All posts by James Chillcott

Grand Prix New Jersey: Dealer Report

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By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)


GPNJ_Brochure

With over 4000 players in the room, the card trading action at Grand Prix is hot and heavy this morning.

A survey of the 15+ vendors on site, confirmed that many of the expected trends for the weekend are in full effect. With the heavy turnout of U/R Delver decks, many dealers are reporting that cards both for and against the expected metagame pillar are moving briskly.

StarCityGames vendor booth reported brisk sales on Forked Bolt, Pyroblast, Chain Lightning and both Hydroblast  and their variants.

AetherGames

Kyle Lopez of Aether Games reported similar trends and stated that he thought Forked Bolt could come out of the weekend in the $5-6 range and hold it moving forward barring a reprint. He also indicated that his team was staying away from Treasure Cruise foils in expectation that the price is headed down this winter before it rises any further, as well as remarking that Delver of Secrets foils were likely too low in the $15-17 range. Given the prevalence of the U/R Delver builds, Lopez believes that Volcanic Island could soon eclipse Underground Sea as the top priced dual land. He also pointed out that at $2-3 Narset is almost certainly a buy, and suggested speculators take interest in foil Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Narset for future EDH gains.

TrollandToad

Andrew Stokinger of Troll and Toad echoed the sentiment on Volcanic Island, noting that they were pricing the U/R dual at $250, just $10 below a similar quality Underground Sea in their case. Stokinger reports that Khans of Tarkir has outsold Return to Ravnica and Theros by “at least 30-40%”, though demand was starting to flag as the market for standard decks reaches saturation. At the Troll & Toad booth Kor Firewalker has popped from $1 to $5 on strong demand, likely in anticipation of Delver and Burn appearances en masse across the event. Forked Bolt is moving briskly at $5 and Price of Progress, a card that has strong chops against much of the field, was selling out at $10.

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Across the floor the card mentioned over and over is Containment Priest. Originally priced at $15-20, the card is now selling in the $40+ range, if you can even find a booth with any in stock. Strikezone staff report that both dual lands and shock lands are moving well, with the shocks being used by budget conscious players to fill holes in slightly detuned versions of popular decks. Some players are even playing standard decks in the main event, largely driven by the desire to capture the Grand Prix Promo Batterskull, Brainstorm playmat, deck box and sleeves being handed out to every participant. At Strikezone, Energy Storm and Elemental Tokens were also moving briskly.

CoolStuffInc also noted Price of Progress, Stoneforge Mystic, Monestary Swiftspear, Pyroblast and Hydroblast were moving well and noted strong demand for the 2013 and 2014 black foil planeswalkers.

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MTGCardMarket

At MTGCardMarket, Containment Priest, Null Rod, Forked Bolt and foil Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time were hot sellers, and the booth was one of the only ones to have the Harmonic Slivers in stock I needed to finish my deck.

Adam Hotza of HotSauce games highlighted Smash to Smithereens was moving strongly at $6 and predicted that the floor on fetchlands would arrive in January 2015 in the $10-12 range. Other dealers disagreed, with one staff member explaining that “fetches will hold steady above $12. It’s the other rares, even good ones like Mantis Rider and Siege Rhino, that will keep falling.”

MagicStronghold

Magic Stronghold outlines that Dimir Charm has been moving well, as a flexible answer to multiple issues in the metagame, and also reiterated strong demand for cards from Lands, Deathblade/Stoneblade variants and U/R Delver.

Stay tuned later today as we keep an eye on the top tables for developing trends and check back in with the dealers Sunday morning.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Grand Prix New Jersey: On Site Coverage

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

This weekend marks an exciting landmark in the history of Magic: The Gathering. At last word, Grand Prix: New Jersey, being run by Star City Games in Edison, NJ, from Nov 15-17th, was now likely to feature 4000+ players!

For context that makes GPNJ the third largest Grand Prix of all time, and the largest Legacy Tournament ever run!

With so many players gearing up for the main tourney and the plethora of alternate format side tournaments, it should come as no surprise that some cards have seen price hikes this week.

Tune in all weekend as we blog live from the floor and share info as it appears. All of the largest MTG vendors are on site and we’ll be interviewing them all weekend long to see what cards are selling out. But for now, let’s take a look at some red hot cards heading into one of the largest MTG gatherings ever.

Hot Cards Heading Into GP New Jersey

  1. Forked Bolt (ROE, Uncommon): $.50 to $2.50-$3.50 (+500%)

By now you’re probably aware that both Modern and Legacy are bowing to the might of Treasure Cruise and the return of U: Draw 3. This in turn has led to the advent of U/R Delver in Legacy and the need to kill multiple dangerous 1-toughness creatures like Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer and Spirit of the Labyrinth in the same turn with limited mana. Forked Bolt fits those needs perfectly and the spotlight has resulted in a 250%+ increase in price over the last couple of weeks. I could see the card grabbing another $1-2 in price before Treasure Cruise gets banned in Modern, at which point it could settle back toward the $3 range. This card is easy to reprint, so if you haven’t already won the lottery on it, I’d steer clear.

Verdict: Hold/Sell

2. Monastery Swiftspear (KTK, Uncommon):  3.50 to 2.50 (-31%)

Here we have another long term red role player that’s making a splash after it’s recent debut in Khans of Tarkir. It’s playable in Standard, Modern and Legacy and likely deserves to hang out in the $2-3 range despite the massive rate of copies being opened right now. There’s not much beef left on this bone, but I love foils as a mid-long term profit machines as we’re not likely to see a red creature this good for a while and Treasure Cruise’s likely banning in Modern won’t prevent this from finding a home in other decks.

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Verdict: Hold/Buy Foils

3.  Price of Progress (Exodus, Uncommon): $5 to $8-9 (+60%)

Short of a reprint, this non-basic land hoser may have some more room for growth. There aren’t that many copies in circulation and with Legacy far from dead, the demand may be there to see this hit $10-12 within the year. It’s a great card in U/R Delver and against many of the decks that will try to prey on it this weekend, so the jump isn’t that surprising.

Verdict: Hold/Buy

4. Leyline of Sanctity (M11, Rare): $20 to $25 (+25%)

In a metagame where burn is going to put many a player to sleep, and TEPS and Storm variants are still skulking in the shadows, a card that can play guardian angel in your opening seven is a very good friend to have. With very few alternatives offering the same level of protection, we can expect this one to keep creeping up unless it sees a reprint in MM2 this summer.

5. Chains of Mephistopheles (Legends, Rare): $320 to $355 (+10%)

Sure this is a pretty expensive addition to any deck, but it’s also a pretty sweet answer to decks like UR Delver and Storm that want to draw a ton of cards in a given turn. Forcing them to discard as they draw can be back breaking and I’ve heard whispers of Maverick and Hate Bears variants likely to be running these showing up this weekend. As a Reserved List card there’s plenty of upside here in the long term, and renewed interest outside of the collector community could easily see this top $500 within 18 months.

Verdict: Hold/Buy

Watch for late morning updates on floor action straight from the mouths of vendors! If you’re on location, ping me on Twitter at @mtgcritic if you’re interested in joining our BringYourOwnPacks Draft Sat night at 8:30pm at the Courtyard Marriott.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

 

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WEEKEND PRICE UPDATE: NOV 8TH/14

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week. This week, the story continues to be about the deflation of Khans of Tarkir prices.

5 Winners of the Week

1.  Forked Bolt (Rise of the Eldrazi, Uncommon): $0.36 to $1.26 (+40%)

Format(s): Modern/Legacy

Heading into GP New Jersey next weekend, a tournament that is likely to be the largest Legacy Magic event of all time, we have a metagame before us that pivots on the fulcrum point that is U/R Delver decks. Suddenly most of the creatures you need to kill (Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, Swiftspear, Tokens) are begging for the cheapest possible solution that can do 1-2 damage. That card is Forked Bolt. Low inventory relative to immediate demand is spiking the card, and foils have done even better. I was happy to mop up a handful of foils a couple of weeks at market rates based on my early Legacy testing and tourney results, but the paper version could easily hit $3-4 on the floor of GPNJ in a world where Stoke the Flames exceeds that price. The long term prognosis largely depends on whether Treasure Cruise gets banned in Modern, which could signal a shift back towards other decks, but there is profit to be found here in trades at Legacy events in the interim.

Verdict: Buy/Hold

2.  Firedrinker Satyr (Theros, Rare): $1.05 to $1.20 (+14%)

Format(s): Standard

The red aggro deck continues to be a popular and viable strategy in local standard metagames despite not taking down any top tables at major tourneys upstream. Depending on how many Coursers and Caryatids you need to punch through this guy can be a very helpful little bastard. I was targeting these at .35 cents and as throw-ins for trades last summer, so trading out now is a good move if you aren’t playing your copies.

Verdict: Trade

3.  Whip of Erebos (Theros, Rare): $1.87 to $2.23 (+19%)

Format(s): Standard/EDH

With a few strong Top 8 finishes lately, the various Whip decks have staked a claim to Tier 1 deck status in Standard for the season. Some decks go so far as to play 4 copies of this legendary enchantment, which is helping to boost the price. These will drop near rotation for sure, due to a complete lack of legacy play, so if you can trade out extras in the $2-3 range that’s a solid move, looking to pick some back up for long term holds next spring/summer.

Verdict: Trade

4.  Jeskai Ascendancy (KTK, Rare): $2.18 to $1.95 (+12%)

Format(s): Standard/Modern/Legacy

First it was jank. Then it was the hidden king of combo. Then it was too fragile for Standard, but ban-able in Modern. Then Ivan Jen took down SCG Open Oakland last weekend with his Heroic/Ascendancy hybrid deck and demonstrated yet again the versatility and power of this multi-facted combo piece. They key here is whether it’s getting banned in Modern this winter, and so far, the lack of results there makes me say no. Assuming it survives the first swing of the axe (which will almost certainly hit Treasure Cruise regardless), this could be a serious gainer heading into next fall as more cards become available to expand the combo options in Standard. I’m quite happy to these up at $2-3 and roll the dice for a role in multiple formats. I’m also holding a plethora of Japanese foils of this card, but it’s a risky move.

Verdict: Buy/Hold below $3

5. Thoughtseize (Lorwyn, Rare): $34.49 to $36.78 (+7%)

Format(s): All

What Snapcaster Mage was to Innistrad and Abrupt Decay was to RTR block, Thoughtseize is to Theros. All are eternal playable power cards that the MTGFinance community told everyone repeatedly to buy at their lows. Thoughtseize never got much below $15, but I managed to snag several sets in the $12-13 range.  Now it’s in the low 20’s and likely to regain 30 within 18 months with ease. My records tell me that I was selling Lorwyn versions at $55USD summer of 2013, so getting back in this year around $30 on those was also solid. With both versions climbing far in advance of rotation I’d grab any sets you want for play or speculation sooner rather than later. You may get a chance to snag copies at a good price from standard players trading out next fall, but then again, you may not.

Verdict: Buy

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Heliod, God of the Sun (Theros, Mythic): $3.42 to $2.67 (-22%)

Format(s): Casual/EDH

We are now at the point where virtually all of the gods are excellent pickups for long term holds. These are iconic and unique mythics that are unlikely to see reprints in any specialty products anytime soon due to thematic issues and the need to be surrounded by devotion strategies. Commander 2015 would have been a fine vehicle and WOTC passed on that opportunity due to proximity to release, so they should be safe for a few years at least. I’m happy to snag a ton of Heliod around $2-$2.50, as he can easily be expected to settle in around $6-8 down the road. Keranos is the only god I’d wait to target at rotation. The others I’ll be buying in piles heading toward summer lows, happy to dollar cost average.

Verdict: Buy

2. Kiora, the Crashing Wave (Born of the Gods, Mythic): $20.37 to $16.07 (-21%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern

Kiora is a great Planeswalker, but she’s too fragile in the current burn heavy standard meta and she’s just been announced as one half of the spring Duel Decks release alongside Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. In my mind, both cards are worth dumping sooner rather than later, as they will surely crash heading into summer and will then by buys at half the price or less. For what it’s worth I prefer the original art on both cards, so it’s worth watching to see if the bottom will drop out on foils at some point, opening an EDH spec.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

3.  Wurmcoil Engine (Scars of Mirrodin, Mythic): $20.03 to $17.07 (-15%)

Format(s): Modern/Legacy/EDH

As covered earlier, there is far too much value in the new Commander 2014 red deck to allow this freshly reprinted mythic to stay up. I think the floor on this is somewhere in the $8-12 range, and at the lower end of that I’m in for a few sets as longer term holds and to play with, since I only had a few in the collection until now. If you can manage to trade them away above market averages, that’s a slam dunk right now.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

4.  Xenagos, The Reveler (Theros, Mythic) 14.26 to 12.20 (-14%)

This guy has put in plenty of work in the last year and has nothing to be ashamed of. First commanding around $30 at his release, he later dipped to under $10 this summer, when I was snagging him for $8. He spiked in the fall on middling standard results and lessened availability to around $18, but is now falling again on lack of play. You should have got out a few weeks back, but it’s possible he sees a resurgence based on new cards in the next two sets this winter/spring so holding your playset isn’t crazy.

Verdict: Hold/Trade

5.  Stormbreath Dragon (Theros, Mythic) $20.01 to $18.11 (-9%)

Big red threats aren’t winning enough top tables, and when they are, they’re generally named Sarkhan. I’ve been dumping extra copies for a while, and we’d need to be facing down a significant metagame shift before I’d change my mind.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

Quick Hits:

  • Commander 2014 sets of 5 decks can easily be found for about $125, saving you some cash below MSRP. At an MTGFinance play however, these decks are weak. I’m still holding a ton of Commander 2013 product that isn’t likely to produce for another 1-2 years and that’s not where you want to be at this time next year. Cracking them for decks at lowered cost by ditching the banner cards is a fine collector value play, but it’s not a money maker when you consider your time spent. Steer clear.
  • I’m trading foil Treasure Cruise into foil Dig Through Time all day long. Cruise is too good, everyone knows it, and it will be banned in modern this winter without question. It will still see play in Legacy, but DTT has a brighter and broader future. Even better, trade either into foil Delver of Secrets. Those can still be had under $15, and that’s just not right given the current level of play and the fact that Innistrad is almost 3 years older than KTK.
  • If you’re looking for specs for next weekend, you should be figuring out what metagame calls will be made against UR Delver at GP New Jersey and buying accordingly. Folks will be finishing up decks this weekend and copies of key cards should result in some spikes shortly. We’re already seeing it with Forked Bolt, but that won’t be the last card.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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WEEKEND PRICE UPDATE: NOV 1ST/14

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Here’s your weekly update on what’s been shifting around in price in the world of paper Magic: The Gathering this week. This week, the story continues to be about the deflation of Khans of Tarkir prices.

5 Winners of the Week

1.  Chained to the Rocks (Theros, Rare): $0.81 to $1.14 (+41%)

Format(s): Standard

Chained to the Rocks is seeing play in a couple of different Standard decks and this is pulling it up a bit from it’s bottom line. As one of the strongest possible removal spells in the format, it’s possible metagame shifts could result in more upside here, though the top line is likely in the $3 range. The fact that this is our biggest gainer of the week is indicative of as strong downtrend overall in the market as the Khans cards settle to their natural lows and the lack of focus on other formats keeps prices depressed for a while longer. (One bright spot likely to cause spikes is GP: NJ Nov 14-16th which as one of the largest Legacy format tournaments of all time, should inevitably boost some trending Legacy staples short-term).

Verdict: Hold

2.  Drown in Sorrow (Born of the Gods, Uncommon): $0.82 to $1.10 (+34%)

Format(s): Standard

The uses for this card as main and sideboard tech against token and aggro strategies in this Standard fall metagame are myriad. Scry 1 certainly never hurts either. This isn’t likely to become Stoke the Flames Pt 2, and selling fees are unlikely to make dumping playsets very profitable so there’s not much action here.

Verdict: Hold

3.  Monastery Swiftspear (KTK, Uncommon): $1.87 to $2.23 (+19%)

Format(s): Standard

It’s a an aggro card of Legacy caliber and will likely be seen all over the room at GP NJ later this month as part of both Burn and U/R Delver strategies. That being said I’m higher on foils long term, picked up around the holidays as max supply after the Legacy GP hype has receded.

Verdict: Hold

4.  Whip of Erebos (Theros, Rare): $2.18 to $1.95 (+12%)

Format(s): Standard + Casual/EDH

Whip strategies in Standard are looking like one of the top 5 options in the format, whether they be GB or Sultai versions. The card could peak around $4-5 if it takes down a few major Standard tourneys through Nov/Dec, and the fact that some decks are running the full four copies of the legendary artifact is encouraging. I’m holding for now, looking to pick up copies next summer at their natural lows for future EDH value.

Verdict: Hold

5.  Battlefield Forge (9th, Rare): $7.41 to $6.66 (+11%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern

With Jeskai tempo, aggro and combo strategies all viable in Standard, it’s no surprise that this is the most desired of the M15 pain-land reprints. This should be close to peak value, so I’m a seller in the $6-8 range, having slurped up copies in the $2 range mid-July.

Verdict: Sell

5 Top Losers of the Week

1. Anafenza, the Foremost (Khans of Tarkir, Mythic): $6.16 to $5.10 (-17%)

Format(s): Standard

With the KTK card slide in full motion now, good cards that aren’t seeing enough play will be the main victims of the downslide. Anafenza, doesn’t have a strong home in the Abzan lists, and may keep trending down into the $3-4 range in the near future. I’m trading my copies as high as possible and looking for a future entry point.

Verdict: Trade/Sell

2.  Siege Rhino (Khans of Tarkir, Rare): $8.67 to $7.67 (-12%)

Format(s): Standard + Modern

Yes, it’s taken a bit of a shave alongside the rest of it’s KTK cousins, but make no mistake, this is an important card and not one you need to be rushing to sell. If you’re holding extra copies from some cracked boxes and Abzan’s not your deck, then go ahead and trade up into some depressed Modern or Legacy staples you might need.

Verdict: Hold

3.  Perilous Vault (M15, Mythic): $8.55 to $7.63 (-11%)

Format(s): Standard

Despite UB Control putting up solid win percentages at multiple big tourneys lately, the hype on this card has receded a bit as players realize it’s often a turn too late to be the sweeper mid-range and control decks need to put Aggro decks to bed. I’ve already outed my copies, and unless you’re playing it I suggest you do the same as it has little upside at this point and not much of a future in other formats outside casual and EDH.

Verdict: Sell/Trade

4.  Dig Through Time (Khans of Tarkir, Rare) 10.29 to 9.29 (-10%)

This card is amazing and the only thing giving me pause in holding multiple copies is the outside possibility that it finds a banning in the next 6 months. My money is on Treasure Cruise being the only banning, but we need to see results from GP Jersey to know for sure which way we’re headed. Regardless, it’s going to be a key blue card, often used as a four-of, for another year and a bit, so there’s no need to be unloading now.

Verdict: Hold

5.  Wurmcoil Engine (Scars of Mirrodin, Mythic) $22.70 to $20.57 (-9%)

It’s in the new Commander 2014 red deck. That will pull the price down even further, likely below $15 and within 30 days. Get out now and scoop up copies at their future low.

Verdict: Sell

Quick Hits:

  • With basically all of the five Commander 2015 decks now revealed, it’s pretty clear that WOTC has taken steps to ensure that none of the decks are as unbalanced value-wise as the True Name Nemesis deck was last year. That being said, the red deck looks like the one to pick up with at least 3 cards (Dualcaster Mage, Feldon of the Third Path, Wurmcoil Engine) representing strong value.
  • It’s worth keeping an eye on MTGO Daily Legacy winners heading into the GP NJ weekend. Trending cards have a good shot at making you some money if you can spot something fresh that’s good at against Treasure Cruise/Delver strategies.
  • Conspiracy Booster boxes can currently be had for around $85 online. This is way too low for a unique draft format, with solid foils, some unique cube cards and Dack Fayden.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

ADVERTISEMENT: Looking for a deck box to match your play style and personality? Look no further! Check out the Grimoire Beta Edition – a spell book looking deck box with stylish cover art that fits you.

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