All posts by David Sharman

The Watchtower 01/20/20 – Specs Beyond Death

Theros Beyond Death is upon us, and despite the official set release not being for another four days, everyone is well underway trying out the new cards on Arena and MTGO. Now that we have sets coming out earlier on the online platforms than the paper release date, it’s more difficult for us as speculators to get in on the cards that perform well early on before they see a price spike, and that means that we need to be even more on our toes when it comes to evaluating and acquiring the new cards. With that said, I think there are a few cards from THB that are definitely worth paying close attention to.

Klothys, God of Destiny

Price today: $10
Possible price: $20

The first card I want to take a look at is Klothys, God of Destiny. At first glance she already looks pretty decent – an indestructible enchantment that can make you mana or drain your opponent each turn, and if you get up to the required seven devotion she can start throwing hands. But once you start thinking about the play patterns that this card can enable, I think it’s even better than it seems. Albeit costing two more mana, she’s rather reminiscent of our old friend Deathrite Shaman – she can exile lands from graveyards to make mana, and given enough resources can provide a four point life swing every turn. I’d pay 3 mana just for an enchantment that did that, so the fact that there’s also an indestructible 4/5 body attached to it that can smash face later in the game is just pure upside.

The one caveat with Klothys is that there isn’t really an obvious existing shell for her to slot into. Despite this, I think she’s more than powerful enough to see play in any or all of Standard, Modern and Pioneer; she made the Arena Decklists top 10 list for Standard play and has been talked up by the Pioneer Cast too. She’d be great in an aggressive Gruul shell in Standard or Pioneer, and could possibly even find a home in Modern Jund, feeding on fetchlands and offsetting Dark Confidant triggers.

There are plenty of copies available at $10, and the gorgeous non-foil showcase version is only $15 too. If Klothys sees decent Standard play she’ll be a $15-20 mythic, and if we get a multi-format star then I don’t think $30 is at all unreasonable.

Eat to Extinction

Price today: $2
Possible price: $8

Eat to Extinction is comparable to Vraska’s Contempt from back in Ixalan; both 4 mana black spells that exile a creature or planeswalker at instant speed, with a bonus effect tacked on. The two life gained from Contempt helped shore the midrange and control decks up against what was a very strong mono-red deck in Standard at the time, enabling slower strategies to battle on in a field of aggro. Effectively surveilling one probably isn’t as strong as that, but does still provide some additional value for you, particularly if you’re looking to enable Escape cards.

Vraska’s contempt was selling for a touch under $5 on release of the set, but saw a quick climb up to $10 and even flirted with $20 at its peak in Standard. It’s not hard to see Eat to Extinction following a similar pattern, especially seeing as exiling rather than destroying is going to be more important than ever in this Standard format. With the Escape mechanic looking to do some serious work (Uro appears to be one of the best cards in the set) and multiple indestructible Gods running around, instant speed exile effects are going to be necessary and powerful. The fact that it hits planeswalkers too is important – even though Oko no longer holds his crown, Nissa and Teferi are still hugely prevalent in Standard, and having answers to them is a must.

Woe Strider

Price today: $1.50
Possible price: $4

For the first time since Nantuko Husk was reprinted in Magic Origins, Wizards have given us a free sacrifice outlet strapped to a creature in Standard. The premise of that effect is powerful in and of itself, but Woe Strider gives us a lot more on top of that. A 3/2 for three mana that brings along a 0/1 Goat is fine, but giving the card Escape as well and coming back as a 5/4 makes it a hard card to deal with. Not having to pay any mana or life in order to sacrifice creatures can make for a strong engine – so what can we combine it with to gain value off the ability?

Mono-black has already shown to be one of the early decks to beat in this new Standard format, and one of the breakout cards from the deck has been Nightmare Shepherd. Shepherd has already seen sharp price movement, but Woe Strider is still being figured out in these decks and so is lagging behind a bit. Pairing Nightmare Shepherd with Woe Strider and creatures that have enter-the-battlefield triggers like Ayara, First of Locthwain and the old devotion cornerstone Gray Merchant of Asphodel can quickly get out of hand, resulting in some, uh, Recurring Nightmares. If even that’s not enough for you though, try throwing a Bolas’s Citadel into the mix too. You can play your black creatures off the top of your library and use Woe Strider to scry away anything you don’t want, and it gives an extra three pips of devotion for your Gray Merchants, so you’ll only need two or three Gray Merchant triggers before your opponent is really rather dead.

I wouldn’t be expecting a huge spike on this one, but seeing as it’s currently only $1.50 I’d want to be buying a few and looking for a buylist out here – could be a nice double or triple-up.

A final bit of advice: when it comes to evaluating new cards, listen to the pros. Watch their streams and read their articles; they’re generally a lot better than financiers at evaluating whether or not a card will do well or find a home in a particular format.

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 01/13/20 – Pioneer Specs for a Post-Oko World

It’s now been almost a month since the long-awaited ban hammer finally came down on Oko, Thief of Crowns in Pioneer. Nexus of Fate also hit the chopping block, with Wizards citing it as the deck with the second highest win rate behind Simic Food, as well as Simic Food being one of its “only unfavorable matchups among top decks” – perhaps a somewhat preemptive banning similar to that of Reflector Mage back in EMN Standard. However, with no bannings lately and a fresh switch to a six week window for future bannings in Pioneer (outside of emergency bans), it looks like the format is really starting to settle down. That being the case, let’s take a look at handful of cards that might benefit from the current scenario, shall we?

Lotus Field

Price today: $6
Possible price: $12

Sitting tied with Izzet Phoenix at number six in the Pioneer metagame on MTG Goldfish, Lotus Storm is quickly becoming a popular deck. The storm master Caleb Scherer has been having good success piloting the deck through Magic Online leagues, and it’s been starting to put up paper results as well, placing 9th in the recent SCG Columbus Classic. Any deck playing 4 copies of Dig Through Time is bound to be doing unfair things with them – Dig is definitely in the running for the most powerful card in the format now that Oko is gone, and must certainly be on Wizard’s watchlist.

Lotus Field is the namesake of this deck for a reason – the deck functions by using a plethora of different cards to untap the land and produce a bunch of mana, winning with Expansion//Explosion or Aetherflux Reservoir, or sometimes using a combination of Omniscience, Enter the Infinite and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries to draw your entire deck. Whatever the chosen win condition, one thing is for sure: the deck always plays 4 Lotus Fields and can’t function without them.

Inventory is still relatively medium with around 100 listings on TCG Player, but it’s a steady climb from $6 up to $10, and the card will be bought playsets at a time for Pioneer decks – that means that as the deck continues to rise in popularity, we could see supply dwindle pretty quickly. Most of the listings on TCG are single copies, so it doesn’t take many players picking the deck up to drain the cheaper copies out of the market. In addition to Pioneer, Lotus Field has seen some play in the modern variant of the deck – Twiddle Storm – and is registered in almost 3k decks on EDHREC. A reprint doesn’t seem likely in the near future, so I’d advise picking your copies up sooner rather than later.

Mutavault (Morningtide)

Price today: $20
Possible price: $35

If you had to take a guess at what the top five lands played in Pioneer are, you’d probably think that they’d be the five basic land types – and you’d almost be right. But beating out Plains to the fifth slot is actually Mutavault!

Due to the lack of fetchlands in Pioneer, or mana dorks like Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch (although Gilded Goose is doing its best), mana fixing isn’t quite up to scratch like it is in Modern. This has meant that as the format is settling down, some of the most powerful decks are just straight mono-colour – in fact the top three decks in the metagame are currently mono-red, mono-black and mono-green. The less stringent mana requirements in these single colour decks have allowed space for more utility lands to power them up, and Mutavault is increasingly seeing play as the main land of choice. It’s colourless, so slots right into all of them, and even synergises with cards like Goblin Rabblemaster and Pack Rat.

I’m specifically looking at the Morningtide version of the card, because despite being the same art as its M14 counterpart, Morningtide was comparatively a very low print-run set, and as such that version has a much lower supply and steeper ramp. There are currently only 13 NM copies on TCG, with a steep ramp from $20 up to $35, and some people (myself included) have a penchant for the original printings of cards. Once the sub $25 copies disappear, $30-35 could easily be the new floor for this emerging staple and you’ll be rewarded for paying a few dollars over the M14 price.

Prized Amalgam (Foil)

Price today: $9
Possible price: $20

I’m sure that Prized Amalgam foils were an MTGPrice pick back down the road, but it looks like we’ve finally reached that tipping point due to their additional use in Pioneer. It’s a card that’s been a solid 4-of in Modern Dredge decks since its printing in Shadows Over Innistrad, but despite Dredge spiking a few GPs a couple of years ago and ultimately getting Golgari Grave-Troll banned (again), Prized Amalgam has never really taken off in price.

The new home however is the Pioneer ‘Dredgeless Dredge’ deck, which follows similar play patterns to the Modern deck but without any actual Dredge cards. Tools like Stitcher’s Supplier and Grisly Salvage are used to mill your library over, hoping to hit freebies like Narcomoeba or cheap creatures to return to play like Scrapheap Scrounger and Haunted Dead. These then trigger your Prized Amalgams to bring them back for free at the end of the turn.

The foils of this card are in super low supply right now – there are only 8 sellers with NM foils on TCG and other retailers have a few in stock as well, but that’s it. I think we’ve reached the point where the Pioneer format has settled down enough that people are comfortable to start foiling their decks out, and we’re getting even more graveyard interaction being printed in Theros Beyond Death, so the deck could definitely see another bump in power level. A reprint is also pretty unlikely in 2020, though the unknown LGS Mystery Boosters foils do represent some risk.

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.