Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Time to buy GRN!

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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.

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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)

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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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First Week of Allegiance!

Ravnica Allegiance has some amazing cards, some busted cards, and we’re already getting some interesting price movement on these cards.

Let’s not waste any time, and look at what’s jumped and what’s tripped over, fell into a hole, and rolled over to fall into an ever deeper hole.

As a bonus this week, there’s some extra-interesting Guilds of Ravnica cards that I think are excellent pickups, since they aren’t rotating out of Standard for another 21 months.

Before we get into these too deeply, let’s keep in mind that card prices right now are at a volatile place. This is all pre-order hype, we haven’t opened any packs yet, and at this point in Guilds of Ravnica Arclight Phoenix was a $5 card. There’s plenty of time for these to spike higher or drop lower.

Early Gainers

Hydroid Krasis (up to $20 from $12) – I said last week this would be $20 at next Christmas. I still believe that, but as you can imagine I’m not high on buying this at $20. I played the hell out of Sphinx’s Revelation, and the secret to that card was the first cast for X at two or three, which found you that bit of gas you needed to get to the backbreakers.

Mana acceleration isn’t great in Standard right now, and casting this early hurts. Four mana gets you a 1/1 flier. Six is a 2/2 and one card and one life. Still not great. I don’t think this is Standard gold, but this is the be-all and end-all of what Commander players want to be doing. You’d have to have a very clear reason not to play this in your 99, right? Maybe you run zero creatures?

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Judith, the Scourge Diva (up to $8 from $2) – She’s a tough act to follow, but her path is clear: all aggro, all the time, and if you wipe the board you’ll pay a price for that too. “Any target” is great, but are we going to see decks with four of her? I get that if she’s staying in play the useless copies in your hand aren’t as awful (and playing the second one means two pings, FWIW) but it’s going to stand in the way of her going much higher.

Smothering Tithe (up to $5 from $2) – Your guess is as good as mine. I can’t figure it out. This is Rhystic Study’s less annoying cousin, and while I suspect that the Commander implications are better than they seem, I still don’t know why people are going into a tizzy here. Is it good against control? I suppose more mana is good, but they can pay if it turns into a problem. In four-player pods you can drop an eight-mana bomb on your turn five, but I need a dedicated strategy for this card to make my deck. When you figure it out, let me know.

Early Losers

Repudiate // Replicate (down to $2.50 from $8) – I don’t think this was ever going to be an amazing card, but this was a super-high preorder price and it’s a card that’s going to be tough to use in Standard effectively. You want your modal (or split) cards to cover a wide range of cases, but this has two niche abilities that don’t always fit the same deck.

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper (down to $9 from $13) – I wrote last week that I thought she’d stay around $13, and that seems a touch optimistic right now. Looks like she’s going to level out a little lower than I’d expected.

Benthic Biomancer (down to $1 from $4) – If a Merfolk deck is going to get there in Standard, now’s the time. The looting doesn’t happen on using the Adapt, it happens when you get the counter, and handily, Merfolk has no shortage of that. There’s a chance, but I’d like that chance a lot better if the UG Merfolk decks could still run Heroic Intervention.

Mostly, cards in the set are down across the board, and that’s to be expected. Preorder prices are educated guesses, and a set doesn’t keep a huge number of $5 rares around for long.

Guilds Quick Hits

Chromatic Lantern is at $5/$10 nonfoil, and that’s a full $5 cheaper on the new foil vs. the old foil. It’s a card that ought to get reprinted every few years, so I’m bigger on buying the foils now that they are cheap. Remember how high this got right before the reprint?

Even with a Masterpiece floating around, the RTR foil was $30 this summer before the reprint hit. Get your foils now while they are cheap, both for your decks and to trade away when it’s $30 again, because it will be and Commander players will always want them.

I’ve written before about Dream Eater as underpriced and underplayed, an opinion I still hold. I’m buying them off eBay for about 75 cents each when I go after them.

Arclight Phoenix has also taken a lot of words from me, but please, listen and buy your playset now, before they are $40-$50 this summer. It’s too good in all formats to stay this low.

Divine Visitation foils are $13 right now and this is a silly low price for the card that token decks most want in Commander. I even think it’s better than doubling effects, if we’re measuring head-to-head.

Experimental Frenzy at $3/$8 foil is good things waiting to happen. I’m about to go on strike, so my card buying is turned off right now. If that were not the case, I’d be hip-deep in these foils especially. It’s going to get broken. Thousand-Year Storm, at the same set of prices, is an ‘I win’ card in the Commander decks that can use it, and the foils here are super tempting, as a mythic even!

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.  Follow him on Twitter @WordOfCommander

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Preordering RNA Mythics

The whole set is up! Go take a look at it, and marvel at Wizards’ ability to keep churning these things out. I’m certainly impressed, and humble too. I was totally, ridiculously wrong about Arcbound Phoenix, and I can only aspire to do better for you this time around.

That said, let’s dive into the mythics and see if there’s preorder value to be had!

Domri, Chaos Bringer (preordering at roughly $20)

Domri 2.0 starts at five and can go right up to six loyalty, if you have a cheap creature to play to defend them. That’s pretty good, but the upgraded Divination effect really has my attention: Lead the Stampede is a very good card, and while Domri’s an extra mana, it’s quite worth it.

I wouldn’t buy Domri at $20, but I’m listening at $10. This looks like a set of abilities RG really wants in Commander, and there aren’t many planeswalkers who have a non-ultimate that says to draw your two best of your top 4.

Angel of Grace ($18)

This is a LOT of stuff on one card for a mere five mana. We’ve got a 5/4 flash flying Angel, a card that is just plain good by itself. We’ve also got ‘You don’t go below 1 life this turn’ on this, a wonderful touch given that for six mana and an exile from the graveyard, you turn your life total to 10. That’s just delicious upside.

It’s relevant to note that this flashes in to block a Phoenix quite nicely, though they’re often on the attack before turn five. Lyra Dawnbringer is likely just better in a vacuum, but they do play nice together! Lyra hit some impressive heights, and this is a bit more niche. I suspect this price will just trickle downwards, and level out at $7ish.

Mesmerizing Benthid ($6)

Amusing. Don’t buy this. Yes, it’s three blockers for five mana, but it’s a delay at best. This will be lucky to not be bulk, even if hexproof is a really wonderful ability right now.

Biogenic Ooze ($9)

There’s a chance that this is a fantastic card, given that it’s 6/6 for five, but we have that at uncommon with Crested Herdcaller. You need the Ooze to live two turns and pump more mana into it to beat what the Herdcaller does, and with a four-mana wrath entering Standard, I’m not so sure.

On the other hand, it’s an Ooze lord and certain Commander decks are going to go nuts. This will fall a little but not too far.

Spawn of Mayhem ($15)

A 4/4 flying trample for four mana. Is that more amazing than Doom Whisperer at five? How about if you can get that 4/4 on turn three, given even one damage to your opponent? Let’s add some aggressive pinging in there too!

Doom Whisperer is better as a control finisher, and this is aggro to the middle of its Rakdos heart. I expect this will rapidly pop up in price as aggro decks try to take over, to $20 or $25, before control decks figure out the right mix of sweepers (Cleansing Nova, Kaya’s Wrath, and Citywide Bust all play!)

Skarrgan Hellkite ($8)

We have a few comparables here, and none of them are reassuring to this Dragon. Demanding Dragon, anyone? The pinging is cute but expensive and slow, and why does a huge dragon care about the measly two-toughness things?

Before you ask, yes, this is a huge upgrade on Colossal Might.

Plus, we’re getting Collision in this set, making huge flyers a bit more suspect. I fear this Dragon is doomed to the bulk bin.

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper ($13)

She’s very good against tokens, and has the ability to stop the endless value grind that Golgari decks can currently do…but is that enough? She does offer inevitability if she’s not stopped, but we can see that the wraths are real. Esper looks dominating right now, and I think she’ll see just enough play to stay about this price.

Dovin, Grand Arbiter ($14)

Now this is more like it. I think this version of Dovin is underpriced, given how well he’ll play into what UW wants to do. You’re going to need a good aggressive deck against him, and the way his plus plays with the token generating is a very elegant design. I think we’ll see him delaying all over the place, enough to bump him up to $20.

Rakdos, the Showstopper ($6)

A little bit of a bummer, but I think there’s a decent deck to be made around his ability…but not a top tier deck. Commander goodness all the way, and he’ll keep this price for quite some time.

Prime Speaker Vannifar ($18)

My instincts all say that this is a bad card for Standard but the purest of Commander gold. It’s slow, weak, and constrictive in Standard, but if built around, can be totally busted in the two most busted colors in Commander. That’s not a recipe for a $20 card, more like a solid $10.

Our graph can barely show the recent spike to $25!

Seraph of the Scales ($10)

Four mana, 4/3 flyer, can have vigilance and deathtouch, is an Angel, but most importantly, has Afterlife of THREE. So it’s a good size flyer with Spectral Procession built in afterwards? Holy hell. That’s pure, sweet, addictive value. It’s cheap, and not legendary, so a deck can play the full set. This has a lot of potential to climb, but lacking that fourth toughness in the land of the Phoenix is a very real drawback. I honestly don’t know what will happen. A spike to $20 wouldn’t shock me, nor would a slow fall to $4.

Emergency Powers ($5)

Seven mana is a lot, even if you can do this as an instant, or get your mana back in a permanent. If you could cast a wrath off this card I’d be more interested, but it’s already low and people aren’t biting. Yes, it’s a Timetwister effect and those are quite rare, but only the most steely of control decks are going to cast this after running their opponent out of resources. Will be bulk.

Captive Audience ($4)

While I love this, you’re not winning until a couple turns after you cast it, and even then it’s not a total given. Aggro decks have some much better choices as finishers, and while it’s funny in Commander, once you survive the three effects, this does nothing. Another bulk.

Ravager Wurm ($6)

I got into a big talk about this card during GP Oakland. It just seems so un-mythic-like for its mana cost. This is the big Gruul finisher? Somberwald Stag could fight at five mana, Reclamation Sage has the destruction at three. Yes, you’re being flexible and that’s nice, but you’re not getting a lot of stats out of your six-mana mythic. Underwhelming in price and abilities, though this might bump after Field of Ruin rotates out.

Hydroid Krasis ($12)

Oh yes indeed, this is a card. Go ahead and counter it–I already drew and gained from it anyway. This is a superlative card, one that’s going to see a lot of play. $12 is too low. I’m expecting that it’ll drop a little and then start to climb as people figure out how good it is. By next Christmas, this is back up to $20, maybe even more.

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2019, Resolved

Hello and Happy New Year!

It’s hokey as all hell, but I find that yearly resolutions keep me focused, or at least a little organized in terms of what I want to accomplish in the coming 12 months.

I’m going to list some of my favorite picks of right now, as a present for myself (and for you, dear reader!) next holiday season.

First of all, here’s a link to my resolutions from last year. How did I do?

#1: Finish the Un-Cube

Oh yeah. And it’s a blast. I prefer the seeded packs of my Uncommons Cube, but as a change of pace, or palate-cleanser, the Un-Cube is a riot. Combining the three sets, adding sets of uncommons/commons, deciding what comes out…it was an intellectual challenge. The weird thing is that while every new set/release changes what’s at uncommon, this Cube is going to be unchanging for quite a while.

#2: Attend at least 3 GPs, including #GPVegas

Done! GP Oakland, next weekend, is going to be my fourth GP in 53 weeks, and I’m doubtful that I’ll match that again for a while. I’m based on the West Coast of the USA, so we only get about one event about every four months. I’ve already decided I’m skipping GP LA this year.

#3: Meet Travis and James and Jason in person

Sadly, both Jason and Travis skipped GP Vegas this past summer, so we didn’t have a chance to meet up. Chilcott is a delight, and his dad is a hoot, flashing sealed Revised starters with no protection in his bag at dinnertime. Vegas was a great time, and I got to Cube with a lot of new folks.

#4: Stay Organized

Mostly done. I’ve got sheets to track what I spent and when, and I’m in the midst of picking my collection yet again. So many random things have spiked! The funniest so far has been the playset of Portal Goblin Lore. When did I pick those up?

#5: Buy more of my picks

Semi-accomplished. I went in on a box of UMA for $230, I did indeed pick up playsets of Hadana’s Climb for $5, and other things like Dream Eater sort of hit. I’m still waiting on Earthcraft, Winding Canyons, Soulflayer, etc., but I feel good about this year and value-wise I’m up nicely.

So what do I want to get done this year?

#1: Start a Magic club at my school

I’m a high school science teacher by day, and I don’t think any of my students read my stuff here. There’s a surprising number of people who share my name, thankfully. What I do want to do is encourage the game at my school. I built a Battle Box for quick games, but there’s enough stores in the area that I should be able to arrange sponsorships, freebies, and discounts.

#2: Finish de-randomizing the packed cards

I’ve got some binders/fat pack boxes of random stuff still in storage. I don’t think any of it’s valuable but I won’t know till I look. I do know there’s ~3000 basics and ~2000 tokens/rule cards/other inserts that I’m just going to dump in the recycle bin.

#3: Rework the sign

If you saw the playmat-sized sign flashing the words CUBE DRAFT at a GP, that was me. I don’t like the way it works, though, and it needs some work. I think I want to have the lights be on the outside, or maybe have the lights spell the words, instead of surround the words. Like anything, it’s an iterative process. First drafts are exactly that, sadly.

#4: Get all the Box Toppers

Oh, are we at that point? Very well. That’s actually my first gift to my future self: I’m trading for all the Toppers I can get, and I don’t much care which cards. Yes, even the manlands and Balefire Dragon.

Right now, if you add up all forty cards, it comes out to about $3800. By January first, 2020, it’ll be over five grand. I think Cavern of Souls has the potential to be the most expensive eventually, because it’s much more widely played than Liliana and Goyf. A Topper version of Cavern is #1 on my shopping list for GP Oakland, and while these are more common than the Inventions/Invocations, we’re at the point where you want to get these.

Usually for a Masters set, it’s about a six-month period before the cards reach their lowest, as the supply works it ways through everyone, but we’re seeing things creep back up. I find myself hoping that a second, small wave of UMA is announced, because of the dip that will follow.

An exaggerated effect of this is what happened on MTGO when the $10 million prize pool was announced. If you bought in at the crash, you made something like 20% in a week.

My second gift to your future self: The guild lands from GRN and RNA are going to all be $2+ by then. Yes, they are commonly available in the guild kits, but there’s only 8 of each and these are already close to $1 for the Izzet versions. The time will come where they are pricey. I’m picking up a dozen of each for my Cube and I’m stopping there. Probably. Maybe both Cubes.

It’s been a while since basics have been so iconic, and while I don’t see a big rise in the much-much-rarer foil versions, the nonfoils are going to get bought up, put into collections/cubes/Commander decks, and supply isn’t going to last long.

To be clear: I’m not advocating that you’ll be able to buylist these in a year for more than you’re buying them now. I’m telling you that if you’re thinking about it…get it done before the beginning of summer.

My third gift to you: Prepare for Standard+. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, and that’s something we’re going to see this year. Remember, for all the attention, Arena is still officially in open Beta. Collections aren’t going to get reset again, though, so don’t fear that problem. Make sure you’re stocked up on shocklands and buddylands.

Fourth and final gift: Get out of most M19 and Dominaria by the start of summer. Keep a playset of things you’re still using, but to illustrate my point, let’s look at Hazoret the Fervent:

How quickly we forget!

Oh look, three months before rotation, a $15 card dropped to $5. The peak was $25, the weekend Hazoret was all over the Pro Tour. If you keep some copies of Carnage Tyrant all summer, I sympathize, but that’s going to drop to sub-$10. It’s a singleton in some Modern builds, and won’t hold its price. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria looks like he’ll stay relatively strong, but he might go from $50 to $25.

Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, M19 are the sets rotating and please don’t hold onto those cards longer than you needed to.

And Happy Holidays!

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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