All posts by David Sharman

The Watchtower 11/16/20 – Looking The Other Way

Today I wanted to talk about something that is quite difficult for some people to do (myself included), and that’s looking the other way when most people are focused on the newest release in Magic. The release of Commander Legends is just around the corner (this Friday in fact), but whilst everyone else is looking at the shiny new cards, I’m going to be looking back at some older cards that I think are undervalued.

With the rate that sets are being released now, the hype cycle moves on much more quickly than it used to, meaning that even relatively recently released cards can get forgotten about more easily, only to pop back up in a year or so and make you go “hang on, when did this get expensive?”. Those are some of the cards I’ve got in store for you this week, so let’s have a look, shall we?

Hagra Mauling (FEA)

Price today: $2
Possible price: $10

$2 to $10? Come on David, that’s an outrageous call for such a recently printed card! Ok, but…is it though? I think that we’re all familiar with how good these MDFCs are by now, both as combo pieces and as solid value cards in more ‘normal’ decks. It’s mostly the mythic ones being played, and their price tag reflects that (although I think that most of them are still decent pickups, as I doubt they’ll see another print for a little while) – but some of the rare and uncommon ones are great too, both in EDH and competitive formats.

In Modern and Pioneer (heck, and Legacy too) we’ve seen the ‘Oops All Spells’ deck doing pretty well in a few different iterations since these MDFCs were released in Zendikar Rising. I’m happy to see that they’re good, but not good or dominant enough to warrant any bans – I think that Wizards really nailed it with these MDFCs and got them at just the right kind of power level. Anyway, all of these ‘Oops All Spells’ decks play 4 of each of the mythic MDFCs, and past that the next card of choice is almost always Hagra Mauling, and generally as a four-of. It’s seeing a decent amount of play in Standard as well, which bodes well for it being a potential tool for non-combo Pioneer (and maybe Modern) decks down the line.

You can pick these foil extended arts up for around $2 on TCGPlayer at the moment, which honestly seems way too low. Although there’s very little paper play at the moment, for a card that’s seeing a decent amount of competitive play as well as being in a reasonable number of EDH decks (840, not huge but certainly not insignificant for a new card), I would’ve expected this to be closer to $5. Once paper play returns, quite a number of players are going to need these for their decks, and I would not be surprised to see them going for FEAs when they’re not-so-expensive. As well as that, these MDFCs are the poster-child for open-ended synergy, which means that they’re only going to get better as we get more cards to play with them. Give it a year and I think you’ll be happy to have a stack of these.

Cyclonic Rift (Double Masters)

Price today: $15
Possible price: $30

Cyclonic Rift. An absolute super-staple in EDH, included in almost 90k decks on EDHREC – that’s nearly 40% of all blue decks. The most recent reprint given to us was in Double Masters, where we got a fancy box topper version of the card as well – but I want to focus on the regular copies here. Time and time again we’ve seen this card bounce back from reprints like…uhh, something really bouncy I guess? I don’t know, insert your own analogy here […]. If you’re building a blue EDH deck, there’s a very high chance this card is going in it, and so there are always going to be players needing to buy copies of the card.

Cyclonic Rift was way up close to $40 before we got the reprint in Double Masters, which has now brought the price back down to around $15. The important thing here is that it didn’t catch another printing in Commander Legends, which had been something speculated on as a possibility. Without anywhere else to put another printing of this card for a little while going forwards then, I think that will mean we see upwards pressure on all versions of Rift until it gets a fresh print.

People are still building EDH decks even without much paper play happening, but as I said last week there will be extra downwards pressure on card prices as we enter the holiday season. That makes now a good time to pick up cards that you want to be selling next summer, and I think that this should be one of them. I do really like the borderless foils at $35 as well here, although there are a couple of walls of those on TCGPlayer that need to be eaten away at before the price moves too much.

Nyx Lotus (FEA)

Price today: $20
Possible price: $50

Nyx Lotus is a powerful EDH card in the right deck, those namely being mono-coloured ones that can get a decent number of devotion pips into play. It’s actually the 6th most popular inclusion from Theros Beyond Death, and at 8500 decks it’s definitely making its mark on the format. It has the potential to produce a buttload of mana very quickly (which is probably why it enters play tapped), and it’s very easy to go infinite with something like Filigree Sages.

Although it’s kind of relegated to mono-colour (and sometimes two colour) decks, it’s still a great mana rock in those shells, and the FEA versions are starting to get a little thin on the ground. There are a couple of copies left below $20 on TCGPlayer but with only 31 total listings and most of those being single copies, these are definitely draining out. I expect to see this post up over $30 within a few months, and I doubt we’ll be seeing a FEA versions any time soon so I don’t doubt it’ll just keep going up over the next year or two, with $40-50 being easily possible in that timeframe.

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 11/09/20 – Reprints Are Coming

Don’t brace yourselves, because Ned Stark never said that, but what you should do is brace your wallets for Commander Legends. Along with a billion and one new Legendary Partner cards (which for the record I still think is a stupid mechanic that they shouldn’t have doubled down on), we’re getting a decent slew of reprints in Commander Masters Legends. Preorder prices have been racing downwards since previews were revealed, and there are going to be some really tasty prices for us to feast on.

This is another of my ‘don’t necessarily buy right now’ articles that I like to do in the run-up to set releases, but I’ll discuss that further in my individual picks – so be sure to take note. Especially heading into the holiday season prices are going to be getting lower than average, with people spending more of their money on presents and less on cardboard.

Vampiric Tutor

Price I want to buy at: $30
Possible future price: $60

$30 might be a slightly optimistic buy-in point for Vampiric Tutor, but honestly I don’t think it’s far off. Although preorders on TCG are always thin on the ground at this point in time, over on MKM they’re already preselling for under €30 (~$36), so if you have access to that market then I’d be sorely tempted to grab a few right now, especially if you’re just looking to grab any personal copies. We could see it dip below that before release, or as we head into peak supply, but if it does then I doubt it’ll be by much. After its printing in Eternal Masters we saw prices around $30 so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar trend here.

Vampiric Tutor is in over 36k decks listed on EDHREC – a pretty staggering number to be sure – but we know that EDH players just love their tutors, and an instant speed tutor for one mana is too good to pass up for a lot of black decks. This reprint will be a big opportunity for a lot of people to pick copies up that were previously priced out of the card, and the bling-minded among us will be scooping up the gorgeous foil EA copies.

I’m picking the regular version here instead of the Extended Art for a couple of reasons: I think it stands a lot to gain over a 1-2 year horizon, and I’m honestly not sure what kind of pricing we’re going to see for the EAs and EA foils. I don’t mind saying that I don’t feel confident enough to give you an exact dollar amount that I want to be buying EAs and EA foils at, but I will say that I’m going to be keeping a close eye on them as prices tumble once Collector Boosters start to get cracked and we head into peak supply. The lowest EA non-foil is currently $100 on TCGPlayer but I think that’ll come down towards $60-80, with foils probably staying $100+ for the most part.

The EMA version with the same art as this had gotten up well over $100 before the reprint had been announced, so I think that $30 to $60 is rather a conservative call and you can probably make a decent chunk more money than that depending on how long you want to hold onto them for.

Mana Drain

Price I want to buy at: $50
Possible future price: $100

Blue mages rejoice! The best counterspell in Magic (probably) has been given to us again, meaning that even more people at the EDH table can counter an Expropriate and then cast their own almost for free the next turn. Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Anyway, if you’re the type of person that wants to do…that, then Commander Legends has just taken $100 off the cost of doing so.

Anyway, pretty much everything you just read about Vampiric Tutor goes for Mana Drain too. We last saw it in Iconic Masters, which depressed prices down to a little under $50, and I fully expected to see prices around the same with Commander Legends. It’s almost as if I’ve just checked MKM and can see that they’re currently preordering for $53…

Despite being a little less popular than Vampiric Tutor, Mana Drain has always retained a higher price tag – it has fewer printings and is slightly less replaceable than Vampiric Tutor can be. Although we’re moving into an era of more frequent reprints across the board, the high price tag on both of these cards means that Wizards need to be careful where they print them, and so we probably won’t be seeing them again very soon, meaning that we can get a good run out of them in the meantime. Mana Drain was $150 before this reprint, so $100 seems pretty easy to get to again.

The EA versions of Mana Drain we’re getting in Commander Legends are especially hot, using the swirly vortex art from the Iconic Masters printing. Same as Vampiric Tutor, EA foils will be big money so keep an eye out for when they hit lows.

Austere Command (EA Foil)

Price I want to buy at: $5
Possible future price: $15

For my last trick card, I am actually picking an EA foil specifically. Although we’ve pretty much just had Austere Command printed in Double Masters, we’re being given it again in Commander Legends. Why that might be is a question scientists still can’t answer, and I amongst many others are caught holding copies from 2XM that have just had their spec timeline lengthened considerably.

Never fear, however, because we are being indulged with an EA version of the card, which I think outclasses any premium versions of the card we’ve had before. The original Lorwyn and Commander set copies have, in my opinion, the best art, but they’re cursed with the absolute mess of text that Wizards used to use for modal choice cards, rendering them a lot less popular than they otherwise might be. After that the other printings in Iconic Masters, Double Masters and now Commander Legends use the newer art, with the final version being the (ugly) Invocation from Amonkhet.

For the vast majority of people I think that this EA foil will certainly be superior to the Invocation, which is the only other ‘premium’ printing, and probably better than the Lorwyn art copies as well. That means that a lot of EDH players are likely going to upgrade their copies for their decks, pushing up the price of this Collector Booster-only item. Preorders are low in supply at the moment, but copies can be found for €5 on MKM and around $10 on TCGPlayer, which indicates to me that we could easily see these around $5 at peak supply. Another EA printing is probably quite a way off after this one, so I think that they’ll have a good amount of room to grow towards $10-15.

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 11/02/20 – Banned But Not Forgotten

My cheeky title today is a sort of roundabout way of saying that just because a card gets banned in a format, doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for it in terms of speculation or financial interest. We’ve seen plenty of cards banned in various formats only to flourish in others, and EDH is generally an excellent backstop to hold up demand for cards that get banned out of the more competitive formats. There are plenty of cards I could talk about here, but some are better than others…number 3 will surprise you!

Omnath, Locus of Creation (Showcase Foil)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $60

Everyone was undeniably excited to brew with the latest incarnation of Omnath when it was previewed for Zendikar Rising, but it quickly became clear that the card was just busted in half in the Standard environment it was in. Combined with Lotus Cobra, Uro and Escape to the Wilds it was just an infinite value engine that could not be outmatched, and everyone knew it needed to be banned. So of course, Wizards banned Uro instead! A classic move. Then after a couple of weeks of selling more ZNR packs, they actually banned Omnath out of Standard (and Historic and Brawl, but whatever), along with Escape to the Wilds and Lucky Clover.

But enough story time, I’m supposed to be telling you why you should buy this card. If you head on over to the MTGGoldfish page for Omnath to have a look at what decks it’s being played in, you might expect to see it dominated by EDH play. But you’d be wrong! Omnath is being bandied around in multiple different Modern and Pioneer decks, and has even shown up in Legacy decks as well. Neat. It is also, of course, the most popular commander built from Zendikar Rising, and that’s going to help things along nicely too.

Now normally, Showcase cards aren’t the best picks to be buying compared to say, Extended Art cards, because you can find Showcase cards in regular packs which makes them a lot more abundant than EAs. However, Omnath is a Mythic which means much lower supply than a rare, for example, and his popularity has really suppressed supply. Compare it to another Mythic Showcase like Moraug, and you can see that TCGPlayer has nearly double the listings for Moraug as for Omnath, with Omnath sitting at almost twice the price.

With prices for Omnath starting at around $30, almost all the vendors just have one or two copies in stock and the price ladder isn’t too shallow. With the plethora of play that this card is seeing across so many different formats, I find it hard to believe that this won’t be a $60 card down the road.

Walking Ballista (Foil) (No, Not The Secret Lair One)

Price today: $14
Possible price: $30

Honestly, it was a tragedy that Walking Ballista got banned out of Pioneer. Walking Ballista died for Heliod’s sins, it’s just the truth. Heliod hasn’t done anything relevant in any format other than being part of the infinite combo with Walking Ballista, whereas Ballista is a really sweet, powerful-but-not-broken card that was a huge boon to the Hardened Scales deck in Pioneer, and Wizards went ahead and banned it anyway so they could sell their Theros packs with Heliod in them. I think we’re starting to see a pattern emerge here don’t you?

Despite that, Walking Ballista is still a relatively prevalent card in Modern, heading up the various iterations of the Counters Company deck and also being an integral part of regular and Eldrazi Tron decks. There are relatively few surprises if we head over to the EDH side of things, with it being included in over 15k decks listed on EDHREC, varying from the cEDH side of things all the way down to much more casual decks.

Onto versions: I really wanted to pick the Secret Lair foils here, because it’s the only ‘different’ version of the card – but I really just don’t like it that much. I think it’s inferior art to the original, prices are already much higher than I’d like and there’s a glut of supply. No thanks! Instead I’m looking at the Double Masters foils. As I and others have said before, now and heading more into the holiday period is a good time to be picking up Double Masters cards, and this is no different. Original Æther Revolt foils are around $23 and up, so grabbing 2XM foils at $14 seems pretty great to me to catch up quickly. After that, I think there’s a good runway on the card – original foils were close to $50 before the reprint and given 12-24 months without another reprint, I can easily see this getting back over $30.

Narset, Parter of Veils (Stained Glass Foil)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $60+

WELL ACTULLY NARSET ISN’T BANN- yeah I don’t care, she’s restricted in Vintage and that’s good enough for me! I don’t need to spend long on this one because we all know that Narset is an incredibly powerful planeswalker who sees a decent amount of play in pretty much any format she’s legal in, as well as being the most popular EDH card from War of the Spark (that’s 25k decks thank you very much).

The alternate art Japanese copies are already through the roof here, but the next best thing is probably the stained glass versions that came as bonus cards in Secret Lair products. I think I’m correct in saying that we’ve hit the end of the stained glass planeswalkers now, meaning that the already dwindling supply on the more popular cards is unlikely to be restocked any time soon.

These start at $30 on TCGPlayer but there are very few copies that cheap, and the ramp is another steep one with only 26 listings to play with. Considering the fact that I don’t think this is getting reprinted or restocked any time soon, Narset looks like she could be up over $60 within the next six months or so, possibly even reaching higher than that. The demand for the card is huge, and people that want flashy cardboard but can’t quite justify spending $400 on the JPN alt foils are definitely going to spend their money on this one instead.

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 10/26/20 – Do I Feel Lucky?

Okay, so uh, I got my dates wrong re: Commander Legends preview season in my article two weeks ago BUT it turned out I was actually kind of right by accident due to the leaks we saw. I’m not discussing the leaks but it seems like I was thrown off by the set release date being moved back, meaning that preview season got moved too. Nevertheless, I like playing with fire and so I’m back today with some more great cards that I’m confident won’t be reprinted in Commander Legends, so buckle in and don’t forget your wallet. You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?

Stoneforge Mystic (Box Topper Foil)

Price today: $40
Possible price: $70

Remember a few weeks back when I raved about Skyclave Apparition for way too long? Well, turns out I was right the best deck playing it in Modern at the moment is Death & Taxes, featuring – surprise surprise – four copies of Stoneforge Mystic. This is a card that was banned in Modern for a long time, and since its release from jail has shown up consistently in a wide variety of decks, without being so dominant that it could see another ban. As well as being in D&T, Stoneforge shows up in various Stoneblade decks, and can also be found in some of the midrange “Uro Piles” decks.

Stoneforge Mystic shows up in a touch over 8000 EDH decks recorded on EDHREC, and has actually seen an uptick in play with Zendikar Rising, being included in almost half of all Akiri, Fearless Voyager decks. It’s not as prolific as it perhaps could be, but 8000 is a solid number and this box topper is by far the best art the card has ever had so I would not be at all surprised if a large proportion of people wanted to upgrade theirs. I certainly know that I’m going to do so!

The Modern play that Stoneforge sees coupled with moderate EDH demand means that these box toppers aren’t going to hang around forever. Across the board, Double Masters box toppers and regular cards have mostly seen downwards pressure since the set’s release – this is due to a mixture of very little paper play happening, the hype cycle moving on and people saving money for the approaching holiday season. That makes for a perfect little storm, so it’s an ideal time to pick up undervalued cards from Double Masters – and that includes Stoneforge Mystic. This won’t be a quick flip like some things, but I think it’ll be a heck of a long time before we see this art plus borderless treatment on Stoneforge again, so this is a good one to store away for  18-24 months and be pleasantly surprised down the road.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty (Foil)

Price today: $12
Possible price: $25

I’m flying a little closer to the sun here, picking a good Legendary creature that hasn’t been printed in a couple of years. I’m still pretty confident in it though, because it’s still not exactly a high priority reprint and should give us plenty of breathing room.

Shalai is in a surprising 14k EDH decks listed on EDHREC, with another 415 playing her as the commander – and provides multiple powerful effects on one body. Giving hexproof not only to your creatures, but to you and planeswalkers you control as well is a huge boon, meaning that if someone wants to touch you or your boardstate they have to go through Shalai first. If you can’t suit her up with something to give her hexproof or indestructible then you’re really rolling. On top of all that, her second ability can either act as a nice buff for your team, or play part to an infinite mana combo making your creatures arbitrarily large and swinging for lethal in one go.

Shalai also sees a smattering of play in Modern and Pioneer, often being used as a one or two-of in Collected Company / Devoted Devastation decks, both to protect the combo pieces as well as being one in and of itself. There aren’t a lot of foils left, with just 16 listings on TCGPlayer with some promo copies also available. This was before the increased foil drop rate and the card doesn’t have any more fancy versions, so pack foils are a good bet here to head up towards $25 before too long.

Ancient Tomb (ZNR Expedition Foil)

Price today: $46
Possible price: $80

Ok, this is a pretty simple one so I won’t waste too much of your time with it. Ancient Tomb original expedition – $145. Box topper – $95. New expedition – $46. See where this is going? Ancient Tomb is an incredibly popular EDH card, registered in almost fifty thousand decks. We’ve got three premium versions of the card now (the FTV version doesn’t count, despite good art the foiling sucks), and peoples’ choices as to which version they want for their EDH decks will be a combination of budget and aesthetic considerations.

Being able to save $50 by playing the newest expedition as opposed to the box topper will be a big draw for some people, and so it’ll be a popular buy for quite a while as the price moves closer towards the UMA copies. In the meantime, I don’t doubt that the original expedition and box topper prices will also drift upwards a bit, making the window for saving money on the ZNR version wider. Basically, this is good to hit $70-80 in 12-24 months.

Is Ancient Tomb going to be in Commander Legends? I highly doubt it. There is a very slight possibility that it’s included, but if it is I’m sure we won’t get a fancy version and I honestly don’t think we’ll see it at all. I think we’re close to being at lows for Zendikar Rising expeditions, so the next couple of weeks are when you probably want to be picking these cards up, whether it be for personal use, collection or spec purposes. Over time we’ll most likely see the same sort of trend that the Box Topper Ancient Tomb took, not getting up to the dizzy heights of the original expedition but certainly moving a decent chunk.

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.