The Watchtower 03/30/20 – Changing Tack

With a lot of the world now in lockdown, game shops are closed and nobody’s playing paper Magic (other than over webcam etc). Tournaments have moved online – Channel Fireball are running Arena tournaments 24/7 and Team Lotus Box have started their own tournament series across Arena and Magic Online, amongst others doing similar things. Very few people are buying paper Magic cards right now, and have instead turned to playing on MTGO to get their (albeit virtual) cardboard fix, which in turn is having an effect on the MTGO economy. I’m sure that a large number of people reading this won’t be involved in the online side of Magic finance yet, but I think this is a great opportunity to take a look into it.

Ice-Fang Coatl

Price today: $23
Possible price: $50

Variants of the Bant Snowblade deck are taking up a large proportion of the Modern metagame at the moment – some playing more Uro and taking the midrange route, and others going for a more controlling Stoneforge and Cryptic Command build. No matter how it’s built, however, all the decks are playing four Ice-Fang Coatl. Turns out that an Ambush Viper that flies AND cantrips is pretty good – who knew?

Besides the fact that Ice-Fang is a staple in these decks, I’m singling it out because of the price movement on it recently. Having been on the rise since December, the card spiked up to a touch above 50 tix (MTGO tickets, roughly equal to dollars) online a couple of weeks ago, and has since retraced down to around 23 tix. I would say that this is a reasonable floor, but this Wednesday (04/01) the Vintage Cube is being replaced with Modern Horizons draft. This will be run as both a phantom and non-phantom event, so not as much ‘real’ product will be opened – but it will still provide downwards pressure on a lot of Modern Horizons cards.

My advice would be to keep an eye on the price of Ice-Fang and other Modern Horizons cards come Wednesday (Urza, Astrolabe etc.), and look out for downwards movement. Towards next Wednesday, when MH draft rotates off MTGO, I suspect we’ll see prices recover and Ice-Fang could be headed back towards 50 tix in no short order.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Price today: $11
Possible price: $18

Over in Pioneer, Dimir Inverter is still topping the virtual tables again and again. Having dodged a ban earlier this month (yes, believe it or not that was in March), the deck has been proving its power since and putting up top finishes in multiple online tournaments.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries is a keystone of the deck, and saw a nice run up to 18 tix after the deck survived another round of bans. Since then we’ve seen it retrace back to 11, but with more and more online play occurring I expect to see it turn around again for a steady gain over the next few weeks. WAR isn’t being drafted any more so the only fresh supply is coming from Treasure Chests, and I think now is a reasonable time to be picking these up.

Another thing to note is that this is a popular card in EDH, and because of the current lockdown EDH is seeing an uptick in play on MTGO. I wouldn’t be surprised to see EDH play have some impact on card prices online, so it’s worth keeping an eye on cheap staples.

Theros Beyond Death Scrylands

Price today: $0.08
Possible price: $0.50

Finally, let’s look at Standard to round off today’s picks. Although Magic Arena is where most Standard play happens, it’s not absent from MTGO, and it still moves prices. The Scrylands from Theros and M20 are staples in pretty much all the Standard decks that play more than one colour, and all of the Theros ones are under 0.1 tix at the moment. The most expensive is Temple of Enlightenment at 0.08 tix, and the cheapest are at 0.03 tix.

If we take a look at the Temples from Core Set 2020, they were all similarly low for a couple of months after the set release, but since then climbed and generally stayed over 0.5 tix. Some have briefly flirted with 1.5 tix or so, but I expect to see the same pattern from the THB Scrylands over the coming months too. Supply will drop off, and prices will climb to around 0.5 tix or more – so if you pick a bunch of these up now you should be in for a tidy profit down the road.

Picks like this normally aren’t worth it in paper unless you can buy a large quantity at once and can then sell them to a buylist when the card has made enough gains, but with buying and selling online it’s a bit different. There are no shipping costs, no waiting times and no fees to pay, which makes it a lot easier to make money on cheaper cards and smaller gains like this.

That’s all for this week; next week I might do more MTGO picks or find something else to write about instead…we’ll see. Til next time, stay indoors and stay safe!

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.