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 12/24/18 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.


Holiday tidings are upon us, and as the country spends the next 36 hours sharing their love with family and friends, we, the truly enlightened, are grinding Magic card value in front of our computers. Today we’ll hit a cross section, touching on Standard, Modern, and EDH. Buy some cards, then go eat a bunch of christmas cookies, drink egg nog, and fall asleep before the stomach ache sets in.

March of the Multitudes

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

I’m poking my head into Standard again with the release of some Ravnica Allegiance spoilers. This time around the guilds are Orzhov, Gruul, Azorius, Rakdos, and Simic. Of the mechanics we’ve seen so far, Orzhov’s ‘afterlife’ is possibly the most competitive-aligned. Back in the second Ravnica era, there was a remarkably successful and popular deck by the name of Aristocrats. Lacking anything in common with the meta-joke told by comedians to each other, Aristocrats was a strategy that used Doomed Traveler, Falkenrath Aristocrat, and their ilk to value opponents out with plenty of 1/1s, small advantages, clever play, and fun interactions between creatures.

‘Afterlife’ is a codified version of this deck, essentially turning every single creature with the mechanic into a Doomed Traveller. Even if a true Aristocrats-style deck doesn’t materialize, the value generated by your creatures leaving behind a 1/1 is significant when utilized properly. March of the Multitudes favorably interacts with afterlife on two dimensions. On the one, afterlife ensures that you’re better able to keep bodies on the board to convoke into a large March. On the other, both March and afterlife create 1/1 tokens, meaning that both are going to be rewarded for the same payoffs, e.g. Divine Visitation.

March at $5 is just about as low as we’re going to see it in Standard. If an afterlife value engine emerges from Allegiance, and March is part of that, we could see prices double or even triple as the key mythic in the deck. Keep an eye out for forthcoming articles from pros, specifically Sam Black, to see if they combine the two.

Kitchen Finks (Foils)

Price Today: $4 ($35)
Possible Price: $8 ($80)

On the Modern side of things, Ultimate Masters brought quite a few reprints that will reward opportune investment. There’s price points all over the board here to capitalize on, and on the lower end of things, we have Kitchen Finks this week.

Now, if you know anything about Magic, I don’t need to explain Kitchen Finks to you. Other than perhaps Lightning Bolt and Birds of Paradise, I can’t think of a card that has been a more permanent staple of the format. Their usage waxes and wanes with the format, of course, but you’ll never lose money betting that you’ll find a few of them floating around the room of any Modern tournament.

With UMA come new pack foils, which are available for as low as $4 today. Looking in on other foil editions, we can see that’s quite low. MMA foils are fetching $8 to $9, and they rise from there, up to $30 or so for Shadowmoor foils. With Finks’ ubiquity, I see the UMA foils catching the MMA ones eventually. If you’ve ever wanted a foil set, grab your UMA ones now, because I suspect they’ll catch up to the MMA ones before long.

As an addendum, those box toppers are great looking, and liable to climb strongly from $35. If you can catch some of these on an eBay 15% off sale or something similar, I’m a fan. I suspect box toppers across the board are going to rise, and these are eminently playable, and cheap enough that one could chase the full set.

Bonus Round (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

Over in EDH, Niv Mizzet continues to be one of the most popular “not Atraxa or Muldrotha” commanders. As a general that encourages drawing cards and pinging people, there are some cool ways to build him, such as those that use Thousand-Year Storm. And while that’s a cool card, it’s not what we’re looking at today.

Rather, I’m checking in on Battlebond. Remember that set? All the way back from June of this year? Man it has been a long 2018. Yes, Battlebond was printed just six months ago, yet we’ve all collectively forgotten it exists. EDH hasn’t though, and they continue to make use of the cards found there. While scrolling through Niv Mizzet lists, I decided to check in on Bonus Round, and I see potential.

Bonus Round is, most importantly, a cool card. EDH has lots of cards. Many are cool, and many are utilitarian. The cool ones are more likely to find their way into decks, because when deciding if your deck should be efficient or it should be cool, you’re going to pick cool in EDH. Bonus Round sets up huge turns that do awesome things, and no self-respecting EDH player is going to forgo Bonus Round in any deck where it fits. Not when it provides so much potential.

You’ll find foils at $8 right now. There’s some on the market — some. It’s only been six months though. What’s this going to look like a year from now?


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 12/17/18 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.


A week on and last week’s massive Pro Tour changes are still on the community’s collective lips. How will future qualifications work? What will the ability to get and stay on the train look like? At the same time, the Arena competitive queues have been announced to be best-of-1, which means no sideboarding. Many players, especially those familiar with high level play, are displeased. A great deal of skill comes from clever sideboarding.

On our side of things, it’s all about UMA right now. Supply is high, probably the highest it will ever be, so it’s time to start thinking about what we should be looking at.

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Frantic Search (Foil)

Price Today: $1.50
Possible Price: $10

For the first time in a whopping 19 years, Frantic Search has been reprinted. Long a combo staple, and possibly the most busted of the “untap” cycle from Urza’s Legacy, it has many admirers. In 60-card formats it’s used to generate storm, churn through cards for a minimal price, and possibly even untap a land that produces more than one mana. In EDH (where you’ll find it in over 10,000 decks), it’s primarily used for the latter; untapping a Gaea’s Cradle and Cabal Coffers is just about the dumbest ritual you’ll find in Magic.

At this point in Magic’s timeline I’d wager that it’s the use in EDH that most demand comes from. Untapping lands is powerful, and digging for a specific type of card at any given time is always useful. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have purpose elsewhere though, of course. While it’s banned in Legacy and Pauper, it’s useful in Vintage, cube, and perhaps moreso than both, kitchen table. I certainly recall finding allure in the spell back when we only played in our college apartment, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. That type of demand doesn’t tend to push on foils much, but anything helps.

Perhaps most appealing here is that pack foils are $25 to $30, and the current UMA foils are a whole $1.50. I’m certainly not expecting a recently printed uncommon to hit the same price point as a 19-year-old original foil, there’s certainly room for growth. Supply is on the high side, but remember, we’re in the deepest it’s going to get.

Dark Depths (Box Topper)

Price Today: $125
Possible Price: $200

Now that we have the small ball out of the way, let’s talk about something with some heft.

Dark Depths is a cool card. We can all accept that. “Unfathomably large creature hidden in the mists” is just cool. It’s also popular. While not legal in Modern, it’s a core component of at least two Legacy strategies, shows up in Vintage, cube, and over 3,500 EDH decks. It’s also typically a four-of when played, since if you’re going through the effort of pulling it off, you need to make sure it’s happening.

There are several foil copies of Dark Depths with the release of UMA. We’ve got the pack foils, currently clocking in at around $260. We’ve got the FTV Lore copies, which cost a whopping $20, which everyone hates because the foiling on those sucks and they feel bad. Now we’ve got the two UMA copies too; the pack foil and the box topper. UMA packs will run you $55 or so. That’s not bad for a foil Dark Depths, but let’s be real, it’s just not as cool as the box topper. The box toppers have the same great new art, but borderless, it really explodes off the card. Realistically they’re going to be the most popular, and anyone that takes their Dark Depths seriously, which is exactly the type of person to make use of this card, is going to be looking to pick them up.

$120 is no small buy-in, but given the relative scarcity and overall distribution process, I’m expecting these to behave something like Inventions. Supply is relatively full right now, with seemingly high prices, but a few months from now it may be a bit shocking to see how many fewer there are and how much more they cost. I’d be surprised if Dark Depths doesn’t cruise upwards of $180, $190, or $200, and possibly more. It could be slow with the holidays just a week away, but come February things may start changing.


Demonic Tutor (Foil)

Price Today: $160
Possible Price: $250

Wizards has been surprisingly reluctant to roll out Demonic Tutor. Not counting the early Revised-era pritings (FBB, IE, CE, etc.), they put it in a very early Duel Deck. Then the reprint of that Duel Deck in the anthology series. And…that’s it. For a spell as popular as it is, you’d expect them to make it much more available. They haven’t, though. The release in UMA is the first “new” printing of it since 2009.

With the UMA release, we were also given the box topper. This is a big get. Up until now, the options for Demonic Tutor have been uninspiring. You can have the judge promo, which is dark and not particularly intriguing, for $260. Or the Beta version for well over $500. That’s really it. There’s a reason most copies you see cast are “Revised copy from a shoebox” quality.

UMA adds some much needed depth to the pool of options. Not only do you have the UMA pack foils at an approachable $60, you’ve got the topper at a current price of $160. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s a steep buy-in. It’s going to be tough for most people to make a move that big. But it’s absolutely the coolest version of this card aside from possibly Beta, which is going to run you at least three times as much for anything that’s sleeve playable. If you want a cool Demonic Tutor, and don’t want to spend over $500, this is your best bet.

For arguably the second-most popular card in EDH, that Wizards has been absurdly stingy with reprinting, in the coolest version that has existed since 1993, $160 is probably going to look like  a good price in three to nine months. Seeing this climb to the current judge levels, or even higher, is certainly possible.


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 12/10/18 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.


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.

MTGO Cards

Price Today: $?
Possible Price: $??

Noticeably absent from any of the information regarding the changes to the organized play structure is MTGO. Arena is front and center in the spotlight, one half of the ten million dollar prize purse each year, while there’s no indication that any competitive level events will occur on the older platform. At the time of the announcement a few days ago, this generated a considerable amount of anxiety from the enfranchised MTGO community.

Several individuals, spooked by the announcement, started trying to sell out. This was reducing buy prices, which then further spooked more players, and resulted in a downward spiral that pushed ticket values down. Major bot chains started freezing their purchasing of cards and tickets, which generated even more fear (though limited the ability to dump your collection).

Prices have stabilized a bit as people have realized the sky isn’t falling. Buy-ins are low though, for sure. The simple math is that MTGO is profitable for minimal investment from WotC’s perspective. So long as MTGO makes a good amount of money per player, WotC isn’t incentivized to get rid of it. Modern, Legacy, and Pauper are going to continue to be played on MTGO for at least a good while longer. If you’re involved in the MTGO economy — and I stress people that are already involved, not newcomers — now is the time to look for some investment opportunity on staples that shed 10, 20, or 50% in the last several days. I’d recommend against those that are unfamiliar with the MTGO landscape though. Lack of familiarity with the platform may compromise any potential gains.

Counterflux (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $10

Over in the real world, Niv Mizzet, Parun has been quite popular in EDH for a few weeks. He’s even climbed to the top (accessible) slot on EDHREC’s most-built; third. (First and second are indefinitely locked on Muldrotha and Atraxa.) I’ll admit that I’m a touch surprised by his popularity, but there it is. He’s not tribal, he’s not big and splashy, and all he really does is draw some extra cards. I guess it comes from the fact that you’re incentivized to play a boatload of instants and sorceries, which are admittedly the forgotten class of cards in EDH.

Popular within Niv Mizzet, and indeed in EDH overall, is Counterflux. Even as a two-color card it has found its way into over 9,000 listings, making it one of the most popular two-color options in the format. It’s not hard to see the utility; it’s the hardest counter available, and even lets you step in and wipe out an entire stack of spells that may have been built up between an opponent or two. And while less so than EDH, you’ll find Counterflux in Modern lists as well. It pops up in Jeskai sideboards with some amount of regularity, and will increase in popularity as a self-policing force should Jeskai become a larger portion of the metagame.

Return to Ravnica brought us Counterflux, and we’ve seen only a single other printing, Commander 2015, which didn’t come in foil. That leaves only the foils from RTR, which just celebrated its 6th birthday. Supply is as to be expected on a card that old. You’ll find barely over 30 copies on TCG right now, and prices don’t stay at $4 for long. With the continued popularity of Counterflux, and how unlikely we are to see any more foils in the near future, I suspect we’ll see growth on the horizon.

Ashnod’s Altar(Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Two altars are exceedingly popular in EDH; one of a Phyrexian nature, and Ashnod’s. Phyrexian Altar climbed up to $50 before finally getting a long-needed reprint in Ultimate Masters. Ashnod’s reprint came a few years prior, in Eternal Masters.

I don’t need to speak much to Ashnod’s Altar’s strength. Over 30,000 decks are registered with this somewhere in the 99. It will never not be useful. Sacrifice outlets are quietly fantastic, allowing you to make use of creatures that are destined to die anyways, and also allow you to eat creatures you end up with that aren’t exactly yours, per se. There are few as efficient as Altar.

The market recognizes that. At the moment, as with Counterflux, there are about 30 foil EMA copies on TCG. What I notice here is the steep ramp up from $10. There are a handful of copies available at that price point, but it’s not long before you hit $15, and then just a few more before $20 and more. This is primed to be cleaned up below $20, and with UMA spoilers finished, it’s not clear when we may see another foil. One can see why paying $10 for the only foil of one of the most popular cards in EDH is a reasonable decision.


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 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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