All posts by David Sharman

The Watchtower 06/22/20 – Checking In With Modern

The main focus of competitive Magic over the past couple of weeks has been on Standard, with four Arena Pro Tours taking place over two weekends. Standard doesn’t usually make for brilliant specs though, especially with rotation looming on the horizon. I was tempted to talk about some Jumpstart cards this week, but I might leave that til next week. Instead, I’ve taken a look at how Modern is doing at the moment, with some picks that also branch into other formats.

Wilderness Reclamation (Foil)

Price today: $12
Possible price: $20

Wilderness Reclamation is plaguing the Standard metagame at the moment, with a solid half of the top 8 decks across all four of the recent Arena Pro Tours being Temur Reclamation. Ravnica Allegiance will be rotating out of Standard soon though, so we’re not looking at it through that scope. Reclamation decks have been popping up in Modern over the past couple of weeks, with a fair amount of variation between decks but common themes being Uro, Ice-Fang Coatl and a whole bunch of spells.

Wilderness Reclamation is also the 5th most popular EDH card from Ravnica Allegiance, being a highly rated inclusion in Simic-based spell decks and morph decks. An additional Seedborn Muse effect that’s arguably more difficult to remove is definitely something that EDH players love to use.

Foils are in pretty low supply already, especially for a recent uncommon. This set was released before the increase in foil drop rates, so there are going to be fewer foils around than the latest sets anyway. It’s a single foil printing and due to its problematic nature in Standard, I don’t think we’ll be seeing another foil printing any time soon. There are only 20 NM foils on TCGPlayer at the moment, and seeing as this is the only premium version of the card, it’s the one that a lot of players will go to for their decks.

General Kudro of Drannith (EA Foil)

Price today: $20
Possible price: $35

Humans is a deck that hasn’t seen a huge amount of success in Modern for a little while now, but more recently the archetype has resurfaced. General Kudro of Drannith has given the deck some new life, as a second ‘lord’ effect is something that was sorely missing before now. The deck had plenty of disruption but could often falter and fail to push through those last points of damage before being overwhelmed. In addition to that, Kudro has another two relevant abilities stapled on to hedge against both graveyard and big mana decks powering out Primeval Titans.

As a set released during a global pandemic, Ikoria is sure to be one of the least opened sets in paper of the past few years. People and stores may have still been ordering and cracking product, but the entire lack of paper drafts and in-store purchasing has meant that secondary market supply is definitely on the low side. And now that stores are starting to reopen, it isn’t long at all until Core 2021 will be on the shelves and Ikoria won’t be being drafted any more.

This supply problem is reflected in stock levels of some of the more premium cards like EA foils – only 17 listings of General Kudro EA foil on TCGPlayer. If we compare this Ox of Agonas – a Mythic from Theros Beyond Death with a similar amount of Modern play – Ox has almost double the number of listings for the EA foil as General Kudro. When paper Magic starts back up again, Modern players are going to need their new lords, and there are going to be more than enough people wanting these to push the price up.

Yorion, Sky Nomad (EA Foil)

Price today: $18
Possible price: $30

Since the change to the companion rule, the power level of companion decks has dropped off significantly. The extra 3 mana is a huge hurdle for the cheaper companions like Lurrus, and making Obosh an 8 mana card instead of 5 is backbreaking for the aggressive decks looking to top their curve with it. Gyruda is all but gone from competitive metagames as well, the extra cost being too much to power it out as quickly as possible.

The companion that this rules change affected the least is probably Yorion, Sky Nomad. Yorion decks (in all formats) weren’t about consistently curving out; rather they’re grindy value-based decks that can afford to take the time to add Yorion to their hand before needing to cast it. It also helps that a lot of these decks have been playing mana dorks and Uro to ramp their spells out more reliably. This has meant that Yorion is now the most popular companion across Modern and Pioneer. Lurrus is still holding the fort down for Burn in Modern, but there are multiple different Yorion archetypes that come out on top in the number crunch.

EA foils start from $18 on TCGPlayer, with 40 listings at present. This is a popular EDH card too, and the fact that you can now have a Commander and a companion seems a little bizarre, but I suppose we already had the Partner mechanic, so why not I guess? Either way, I think Yorion is here to stay in Modern and Pioneer, so $18 to $30 on a 12 month timeline seems reasonable.

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 06/15/20 – Core 2021 Preorders

I’ve titled this article ‘preorders’ for the sake of brevity, but that doesn’t mean “go and preorder these now because it’s the lowest they’ll get”. Some of these cards may well dip a little lower than their current prices, but I doubt it will be by much, and so this is more of a notice for cards to keep an eye on and buy down the ladder if you can. This article series is, after all, entitled “The Watchtower”…so keep an eye out!

Heroic Intervention

Price today: $4
Possible price: $10

When Heroic Intervention was first printed in Æther Revolt, it was pegged as a reasonable EDH card for most green decks. What I (and a lot of others too, I think) didn’t expect, however, was that it would go on to make its way into over 27,000 decks recorded on EDHREC, putting it into the top 20 green EDH cards of all time. From close to bulk status during its time in Standard, since then it topped out at an impressive $17 (and that is impressive for an EDH-only card printed in the last 3 years).

Now we’re getting a reprint in M21, and the price has plummeted down to around $4 for the M21 preorders. I could definitely see it going slightly lower than $4 when the set releases, but I definitely wouldn’t hang around too long on this one. It’s a card that’s in 15% of all the possible decks it could be in, which is strong numbers for a mono-coloured card, and this means that people know how good it is now. It’ll get put into at least 15% of the new decks people build going forwards, and people that didn’t buy copies because they were $17 will for sure pick these up below $5.

I’m calling Heroic Intervention at a conservative $4 to $10; I think it’s entirely possible that this card could see $15 before it’s reprinted again, but I feel pretty confident saying that $10 inside 18-24 months is very reasonable. This is an easy one to buy a stack of and put away in the closet and forget about for a couple of years, leaving a nice surprise for your future self.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking – Arbitrage Pick

Price today: €5 ($5.50)
Possible price: $20

Azusa being reprinted into Standard during this era of green-based midrange and ramp-esque decks is an, uhh, interesting decision, but I’m not here to talk about Azusa in Standard. I won’t pretend to be someone that can accurately predict the future metagame in Standard, but what I will do is say that Azusa is preordering for under €5 on Magic Cardmarket. Over on TCGPlayer, preorders start at around $10 which is far less enticing, but picking this up at €5 seems pretty insane to me.

Bear in mind that before the reprint announcement, the A25 (Masters 25) version of Azusa was $35, and the older versions more expensive. Sure, there’s going to be a big influx of supply with the new printing in M21, but there are going to be a lot of EDH players that pick copies up now that they’re cheap, and that’s not even accounting for its potential for play in Standard. We’re going to be entering a Standard with Azusa, Cultivate, Solemn Simulacrum and Ugin, so a streamlined ramp deck seems like it could be quite powerful. Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t talk about Azusa in Standard, but come on. It’s a very powerful card.

Anyway, back to real data – Azusa dropped down to $16 after the A25 reprint and climbed back up to $35, so buying this at €5 is surely a slam dunk. If you’re in Europe or have a contact, then I’d get on this. As I said, she’s preordering for $10 on TCG which is still fine, but I’d keep an eye out to see if it drops lower on or after release. Additionally, we’re getting an extended art version in M21, so I’ll be looking out for the prices on those to bottom out.

Mangara, the Diplomat

Price today: $7
Price I want to buy this at: $4-5
Possible price: $10+

This has been a slightly contentious card in the MTGPrice Discord over the past couple of days, but for the time being I’m coming down on the side of “I think this card is really good”. I’ve played enough games of EDH with various playgroups to see how many people don’t bother paying the tax for Rhystic Study, and I think that this card will see similar play patterns. Restricting your opponents to only playing one spell per turn (unless they let you draw a card) is more harmful than you might think, and I predict that a lot of people will just ignore it and let you draw the card. After all, it’s only one card – how bad could it be?

I think that the attacking clause on Mangara is going to be far less relevant than the spell clause, but even so I think that this is going to become quite a popular card in white EDH decks, particularly prison style builds. I’m definitely going to be trying it out, at any rate.

I’m cheating slightly with this, in that I don’t quite like the current preorder price of $7, and would like to wait a bit for it to come down to $4-5. I think that this will happen because it most likely won’t be a relevant card for Standard, and EDH players tend to be much slower at picking their cards up, but once it bottoms out then I’m definitely going to be picking some of these up. I’d be far less excited about it if it were a Rare, but the fact that it’s a Mythic means that once players start to pick their copies up, the price will rise far more sharply. I think $10+ in a 12-24 month time frame is quite doable.

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 06/08/20 – Strength In Low Numbers

It seems like Ikoria only released a couple of weeks ago (it’s been nearly two months??), but Core Set 2021 is just around the corner. Preview season is well underway and so today I’m taking a look at some cards that will be impacted by the new release. I’m specifically looking at some cards where supply is on the lower side, so you might not want to hang around too long on these!

Containment Priest (Invocation) – Arbitrage Pick

Price on MKM: €24 ($27)
Price on TCGPlayer: $45

After my Golos arbitrage pick from last week, I got a couple of messages from EU readers thanking me for highlighting the opportunity – so I’m back with another one! I may make this a semi-regular thing depending on feedback, so let me know what you think. Anyway, onto the pick.

Containment Priest is being reprinted in the upcoming Core Set M21, which means that this will make it legal in Standard, Pioneer and Modern for the first time – up until now it’s only been legal in Legacy and EDH. Containment Priest has often been a sideboard staple against decks like Reanimator and Sneak & Show in Legacy; it’s a powerful effect with a decent body attached to boot, and I think that this will certainly start showing up in Modern and Pioneer sideboards. It’s good against Dredge, and interestingly also stops Yorion from flickering creatures.

At the time of writing, there are only nine NM foil Invocation copies on TCGPlayer, starting at $45 and ramping up. Over on MKM, however, there are upwards of fifty copies starting from €24. This is by no means a ‘high demand’ pick, but more of a ‘low supply’ one; this is going to start showing up in Modern and Pioneer sideboards and some players are going to want their fancy versions, so this arbitrage gap is an easy one to take advantage of.

More Clerics for the Cleric Gods

This is a slightly more speculative pick, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad one. We’re not very deep into M21 spoilers yet, but we’ve already seen four different Clerics previewed – one of which is a rare and another a mythic. This may just be a coincidence of creature type, but it could also be a sign of more Clerics to come – and the rare and mythic ones spoiled are definitely going to be good in EDH.

I was slightly hesitant about this pick because Clerics, although actually quite fun and powerful, is far from the most popular tribe in EDH. However, if we take a look at some of the older foils that are very important parts of the deck, supply is sufficiently thin on the ground for me to feel confident telling people to sweep up the last few crumbs. It’ll only take a handful of people wanting to pick up some foils for this sort of deck for you to be able to turn a profit here.

Edgewalker, Battletide Alchemist and Rotlung Reanimator are all key pieces in any Cleric deck, and all happen to be old, single printing foils. Supply is super low on all of these foils, so I’d advise hunting around various vendors for cheaper copies of these. As ballpark examples, I could see:

Edgewalker – $15 to $25
Battletide Alchemist – $5 to $15
Rotlung Reanimator – $8 to $15

Being very old foils, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more drastic price increases than that, so these numbers are probably on the low side. I’d also advocate going over to EDHREC and taking a look at other popular cards from this kind of deck, to see what else might pop with more Cleric support.

Also it’s a super fun deck to play, everyone should build it.

Door of Destinies (Foil)

Price today: $8
Possible price: $15

Speaking of tribal decks, we’ve also had a Legendary Dog Cat previewed for M21. Yep. A Dog Cat. Rin and Seri, Inseparable, is a new legend that is obviously geared towards pet owners and cute animal aficionados, with the idea of people building Cat/Dog EDH decks. Most of the Cat and Dog lords have already been bought up over the past couple of days, but there are still some foil Door of Destinies(es?) hanging around that look pretty juicy.

I don’t need to talk too much about this card; the numbers speak for themselves. 15k EDH decks, a must-have for any tribal deck and colourless to boot. Check check check! TCGPlayer has M14 foils from $8 and Morningtide foils from $15, and I can see both of those price points doubling up. Supply is running very low on NM foils for both versions, and there’s also the (ugly) prerelease promo running around to look at too.

Tribal decks will always be popular in EDH, and we haven’t seen Door of Destinies printed since Commander 2017, so it could well be in for a reprint within the next couple of years – but not necessarily in foil. Even so, I don’t think that the hold time on this will need to be very long in order to realise some solid gains, due to the low supply on the card across the board.

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 06/01/20 – Miscellaneous

I knew that I wanted to talk about a particular product (wonder what that could be?) in this week’s article and so decided that today would have to be a mixed bag of odds and ends – but don’t take that to mean that these aren’t good specs! I think there are some excellent opportunities here, so read on for some bits and pieces of miscellaneous value.

Secret Lair: Heart of Steel

Price today: $40
Possible price: $70

This is a bit of a different pick to normal for me, but I think it could well be a good one. There are five news Secret Lair Drops going live very shortly after I’ll be posting this article, and the catchily named “Can You Feel With a Heart of Steel?” looks like it could be the best value set to be had. There are only three cards here – Walking Ballista, Darksteel Colossus and Arcbound Ravager – but they’re all full art foils with some great looking new artwork, and we all know how popular a card Walking Ballista is.

In case you didn’t know how popular Walking Ballista is, it’s been a Modern staple for years and a Pioneer staple since the format was invented, and on top of that is listed in over 12k decks on EDHREC. I think that this promo might appeal to EDH players in particular, seeing as they’ll only need one (per deck) rather than the full playset. Darksteel Colossus isn’t quite as much of an EDH staple but still shows up in decent numbers, and although Affinity has fallen by the wayside in Modern since the banning of Mox Opal, Arcbound Ravager still has some impressive chops in Hardened Scales decks.

Even if we set that aside, the raw numbers just look great here. Regular Walking Ballista foils start at $45 on TCGPlayer – that’s already more than the cost of this whole Secret Lair. But on top of that, you’ve got the Darksteel Colossus (foils starting at $15) and Arcbound Ravager (current promo version sitting at around $9). That’s $60 right there, and I think that these Ballista promos will easily be the most desirable foil for anyone looking to upgrade their deck. I could see the Ballista alone selling for $50 in a few months, and then the other two cards are just icing on the cake, to resell or use in decks as you please.

Arbitrage Opportunity: Golos, Tireless Pilgrim (Foil)

Price on MKM: €8
Price on TCGPlayer: $40

I wanted to do this as a regular pick, but the price on TCGPlayer is already sky high, and there are only ten (10) copies available across five sellers. It’s a similar story with both the prerelease foils and promo pack foils, both of which are in even shorter supply still. Over on MagicCardmarket (MKM), however, it’s quite different. Supply still isn’t hugely deep but prices across the three different versions start at just €7, with a fair few available under €10.

Obviously this isn’t a pick available to everyone, but for readers in the EU or for readers in the US with an EU trade partner, foil Golos, Tireless Pilgrims are ripe for the taking. As well as being the most popular commander from M20, Golos is also a high pick for a place in the 99 of other five colour EDH decks. He’s also seen a smattering of Modern play in Tron decks, but the main draw here is EDH, and the supply is low.

What’s also enticing about this pick is that it doesn’t need to be a quick flip, so there’s not too much rush to ship it over to the US from the EU. If you’re looking to get started with some arbitrage opportunities like this then check out my Guide to Arbitrage article I wrote a couple of months ago, and feel free to shoot me any questions on Twitter or Discord.

Mystic Sanctuary (Foil)

Price today: $5
Possible price: $10

Well, I wrote my last section for today’s article in relation to a companion deck, but now that Wizards have nerfed them into the sun I guess I’d better write about something else instead.

Mystic Sanctuary has completely changed the face of Modern. That might sound a tad melodramatic, but I honestly think it’s true. You just can’t play a blue deck (outside of tribal decks like Merfolk and Spirits) any more without playing this card. The top blue decks: Bant Snowblade, Scapeshift and Uroza (all of which are currently Yorion decks, but it’ll be interesting to see if that changes with the new tax on Companions) play 2-4 Mystic Sanctuary; it’s too powerful not to. Rebuying Cryptic Commands and Archmage’s Charms is great, but the fact that this is an Island that you can fetch makes it kinda ridiculous.

On top of the Modern play, this is the most popular card from Throne of Eldraine for EDH play. Over 12k decks are listed playing it on EDHREC, a good 2000 more than the next most popular card. Yes, this is a foil common from a recent set that I’m picking here, which is normally not something I’d consider – but this is a card that’s going to go in every spell-based blue EDH deck and Modern deck for the foreseeable future, and so I think that foils are an entirely reasonable pickup at $5 to double in 12 months or so.

There’s a pretty decent supply of these around the $5 mark, so it’ll take a little while for those to drain – but the demand is definitely there. I’d be happy to stash a couple of playsets away for 6-12 months and see where we’re at after that.

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.