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 2/18/19 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.


GP (MF) Memphis was this weekend. You wouldn’t really know by checking DailyMTG; they got rid of the coverage section it seems. The ‘Events’ header is still there, but not the coverage subheader. I’m sure if you went looking for all the old coverages they’re in there somewhere, but importantly, if you land on the site, you’d mostly have no idea that a large event occurred this weekend. In order to get the deets on the decklists (and winner), I had to check CFB’s site. Which, by the way, also isn’t really set up to display this sort of information. The GP coverage is in with the articles, and already pushed below the fold by Monday morning’s crop. Which is all a shame, really, since the top lists had some great variety. Sure there was a Nexus build, but there was also Mono-Blue Tempo, Gruul Midrange, Rakdos Midrange, Sultai Midrange…ok, maybe it was fairly midrange heavy. Still, a lot less people are going to know what happened at each GP. Not only is that a bummer, it means a lot less people are going to know when a cool card shows up and performs well. Which then means that even if it’s a good spec, it still might not go anywhere, because the data may not be there for people to look at and realize they should be sleeving copies. Maybe.

Altar of Dementia (Foil)

Price Today: $13
Possible Price: $25

In case you’ve forgotten, Altar of Dementia was in Conspiracy. It’s a useful card with a low cost. Milling your opponents out is a choice, especially if you’ve got a way to generate humongous or arbitrarily large creatures. You can target yourself, digging for specific cards in your graveyard, or looking for triggers, such as Sidisi may want you to. You’re also provided a free , instant-speed tool to remove creatures you control from the board, which has all sorts of uses: eating creatures you temporarily stole, killing them in response to animation triggers, exile effects, threatens, etc. While raw power level of milling a few cards is questionable, the utility of being able to sacrifice creatures on demand is secretly quite useful.

Conspiracy was nearly five years ago now, believe it or not. This summer’s product is also slated to be “Modern relevant,” or something similar to that. As best as I can tell, that Modern product is in the same slot that would be Conspiracy, Battlebond, etc. Conspiracy may return next year, but that’s, well, next year. Until then, where else are you going to see foil Altar of Dementias appear?

Foils are about $13 right now, but chances are you’ll pay closer to $15 unless you’re the first person to read this. Still, with how low supply is looking, I don’t think that’s bad news for you. With the card’s popularity in EDH (8.5k+ decks), the new demand coming from Teysa, and how unlikely we are to see this again anytime soon, prices should keep rising on foils.

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Splendid Reclamation (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $13

While it hasn’t been on anyone’s lips in the general Magic community lately, Lord Windgrace has been a consistent performer on EDHREC. He’s 3rd or 4th on the most-built month after month, and frankly, that isn’t going to change. People love lands-matter as an EDH theme, and with so many new tools printed over the last few years, and more coming each set, that draw is only getting stronger. Gitrog Monster really kicked it off, and Windgrace has opened the door to a third color. Splendid Reclamation is now in just under 8k decks, which for a card only a few years old is fairly impressive.

As an EDH card, Reclamation has proven powerful and useful in strategies that can leverage it. We know that isn’t going to change. Reclamation also gets eyeballed in Modern every now and then as a potential combo piece. If you can dump 20 cards into your graveyard in a turn or two and then Reclamation, you’re generating a great deal of mana that you can then use to do something else cool with all the stuff you left behind. Maybe a deck never materializes, but it’s worth being aware of the potential.

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Could this show up again somewhere? Yeah, probably. Realistically, just about anywhere. The name isn’t domain specific, and the ability is mechanically universal, so there’s nothing restricting its printing. The same could be said of most cards though, right? Many cards are technically reprint candidates every set, but they aren’t, because there’s only ~40 rares a set and WotC doesn’t want to and doesn’t need to reprint everything anyone may want to buy.

Foils at $6 are appealing, since every couple of Windgrace players are going to go looking for one, and the outside Modern combo shot is valid. This is basically on Oracle of Mul Daya trajectory, assuming nothing interferes. There’s one guy with 33 copies, which is a speedbump, but other than that, there’s not a lot out there.

Deepglow Skate

Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $20

If you’ve been listening to MTG Fast Finance the last week or two, you’ll know that we’ve got a read (and we’re hardly unique in this regard) that War of the Spark, the final Ravnica set, is going to be planeswalker themed. I won’t explain why here, listen to the cast for that. It’s the presumption we’re operating on though.

From that starting point, we want to look at cards that support planeswalker strategies, since a deluge of planeswalkers is going to draw attention to those types. There’s no shortage of options out there, and we’ve discussed some of them before. Today, we’re looking at Skate. It’s hard to imagine a better tool than Deepglow Skate in a planeswalker deck. It doubles the number of counters not on one permanent, but any number. Any number! Have four walkers in play? There’s a good chance you probably just got the ultimate them all after playing Skate. That is so absurd. And as a creature, there’s infinite ways to rebuy that Skate trigger, so that you can keep doing it. Winning a game with six or seven emblems is awfully cool.

Supply is available, but not deep. There’s 50 or 60 on TCG, and then roughly that many on SCG too. That’s a fair bit, for sure, but when you consider how many people may start building walker decks after a set with 7, or 15, or 30 hits shelves, you can see how 100 copies of Skate could go out the window right quick.

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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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The Watchtower 2/11/19 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.


MagicFest Toronto was a good time (although you wouldn’t know by looking at the website other than twitter dot com, since WotC has self-imposed media blackouts on gatherings of paper Magic). The floor was humming, there was plenty of action at vendor booths even late into Saturday, two Taking Turns decks lost their win-and-ins, and Toronto continued to impress as a city. Those vendor binders are no joke, with James and I finding plenty of deals on Saturday afternoon. I recall just as we started to poke through them that I didn’t really understand how there could be value left, since by now I’d expect players with a more active memory of card prices to have picked them over. That was not the case though, with multiple $5 foil Blood Artists to be found, under-priced Spire of Industries, and even a $15 foil Geth’s Grimoire. Add in the excellent donuts, the literal duck heart, and an impressively inexpensive barcade, and I was glad to be there.

Thing in the Ice (Foil)

Price Today: $22
Possible Price: $40

Without question the biggest story in Modern lately has been just how big of an impact Arclight Phoenix has made. Initially completely overlooked, it has now become a dominant force in both competitive formats. There were two in the top 8 of Toronto, and that same result can be found in basically every Modern event, whether it’s a Grand Prix or an MTGO daily.

A ubiquitous component of most Arclight builds is Thing in the Ice. Since the deck plans on casting so many instants and sorceries for Arclight, TiTI is a natural addition. Get rid of any blockers, hit their face hard, etc. etc. TiTI fills the role well. With the performance Arclight has been giving for the last month now, TiTI is fast becoming one of the most played creatures in the format – 10th right now, according to MTGGoldfish.

Foils start at $22, and they don’t last long. They climb into $26 and $28 after barely a playset. Looking at the full supply, regardless of price, there’s less than 40 copies. With how popular TiTI is in Modern right now, how unlikely that is to change (since when are cheap blue spells not going to be good), foil TiTIs are looking like a short to mid term guarantee.

Spirebluff Canal (Foil)

Price Today: $19
Possible Price: $40

How does one cast those TiTIs and Lightning Bolts? With Spirebluff Canal, of course. The enemy-paired yin to Scars of Mirrodin’s yang, it quickly found a home in the format, which had been eager to see it and Blooming Marsh. (In contrast, nobody was really eager for Concealed Courtyard.) Admittedly I began by looking into Marsh, as I expected that to foreshadow better returns, but there just isn’t a lot of usage of the card at the moment. While the two The Rock decks made good use of it on Saturday, it simply isn’t seeing a lot of reps. That may change in the future – and with it, Marsh’s prospects – but for now, Canal is where the action is.

Izzet Phoenix is certainly the driving force behind Canal today, though there’s lots of decks leveraging the powerful intersection of its colors and speed. UR Living End builds are certain to run it, and really, any Electrodominance decks. Storm and various flavors of Blue Moon tend to want copies as well. Moving forward, I doubt this will change. Why would it? Izzet is a well established color pair that has proven time and time again that it has the chops to hang in Modern, even before Canal. Now that they have access to a land that so perfectly supports the lightning-quick gameplay that both colors are wont to play, we’re almost guaranteed to find a Canal deck in the top meta on any given day, whether or not Arclight Phoenix is involved.

Anyways, prices run similar to TiTI. $18 will buy you a copy, but for your second, it’s going to be $20 or more. There are eight foil playsets with copies less than $30, and then the market is gone. Prerelease copies aren’t any bountiful. Given what Blackcleave Cliffs managed, I’d be surprised if we don’t see $40+ Canals in the next several months.

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As Foretold

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $17

A card I’d love to see do well simply because it’s cool, and who doesn’t love cool cards. From the get go As Foretold, affectionately ‘AF’ from here on out, was noticed by anyone that could read. It’s three mana, casts free spells every single turn, including the one you play it. And has the nifty feature of playing “free” spells for actual free. Bingo! I’m still hoping it will break Restore Balance, but until then, it’s still doing work with Ancestral Vision and Living End.

Most recently someone ran UR Living End in what seem to be back-to-back MTGO Modern leagues, and earned 8th place and 1st place respectively. The list is straightforward, with 12 cycling creatures, Living End, Electrodominance, Ancestral Vision, and of course, AF. Between the 12 cyclers and a set of AV, plus some bonus Izzet charms, I have to imagine it’s not hard to plow through 10 or 15 cards pretty quickly. I especially love that with AF in play, you can chain AVs.

I was torn between looking at non-foils and foils of AF. The non-foil prices are what’s listed, with demand for this likely to come from people needing sets for competitive Modern play. Since demand would be “new,” rather than established as with TiTI or Canal, there will be a rush for non-foils first. If a strategy establishes itself, then foils will get eaten up shortly after.

Supply is deeper than TiTI or Canal, but not by all that much. There’s maybe 20 playsets on TCG, none on SCG, and no additional on CFB. Should one of these AF decks crack a paper Magic event – and that we hear about it, since apparently that’s a concern now – supply on these may drain rapidly.


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 2/4/19 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.


Over the last week Magic’s hot topics haven’t had too much to do with hot cards or hot prices. WotC’s announcement of the…oh, what the hell is it called. “MTG Arena Mythic Invitational.” Sure. Anyways, their announcement of the invite list incited quite a bit of bile. While a chunk of the invites went to those who had earned slots on MTG Arena, several went to “personalities.” This ranged from LSV, someone that I’m confident most players feel deserves to compete, to Hearthstone streamers, a subset that hasn’t particularly “earned” a slot in the highest EV Magic tournament to date. Amusingly, LSV probably loves that those people got invited, because now 25% to 50% of the room is at an FNM skill level while playing for tens of thousands of dollars per finish. TRGR, as they say.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $25

It’s an unfortunate fact that the top slots on EDHREC for black are basically all tutors. Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor. These are bad cards in the format and if you play them you should feel bad. This isn’t the first time I’ve made this pitch though, so I’ll cut it short. After those three tutors, in 7th place is Sidisi, a de facto Demonic Tutor. EDH players love their tutors, and Sidisi gives you a lot to work with. He comes with a reasonable 4/6 body, can be tutored with effects similar to Chord of Calling, is easy to reduce his total cost, provides a sac outlet when you steal an opponent’s creature, etc. There’s a lot there to appreciate.

Sidisi is without a doubt already popular, and his price (almost) reflects that. I don’t care for non-foil copies, but foils are worth considering. You’ll find them at about $15 to $16 each on a few sites. Supply drains quickly as you scrutinize inventory, and it’s not long before you’re finding vendors charging $20+ a copy.

With Tesya’s recent popularity, Sidisi is going to find a whole new slate of players that are in the market for a high-value sacrifice enabler. Supplies are strained and there’s no surplus of copies on the horizon. $15 is a slightly high buy-in price, but I suspect we’ll see prices in the $25 to $30 before long.

Dark Petition (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

Along the lines of Sidisi, Dark Petition is a Demonic Tutor that requires a bit of work to be Demonic Tutor. In Sidisi’s case you’re getting the tutor attached to a 4/6 body (which makes it abusable in the right circumstances). In Dark Petition’s case, it’s at best a Demonic Tutor, but the work necessary to get there is considerably less, especially in EDH, where you’ll have spell mastery reliably once you’re out of the first few turns. For the type of jerk playing multiple Demonic Tutors, it’s one of the easiest second copies to play.

Petition is in about half as many decks as Sidisi, surprisingly. One may expect that spell mastery would be easier to trigger than the exploit trigger on Sidisi. I suspect that Sidisi’s abusability – copying the trigger with Teysa, blinking her for repeated effects, being able to tutor or reduce her cost – make Sidisi more desirable in decks looking to play unfairly. Still, half as popular as Sidisi is still popular, with Petition finding itself in about 11,500 lists.

While you’ll pay $15 to get in on foil Sidisi, Petition is a relative bargain, with copies beginning in the $5 and $6 range. I’d call supply on Petition ‘moderate.’ There’s probably 40 to 50 foils floating around on TCG right now, so it’s not going anywhere in the next few weeks. Still, we’re talking about probably the second or third best Demonic Tutor in EDH, and supply isn’t going to keep up with that forever. There’s also always the outside chance that someone figures out a Modern brew that makes use of Petition. After all, spell mastery is trivially easy to trigger in that format, so the real question is whether your combo deck is hitting the five mana prior to casting Petition easily.

Myr Battlesphere (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Alright, no more tutors this week. I wanted to find something for Standard or Modern to talk about, but nothing jumped out at me. Pteramander jumped out at me as a possible sleeper foil, but they’re $15, so never mind there. Nexus is probably about as expensive as it’s going to get, and nothing else seems lined up to spike. I’m hopeful we’ll see some fun lists come out of Modern, but none of the latest MTGO lists are doing anything new and novel. Maybe some of the Twitch brews will start to permeate the membrane of greater awareness within the Magic community, but until then, there’s still a bunch of humans, dredge, delver, and lantern.

Anyways, Myr Battlesphere. You may be shocked to hear that Battlesphere shows up in something like 14,000 recorded lists. If you’re shocked to hear that, you probably haven’t played much EDH. Battlesphere comes down fairly easily, especially as an artifact, since you get cost reduction bonus’ on two card types. It’s got that army-in-a-can effect, with four bonus bodies hitting the table alongside it, you can use the myrs it comes with – and possibly copy or otherwise create more of – to give it some serious power, and the ability to fireball people right in their dumb face means you may be able to close out games against opponents that you otherwise wouldn’t find victory in battle against.

There’s only six – 6 – foil NM copies on TCG right now, each $10. After that it’s a bunch of foreign language copies at a significant markup. I don’t see any parituclar event on the horizon that would cause Battlesphere to spike, as it’s not really a Teysa or Nikya card specifically, but with supply this low, all it’s going to take is one person deciding to drop $50, and then they basically get to set the new price.


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 1/28/19 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.


Ravnica Allegiance’s first legal weekend is behind us, and I think it’s safe to say that the top 8 of the SCG Open (the GP was limited) is not what most of us would have expected. Four midrange decks and two control decks? Only a single Mono-Red Aggro deck in the top 16? Evolving Wilderness at like, 30th or something? It’s clear that Simic is bringing the tools these days, and whether you pair it with black or white, you’re going to have a lot of powerful tools. It appears that much of the strength of the deck leans on the trio of Jadelight Ranger, Merfolk Branchwalker, and Wildgrowth Walker. Who knows if this core of creatures will persist through the Pro Tour, but given that they were a common set of creatures even before RNA dropped, I expect this to be a common sight in the months to come.

Lyra Dawnbringer

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $22

Looking beyond the piles of midrange decks that used virtually no Ravnica Allegiance cards, I noticed a fair bit of Lyra Dawnbringer sprinkled in the Bant, control, and otherwise various WX decks. Lyra Dawnbringer is of course Dominaria’s Baneslayer Angel (sort of). Lyra is a generically useful card: midrange cost that can slot in as the top end of an aggro strategy or as a finisher in bigger decks, solid stats-to-cmc ratio, evasive, and lifelink to get away from anyone attempting to race your life total.

Lyra appeals to me as a card well situated to grow in price relative to other, more frequently seen cards this weekend. Jadelight Ranger was everywhere, but that’s already a $9 rare. While it could still rise a few bucks, and may even top $15 if this level of midrange persists, it’s not the type of bet I want to be making. Same goes for most of the other rares that we saw a good deal of this weekend. Lyra, on the other hand, is from an older set (good), mythic (good), and showed up in a variety of strategies (good). Her mana cost is easy, which means she slots into plenty of color combinations (good), and with how flexible Standard mana is right now, it won’t be hard for decks to add white (good). I’d consider the biggest barrier to be that a player is unlikely to want four, and we saw a lot of sideboard action for Lyra this weekend. This is counterweighted by the fact that even if she’s “only” a sideboard card, if she’s a key sideboard card that’s important to the strategy, that’s still good demand. And not being needed in full playsets is tempered by the diversity of strategies making use of her.

If Lyra’s play pattern moves up from here, which it may as people decide it’s a strong tool to combat various midrange and creature based strategies, her price will too. $11 is relatively low for a playable mythic angel, and if she becomes solidified in Standard as a go-to tool for anyone with white mana, we could easily see her cresting $20.

Whir of Invention (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

This is going to be a curious card, and you’ll see why shortly. Whir of Invention showed up in third place at the Modern classic this weekend, in the Whir Prison deck. It’s an Ensnaring Bridge deck, and it uses four of the blue Chord of Calling to find whichever component is necessary at the moment. It’s an obnoxious deck that works by looping Ipnu Rivulet with Crucible of Worlds to mill you out. Whir isn’t exactly new to the format, having been introduced during Aether Revolt, and it seems to have become the main version of the Lantern deck, now appropriately titled ‘Lanternless’ on mtgtop8.com.

Whir is seemingly going to be a standard in the Ensaring Bridge prison decks for the forseeable future, and possibly any other artifact-based combo deck that arises. After all, Chord of Calling has found itself in a variety of creature strategies over the years, and I expect Whir will do the same. All of this points to foils setting themselves up to look great over the next several months to two years, as a key engine piece in at least one major Modern strategy, as well as a fairly popular EDH deck – it’s in over 6,500 lists on EDHREC.com, an impressive stat for such a new card.

Where Whir is odd is in the inventory. Look up Whir foils on TCG and there’s only 12 vendors, half of which want $10 or more. That’s great, right? Except one of the vendors selling copies for $7 is ChannelFireball. And they’ve got 50 listed copies. Huh? 50? What the heck happened here? Do other vendors have that many and they simply haven’t listed them? One wonders. Regardless, Whir foils at $7 are tempting. I’m currently staring at my CFB credit and wondering how many I should buy, 0 or 50.

Thousand-Year Elixir

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

Meanwhile in EDH, we’re starting to get more RNA commander lists in, and to nobodies surprise Vannifar is showing up in the top lists this week. (Although, perhaps surprisingly, both Tesya and Nikya are more popular. Nikya?) It’s not hard to figure out what the most common cards in Vannifar are; every Pestermite effect and Intruder Alarm is the first 10 or 15 cards into the list.

Looking just past that, you’ll find Thousand-Year Elixir. This is an old Lorwyn favorite that has a nifty effect. It grants pseudo haste, in that your creatures can tap for their abilities immediately, but can’t attack yet. One could argue in EDH that ‘attack haste’ is worse than ‘ability haste,’ making Elixir a powerful effect. Tack on that Elixir can also untap a creature once, and you can see why Vannifar players are going to want to make sure this ends up in their 99.

Elixir has been printed three times; Lorwyn, Commander 2013, and Commander Anthologies. Lorwyn is older than 5% of the room at a GP, Commander 2013 is about 25% of Magic’s lifetime ago, and Commander Anthologies was a limited run. All of this is to say supply on non-foils is actually quite low. I count something like 40 total across the three printings on TCG. You’ll find roughly that many elsewhere across the major vendors, with SCG holding most of the additional inventory.

100 copies of Elixir isn’t much when you consider that EDHREC is showing 40 submitted lists for Vannifar in the last few days. How many Vannifar lists do you think will have been built by spring? A couple in each state would rapidly outpace the available Elixir supply. Commander reprints aren’t until November either. Looking pretty good for Elixirs in the next few months, I’ve got to say.


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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