18.62 to $16.67 (-10%)

There is some downward pressure on Jeskai deck popularity, largely being exerted by increased numbers of Abzan players and a bunch of R/W token decks. Regardless, this is still a good place to out assuming you got in on these last summer at $2 or so. Post-rotation that’s the price this will drop back to, so don’t hold too long.

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • My top picks for underrated Uncommon foils from Fate Reforged are Cloudform and Humble Defector. Pick some up.
  • January 19th, 2015 is the next Banned & Restricted list announcement and banning of any or all of the following could make big waves and open up new specs: Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, Jeskai Ascendancy, Birthing Pod. Getting rid of all of the above in Modern opens up the format a ton, and it’s possible Cruise gets the axe as far back as Legacy. I don’t want to be caught holding many copies of that card in foil, so I’ve been selling out, but the rest I’ve decided to risk. Make your call and get ready for the fallout. Jan 12th Update: Birthing Pod took down GPOmaha today, but the top 8 and the field were diverse and interesting. If WOTC was looking for signals from this GP, Pod may be safe, and Treasure Cruise didn’t look any more dominant than would be bearable.
  • Likely MM2 reprints aren’t falling nearly as fast as they should be and I think too many people are underestimating the print run this time around. Get out while you can…these aren’t cards you want to be holding come June.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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  1. I concur with your assessment of everything posted except the MMA2 sell off. With WoTC guaranteeing a MSRP of $9.99 there basically setting an artificial price floor. Use Emrakul as our example who I am sure will maintain his mythic rare status. If you open 48 packs (2 boxes) you are likely (though not guaranteed) to get him. This leaves you $480 +tax deep to nail down this chase rare. With a record number of players currently playing the game that equates to what is currently a new fresh mqtkey. They want in Modern and Legacy and with the reprinting of fetches now and on the horizon they’re going to do it. It is my opinion that MMA2 will hit as hard as MMA1 and leave empty shelves where there was once full boxes. Even if there is an initial price shock going as deep as 50% of current price levels the demand WILL outstrip supply and we’ll see the prices tic back up in relatively short period of time. Jm2c.

    1. They’ve already announced a much higher print run, so availability is still an unknown factor. As for new players MTG has actually been nearly flat on growth for about two years.

  2. Just saying, treasure cruise and Dig through time are officially banned as of January 23. And so is birthing pod, I personally think this is really good for 8 Rack decks and foil monastery swift spears are going to take a hit.

  3. Survival Of the Fittest is legal in commander – and likely to stay that way for a bit, since there’s very few complaints about it.

    I’d wager that’s why it’s current price will likely be sustainable for quite some time.

    1. Minimal EDH demand doesn’t explain the price jump but it may hold it steady, yes.

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