All posts by Travis Allen

Travis Allen has been playing Magic on and off since 1994, and got sucked into the financial side of the game after he started playing competitively during Zendikar. You can find his daily Magic chat on Twitter at @wizardbumpin. He currently resides in upstate NY, where he is a graduate student in applied ontology.

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 6/26/17

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By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Grand Prix Cleveland was a GP For Magic players in the same way that Eric Warheim is a comedian’s comedian. That is to say, it was limited. It was also a fairly quiet weekend overall. GP Vegas and the massive spoiler week were both in the rear view mirror, and there weren’t any further leaks of cards, meaning nothing new really broke out or spiked.

Perhaps most interestingly at the moment is the leaked Ixalan (ix-a-lon) sheet that reveals that planeswalkers are getting the ‘legendary’ supertype. Two possibilities exist here. The simpler of the two is that Wizards is bringing consistency to their card types. Since planeswalkers already behave in the same fashion as other legendary permanents, it makes sense they should have the same supertype. The other, less-occam’s-razor possibility is that they’re adding the supertype in order to set up a rules change in Commander that allows for all planeswalkers to be your general. That’s certainly more of a stretch, but it’s exciting to think about, no? Boy you thought Doubling Season was expensive before…

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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 6/19/17

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Man, #GPVegas, right? I’m on about four hours of sleep right now, and I’d imagine anyone else that attended is in the same boat. Some Invocations were spoiled. Inventions Engineered Explosives was bought out. The Modern GP had a wacky top eight. Everyone who knew what they were doing spent way too much money on food and loved it. But man this Monday sucks.

Leonin Arbiter (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Inexplicably, there were two Hatebears decks in the top eight of Vegas. I’m not exactly clear on how that happened. Nevertheless, here we are. Hatebears has been a permanent fixture in the tier 2.5 bracket of Modern, and this weekend we saw that even mediocre decks can occasionally overperform.

There’s certainly a subset of players that enjoy this strategy, and that will continue to be true so long as you can attempt to tax and needle players out of the game. People were doing this with Maverick in Legacy six years ago, and the strategy is still around and kicking today.

Leonin Arbiter is a permanent fixture in Modern D&T, and while normally I wouldn’t be keen on cards from a semi-niche strategy like this, Arbiter has now gone quite awhile without a reprint, and I wouldn’t say Wizards is gunning to print him again. He could show up in Iconic Masters or Masters 25 of course, but it would be one of those “well I guess” reprints, rather than a “we need to put this somewhere.”

There are a few foils at $10, and putting two copies into the top of Vegas is likely to inspire more people to move into the deck, as it’s a sort of validation of the strategy’s competency and competitiveness. I’m not sure that’s true, mind you, but it will read that way to some. In any case, $10 for foil staple in a tier two-ish deck that’s now pushing seven years old isn’t a bad pickup. Sales of just a few playsets would put this firmly in the $20 range.


Dictate of Kruphix (Game Day)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

I’d say there were two exciting things to see in the Modern GP, and UB Taking Turns was one of them. It was certainly a wild list, with specific quantities that appear to be tested. Does that mean it’s actually a good deck, rather than just someone that got lucky at the wrong tables in Vegas? Maybe. The tools for some sort of turbofog list are basically all there, and it’s a strategy that has been successful in other formats multiple times. Death’s Shadow existed for years without anyone discovering it; the same could be true here.

Whenever a deck like this pops up on the radar, a small rush of players look to pick it up. Time Warp and Temporal Mastery would typically be the cards most poised to jump in price, but there’s suppressing factors. Mastery was just reprinted in MM3, and while it’s been longer for Warp, there are still four printings out there with well over 200 copies available. Part the Waterveil was just printed and has a huge stock. Exhaustion has 1,000 printings. (Although I went looking for 9th Edition foils, and I cannot find a single copy anywhere at any price.) Howling Mine is the same. I figured normal Dictates would be a good place to start, but there are 250 copies on TCG alone. Maybe eventually, but that day is not today, and it’s the type of card Wizards will reprint off-cycle.

I had forgotten there was a Game Day promo of Dictate though, and it’s sweet looking. A quick check sees just 24 vendors on TCG with copies. That’s a number I like to see. Over on EDHREC Dictate shows up in over 4,000 decks, which puts it on the list of most popular EDH cards in the last year. That’s another number I like to see.

Copies are available right around $4, and UB Taking Turns or not, that number is going to rise eventually. This Modern deck is only going to expedite that.


Chief Engineer (Game Day)

Price Today: $1.75
Possible Price: $8

UB Taking Turns was the first interesting thing at the Modern GP; “Blue Steel” is the other one. Zac Elsik, with such credits as Lantern Control and Nourshing Shoal Goryo’s, showed up with a Grand Architect aggro deck. He did not design it, mind you — please don’t yell at me in the comments that he stole the idea — he just tweaked it, and performed reasonably well with it, with a final finish of 11-4. (With three losses to Eldrazi Tron, apparently.)

Grand Architect is certainly where you may want to look first, but the time for that was a few weeks (or years) ago. At this point, that ship has sailed. Lodestone Golem has too many printings and too little demand. Master of Etherium is already pricey. Smuggler’s Copter is too new. Chief Engineer was printed in Commander 2016. But — just like Dictate of Kruphix — I forgot there was a game day promo of this guy.

With over 2,000 EDH decks running Chief Engineer, there’s clearly demand. For reference, there are 2,200 Breya decks in the REC file. He should also be an auto-include in just about any deck with an artifact theme. And, again, cool looking Game Day promo that’s never showing up again.

You can snag these for around $2 right now, less if you get lucky. There aren’t too many out there though. Most major vendors are out of stock or low supply, and TCG is down to 50 sellers. That’s not miniscule, but it’s not a large reserve either. I’m not expecting a sudden buyout on this unless the deck top eights another SCG Open or Grand Prix in the near future, but pressure on supply will definitely be constant, and there’s no more copies coming.

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Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 6/12/17

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


About twenty minutes after I post this article, Rosewater is posting his, titled “Metamorphosis 2.0.” It promises to be quite a shake-up, given that the last “Metamorphosis” article was the one that announced two set blocks and an eighteen month Standard rotation. I’d love to post my guess as to what we’ll see, but given that the truth will be revealed almost immediately, I’ll just end up insanely owned for no reason, so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

Whatever changes we see, I suspect none will have an immediate impact on card prices. The types of change that Rosewater is likely to discuss will have large, sweeping, structural changes on the markets for cards, rather than an immediate “oh shi-” as may occur with the change to split card rules, for instance. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear plenty of discussion on MTG Fast Finance this week and/or next about what it means for us.

There’s a ban list update tomorrow, which may or may not include Aetherworks Marvel. I’m inclined to think they’d just leave it, but they did move the date up a little, and generally they’d only move B&R dates if there’s a good reason. While I’d love for them to axe Marvel hours before a Standard GP, don’t expect any changes to be in place this weekend, even if there is a ban/unban. If there is a ban, expect a flurry of sales both on site and nationwide as a result.

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The Watchtower 6/5/17

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


We got three Standard GPs, and while the top 8’s didn’t look too bad, the combined top 32 tell a different story. Marvel made up 43%, which is nowhere near a healthy number at that stage of the tournament. Maybe if 43% had showed up with Marvel, but people that came prepared were beating it, and it was down to 10% or 20% by the top 32 it wouldn’t be as bad. But that’s not what happened, and Standard isn’t looking too rosy.

I suspect they wont’ ban Marvel. After all the turbulence of Standard so far, Wizards really doesn’t want to have to dip in a third time. Tournament attendance is always low during the summer months, so they may just opt not to touch it for the time being. There won’t be as many people showing up to FNM to experience the unpleasantness, and a lot of players are taking a break anyways, so the “Standard still kind of sucks” narrative may be much less likely to hang around on the fringes of player’s perceptions than “Wizards had to ban things a third time.”

Either way, there’s definitely some Standard cards out there that will spike in October, and our goal is to get a bead on them. Meanwhile, Modern is vibrant and healthy, even if Death’s Shadow is probably a little too good, and EDH continues to churn out big gains week after week.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $30

This is an odd one, given how pricey Chandra already is, so bear with me.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance is Wizards continuing to turn the power level up on red planeswalkers to get them Standard playable. They’re getting a lot closer, and Chandra is consistently showing up in Standard at this point. Still, she’s only a one or two-of most of the time. You’ll see one maindeck copy, and maybe a second in the sideboard, or just two in the board. She hasn’t managed to quite make it into the top tier of Planeswalkers, where we see Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.

Today’s Standard is an odd one, because it wasn’t supposed to exist. The entire Battle for Zendikar block was originally planned to have rotated by now, so the interplay between BFZ and Amonkhet was not considered as much as would have been ideal. Marvel is dominating Standard, and it’s a strategy that Chandra isn’t really great in or against, so her current value is extra low. You’ve also still got Gideon, one of the best planeswalkers in Standard ever, exhausting all the the planeswalker slots in every deck that can possibly cast him.

With a current price tag of nearly $20, I’m not advocating you start scooping up copies. Rather, I’m telling you to keep an eye on it. Over the next two to three months Standard prices should start declining as the summer months peel players away from constructed Magic. I’m hoping we see Chandra drop to $15, or possibly even $11 or $12. That’s what I would consider the “as good as it’s going to get” price point. Then, once October hits and BFZ rotates, Chandra will hopefully see a resurgence as the best walker in Standard, and climb to $25+.


Collected Company

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $25

Vizier of Remedies has shaken up Modern by adding an easy two-card infinite mana combo. (It also made anyone with a bunch of Shadowmoor bulk a lot of money.) The gruesome twosome is showing up in a few different strategies, and Abzan Company is chief among them in terms of power level. The strategy has been a consistent part of Modern for awhile now, floating between tier one and two, and Vizier has likely pushed it firmly into the tier one camp.

As the name implies, the deck is a collection of small creatures that relies heavily on synergy and a way to put a few into play at a time. Collected Company is the best tool for the job on that front, as you can end-of-turn a game winning pair of creatures into play. It’s a powerful card in the strategy, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a list that didn’t run the full set.

Abzan Company isn’t the only place that you’ll find Collected Company either. Elves has taken to it, unsurprisingly, and it pops up elsewhere too. Hatebear, Zoo, Affinity (if you’re Japanese), and various tribal strategies, such as humans and spirits, also all play it. At this point, if you’re playing any green creatures in Modern other than Tarmogoyf, there’s a high likelihood that you’re also casting Collected Company.

As such, I’m a little surprised that it’s still as cheap as it is. $12 isn’t much for the 9th most played spell in Modern (and the most played green spell), especially as a single-printed rare from a spring set. There’s still some inventory out there, so it’s not like it’s going out of stock this week, but it’s not what I would consider particularly deep, especially when people need four copies at a time. I’d start looking for cheap copies now, because as long as it dodges Iconic Masters, I can’t imagine it doesn’t surpass $20.


Mind’s Dilation

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $7

Pretty straightforward one here. Powerful, amusing, and exciting, all perfect for EDH. It’s a mythic from Eldritch Moon, last year’s summer set, which means there are relatively few copies floating around. At a buck a piece, this is an easy one to grab when they’re available and cheap. Stash them for two or three years, and ship them in 2020. It’s not an exciting spec, but it’s solid and easy.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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