UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 10/23/17

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.

Standard mostly took the week off after last week’s bout of nationals. All we got was the Standard Classic, and there wasn’t too much exciting in there. Four energy decks, some Ramunap Red, and the whole thing rounded out with a Mardu Vehicles and an Abzan Tokens list. Wizards is hoping that delaying the Pro Tour means that Standard won’t be solved as quickly in the rotation, but it’s looking like that’s going to backfire, and rather than the Pro Tour solving Standard too fast, the rest of the world is going to solve Standard and the Pro Tour is just going to be an SCG Classic with more well-known players.

Sitting down at my computer, I was planning on telling you to take a look at foil copies of Kumena’s Speaker and Merfolk Branchwalker, since while supply would be on the higher side, I’d expect them to slowly move, given that UG seems to be the future of Merfolk. Imagine my surprise when I found zero copies of Speaker left and only four or five of Branchwalker. Oh well. Find them at your LGS maybe?

Harbinger of the Tides (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $13

While those Merfolk uncommon foils sold out, there’s still some other juice to be found in the list. Harbinger of the Tides showed up in Magic Origins two years ago, and was fairly quickly well-received by Merfolk players. While it’s not a lord, it does all sorts of useful things. You can play it as an instant natively, it flips blockers or otherwise problematic threats, and you get to cheat on mana with Aether Vial, similar to Silvergill Adept. Just yesterday we saw the UG Merfolk player use Merrow Reejery to tap a Fiend Hunter, then Harbinger the Hunter back to its owner’s hand in order to get back a lord he needed.

Harbinger looks to fill an important role in Merfolk, that is, it’s a threat with an a spell stapled to him. These dual-purpose creatures are extremely important for the deck, since a bunch of 2 mana 4/4’s probably wouldn’t be good enough on their own. Add in some “draw a card” and “Vapor Snag” onto the bodies though, and you’re in business.

Harbinger recently got a reprint in Commander 2017, but that’s fine by us, since we’re more interested in foils anyways. Supply is relatively deep, with 50 separate vendors on TCG right now for pack foils. Prices start at $3, and climb from there. We’re not expecting an overnight flip here or anything, but as a strategy that’s got an established fanbase, new Standard support, and recent tournament success, there’s a lot of ingredients in the pot for a strong growth pattern.

Ancient Ziggurat (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

UG Merfolk didn’t actually win this weekend, that honor goes to 5c Humans. It’s not called 5c, but between Mantis Rider, Mayor of Avabruck, and Xathrid Necromancer, well, it’s 5c. It’s a fun list to watch, and probably feels solid and agile at the table. I was particularly impressed with Mantis Rider in the few games I caught, as a Hierarch trigger and then a Thalia’s Lieutenant counter made it a serious threat in the air while still being able to play solid defense when the time came.

There’s lots of nifty cards in this list, and some of them I’ve written about before. I’m more interested in Ancient Ziggurat this week though, for a few reasons. First and foremost is that it’s a land, and lands are always good. Second, it’s basically mandatory for any 5c, or even 4c tribal deck. You’re going to want four every time you sleeve a deck like this up. Third, it’s got cross-deck appeal. Today it’s Humans. Tomorrow it may be Slivers. Then perhaps 4c Vampires. You get the idea. Regardless of what tribe you’re bringing to the table, Ancient Ziggurat is going to be a go-to.

There are roughly 35 pack foils on TCG right now, which is on the lower end of things. You’ll find plenty of those Duel Deck foils but holy moly those are terrible. Ugly, warpy, etc. Ziggurat had an FNM promo as well, and is already at $8.50 or $9 today, with maybe ten copies available. Both pack foils and FNM copies are posed to keep moving upwards with Humans’ recent success, and pack foils are certainly the cheaper ride up.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder


Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

Do you know what the sixth most built commander on EDHREC is? You probably know the first; it’s Atraxa. You also may know second and third belong to Meren and Breya, respectively. Not many will know sixth though. I didn’t before I looked today. Turns out, it’s Yidris. I was surprised by that, especially by how badly my own Yidris list went down in flames.

There’s not a lot of arithmetic necessary on this one. Atraxa has 4,000 decks on EDHREC, and the cheapest copy is $17. Yidris has 2,100 decks and the cheapest copy is $3.50. Why does the sixth most used general, with half the decks of the most built, have a price tag that’s one quarter of the price of Atraxa? It is, as they say, a mystery.

Yidris is an awesome looking commander, his popularity is obvious, he’s in great colors, and this is likely to be the only foil printing available for quite some time. I’d be shocked if picking these up sub-$4 didn’t result in some pleasant returns somewhere down the road.

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.

2 thoughts on “UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 10/23/17”

  1. Are you changing your policy regarding the time frame regarding unlocking articles? Usually articles are unlocked at around 48 hours. I hope that you guys aren’t permanently locking articles, as this type of article really doesn’t serve to as the right type of hook to attract any new subscribers.

    1. The only time these remain locked, it’s because I forget to unlock them. It has nothing to do with policy changes.

      I’ve unlocked this article, as well as the one from this week (10/30). Enjoy!

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