All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber 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 can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

Dominaria at max supply

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The Core Set is in our hands, and so far it’s playing out like a Core Set should, not heavy on synergies and such but still relatively fun, at least in the beginning.

With the focus shifting away from Dominaria, it’s time to look at this awesome set and figure out what we are picking up now that supply is at its maximum. We might get a little more coming in, if people get burned out on drafting M19, but that wouldn’t be enough to move the needle.

I’m trying to keep the focus on non-Standard uses for cards, as the timeline for Standard spikes is kind of rough–you have to hit it big and get rid of it pretty fast.

To the cards!

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Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Sacramento, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!

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Five for now, and five for later

Today is kind of momentous for me. Five years ago, almost to the day (was actually the 12th of July) I published my first piece on this site. It’s kind of embarrassing, not least because we didn’t even put my whole last name in there, but mostly because it details one of my worst trades ever, the details of which I cannot bear to restate.

In five years, Magic finance has come a very long way. We’ve seen several trading sites show up, we’ve gotten one of the biggest assets ever for Commander finance in EDHREC, and Twitter has taken over the earth.

Today, I want to share with you some predictions about Magic finance for the summer of 2023, and then some early returns on Core Set 2019.

Magic in 2023

#1: The Reserved List will still be around.

A softball. The RL is never going away, I’ve got that phrase muted on my Twitter timeline and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, it’s dumb, but that’s not the point. Wizards isn’t going to flinch on this, though an upgraded set of duals (something like ETB untapped if your life is 30+) is surely a possibility.

#2: A Revised, NM copy of Underground Sea will retail for two grand or more.

Travis said a few months ago that judge foil Gaea’s Cradle would hit $5k and I think I called him crazy. I’ve come around. There’s a lot of factors contributing to the rise in prices, and they will all still be having that effect in five years, when Legacy and 93-94 players are cackling. I am unwilling to predict what Alpha/Beta/Unlimited prices will be.

#3: Either Magic Arena or Magic Online will be gone or going.

Wizards is not a digital company, though they badly wish they were. Magic is, I think, too complex and too much fun socially for it to be as fun online as it is in person. They will be badly served to divide their digital resources, ending with one of the programs folding. I think MTGO would be more likely to be wound down, though there’s a lot of programming and a lot of shifting that’s going to go on.

#4: The Pro Tour will have taken one of two directions: It’ll be dead or the structure and payouts will have been overhauled and massively upgraded.

I’m not sure about this one either. Wizards wants to copy Hearthstone’s income and success, especially considering how much of Magic is in Hearthstone. But you can’t get there as an esport if you’re paying pennies like our current system does. If you want people to do well, on a regular basis, they need to spike tournaments AND have successful side gigs, be it coaching, streaming, or other content.

Let me give you a scenario: Before a Pro Tour, the high-level teams meet up a one to two weeks ahead of the event, to groupthink and practice and discuss gameplay. It’s useful and great, and I’d love to see that.

Elite League of Legends players will live in the same house for the whole season, getting sponsored enough to not need a day job, even to the point of having catering staff do meals for them.

#5: Judges will have unionized and be officially employed by WotC.

Being 25 years old, there’s a number of things Wizards got into early and is still capitalizing on, with the whole judge structure as one of them. Doesn’t it seem insane that the people responsible for ensuring enforcement of the game’s rules are, in 99% of cases, not employees of the company? Only a couple of the bigger names are, the big regional organizers and such. All the rest work for cards, as contractors. It’s a huge win for Wizards, who has to pay very little for this service. Judges work tirelessly and do so for not a lot of gain. They are doing it out of enthusiasm, but deserve actual compensation. Something will happen, most likely some event that goes bigger/longer than anticipated, and a group of judges will get organized.

 

Core Set 2019 Release!

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Crucible of Worlds (now down in the $20 range): There’s not a huge market for the card, and while price memory is a thing, there’s about to be a whole lot more supply than demand. I don’t think I would even buy this at $10. Who’s going to buy them off of me?

Graveyard Marshal ($2.50): I think you should buy these now. A playset at $10 is a snap buy in my mind, as adding this to aggro decks seems pretty sweet. There’s going to be a window where you’ll be able to unload these at $5/per. Be ready.

Cleansing Nova ($2.50): See above, and this is especially true with Fumigate rotating out. This is the sweeper of choice in three months, and I want you to be able to lock in some profits right now. This is a strong candidate to spike up to $10 around Christmas.

Remorseful Cleric ($2/$5): I picked up a playset of these foils already, in case the Spirits deck gets real in Modern, or hatebears come back into vogue.

Sealed Product: Don’t you dare think of keeping boxes of this set around. It’s very top-heavy, with Nicol Bolas, the Ravager being the top end and a giant pack of bulk rares and mythics chasing him. Even Resplendent Archangel is not going to stay too high, because only the most dedicated Angel decks will want the card. Keeping boxes is only good if you have unlimited storage and a ready supply of people who want to win the lottery.

Here’s to five years, and five more to come!

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Sacramento, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!

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The Newest Rules

Last week I wrote about preordering Core Set 2019, and that’s a departure for me. I’ve come around on preorders, as opposed to the years I spent never preordering anything ever.

And that got me thinking: What else has changed since I got into this?

There’s more than a few things I used to take for granted, that are now obsolete concepts, and since I’m a big fan of a level playing field, I’m going to share them with you now.

New Rule #1: There’s money to be made in preorders.

Granted, I’ve tried to document my shifting perspective on this. Ixalan was a real eye-opener for me, especially with Vraska’s Contempt and Search for Azcanta. Those could have been had much much cheaper, and I’ve tried to be aware of flexible removal (other cases include Hero’s Downfall and Abrupt Decay) as well as just raw power, like Search or more recently, Karn.

Wow. Three bucks at the start?

I was skeptical of Karn, Scion of Urza, but I’m pretty sure now is the time to buy a playset if you’re going to be playing Standard in the next year. We are at the max for supply, and the only outlet for more copies is going to be the Challenger decks of next spring.

Karn has dropped to about $40 as his initial rush of $60 has passed, but now that we’re done opening Dominaria, all it’s going to take is a new adoption in Modern, or spiking a tournament, or just being one of the top Standard cards. Mono-red is going to lose a lot at rotation in three months, and while I can’t recommend this as a spec for flipping, Karn is going to go back up in price, so get yours now if you need him. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is in the same boat.

New Rule #2: TCG Mid is out, TCG Market is the new metric.

For years upon years, TCG Mid was the standard price. We didn’t want to deal with those who underpriced their cards, or overpriced them. Now we are using something much more robust: the actual selling price!

To be clear, this was data TCG always had, but didn’t make it available. The other big shift here was TCG allowing individuals to list their cards, which means that those who are motivated to sell are able to race to the bottom. Another way to look at TCG Market price is to think of it as a list of what eBay’s completed sales are for a card. (If you’re not doing this already, start doing so. Doesn’t matter what’s it’s listed for–look at the sold listings!)

New Rule #3: PucaTrade is over, get thyself to CardSphere.

Looking back, I’ve done a lot of online trading. I moved a ton on Deckbox, including trading for an iPad. I wrote a series of articles for several months titled ‘PucaPicks’ because I was that deep in PucaTrade, including acquiring a Gaea’s Cradle there for some silly number of points. I’m sad to see Puca decline, they even invited me over for EDH once, but the closed system and the inability to have a stable value of points ended up causing a spiral. There’s one user who’s amassed more than two million points…out of optimism?  

Now I’m on CardSphere, the best of them all. If you need some convincing, we’ve done podcast interviews with them, I’ve written about them at least twice, and most important, I’m sending and receiving cards as fast as I can. The ability to set your price, and set price limits, has proven incredibly powerful. If you don’t want to mess with sending cards, just add some cash, and pick up cards at 60-70% of retail.

New Rule #4: Transform cards can be printed whenever they want.

When double-faced cards first came along In Innistrad, there was one per pack. It was that way for Dark Ascension as well, and at the time, we were told that the difficulties of printing cards in large quantities meant that DFCs were going to be in every pack or in none.

Oh do I want an uncut foil sheet of anything Magic!

Fast forward to Magic Origins, and we get five transforming cards out of the whole set. This was done by printing sheets of the five ‘walkers in all the languages side by side, then reallocating them somehow. Then in Ixalan, we got ten transforming cards, which were in there as regular rares. Not one-per-pack. Now in Core 2019, we get a single transforming card in Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.

I haven’t been able to find an article detailing how these changes have come about, but I know I’ve bought DFCs before with confidence that they can’t be reprinted easily, and clearly that’s no longer the case.

New Rule #5: Prerelease foils are worth just as much as regular foils.

This is one that took me quite a while to realize, and it irks me greatly that I was so slow to get there. If you started playing during or since Khans of Tarkir in late 2014, this is not a shock to you. Let me explain, and you may find this link helpful.

Notice the big gap in price from Prerelease Promo to NPH foil?

Prereleases, starting in 1998, gave every player the same card just for showing up, and you weren’t allowed to use that card in your prerelease deck. Seems dumb and counterintuitive now, but that’s where we were. It wasn’t until Return to Ravnica in 2013 that we got the first set of ‘yeah, you can play with this’ prerelease cards, as you’d pick a guild and you’d get a card for that guild. So five promos for those sets, a pattern repeated in Theros block when you’d pick a color and get a known card of that color.

Then in Khans of Tarkir, you’d pick a clan and get a promo from that clan, which could be any of the mythics or rares of that clan but would use all three colors. Finally, in Magic Origins, they gave up and said ‘Anything could be the promo, use it or not, it’s a seventh rare/mythic for your pool!’

I have had a bias against prerelease foils for far too long, because now they are all the same price. Here’s Karn:

Within 90 minutes of each other!

Yup, the pack foil and the prerelease promo going for the same price. Notable now is that we might begin to see the prerelease version become more expensive, because that’s the rarest version of a card these days. That correction hasn’t happened yet, but if it starts leaning that way, well, that’s the new rules.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for nearly five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Sacramento, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!

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Preordering Core Set 2019

Where do we even begin this week?

First of all, Stoneforge Mystic is spiking pretty hard, due to pure speculation that it’ll be next to be unbanned. The play here is clearly the Grand Prix foils, because if it does get unbanned it’ll also get reprinted (as they did with Jace, the Mind Sculptor) so you want to have the more unique version and the pack foils are already super pricey.

More immediately relevant is that we got the list for Core Set 2019 several weeks earlier than usual, for reasons that aren’t 100% clear to me. The prerelease is next weekend, but we got the full list last Friday, an unusual move. Is it because they wanted all eyes on the underwhelming Silver Showdown announcement?

Having more time with the cards also means we’ve got more time to figure out what to preorder, if anything. As I’ve said, I usually stay away from preorders, but there have been some BIG opportunities for preorders lately. Karn preordered for $30, and his retail hit $70. Teferi could have been had at $15, and he’s buylisting at $22 right now. Search for Azcanta was a $4 preorder!

So let’s get into this set and see what we can see, especially with today’s eBay coupon tempting me…

How the mighty have fallen…

Crucible of Worlds (preselling at $25): This is not the play at all, and much like Scapeshift, this is a dagger to the eventual price. This sees a little bit of Modern play, and yes it’s in 11,000 EDH decks over on EDHREC, but there’s been the original, and the Tenth Edition, and the Invention, and now this. It’s going to stay right around $25 because there won’t be any new demand for the card, much like what’s happened to the price of Rishadan Port. Stay away.

Don’t do it. Not yet, at least.

Infernal Reckoning ($4): Now this I can get into. It’s not going to be maindeck in Modern, but there’s a couple of commonly played, super spicy targets in Standard right now: Heart of Kiraan and Scrapheap Scrounger. I don’t think this price is low enough, but I do see it jumping to $6 right away. If you want to get your set right now in the $10-$12 range, I think that’s solid if you’re going to play it. Saves you a few bucks.

Runic Armasaur ($3): I dearly love this card for Commander play, as there’s no end of annoying things that you can draw cards from. I want it to be good in Standard but there’s not a whole lot of creature abilities going off. This is excellent against a transformed Azcanta, yes, but they aren’t going to let this card stay in play. I don’t think someone else would activate Arch of Orazca with this on the field.

Cleansing Nova ($3): Here’s a pretty safe play: get four or eight of these right now, or in a couple of weeks. It’s worse than Fumigate in control decks, but when that card rotates in late September, this is now the default five-mana board wipe. It’ll jump to $6 or $7 then, and that’s why I don’t want to go too deep. It’ll buylist for a couple bucks more than what you paid, but this is a pickup for trading. I love buying cards at $3 that I’m going to trade away like mad at $7.

Nexus of Fate ($34): Holy crap I didn’t know this had gone so high. The EV here is pretty kooky. You get a box from from your LGS at $120ish, and immediately you can eBay this for a fourth of the cost? Pretty tempting. I’m terrified of this being a two-of in the next iteration of control decks, but what is really going to get me is the amount of Commander play it’ll see. This is a long-term hold if you’re a buyer right now, because if the price goes too much higher there’s going to be some unethical stores/employees that will just sell theirs. The price on this might hit $60 in a couple of years, though, because there isn’t going to be that much supply out there.

Leonin Warleader ($3): White Weenie is back everyone! It’s got tokens, a range of anthems and lords, and this is a top end that ends the game very very quickly if not answered. I’m calling this as a card that will spike at some point in the next two months, as a deck featuring four of these will push it up to $6, and it’ll bring Benalish Marshal along, which should hit $4-$5 again. That’s a deck I’d love to play, especially if I splash a little green for a set of Heroic Intervention or play a few of the new reprint Make a Stand.

It’s a buck and that defines speculation!

Death Baron ($5): We are being pushed to Zombie tribal pretty hard, but we do have this and Lord of the Accursed as lords to make the push worthwhile. I don’t remember the Baron being Standard-playable, but I like living in this world. The price on this is going to 100% be dependent on being good in Standard, because we also have a promo version to chase and there’s not an overwhelming number of Zombie decks in Commander.

 

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for nearly five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Sacramento, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!

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