All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a husband, father, teacher, and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I write intermittently at wordofcommander.blogspot.com and can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander.

Midranging Wild and Free

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When a set comes out, it’s easy to say that everything is going to go down in price. And it will. I aggressively trade/sell/rid myself of cards early in a set’s life.

Today I want to look at Aether Revolt cards, but instead of trying to pick the lowest, or the highest, I want to focus in the middle and see which of these cards are going to go up or down in value.

I’m picking Aether Revolt today, because the supply is much smaller on this set than Kaladesh, and we are all about to go crazy with Modern Masters 2017 spoilers.

Tezzeret the Schemer – $8.50 – He hasn’t fallen far enough to be an auto-pickup, but the deck that wants him is so very narrow. Also, he’s going to be 2UB to kill two creatures over two turns if you have enough artifacts (not a given). The plus ability and the ultimate seem underpowered to me, so I think he’s going to keep trending downward.

Ajani Unyielding – $6.50 – This is going to be his price for the length of his stay in Standard, I think. I like how clearly defined each of his modes are, but six mana means he’s never going to be a four-of as newest Tezzeret might be. Just leave him alone for now.

Disallow – $7.50 – What an interesting graph. This has gone up since release, and the reason is primarily the assorted Saheeli decks playing 2-4 copies of the card.

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Playing this card in one of the rock-paper-scissors of this format means that it’s going to be pretty stable. The problem is that this deck is built around a two-card combo, and I’m not sure that the combo is going to survive until it rotates in the fall of 2018.

This card is an excellent control card, versatile enough to answer something that I thought was going to dominate Standard: an ultimate from Liliana, the Last Hope. It seems so easy to play her before counters are ready and protect her for a few turns, then let the Zombies take over. Disallow lets you not worry about that ultimate, or other problematic things.

I think this price should go down, considering it’s only a rare, but there are a lot of factors at play and I’m not going to get any of these right now. If control gets some new toys, then this is going to benefit mightily, but that seems unlikely at this time.

Fatal Push – $5.51 – Here’s my hot take: This is going to go up. I think the foils are a steady bet to stay around $30 for some time, but the nonfoils are seeing a tremendous amount of play in a range of formats, and this promises to be heavily played for the next 18 months. You can get them on eBay for a touch under $4 if you get it by the playset, and I am expecting this to creep upward now that are in the final weeks of opening the set.

I’m picking these up as I can, and I’m expecting to out them in nine months or so.

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Rishkar, Peema Renegade – $5.37 – I also like this to go up, as value, as an enabler, and as a casually fantastic card. Please pay attention to how small the spread has gotten, because either the buylist needs to go down or the retail needs to go upward.

I love accelerating into a six-drop on turn four, and the fact that Standard doesn’t have a premier six means Verdurous Gearhulk gets to come down the following turn and you’ll be able to attack with one of those creatures. This is a card that’s also gained value due to the change to Planeswalker decks over Intro Packs, as this whole cycle of legends would have been contenders to be the foil.

As it stands, this is an excellent contender to be $8 or so by Christmas, and $10 in 12 months is possible.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner – $2.48 – This is not Dark Confidant, it’s both better and worse. If you have alternate ways to make energy, this is a fantastic way to spend that energy. I’ve been really surprised at the decks which have so much energy laying around and nothing to do with it, but this is clearly designed to be an aggro card. If there was another energy set available, I would be all over it, but I need this to be closer to a dollar before I’m comfortable moving in.

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Inventions: Time to Buy

Time to speak some truth: I’ve been buying Inventions and Expeditions whenever I can.

Part of it is that I have a magpie’s eye for shiny and unique things. I have written before that I think foiling out a deck is a worthy quest and a good financial plan at the same time. The Masterpiece series has grown on me and I think it’s worth acquiring.

Especially right now.

The market has set the price on these relatively quickly, and while the prices all started super high on the Expeditions, they settled to a more reasonable level within a few weeks. To be fair, we didn’t know exactly how many would be printed and how many people would want them. Some of the preorder prices turned out to be comically high, but that’s the nature of things showing up for the first time.

Let’s look at Polluted Delta.

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What I love most about that graph is the dip at the end of 2016, when the Standard Showdown packs were announced and started being opened. Given the frequency of having an Expedition or Invention in those, the amount of supply added was probably not 20% more, but that’s how far it has fallen at that news.

To buy low and sell high is a prime tenent of Magic finance, and the slight falling of values means that I want to get in on some lands. I’m a bit more optimistic on the enemy fetches, but I’m also aware that the player base is clamoring for a reprint of those.

Intellectually, I know that the pack foil of Twilight Mire is more expensive than the Expedition version. I know that the pack foil versions of cards are almost always the most expensive foils, depending on reprints and arts.

It doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of owning these cards with the unique frame and appearance, which is why I pick up as many of them as I can.

The most important detail about the Masterpieces is this: They do not circulate a lot. People get them and put them in decks and leave them there. High-end foils are like that, and while the supply might be large, the number in circulation isn’t. Cubes and Commander decks soak up Masterpieces that get opened, and I don’t think they have a chance to lose that freshly-opened-pack smell before being double-sleeved and given a place of pride.

Normally, this is a good time to buy cards, at the tail end of a season. I wrote last week about some pickups I really like from Kaladesh. What makes this a good time for Inventions especially is that it’s going to take truly special circumstances for more of them to get into circulation.

I’m not ruling out a future edition that Wizards does, I think it’s super unlikely for them to release a significant amount of these again. It would be analogous to releasing a new batch of SDCC black planeswalkers, to my mind.

We are about to start spoilers for Modern Masters 2017, and I have a strong suspicion that it’s going to lower the amount of drafts done at local stores for AER-AER-KLD. We don’t know enough about the set or what’s in it, but players are fickle. We like new things, especially the chance to open something super expensive. Cutting back on the drafts done means that the supply isn’t going to go up very much, and so there’s a few Inventions with strong casual appeal that I really want in on:

Solemn Simulacrum – $66 – Universally good and has been reprinted a ton, yet still holding some value. The pack foils are not visually striking, while this is, and I like this to grow nicely over time.

Rings of Brighthearth – $55 – The card in regular nonfoil has apready risen recently, at at about $10 more than the pack foil, I’ve gotten two of these for different decks. There are not a lot of decks that want this effect, but it’s amazing when it’s good.

Chromatic Lantern – $55 – The gold standard of mana fixing, a card very popular in casual formats, and something that ought to go up over time.

Cloudstone Curio – $30 – Have you seen an Animar deck go off with this? Or an Elf deck? It’s a combo enabler, and those are the things that can really spike when a new card makes them good.

Gauntlet of Power – $31 – I’m not ruling out weird Infinity War crossovers or stuff like that, but with the nonfoil at $15, this is a great price for an auto-include in single-color decks.

Paradox Engine – $45 – Again, this is just a silly card that does silly things and is breakable even now. It’s also gorgeous, which is important.

Planar Bridge – $36 – It can’t go find the sorcery or instant you need to win the game, but it does tutor up a ridiculous number of broken things and that’s at the heart of Commander games. I love having these in long-term storage, because it’s got excellent potential.

Something that hasn’t happened yet to the Inventions or Expeditions is a spike in those prices. They have dipped a little and recovered to within a few percent, but they represent at least steady long-term growth, and the potential for a huge payoff should they ever spike. It might even be a Reserved List buyout, which we saw a few times this past summer, as some people attempted to clear out the market.

Torrential Gearhulk has seen a bump already, in all versions including the Masterpiece:

 

The bump from Pro Tour play affected all versions of this card, and that’s helpful to know if someone breaks Paradox Engine during Hour of Devastation.

Any chance you get to trade for a Masterpiece, you should at least consider. Depends on the trade and the percentage that someone is asking for, but they are fantastic trade bait, a sweet target for people to aim for and a financially stable card that you should seek to add to your portfolio.

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Revolting Developments

The Pro Tour is in the books, and we’ve got a very clear idea of what the metagame is: Mardu Vehicles.

Doesn’t matter that Smuggler’s Copter got the ban, it’s shifted to Heart of Kiraan and Aethersphere Harvester. We had a sprinkle of Cultivator’s Caravan as well, and lots and lots of Veteran Motorist with which to power them up.

If we’ve learned nothing else, it’s that when Wizards puts together a new card type, it’s often overpowered at first. We will keep that in mind when the next new type arrives.

But what’s good against this deck? It was built to prey on the assorted Copy Cat lists, and I approve of the metagame call. The combo is real and powerful and demands answers or you lose. The Vehicles list seeks to overpower the opponent before the combo can get online, or disrupt the combo in progress. One red mana, left open, is enough to make the Saheeli player hesitate until they have Dispel backup.

And if they hesitate on turn four, then you’re stomping face on turn five. The deck is capable of some very powerful and synergistic plays, and there’s some opportunity here.

I think Chandra, Torch of Defiance, is a good pickup at $20 or so. We’ve got another 18 months of her being Standard legal, and she’s undoubtedly powerful. If you’re burning a blocker out of the way, they have to do something to kill her, which means you’re ahead on cards or attackers.

She might not rise too high, though, looking at Gideon, Ally of Zendkiar‘s chart. He spiked sometimes, but he never stayed high for long.

I also love picking up Release the Gremlins. Vehicles are going to be a big part of the metagame for a while, and at worst this is Manic Vandal, a two-for-one. Foils are also a little more than a dollar and might really pay off in the future. I’ve already targeted these in trade.

I’m impressed at the resiliency of Rishkar, Peema Renegade. I really thought this would be dropping in price by now, and instead it’s creeping upward. If it’s $5 or so when Modern Masters 2017 comes out, down a dollar from right now, then it’s a great candidate to be pushing $10 in ten months. It’s too good at acceleration to stay low.

Toolcraft Exemplar is another card that I’m high on right now. He’s cheap at about a buck and a half, and what he offers is quite powerful. If Vehicles stays a powerful deck–and I see no reason why it wouldn’t–then this little one-drop gets in early and crews anything late. I am big on the potential here, if the deck stays good then this is the card you want at the beginning. He’s good friends with Heart of Kiraan too, attacking for three because of it and helping it attack on any other turn.

My last pick this week feels like easy money: Spire of Industry. It’s in more than one type of deck, it’s played in a lot of styles and there’s more than one played per deck. It might be one of the best lands with how common artifacts are, and I think it’s going to see a lot of play going forward.

Foils are an even better pick, since there’s at least two decks that immediately want it: Affinity and Lantern Control. Get your foils for about $12, and be ready for them to hit $20 before you know it.

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The Grand Plan

For those of you who are experienced at the ebb and flow of Magic, today’s plan is not going to be a shock to you. What I’m doing is old hat and a plan that has served me well so far, and I haven’t seen a reason to change yet.

For those of you who are more new to the game, and the idea of how drastically values can change for a card, prepare for some sage advice. Even though the Pro Tour is underway, and you should stay tuned for cards that bust the format open, that’s a skill I don’t have. Today’s plan, though, has worked for me over and over.

Aether Revolt has some really powerful yet really cheap cards. This is good for us who seek to accrue value while cards are inexpensive, back to the original profit idea of “buy low, sell high.”

We are going to do a lot of buying low and hopefully a lot of selling high, but instead of lots of cards, I’ve got a timeline in mind.

Aether Revolt is the current set for drafting and events, but on March 15, Modern Masters 2017 will arrive.  Then on April 22, we have the prerelease for Amonkhet! This is a lot going on in a very short time, and represents some real opportunities.

The cheapest point for a set is right after the following set comes out. So for Aether Revolt, I want to be picking up cards about March 22. I want to be getting Modern Masters 2017 cards around the beginning of May.

I especially want to be getting the cards that have long-term appeal, not just the Standard powerhouses. I would so much rather buy 17 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary right now than one Walking Ballista, for instance.

The pattern of Standard has been one of consistency for the best cards. Let’s look at the headliner for Battle for Zendikar: big ol’ Gids.

He’s dipped down to $20 from time to time but he’s stayed in the $20-$30 range pretty consistently, and I expect the same out of something like the Ballista. It might go down to $10, it might creep up to $20, but nothing too crazy.

Unless Doubling Season gets reprinted in Standard. Then watch out.

I really love a lot of Aether Revolt for long-term holds. Regular and foil copies of the Bestiary, because the card is just amazingly powerful if you can live through the turn you cast it.

Whir of Invention is really intriguing to me, as a card that could be broken in the right deck. The comparison to Chord of Calling is a good one, because the deck that wants Whir will want four of them, and that’s a trait I truly love in my speculative picks.

Aethersphere Harvester is a fairer Smuggler’s Copter, but this demonstrates how good looting is compared to gaining life. I think Rishkar, Peema Renegade plus Winding Constrictor is a turn-two into turn-three that a lot of decks won’t be ready for, especially when something costing six lands on turn four.

I don’t know much about the cards in Modern Masters 2017, but the principle still applies. Conspiracy: Take the Crown lowered prices remarkably, and now a lot of those cards have enjoyed a bump. I want to plan on grabbing cards at their low point, though I need to think more about the actual cards. The 2013 edition of Modern Masters had a lot of amazing cards, but the 2015 was less valuable and more widely distributed. So we will see.

That’s my plan. It’s what I’m going to be trying to accomplish, and I love having targets and ideas clearly drawn. Buy low, sell high, but do that about once a month these days!

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