Category Archives: Casual Fridays

PROTRADER: Ixalan Revealed!

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Sorry for the delay, everyone, but the full reveal of Ixalan needed me to do some revising.

This set has some amazing cards, and powerful synergies, so there’s a few things I’m immediately drawn to and are worth some coverage.

Let’s get to some themes and some cards!

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Transform with Caution

Ixalan is going to be awesome, and while we are getting previews at a relatively glacial rate, there’s a few super-unique cards that I’m staring at and thinking about: the transforming lands.

I’m not thinking about if I should buy them (yes, totally in foil especially!) but I’m keeping an eye on something that’s two months out: From the Vault: Transform.

Today, I’m going to go over a few cards that have changed in price, and some that haven’t, to see if they need to be sold right the heck now, or if they are safe to pick up.

I hate making predictions about what Wizards will do, but there’s something else to note: We’ve been told in the past that transform cards are hard to add to a pack randomly, but if they want to they can. We’ve had Magic Origins, with a mythic cycle of transform cards, and now we are getting ten rare ones in Ixalan. (This number could be wrong, we don’t have the full set as of this writing.)

I want to explain my fear, with some illustrations. Being printed in an FTV: is bad for the long-term price of a card. Some cards do recover over time, but the pack foil generally takes a hit and trends downward. Let’s look at some examples.

Before being printed in FTV: 20 in August of 2013, pack foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor was more than a grand. I would have thought that this price would hold firm, given that the pool of people who want a foil Jace is relatively small…but there’s the chart. There was a minor bump after, as people thought the price was falling too far, but the downward trend was beginning. Eternal Masters in June 2016 gave this price another hit, but the FTV did a lot of the damage.

Let’s look at a more recent card, and more recent FTV.

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Aurelia, the Warleader, is a powerhouse in Boros Commander decks. You’d have to work hard to convince me to run someone else as the commander. She was in FTV: Angels, and that was the beginning of a downward trend that has continued for the pack foil. The FTV release for her was August 2015, and it took a couple of months for the decreased demand to set in, but you see how the buylist price dropped in November of that year.

Now, onto some new prices for old cards.

Bloodline Keeper ($14, up from $6) – This is the card that inspired me to write this article. If you need a copy for your new Vampire deck, understand that this is very very likely to be in the FTV that’s on the way, and it’ll cost you $5 or less. I would be selling every copy of this that I had, and I’d be giving serious thought to selling copies in decks now, and rebuying it after the FTV lands. If you have to have it right now, do so with the knowledge that you’re paying for the immediacy.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy ($24 now) – If he’s reprinted in this set, then I’d expect the nonfoil to take a bigger hit. ‘Infant Jace’ already has a promo from SDCC to be an upper-limit to the foil versions, so I don’t think those would lose value at all.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer ($7) – I’m not sure that this will get reprinted, but it’d drop by at least half if it did. However, if she dodges the reprint, I really like her as a long-term hold.

Garruk Relentless ($6) – He feels like a lock, and this is going to hit his price hard. There’s two transforming Planeswalkers, and Arilinn was very recent. I’d be surprised if his price stayed over $3.

Archangel Avacyn – ($6/$20) – Her price has been falling for the duration of her time in Standard, and I don’t think rotation would have lowered her price much more. I would expect the FTV version of her to end up about $8, and the original nonfoil about $4.

Westvale Abbey ($6/$9) – As a transform land, it’s one of a kind, and rotation is going to hit this card like a hammer. This will be $3 without the FTV, and might push down to $2 if it’s in this special set.

Startled Awake ($4/$8) – This has come down from the crazy height Fraying Sanity pushed it to, but it’s a unique effect that casual players love. I’m hoping some version of this can be picked up in the $2 range, and that’s a great price point for buying in.

Thing in the Ice ($4/$10) – Being a fun one-of in some Modern and Legacy sideboards is just barely enough to keep this price solid past rotation, but if it’s in the FTV, expect that value to drop by half.

Elbrus, the Binding Blade ($4/$12) – Sorry, big guy, but your price is completely a factor of your scarcity. It’s even possible that there will be more copies of you as an FTV card than there were of originals, considering that Dark Ascension was early 2012.

Duskwatch Recruiter ($1/$6) – Being in the FTV won’t make a dent in the pack foil, though the original might go down to fifty cents. It’s a bonkers card in heavy creature decks, and an outlet for infinite mana from Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies.

Mayor of Avabruck ($2.50/$6/$3 release promo) – There’s already a special version of this card, but I put nothing past Wizards at this point. Oddly, I doubt being in the FTV Would the price of any of these much. It’s a four-of in the niche Humans decks that pop up in Modern from time to time, too, and it’s funny that you rarely want this card to flip.

Bruna, the Fading Light ($1/$8) and Gisela, the Broken Blade ($7/$17) – I expect there will be a Meld pairing in the set, and these are cheap enough to merit inclusion. Plus they are thematic and awesome. I think it’s more likely that Wizards goes cheap and gives us Hanweir, the Writhing Township or Chittering Host. At that point, I will like these ladies as a long-term buy and hold.

Delver of Secrets ($1.50/$9), Perfected Form ($0.25/$0.50), and Docent of Perfection ($.50/$6) – I think this an excellent inclusion in the FTV, due to the flavor text and the amazing Nils Hamm art. It’s also a pair of Wizards, including Docent which is just amazing when put into the Wizards deck that they just happened to start selling last week. Delver wouldn’t flinch in price at all, and I’m not sure about Docent. There’s a tiny number of foils for sale, and much is going to depend on the demand going forward. The assorted Wizards are popular commanders out of the gate, so these seem like a good idea, but the price might not pick up for a couple of years.

Bonus section! My picks for the set, with the caveat that I’ve been super terrible at predicting what WotC will do.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Bloodline Keeper
Delver of Secrets
Aberrant Researcher
Docent of Perfection
Rusted Heirloom
Duskwatch Recruiter
Garruk Relentless
Hanweir Garrison
Hanweir Battlements
Startled Awake
Ludevic’s Test Subject
Westvale Abbey
Nezumi Graverobber (That’s right, I think they pick a flip card from Kamigawa and make it a transform card. I’d also believe Nezumi Shortfang or Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant.)

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: First Look at Ixalan

I love nothing more than preview season, though I really don’t like the giant dump of cards we got at the beginning of the week. That’s too much all at once for me to process and I suppose that means I’ve completely come around to like Wizards’ method of revealing the new set.

At the same time, thought, we have dinosaurs! Pirates! All kinds of tribal goodies!

Most relevant to us is that preorder season has begun. I know that usually, preodering is a really terrible idea, but recent sets have gotten better about preorder prices. It’s gotten to the point that so many stay away, and wait, and then some cards went up.

Today I want to look at some of the preorder prices and see if anything is worth getting in on.

Walk the Plank ($.50 preorder) – The flavor is amazing, and it’s a good card for just two black. It’s a sorcery, though, so this is not Fatal Push. It’s a bit worse than you think it is, being a sorcery. Very fairly priced.

Old-Growth Dryads ($3) – If you weren’t playing a basic before, then it’s time to do so. I think this has potential to grow, especially in foil. The presence of Path to Exile in Modern and Ghost Quarter have pushed people to include a couple of basics (even Tron with a miser’s Wastes, so this isn’t the slam dunk you want it to be. Best friends with Leonin Arbiter. There’s a very good chance that given the manabases possible in Standard, we’d skip out on basics when we want multicolor lands. This is the penalty for that strategy, and might be a more popular sideboard card than maindeck. In either case, this isn’t worth the $3…yet.

Revel in Riches ($0.79) – First of all, yes, this works with Anointed Procession. Alternate win conditions. Doubling token creation! I want this to be good, I really do, and it is going to be good in some sort of black control deck. I don’t think I like it as much as Approach of the Second Sun, though, so I don’t see this budging.

Herald of Secret Streams ($1) – This is pretty great in the strategies that want it. Thankfully, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar just rotated out and so people are going to have to go back to Verdurous Gearhulk/Rishkar, Peema Renegade for their counter needs. The downside is that you won’t want lots of this in your deck, as they don’t stack. I think it’ll have a good showing and make $2, but that might not be right away. Foils are a different matter, and given the appeal in Commander, I love foils of this at $5 or less. I wonder if this is a seed for a future set, given how +1/+1 counters aren’t a strong theme in this set.

Sanguine Sacrament ($0.50) – Pure lifegain is bad, but this is going to rise from the bulk in a few years. I have trouble seeing it as more than bulk while it’s Standard legal, though.

Tocatli Honor Guard ($2) – Torpor Orb is a very powerful Commander card if your opponents are addicted to value creatures, but having this effect in Standard is terribly intriguing. This dies to every removal spell being played, though, including a non-revolted Fatal Push. I think this price is spot-on for now, and in a couple months when it’s fifty cents, I’ll want to have a few tucked away.

River’s Rebuke ($1.50) – I despise this card, but at least it’s a sorcery, and not an instant as Cyclonic Rift is. I’m going to be picking up every foil I can at $3-$5 right away, though.

Sunbird’s Invocation ($0.50) – I love what this does, and I think there’s both some really strong long-term potential and yet there’s also a very high reprint risk. This is exactly the type of card that will be in Commander 2019. I will be picking some of these up for the casual appeal, especially in foil.

Settle the Wreckage ($1.50) – Too high a price. Commander won’t run this, and other formats likely won’t either. You’d need an absurd ratio, something like exiling three creatures and them getting just one land.

Carnage Tyrant ($8) – Not as good as Thrun, the Last Troll in Modern, so that outlet is gone. We have had a few giant hexproofers printed before, and Plated Crusher is about to rotate out. Same card, one less mana and can’t be countered. This is a trap. Don’t buy this unless you’re hellbent on doing this deck in week one. This might well be a good sideboard card, but those don’t tend to be this expensive. Some have said it’s a mythic for Limited, and it’ll end up pretty cheap.

Kopala, Warden of Waves ($2) – We are going to need to see more Merfolk to know if this is good in Standard. I’ll let you decide if you’d rather play this or play Kira, Great Glass-Spinner in your Modern Merfolk deck. I don’t want nonfoils yet, but I’ll be listening if the foils have a reasonable price, around $5.

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar ($7) – Makes Mayael good and Mayael’s Aria amazing. If there’s going to be a Dinosaur Commander deck, here’s the commander and just for fun, here’s the graph on the Aria:

The foil of the Aria can be had for $7-$8 right now, and that price isn’t going to last. I think $7 is a touch too high for Gishath, but I also think the casual appeal is through the roof on this.

Deeproot Champion ($1) – This is underpriced, to my mind. There are a lot of decks where this is better than Tarmogoyf, though the Champion has vulnerability early on. This can be thought of as permanent Prowess. So if that ability is decent in a deck, this card is bonkers. I especially am hoping to get foils for $3 or less early on.

Arcane Adaptation ($2) – Ah, combo pieces. Where would we be without you? I think this is a fair price for the card, but I want foils pretty badly. It’s a cheaper Conspiracy, a cheaper and better Xenograft. Neither of those has moved much, but this is the new one, and backup copies to combo decks are useful. Turntimber Ranger has a new buddy!

Vanquisher’s Banner ($2) – Travis and I talked about this on MTG Fast Finance, and it’s because this preorder price is too low. This should be $4 or $5. It’s total gas for the tribal decks that Wizards is pushing, and while it is expensive at five mana, it makes all of your creatures cantrips. That’s pretty outstanding, and I look forward to playing both this and Lifecrafter’s Bestiary at every opportunity.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Shadows over Innistrad at Rotation

Ixalan previews should be starting next week, to match with the pre-previews that are being officially released due to geotagging and if you want to ignore the unofficial leaks, I respect that.

Today, though, I’m continuing to look at cards that are about to rotate, and what I want to pick up now that they are super cheap. A couple of weeks ago I looked at some great targets from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, and it’s time to look at the other big set that’s rotating out. (Eldritch Moon will be soon!)

We are looking for any of the following factors, or a combination thereof: Modern use, Legacy use, Commander use, Cubes, and other casual play. The more of those groups that want these cards, the better a bet they are.

The caveat, as always: We don’t know what will and won’t be reprinted. FTV: Zendikar could happen. We’ve got several Commander 2017 cards that should have been reprinted but weren’t, and a lot more that it’s a relief that they did get reprinted.

Foils are not a totally safe bet either, with Masters sets and Conspiracy and special releases, but foils can go up if the nonfoil is reprinted in a set like Commander 2017.

On to the cards!

Nahiri, the Harbinger ($10 regular/$35 foil): The foil is at the upper end of where I’d expect a card to be, and that’s because she’s really good at what she does. Exiling permanents is quite powerful in Commander, but you have to tap the creature or artifact first. It’s unlikely that she’ll nail a Darksteel Forge, for instance.

She pops up in Modern from time to time but never with frequency and isn’t the focus of a deck. I want to wait and see if she falls a bit further, as $10 is too high for my taste. I’m more comfortable getting in at $7 and playing a long game.

Relentless Dead ($7.50/$15 foil): I’ll be honest: I had a stack of these that I picked up when this was around $5 and moved out at the spike. This is an amazing tribal card in one of the most resilient tribes, and it can do some truly disgusting things in Commander. I’m surprised that the foil is so low, and this is one of my top targets at rotation for long-term growth from the casual market.

I would prefer the card to get cheaper, but the $15 foil is incredibly tempting. Zombies would seem to be a lock for the next time the Commander decks get tribal, and the foil will be much more resilient than the nonfoil in such a case.

Archangel Avacyn ($6/$15): She’s got one hurdle to clear: FTV Transform in November. I’m hoping she’s trickled down to $5, and if she dodges reprinting in that set, the difficulty in printing double-faced cards means she’s probably safe.

Startled Awake ($5/$8): Now this…this is a foil I want to have, but I can’t shake the FTV idea for this either. It’s a powerhouse mill card, and it’s reusable, and casual players are why Fraying Sanity isn’t a bulk rare. There’s only about 50 foils on TCG, the multiplier is low, but I’m not moving till that FTV list is out.

Arlinn Kord ($4/$8): We are now in an era where there’s enough planeswalkers to fill out a Commander deck easily. That means mediocre ones like her aren’t guaranteed to grow. She’s cheap, sure, and pops right into your Werewolf tribal deck, but it’ll take so long to grow that I don’t think she’s worth it.

Tireless Tracker ($4/$11): I’m picking up foils of this as fast as my budget can stand. There’s less than a hundred on TCG right now, and that includes prerelease foils. What you need to know is that this is popping up in several Modern decks as a value engine, and even in the sideboard of Lands decks in Legacy. This will be going up, and it’ll spike into the $20-$30 range when it settles.

Traverse the Ulvenwald ($4/$13): Another card with a relatively low number of foils on TCG (less than 80 total as of this writing) everything depends on which build of Death’s Shadow you like in Modern. If you like the Grixis better, this is worthless. If you play a version with Tarmogoyf, then you want four Traverse. These are not going to go down much, but I like the foils more for a spike in the next year, with nonfoils coming along for the ride. The Delirium mechanic makes it a little less likely to be reprinted soon but nothing is for sure.

Thalia’s Lieutenant ($1.50/$3): I dearly love this foil at $3, for two reasons: First, it’s an automatic four-of in any competitive Humans build that might pop up in Modern. A couple decks have tried, but no traction yet. Second, as a tribal enabler in foil, it will go up, even if the card is reprinted in a future tribal set.

For an example of this effect, here’s the graph of Dragon Tempest in foil:

The nonfoil has taken a small hit, but it’s in the Dragon deck, so the foil is where you want to be. Grab your foil Lieutenants now.

The Gitrog Monster ($1.50/$10): It doesn’t seem like that long ago, when all kinds of stuff was spiking madly due to his use in Commander. The enormous foil multiplier remains a strong sign of his appeal there, so picking him up now is an investment in slow growth over a very long term.

Seasons Past ($1/$3): I’m pretty bullish on this, especially for such a cheap foil mythic. We’ve already seen that with a tutor, it’s viable in Standard, so imagine the work it’ll do in Commander. This is probably not going to spike, so you’ll be on the ‘stick in a box and be patient plan’ that has served well for a number of EDH cards.

Prized Amalgam ($1/$5): It’s been pointed out as an easy target, and it has a surprising foil multiplier for a card that’s hard to use in casual formats easily, but this is easy mode. It’s a four-of in a Modern deck that comes and goes in waves, $5 for the foil is too cheap. It’ll spike to at least $10 after it does well on camera in some event, and with Modern being back on the PT, it might spike a lot harder.

Duskwatch Recruiter ($1/$4): Not only is this difficult to reprint, it’s one of the ways the Counters Company deck can instantly win, finding Walking Ballista at instant speed. It’s also a fantastic place to dump mana in Commander, and as an uncommon, there aren’t even any prerelease foils to mess with. TCG currently has 23 foils in assorted conditions.

I would love this a whole lot more if it didn’t feel like a very strong contender to be in the FTV this November, so as you can tell, I’m hesitating until we know what’s in that set.

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