Category Archives: Casual Fridays

The Rivals of Summer

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It’s a Pro Tour, no, a paper Pro Tour, no, wait, a tabletop Mythic Championship #1 2019 next weekend.

If you follow the same sorts of folks I do on Twitter, you’re familiar with the jokes about names and awful branding and why does the 2019 MagicFest shirt have a design that echoes genitalia and so on but really, the change in the event names is the biggest fail of all. I could handle “Pro Tour Nagasaki 2017” pretty well but that failed to convey what the Standard metagame was like. In contrast, Pro Tour Dominaria will immediately call to mind how Teferi, Hero of Dominaria came roaring onto the scene. I will miss naming PTs after sets.

Last week I brought up some Ixalan cards that are buys or holds going into this summer and the rotation in the fall. There’s one subset of cards I wanted to mention, and then we’re into the Rivals of Ixalan cards I’ll be watching, plus a touch of PT spec.

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Ixalan Sells and Holds

Yes, dear reader, the title isn’t an exaggeration: I’m thinking carefully about what I want to hold through Standard’s rotation in seven months or so. I never want to get caught with too much Standard as rotation approaches, and if I bought in on something that I haven’t yet moved, I definitely want to be ahead of the pack when it comes to selling out.

Before we go too deep, let’s take a moment and reflect on the timing involved.

Let’s face it: the summer before rotation, soon-to-be rotating cards get crushed in terms of their value. That often presents some awesome opportunities for buying cards that fell too far, but I loathe being caught with excess copies in July.

Some examples of why I want to sell out so early:

Glorybringer fell from $6 to under a buck. Ouch.

Hazoret the Fervent actually hit peak price at this point in its Standard life, but now it’s fallen from $20 to $4.

Torrential Gearhulk was above $15 and is now $3. Get the picture?

For us, this means that if we’re not playing with a card right now, it’s time to move on all singles except what we are playing with. There’s a lot of time left in Standard, from a Magic viewpoint. The Magic Finance viewpoint, though, points out that now is the time to get all the value you can for a long list of cards, but today we’re going to focus on Ixalan block.

Carnage Tyrant ($28): Sell

Yup, now is the time to move all but your last four, and I’d be okay if you kept two. There aren’t many decks running the full playset but it’ll still be a force in Standard these last few months. Occasionally, someone has 1-2 of these in a TitanShift deck in Modern, but that’s few and far between. The Tyrant, by Thanksgiving, will be under ten but above five bucks.

Search for Azcanta ($15): Hold

It’s too popular in Modern and Legacy to lose too much value. The decks that want this effect REALLY want it and it comes down so blessedly fast that you don’t lose much tempo. I like picking up the buy-a-box promos in the $50-$60 range, because when the spike comes on, we’re going to hit $100 or more on the Mapsterpieces.

The current graph actually makes me want to wait and buy some more, as it’s trending downwards:

Vraska’s Contempt ($10): Sell

It’s not played in other Constructed formats, and if you want to pick up foils cheap on hopes of future Commander spikes, I think you’re being too optimistic. I’ll give you that it might be the most flexible instant available, and exiling is relevant, but it’s too niche for me.

Star of Extinction ($9): Sell like there’s no tomorrow

This was a $1 card for quite a while and it’ll go back to being bulk in a few months, Keep the few you play and move the rest right the hell now while you still can.

Treasure Map ($8): Sell

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I was really hoping that this was played in some Modern decks, or some Commander, but nope. Very very niche, not commonly played. You’ve got better choices in how to draw cards in artifact decks and this has no future after Standard. Time to move on, matey.

Legion’s Landing ($7): Sell, but hang onto foils

While the card is played in only 1400 EDH decks, and I’d play it after I had Kjeldoran Outpost, it’s a solid token card in decks that want the chance to rebuild after the endless board wipes. I think there’s a future here, so foils are what I’ll be getting as the price withers away.

Settle the Wreckage ($5): Sell for now

I’m hard-pressed to find a card that shows up as a one-of in the 75.Control decks want to have access to one, and the first one is devastating. The threat of the second and third is effective, and in sideboarded games your opponent will be more careful. It’s a bad rate once they figure out you have it, though, so you don’t want too many.

I’m intrigued by the card long-term, but only when it drops to the $2 level. It’s only in 1000 Commander decks online, which makes sense. At five mana you get Hallowed Burial, my favorite wrath effect.

Field of Ruin ($3): Hold

Yes, I think you should hold the $3 uncommon, but the risk of a reprint is my biggest fear. Field is all over the place in Modern, and there are three-color control decks playing three copies. That’s quite a hit for decks to take, especially ones that play Cryptic Command! The plan appears to be to get the one or two basics from your opponent’s deck into play, at which point Field is a Strip Mine and Path to Exile is just a Dispatch with metalcraft active.

This is a very easy card to throw into a Commander reprint, but Field foils are already $20. Given the amount of Modern play it sees, that’s actually a very tempting price for me.

Vanquisher’s Banner ($4/$7 foil): Hold, and buy more

This is one of my top targets as the summer winds down. I want all of the foils I can possibly have. Tribal decks are all over the place, and this is a very potent enabler, making your team bigger and adding cantrips to each of the tribe’s members.

I don’t think this price will go down much, though, because none of the demand is from Standard players. This is already a popular Commander card, and that’s what has the price this high without a speck of Constructed play.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Gatekeeping

Yes, the title is corny as hell but that’s what the Internet is for these days, right? We have a lot of first-week-tournaments to look over with Ravnica Allegiance, and more than a few cards to discuss.

Some of these aren’t done, and others are at their peak. We have three months of RNA being opened in front of us, so I expect all prices to come down…well, almost all prices. You’ll see what I mean.

Hydroid Krasis (Now at $33)

The little Jellyfish Hydra Beast that could, I liked buying at the preorder of $12 because I thought this was a $20+ card. I should have gone deeper on it at the preorder price, but c’est la vie.

If you have them, sell them now. There’s a few people selling on TCG in the low $20s, with an add-on of shipping helping protect profits, a sneaky trick that I wish didn’t exist. We’ve moved into the industrial-scale level of opening RNA, and this is just one mythic of fifteen. You’re not guaranteed one per box, it’s more like one every three to four boxes.

I advocate selling extra copies now, and then picking them up again in eight weeks when they will be back down in the $20-$25 range. This is going to be a fixture in Standard for its entire life.

Vivien Reid ($22)

She was under $10 before she became a staple in Golgari decks at the beginning of Guilds of Ravnica, and her position is even more important now as a clean answer to the Krasis. Yes, the other player got their cards and life, but you still have to deal with the huge trampling flyer. Vivien’s minus ability hits all sorts of annoying permanents, from Lyra Dawnbringer to Wilderness Reclamation to Treasure Map. I think she will grow by a few dollars more, as she becomes even more widely adopted.

Do keep in mind that Vivien is a terrible spec because she rotates out of Standard at the end of summer. Yes, that’s over six months away, but from another standpoint, it’s also just a couple of sets away. Finish RNA, then it’s War of the Spark, Core Set 2020, and then poof! Don’t get caught holding extras of her when she starts trending downwards in price.

All the Gate cards (Guild Summit, Gates Ablaze, Circuitous Route, etc)

None of these are expensive, but hang a big YET on that sentence. It’s a deck based around uncommons, and it’s a real deck. Gates Ablaze works very well as a sweeper, and the way Gatebreaker Ram scales to live through that sweeper is exquisite.

I also love that since it’s based around Gates, and we’ve got eleven of those (plus Plaza of Harmony, which I always think is a Gate) then you’re free to play pretty much anything you want. Nexus of Fate, Mass Manipulation, Carnage Tyrant, Settle the Wreckage…whatever flights of fancy you want to indulge in.

The core of this deck is the Summit and the Ablaze, and those will be around for a while. I expect this deck to be popular because it’ll be cheap, except for the Hydroid Krasis most of them are running. I won’t be surprised if the core uncommons get to a dollar or two, so if you hate paying high prices for cards that were once cheap (hello Lava Coil!) then keep a set of these around.

Midnight Reaper ($3)

This was under $1 just a couple of weeks ago, but it’s the favored way for the Sultai decks to stay even on cards in the face of a sweeper, especially when paired with Wildgrowth Walker and some explore triggers. It’s not a four-of in these decks, as multiples get super painful, but it’s an excellent insurance policy.

I don’t think it’ll go as high as $7, but I think $5 is going to happen at some point before it rotates in October 2020.

Electrodominance (down to $5)

For a card that was supposed to upend Modern, well, let’s go to the graph:

Ouch. $15 at one point and now people on eBay are begging you to take it at $5, and it’s likely got farther to go.

Let’s look at the card it’s been paired with a whole bunch, Restore Balance:

Now that, my friends, is a real rollercoaster ride. As Foretold, another card which triggered one of those elevator rides for Restore Balance, has gone from $6 to $7. All this price movement is based on speculation, there have only been a couple of decks trying to make this work and those are Living End decks, also running Ancestral Vision. I’m sitting this out until there’s an actual deck doing well consistently.

A note of warning, though: If this deck gets some screen time on an SCG event or a streamer takes it up, watch out. Everything in the deck will go haywire. I don’t want to place a bet on that, and I’m also keenly aware that Vision was once a $60 card:

Living End or Restore Balance showing up in a Commander product or other supplement will send prices plummeting, just be aware. I have to say, though, the $20 Iconic Masters foils of Vision are awfully tempting. It’s a safer target than the other no-mana-cost cards, because it just got reprinted, and we know for sure that if you’re running cards to exploit these cards, you definitely want to draw three for free.

Bedevil (down to $5)

This feels too cheap to me, especially as I look at Vraska’s Contempt. Yes, it’s two colors and doesn’t have incidental lifegain, which control decks love, but we also know those decks love versatility. It’s also got a bonus for being a clean answer to a planeswalker in an aggro deck, so you don’t have to waste attacks getting it off the field.

I’m not buying at $5, but I’m watching. Four dollars and I’ll be tempted, and should it get to three then I’m gleefully scooping up copies. It’s got too long to make an impact in Standard, and luckily, it’ll be in Standard for the same amount of time as the shocklands.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Time to buy GRN!

This is my favorite time of a set. The first weekend we can draft it in person, Standard is shaken up, new prices are flying left and right…and the old set is at its highest supply/lowest price.

This week, I want to look at Guilds of Ravnica and figure out what I’m buying and what my timeframe is. Remember, GRN rotates out of Standard in roughly 21 months, so we’ve got some delightful targets that have a good while to hit it big.

Before we get too deep, let’s look at my favorite recent example: Vraska’s Contempt.

Forgive my MS Paint skillz.

Yep, there was a time, right at Rivals of Ixalan being released, when you could buy this for about $6. Pretty soon after, people realized the card is super awesome and they should play a bunch. Teferi showed up not long after, and that shot the card up to $20 briefly.

That brief window is right now. So what’s got Standard legs, and what am I buying for the long term?

Foil Divine Visitation ($13)

The nonfoils perked up a little when Afterlife was previewed, and it’s true that they play nicely together. What I really love is the long-term Commander implications for this card, and $13 is low for a card that is going to be soaked up by players and not be allowed to circulate.

Look at it this way: at the time of this writing, there’s 38 foils on TCG. For comparison’s sake, there’s 70 foils of March of the Multitudes, 96 of Aurelia, but only 28 of Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Hmmmmm… yes, I’d pick that up too, though I’m less enthused. Visitation is a must-have for any white token commander, and Niv is difficult to cast even if he’s the general.

Expansion / Explosion ($1.50)

Ionize ($2)

There’s going to be a mostly-Izzet control deck at some point, and it’ll likely splash for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Maybe it’ll be Temur, splashing green for Wilderness Reclamation, but both these spells are at their low (EE has come back down from its brief time at $5) and they are going to get popular again before they rotate out.

Experimental Frenzy ($2.50 nonfoil/$9 foil)

Thousand-Year Storm ($2.50/$8)

Both of these cards have a high casting cost, it’s true, but they are a class of card that will get better with every set of spells printed. Birthing Pod was the same way; every creature printed gave that card a chance to be better, to be broken in new ways. These are two keystones, engines, whatever term you like to use. These aren’t going to light up Standard, but the time will come when they are going to be part of some disgusting turn in Modern and the foils zoom past $20.

Knight of Autumn ($3)

It’s too versatile, and I’m not just talking about the best-of-one craze sweeping Arena. Your worst case is that the card is a 4/3 for three mana. Lots and lots of people are going to try and break Wilderness Reclamation, and the GW decks are already running answers to that card at the same time they are running a 2/1 gain four life against the burn decks.

There’s going to be a point where this card is everywhere. I don’t know when it’ll be, but I know it’ll be before September 2020 and you’ll want to have your copies ready to sell into the hype.

Foil Chromatic Lantern ($9)

The Return to Ravnica foil is $15, but let’s look at where that price has been:

A must-play in decks that are 3+ colors.

Three times since 2012 it’s hit $25, and let’s not overlook the Kaladesh Invention version that landed in September of 2016 and didn’t budge this price much. You should definitely be picking up all the personal copies you’ll need right now, before this rises to meet the RTR version. The Masterpiece means that it’ll never go too crazy, and we’ll get this in a Commander reprint before long, but get all you need and an extra few to trade away when it’s back at $20 in a year.

If you like data, it’s the #15 artifact on EDHREC, with 56,000+ decks running it. There’s 150 foil copies between RTR and GRN on TCGPlayer right now. Make your move.

Risk Factor ($5/$10)

I’m a huge fan of this card. No one is combining it with Browbeat in Modern, but it’s showing up in a range of Modern strategies, my favorite being the ‘Phoenix Deck Wins’ archetype that has put up some MTGO results and won a SCG Classic in December. I’m higher on the foils, but I’m also in for a couple playsets of nonfoils. I underestimated how good this card is, because it can be cast twice. I won’t underestimate what it can do for my wallet.

Foil Beast Whisperer ($5)

This effect exists in a couple of forms, but they tend to cost more (Soul of the Harvest) or be conditional in some way (Beck/Call being two colors, Garruk’s Packleader & Elemental Bond for power 3+, and so on…) and this is even an Elf! The tribe most capable of having a long run of creatures off the top and finishing us all off!

The other giveaway is that this card, unassuming and not really played anywhere yet, has only 50 copies in foil on TCG, between the pack foil and the prerelease foils. I hope you’re able to get some before they are gone.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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