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

PROTRADER: Preorders and Prerelease Prices

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Hello and welcome to the first weekend of Ixalan! I hope you’re going to have a great time at your local Prerelease, and every three months, I have the same advice: Trade it all!

These prices are at their highest for 95% of cards, and I will just play it safe and trade them all away. I’m going to be highlighting one or two things that I think have potential to rise, but I expect almost all of these to fall.

I’m going to start with the preorder prices, which have been really active for some of these cards.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Ixalan Revealed!

Sorry for the delay, everyone, but the full reveal of Ixalan needed me to do some revising.

This set has some amazing cards, and powerful synergies, so there’s a few things I’m immediately drawn to and are worth some coverage.

Let’s get to some themes and some cards!

Theme #1: White’s aggression is back!

Adanto Vanguard is a 3/1 for two mana that can become indestructible, really discouraging blocking. There’s also a straight 3/1 for two mana, a two mana lifelinker, and a legend in Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle which will enable white and black decks to get wide quickly.

Red/White as an aggressive combo is pretty pushed, considering that we’ve got Territorial Hammerskull to go with Ahn-Crop Crasher, so blocking is quite passé now. Sheltering Light is also pretty outstanding as a one-mana trick, saving your creature from any number of bad things and giving you a scry.

The white decks are lacking a good anthem effect, for now. Red-White does get Makeshift Munitions, which is a variation on the always-powerful Goblin Bombardment, but having a mana cost makes the effect profoundly worse for you.

I want, very badly, for Kinjalli’s Sunwing to do some work, but the truth is that we had Thalia, Heretic Cathar in Standard for two years and she wasn’t good enough. I doubt the Sunwing will make a huge impact either, but I’m hopeful.

Theme #2: Izzet Ascending

Star of Extinction fits right into decks that were running Hour of Devastation, and the other board-wiping effects are Dusk/Dawn, Fumigate and Bontu’s Last Reckoning. Less than impressive, and expensive on all counts.

However, there’s an Amonkhet card that fits into the early part of red: Sweltering Suns. I think this card is about to be adopted pretty widely as the cheap sweeper of choice, leading into Hour or Star. There’s not even a Selfless Spirit to worry about anymore. Red also gets a wide range of pinpoint damage spells, the best of which is Lightning Strike. Suns is right now in the $3 range, and considering how much it’s likely to get played, it looks primed for a jump to $5 or maybe even $10 depending on how the first week’s results go.

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I am really hoping that the Izzet control decks play one or two Sunbird’s Invocation, but I doubt it. Important to note that these effects do stack if you play more than one! The presence of Opt might give Lightning Strike a lot more value, but now I’m really living in a magical Christmas land.

I think Jace, Cunning Castaway is neat but underpowered. It’s going to take you three turns to get to two 2/2’s, and I’m not buying him yet. I love the design and simplicity of Overflowing Insight, but we just got Pull from Tomorrow, which is a stronger card in almost every respect. It’ll be a bulk mythic soon.

Perilous Voyage, though, that’s a trick and a half, as is River’s Rebuke. Spell Swindle is going to show up as a two-of, to just end the game with mana advantage. Red/Blue has an amazing array of tricks and spells, and they also get two phenomenal transform lands. Search for Azcanta seems like an easy inclusion, as does Vance’s Blasting Cannons.

If you think Spitfire Bastion is too slow for closing out a game, then you clearly never saw Standard when Nephalia Drownyard was the finisher of choice, and the Bastion is loads faster. I’m very high on the legendary transforming enchantment/lands, except for the black one. Note that not all of them are legendary, you can have more than one Spires of Orazca in play.

Theme #3: Dinosaurs!

We have a lot of enablers for the saurians, and that’s going to put a lot of decks into FNM play. Some reduce costs, some give us mana (and then get bigger! What an awesome card Drover of the Mighty is!) and dinosaurs also get the finisher of choice in Carnage Tyrant. It’s not hard to imagine this “giant, implacable death lizard” getting played on turn four.

The Tyrant is in a tough spot, as when he’s good he’s phenomenal, but I’m not sure if six mana allows him to be a four-of. He’s preordering in the $10 range, and I think week one he’ll bounce higher, then begin to trickle downwards.

I think my colleague Travis Allen was right about Samut, the Tested last week on MTG Fast Finance. If you can get copies under $4, that seems like a big win to me. She got a little bump recently:

Wow. Buylisting for fifty cents! I’ve never seen that. I think Tibalt never got that low but I’ve blocked him from memory. Her buylist has shot up to over $2 now, and that means stores are hoping too. When buylist price and retail price get closer together, something’s up. Let’s see if she pays off.

Theme #4: Pirates!

While Pirates have a cool lord and some nifty tricks, I’m not sold yet. I don’t see many big payoffs, though stealing permanents with the new Admiral Beckett Brass is a good time. I simply don’t see that as a huge win, considering that if you’re getting in there with three relatively-undersized Pirates, you’re likely winning that game anyhow.

I like a lot of the individual cards, but the big payoff just isn’t there yet. Maybe in the next set?

Vraska’s Contempt is good, but at four mana, it might be too much. Hero’s Downfall was super powerful, and the Contempt will see play as an answer to the indestructible/recurring Gods, but oh it stings. I don’t think Contempt will be a four-of, and that’ll keep the price reasonable.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Transform with Caution

Ixalan is going to be awesome, and while we are getting previews at a relatively glacial rate, there’s a few super-unique cards that I’m staring at and thinking about: the transforming lands.

I’m not thinking about if I should buy them (yes, totally in foil especially!) but I’m keeping an eye on something that’s two months out: From the Vault: Transform.

Today, I’m going to go over a few cards that have changed in price, and some that haven’t, to see if they need to be sold right the heck now, or if they are safe to pick up.

I hate making predictions about what Wizards will do, but there’s something else to note: We’ve been told in the past that transform cards are hard to add to a pack randomly, but if they want to they can. We’ve had Magic Origins, with a mythic cycle of transform cards, and now we are getting ten rare ones in Ixalan. (This number could be wrong, we don’t have the full set as of this writing.)

I want to explain my fear, with some illustrations. Being printed in an FTV: is bad for the long-term price of a card. Some cards do recover over time, but the pack foil generally takes a hit and trends downward. Let’s look at some examples.

Before being printed in FTV: 20 in August of 2013, pack foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor was more than a grand. I would have thought that this price would hold firm, given that the pool of people who want a foil Jace is relatively small…but there’s the chart. There was a minor bump after, as people thought the price was falling too far, but the downward trend was beginning. Eternal Masters in June 2016 gave this price another hit, but the FTV did a lot of the damage.

Let’s look at a more recent card, and more recent FTV.

Aurelia, the Warleader, is a powerhouse in Boros Commander decks. You’d have to work hard to convince me to run someone else as the commander. She was in FTV: Angels, and that was the beginning of a downward trend that has continued for the pack foil. The FTV release for her was August 2015, and it took a couple of months for the decreased demand to set in, but you see how the buylist price dropped in November of that year.

Now, onto some new prices for old cards.

Bloodline Keeper ($14, up from $6) – This is the card that inspired me to write this article. If you need a copy for your new Vampire deck, understand that this is very very likely to be in the FTV that’s on the way, and it’ll cost you $5 or less. I would be selling every copy of this that I had, and I’d be giving serious thought to selling copies in decks now, and rebuying it after the FTV lands. If you have to have it right now, do so with the knowledge that you’re paying for the immediacy.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy ($24 now) – If he’s reprinted in this set, then I’d expect the nonfoil to take a bigger hit. ‘Infant Jace’ already has a promo from SDCC to be an upper-limit to the foil versions, so I don’t think those would lose value at all.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer ($7) – I’m not sure that this will get reprinted, but it’d drop by at least half if it did. However, if she dodges the reprint, I really like her as a long-term hold.

Garruk Relentless ($6) – He feels like a lock, and this is going to hit his price hard. There’s two transforming Planeswalkers, and Arilinn was very recent. I’d be surprised if his price stayed over $3.

Archangel Avacyn – ($6/$20) – Her price has been falling for the duration of her time in Standard, and I don’t think rotation would have lowered her price much more. I would expect the FTV version of her to end up about $8, and the original nonfoil about $4.

Westvale Abbey ($6/$9) – As a transform land, it’s one of a kind, and rotation is going to hit this card like a hammer. This will be $3 without the FTV, and might push down to $2 if it’s in this special set.

Startled Awake ($4/$8) – This has come down from the crazy height Fraying Sanity pushed it to, but it’s a unique effect that casual players love. I’m hoping some version of this can be picked up in the $2 range, and that’s a great price point for buying in.

Thing in the Ice ($4/$10) – Being a fun one-of in some Modern and Legacy sideboards is just barely enough to keep this price solid past rotation, but if it’s in the FTV, expect that value to drop by half.

Elbrus, the Binding Blade ($4/$12) – Sorry, big guy, but your price is completely a factor of your scarcity. It’s even possible that there will be more copies of you as an FTV card than there were of originals, considering that Dark Ascension was early 2012.

Duskwatch Recruiter ($1/$6) – Being in the FTV won’t make a dent in the pack foil, though the original might go down to fifty cents. It’s a bonkers card in heavy creature decks, and an outlet for infinite mana from Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies.

Mayor of Avabruck ($2.50/$6/$3 release promo) – There’s already a special version of this card, but I put nothing past Wizards at this point. Oddly, I doubt being in the FTV Would the price of any of these much. It’s a four-of in the niche Humans decks that pop up in Modern from time to time, too, and it’s funny that you rarely want this card to flip.

Bruna, the Fading Light ($1/$8) and Gisela, the Broken Blade ($7/$17) – I expect there will be a Meld pairing in the set, and these are cheap enough to merit inclusion. Plus they are thematic and awesome. I think it’s more likely that Wizards goes cheap and gives us Hanweir, the Writhing Township or Chittering Host. At that point, I will like these ladies as a long-term buy and hold.

Delver of Secrets ($1.50/$9), Perfected Form ($0.25/$0.50), and Docent of Perfection ($.50/$6) – I think this an excellent inclusion in the FTV, due to the flavor text and the amazing Nils Hamm art. It’s also a pair of Wizards, including Docent which is just amazing when put into the Wizards deck that they just happened to start selling last week. Delver wouldn’t flinch in price at all, and I’m not sure about Docent. There’s a tiny number of foils for sale, and much is going to depend on the demand going forward. The assorted Wizards are popular commanders out of the gate, so these seem like a good idea, but the price might not pick up for a couple of years.

Bonus section! My picks for the set, with the caveat that I’ve been super terrible at predicting what WotC will do.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Bloodline Keeper
Delver of Secrets
Aberrant Researcher
Docent of Perfection
Rusted Heirloom
Duskwatch Recruiter
Garruk Relentless
Hanweir Garrison
Hanweir Battlements
Startled Awake
Ludevic’s Test Subject
Westvale Abbey
Nezumi Graverobber (That’s right, I think they pick a flip card from Kamigawa and make it a transform card. I’d also believe Nezumi Shortfang or Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant.)

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: First Look at Ixalan

I love nothing more than preview season, though I really don’t like the giant dump of cards we got at the beginning of the week. That’s too much all at once for me to process and I suppose that means I’ve completely come around to like Wizards’ method of revealing the new set.

At the same time, thought, we have dinosaurs! Pirates! All kinds of tribal goodies!

Most relevant to us is that preorder season has begun. I know that usually, preodering is a really terrible idea, but recent sets have gotten better about preorder prices. It’s gotten to the point that so many stay away, and wait, and then some cards went up.

Today I want to look at some of the preorder prices and see if anything is worth getting in on.

Walk the Plank ($.50 preorder) – The flavor is amazing, and it’s a good card for just two black. It’s a sorcery, though, so this is not Fatal Push. It’s a bit worse than you think it is, being a sorcery. Very fairly priced.

Old-Growth Dryads ($3) – If you weren’t playing a basic before, then it’s time to do so. I think this has potential to grow, especially in foil. The presence of Path to Exile in Modern and Ghost Quarter have pushed people to include a couple of basics (even Tron with a miser’s Wastes, so this isn’t the slam dunk you want it to be. Best friends with Leonin Arbiter. There’s a very good chance that given the manabases possible in Standard, we’d skip out on basics when we want multicolor lands. This is the penalty for that strategy, and might be a more popular sideboard card than maindeck. In either case, this isn’t worth the $3…yet.

Revel in Riches ($0.79) – First of all, yes, this works with Anointed Procession. Alternate win conditions. Doubling token creation! I want this to be good, I really do, and it is going to be good in some sort of black control deck. I don’t think I like it as much as Approach of the Second Sun, though, so I don’t see this budging.

Herald of Secret Streams ($1) – This is pretty great in the strategies that want it. Thankfully, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar just rotated out and so people are going to have to go back to Verdurous Gearhulk/Rishkar, Peema Renegade for their counter needs. The downside is that you won’t want lots of this in your deck, as they don’t stack. I think it’ll have a good showing and make $2, but that might not be right away. Foils are a different matter, and given the appeal in Commander, I love foils of this at $5 or less. I wonder if this is a seed for a future set, given how +1/+1 counters aren’t a strong theme in this set.

Sanguine Sacrament ($0.50) – Pure lifegain is bad, but this is going to rise from the bulk in a few years. I have trouble seeing it as more than bulk while it’s Standard legal, though.

Tocatli Honor Guard ($2) – Torpor Orb is a very powerful Commander card if your opponents are addicted to value creatures, but having this effect in Standard is terribly intriguing. This dies to every removal spell being played, though, including a non-revolted Fatal Push. I think this price is spot-on for now, and in a couple months when it’s fifty cents, I’ll want to have a few tucked away.

River’s Rebuke ($1.50) – I despise this card, but at least it’s a sorcery, and not an instant as Cyclonic Rift is. I’m going to be picking up every foil I can at $3-$5 right away, though.

Sunbird’s Invocation ($0.50) – I love what this does, and I think there’s both some really strong long-term potential and yet there’s also a very high reprint risk. This is exactly the type of card that will be in Commander 2019. I will be picking some of these up for the casual appeal, especially in foil.

Settle the Wreckage ($1.50) – Too high a price. Commander won’t run this, and other formats likely won’t either. You’d need an absurd ratio, something like exiling three creatures and them getting just one land.

Carnage Tyrant ($8) – Not as good as Thrun, the Last Troll in Modern, so that outlet is gone. We have had a few giant hexproofers printed before, and Plated Crusher is about to rotate out. Same card, one less mana and can’t be countered. This is a trap. Don’t buy this unless you’re hellbent on doing this deck in week one. This might well be a good sideboard card, but those don’t tend to be this expensive. Some have said it’s a mythic for Limited, and it’ll end up pretty cheap.

Kopala, Warden of Waves ($2) – We are going to need to see more Merfolk to know if this is good in Standard. I’ll let you decide if you’d rather play this or play Kira, Great Glass-Spinner in your Modern Merfolk deck. I don’t want nonfoils yet, but I’ll be listening if the foils have a reasonable price, around $5.

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar ($7) – Makes Mayael good and Mayael’s Aria amazing. If there’s going to be a Dinosaur Commander deck, here’s the commander and just for fun, here’s the graph on the Aria:

The foil of the Aria can be had for $7-$8 right now, and that price isn’t going to last. I think $7 is a touch too high for Gishath, but I also think the casual appeal is through the roof on this.

Deeproot Champion ($1) – This is underpriced, to my mind. There are a lot of decks where this is better than Tarmogoyf, though the Champion has vulnerability early on. This can be thought of as permanent Prowess. So if that ability is decent in a deck, this card is bonkers. I especially am hoping to get foils for $3 or less early on.

Arcane Adaptation ($2) – Ah, combo pieces. Where would we be without you? I think this is a fair price for the card, but I want foils pretty badly. It’s a cheaper Conspiracy, a cheaper and better Xenograft. Neither of those has moved much, but this is the new one, and backup copies to combo decks are useful. Turntimber Ranger has a new buddy!

Vanquisher’s Banner ($2) – Travis and I talked about this on MTG Fast Finance, and it’s because this preorder price is too low. This should be $4 or $5. It’s total gas for the tribal decks that Wizards is pushing, and while it is expensive at five mana, it makes all of your creatures cantrips. That’s pretty outstanding, and I look forward to playing both this and Lifecrafter’s Bestiary at every opportunity.

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