All posts by David Sharman

The Watchtower 08/24/20 – Jumping Back in Time

Double Masters? Haven’t heard of her. Over the weekend we had the kickoff of Commander Legends previews, along with the full set of the Commander Collection: Green released. It’s only been four months since Commander 2020 was released, but it certainly feels like an age ago – we’ve had M21, Jumpstart and Double Masters released on us since then, have now started Commander Legends previews and will be soon to start Zendikar Rising previews. It seems that Wizards are really testing the limits as to how much product they can shove down our throats before we stop buying everything – but it doesn’t look like we’ve hit the bar quite yet, as although there is definitely some product fatigue, people are still buying like crazy even during a pandemic.

So although it was only four months ago, let’s jump back in time and take a look at the winners and potential gainers from Commander 2020 (also known as Commander: Ikoria).

I remember when we first saw the free spells from C20 previewed, and thinking “hmm these seem quite good, maybe I should pick some up”, but before you could blink preorders for Fierce Guardianship had shot up to $30. Four of the five free spells are currently taking the top four spots from the set, with the green one trailing miserably miles behind. It’s pretty tragic – you would’ve thought they might have given green a small overrun effect, or token creation of some sort, but no, it got a fog. Great.

Anyway, with those cards taking up a good chunk of the EV from the set, I want to have a look at some of the other new cards and reprints that look set to do well from here on.

Verge Rangers

Price today: $1.60
Possible price: $5

White has a long and storied history of being the least powerful colour in Magic, never really getting to do anything broken and being notoriously poor at accruing card advantage. Wizards have very slowly started to give the colour some more card advantage and better tools, with Smothering Tithe proving to be a very popular EDH card, and now Verge Rangers looks set to be another boon for white.

I think that this is the first time white has been given the ability to play cards from the top of their library, whilst the other colours have all had this ability in some form or another for a while. Verge Rangers unfortunately doesn’t let you play extra lands, but it’s still a good catch-up mechanism to try and keep up with the green decks. It’s a decent body on top of that, so definitely a pretty good rate overall.

Discounting the free spells, EDHREC has Verge Rangers is the top mono-coloured card from C20, and if we’re looking at raw numbers (not percentages) then it’s the most included card full stop (a bunch of the 3 colours cards rank above it because their percentage includes are higher due to having fewer total decks they can go into). I think that this will become a long-term staple for white EDH decks, so I don’t think you can go very wrong picking bricks of these up at $1.60.

Species Specialist

Price today: $0.50
Possible price: $3

Another mono-coloured card (read: goes in a lot of different decks) to be doing well is Species Specialist. I have to imagine that this slots into pretty much any tribal-based deck that can run it, and the EDHREC data backs that up. The top commander for it are almost all tribal commanders, and I think that one of the best decks for the Specialist has to be Grismold, the Dreadsower, as it gives all your opponents plants too, and Species Specialist triggers off any creature of the chosen type dying, not just ones you control. Other good synergies are where your commander is a sacrifice outlet, like Endrek Sahr and Marrow-Gnawer, or in fact the Silvar / Trynn deck that the card comes in.

50 cents for this does seem pretty low to me, as I think it’ll be a popular tribal card for EDH and casual decks going forward, giving the ability to get some serious card advantage going. I’d be happy to sit on a bunch of these and buylist out for $2-3, possibly more, in a year or so.

Tidal Barracuda

Price today: $1
Possible price: $5

I actually really like this card and think it goes into a lot of decks, and a lot of different types of deck. Blue is the most popular colour in EDH, so we’re already winning there. Barracuda is the top mono-blue card from C20, so still looking good. Now let’s read the card.

Albeit strapped to a creature which is generally the most easy thing to kill in EDH, we’ve got quite a unique effect here: everyone can cast everything at instant speed, but not on your turn. Giving everyone else flash might sound scary, but if they’re not interacting with you on your turn then you have a lot less reason to care. I can see this leading to a lot of situations where your opponents interact with each other a lot and can’t do much about your stuff, meaning you can leave them to take each other out and then swoop in to win the game.

As well as that, it gives excellent combo protection; generally an effect we’ve only seen from white and the likes of Grand Abolisher and Silence prison-style cards. Giving that ability to mono-blue is some serious game, meaning that if you can untap with a Barracuda in play then you don’t need to worry about holding up extra counterspells whilst going off. This can also play well in group hug style decks, giving your opponents a helpful effect whilst actually helping you a lot more than them.

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 08/17/20 – Post-Ban Formats, Again

It seems like I’m doing one of these articles every couple of months now, but until WotC sort out their card designs and stop printing stuff that needs banning, I guess I’ll keep going. Two weeks ago we had one of the biggest shake-ups across four formats (well, like three and a half; Brawl only kinda counts) that we’ve had in recent years, with Standard seeing the banning of Wilderness Reclamation, Growth Spiral, Tef3ri and Cauldron Familiar just two months before rotation. As well as that, we had Inverter, Ballista, Breach and Kethis banned in Pioneer, Reclamation and Tef3ri suspended in Historic and Tef3ri also banned in Brawl.

In terms of #mtgfinance, only one of those formats is likely relevant here, so let’s take a look at where Brawl is headed after this round of bans…

Just kidding, we’re obviously here for Pioneer. Having pretty much completely ignored the format in the last set of bans, it seems like Wizards have finally listened to peoples’ pleas and sorted Pioneer out. The takeaway from these bans is probably that Wizards don’t want Pioneer to be a combo format, as they’ve axed the three big combos and taken out Kethis just for good measure.

Niv-Mizzet Reborn (Foil)

Price today: $15
Possible price: $30

Now that Pioneer looks to be headed towards being a big midrange format, players have been very excited to get their Niv-Mizzets back out. The combo decks like Inverter and Breach really pushed these kinds of value-based decks out of the format for a while, and although people were still playing it, it wasn’t necessarily well positioned. With those gone, however, it’s time to cast 5 colour spells on turn 7 again, and there’s nothing Magic players love more than being able to throw a bunch of random 1-of spells in their deck with the justification that they need something of that guild’s colour to draw with Niv.

I’m sure foil Niv has been called out as a spec before, probably on the podcast, but I think it’s in a better position than ever right now. There are only 21 vendors with copies on TCGPlayer, and only another 8 with prerelease versions. WAR was a very popular set, but this is still a foil mythic so supply isn’t going to be too deep.

The ramp on this one is steep so if you want any personal copies then go get them right now, because they’ll be $20 before you can blink. Give it 6 months and if this deck is still popular in Pioneer, I can see these hitting $30 easily. It’s also the 2nd most popular commander from the set by quite a margin, which is pretty impressive for a five colour card!

An additional tip on this one is to look at some of the foil Japanese copies on TCGPlayer, because there are some that are significantly cheaper than the English copies, which is bound to be incorrect down the road. They’ll be from JPN WAR boxes that people have cracked looking for alternate art planeswalkers, so snag those deals whilst you can.

Agent of Treachery (Foil)

Price today: $8
Possible price: $20

Another deck that’s shot back up in popularity is the Yorion/Fires/Lukka/Agent whatever you want to call it deck. It’s kind of a Jeskai control deck, but it also tries to cheat out an Agent of Treachery as quickly as possible by making tokens and then using Lukka to turn it into an Agent. Doing that on turn 5 and stealing your opponent’s biggest threat, or even a land if they’re also a control deck, is pretty sweet.

Generally these lists will be playing full suites of Narset (can I say Nars3t because the deck sometimes plays the 4 mana one too?), Tef3ri and Lukka, and some are even packing as many as 18(!) planeswalkers into the deck! Superfriends aside, these decks are all playing three or four Agent of Treachery, obviously an integral part of the list. It’s a card that was powerful enough to get banned in Standard, and Pioneer is definitely closer to Standard+ rather than Modern Lite, so the power levels are relatively comparable.

Foil Agents have had a rocky ride up and down, but can now be had as low as $8 on TGCPlayer. The ramp up isn’t all that shallow, so these cheaper copies seem like a sure thing to hit $15 before long, and on to $20 given 12 months or less. It’s worth noting, as usual, that it’s in a reasonable number of EDH decks too – 7.5k – and sits in the top 10 cards from M20 as the most popular blue card *scowls at Deadeye Navigator*.

Eldritch Evolution (Foil)

Price today: $9
Possible price: $18

Rounding things off today, I’m taking a look at the Naya Winota lists tearing up the Pioneer metagame at the moment. Ok, maybe not totally tearing it up, but definitely doing pretty well. From what I’ve seen of this deck in action, it’s quite a high variance deck but when things go right, it’s insane. Your opponent can just die out of nowhere on turn 4 after you play a Winota, and that’s kinda busted if you ask me.

The aim of the game is to get your Goblin Rabblemasters and Legion Warbosses making tokens to attack, and use the Winota trigger to find an Angrath’s Marauders or two to hit your opponent really really really hard. One of the key pieces of the deck is Eldritch Evolution, which can mean you have a Winota in play on turn 3 quite consistently, and if you’re sacrificing a Voice of Resurgence to the Evolution then you’ll even have a decent body left behind to attack with the next turn as well.

Eldritch Evolution is again a card that’s been talked about a fair bit before now, but foils are in really short supply now. We had a non-foil reprint in the Mystery Boosters, but foils haven’t been seen since the original printing in Eldritch Moon. Starting at $9 on TCGPlayer, there are only 19 vendors with copies, with another 6 for the prerelease version. This deck can only get more consistent and/or powerful over time, and I am of course obligated to mention that this is also a card in 13k EDH decks, which is a very nice backup to have. Seeing as we got the Mystery Booster printing I don’t think we’ll see this card printed again for a little while, so I think you’re good to ride this up for at least the next 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 08/10/20 – Double Dipping

It would hardly be Double Masters if I didn’t do two articles on it, so this week I’m following up on last week’s picks with another set of Double Masters cards that you should be picking up sooner rather than later. As expected, we saw prices fall hard over the weekend as people cracked boxes and started the race to the bottom. Some prices (especially box toppers) have already started moving upwards as people pick up the cards they want, but we might see prices deflate again slightly as this week progresses and more product gets opened and listed.

Supply of Double Masters product – in the US at least – seems to be somewhat stinted compared to previous Masters sets, so today I’m going to be focusing on arbitrage opportunities from Europe. Prices on MKM are much lower than they are on TCG right now, more so than we’d normally expect, so this article is mostly one for European speculators and people with arbitrage contacts.

Toxic Deluge

Price on MKM: €9 ($11)
Price on TCG: $18
Possible price: $25

Toxic Deluge is one of the most powerful boardwipes you can play in EDH, because of its innate flexibility and the fact that you start on 40 life. Since its original printing in Commander 2013 we’ve only seen it once again in Eternal Masters up until now, so supply has always been on the low side whilst demand has remained very high. 28k EDH decks is nothing to sniff at!

Before its Double Masters reprint, Commander 2013 and Eternal Masters copies of Toxic Deluge were pushing $35. Now down to $11 on MKM makes for an insta-buy in my opinion, as I think it’ll be all too easy for this card to slide back up to $25 before long, and possibly towards $30 before it sees another reprint. The $18 copies on TCG aren’t too enticing at the moment, but if that pushes lower this week or next I can see picking $15 copies up a decent option.

I really like the box topper foils in Europe too; they start at €30 ($35) which definitely seems way too low. The $50 box topper foils in the US are probably fine too, but again I’d prefer them closer to $40. Either way I think they have a shot at $70-80 within 12 months or so, but supply of the cheaper foils isn’t too deep so not many people will get a shot at them that low.

Cyclonic Rift

Price on MKM: €12 ($14)
Price on TCG: $27
Possible price: $35

God I wish the EDH Rules Committee would ban this card. It’s so egregious. But failing that, I’m going to keep making money on this card as long as it’s legal in EDH. Cyclonic Rift is the second most popular blue card in EDH, ever, losing out on the top spot only to Counterspell. I don’t really need to explain how powerful or how popular this card is, because chances are if you’ve ever played EDH then you’ve either cast Rift or had it cast against you.

With a pedigree like that (94k EDH decks, 43% of all blue decks etc…), it’s no surprise that this was a $40 card before the Double Masters reprint. Down to $14 in Europe now, you could try for an immediate flip in the US, or hold longer and wait for US prices to move further upwards (even if they go down first). Same as Toxic Deluge, I like cheap box topper foils of this quite a lot. I love the new art for this one, and they’re as cheap as €36 on MKM which has to be a snap buy.

It’s worth mentioning that this could be a target for another printing in Commander Legends later this year (should be November/December time), but even given that I think there’s time to get in and out of this before then with good margins.

Mana Crypt

Price on MKM: €57 ($67)
Price on TCG: $100
Possible price: $150

Mana Crypt is always too cheap in Europe, and despite Wizards giving us two different printings of the card this year alone, the price remains high in the US. After close to four years without a printing, the Mystery Booster version earlier this year (plus Convention Edition copies from last year, I guess), brought the price down below $150, and now with a Double Masters print we’re seeing sub $100 prices for the first time in forever. This smells like a great opportunity to me, as I think it’s quite likely to dodge a reprint in Commander Legends, due to EV reasons as well as the double print already this year. There is a small risk there, but I’m hedging my bets that it won’t be in.

43k EDH decks, 10% of all decks, blah blah blah you know what I’m going to say at this point. This is a slam dunk to flip from Europe to the US, so get in on the action whilst you still can. If we don’t see this again in Commander Legends, I expect it can probably hit $150 before it’s printed again. Of the upcoming sets we know about, I can’t see it making its way into anything else any time soon, so we should be fine for a little while.

On the box topper versions of this, I’m less of a fan than I perhaps could be of these ones. I think that the art isn’t as good as the regular art, and the price difference between Europe and the US isn’t quite as large as it could be, so I’m sticking to the regular copies for now. Another thing to note is that regular Double Masters versions will most likely be more popular than Mystery Booster copies, because people don’t seem to be a fan of the MB symbol on those cards. This will mean a higher price point for the Double Masters copies down the road, so keep that in mind.

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 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.