Grinder Finance – “Taiga is a strictly worse Grove of the Burnwillows”

I’ll talk a little about Modern because it’s all the haps these days.  You know them hip kids and buying out the internet and whatever.


grove of the burnwillows

The worst part about these graphs is that the Grove of the Burnwillows one isn’t even as high as it should be.  Almost every store that pulls price information has stagnated because they are out of stock (it is common practice not to update the prices on sold-out cards).  Let’s look at the less steady but technically more accurate TCGPlayer prices.grove tcg

You know what’s really bad about this?  Convergent Mid and Low pricing.  With big shakeups like this even though the mid pricing seems to dip a little, copies are still being bought.  A steady price between mid and low indicates supply and demand are satisfied at this price point.  At the end of November that all changed and we haven’t settled since then.  It’s insane to think that the most expensive dual land in a pair of colors is not the ABUR dual.  Hence the title of my article, Grove of the Burnwillows is strictly better because of the formats it is legal in and it’s interaction with Punishing Fire.  Which brings me to my first point.

A Lot of F***ing People Play Modern

Excuse my French but that is the truth.  A lot of people are picking up Modern decks and playing them because of great strides to reduce the cost to play.

hallowed fountain

Do you remember the time when Hallowed Fountains were $45?  Modern was in it’s infancy and barely anyone played it.  Do you know how bad had they not reprinted them with such vigor 3 years ago?  If you think Modern is expensive now, let me tell you, it could have been so much worse.  Fetchland reprints in Khans of Tarkir also brought some needed reduction to the cost of Modern but that also made cards more expensive.

Bans and unbans make stuff more expensive

Pour one out for my homies – my binder

People knew the writing was on the wall for Bloom.  The deck defied some ground rules for the Modern format but getting blindsided by a Splinter Twin ban is causing some really  bad panic buying.  Scapeshift is the easiest deck you can port Twin into (most of the shell is similar) but Scapeshift isn’t a card that got reprinted 6 months ago.  The original printing is from Morningtide which is even older (and smaller print run) than the original Splinter Twin printing.  The ripple effect will continue until probably a month after the Pro Tour as people try to figure out what to play now.  The security knowing the “pillars of the format” is lost in Modern now and we might see a cascade of price changes as people adjust their strategy.  At this point unless you need to play in a Modern event until Shadows over Innistrad, I would just stop buying Modern cards.

But this ban brings new brews!

Yeah, maybe?  To be quite honest, the Eldrazi deck is already bringing enough of a shake up to Modern I’m not sure we needed to ban Splinter Twin.  While it’s true the boogie man that was Twin allows for other decks to flourish, if you couldn’t beat Twin what makes you think your brew can beat the remaining decks?  I think people think that removing one of their bad matchups all of a sudden makes their deck playable.  What I am expecting is the opposite.  If your brew couldn’t beat a 3 mana 1/4 blue creature it probably can’t beat a lot of the decks in Modern.  While this is a finance column, I can not advocate people go out and buy a new deck right now because the format will be very unsettled.

Rise of the Rise of… Wait no – Oaths of Oath of the Gatewatch

kozilek's return 2world breaker

These two are likely to become a dynamic duo in Standard in the coming months.  They have both seen non-stop upward movement since their very early spoiling.  If you got in early you are probably feeling great but at this point I think I’d rather trade for them than buy copies.  Baring an unusually high finish (or large percentage of the top 8/16), they will likely not see a big jump next weekend.

Kozilek, the Great Distortion

This guy has been gaining the past week also.  He probably won’t see as much play as Ulamog (Kozilek is much worse in multiples) which means he probably can’t maintain a $18-20 price tag for very long.  I expect him to dip in the coming months and I’m a buyer at $10-12.  Kozilek, the Great Distortion (like Kozilek, the Butcher of Truth) will likely retain a higher price tag than he should due to being a casual favorite.  The only thing I can think that may change this course is if some Tron team at the Pro Tour adopts a large number of Kozilek in the main deck.  That will probably lead him to disappear from the internet in a few hours.

Thought-Knot Seer

The best card in the set. I regret not pre-ordering these at $4, $7, or $8 because the internet thinks they are worth $15.  I’m not interested at that point.  I’m not sure it’s good enough for Standard and Modern demand likely won’t push it close to the price of the rares of the Eldrazi deck.  My rule of thumb is it can’t be more than Ulamog or Eye of Ugin.  If you need them for a deck, I’m sorry but you probably wont find a better deal at $15 so good luck.


This is a potential “sleeper” of the set.  I’m not sure how much upside there is at $5 but if you like the cut of his jib I wouldn’t fault you for getting yours.  Outside of Cracking Doom, nobody is really set up to kill this guy.


I’m totally on board buying all of these lands.  They’re $2-3.50 each which is in the ball park that the lower man land (Lumbering Falls) from Battle for Zendikar dropped to.  If these get a lot of play in Modern and EDH… Well I guess really it’s “when” they get a lot of play, they will go up.  There are not a lot of choice of good enemy colored dual lands.


Some people swear by this guy, and on paper he looks pretty good.  The reality is he’s actually pretty difficult to cast unless you reshape your mana a lot to support it.  I’m not sure people will and I’m not on board buying into a $7 rare.  This is one of those “I have to see it to believe it” kinda cards.  But I’m not always right, I felt that way about Collected Company before that was $15.


This is the last card I’ll touch on.  He’s great.  He’s $2.75 but he’s the buy a box promo.  I would not fault you for buying or trading for some.  I may have done it myself.  While this unlikely another Goblin Rabblemaster, he’s got enough value on a sturdy body to be around for a bit.

One last bone to pick

So you guys know I used to advocate Pucatrade.  It was a fantastic service.  Was.

puca point bonus

This is the current Pucatrade plan page.  They have tripled the bonuses you get for signing up for paid plans and have the same bonus for new referrals. That’s a huge amount of additional Pucapoints flowing into the market that will cause more inflation.  At this point I don’t think there is an upside to using Pucatrade because there is such a large possibility people just stop sending you cards.  The fact that at this point, your entire Puca subscription cost turns into pucapoints is VERY concerning.  Without a way to take them out of the market it’s possible pucapoints just turn into Zimbabwean Dollars.  It is just a really bad way to get caught with your pants down.  I don’t know if the new website will fix these issues but it should be pointed out as something to watch.


Thanks as always for reading, hopefully if my weekend goes to plan and you’re watching the StarCity open in Atlanta you will see me on camera!   Gotta keep up the facade that I play more Magic than every other writer on this website, right?

18 thoughts on “Grinder Finance – “Taiga is a strictly worse Grove of the Burnwillows””

  1. I look forward to hyperinflation of puca points much like the Zimbabwe Dollars. Printing more dollars (points) is not a solution for rising inflation. They need to hire an economist ASAP if they wish to repair that economy. Thanks for bringing the Puca change to everyone’s attention.

    1. I remember when these concerns first came to light and they went around on a tour telling everyone that they were consulting economists, etc., etc. Clearly they’re either getting their information from the wrong economists, or they have something else planned with the release of Future Site that will alleviate this influx.

  2. While I agree that the pucappoint situation isconcerning, hope is not lost yet. I got a beautiful Grove of the Burnwillows just the other day quite quickly after adding to wants. Seeking lower-is (<$100) cards through puca drastically increases your turnover. I've done the same for a foil Mentor & Thoughtsieze as well.

    As long as you're not going for $300 cards, rarities, or super-demand staples, you can still out from puca relatively easily.

      1. How long do you have to wait for someone to act on your batch of trades on the MTG Online Trades group on FB?

  3. I just wonder: Don’t you americans have somethings like magiccardmarket?
    No bullshit ponzi sheme, instant buying and selling of cards, no points system, just cash.
    Most cards are at buylist prices and there is more stock than TCG and SCG combined.

    1. TCGplayer is the same as MKM. There are less copies available at any one time on TCGplayer because foreign language (ie non-English) copies are not listed as often.

  4. From what i understand is Puca is too full of standard cards for trade and not enough of anything else being put up. Because that’s what everyone i talk to wants to do. Sell standard, buy modern.

  5. First Jim, great title!! My friend and I had this argument a few weeks ago…he and you are right and he changed my mind lol.

    Second and more important financially: Do you think there will be some sort of backlash or lack of consumer confidence in Magic/Wizards as Twin was reprinted in a Modern Masters Product signaling all systems go to play the deck only to see it banned a few short months later??

    You mentioned the banning shortly after reprint in your article, and I’ve been asking others the same question cause it feels like a “scumbag” thing to do by Wizards. I think they should offer a mea culpa and give anyone who mails in their Splinter Twin $25 per copy. It wasn’t in a dual deck or clash pack, it was one of the premier cards used to sell MM2015 so will there be bad feelings by players who just got in to Modern and picked up Twin? (A few of my friends and I have already felt burned by Cruise and Dig Bannings and the decks we built in Legacy, so this is continuing a downward spiral of bad feelings towards Magic and Wizards amongst a large portion of my local Magic group/community. The Jund and Abzan players are thrilled and say “that’s what you get for cheating and playing Blue” lol).

    So does the banning of Twin have any far reaching effects or is it like Pod and be will be pissed buy Magic life with just go on? Thanks

    1. What none of you pitchfork wielding Modern Twin players seem to realize is how long in advance Wizards plots block, set, and supplemental releases. MaRo himself is saying on his blog that they’re designing the Spring 2018 set RIGHT NOW, and that the planning ahead for MM15 wasn’t that much different (think sometime in 2013).

      They can’t predict the future. I’m sure their feelings towards the ban list and potential cards on their radar were much different even just a couple of years ago. Put down the pitchfork and think logically. There is no witch hunt.

      1. Sorry Phil, you’re flat out wrong. You can’t justify the printing by saying they don’t know what’s going to be banned in the future and then justify the banning by saying it’s irrelevant to what they’ve printed. Splinter twin was in the set TO HELP SELL. Nobody wants to buy a $10 Modern pack with crap that isn’t legal in Modern. That’s it. There are numerous occasions when cards have been changed last minute because they didn’t really fit. It takes two years to design a set, but it doesn’t mean it takes two years from when they FINISH. They could have changed something a week before they started printing if they wanted.

    2. All indications from price spikes elsewhere is nobody is quitting modern because twin got banned. yet. I don’t think there is a world WOTC will pay you $25 for your Twins.

      We don’t know what will happen from here except that people keep buying Modern cards.

      1. Jim, I know Wizards isn’t giving anyone money for Twin, I just feel bad for a lot of those players. There is a very young FNM population in my area and aspiring Magic players, like (pre-)highschool players, can’t afford to change and build new decks.

        I am rather curious to see what the EV of Modern Masters 2015 packs or box is now as it was already a mythic/top heavy value based set. True it doesn’t affect sales moving forward of this retired set, I just wonder what will happen in the future and when analysts break down MM 201X and compare the financial trend of the OG MM set, to 2015, to MM new. I’m sure it will sell and be drafted til the very end, but the effect of Pod and now the Twin banning has to be felt somewhere…or Magic just is that strong. Good luck with your next event.

  6. Oh Pucatrade….

    I’ve learned to temper my expectations with puca in terms of what I can get. I had 3 Bobs on my wants for about 2 weeks in August. I got one, even with tagging my username as “SP_OK”. So I switched the last two to 4x Blackcleave Cliffs and 3x Raging Ravine. I had all of them within a day. It seems like you need to add bounties to get anything on the high end, but if you’re assembling a competitive deck then you get more bang for your buck by getting cheaper pieces on puca and picking up the high-ends elsewhere (unless you don’t mind paying 10%-15% extra in bounties).

    What’s the consensus on picking up some banned modern cards? I’m thinking Ponder, Ancestral Vision, and Sword of the Meek (when it settles back to earth). With the Twin ban you figure that wizards will either (a) unban blue cards to benefit control decks that would have totally busted twin (b) unban twin because the format becomes irrevocably broken (c) settle with lackluster blue decks and wait for the next Treasure Cruise. Tweets out of wizards imply that they’re looking at unbans.

    1. Holding banned cards after they get banned shouldn’t lose you money but there is not a lot of definitive financial upside unless it gets unbanned. Of course the card could be printed in a duel deck or commander deck and tank so I guess there is still risk.

      1. That’s true. My “investing” only goes as far as the playset needed to compete, though it doesn’t make a lot of sense when picking up other cards like the new eldrazi have immediate use outside of emptying my standard trade binder.

      2. Ponder is never getting unbanned in Modern. It’s doubtful Preordain will get unbanned but that is the “fairer” blue draw spell. Serum Visions is not a very good card in a vacuum and sees no Legacy play because of it; I don’t see a Legacy legal card draw spell being unbanned in Modern. Your other two banned targets seem to have better hope and less printings to focus on sf_t.

        Also, and this is a small sample size and just opinion, Modern players (in my area) seem to like Modern over Legacy because blue isn’t so dominant. Yes there are some powerful non-blue cards banned in Modern, but the local consensus is that Modern is the “fair format” where you can play a variety of decks and don’t have to be Brainstorm dependent (which is why these players report not liking Legacy). I don’t see Wizards doing a single thing to help blue players…if anything it seems they will keep banning cards that make blue decks too good.

        Maybe there’s a spin off of Legacy and Modern that re-legalizes a bunch of banned Modern cards or Wizards hits the reset button on Modern and allows everything and starts over…I’d say there’s a 0-1% chance of either happening but it’s fun to think about lol.

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