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.

The Watchtower 12/10/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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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.


Without a doubt, the story around the proverbial water cooler today are the massive changes to the organized play program. There’s now a $10 million esports circuit each year that splits activity between Arena and paper Magic. Gone are all of the non-Pro Tour/GP events, such as Nationals Worlds, etc. The Pro Tour is now called, uh, the Tabletop Mythic Championship I think? Also there’s events just called Mythic Championships that are played on Arena? Pro Points are being frozen soon, and the Hall of Fame will be renamed and the voting process is going to be overhauled. A bunch of platinum and gold pros had their benefits rescinded but were given $75,000 play and stream contracts. Overall, big changes. Expect a staged roll out here, both on WotC’s side, and the community discussion. Look for analysis on the upcoming @mtgfastfinance this week.

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The Watchtower 12/3/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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.


Overall, we’ve had a relatively quiet week. SCG’s Modern Open was won by Ross Merriam, a like-minded fellow, with a full grip of Arclight Phoenixes. This is roughly the amount of success needed to at least include a card in the “won’t get you laughed out of the room for discussing” tier, and is the first step towards becoming “staple of at least tier two.” We saw a similar pathway for Humans and Spirits over the last year or so.

Other than that, GP Shizuoka wasn’t terribly thrilling. Legacy had little in the way of upsets, as is expected. Their Standard showing was heavy on the Golgari, with no meaningful innovation as far as we’re concerned, with one exception to that rule. The Ultimate Masters fervor has died down. Expect this trend to be repeated over the next few weeks, with much of everyone’s attention preoccupied with holiday parties, gift shopping, and getting colds.

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March of the Multitudes

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $13

Early in Guilds of Ravnica’s lifespan March of the Multitudes was a bit of a breakout card. Checking the price graph, you can see it from $10 to $5, then skyrocket to $20. Since then it’s dwindled, as shortly after GRN’s release it became apparent that Selesnya wasn’t one of the guilds to beat this time around. Turns out Voice of Resurgence did GW a big favor the last time we were in Ravnica.

GP Shizuoka wasn’t terribly exciting, although there was an appearance in the top 8 of a GW tokens build with a full grip of Marches. Given that Golgari Midrange is mostly a goodstuff deck as BG has been so many times before it, it is vulnerable to wide strategies just as its forefathers before. Ravenous Chupacabra is a lot less impressive one when of your cards creates four separate bodies.

March has fallen to about $6, which is a far cry from the $20 it hit during spoilers. While token strategies haven’t found their place in Standard yet, this success in Japan may herald a shift in the metagame, especially as Golgari is liable to continue to do well at non-Pro Tour tournaments worldwide. If GW token strategies, and March of the Multitudes along with them, become a prominent part of Standard, expect this archetype-defining 4x mythic to get a bit more expensive than six bucks.

Rest in Peace (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $25

Take a peek at the staple list of Modern and you’ll find that the 4th most played spell — ahead of Thoughtseize, Serum Visions, and Ancient Stirrings — is Rest in Peace. There’s no doubt Dredge is having a bit of a moment in Modern, which will eventually fade, as the format is cyclical, but even if Hollow One is banned, Rest in Peace will remain relevant. I heavily played Modern from the outset for years and years, and my RIPs rarely left a deck’s sleeves and ended up back in my collection binder. No matter what’s going on in the format, somebody is trying to abuse their graveyard, because the single second people stop running graveyard hate, some chucklehead with Worldfire, Flame Jab, and Spellweaver Helix is going to show up and crush an SCG Open.

You’ll find foils from Return to Ravnica at the $20 price point today, though supply is shallow for sure. There’s a playset around $20 to $21, another three around $25, and then that’s it. Masters 25 copies, the ones we’re looking at, start at $15 instead. There’s a whopping 11 NM copies on TCG at the time of publication. I’d expect the M25 copies to catch up to the $20 to $22 price point reasonably soon, and both copies will start pushing closer to $25 or $30 without an intervention on Wizards’ part.

Zendikar Resurgent(Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

Independent of Modern and Standard, EDH keeps on chugging. Looking into Jodah, Archmage Eternal, Zendikar Resurgent jumped out at me. When Resurgent was printed it was one of those “oh this will be an awesome pickup for EDH in two or three years.” Here we are a little under three years later, and I’m starting to like it more and more.

Unsurprisingly, it’s wildly popular in the format. There are over 15,000 listings on EDHREC, ranking it as a true format staple. At the same time, foil supplies are getting shallow. We’re not talking RIP shallow, but still shallow. You’ll find a handful of singles in the $6 range, a few more under $10, and then the ladder to $15 and $20 is short and quick.

Zendikar Resurgent is highly popular, has one printing, and is most likely to see future reprints come in Commander product, which will be lacking in foils. Attrition should pull this up from $6 towards at least $10, and probably $12 to $15, or even $20 if we go another two years.


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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The Watchtower 11/26/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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.


While you may have been hoping for a shakeup with the banned and restricted list update, alas, it was not to be. Both Krark-Clan Ironworks and Dredge (and Tron) survived unscathed in Modern. Will the Pro Tour be a mountain of uninteractive decks? With several high powered decks all operating on completely different vectors, it may be tough for competitors to find a strategy that beats enough of the linear decks while also managing to play some semblance of its own game.

Reality Smasher (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

With Ultimate Masters’ spoiler released in full, we can turn our attention to what’s missing. Among the notable omissions is Reality Smasher. Just in case you’ve forgotten, Eldrazi remains a potent threat in Modern, having taken second in an MTGO Modern Challenge just yesterday (behind Dredge).

With the rise of uninteractive decks, Eldrazi has undoubtedly taken a beating. Where once it was a top metagame choice, it has now slipped to a tier two or three strategy. It may take a banning elsewhere to give the deck space to grow, which after today is at least a few months away. That’s fine though, as it gives us a comfortable entry point.

Looking back on foil Reality Smasher’s price history, we saw it near $25. It floated around $20 as recently as this May. With the rise of KCI, Dredge, and similar strategies, that foil price has fallen to a lowly $8. Given the history of the card, both competitively and financially, it’s not unreasonable to assume it may make those same climbs again. If the Pro Tour sees a volume of Dredge that Wizards deems overbearing, we may see some key bans in January that could lead to a resurgence of Eldrazi.

Mystical Tutor (Foil)

Price Today: $17
Possible Price: $30

Another omission from Ultimate Masters, Mystical Tutor is an incredibly popular spell in EDH. How popular? It’s the 5th most played blue card, and the 43rd most played card overall. That’s popular. To be found within the top 50 means that practically speaking, there are hundreds of thousands of copies to be found in decks across the world.

Mystical Tutor has five various printings, and three come in at foil. That’s worth a closer look though. One is the From The Vault: Realms copy. Even by Wizards’ own admission this foiling process is not particularly popular. (That may be part of the reason we’ve since seen the discontinuation of the FTV series.) And speaking of FTV, its replacement, the signature spellbook, we can find a foil Mystical Tutor there as well. There are two issues with that one; one is that the art is all about Jace. There’s definitely burnout on Jace these days among the player base these days. The second is that the foiling process appears to be even worse than FTV’s. Watch a video of it; you can barely tell it’s foil.

Among the three foil printings of Tutor, two are empirically terrible, which leaves us with just the EMA foil. All of the sudden, we’re looking at a single good foil of one of the most popular foil cards in the game, with solid art to boot. I’m getting on board here.

There’s a couple copies below $18, and a chunk below $20. Not too many though, and the overall supply is relatively shallow. We haven’t seen much price movement over the last two years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean squat. Plenty of cards sit seemingly dormant for months or years at a time, only to suddenly see a otherwise unexplained surge in price. So long as Wizards doesn’t give us another Mystical Tutor, this could be one of those cards.

Bloodghast (Foil)

Price Today: $18
Possible Price: $30

Bloodghast won twice over today; not only is it not in the recently spoiled Ultimate Masters, it also wasn’t hampered by any bans today. He’s got a new lease on life as of 11am EST today, at least until January 21st (the next B&R update).

The math here is simple. Dredge is arguably the most popular deck in Modern right now. Every iteration seems to play four without question. It just dodged a major ban announcement as well as a reprint. Any reluctance on the part of buyers should be assuaged for two months. If a player were thinking about whether to pick up a set of ghasts, they’ve gotten all the messaging they need to take the plunge.

Zendikar foils are hanging around at $35, and IMA is half of that at $17 or $18. We shouldn’t expect IMA foils to fully catch Zendikar ones, as original foils always maintain a premium, but there’s plenty of room between $18 and $35. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zendikar foils pull up towards $40 or more, and IMA foils trail at low $30s.


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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The Watchtower 11/19/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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.


Two Grand Prixs hit the books this weekend, with a hometown hero taking one down, but there’s nothing there for us. Down under was sealed, so that’s really dead, and even the Standard one didn’t present anything new in the wake of the Pro Tour. While it appears to be a fun Standard format, I simply don’t think there’s any fertile soil there any longer. With no shakeups on the horizon until the next set in February, there’s no reason to think we’ll see any cards meaningfully change in value.

At the same time, the markets have been awfully quiet lately. We had possibly our fastest @mtgfastfinance ever last week, as there simply wasn’t much going on. Ultimate Masters spoilers are hitting today and tomorrow, with the full list due Wednesday, so we’ll have some brief excitement this week, but after that, it’s going to be all quiet on the western front until January most likely.

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The Mirari Conjecture (Foil)

 

Price Today: $1.75
Possible Price: $9

I’m starting this week off with a “feels good” pick. Mirari Conjecture feels good. It’s a cool card. It draws you two cards over two turns, and then sets you up for a bonkers third turn, especially in the mid to late game, where you have a pile of mana.

We haven’t seen it invade EDH yet, though there’s precedent. Take a gander at the top played blue cards on EDHREC and you’ll see that the seventh most popular blue creature is Archaeomancer, a four mana 1/2 that returns an instant or sorcery from the graveyard to your hand. He’s a well known face to anyone that’s been playing awhile. Mirari Conjecture basically does his job twice, then gives you that big payoff on turn three.

I’m not anticipating that Conjecture is going to end up a top ten blue card or anything. It’s a little too narrow, and a little too tough to abuse to get that much out of it. However, it’s certainly able to become a staple. I would imagine someone only has to get this to trigger on the third step once to become a convert. Once we start seeing enough ofo that, those $1.75 foils are going to begin disappearing. Supply is decent, as it’s an in-print Standard rare, but it’s not deep deep. It’s reasonable. Comfortable. Not excessive. Grab a copy of yourself now, and as you hit Black Friday sales this week, keep this one in mind as you’re looking for stuff to throw in the cart at a discount.

Rune-Scarred Demon (Foil)

 

Price Today: $3.75
Possible Price: $12

Occasionally I find a card that makes me do a double take. How is this card so affordable? It’s happened to me many times over the years. A popular card that should have very limited supply is inexplicably bountiful and cheap. I stare at it, wondering if I’m missing something, and don’t bother to buy any, because the supply is too great to bother right now. Sometimes I’ll bump into the same card multiple times over a span of months, each time having the same reaction. Eventually, I find myself looking at it with a price tag several times greater than it has been, and I kick myself for not having bought them. Happens without fail. I’m kind of having that now, with Rune-Scarred Demon.

Rune-Scarred Demon is in 16,000 EDH decks. More than 1 in 10 decks that made black mana play Demon. It’s not hard to imagine why, either. The number one most popular black card in the format is Demonic Tutor. Do you know what Demon does when he enters the battlefield? He Demonic Tutors. And he’s a 6/6. Show up, search for a card, punch people in the face. All good stuff. Especially if you’ve got any blinking going on, then you’re just a jerk.

Still, you can find several foils from both Magic 2012, his original foil printing, and Iconic Masters, his only other foil printing, under $4. And plenty below $6. How? Why? A card this popular should be way harder to find. I could understand if the M12 copies were $17 and the IMA ones were $4, sure. But the M12 ones too? Huh?

There’s nothing deep or clever about this. I look at Demon, and I can’t figure out why it isn’t more expensive. It’s got low supply, it’s quite popular, and it’s flexible. Why aren’t more people buying this card? Whatever. We should buy it, and then wait. Eventually it will catch up. They always do.

Worn Powerstone (Foil)

 

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

There are a lot of mana rocks in EDH, some better than others. Like Sol Ring. Mana Crypt is quite good. Mana Vault is solid too, though more “fair.” You’ve got the colorless ones too, like Chromatic Lantern, which don’t produce in volume, but produce in quality. Really though, once you get past the first two or three, you start making choices. What fits my build the best? If you want raw efficiency, there isn’t much better than Worn Powerstone.

Three on the way in and tapping for two is just about the best it gets after Sol Ring. Sure, the “enters tapped” part sucks, no arguing there. It’s not all that bad though. On turn three you probably weren’t using that two colorless mana anyways, so if you’re playing this on curve, it barely matters. And if you’ve got untap mechanics in your deck – e.g. Paradox Engine – it doesn’t even matter.

I don’t need to sell you on Powerstone though. It’s in 25,000 decks. It’s like, the 50th? Most popular card in EDH overall, depending on what metric you use. People play it. Heck, look at the reprint list. It’s been printed nine times. Nine is a lot of times. Five of the places it was reprinted have the word “Commander” in them. It’s popular in EDH, guys.

And it just so happens that out of all nine prints, only a single one is available in foil. Eternal Masters is the only place you can get a foil Worn Powerstone. It’s a bit surprising, but really, if they’re printing it every single year in the Commander precons, then they’re not going to feel the need to find space for it elsewhere. And then you end up with a very popular card only having one foil printing.

Supply is solid right now for sure. Plenty available around $4. But if this trend continues, with only Commander reprints, there’s going to be a lot fewer of these in the future than there are today, and then prices in the $10 to $15 range are going to start looking quite real.


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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