Going Mad – Hello, and Good Luck

Hello, my name is Derek Madlem and I write about Magic: The Gathering. I’ve been writing articles about all types of topics on MythicMTG for a few years now and most recently wrote Insider articles for Quiet Speculation. Now I’m here to write articles for you. Yes, you. Because you deserve it.

You might have seen me around. I’m on Twitter (@GoingMadlem) disagreeing with basically everyone about everything and occasionally dishing out the same lessons in Magic finance over and over again.

Like this gem:

Give a man a ‘Goyf, and he’s going to want three more.

Which pretty much sums up everything I have to say about the impending Tarmogoyf reprint in Modern Masters II: The Remastering. Okay, I’ll spell it out for the slow kids: I don’t think the reprint will have much impact on Tarmogoyf’s price because half the people that open one will begin their quests for three more.  There’s also an upward pressure on Tarmogoyf’s price due to the fetch-wealth of the common man … a topic I’ll elaborate on another time.


I’m a trader at heart. I honed my trading skills in the first grade, trading Battle Beasts for Micro Machines and graduated to swapping X-Men action figures with my school friends. I would trade the hot character from a given week’s episode or a rare find for three or four other figures.


When I picked up my first pack of Magic: The Gathering in 1995, I was hooked. I combined my weekly allowance with my lunch money to fund my addiction, thinking, “Why spend $4 on lunch when I could buy four packs of Fallen Empires?” Ah, hindsight …

It took me a while to stumble out of the awestruck phase of kitchen-table Magic and begin to trade with real goals. On a shoestring budget with an addiction for cracking packs, I traded my way into the power nine in just a couple short years, all while selling cards to negate the need for a part-time job. Obviously, I sold all my power right before college.

Sometime during Shards of Alara, I found my way back to Magic with limited funds and ever-growing ambitions. I had missed out on nearly a decade of the game and needed to fill in the gaps.

All the cool kids were playing formats that didn’t really exist when I stopped playing in 2000, and I wanted to be one of the cool kids, so I had to acquire some cards.

Finance Style

The most important thing for any budding MTG financier (a term I use loaded with sarcasm) is that there is no one-size-fits-all method. My goal has always been to feed my desires: an ever-moving target that shifts from week to week. When I play Magic, I want to play whatever deck strikes my fancy, a curse that basically requires me to acquire every card I could possibly want. It also doesn’t help that the only thing I hate more than letting people borrow cards is asking people to borrow theirs.

When I’m not playing or writing about Magic, I tend to ignore the fact that Magic exists. I can’t be bothered to follow spikes and crashes day to day—that’s just not for me. I tend to focus on mid-to-long-term price trends. While you’re taking the quick double up on Dragonlord Ojutai, I’m shooting aliens in the face on Destiny. While you’re reading articles about Brad Nelson’s beard, I’m in the garage building furniture.

I rarely sell cards, choosing to unload most of my wares through trades. Long gone are the days that I’ll throw away a weekend binder grinding. These days, I do most of my trading through PucaTrade and with a handful of players and dealers that I’ve developed trade relationships with.

And I’ve done alright:


If you’re here for the hot tip on the quick flip, I’m probably not your guy. But if you’re here for the tools to help curate your collection for the long haul? Well then, I might be your guy.

Words About Cards?

But you’re not hear to read about me are you? You want to know about Magic cards, don’t you? With the combination SCG Invitational / Standard Open this past weekend, we have a treasure trove of results to comb through for big winners, but are their newly-inflated prices warranted?

Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Sidisi, Undead Vizier – As of writing this article, Sidisi is hovering a little over the $4 mark on TCG with many saying it could easily go to $10. I disagree. Sidisi suffers from a couple things that hinder its potential.

For starters, Sidisi is legendary, so drawing multiple copies hurts, resulting in most decks limiting the number of copies. Being a five-drop that doesn’t have an immediate impact on the board doesn’t help matters, as we’re spoiled by cards like Stormbreath Dragon and Siege Rhino. The card is still playable because Demonic Tutor is one hell of an effect, even if you do have to sacrifice a creature to achieve it. The real killer here is the reality that being a five-mana creature without haste or an effect that immediately impacts the board means that this card is going to be hard-pressed to make its way into Modern or Legacy. Note that if Birthing Pod was still legal, we’d be having an entirely different conversation.

So what that leaves us with is a rare in large set that will see play as a one- or two-of in Standard and in a variety of Commander decks. I am of the mind that this card is going to see a little spike based on on-screen action at the pro tour, but $6 or $7 is about as high as I would expect it to go before dipping back down to $2 or $3 in the weeks following Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir.

Thunderbreak Regent

Thunderbreak Regent – Now there’s a card that has wings. Thunderbreak showed up as a four-of in a number of red-green aggro decks that performed well this last weekend. I’m sure we’ll see more of this card in the coming weeks, so a $10 or $15 price tag seems very possible as this starts to slot into Jeskai or Temur aggro decks. Being able to drop this into play with a Stubborn Denial for protection does not seem like a bad position to be in.

Dromoka's Command

Dromoka’s Command is a harder one to gauge. Often, prices are spurred by more than just results and utility cards just aren’t as flashy and exciting as dragons or zombie snakes, even if they don’t count as snakes. This card is currently sitting at $6, and it’s obviously going to see play as long as mana bases are reasonably capable of supporting two colors … but it’s just not exciting. It’s a conditional two-for-one that doesn’t outright perform the deed and can be an atrocious topdeck in the late game, so running a full four-of is going to be a lot harder to justify. I can realistically seeing this card settle around $3.

That said, I can see this card showing up in Modern sideboards, so I like foil copies in the long term if you can find them under $10.

Deathmist Raptor

Deathmist Raptor – I might be changing course on my opinion of this card, as I wasn’t a fan at first, second, or even third glance, but the lack of aggressive three-drops in green has long been a problem. The ability to “trade up” with large creatures combined with situational rebuys will ensure this is a strong role player over the next 18 months. But role players don’t hold $15 price tags—I can see this card settling in for the long haul at $10, but I fear it’s probably near its price ceiling now.

Dragonlord Silumgar

Dragonlord Silumgar is a mythic legendary creature that showed up as a silver bullet in Reid Duke’s Sultai Reanimator list. Where I come from, we have a name for mythic creatures that only get played as single copies: Pearl Lake Ancient, though we sometimes call them Torrent Elemental. You can see that both of these cards peaked between $6 and $7 and quickly found their ways downward. Silumgar will likely hold a strong casual appeal, but the dragons of Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir were just not made to be compelling characters that will hold long-term fans . I don’t expect Silumgar to hold onto his value for long, even if he does have a really sweet necklace.

Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai is entirely overpriced at $14. This is clearly a powerful card and painfully hard to kill, but then why would you ever need a full four copies? People get entirely too excited at the prospect of playing Esper control decks, and while the hype on this card is partially merited, I can’t find myself getting on board at $14. I would recommend shipping any extra copies of this card you might have.

The Kicker

While you can see that I’m generally cold to this weekend’s breakout cards, and pretty much everything in Dragons of Tarkir for that matter, there’s still plenty of time. Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir is still a couple weeks away and most of these prices will remain relatively stable until then, especially with Easter getting in the way of additional format discovery this weekend.

Until next time, you can find me on Twitter at @GoingMadlem.

22 thoughts on “Going Mad – Hello, and Good Luck”

  1. Isn’t thunderbreak a game day promo? That would significantly reduce its upside

    1. Game Day promos rarely have a significant impact on card prices, each store is typically only given eight copies of the game day promo, that’s two only two playsets total per store, which in the grand scheme of things is a drop in the bucket.

      1. Event decks have a marginal impact on the price of cards … higher priced cards seem to be less effected than the lower priced cards. Great examples of rares that were unaffected by event deck printings are Temple Garden, Inkmoth Nexus, Birthing Pod, and Godless Shrine.

  2. It’s a guaranteed certainty that WoTC is going to be pumping out Goyfs until kingdom come. You could re-release. Fallen Empires without Hymn or High Tide, sub in Goyf and people will still line up to buy those packs. Saturation will reach a certain point eventually.

    Of course then they’ll print a better Goyf is all and the cycle will begin again.

    1. The thing to keep in mind is that Wizards of the Coast is an empire built on the backs of individual retailers and those retailers exist almost solely because of the secondary market. Without a profitable secondary market for retailers, the organized play system simply doesn’t exist and the game begins returning to the kitchen and lunchroom tables that it populated twenty years ago.

      Wizards has no incentive to nuke their retailer network from orbit so the scenario you’ve proposed is not likely to occur unless Wizards (or Hasbro) reaches a very desperate point.

      But let’s entertain the idea that their goal is to pump out Goyf’s like you say … why not just release them in a duel deck? Too cheap? Throw a single copy into a Modern Masters event deck with a $50 price tag tacked on and they can just print money like you’re proposing.

      It’s a guaranteed certainty that is not their goal.

      1. You’re assumption is reliant on the idea that Wizards is indebted to various LGS retail stores, they are not. They’re “empire” is built on a consumer base fanatical about packs. No they’ll never drop Goyf in an event deck while he’s in the 200 range. $50 for an event deck = 1 Goyf. Whereas if you make him mythic you’re looking at a mythic slot in a 24 pack booster box (12 mythics in MMA?) with an average of 3 mythics per box. That means our Goyf is in one of 96 slotted packs (not counting foils)? At $9.99 MSRP you’re looking at dropping over $950 to pack out your Goyf.

        It makes zero sense to ever put him in a mass distribution product. Not because any love for the secondary market but simply from a earnings standpoint. They will continue to print him into the ground and then they’re going to print him another 6 feet under. Never at a player cost advantage either. He’ll be mythic forever and used as a sales engine. It’s a guaranteed certainty it is their goal.

      2. It was obvious with the last banning in Modern, why did they ban treasure cruise and DTT? It was just because it was tampering the playability of the Tarmo. How could they tag a big price in Modern mastern 2015 if the most expensive cards were Tier 2?

        Bytheway what about Dark confidant?

      3. “Printing him into the ground” implies that they are overprinting the card and the price is going to tank massively, which is not going to occur because of Modern Masters’ limited print runs and bi-annual release schedule

      4. Print run sizes aren’t as valid when the entry cost to the product is sustaining the value (temporarily) . In a way WoTC is price fixing their own merchandise on the secondary market. This can only work for so long though. If cannot create something out of thin air, distribute it and expect it to sustain the same value. The US dollar is a prime example of this and would suggest investigating the collapse of Bretton Woods agreement and the Nixon Shock as proof. The lifespan of anything on a timeline eventually reaches zero. He is the king card of modern atm, he is having his day in the sun and eventually he’ll pass. Never forget that Wizards only has one arrow in their quiver and that’s printing cards to generate profit and they’re gonna fire the hell out of it.

  3. I like your style – I think my pace is similar to yours, these days so I will be looking out for your content in the future. See ya around.

  4. I am totally against your price prediction.

    Thunderbreak sees played but it is included in the Event Deck, Prerelease promo, Game Day. The supply is much higher than other cards. I can’t see the price goes much higher from its current price.

    The NEW Sidisi is not bad when you have two in hand. Exploit itself to get the finisher is not a bad idea. Reid Duke has stated that Sidisi is the best card from DTK. I agree with him.

    Deathmist Raptor is the card that the price is about right. There are not many playable Mythic from this set. DTK, as you know, is one of the sets that get opened less frequently than many other sets. SCG Top 8 couldn’t really reflect all of the Meta yet. I don’t think his price will go much lower but $20 might be his ceiling.

    1. While everything you have said about Thunderbreak is true, I’d like to point you to Courser of Kruphix. That guy is still $8 mid with event deck printings. Granted, it is played more and will likely continue to be, but don’t rule out TR not being able to handle $5-7 becuase of multiple printings. Keep in mind, DTK won’t be opened a whole lot either.

    2. I admit that I didn’t realize that Thunderbreak was in the event deck, I still don’t see that having a huge impact on the value of this card.

    3. You don’t even need to cast the new Sidisi. You can Whip it back again after it dies from your exploit. The value is just crazy. I’ve been playing Sultai Whip with Sidisi v.2 for a week now and honestly the card is nuts. I no longer play more than one of each bomb (Silumgar, Soul of Innistrad, Hornet Queen, Garruk, Apex Predator, Tasigur… ok 2 of those, Torrent Elemental) and often Sidisi just IS the bomb… I mean 4/6 deathtouch in a world of 4/5’s. And soon Profaner of the Dead will probably be tested as a sideboard option.

      But with that being said, I have a problem seeing the card go any higher as it doesn’t really fit into any other decks than Whip decks. Sadly it has no potential outside Standard it seems. Personally I think it’s worth 5-7 € (I’m from Europe, prices are similar though) for it’s Standard playability.

  5. Sidisi, exploit himself. Seance him back, exploit himself again. Throw in parallel lives for good measure, exploit each one.

  6. I loved this article, especially where you do talk about yourself in the “Finance Style” intro. I didn’t have money for magic cards as a kid and now that I have a good income I want to play whatever deck whenever. I’m now moving away from this as best as I can as Standard is just a money pit 90% of the time.

    Quickly tho, I greatly disagree about the Event Deck effect on cards. The mono black event deck was extremely popular and really deflated the prices of all the cards in that deck and most never recovered except maybe Hero’s Downfall. Courser prices were greatly depleted after the clash pack printing. Caves of Koilos has a much lower price tag than the rest of the pain lands and it was only in the unpopular (so I thought) modern event deck.

    Thunderbreak is $10 now, Surrak is $5ish, event deck is $20….I don’t know what else is in the deck off the top of my head but it seems like people will be busting this one open. If they tore open the clash pack just for Coursers (Courser himself was around $15-17 at the time of the clash pack release) I see this one being opened a lot and purchased by casuals. On a side note, someone was selling playsets of the Game Day Thunderbreaks on ebay….one of the playsets I bid on sold at $92!! Pretty impressive as the last game day promo which was Supplant Form was possibly the worst card ever and maybe Wizards was embarrassed by their own stupidity (doubtful).

    Overall, I agree with your predictions on the new cards. But if everyone hates this set it might be like Journey into Nyx where there just aren’t enough cards from this set around and could have higher prices as a result.

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