Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Where to, Ikoria?

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Three weeks ago, I wrote about how the prices in Ikoria were about to take quite a bath. If you added up the price of every card in the set (regular art, nonfoil) it was just about $400. 

Today, that’s down to $250. Oof.

The question is, though…are prices done falling? Let’s take a look.

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Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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Commander 2020: Are we Buying?

Commander 2020 is legal to sell as of today! Your local store may or may not have them available, and maybe they are being shipped to you. (I’ve got a set coming to me on Sunday, UPS willing!)

We’ve had to sit through a big delay in having the cards in hand, and even more delay in playing with other people. This has led to a very artificial set of prices, and I want to dive in and see if there’s money to be made from buying and cracking sealed product this weekend.

First of all: Profitability is heavily dependent on the price you acquire the decks at. If you find them someplace for $40 each, that’s a pretty easy buy. This product line is known for having a bunch of $2-$5 cards and a few special reprints/new cards to make it awesome, and this set follows that pattern.

Currently, the most expensive reprint in the set is The Locust God, a card that was heading for $15 at a reasonable pace, but putting this in the ‘you want to pack in the Wheel of Fortune’ effects deck is why this won’t hit $20.

But the new cards are the headliners this time around, with a cycle that’s genius: It’s free if your Commander is in play. Wizards has wanted to avoid the True-Name Nemesis/Containment Priest problem, where a card meant for Commander warps older formats and causes outsize price and short supply.

No, seriously, when Wizards makes something in these that’s Legacy-playable, then you’ve got GP New Jersey 2014 and Priest buylisting for $50, or Wizards needing to print extra copies of the whole Commander deck to get enough TNN out there. 

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This year’s cycle avoids that by only being good if the Commander is in play. Simple, effective, and likely to push prices down. Only Commander players want them, and while the green one is the worst (by FAR, and it’s nice to get back to Green cards being bad) the other four carry real prices…for now.

Fierce Guardianship ($40ish listed, but the lowest is $30 right now on TCG)

Flawless Manuever ($11)

Deflecting Swat ($11)

Deadly Rollick ($8)

The prices are falling here, down at least 15% in the last week. It’s the main target to sell immediately, to Commander players who don’t have the sense to be patient in the middle of a pandemic. It’s going to fall a lot farther, too. While I do think this is the spell of the cycle I’d want to have most, and blue players truly love having yet another free counterspell in their armory, $40 is not a real price right now. Last year’s big winner is Dockside Extortionist: 

Commander 2018 has one card above $10: Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle. Commander 2017 has an intriguing lineup, but remember that these cards are three years old and not one of these has had a reprint (except Teferi’s Protection, which has had two: Mystery Booster and a Judge Foil):

My point here is that the high tag on the Fierce cards won’t last short-term. Too many people are going to try and make money, and that’s not going to work.

The other cards in these decks are good, and the primary buyers here are folks who are savvy: they looked at the decklists, decided what they wanted to build/add to their decks, and are only buying targeted singles. Honestly, that’s my usual play, but the presale price I got for buying the decks blind was a little too good.

The two early leaders, in terms of prices and decks built on EDHREC, are Zaxara, the Exemplary and Xyris, the Writhing Storm, both of which are over $10 right now and might hold a price close to that over the long term. 

Short-term, though, they will dip a little and then come back. I particularly like Zaxara as a long-term spec, since Hydra is a tribe getting more and more love, it’s got several infinite combos and is in the best tutoring colors, but the reprint risk has me scared. The most popular Commanders need to get through 2020 without reprints, and then I’ll relax. Remember that we have additional Commander product coming with Return to Return to Zendikar and then again with Commander Masters.

By the way, looking at the Commander 2017 lists, if you have extras of any of those cards, I’d be getting rid of them. The reprints are not going to get all of those cards, but why take the chance?

So my advice to you, if you’re thinking of braving the lines at some store in hopes of cracking for value: Don’t try it. If you got a copy of Timeless Wisdom at $40, and managed to sell the Fierce Guardianship on eBay for $35, you’ll be one of the lucky few. 

Let me show you the view that saves me money on TCG: 

This is all Commander 2020, listed in descending price. What I’m looking for is a small gap between the market price and the lowest listing. A big gap between those means that there was a sale at a high price, but there are copies available for a lot cheaper–and no one has bought the cheaper one yet!

Zaxara has a $7 gap. Deadly Rollick has a gap of a little over a buck. Generally, that’s what I want to see. The cheapest copies should be the first to sell when someone wants to buy a copy of a card, but a large gap means the market hasn’t caught up to the supply.

Let’s look at it this way. I buy Timeless Wisdom at $50 from the LGS. Perhaps I get lucky and sell my Fierce Guardianship at the current low price of $30. Next on the list is The Locust God, and I want to hurry up and sell mine. It’s got a Market of $8, so I price at $6, but there’s people listing theirs at $5.50 or less. If I’m not the cheapest, I’ll take longer to sell, time during which more copies of the deck are being opened and the cards dumped on TCGPlayer.

This weekend, there’s going to be a race to the bottom. Don’t get caught in it. Be patient, buy what you need in about two weeks. That’s when we’ll have a better grasp of the supply and demand. Buying this weekend is spending more than you need to, and who wants to spend $15 on a card today they can get for $8 in two weeks, especially if you can’t play with it in person yet?

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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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The Wave Approaches

Next week, on May 15, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is supposed to be released throughout the world. It’s been on limited release for about a month now, and even though there’s blessed few places/ways to play in paper, some prices have really stood out.

Now comes the true test: What will the prices be once we can buy and open all we want?

While I think almost everything is going to come down in price, there’s a certain mindset of ‘people can buy, but can they play? That’s a much more difficult question to answer, and my guess is that even if stores are open, are people going to go there? I certainly don’t feel ready to go storming back in like nothing’s changed.

With that caveat, let’s focus on the current prices for the pack nonfoils, the most basic versions of cards in Standard.

Fiend Artisan (nonfoil, regular art is currently $27)

The Artisan is in quite a spot. There’s been a lot of versions of Cat Food decks, most of which are using Mayhem Devil and the new hotness is Obosh, the Preypiercer as a Companion. That version can’t play this even-costed Artisan, but holy wow, is the Artisan perfect for the deck. Get bigger with every card in the yard, can upgrade one creature into just about any other creature. Note the lack of ‘nontoken’ to sacrifice. Note that you’re paying the new creature’s cost, even if that’s huge, and it’s going right into play! 

Even with all the awesomeness of this card, I think it’s due to come down a little. It’s not going to go too far, as it’s a fine card in multiples and these sacrifice-themed decks will want at least three. I see this as ending up at $15-$20.

If I’m wrong, and the Food decks take over in paper, watch for Korvold, Fae-Cursed King to jump again. He was $30 at one point, and has fallen down to $6. The rise of the Artisan could make Korvold jump to $15 again.

Luminous Broodmoth ($19)

There aren’t a lot of decks playing a ton of this. I love seeing this with Gyruda, Doom of Depths as wrath insurance, but since the main use of this card is that sort of defense, that’s generally not the sort of proactive plan that decks succeed with. It’s a powerful card, one that demands its own removal spell first, and that will help keep the price near $10.

There’s a Mardu Sacrifice deck out there that might take off, and if it does, the Broodmoth will rise and you should also get in on cheap copies of Nightmare Shepherd. Currently a dollar rare, if the deck is real it’ll hit $5 easily.

Lurrus of the Dream Den ($19)

This price is entirely due to the proliferation of decks using this companion in older formats. Standard doesn’t have decks that can satisfy this requirement easily, though I played against one that used a variety of reanimation cards quite effectively. Modern Burn has adapted to this card quite easily, and Legacy isn’t far behind. Sometimes the goal is just to recur a Mishra’s Bauble, and sometimes the goal is just to have the 3/2 lifelink lurking for whenever you need it.

I don’t think this price can hold once we’re opening packs at the normal rate. My instinct is that it’ll flirt with $10 and lower within a couple of months, but the long-term outlook of this card entirely rests on how broken you think it is and if it’ll merit a ban.

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy ($18)

There’s not a lot of Standard fun with this kid yet, but the synergy with Castle Garenbrig is real and terrifying. I think the big appeal of this card so far is in Commander, as I can’t find many lists with Kinnan yet for Standard. The combination of Commander appeal and the limited amount in circulation is a formula for a price that’s teetering on the edge of a precipice, and the fall is about to happen. Unless a new Standard deck pops up with the prodigy (and I’ll be pissed if it’s not called Firestarter!) it’s headed towards $5-$7 or so.

Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate ($13)

Five-drop planeswalkers need to be overpoweringly good on their own for their price to get high and stay high. This version on Vivien is not overpowering, but untapping with her in play is likely to lead to wins. The value of playing the top of your library is good, but this effect exists in a couple of creatures already: Vizier of the Menagerie and Garruk’s Horde. Neither is expensive or game-ending in Commander, which doesn’t bode well for her price long-term. 

I’d expect her to drop by half soon, and stay in that range for most of her life in Standard.

Rielle, the Everwise ($11)

There is a deck playing Rielle, and it’s awesome to see someone cast Cathartic Reunion with her in play. As you can imagine, this is an Arclight Phoenix deck, and a decent one. Rielle as a mythic is going to drop pretty hard, as there’s better choices for a Commander of a cycling-themed deck. I’d say she will end up about $3/$4 when prices begin to fall.

Narset of the Ancient Way ($11)

The Fires of Invention decks love having good four-drops that can get ahead on the board. Fires is a do-nothing by itself, but Fires into Narset can take care of a big threat nicely, depending on the discard. Jeskai Control is another deck that would dearly love to get this emblem going, and 2 life on the plus adds up quick. I think Narset’s price will fall a little, but not too far, and hover near $10 for quite a while.

Winota, Joiner of Forces ($10)

Of all the cards on this list, I think Winota has the greatest chance to rise in price. The deck playing her is going to play the full set, and rightfully so. You can choose any flavor of low-cost non-humans, but Winota is the reason for the spike in Agent of Treachery recently and I won’t be shocked to see Haktos the Unscarred rise from bulk into the $2/$3 range as well. Winota decks are capable of some absurd turns: Spectral Sailor into Raise the Alarm into Chandra, Acolyte of Flame means five Winota triggers on turn four, and you’ll be looking at an absurd 30 cards in total.

What you really want to keep in mind with Winota is the scaling effect. Every cheap non-Human makes her easier to activate, and every good Human makes her triggers that much better. It’s unlikely we’d get something as good as Agent of Treachery’s trigger, but who’s to say?

In terms of her Commander appeal, my favorite Human hits in her colors are probably Konda, Lord of Eiganjo and Lena, Selfless Champion. Depending on your local metagame, Vulshok Battlemaster might be the perfect card too.

Winota needs to win something spectacularly, like a SCG open on camera with a turn-four kill, just to put her capabilities into everyone’s mind. Then she’d hit $15 or $20, as befits a mythic that must be played as a four-of.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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 Let Go

I realize that we’re currently in a really divided time. A majority of the states are going to be open in some way starting May 1, and there’s a whole lot of leeway when it comes to what businesses are allowed to function and which aren’t. 

Game stores are in a vulnerable spot, and the main factor for us to consider is that the paper Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths isn’t supposed to be released until May 14. The Commander decks are supposed to be available then, as well. I don’t think we’re going to have normal times for quite a while yet, but we will see.

We are also about five months from rotation, and there’s some big names at big prices. It’s time to get out while the getting is good…

My main goal for you is to be safe, no matter what your state/country is requiring of people. Getting in a Commander game is not worth your life. More people have died from COVID-19 in the United States than died in the Vietnam War. If you look only at the statistics and decide you like your odds, that’s your call, but remember that you’re an infection vector and could transmit the virus to someone who isn’t as lucky.

Or you’d roll a 1 on your d20. 

People want things to be normal. I like the creative ways folks are making lemonade out of these shelter-in-place lemons. We’re seeing a wide range of online tournaments. People have been busily playing Commander via webcam, or less official programs, but prices are still changing by the week.

I’m impressed at the way prices are almost acting normal. Lurrus is big in Modern and Legacy, and has a price to show it. I’d expect that price to fall once people start opening packs in real numbers, especially because people need exactly one copy per deck. Some Companions are worth playing extra copies in the main (Gyruda, I’m looking at you, buddy!) but Lurrus precludes that. 

Right now, given the proximity to rotation out of Standard, it’s the perfect time to sell extra copies of overpriced things. All of these suggestions are presuming that you’re going to keep the ones you need, but in some cases, I’m going to be raiding my Commander decks and selling cards that I can put back in once rotation happens and these prices come back to earth.

If you play Standard, keep what you need, but the profit-taking is about to happen for some of these. Sell at the highest price!

Some overpriced cards I think you should sell:

Breeding Pool ($27 nonfoil from Ravnica Allegiance)

Blood Crypt ($15)

Yes, I think you should sell every once of these that you’re not playing. Right now, Simic is clearly the best guild in Standard, it’s been given all the fun toys even when Once Upon a Time and Oko are both banned. Blood Crypt has had a bump recently with the popularity of the assorted flavors of Mayhem Devil-centric sacrifice decks, but the Pool is at one of the highest prices I can remember for a Standard land. 

Blue-Green is that good, that dominant, that prevalent. It’s not in as many decks as Fabled Passage, but the Breeding Pool decks tend to start with four of the shockland. Most decks with Passage want less than the full playset (but do stock up before Passage breaks $20!) and I’m getting out of these shocks entirely. As I said above, I’m even taking a couple of copies out of Commander decks and selling them, the value is too good and shocklands will come back to earth later this year when rotation happens. 

I have trouble imagining a world where a soon-to-rotate land with this much stock goes higher. The Gatecrash version is $25, original Dissension is $34. I’m taking the value now and I won’t be sad if it bumps to $30. My eyes are firmly fixed on when this is $10 at Halloween.

Hydroid Krasis ($17)

Get out while you can. Krasis is a fantastic card in big-mana Commander decks, but let’s take a look at the graph:

The big spike has happened, and only the popularity of UGx decks has allowed it to maintain this price. It’ll be in the $10 range by the end of summer, and at that point, you’d better not have any excess copies in your inventory. Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is no Nissa, who Shakes the World, even though Uro is going to be a staple for the next year and a half. Too much of the ramp deck is rotating for me to want to try and hang on to the Krasis.

Again, if you’re planning on playing Krasis in some paper Magic this summer, keep your playset and dump the rest. The value needs to be extracted and applied to other worthy targets. 

Agent of Treachery ($6)

Holy biscuits, take a look at this graph and tell me you shouldn’t be selling like mad:

Agent has always been a favored ramp payoff, there’s something delightful about ramping up and then taking the thing they were going to kill you with. Drawing three from the second ability tends to earn immediate concessions, and I have been on both ends of that spectrum.

Agent isn’t played in other formats, though it’s a fun Commander card. Dump your spare copies and dump them now. This will be a dollar rare in a few months.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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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