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 12/26/16

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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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


Those of us in North America are starting this Monday morning one day removed from Christmas. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I ate a good three to four diabetes’ worth of sugar this weekend. I’ll be working for a while to undo the damage I’ve done to myself over the last few weeks.  

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the entire country tends to grind to a halt at this time of year. As such, there were no meaningful Magic tournaments this weekend to look back on, and there won’t be any next weekend either. So I did the only thing I could do — I dug through piles of Modern constructed leagues to find the cards I thought were most promising.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 12/19/16

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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


SCG’s 2016 Player’s Championship is in the books, with Joe Lossett having hefted the trophy up by Sunday evening. It was a three ring circus, with players competing in Standard, Modern, and Legacy. Despite battlegrounds in all three formats, we’re only looking at Standard in today’s roundup. Legacy isn’t worth looking at because prices are fairly stagnant these days without enough events to drum up dramatic shifts, and Modern didn’t have a lot going on we hadn’t already seen plenty of before. Add in that we’re just leaving the Modern PPTQ season and Modern Masters 2017 is slated for release in just three months time, and you can see why we shouldn’t expect much growth in that field with a handful of exceptions in the near future.

Did you catch that, by the way? Modern Masters 2017 officially releases March 17th. That’s three months before GP Vegas, which the last two times has been held much closer in time to the set’s release. Instead, we’re now going to see Modern Masters hitting shelves eight weeks after Aether Revolt’s official release. If spoiler season starts two weeks before MM3, it will be a short six weeks between it and Aether Revolt.

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Verdurous Gearhulk

Price Last Week: $7
Price Today: $7
Possible Price: $15

Early on in spoiler season people began getting excited about Verdurous Gearhulk, and this peaked just as the set released, with prices at nearly $20. It showed up in several Standard decks at the time, but the play pattern wasn’t strong enough to sustain those numbers at the time. Since then, the price has slowly eroded to around $7 to $8.

We saw several players pack full sets of Verdurous Gearhulk at the PC this weekend, serving as a reminder that the card still exists, and still packs a punch. Standard looks fairly set right now between UW Flash, GB Spider Lava Axe, and Marvelworks, but that doesn’t mean Revolt won’t shake things up enough to make room for Verdurous. If it does, he could end up a consistent four-of in a third of the format. Should that come to fruition, a double up isn’t out of the question at all.

Torrential Gearhulk

Price Last Week: $12
Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $25

The premium mythic slot of Kaladesh is currently held by Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but it’s a tenuous grasp at best. Torrential Gearhulk remains one of the strongest cards in Standard, and its range of replayable spells is about to be widened by Aether Revolt. Like its Verdurous brethren, Torrential Gearhulk is a powerful, potentially format-defining mythic that’s just waiting for an opportunity to take over. I can’t guarantee you that Aether Revolt will bring that to bear, but I can guarantee you that it’s possible.

Weeks after Kaladesh’s release saw Torrential jump into the $30 range, so we know there’s strong expectations around this one. An opening weekend that sees it come out strong could rapidly push the price well above $20, and it could feasibly become the Primeval Titan or Sphinx’s Revelation of its respective format. Keep an eye on how things begin to shake out during spoiler season soon. One or two good instants could make a world of difference.

Spirebluff Canal

Price Last Week: $6
Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $13

We haven’t talked about lands much in Standard lately. Not since Khans of Tarkir was still in Standard anyways, when it was all about fetches and battle lands. When the UR fastland was spoiled a ways back I advocated keeping an eye on it, as the pedigree of UR lands is remarkable. It saw an uptick shortly after Kaladesh’s release towards $10, and has been settling since. After this weekend, I’m wondering if it’s getting close to the floor.

Spirebluff showed up in quite a few Standard decklists, and was in every Grixis Modern deck to boot. With 21 months of Standard legality left, it seems almost guaranteed that this will break double digits at some point. Remember that the most useful Temples back in Theros Standard did that regularly. Inventions certainly change the equation here, so it’s difficult to put too fine a point on it though. So far we really only have Battle for Zendikar to look at as a template, but that set has behaved so significantly different than Kaladesh at every point that it’s almost useless as a reference. We’re left to work on the assumption that a fall set can still support a $10+ land. At this point, if any of them are going to, Spirebluff is probably the best positioned.


 

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 12/12/16

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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


There wasn’t much in the way of Grand Prixs or SCG Opens this weekend. Rather, this weekend was one of Modern RPTQs. Results are only just starting to trickle in, so we don’t have everything to digest yet. Still, we can start looking through what’s available for what popped up on the radar this week.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower: 12/05/16

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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


After last weekend’s dearth of meaningful events, this weekend brought a deluge: GP Denver, GP Madrid, and the SCG Invitational. That’s three Standard events and a Modern event to look across. The story of the weekend was certainly Aetherworks Marvel, but there’s some other exciting stuff going on beneath that as well, which is welcome news, since Standard has been looking grim lately.

Aetherworks Marvel

Price Last Week: $4
Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $20

I didn’t want to talk about the same card two weeks in a row. My goal was to look a little further out toward the horizon most weeks, and it’s hard to call this on the horizon any longer. Yet after such an explosive weekend, I don’t see how I can choose to ignore Marvel.

Two decks in the top 8 of Denver were Marvel, including second place. Four decks in the top 8 of Madrid, including the win. Five in the top 8 of the SCG Invitational, including the win. Yes, I’d say Aetherworks Marvel had a, well, marvelous weekend.

When we looked at Marvel last week the price was hovering around $4. It was still in that range Saturday afternoon, but by Sunday, the TCG low was up to $6. Upon waking up Monday morning, it was $7.50 to $8. I expect a great deal of that movement is players picking up copies for their own decks, rather than speculators gobbling up the low end, but I can’t be sure.

We’re probably past the buy-in point at this point, as you’d need to hit the absolute best case scenario in order to make it worth your while. If this doesn’t hit at least $15, paying $7 to $8+ is a negative value proposition. Whether it can climb that high is a function of what support Aether Revolt brings, what tools that set brings GB Delirium and UW Flash, and how stable the deck’s position in the metagame is. My expectation is that the most likely result is that between now and April it peaks around $11 to $12, though I’m pegging that outcome around 50%.

Prized Amalgam

Price Last Week: $3
Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $9

What started life as a “oh I wonder if Dredge will play that” type of card has become a sacred cow of a tier one Modern deck, and is also a star in more than one Standard strategy. Amalgam made top 8 of Denver in a UR Zombie Emerge list that never plans on hard casting it, and we saw it in the top 8 of Madrid in BR Zombies list that, amusingly enough, also never planned on hard casting the medium-sized engine that could.

As a staple in a single Modern deck and nothing more, $2 to $3 was a reasonable priced for Amalgam. If we begin to see it take firm hold in Standard, though, prices will react accordingly. Standard is always the biggest driver of rares, and without that demand, it’s unlikely that other constructed formats will push anything recent too high. Add in that Standard demand though, and you’ve now got the largest competitive format pushing a card’s price, while Modern is helping pull from the other side.

All things considered, double digits would be a real stretch for Amalgam. It’s not the only rare in the decks we see it in, in any format. That there are other reasonably valuable cards flanking Amalgam in each deck list means that it doesn’t get to be the star of the show as far as price tags go. Still, we could certainly see him climb into the high single digits as a key piece in multiple strategies across multiple formats.

Panharmonicon

Price Last Week: $3.50
Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

This is one that I’m sure some number of readers are thrilled to see, and another group are upset about. On the one hand, it’s great that Panharmonicon, a certified Cool Card, is Standard-relevant enough to show up here. On the other hand, if you’re a savvy EDH investor and have been waiting for your chance to vacuum up cheap copies, this is far more attention than you’d like the card to garner.

Seth Manfield made the top 8 of Denver playing UW Panharmonicon, and a buddy playing the same thing wasn’t far behind. The strategy played some familiar Standard faces in the way of Reflector Mage, Eldrazi Displacer, and Smuggler’s Copter, but it also runs the much more exciting Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and, much to LSV’s delight, a full set of Cloudblazer. What madman wouldn’t enjoy playing this?

I especially like that there’s ironically not a lot of value in this deck right now, all things considered. It consists mostly of commons and uncommons, with nearly every other rare in the deck mentioned above. That sets up Panharmonicon (and Skysovereign, to a slightly lesser extent) to enjoy the spotlight moreso than if this was packed with mythics.

Of course, Standard is hardly Panharmonicon’s bread and butter. That’s clearly EDH, where playing creatures without ETB effects is akin to not bolting the bird — it may be the correct play, but you better have a damn good reason for it. That constant pressure from the 100 card crowd is what has kept Panharmonicon where it is, so any meaningful Standard demand is going to build on an already strong base. It’s tough for Standard to pull $.50 rares up to $3, but pulling a $3 rare to $7 or $10 is way more feasible.

Add to all of this that Panharmonicon’s price on MTGO has more than doubled since Friday in response to it’s showing at the GP weekend. That doesn’t mean the card is due for a spike, of course, but it means players took notice quickly and are eager to play a strategy that A. isn’t GB, UW, or Aetherworks, and B. looks like an EDH deck in Standard.


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