PT Phoenix Rising

Today begins Players’ Tour Phoenix, a Pioneer event that promises to do two things:

  1. Create calls for a card to be banned.
  2. Spike the prices of some cards significantly.

Now, both points might apply to the same card; we can’t know for sure. What we do know is that a lot of Magic pros have taken the time to tell us what they are playing, and that offers some chances to get in on cheap cards before they get camera time, victories, trophies, and rise in price.

It’s not easy to make money off of cards in a weekend. You’re not trying to buy today and sell tomorrow. Too many people won’t ship the cards at the pre-spike price. What we’re doing is identifying value now, as Pioneer is an eternal format. If it’s good now, it’ll still be good when you sell in a week or two.

Mono-Black Aggro

There’s a lot to like in this list, but there’s two targets that stand out to me:

Bloodsoaked Champion ($2.50 nonfoil/$5 foil)

Scrapheap Scrounger (40 cents/$4)

These are recursive and aggressive threats that can close a game very very quickly. There’s other one-drops, but Champion is from much longer ago and Scrapheap is much cheaper. Both are played as the full four and I won’t fault you if the other cards catch your eye here.

These two cards represent the most potential profit, due to age or a low cost of entry. If this deck does well, I’d expect Champion to double to $5/$10 or so, and the Scrounger should become a $3/$7 card. 

Fatal Push is a card I want to love and a card I’ve made money on in the past, but it’s in the Mystery Boosters and I can’t condone buying in right now. It’s possible that this weekend, the card jumps from $5 to $10 on the back of being amazing, but we’re going to get a whole lot of copies coming when stores get to order Mystery boxes for in-store play in March. 

Castle Locthwain is another one to keep an eye on, as the graph has started to rise from maximum supply just a few weeks ago: 

If you want to get in on the Extended Art version around $11-$12, that’s certainly tempting too. It remains to be seen how prevalent foiling and using EA cards will be in Pioneer, whereas in Modern people do love their foils.

Mono-Black Vampires

This is a spicy one, full of card draw and synergies. I’m sad that Vampire Nocturnus is not quite Pioneer legal, but there’s a lot to like here. If you’re playing against a combo deck that stumbles, they are dead very very quickly. Sorin into Champion of Dusk is real and powerful. 

Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord ($12/$17)

Champion of Dusk ($1/$2.50)

These are the best two targets from this deck, mainly because there’s only the one printing of each. I’m delighted when a deck requires a playset of a mythic, makes me feel very good about my purchase. Yes, Sorin was a couple bucks cheaper a while ago, but he’s the key mythic in this deck and if it does well on camera, $25 is likely and $30 quite possible.

Champion of Dusk is a card that could hit $8 or $10 in foil in this circumstance, and if you’re buying in Friday morning at $10 for a foil playset, well, you’re going to feel very good about this. For both of these, I’d prefer to be in on the foils because there’s no EA versions to contend with and supply is much shallower on foils. There’s only about a hundred foils on TCG right now, and that includes Promo Pack foils and Prerelease foils. For a mythic that’s played as a four-of, that means only 25 people have to see Vampires do well and decide to jump in. 

Niv to Light

Oh, does this deck make me happy. Bring to Light is a card that I know I’ve mentioned before, and frankly, this is the best shell for it. You’ll get a 6/6 flyer and probably 2-4 cards if it resolves. Best of all, you’ve got a good chance of casting Bring to Light or Niv-Mizzet Reborn a turn or two early. 

Niv-Mizzet Reborn ($8/$17) and Bring to Light ($2/$7) are the big winners here, as the headliners for the deck. Sylvan Caryatid at $11/$18 is a bit high for my taste. I’m not worried about the supply of Niv due to War of the Spark uncut sheets, because there was only one Niv per sheet and getting a perfect cut out of one of those is HARD.

Dimir Inverter

Tons of words have been written about this deck, and I’ll be honest: I don’t like the odds that it survives the next set of bans. I cannot recommend buying into this deck, because of the difficulty interacting with these triggered abilities. Splinter Twin was easier to disrupt than Inverter into Oracle!

Lotus Breach Combo 

The deck a lot of pros are talking about, here’s a list courtesy of Pascal Vieren at HareuyaMTG that is using Underworld Breach, Lotus Field, and a lot of other fun choices to kill your opponent dead on turn three or four. It goldfishes very well, is amazingly redundant, and is another strong contender to get banned before too long. Interestingly, both this deck and Dimir Inverter use the either/or of Thassa’s Oracle and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries as the win condition. The JP version of Jace is $20/$80 on TCG, the Secret Lair stained glass version is $60, it’s a winner in Commander…but can the two decks using him survive the next bans unscathed?

I’ve spoken before about my love of the Breach, how it’s a combo card waiting for the right shell…and here it is. Underworld Breach is currently at $4/$7/$9 EA/$44 EA foil and given what this is doing in Pioneer, with that card pool, I am tempted to get in on the EA versions for Modern and Legacy play. How long till this is busted there too?

There’s other decks, like UW Spirits, UW Control, Heliod Combo…the list goes on. My sampling is just that, a few of the decks to watch for and prepare for. If I missed your favorite deck, feel free to call it out in the comments or let me know on Twitter, or perhaps in the ProTrader Discord channel.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.