All posts by David Sharman

The Watchtower 08/03/20 – Twice the Price, Double the Fall

Double Masters releases this Friday, and so although the best prices for the new (although they’re not really new, are they?) cards won’t hit us for a little while yet, I wanted to spend today’s article talking about some of the cards that I think are going to fall the hardest, but pick back up again the most quickly. I was thinking of doing six picks instead of the usual three today, because you know, Double Masters, but I ended up talking too much about these three cards too much to fit anything else in. And it would’ve been super cliché anyway, right? Definitely not my style…

Sword of Feast and Famine

Price I want to buy at: $30
Possible future price: $50

As far as EDH is concerned, Sword of Feast and Famine is the most popular of the colour-hoser sword cycle by a considerable margin. EDHREC has it at almost 14k decks, with the next most popular being Fire & Ice at 7400. I’d bet good money that Feast & Famine would be in a lot more decks, too, if it hadn’t been $60 before this Double Masters reprint. The card had been steadily growing in price for the past four or five years – in fact, it’s been over six years since this card was last printed (not counting the Invention printing (or the Grand Prix promo that barely exists)). It took a steep hike from $40 to $60 when Stoneforge Mystic was unbanned in Modern last year, and has sat around there since.

I think that this reprint will bring the regular copies down quite a bit. Although preorders are currently scarce on TCGPlayer, they’re going for €23 on MKM, and I think that that’s indicative of much lower prices to come in the US. Stateside prices could well hit lower than $30, but I think that calling this from $30 to $50 is pretty reasonable. A lot of people that were priced out of the card before will be able to buy it, and a lot of people will probably be picking up multiple for different EDH decks, so don’t expect the price dip to hang around for too long.

Exploration (Box Topper Foil)

Price I want to buy at: $35
Possible future price: $70

We’re in a really weird situation with Double Masters box toppers, in that because the foils are only available in VIP packs, and non-foils only in booster boxes, you need to buy a whole booster box (~$330) to get 2 non-foil toppers, but only 1 VIP pack (~$90) to get two foil box toppers. This has meant that preorder prices for the non-foils are way above foil prices, which might seem absurd compared to what we’re used to, but makes sense in this situation. Interestingly, this isn’t actually the case in the EU, where non-foil prices are at the normal, expected levels. I’m not sure how this will pan out over the next couple of weeks, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Regardless of what weird things non-foil prices are doing, we’ve been given Exploration for only the third time ever, with the regular version using the same art as the Conspiracy printing but a stunning new art for the box topper. It’s in over 16k EDH decks on EDHREC, and the Conspiracy foils are around $70 (with no foils from Urza’s Saga). Although I’m sure some people will prefer the old version, I think that this art and borderless treatment is clearly superior if you’re in the market for pimping your deck out.

Again, prices are pretty uncertain here but there are foil copies preordering on TCGPlayer for $45, so I don’t think that $35 is an unreasonable estimate for this to hit when people start undercutting each other. Conspiracy foils sustained $70 so I’m putting that as an out target here; it might take a little while to get there but I think that these are going to be very popular. Even people that didn’t want to pay $45 for a regular copy before might be enticed by this box topper foil at such a low price, so I don’t think that it’ll be too long before the price starts to climb again.

Land Tax

Price I want to buy at: $15
Possible future price: $30

How many EDH decks do you think Land Tax is in? I’ll give you a clue: you’re probably underestimating it. At over 18k decks and 10% of all decks including white, it’s in the top 20 white cards of all time, and the price elasticity we’ve seen backs that up. The Battlebond reprint of this card took the price down to around $20, with 4th Edition copies even hitting $15. But lo and behold, Battlebond copies were back up to $40 earlier this year.

At a cursory glance, Land Tax has a lot of printings, but three of those are foreign language (and not the desirable ones), another three are white bordered and then you’re just left with Legends (very small supply and hard to find in good condition), the Judge promo (also low supply and expensive), and Battlebond. So the vast majority of people are going to be buying Battlebond and Double Masters copies, and I think we can relatively safely set aside the other versions for the purposes of our discussion here.

It’s being printed as a mythic again, same as Battlebond, and with the superior art (yes, you heard me), rather than the, uh, classic one. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a downshift to rare here, but the fact that it remains a mythic means that the price will bounce more quickly than otherwise. Preorders on TCGPlayer are around $23 for now, but I expect that to drop a bit further after release. They’re down at €12 on MKM ($14), and I could see US prices getting down to around $15 in a couple of weeks too. We’ve seen it happen before and I think we’ll see it again; this card is going to be $30 again before you know it.

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.

The Watchtower 07/27/20 – A Midrange Modern Metagame

Despite the new UR Blitz deck (feat. Stormwing Entity) being the recent hotness in Modern the past couple of weeks, the other decks in the format are distinctly slower and more midrangey than that. The rest of the upper echelon of Modern is full of blue control decks, Jund, Eldrazi Tron et al, and so that’s what I’m going to be talking about today. I think Modern is in a pretty healthy spot right now, and should be set to continue that way until paper Magic returns to us.

Ketria Triome (Showcase Foil)

Price today: $24
Possible price: $40

I’ve called out the Triomes from Ikoria in general before now, but today I wanted to focus in on Ketria Triome in particular. It’s the second most popular of the five for EDH, but has also had the highest adoption into competitive constructed formats. Aside from being an obvious auto-include in Temur Reclamation in Standard, this triland has been showing up in Scapeshift lists in Modern.

Scapeshift has had its ebbs and flows from the forefront of the Modern metagame, but last night a Temur Scapeshift list took down a Modern event in the ManaTraders Tournament Series. It was a fairly straightforward list – Scapeshift, Uro and Growth Spiral backed up by Cryptic Command, Remand and Lightning Bolt. No Primeval Titans to be seen here, but an impressive 29 lands with a full playset of Ketria Triomes. The colour fixing coupled with the cycling ability makes these lands perfect for the deck, especially seeing as they can be grabbed with fetchlands.

Foil Showcase copies of this card can still be had as low as $24 on TCGPlayer, but the ramp up towards $40 isn’t too long at all for a card that was released three months ago. The obvious EDH pedigree coupled with its potential in Modern makes me think that this could be the best of the five Triomes, but I’m still a fan of the other four below $25 as well. $40 within 12 months should be reasonable here, and I’d keep an eye on the non-foils too.

Glorybringer (Game Day Foil)

Price today: $7
Possible price: $15

RG Ponza used to be a deck that was joked and laughed about in Modern, trying desperately to Blood Moon and Stone Rain people out of the game, generally to little avail (unless they got paired against Tron I guess?). However, over the past year or so the deck has garnered a suite of new tools, and morphed from a deck focused around land destruction and mana denial into a proper midrange deck.

Modern Horizons gave us Seasoned Pyromancer, Throne of Eldraine gave us Bonecrusher Giant and Theros Beyond Death gave us Klothys, God of Destiny; and now the only land destruction spell they tend to play is Pillage, which doubles up on hitting artifacts too. Play patterns of Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Seasoned Pyromancer are all too common, and just that would put an on-board Klothys up to six devotion. Powerful stuff, and the results have been backing that up too.

Glorybringer has been a mainstay of the deck for a while now, being a powerful finisher that can double as multiple removal spells. Whilst regular versions are still in plentiful stock, the Game Day promos are running very thin on the ground. Only 15 vendors have NM copies on TCGPlayer, with a few copies still available under $10 but a sharp ramp after that. $15 on these should be easy very quickly, and I can see them moving towards $20-25 within 6-12 months. We may get a reprint of the regular copies, but I doubt we’ll be seeing these Game Day versions again, so pick them up whilst you still can – especially if you can see yourself playing with them in the future.

Archmage’s Charm (Foil)

Price today: $35
Possible price: $50

Some people may have thought that Snow decks would fade from the Modern metagame with the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe, but that is far from the truth. Ice-Fang Coatl is still a very powerful card in the format, and Bant midrange/control decks are still doing very well with the tools they have left. The mana is slightly worse now, meaning that the decks have had to lean more into one or two colours (generally favouring blue), but the archetype is still doing well.

Azorius and Bant control shells playing a Stoneforge Mystic package have been quite popular over the past couple of weeks, and their counterspells of choice include Cryptic Command, Force of Negation and Archmage’s Charm. Most of these decks play between one and three Archmage’s Charms now, as it has turned out to be better than the ‘Cryptic Command Lite’ that it might have been viewed as at first. The counter and draw modes are nice, but being able to steal a Death’s Shadow or Monastery Swiftspear can do a lot of work too.

Modern Horizons foils in general have been draining since its release last year, and despite having gained somewhat of a reputation for being full of banned cards (see Hogaak, Arcum’s Astrolabe), the set still has a lot of great hits in it. There are only 17 NM foils listings for Archmage’s Charm on TCGPlayer (plus a few spicy Russian foils), and so it won’t take a lot of Modern players to move the needle on it. It’s also worth noting that the card is in over 3.5k EDH decks listed on EDHREC, so definitely not an insignificant number there.

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.

The Watchtower 07/20/20 – Looking Back At Core 2020

Jason’s article last week that compared last year’s Core Set 2020 to this year’s Core Set 2021 got me having a look at cards from last year’s set that could still be good spec targets, and I was pleasantly surprised. You should view the cards I’m talking about today on a longer timeline than some of my usual picks, but I think that these are great ones to stash stacks away for a couple of years and pull out to buylist or sell individually, depending on your setup and how much the card has moved by then.

Icon of Ancestry (Foil)

Price today: $3
Possible price: $10

Icon of Ancestry is one of a few different ‘Lord’ effects for tribal decks (cards that give a certain creature type +X/+X), but it’s actually the lowest cost one we have that can slot into any deck. The closest comparison would be Adaptive Automaton, and although being a creature means that Automaton can attack and block, I’d argue that the unfortunate attribute of being able to be removed much more easily than a non-creature permanent means that it has greater downside than upside.

Icon is in close to 7000 EDH decks registered on EDHREC now, and that number will most likely have another spike when people can finally start to get their hands on their Jumpstart cards, a lot of which are tribal-based and have already shown to be popular with the EDH crowd.

There aren’t a huge number of foils left around, with 30 listings on TCGPlayer for the regular versions and less than that for the prerelease and promo pack versions. I don’t mind the non-foils here too, but bear in mind that this would be a very easy card to reprint in a Commander product in non-foil, so foils are the safer play here.

Tale’s End (Foil)

Price today: $3
Possible price: $10

Tale’s End isn’t in as many decks as Icon, at just under 4000, but there’s no doubt that it’s a powerful card. Being able to counter someone’s Commander unconditionally for 2 mana is a very good rate, and with the second mode of the card being a good old Stifle, it’s hard to go wrong with this card.

It’s very popular in mono-blue counter/control/combo decks like Baral and Gadwick, as well as being included in a plethora of other blue-based decks. The only good reason not to play this in a blue spell-based deck might be because it’s ‘unfun’ playing a card just to counter peoples’ Commanders, but I can definitely think of much more obnoxious things that people don’t bat an eyelid at.

Anyway, supply again on this isn’t too deep, with only 19 TCG listings for set foils of Tale’s End and a nice ramp up towards $10. I think that this is a very solid card that should perhaps see a little more play than it currently does, but time will tell. Non-foils under a dollar are fine here too, if you can find a decently sized pile at once then even better – they’ll probably buylist for $3 or more down the road.

Scheming Symmetry (Foil)

Price today: $6
Possible price: $15

Tutors have always been a popular effect to utilise in EDH – just take a look at the numbers for Demonic Tutor (over 63k decks) and Diabolic Tutor (over 40k decks). Scheming Symmetry is a unique effect for a tutor, but still very powerful at just one mana and has made its way into just under 8000 decks. You just have to try and make sure that whatever you’re tutoring for is better than what your opponent is going to fetch!

There are a bunch of different ways you can make this card much better than it might appear on the surface, including effects that tax your opponents for searching their library (Ob Nixilis, Unshackled, Leonin Arbiter etc.), mill effects and more. It’s also great in combo decks, and has the added bonus of your opponent not knowing whether they’ll need to find an answer to your threat, something to fight against your counterspell, or more threats of their own.

These foils start around $6 on TCGPlayer, with only 22 vendors holding copies. Interestingly there seems to be a plethora of the promo pack foils around, so I’d steer clear of those for the time being (especially seeing as Card Kingdom is paying less on those than pack foils, which isn’t a particularly common occurrence). The set foils will be the pick of choice for most players pimping out their EDH decks, so that’s the direction I’d be inclined to move in with these, and ride them up to $15 or more within 12 months.

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.

The Watchtower 07/13/20 – Banned & Restricted…Or Not?

I waited to write today’s article until the B&R announcement was out, so that I at least had the option to react to it and potentially write about cards related to it. For reference, the relevant info from today’s announcement:

  • Oath of Nissa unbanned in Pioneer
  • Arcum’s Astrolabe banned in Modern
  • Historic & Pauper bans that aren’t important here

With that information in hand, today’s article will be a little different to usual; I’ll be taking a wider view of competitive Magic and the health of various formats, with some picks sprinkled in to keep you readers satisfied during my rambling.

Long Live Pioneer

If you take a look at how much of today’s B&R article Wizards have dedicated to the Historic metagame and compare it to the Pioneer section, it’s clear here that they don’t care too much about the health of Pioneer. Most people were expecting at least something from the Inverter deck to take the hit, as it’s unquestionably been the top dog in the format for quite some time now.

For the past few months the top three decks have all been combo based: Inverter, Lotus Breach and Heliod-Ballista. This has made for a stagnant format, with these three decks taking up over a third of the metagame by themselves. Numerous Pioneer Challenges haven’t even been firing on MTGO the past couple of weeks, and where WotC could have reduced the event player caps, they did nothing.

I don’t want to sound all “the sky is falling”, but Pioneer isn’t making them any money, and at the moment it certainly looks like they’re leaving it to die. Unbanning Oath of Nissa is like a band-aid on a sinkhole, and I doubt it will do anything to change the metagame; I don’t think it adds much to the green ramp deck with Leyline of Abundance still banned. Once paper Magic starts back up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Historic brought in as a replacement for Pioneer on the competitive scene. It will move more in-print product for WotC than Pioneer does, at the very least.

With all that said, my #mtgfinance advice here is to start moving out of any Pioneer-only specs you may currently be sitting on (i.e. ones that don’t see play in other formats).

A Modern Refresh

On the flipside, it seems that WotC have made a much better decision in regards to Modern. Midrange Arcum’s Astrolabe decks have been plaguing the format for a while now, and although a lot of people wanted to see Uro gone as well, Astrolabe was definitely a problem card. The colour fixing it gave these decks meant that it enabled some ridiculous combinations of double green, double white and triple blue cards to all be played together at very little cost – the card even replaces itself on ETB.

This is a step in the right direction for Modern, and I think we’ll start to see the return of some of the more so-called ‘traditional’ Modern decks. Urza decks may return to the Thopter-Sword combo, and more classic control decks might be more viable again. No doubt we’ll still see plenty of Uro around, but the removal of Astrolabe will mean that much more strain will be placed on manabases. And Blood Moon is playable again!

One deck I do want to focus in on here is Eldrazi Tron. Even during the past few months, where Astrolabe decks have reigned supreme (except for that bit where Companions were totally busted), Eldrazi Tron has consistently been putting up reasonable results in Modern. Fast mana will always be one of the most powerful things you can do in Magic, and it shows. Recently the deck has picked up a new toy as well: Mazemind Tome.

How would you like to start the game at 24 life with +3 cards in hand? Seems pretty good, right? It gets even better when you realise you can get this card back from exile with Karn, the Great Creator. The ship has sailed (for now) on EA foil Tomes, but my pick here is foil Karns. I would tell you to buy foil JPN Alt Art copies, but they’re already sky high at $200+. So for Modern players that like foiling out their decks, regular foils are the next best thing.

Pack foils, prerelease and promo pack foils all start at around $12 on TCGPlayer, and I think that these will have a good run up to $20-25. I don’t mind regular copies at $5 but supply is a lot deeper. Ugin, the Ineffable is also a popular card in the deck, and has the additional pedigree of being in over 11k EDH decks recorded on EDHREC. Here I’d recommend grabbing JPN alt art foils in Europe under €40 if you can, but otherwise regular foils at $6 look pretty nice too.

Bonus Arbitrage

You’re probably already bored of B&R discussion (especially if you spend any time on Twitter), so here’s something entirely unrelated! I’m cheating slightly because James picked these on the podcast last week, but Japanese Alt Art Planeswalkers from War of the Spark are still underpriced in Europe compared to the US. Have a browse for yourselves, but some of the better options here are Ashiok and Saheeli, both of which have strong EDH numbers whilst also seeing a smattering of competitive play as well.

People have been realising how rare these Planeswalkers really are, and a lot have already been absorbed into collections never to be seen again. A quick flip from EU to US is viable here, but considering I don’t think we’re likely to see these printed again remotely soon (if ever), these cards are definitely fine for a longer hold too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings today, but be sure to keep it to yourself if not. (Kidding, I always appreciate feedback). Next week I’ll probably return to my usual format, so if you didn’t like this change then don’t be put off!

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.