All posts by David Sharman

The Watchtower 12/21/20 – It’s Snowing On Kaldheim

It’s long been theorised that Kaldheim will be a snowy plane (and I don’t just mean snowy, I mean snowy), given that it’s set inspired by Norse mythology and the Nordic landscapes, where it does tend to be a little chilly – especially around this time of the year. A couple of weeks ago we saw leaks from the Commander decks for the set, and it was incorrectly ‘spotted’ that one of the cards had a Snow mana symbol on it. Now that we’ve had the official preview for Rana the Ever-Watchful we’ve seen that it isn’t actually a Snow mana symbol – but that doesn’t mean that Snow won’t be in the set. If we take a look at the most recent updates to The List, it’s clear that we’ll be getting more Snow cards, with things like Into the North and Scrying Sheets being added.

As well as the Snow theme, it looks like we’re getting some more tribal synergies going with Dwarves and Giants abound – so where does that land us?

Ice-Fang Coatl (Foil)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $60

Ice-Fang Coatl has pretty much been a staple in Modern and Legacy since its debut in Modern Horizons back in the summer last year (gosh that seems like forever ago), and along with the gone-but-not-forgotten Arcum’s Astrolabe it effectively forced the majority of Modern players to start playing with Snow basic lands. With Kaldheim just around the corner we’re almost sure to be getting some more Snow cards to play with, which will drive demand for Snow cards that are already prevalent in eternal formats.

Ice-Fang foils hit a high of around $50 a few months ago, and since then – most likely due to a lack of paper demand for cards – we’ve seen it drop back down to around $30 again, but supply is still on the low side. There are 27 listings on TCGPlayer with a few copies around $30 but the rest form a nice ramp up towards $60. Ice-Fang has just been added to The List for printing in Set Boosters, but that (1) is a tiny number of cards in reality, and (2) doesn’t include foils anyway.

Now there are two sides to this coin – although I’m fairly sure most coins have at least two sides so I guess that’s a silly turn of phrase anyway – but I think we could see this go either of two ways. If we get some exciting Snow cards in Kaldheim that look like they could break into Modern, then I’m sure that people will hop aboard the hype train and start to snap up cards like Ice-Fang Coatl that seem like they’ll do well in the format. That would give you an earlier out for these. Otherwise, as paper play starts to return around the world (hopefully sooner rather than later), people are going to need Ice-Fangs for their Modern decks regardless, as I think it’s going to remain a staple of the format whatever happens – that’s a slightly longer horizon but the foils are fairly well drained already and it won’t take much to bump the card up in price.

Cavern of Souls (ZNR Expedition Foil)

Price today: $80
Possible price: $130

Another card that has just been added to The List is Cavern of Souls, and that along with a new Dwarven Lord and a new Elven Lord coming to us from Kaldheim previews signifies more tribal synergies to come with the new set. Cavern of Souls has seen a wide degree of variation in its competitive play over the years, depending on how good certain tribes are at different points. Merfolk had its day in Modern, Elves is still around here and there and Eldrazi has always been playing the card, with the current use mostly being a one or two-of in Heliod Company and Amulet Titan decks.

Over on the EDH side of things it’s a popular card in any and all tribal strategies, clocking in at over 22,000 decks registered on EDHREC. Albeit a higher price barrier than a lot of EDH cards, it’s still a favourite amongst players, and with a few different versions to choose from now it’s worth taking a look at the latest one. In terms of premium copies, the main contenders are the original Avacyn Restored foil, the Ultimate Masters Box Topper and now the Zendikar Rising Expedition foil. Although I’m not a huge fan of the ZNR Expedition frames in general, I think it actually works really well on a few of the cards, this being one of them.

Things get really interesting when we take a look at price. Avacyn Restored foils are around $120 and UMA Box Toppers start at $180, but the newest ZNR Expeditions are only $80 – and arguably with the best art yet. That’s mostly down to personal preference but I think I’m definitely safe in saying that it’s a stunner; ethereal rays of light penetrating the gloomy cavern. As supply from ZNR Collector Boosters starts to drain out, $80 won’t hold for much longer – that’s currently $10 than even the regular UMA foils. Give it 12 months or so and I can see these heading towards $120-130, so if you want personal copies or specs I’d grab them now.

Embercleave (FEA)

Price in Europe: €45 ($55)
Price in US: $75
Possible price: $100

With the return of Dwarves in Kaldheim we’re also seeing a bump in the number of equipment cards and synergies that we’re getting in the set. Now, Embercleave has been more of a Standard and Historic card than anything else but it does also show up here and there in Pioneer and Modern, as well as being in a little over 5000 EDH decks listed on EDHREC. That’s not a huge amount of demand, but aside from this being an immediate arbitrage win, the key here is that supply is very low. With only 14 FEA listings on TCGPlayer (and only 16 total copies), the ramp from $75 up towards $100 won’t be a very difficult one for the card to climb before too long.

You can pick these up in Europe for around €45 ($55), which is a win straight away if you’re moving them over to the US for sale. If you prefer to wait a little longer, the only way is up for this card, and so especially with more equipment synergies coming to us from Kaldheim I don’t think you can go wrong with it at all.

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 12/14/20 – Going Rogue

The Rogues deck in Standard has been a mild point of contention recently, with wildly varied takes on how good it is due to the large disparity between how well it has been performing in the hands of the pros vs how well the average Arena ladder-grinder does with it. I’ve played a bit of it myself and had very mixed results, but it’s had me thinking about some Rogues that have applications outside of a Standard environment. There are some interesting ones flying around both in EDH and other competitive formats, and I think they’re worth taking a look at.

Opposition Agent (EA)

Price today: $19
Possible price: $35

Alongside Hullbreacher, Opposition Agent has been one of the biggest hits from Commander Legends, with the Rogue just falling short of first place in favour of the definitely-shouldn’t-be-blue Pirate here. EDHREC will show you the five dual lands as being in the top five spots for Commander Legends because of percentage inclusions, but in terms of raw numbers both Hullbreacher and Agent outstrip them by a mile (around a thousand decks to be a little more precise). These two are super-staples and should realistically be in most 60%+ power level decks that can play them, and you can kind of take them as a pair in terms of my pick logic. But my article isn’t titled “Going Pirate”, is it? So here we are.

Anyway, I’m looking specifically at the EA non-foils here, because they’re only a few bucks more than the regular non-foils at $15, and about the same price as regular foils. That small gap isn’t much when you’re already paying $15 for a card, and so I think that a lot of players will happily fork over the extra few dollars for the extended art versions over the regulars. With the lower supply of the EAs (only found in Collector Boosters), that means that the gap is going to widen, with the EAs increasing in price more quickly than the regular versions.

Now, this is the kind of card that seems like it should be fairly reprintable in Commander sets, but I think we can still get a good run out of it before we see it again. It’s difficult to predict Wizard’s logic on reprints sometimes; as Jason Alt mentioned in the Discord yesterday, Dockside Extortionist seems like a similarly reprintable card but we haven’t seen that one again in 18 months – but either way, the place that this is most likely to show up would be a Commander Precon, which means that it won’t be in extended art, so these versions are safe.

Thieves’ Guild Enforcer (FEA)

Price today: $5
Possible price: $15

Switching gears now, we’re looking at a card that’s geared more towards the competitive scene. Thieves’ Guild Enforcer has been putting some real work in for the Standard Rogues deck, and can looks fairly innocuous at first but plays multiples roles of milling your opponent, whilst also attacking and blocking excellently a bit later in the game when their graveyard is stocked full. To my mild surprise, it’s been doing exactly the same thing over in Modern, which is half the reason I’m writing about it today.

I’m sure we all predicted the Modern mill deck picking up Ruin Crab from Zendikar Rising, but a fair few of the decks have also been playing a suite of Thieves’ Guild Enforcers to help things along as well. There are a few different variations of the deck but it’s clear that the deck is much better than it used to be, and has been putting up results to prove it. Mill used to be a bit of a meme deck in the format, but has slowly been garnering new tools and is a real role-player in Modern now.

I know I said that this is more of a competitively slanted card, but it actually has some decent chops in EDH as well – at around 1000 decks it’s a big player in both mill decks and Rogue decks (and mixtures of the two), of course being very popular with Anowon, the Ruin Thief. At $5 these are pretty damn cheap for an extended art foil, and I don’t think you can really go wrong with these on a slightly longer horizon.

Puresteel Paladin (2XM Foil)

Price today: $6
Possible price: $15

“That’s not a Rogue!” I hear you say. Well, you’d be right. The eagle-eyed among you have probably spotted that this is, in fact, a Human Knight. So why am I talking about it in my Rogue article? Because there’s a new deck on the scene in Modern, and it’s a bit of a rogue one. Hah!

Affectionately named “Hammer Time” (according to MTGGoldfish at any rate), this is a deck that takes advantage of cards like Puresteel Paladin and Sigarda’s Aid to equip a Colossus Hammer for free and swing in for 10+ damage as early as turn two. Drop an Ornithopter or Memnite on turn one, then Sigarda’s Aid on turn 2 means that even if your opponent has a blocker you can fly over with your Thopter and drop in the Hammer after blocks, rendering the “loses flying” part of the card irrelevant for at least one bout of combat. As well as enabling the free equipping that the deck needs, Puresteel Paladin is a real engine in the deck, using all your cheap zero and one mana artifacts to draw into any combo pieces you’re missing – and it carries the hammer pretty well in a pinch too.

I knew I wanted to pick out something from this deck to talk about today, but foil Colossus Hammers have all but disappeared and Steelshaper’s Gift is well overdue a reprint. Puresteel Paladin, however, has just seen a reprint in Double Masters and the foils are looking real tasty. Original foils from New Phyrexia are up over $20, but the 2XM version is still down at $6 – and there aren’t actually many left sitting around. Only 19 listings on TCGPlayer (and almost all are single copies) means that I think this is due for a correction fairly soon, especially if the deck keeps picking up steam.

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 12/07/20 – Bring a Friend

Another week, another Watchtower, another loosely themed article. I don’t know if doing them like this is better or worse for you as a reader, but it definitely helps me to write them and nobody has told me they don’t like it yet, so I’m gonna keep going! (Please do shout at me on Twitter if you feel strongly either way). You can probably take a good guess at the kind of cards that I’m going to be talking about today, but I do like to bury the lede just a little bit to try and keep you interested, which means I can’t be too specific with my article titles. Anyway I’ll stop rambling – let’s jump in.

Obosh, the Preypiercer (FEA)

Price today: $7
Possible price: $20

I was flicking through some of the Standard decks that are being played at the moment, and something caught my eye. Almost all of the Temur ramp/adventure decks that are being played at the moment are playing Obosh, the Preypiercer in the sideboard as their Companion – it’s effectively a free-roll as you really don’t have to exclude many cards to get it to fit in, and you’re still able to cheat a little bit with it by playing cards like Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower that have odd converted mana costs but even costed spells attached to them.

This led me to looking at where else Obosh is being played right now, and it turns out that the current version of the Prowess / Burn decks in Modern are doing exactly the same thing (and even including the Bonecrusher Giants to boot). Being able to play a Companion without needing to significantly warp your deck around it is a great boon to any strategy, and we’ve seen Lurrus and Yorion decks still performing very well even after the change to the Companion rule. I think that Obosh is going to fall into a similar pattern, perhaps not being quite as prevalent as the other two but a decent role-player nonetheless.

I and others have talked about Lurrus in articles and on the podcast before now, as we’ve seen supply dwindle and the price going up and up. Yorion has done the same, and I’m absolutely sure that Obosh is going to do the same thing. You can currently get some outrageously cheap copies around $7 on TCGPlayer at the moment – bearing in mind that Lurrus, which sees around three times the amount of play in Modern, is over seven times that price. There aren’t too many under the $10 mark though, and it ramps up pretty quickly with only 29 FEA listings on TCGPlayer. I think that this will very easily be a $20 card in a few months, and probably head towards $40 before too long (given that I doubt we’ll see it reprinted any time soon).

Akroma, Vision of Ixidor (Foil Etched)

Price today: €8 ($9.50)
Possible price: $30

Come on now, you didn’t think we could get another Akroma printed without a good bit of keyword soup, right? Give it a few years and the next version will probably have so many keywords that the text is so small you need a jeweller’s loupe to read it. But until then, let’s take a look at what we’ve got to work with for now. Aside from just being a decent body with a bunch of relevant abilities, the fact that this new Akroma has Partner strapped to it as well makes it a whole lot better, and we’ve already seen it being paired with other keyword-endowed cards like Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh, which is quite neat and fairly amusing really.

So it’s a popular card from Commander Legends – great. But what I want to focus on here, as is hopefully evident by the fact that I’ve given you the current price in Euros, is that these are way cheaper in Europe than in the US at the moment. It’s the age-old adage (I think that’s a tautology, but oh well) of EDH cards being cheaper in Europe, and yes I’m going to keep hitting you over the head with it.

Now let’s be clear here: the etched foils from Commander Legends can be found in regular draft boosters, unlike the EA cards that only come in Collector Boosters. That means that there’s a decent chunk more supply of etched foils in general, but Akroma here is a mythic and there really aren’t too many copies going around (in the US at any rate). Prices start at $17 on TCGPlayer, almost double what they can be had for on MKM, and even after you’ve taken into account the arbitrage gains I think this card is heading upwards if you hold onto it for a while. EDHREC is showing us that it’s one of the most popular new Partners, and that’s mirrored on TCGPlayer with it having much lower stock levels than the other etched foil Mythics. I think we’re onto a winner here.

Giver of Runes (Foil)

Price today: €18 ($22)
Possible price: $50

I’m rounding things off with another arbitrage pick, and want to give a shoutout to one of the Protraders in the MTGPrice Discord for putting this on my radar last week – it’s a good find. I’m stretching the ‘friends’ theme a little bit here, but don’t worry, it’s worth it! I reckon that Giver of Runes could definitely be your friend, given the ability and flavour text on her – after all, friends are the family that we choose.

Either way, this is a card that’s been consistently performing well in various Modern decks since the release of Modern Horizons, as well as showing up in around 5000 EDH decks listed on EDHREC. Highlights include Heliod Company decks, Devoted Devastation builds and the more classic Death & Taxes lists; it’s really great at protecting combo pieces as well as shoring yourself up against removal-heavy strategies.

There are a grand total of nine NM foil listings for Giver on TCGPlayer at the moment, which start at $45 and don’t exactly go down from there. That makes the $22 copies on MKM an absolute slam dunk, great for immediate arbitrage and even better to hold onto for a little while. I can’t really think of anywhere that this could be reprinted soon other than Modern Horizons 2, which isn’t hitting until Q3 next year anyway (and even then I’m kinda doubtful that we’ll see it again there). On that kind of timeline this could be a $75+ foil by that point, especially if paper play has started to pick up again, even just at an LGS level.

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 11/30/20 – Revisiting Zendikar (Again)

I last wrote about Zendikar Rising back in September, before the set had been released and talked about some EDH cards I wanted to buy when they bottomed out. Let’s check back in on those shall we?

  • Thieving Skydiver at $1: check.
  • Ashaya at $5: well it’s $6 so I’m counting that as a hit.
  • Moraug Showcase foils at $15: They’re down to $10, so even better!

So some free advice: now would be the time to buy some of these if you fancy some good returns in a year or so.

Seeing as most things from Zendikar Rising seem to have bottomed out now, I wanted to revisit the set and take another look at what I think some of the best pickups are at current prices (other than my previous, incredibly prescient picks).

Skyclave Apparition (FEA)

Price today: $16
Possible price: $30

Talking about things I’ve talked about before, I’ve also talked about Skyclave Apparition before in one of my articles. That was a mouthful that I probably definitely could’ve worded better, but oh well. A couple of months ago I called Skyclave Apparition FEAs to move from $10 to $25 based on the back of some early competitive play for the card, and I’ve got to say it’s only gotten better since then.

Skyclave Apparition has been showing up in a bunch of different top tier decks across Standard, Pioneer, Modern and Legacy (and Historic I guess?). It’s been heralded as the best white card printed in years, and to be honest I can’t really dispute that when it comes to these competitive formats. The card is fantastic and is doing even better than I had hoped for when I wrote about it back in September.

You can go and read what I wrote about the card back then, but I want to update my projection for the FEA copies and call them from where they currently are at $16 to land north of $30 before too long. There are only 25 listings left on TCGPlayer, a grand total of five of which have more than one copy listed (and even then only contain 2-3 copies each). When paper play picks back up (and yes, I know I keep saying that but trust me – eventually it will and you’ll be glad you picked up cards when they were cheap because oh boy are some cards from sets released during the pandemic going to get pricey), these are going to be in very high demand and you’ll feel quite smug outing your copies you got at $10-15.

Ancient Greenwarden (FEA)

Price today: €18 ($21.50)
Possible price: $40

Is it a competitive staple? No. Is it a big EDH card? Yes. So where are we going to buy it? That’s right, in Europe! Well done, we did it. That wasn’t so hard now was it?

Jokes aside, you can follow this logic for most Magic cards. Competitive-focused cards are generally the same price in the US and Europe, or cheaper in the US, and EDH cards are almost always cheaper in Europe. There’s already a steep ramp formed on TCGPlayer of these, starting at $23 and heading to $30 in no short order, with only 22 total listings. Over on MKM however, there’s a relative glut of supply at the €18 mark – some tasty pickings if I ever saw them. The healthy supply in Europe might mean a weaker demand profile for the card on this side of the pond, but that just makes it an even better arbitrage opportunity to ship Stateside.

Ancient Greenwarden has been one of the most popular EDH cards picked up from Zendikar Rising, because it’s green and says ‘land’ and ‘graveyard’ on it. At a touch over 2400 decks, Greenwarden clocks in at the number 5 include from the set – it’s effectively a beefier Ramunap Excavator that is actually a relevant body on the board, especially seeing as it has Reach strapped onto it (because it wasn’t doing enough already).

Given the steep ramp on the card already, I think we’ll see these up to $40 within 12-18 months or less, which makes for a nice return if you’re picking a bunch up in Europe.

Thieving Skydiver (FEA)

Price today: $7
Possible price $20

Sorry to disappoint anyone hoping for a non-foil pick today, but these foil extended arts are just too good to skip out on. They’re the lowest supply versions of cards being printed into Standard sets at the moment as well as being the prettiest things around, so what am I to do really?

Thieving Skydiver has uh, taken a dive in price (unimaginative, I know) since the release of Zendikar Rising, but remains one of the most popular EDH cards from the set and takes the number one slot for blue cards. Mana rocks are such a huge part of EDH, and so being able to steal them for such a low opportunity cost is a huge boon – especially in a blue deck that may well not be playing green and so be worse off when it comes to ramping out.

Although this is only a rare and not a mythic, I think that $7 is way too low for an FEA EDH all-star, and before long this is going to start climbing significantly. You should probably be playing this in every blue EDH deck you own, so I’d grab some personal copies here alongside some more to spec on. They’re around the same price in Europe at the moment so grab whatever is easiest, but give it a year or so and these aren’t going to be very cheap at all any more.

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.