Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Known Information


I have to admit, every time I hear about the MTG Finance ‘cabal’, those ‘shadow manipulators,’ I’ve got to laugh.

I don’t know of another group (granted there might be others, but they charge more, like a bookie’s sports line or a stockbroker’s private group) who does more to be transparent. I’ve been part of this site for more than five years, and I admire the way that we all make it super damn obvious what we’re doing and why.

You’re allowed to be annoyed when a card becomes unaffordable for you, but it’s not our fault if you don’t want to listen. We (James, Jason, Travis, me, plus the long and impressive list of others who’ve written for this site) want you to gain value and avoid losing value in your collection. That’s all we do, and we’re very open about our thought processes.

So this week, I want to go over my information sources, some of these are super obvious and some might not be. None of these are going to cost you much, either.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

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 (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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A Moment of Silence

Frankly, even calling it MODO is antiquated of me. ‘Mit-Go’ doesn’t sing the same way as shorthand for ‘Magic Online Digital Object’ or whatever it stood for.

I had a whole piece written about Ultimate Masters, ready to go, and then they drop the ten-million-dollar bombshell on us.

First of all, go read the announcement. It’s dense. Read it again.

Now, let’s talk what it means for the MTGfinance community.

A momentary rant: Why on earth does Wizards always have to step on one thing with news of the next thing? Do enough people watch the gamer awards live that they felt it was worth overshadowing Ultimate Masters’ release weekend? This is a huge change in a lot of ways. Why a Thursday night, when we’re all salivating for our value-filled UMA drafts?

Well, we’ve finally arrived. Arena debuted in alpha version last September, with just Ixalan, and a little more than a year later, they are ready to warp the entire Organized Play structure around this new program. I’m relatively certain this was the plan from the getgo, and it’s something that’s been discussed here and other places.

Arena is more fun to play and watch. It’s just plain faster, too, and that’s not something to overlook. Arena is not going to replace ‘tabletop’ Magic (as they insist on calling it, when ‘paper’ has been the vernacular forever) but it is going to spell the slow ending of Magic Online in its current form.

Happily, Florian Koch just wrote about how the MTGO economy is on the decline, both due to the ascendancy of Arena and the value-killer that has been Treasure Chests. All told, the future is very clear: You’re not going to get your money back from Magic Online. I’d expect a sell-off this weekend (you know, instead of playing the heck out of UMA on its release weekend!) of impressive proportions.

I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to get what you could, 25% of your invested money is still 25% you’ll get back. Magic Online won’t be dead tomorrow, but in all the changes announced, there’s not a single word of support for that program.

I would view it this way: It’s a way to play your favorite format (Pauper, Modern, Vintage, Legacy, Momir Basic, etc) just about anytime, including playtesting for big events that are coming up. It’s not a place to put money you want to get back. It’s already a lot cheaper to play those formats online than it is in person, and we’ll see how the economy shakes out once the crush ends.

Hopefully, you caught wind of this article too, where Elaine Chase confirms that Arena isn’t going to get older sets, and that they are figuring out what the non-rotating format will be in Arena, which she called ‘Standard Plus.’

This would appear to be the death knell for those who championed Frontier as a format. The new format starts with buddy lands and shocklands as the foundation. No fastlands, and no fetches.

Kaladesh through Hour of Devastation got wiped as part of the transition to the open beta, and frankly, I think they will keep Arena going at Ixalan and everything after. Kaladesh contains both fastlands and the Energy mechanic, problems they don’t want to face. Amonkhet block has the difficult-to-interact-with Gods, and we’ve seen how oppressive the red decks are with those sets available.

It’ll be easier to just cut those sets entirely, and that’s the gameplan I’d forecast.

What does that mean for us, in the MTGfinance world? We can’t profit off of cards on Arena, but we know that paper Magic is still going to be a huge part of the business, and let’s think about what is good right now in Standard, and Standard+.

I hope they do better than Standard-Plus for a format name. I don’t have confidence, though, turning Grand Prix into MagicFest is a worrisome sign.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is likely the best planeswalker in the new format. Karn, Scion of Urza is good too, but Teferi will just end the game while drawing you cards and freeing up your mana.


Implacable death lizard indeed!

Carnage Tyrant at $30 might be the most solid buy right now. Big and hexproof and possibly the single best creature in the new format.

Search for Azcanta, that control staple, is down to $17 and will likely be a big player in Standard+, given that the red decks are, so far, manageable. In that same vein, I do love Treasure Map in the $5 range, and Legion’s Landing at $7.

I still can’t believe this is only two mana.

I think the card with the most to gain long-term is going to be Arclight Phoenix. It’s already a very good card, one I was super-mega-ultra-wrong about at the beginning of Guilds of Ravnica, but there’s a principle that applies to the Phoenix, and a class of cards that gets better with every set.

Every set, there’s going to be some sort of cheap spell(s) in red, and in other colors. That means over time, in the new format, the spells and accessories surrounding the Phoenix can only get better. At worst, it maintains, but every incremental improvement will add up, and I fully expect that Standard+ will have Phoenix as one of the top-tier decks.

It’s around $28 now and while I don’t think it’ll hit $100, I won’t be surprised when it’s $50 this summer. When the new format is officially announced, the powerhouse cards of the current format are all going to spike, and this would be one of the biggest.

Also, I think that we’re going to get the new format announcement before rotation happens. Might even be six months before that, but I’d expect official word around the beginning of summer. I am not planning on being able to let these cards get cheap as rotation looms, and then they announce the new format, causing a new spike. Safer to confirm early…but with Wizards, who the hell knows.

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Buying up the Guilds

Here we are, the time that is often the doldrums of Magic news and sets. Thankfully, Ultimate Masters has been completely spoiled for a couple of weeks, the preorders are settling out, and I’m frothing at the mouth to get some drafts in.

What I don’t want to overlook is that we’re still in the first couple months of a new Standard, and specifically, Guilds of Ravnica cards have just short of two years to go up and down in price.

Generally speaking, cards from the big fall set tend to trickle downward in price for three to six months after their season ends. (Season meaning when it’s being opened at GPs and FNM drafts, etc.) That was with the Big Set-Small Set-Small Set model, though, when there was still a little of the big set being opened.

Now, with every set being its own block, the timeline appears to be accelerated. I don’t want to pick up cards that are rotating out next October, but GRN cards are in the sweet spot where the supply is nearly maxed (Ultimate Masters is going to suck the wind right out of those sails) and pretty soon we’ll all be ravenous for Ravnica Allegiance previews.

For example, Vraska’s Contempt:

The little removal spell that could.

This hit a low of about $5 at the end of Ixalan season and then bam, jumped up as a premier removal spell in the format.

I want to identify those cards now, instead of waiting. I especially love getting them now, as there’s nearly two years for a deck to hit big. To the cards!

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expensive cards

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.


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 (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Crunching the Box Toppers, part 2

Welcome back, everyone. Last week I started going through predictions for all the Ultimate Box Toppers, and I stopped at 1500 words. Now for the rest of the cards!

Gaddock Teeg ($80): Did you know how frequently this big little guy shows up in Humans sideboards? And Bant Spirits? And Collected Company builds? I didn’t know he was this popular. Interestingly for his Boxterpiece price, he’s only in 400 EDH decks, and that’s the bigger surprise. All of the eBay auctions for him so far have ended up right at $80, but his non-promo price is much more due to the small supply than a great demand. This version has farther to fall, likely to $60.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest ($150): Much of his early listings were for obscene numbers and then offers were accepted, but some closed above $200, he’s settled down here into $150, and I don’t know where the demand will come from. Two things have knifed this Elf in the back: Getting the Commander ban in April of last year, or Deathrite Shaman being banned in Legacy this past July.

In fact, let’s take a look at his price graph:

Designed for Tiny Leaders. Press F to pay respects.

Ol’ Leo just isn’t popular, and I’m not sure who these folks are that are paying $150 for this version. Original Conspiracy 2 foils are super pricey due to a very small supply, but I don’t think there will be enough demand to keep his price over $75. The regular versions are going to take a beating, too, ending up at $10 or less.

Lord of Extinction ($50): This was one of my pet cards for the longest time in Commander, but it needs help. It’s potentially huge, yes, and awesome to sacrifice, but on its own it is quite meh. The good news is that it’s just popular enough to not be the cheapest of the Boxterpieces, and it’ll trickle down into the $40 range.

Maelstrom Pulse ($60): Let’s take a moment and reflect on how this was in Alara Reborn, and Modern Masters 2013, and then the GP promo, and an Invocation, and now this. That’s a lot of incidental supply over the years, and yet the value has stayed relatively steady. It’s going to end up around the Invocation price, but hopefully higher, because I despise the illegible Invocations.

Sigarda, Host of Herons ($70): Early auctions closed closer to $150, but there’s a copy of this still on TCG at $70…so it’s got farther to fall. It’s not huge in Commander, not used in Modern, and so I’d expect it to end up below $50.

Fulminator Mage ($80): Remarkably, people have kept their heads on eBay for this card, not letting it go much over $100. It was in Modern Masters 2015 as a mere rare, and the 2015 version put a lot more into circulation than the 2013 or 2017 editions. It’s a popular sideboard card in Modern, given that it’s a Stone Rain on legs, and I think $80 is going to hold.

Kitchen Finks ($70): Another very popular sideboard card, this one is also used in more than a few infinite-life combos, in Modern and Commander. This will be the third printing at uncommon, but this special version is used in enough places that I think $70 is a good and stable price.

Engineered Explosives ($140): One of the great tricks to this card is not just that it’s versatile, but it’s also precise at the same time. It goes into any deck, and many many decks take advantage of this. The regular versions have gotten up to $60-$70, but my attention is on the Invention version at $160. I’m willing to believe that there are going to be more Boxterpiece versions than Inventions printed, and I think that will lead to a slight decrease in this card’s price. I’d expect it to settle in between $100 and $120.

Mana Vault ($160): Again, we have an Invention for comparison’s sake, going for about $180. This is in 23,000 Commander decks online, a number I found stunning and then I realized that it’s fast, easy, combo-oriented mana. My bias as a player from early in the game shows here: I have trouble thinking of Fourth Edition cards as ever being valuable, but this one is more than $20. It’s the most valuable card in Fifth Edition! Here’s the graph:

It’s faster mana than Sol Ring, even if it’s not good more than once.

Where will this special promo end up price-wise? I’m not sure. It’ll be more common and less aesthetically pleasing than the Invention, so I’d expect it to be $125 or so.

Platinum Emperion ($75): This is not a terribly popular card, only found in 3k Commander decks online and one nifty Madcap Experiment combo in Modern. The price has slowly climbed over the years, but the early eBay sales of $75-$100 were the lucky ones. There’s a copy right now on TCG for $60, and the slide isn’t done. It’ll stabilize around $40-$50.

Ancient Tomb ($175): You can have the Expedition version, a likely rarer card, for $225, but there’s one Boxterpiece on TCG for $150. On EDHREC, a full 23,000 decks are running this, and your supply is surprisingly constrained: original Tempest. FTV: Realms, the Expedition, and now this. There’s some Legacy demand too, mainly from Eldrazi decks and Sneak and Show, decks trying to accelerate into broken spells. I like $150 for this, it sees enough play to hold a price that high.

Cavern of Souls ($200, though a wide range of sales, $180 and $260 being the two most recent): If you’d asked me which was more popular in Commander, this or Ancient Tomb, I would have said Cavern, as it’s amazing in every tribal deck ever…but it’s under 20k decks. Go figure. Two TCG sellers have this at $250, and clearly no one is biting there. It’s also in 10% of all Modern decks on top of that, and the combination of casual demand and Constructed playability (even Legacy and Vintage, to make sure Eldrazi aren’t getting countered) and you have a card that I think can hold at or near $200.

Celestial Colonnade ($150): The most recent sale was $120, but the rest were $150, and that forecasts what’s going to happen here. It’s in some Commander decks, it’s popular in Modern control decks that don’t want to waste deck space on attackers, but that leads to a problem with not very high demand. The regular nonfoils had made it to $60, but those hadn’t been printed since original Worldwake in 2010. It’s going to fall farther, and I expect it to settle around $75.

Creeping Tar Pit ($80): Every problem that Colonnade has, Tar Pit has worse. Low Commander demand, miniscule Modern demand, and a price that had been high because it hadn’t been reprinted since the small set of 2010. The ‘manlands’ are in for a rough time, and there’s just enough demand to keep this in third place. You’ll be able to buy the promo for $50.

Dark Depths ($200): This one confuses me, but that’s what small sample sizes do. The first couple went for $300, then down to $150, now back up to $200. Here’s the graph for the original from Coldsnap:

Let’s not forget: FTV is ugly as sin.

August 2016 was when FTV: Lore came out, and added copies to circulation. Depths is in about 10% of Legacy decks, and slightly more Commander decks than Colonnade or Tar Pit. The Legacy demand is going to be the main driver of prices, I imagine, and since decks won’t play just one (usually 3-4 copies) that will help with the price somewhat. TCG has one available at $175, but it’ll drop another $50 or so.

Karakas ($150): Once, the original Legends version was at $150, and the judge promo at $200. Now, no version is over $90, all thanks to Eternal Masters. This is going to get hammered as a nonfoil, dropping to $25ish, but the promo is a tricky question. Not a lot of Legacy players will be running out to get more copies, and it’s rightfully banned in Commander. It’s going to fall, but how far? Is this more or less common than the promo from 2012? How about the original in 1994? I think that novelty will keep it around $75-$100.

Lavaclaw Reaches ($40): The new version of ‘may you live in interesting times’ is ‘I hope all your Toppers are Lavaclaws!’ because this is the turd in the punchbowl. Someone’s got to be at the bottom, and you can get a playset on TCG for $120 right now. I hope $30 is the bottom, but I won’t be shocked it it’s $20. No one plays it!

Raging Ravine ($75): Modern Jund plays a couple of these, and that’s about it. It’s a useful land for that deck, after you’ve emptied them of resources your lands beat down quite effectively. That being said, it’s going to fall as well, to $40 or perhaps even $30.

Stirring Wildwood ($50): The eBay prices are misleading, as you can also get this playset on TCG for $120. It’s a race to the bottom between this and Lavaclaw. Godspeed, both of you.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth ($100): Planar Chaos, Magic 2015, FTV: Realms and now this. That’s a lot of printings, and none are over $60, even in foil. The most popular use, by far, is the combo with Cabal Coffers in Commander. The Tomb is in 45,000 decks online, and don’t forget its uses in Legacy, where it lets Eye of Ugin tap for mana. Still, with original pack foils at $60, I have a hard time seeing this keep this price. It’ll fall a little, maybe to $80.

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 (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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