All posts by Guo Heng Chin

Guo Heng started kitchen table Magic as a kid, during Urza's Destiny. He played intermittently and casually until Innistrad, where he began to grind the competitive circuit. It was then that he became hooked on the magical substance that is cardboard crack and it dawned upon him that Magic finance is a good way to subsidize his habit. Guo Heng started writing for MTGPrice in October 2014. A competitive grinder himself, he focuses on the mtgfinance of competitive Magic. Catch him on Twitter @theguoheng.

Battling for Zendikar with the Dragonlords

By: Guo Heng

The first major event in the swanky new Battle for Zendikar Standard concluded last weekend and, oh boy, the results look juicy. No, I am not going to discuss the results in depth, as my fellow writers, Sigmund Ausfresser (@sigfig8) and Travis Allen (@wizardbumpin) dissected the MTG finance impact of the event extensively in their articles this week, which you can read here and here.

What caught my attention was the following excerpt from Sigmund’s piece on Monday:

“If I had to place bets, I would consider Dragonlords as prime targets. They are mythic rares from a less opened set with real potential in a slower format.”

-Sigmund Ausfresser, ProTrader: A Cautious Reaction to SCG Indy, 5 October 2015.

When I wrote about the dragonlords prior to the release of Dragons of Tarkir, I was excited about them, not just because they are freaking modern-day dragonlords and I would get to jam dragonlords in my Standard decks, but also because a few of them looked primed to be competitive-playable dragons—and to me, a perfect union of Spike and Vorthos is one of the best things about Magic.

Four of the dragonlords proved themselves in various formats in the months after Dragons of Tarkir‘s release (as expected, Dragonlord Kolaghan languished). Their prices have since mellowed as the supply of Dragons peaked and newer sets have stolen the limelight. Today, I’m excited about the dragonlords once again, as the seismic shift in the Standard metagame that came with the October rotation means the dragonlords have another shot at sitting on the Iron Throne of Standard.

Most of the dragonlords are available at close to their preorder prices right now as the dust from the October rotation is settling and the apex predators of the new Standard have yet to emerge. Their low prices, combined with the fact that they are mythics from a set that was not opened much, as Sigmund mentioned above, makes some of them particularly juicy short-term targets before the dust settles.

Dragonlord Atarka

Her position as the biggest creature in the block is challenged.
Her position as the biggest creature in the block is challenged.

I guess it is fitting to say that my prediction for Dragonlord Atarka went Horribly Awry. Let’s see if I can redeem myself the second time around. Dragonlord Atarka has proven herself to be a very playable card. While she was predominantly found in Green-Red Devotion lists, she also served as the curve-topper in non-ramp decks, because there’s nothing like decimating your opponent’s board while you summon an 8/8 trampling flyer.

Her ability to grace  non-ramp decks widens the array of potential decks she could fit into. Ramp would still be Dragonlord Atarka’s primary home, and we still have access to a plethora of powerful ramping tools, including the Eldrazi processors. Her powerful enter-the-battlefield ability would likely lead her to be included in See the Unwritten decks, a la Ondrej Strasky’s Green-Red Devotion which finished in the top four at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir.

Ultimately, Dragonlord Atarka is a playable mythic rare from a set that was not opened much. After all, Dragons of Tarkir was a set with multiple $10-and-more rares, including $11 Den Protector, $15 Atarka’s Command, and $11 Kolaghan’s Command (I may be cheating with the last one as Kolaghan’s Command is a Modern staple, but you get the gist). Due to the set’s relatively low supply, it will not take much to bump Dragonlord Atarka’s price.

Having said that, her spread has been static for the past few months, at around 36 percent. I would prefer to trade for Dragonlord Atarka rather than spend cash to acquire copies of her. I prefer to save my cash for a different dragonlord, which I will discuss below.

Verdict: Trade for Dragonlord Atarka.

Dragonlord Dromoka

Dragonlord Dromoka

It baffles me why Dragonlord Dromoka is not seeing play in Standard besides cropping up as a one-of sideboard card in Abzan Control. An uncounterable, lifelinking threat with a huge body who also serves as a Grand Abolisher, all at the reasonable price of six mana, surely should have a home. It turns out that at six mana, most people have preferred to jam an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

Now that lady Elspeth is out of the picture, it may be Dragonlord Dromoka’s time in the limelight, at least in Abzan or decks that can generate green and white mana. Dragonlord Dromoka may not have the same impact-upon-resolution that Elspeth grants, but she is still a sticky, must-answer threat. Resolving Dragonlord Dromoka, especially doing so on curve, often results in your opponent being forced to suffer a tempo setback when forced to deal with Dromoka on his or her turn—and that’s assuming he or she has an answer for a multicolored creature with seven toughness. And if your opponent allows Dragonlord Dromoka to stick on the board for a few turns, your opponent will be on the backfoot of the game.

Dragonlord Dromoka briefly breached $10 but has since returned to her preorder price. At barely $8, I wouldn’t mind sinking in some cash to get a few extra copies, or at least securing my own playset. Trading for Dragonlord Dromoka works as well, but I am not sure how much longer the window for copies under $10 will stay open. On the other hand, Dromoka’s spread is at 40 percent, pretty much telling us that the dealers have minimal confidence in Dromoka.

Verdict: Trade or buy, but don’t wait too long.

On the bright side Dragonlord Dromoka took down this year’s Vintage Championship. Here’s the account from Brian Kelly, who pioneered Dromoka in Vintage and went on to win the tournament, on how he created a new take on an existing archetype.

Also, the crappy brewer in me fantasizes about a Bant deck that curves from Undergrowth Champion to Kiora, Master of the Depths to Dragonlord Ojutai to Dragonlord Dromoka. Too magical Christmasland?

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Nothing much to see here. Even if a black-red aggro deck were to emerge,  a six drop is probably too expensive to fit into those decks. I’m still quite bummed that Wizards wasted a dragonlord slot on a card that is bafflingly bad.

Verdict: I couldn’t even

Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai remains one of my best calls in recent memory. I called him “the most undervalued dragonlord” when he was preselling at $6, citing that Ojutai would “probably turn (out) to be much better than he looks once we get to play with him in our decks.” Hopefully whoever read my article then bought enough Dragonlord Ojutais to make up for the cost of missing out on Dragonlord Atarka.

When Dragonlord Ojutai was hovering around $15 in early August, I called him a good pick-up once again:

Pick-up Ojutai

After a strong showing at the Indianapolis Open last weekend, with appearances in three  of the top-eight lists, Dragonlord Ojutai bumped up to $20. What do I think about picking up Dragonlord Ojutai at $20?

I have a strong suspicion that $20 is not Dragonlord Ojutai’s final price in the new Standard landscape. As Craig Wescoe pointed out in last week’s Brainstorm Brewery episode, the rotation of Hero’s Downfall and Stoke the Flames means the two most popular ways to deal with an attacking Ojutai are gone. Dragonlord Ojutai just got a lot more powerful as a finisher.

Dragonlord Ojutai has no shortage of homes in the new Standard. Esper Dragons, one of the powerhouse decks from last season’s Standard, retained most of its cards in the new Standard. One of the top-eight Jeskai Black (Clay Spicklemire’s) lists ran two Ojutai in the main, and while Gerry Thompson’s Five-Color Bring to Light build did not run any of the dragonlord, Kent Ketter and Joe Lossett made top 16 with their versions, each featuring a singleton Dragonlord Ojutai in the main.

Ojutai Bant’s core, which comprises of the megamorph synergy between Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, is still available in Battle for Zendikar Standard, and the archetype could see a resurgence, especially with the addition of Gideon and Kiora, which could potentially bolster the deck’s power level.

I am not sure if $20 is the ceiling for a six-month-old mythic with so many potential homes. New supply of Dragonlord Ojutai will likely have trickled to a halt and the highly probably increase in demand could easily result in a $30 or more price tag—I wouldn’t be surprised if Dragonlord Ojutai hits $40 again. Dealer confidence has yet to be seen, as the buylist price for Dragonlord Ojutai has remained at $10 regardless of the retail price bump over the past few days.

Verdict: If you want to assemble your playset of Dragonlord Ojutai, it is unlikely you will be able to find him any cheaper than he is now. If you have an appetite for risk, I do think that Ojutai could hit at least $30, if not $40. 

Dragonlord Silumgar

Silumgar New

Yet another winner from the rotation of Hero’s Downfall. Though you still have Abzan Charm, Valorous Stance, and possibly Utter End to contend with when resolving Dragonlord Silumgar‘s enter-the-battlefield trigger.

Nevertheless, here are a couple of reasons why I am excited about Dragonlord Silumgar right now:



Our very own Jim Casale’s (@Phrost_) tweet brings to mind the fact that Battle for Zendikar Standard may very well feature big creatutes and ramp spells, be it Ulamog or not, and a Sower of Temptation with a higher toughness oozes potential. Just watch the semifinals match between Shoota Yasooka and Ondrej Strasky during Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir to witness the power of Sower against opposing ramp decks. Also note that Dragonlord Silumgar kills Gideon. You know, in case Gideon becomes super popular.

Also, in the worst-case scenario, you could throw Silumgar in the way of whatever Eldrazi titan that is coming your way and he does a pretty good job of removing them.


Only $5!? Dragonlord Silumgar was actually under $5 when I started on this article. Dragonlord Silumgar may not be a key player along the lines of his fellow Dragonlords Atarka and Ojutai, but surely $5 is way too low for a playable mythic from a quickly aging set that was not opened much? Having said that, Dragonlord Silumgar does have a spread of 47 percent. Perhaps the dealers have yet to catch up with the card?

I suspect Dragonlord Silumgar’s low price could be ascribed to the fact that he has not seen play over the past six months or so, besides appearing as a one-of in the sideboard of Esper Dragons. People forgot what a game-breaker resolving a well-timed Dragonlord Silumgar is.

Verdict: I like Dragonlord Silumgar as a pick-up at $5. I am perfectly comfortable picking him up at $5 in cash and/or trade.


A good number of these dragonlords are good short-term picks. They are short term picks because the pecking order for the new Standard has yet to be established, and even though they are powerful and proven cards, with the exception of Dragonlord Ojutai, they can be acquired at their pre-spike prices, or even lower as with the case of Dragonlord Silumgar.

I would like to reiterate that the dragonlords are short-term picks. As I mentioned in a previous article, the fact that Wizards is willing to reprint Standard mythics in its Standard supplementary products increases the risk of holding on to Standard mythic specs for too long. While the dragonlords dodged the Battle for Zendikar Event Deck, there is no guarantee they will not appear in upcoming ones (though it would be a flavor fail, but then again, it does not seem that Wizards is not too bothered with flavor when it comes to Event Decks/Clash Packs).

Thanks for reading. Do share your thoughts in the comments section below or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.

Are Standard Mythics Still Good Short-Term Specs?

By Guo Heng

“Wizards is really trying to kill speculators huh?”

I woke up last Friday to this message a fellow mtgfinance enthusiast at my LGS . The Battle for Zendikar Event Deck’s list was announced on Thursday 8 a.m. PST (which is around 11 p.m. Malaysian time on Thursday). As I glanced through the decklist, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. And I was sure as hell it wasn’t because I have yet to ingest my compulsary dose of morning caffeine.

If you have yet to see the decklist, check out Corbin’s (@chosler88) post about the Event Deck for his thoughts on the impact of the reprints.

Here are the notable cards that you’ll be able to find in the value-fest that is the Battle for Zendikar Event Deck:

What!? Since when do Wizards chuck in mythics in Event Decks. Two mythics!? 

I was dismayed to see Whisperwood Elemental included in the decklist.  I was bullish on Whisperwood Elemental as a mythic with an incredible potential for price growth in the new Standard landscape we are hurtling towards this October. Whisperwood has the making of a breakout card in financial terms. It’s a Standard staple with a track record in aggro and midrange decks. It’s a mythic from a small set.  And it was hovering around $6 – $7 for the previous few months, probably as low as a small set Standard staple mythic could go. Whisperwood Elemental could spike to the $15 – $20 range if it becomes the premier green five drop in the Battle for Zendikar Standard, an outcome which I am quite confident about considering Whisperwood’s power level and the new unconditional creature removal being sorcery speed.

It all changed when the Fire Nation attacked Wizards decided that they are going to reprint mythics in Standard supplemental products. Whisperwood is now $5 and I doubt it would be able to hit even $15 anymore. While the influx in supply from the Event Deck is marginal, it does affect the perception regarding the financial potential of the Elemental. I also pity the fool who went in deep on Warden of the First Tree.

The most recent supplementary product designed for Standard, the Magic Origins Clash Pack, packed a little more value than usual with Standard and Modern staples like Windswept Heath, Collected Company and Siege Rhino, and Standard and Modern playables like Dromoka’s Command and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit. But it was not too much of a surprise as high value rares like Hero’s Downfall and Thragtusk had seen reprint in these products. The inclusion of a fetchland was also not novel. Verdant Catacombs was in the Magic 2012 Event Deck.

Why Spec on Standard Mythics?

In the era where rare is the new uncommon, playable but homeless Standard mythics makes for better short-term spec targets compared to rare as mythics offer a significantly better multiplier at only a slightly increased cost.

Take Perilous Vault for example. The Magic 2015 mythic dropped all the way to $3 in September 2014, right before Khans of Tarkir rotated in. The colorless nuke found a home when Blue-Black Control made its debut at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir in October and subsequently tripled in price to $10. It’s not a majestic spike, but 300% growth within a month or two is decent return for a $3 investment.

Perilous Vault

Sometimes you don’t even need to wait for rotation to happen, as with the case of See the Unwrittena card which fellow MTGPrice writer, James Chillcott (@MTGCritic) and I have been bullish about. It recently spike from $3 to $8 (about time!) on the anticipation that it would be used to cheat in Eldrazi et al.

See the Unwritten

Now that Wizards is encroaching into mythic territory for cards deemed fit to be reprinted in Event Deck/Clash Pack products (they alternate each product between sets), the notion that playable Standard mythics at rock bottom are relatively low risk short-term specs no longer hold true. With mythics are no longer immune to an Event Deck/Clash Pack reprint, buying into future Perilous Vaults and See the Unwritten just got a lot riskier.

Walking the Speculation Planes

Ultimately Wizards’ priority is to ensure that competitive staples are sufficiently accessible to keep the competitive scene as inclusive as possible (plus it sells products). As a competitive player, I do welcome that move as it means that I would be able to secure my playset of Hangarback Walker at a reasonable price after missing the boat on that one.

As a financier, Wizards’ increasingly trigger happy inclination to reprint and repress price of staples forces me to reconsider my approach to short-term Standard mythic specs.

Reprint Them All


The risk with Event Decks/Clash Packs reprints resides in the fact that it is hard to predict when, or rather which Event Deck/Clash Pack would reprint which mythic. There is a class of Standard mythics that follow a more predictable reprinting.

Standard planeswalkers reprints are reserved for the spring Duel Deck,  which means that they still make relatively safe short-term/rotation spec. Playable planeswalkers at rock bottom often spike come rotation,  along the lines of Xenagos, the Reveler and Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver during the previous rotation.

Xenagos, the Reveler

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

The announcement for next spring’s Duel Deck comes late October or early November, so make sure you cash out of any short-term. planeswalker spec by then.

Siege Rhino is still in Standard and who better to accompany a crash of rhinos than Sorin, Solem Visitor, who is just $8 now. Now that Stormbreath Dragon is a myth of Standard past, it may be time for Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker to soar the skies for good as the premier sticky red five drop. Oh also, did I mentioned that now your opponent can’t kill your Sarkhan with his Form of the Dragon on the stack?

The Upside

Wizards’ increasingly trigger happy reprint policy is not all doom-and-gloom for financiers. Even if you do not grind Standard, there is a positive note to the phenomenon. Granted, the biggest casualty is the increased risk in short-term speculation. The other side of the coin is that Wizards’ aggressive reprint of high value Standard rares in their Event Decks/Clash Packs widens the window in which you could pick them up for long-term spec.

A good number of expensive Standard rares in recent times were expensive because they found a home in Modern. Collected Company hit double digits (and hovered near $20 briefly) but Den Protector did not because Collected Company spawned new archetypes in Modern and made Elves tier one while Den Protector is strictly worse than Eternal Witness in Modern. Tasigur barely sees Standard play but the amount of eternal play he sees made him the most expensive rare in Fate Reforged. And I don’t think many would complain about Windswept Heath dropping back to $12 after the Khans of Tarkir fetches trended upwards during the summer. You can bet that Tasigur, Collected Company and Windswept Heath will appreciate at a decent rate in the following years as Modern staples.

These Event Deck/Clash Pack reprints creates another window, or extends the current window to pick up these cards as long-term investments. For financiers without a huge budget, or those who have to split their budget between specs and maintaining a competitive Standard card pool, this is likely to be welcome news. Personally, I could never pick up all the specs I have on my specs list for the month as I grind the competitive scene as well and I can’t just sink 90% of my Magic budget into a truckload of Tasigur when he bottomed at $6. Tasigur dropped from $8.50 to $6.50 after last week’s announcement, giving me another window to pick him up at rock bottom amid securing Battle for Zendikar staples.

Do share your thoughts in the comments section below, or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.


PROTRADER: Slowlands: What’s the Play?

By Guo Heng

Battle for Zendikar spoiler season official begins next week, but the hype train for the set has been revved up to Shinkansen-mode after last weekend’s big reveal at Pax Prime.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Who am I kidding. Any Magic player who is not living under a rock would know that the hype train is currently fuelled by these sweet reveals:

Arid Mesa Full ArtSteam Vents Full Art

The initial disappointment with the enemy fetches not being reprinted in Battle for Zendikar  was short-lived. Wizards are well aware of their unique position to be able to print literal $200 bills and they are not shy about doing so, which I think is great as Magic is a trading card game at heart and these are the elite of the elite gems to aspire towards in terms of collecting. Wizards pulled out all the big guns for the Zendikar Expedition lands: full art, foil, and with a special border (a.k.a. Battle for Zendikar is likely to be the only set where you can find these).

I wouldn’t be discussing the ultra-rare Zendikar Expeditions pulls. My fellow MTGPrice writers, Travis Allen (@wizardbumpin) and Derek Madlem (@GoingMadlem) wrote extensively about the Zendikar Expeditions lands on Wednesday and I would highly recommend reading their articles.

I would be discussing about the other set of lands that are fuelling the hype train.

Cinder GladeSunken Hollow

Smoldering MarshCanopy Vista

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PROTRADER: To Redeem or Not to Redeem:Magic Origins

By Guo Heng

Magic Origins redemption went live after the Magic Online downtime this Wednesday. Which means you could start transmuting those digital objects on Magic Online into tangible, tappable cards. A price disparity between Magic Online cards and real life (which shall be henceforth referred to as ‘IRL’) cards is ever-present due to a multitude of factors. The price disparity could sometimes be exploited to get your hands on cards below market price, especially foils from sets chock-full of eternal staples. (I’m looking at you Khans of Tarkir.)

Today we are going to crunch some numbers to find out if it is worth going through the effort to redeem Magic Origins, for both non-foil and foil sets.

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