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 12/9/19 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.


Now that Standard has returned to something approaching normalcy with the removal of Oko and crew, this weekend’s Mythic Championship looked great. Deck diversity abound (at least as far as Standard is concerned) which is all anyone wants. Simic Flash, Jeskai Fires, GB Adventures, Simic Trade Binder, etc. Get ready to start riding the rollercoaster, because Wizards is watching. The cycle is going to be 1. Print cards that are almost assuredly busted, 2. Let those cards either prove to be fair or, more likely, slowly take over Standard 3. Finally ban the card after it’s become entirely oppressive 4. Reap the reward of people being excited that Standard doesn’t suck any longer. Imagine that in a “10 20 goto 10” joke format if necessary. 

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Cavalier of Dawn

Price Today: $2.50
Possible Price: $6

That’s right, a non-foil Standard pick. Truly remarkable. 

Cavaliers, while having been slow to start, are making a foothold in Standard. Cavalier of Thorns, the green Cavalier, was beating people up in Simic Ramp at the MC, and Cavalier of Flames and Gales are both a big part of Jeskai Fires. There’s no question the Cavaliers pack a big punch. That’s to be expected, since they’re five-drop mythics that have deep color requirements. No question they’re intended to be titans redux, if not a little more fair. 

Ok, what’s my point. Well, back in the days of the original titans, they each had their moment, and it was a different time for each. Frost Titan specifically stands out in memory, as it was the cheapest of the group, until people realized that it was the Titan that beat the other titans, and the price soared. Over time, each Titan found a home and became a staple. Just because it doesn’t land immediately, it doesn’t mean that shifting formats and new cards won’t make one a staple. 

Looking at this pattern from several years ago, I find myself wondering about Cavalier of Dawn. There’s no question the enter play ability is potent. Beast Within was a key card during its own Standard, and continues to see sporadic play in various other 60-card formats, and is a staple in EDH. With the rise in Planeswalkers, especially lower on the curve, this is an even more potent effect. Nice Oko idiot. Here have an elephant. The general way to evaluate an effect like this is “if there’s no good target for the ability, you’re already winning.” Even the death trigger is useful, since we know Banishing Light is returning in Theros from the leaks several weeks back. Cavalier returning a Banishing Light that got destroyed a few turns prior on death will be helpful. 

Of course, right now the card is completely unplayed, which makes this purely speculative. Can we buy Cavalier of Dawn based solely on the fact that the other Cavaliers are good? No, probably not. There’s more here though. We also saw the Elspeth Planeswalker from those Theros leaks, and that card also looks like it’s going to be legitimate. Playing Elspeth on four and then Cavalier on five is going to be a hell of a whammy. That also puts you in a position to be playing devotion as well. White wasn’t the color you went to for devotion in the first Theros, but that could change this time around.

All of this makes Cavalier of Dawn a highly speculative pick, but I like the way the pieces are falling into place. Buying in playsets you’ll pay about $2.50 a copy today. I’m not recommending you start adding them to your cart, but you’ll want to pay close attention to the card as Theros creeps up on us.

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Creeping Chill (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

We started with Standard, now we’re doing Pioneer, and we’ll finish the week with EDH.

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Creeping Chill should be familiar to anyone that’s played Modern. Milling the card domes for three, and in a strategy that’s putting plenty of cardboard in the graveyard, you’re looking at 9 to 12 damage for free in a game. It’s become a common sight in Modern strategies, although you’d be forgiven for not knowing that at this point, because who is looking at Modern lists?

A recent Pioneer league saw Dredge manage 5-0, and in the main deck, four copies of Chill. That got my attention, because so far the archetype has been relatively quiet in Pioneer, but that is highly unlikely to be the case for long. Wizards can’t stay away from the graveyard for too many sets in a row, and in fact, in Theros alone we know we’re getting a mechanic that returns cards to the battlefield, and supporting pieces to go along with it. If Dredge doesn’t have the tools to make itself a serious part of Pioneer today,  it’s only a matter of time.

As graveyard strategies do more work in Pioneer, I expect Creeping Chill to be a mainstay. It’s good enough for many Modern lists, and there’s certainly more room for it in Pioneer lists. Furthermore, as a card that isn’t EDH-oriented and was recently printed, it’s going to be a long while before we see another copy, especially foils. 

There are only about 40 vendors on TCG right now, and there’s no inventory walls to speak of. A few players looking to fill up their collection are going to quickly tax the available inventory, and then these will be another annoyingly expensive foil uncommon.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

I didn’t expect it when she was printed, but Shalai has become one of the most popular creatures in Commander, period. She’s a top 20 popular creature over both the last two months and the last two years — and remember, she was printed less than two years ago. Giving most of your permanents hexproof is big game in EDH. While that sort of lock isn’t quite as airtight in EDH as it might be in Pioneer or Standard, it’s still a monstrously powerful effect. Add in the mana sink, which gives your board a permanent boost when you’ve got excess mana, and plays into the +1/+1 counters theme that’s so popular, and it makes sense that Shalai is seeing so much play. Hindsight, etc. etc.

Flip over to the foil inventory and things look good. Again, about 40 vendors have stock, and nobody has much that’d deep. ChannelFireball, one of the parties notorious for having a block and slowing price gains, is only holding seven copies. Other than that, it’s primarily one-ofs all the way down. Ok, I admit there’s a guy with 13 copies listed — although they’re at $16. Given that Shalai keeps putting up numbers over and over, these should pay off in 2020.[/hide]


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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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The Watchtower 12/2/19 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.


A few hours after this article releases we’ll be getting an update to the Pioneer Banned and Restricted list. I’ve no more information than anyone else, but I’d wager that Smuggler’s Copter and Field of the dead are at the tippy top of the list, and while I can’t be certain they’re both going, smart money is on their exit today. That will unlock a lot of new movement in the format since, at the moment, it’s gated fairly hard by Mono-Black Aggro and the few flavors of Field. Be sure to keep a close eye on the 5-0 results after today, since that will give you an early indicator of what my have gained ground in the vacuum. We’ll check in next week to see what’s blossoming.

Lotus Field (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

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I did a double take when a retweet crossed my feed a day or two ago regarding a Lotus Field combo in the Pioneer PTQ taking place. The build uses Lotus Field, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and Hidden Strings. It’s not a full loop, as encoding Hidden Strings on the Vizier doesn’t do much, since it requires dealing combat damage. Rather, it’s sort of like playing with a fast mana engine. Field isn’t “fast” of course, but once you pair it with Vizier, you’re now getting six mana a turn from one land and one creature. A single Hidden Strings allows you to double dip on both, and now you can make twelve mana. That’s the gimmick, since at that point you cast Omniscience.

It’s no surprise that a land that casts a Black Lotus every turn is going to show up in some Pioneer combo decks. Playing it fairly is mediocre, but once you’ve got any sort of effect to take advantage of it, it’s going to get silly quickly. While the package described above is one way to approach it, I saw some other builds in the 5-0 collection using combinations of Kiora’s Follower and various Kiora planeswalkers to add additional untap mechanics. 

Flip over to EDHREC and you’ll find Field in just over 2,000 lists too, which isn’t insignificant at all. It’s quite a new card to the scene, as Magic 2020 has only been on shelves for a few months. Looking at M20 further, you’ll see that Field is the fourth or fifth most-played card from the set. Not all builds are going to be interested in Field for sure, but there’s no color restrictions on it, and anyone trying to capitalize on untapping lands is certainly going to make sure to toss a copy in.

Non-foils are still far too deep in supply to think about today, although I do suspect they’re going to be worth revisiting in the future. As for foils, the supply isn’t low by any means, sitting at around 90 vendors. Prices have been coming down, with the market over $11 and the cheapest copies at $8 or so. We could see these bottoming out in the very near future, with non-foils sitting at $4 or more. That will put foil Fields on an upwards trajectory, feeding both Pioneer combo players and the EDH crowd.

Cascading Cataracts (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

Had I written this article tomorrow, I’d be calling it Two Lands Tuesday. But I didn’t, so it’s still called The Watchtower. Sorry to disappoint. 

Cataracts, aside from a problem with your eyeball that old people get, is a useful tool in any EDH deck looking to cast five color cards. Five colorless in, any five colors back out. You pay a mana for the privilege, but generally, the color fixing is going to be worth the cost. Being able to hit those WUBRG cards early and reliably can mean a great deal to those decks, especially ones that can’t come to the party with a $3,000 mana base to ensure they’re always getting there. Tossing a Cataracts in is much more cost effective than scrounging up ten fetches and ten duals. 

While I’m sure it’s not terribly common, I imagine that 4c and even 3c decks may occasionally want to run Cataracts. It’s been my experience with 3c decks that I was more likely to be hamstrung on type of mana than volume of mana. Being able to convert some of your Gaea’s Cradle mana into black mana, for instance, could be quite useful. 

At $5, foils are tempting. The issue here is the two big walls of about 50 copies each. Those two vendors alone seem to have more inventory than the entire rest of TCG combined. I’d consider this to be superior to those copies being distributed across the seller market, since as $5 copies begin getting bitten from one of the two vendors with deep supply, they’ll begin raising the price, effectively increasing the price on 30 or 40 copies at once. Were those copies distributed, there’d be more copies racing to the bottom. Anyways, $5 foils of a 7,000 EDHREC land are worth keeping on your radar into 2020.

Masterwork of Ingenuity

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $9

I worked hard to find you guys a non-foil this week. While Korvold has been holding steady as the most popular Throne of Eldraine commander, Syr Gwyn has been quietly putting up numbers back in third or fourth place. As a knight and equipment themed deck, she’s adding demand to two subsets of cards that don’t always see a lot of love. Digging into the equipment theme we find Masterwork of Ingenuity, a once very hyped card that’s been quieter since the initial release, but has seen its stock drain over the years.

Masterwork is, of course, an equipment clone for one mana. Oftentimes that’s going to be a solid mana savings. Pair it with the swath of abilities that allow you to equip for free or at a discounted rate, and you can get some real cheap equipment going. To that end virtually every equipment-based commander finds copies in their lists. The reason Masterwork is still only at 2,200 lists despite having been released some five or six years ago is that there simply aren’t that many appropriately themed commanders released regularly. Syr Gwyn is the latest, and prior to that it might have been 2017? With 2020 the year of Commander, I suspect we may see a new leader pick up the mantle, which would put a great deal of strain on a now-depleted supply.

We’re down to 25 vendors on TCG, and nobody has a deep well of copies. Without any changes a few copies will sell each month, eventually pushing this up towards $10. As soon as another equipment commander is printed, the last of the liquid copies will go, and you’ll be happy you had yours prior to that.


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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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The Watchtower 11/25/19 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.


As a player that has leaned into green since I started playing some 25 years ago, to see the color succeeding so wildly across multiple formats that it keeps getting banned is weirdly satisfying. Two of the four cards added to the Pioneer ban list are green, all three Standard bans last week were green, and even the Legacy ban was green. I imagine rooting for a color is a bit like rooting for a sports team, just abstracted slightly.

In any case, the general consensus is that Standard is considerably better now that Oko, Once Upon a Time, and Veil of Summer are all gone. It calls into question how much frequent bans in Standard (or any format) do to chill sales and erode public confidence in the brand and product. Is a constant cycle of pushing cards with the expectation that some will break formats, the rise of those cards, the eventual banning, and the “clean slate” format that emerges the new ecology of Magic? In essence, and more simply, “we Yu Gi Oh now?”

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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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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The Watchtower 11/18/19 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.


Well, how’s that for a changeup in Standard? Three green cards in one fell swoop is staggering, to be honest. Standard bans are almost always one or two cards at a time, and rarely within the same color. For green to show up to Standard with not just one, but three cards that so violate the rules, is unlike any other event in Magic’s history, really. Many of us remember Darksteel as the most uproarious Standard upset ever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up wresting that throne away over the next few years. With such a major change it’s hard to even know where to turn for possible specs; we’ll need Magic Arena and the pros to give us an idea of how things shape up from here.

Blighted Woodland (Foil)

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $9

Since the Pioneer B&R list isn’t out at the time of writing, I’m going to focus more on EDH this week. Over in that world, it turns out that the Throne of Eldraine commanders have been holding steady in the top deck slots, with Korvold, Fae-Cursed King clocking more than twice as many Atraxa decks. Alela, Artful Provocateur, Kenrith, the Returned King, and Chulane, Teller of Tales round out four of the top five, with Golos, Tireless Pilgrim sneaking in at third. Even Syr Gwin, Hero of Ashvale is holding steady in sixth. It’s impressive how long this new set of commanders has remained the most popular in the format.

I made a point of dipping into the lands today to see what we could find, and unsurprisingly, I didn’t come out empty handed. Blighted Woodland jumped out at me, with nearly 16,000 lists under its belt. Woodland ticks several boxes; it ramps your mana, it’s a land you can use right away, it fixes your colors, you get to sacrifice a permanent, and it’s recurrable with Loam and other effects, among other benefits. It may not be the sexiest EDH card, but there’s no denying that it does a lot of things players want in a land slot. 

As an uncommon from Battle for Zendikar, there’s been sufficient supply to keep prices suppressed for awhile. BFZ sold a lot of packs, after all. Now we’re at a point where there isn’t much more than 30 foil copies left on TCG, with prices starting around $3.50 to $4. Prices head into the $6 range quickly, and then simply run out. With one foil printing, expect this to continue draining, with low chances of a reprint on the horizon.

Rhythm of the Wild (Foil)

Price Today: $7
Possible Price: $15

There’s no question that Smothering Tithe is the best card out of Ravnica Allegiance, by a significant margin. That card has become as iconic as Doubling Season almost overnight. Quietly behind it in second place is Rhythm of the Wild, with almost 8,000 lists on record. That’s a surprisingly high number, especially considering the sets adjacent to RNA. Other than Tithe, there are like three Standard expansion cards with printed after the Amonkhet block with more play than Rhythm. This is more impressive when it’s noted that Rhythm is a two color card, having landed in, if I’m reading EDHREC properly, 30% of all RG(x) decks that have been created since the card was printed.

Rhythm does a lot for its caster. Disabling counterspells alone can be tremendous against certain decks, invalidating entire defensive strategies from some decks, and irking others. At the same time, Riot gives your creatures haste where they most need it — mana dorks, important activated abilities, opportune turns for attack — and power where haste isn’t necessary. And not just power either, but a +1/+1 counter, which can be further manipulated and improved. All of this isn’t restricted to EDH either. We’ve seen it in both Modern and Pioneer, and it’s not unbelievable to see this becoming a tier two or three card in the latter. I mean, it turns your Incubation Druids into reusable Black Lotus’. T1 dork, T2 Rhythm, T3 double Incubation Druid means you’ve got 11 mana on turn four — and whatever creature you cast will have riot.

There’s roughly 30 vendors of foil Rhythms on TCG as well, although one of the vendors has a 25 copy wall at $10. Given these prices, this stock, and how fresh Rhythm is, watch to see these get picked off fairly aggressively over the next several months. Those 25 $10 copies don’t need to be bought out fully before the lowest price ends up at $15.

Sram, Senior Edificer (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $10

Ok, I can’t resist dipping my toe into Pioneer. I don’t know yet what’s getting banned and what isn’t, but given this Standard upset, I have some suspicions. Assuming something green gets banned Pioneer is going to get a good shakeup going, and everyone camping out on Nykthos decks may need to look elsewhere. As an old fan of Cheerios in Modern, seeing the deck pop up in Pioneer brought warmth to my cold steel heart. 

Pioneer Cheerios has a similar build to Modern, with a couple missing pieces. Puresteel Paladin and Mox Opal are gone, so the power level is certainly deflated. In their place you have Sram and Mox Amber, though Amber is leaned on less heavily than one might expect. Your other main vector of attack than Sram is Monastery Mentor, a tool that Modern cheerios used occasionally. Two Sai, Master Thopterists round out the build, providing a slightly less combo-y line of attack than the Modern build. Paradoxical Outcome and Reverse Engineer hold the shell together, providing some potent card draw in a deck full of 0s and 10s. I personally find myself wondering about moving up to the four full Ambers and adding Emry, but I’m writing finance articles, not strategy, so probably best not to listen to me on that. 

For the privilege of owning a foil Sram you’ll pay about $4. There’s only 16 people selling copies on TCG today, though you’ll find 45 at CFB. Beyond that lump it’s slim pickings, and while that represents 11 full decks worth of foils, that’s really not a significant amount of cards when you consider the scale of hunger for Pioneer cards across the world. We haven’t had a true combo deck in Pioneer emerge yet, especially now that Felidar is banned. Is Cheerios going to be the first to make its mark?[/hide] 


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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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