Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Jumping the Start

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Look, I get it. We have Core 2021 leaks/previews going on now, we’re about to start preview season in earnest. 

We also have Double Masters coming up soon, and what feels like tons of Mystery Boosters on their way to retailers.

We might even get our local stores open soon! We know we aren’t getting any MagicFests in 2020, but today I want to focus on a product called Jumpstart that is going to be released in about six weeks. 

Let’s dive in with what we know and what value is to be gained.

First, the basics. We’re looking at the official Jumpstart page and the Draftsim aggregation. We’re getting more than 500 cards in this set, a number that would have seemed ludicrous before Mystery Booster showed up and blew us away.

There are exactly 37 new cards in this set, legal only in Commander, Vintage, and Legacy. This is where the value is likely going to be concentrated, but we’ll come back to that in a moment. We’re also getting about 120 reprints from Core 2021, leaving us 350 reprints of existing cards. We don’t know yet if there’s going to be foils, or Box Toppers, or Showcase cards of some kind. 

We did get told that there’s no foils, but I’d be surprised if there were no special versions, and special can mean a lot of things. 

The set is designed to be played like this: Grab two packs (20 cards to a pack) and combine them together. Each booster has a theme that won’t be apparent from the outside, and this is designed to be this sort of mix-and-play experience. If you dig randomness (which I truly do!) then this promises to be fun.

What I want to think about is that with 350 reprints and a short list of known themes, there’s some higher risk-of-reprints out there that I want to get out of. 

Here’s the list of themes alluded to so far, and keep in mind that some of the themes are ‘Mythic Rare’, meaning that they will have only one set of 20, whereas other themes can have a random selection of themed cards. For each of these, I’m going to list a likely reprint and a dream reprint. We don’t have pricing for this yet either. This is only part of the 46 themes, too. The cards in this set are going to be Historic-legal too, and that will inform the picks I’m making.

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“Above the Clouds” (Quite likely flying as a theme)
Should be: Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Will be: Sephara, Sky’s Blade
Flying is UW territory, and Linvala hasn’t been printed in a couple of years. Sephara is a payoff for playing a bunch of small flyers, and bringing her back in sequential Core Sets is not a huge deal. 
Cats 
Should be: Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Will be: Brimaz, King of Oreskos
This is a pretty easy call, as Brimaz hasn’t been printed in forever and has a good price tag. That price will drop, though, so you should move out on the extra copies you have in your binder.
Doctor
Should be: Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Will be: Liliana, Heretical Healer
I don’t think they are going to go Cleric here, and these two line up nicely in terms of characters and abilities. 
Eldrazi
Should be: It that Betrays
Will be: Void Winnower
I don’t think they are going to add any other legendary Eldrazi to Historic, and It That Betrays would be too awesome given all the sacrifice triggers running around. Void Winnower fits with the recent even/odd cards they’ve printed.
Elf
Should be: Norwood Priestess
Will be: Beast Whisperer
Too many people have never played with a more fair Timmy, Power Gamer, and this would make me super happy. Oracle of Mul Daya is another juicy target, but I think in the end we’re going to get a boring, efficient, and inexpensive card.
Garruk
Should be: Garruk, Apex Predator
Will be: Garruk Wildspeaker
I don’t think they’ll do two colors in these packs, so we’ll get the OG version who has never been able to get expensive or cheap, because of strong demand and regular reprints. I’d expect his Packleader, Horde, and Companion to come along as well.
Goblins
Should be: Dockside Extortionist
Will be: Goblin Wizard
This is a pipe dream of mine. The Wizard is impressively efficient if allowed to live, and breaks the mirror right in half. Extortionist needs a reprint badly, even though Limited isn’t the best spot for this ability the price is too high and will fall abruptly when it’s reprinted.
Hounds
Should be: Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Will be: Isamaru, Hound of Konda
I’m surprised to find that this goodboye hasn’t had a reprint since the original appearance in Champions of Kamigawa. He is a Mystery Booster foil, but given that we aren’t ever going to get to open much of the Retail Edition, I don’t think that has a huge bearing. I understand, those of you who are mad at the wide range of Cats, but Hounds are a tiny subtribe.
Phyrexians
Should be: Phyrexian Altar
Will be: Phyrexian Crusader
I want the big value here, from a card that just blew by being reprinted in Ultimate Masters. Another reprint wouldn’t keep it down for long. Instead, we will get middling value and a wrecking ball of a Limited card. 
Pirates
Should be: Dockside Extortionist
Will be: Hostage Taker
I know I said they’d avoid two colors, but there’s nothing more ‘what’s yours is mine’ than the UB pirate, but this would be a stunning place to get the Extortionist too.
Spooky
Should be: Kokusho, the Evening Star
Will be: Ghostway
This is just a guess, but Lingering Souls at rare would be understandable too. That card is far too busted at uncommon.
Unicorns
Should be: Feast of the Unicorn
Will be: ????They are going to print some new Unicorn here that will be worth money.
Vampires
Should be: Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Will be: Vampire Nocturnus
Vampires sorely need a lord, a payoff, and this is it. Historic Vamps will totally be a thing, and a fun one if you like a touch of chaos. I’m quite certain that in M10 they never figured White as the secondary color for the Vampire tribe.
Walls
Should be: Tree of Perdition
Will be: Tree of Perdition
Sure, Bant gets stuff like Arcades to animate walls, but I’m eager to see this killer wall come back into vogue.
Wizard
Should be: Thrasios, Triton Hero
Will be: Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
I won’t be shocked if all the Origins flip-walkers are in this set. They are neat to play with and quite fair. Thrasios isn’t, and I shudder to think of a Historic format where this and Kinnan are both payoffs for big mana decks.

Even if my picks are wrong, Jumpstart is going to offer us money. It’s meant to be a fun summer diversion, something that will perfectly fill downtime at a MagicFest or other events. Instead, it’s going to be crammed between other releases: Core 2021, the flagship of summer, and Double Masters, the high-value reprint festival. There will be a very short window to buy this and play this, and that means you should stock up on the reprints (not a lot of copies going into circulation) and the new cards (ditto) when we’re all going gaga for the cards in Double Masters.

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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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Remastered

Wizards said that Ultimate Masters would be the last Masters set for a while. 

That was November 2018, and now we’re finding out that in August, they are back. Understandably, some people are upset and trying to avoid holding things that are about to be reprinted. We know a couple of cards already, and Double Masters has a bit of a theme they say, so if you’re picking up Twincast right now you might be unhappy when we get the full list.

But take a breath. We need to talk about what previous Masters sets have done to prices and what to do if some of your favorite specs get caught in the reprint vortex.

Let’s start with two iconic creatures of Modern: Noble Hierarch and Tarmogoyf, both of whom have had multiple printings. 

I put a purple dot on the timeline for the approximate time the card was reprinted, both of these have had that multiple times and finally in Ultimate Masters again.

What I want you to see is that the price recovered each time, until this most recent time. Noble was nearly $100 at one point, and the Goyf was famously a $200 card even in the reprint version. (For a laugh, go back and read Pascal Maynard’s article after picking foil ‘Goyf over the perfect Burst Lightning in pack 3 of his top 8 draft, I would have taken the shiny one too!)

So for these staples to lose value and stay down, two things had to happen: several targeted reprints and a big format shift.

Both of these cards were reprinted in multiple sets, and the two-drop was even mythic for most of those. The bigger news is that in late 2019, Pioneer was launched, and that’s caused a drop in a lot of Modern prices as people played less of that format and more of the new one. 

That’s what it will take for cards to go low and stay low…and that might not even be enough.

What you have to figure out is why a card is expensive, and that will tell you if the reprint will damage the price long-term, or if it’ll rebound in a year. A whole lot of the Modern Masters sets have that rebound, simply because people need the cards, and in a lot of cases, playsets of the card. Hierarch is not something you add one or two of to a deck; it’s a card you’re really hoping is in the opening hand and you wouldn’t mind drawing two.

Those two cards are staples of Modern. Let’s look at a more niche card that was expensive not because of play, but from pure scarcity: Daybreak Coronet.

Easy to forget that this was a $30 card until it was printed in Modern Masters 2015, when only one deck wanted four copies. As a rare in Future Sight, there weren’t that many copies to go around, but once there was a new supply, the price dropped and stayed dropped. Being in Ultimate Masters was the nail in the coffin, and this’ll never break $10 again.

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This is what’s going to happen with Mana Crypt. You can’t reprint a card over and over again and have it maintain its price. Yes, it’ll be pricey, but the Eternal Masters version is at $175, Mystery Booster is $140, and the Double Masters will be cheaper yet. There’s a lot of other versions to chase, but these will all have the same art and the other prices will come down.

Constructed formats aren’t the only drivers though: Commander moves prices too, arguably more than any format besides Standard. Commander prices are a bit more real to me, because you’re not buying a playset, you’re buying one copy per deck. You have to have four times as many people wanting a card. For me, the example of this cycle is Doubling Season:

I’m convinced they could print this yearly at Mythic and it would be a $30 card. So many copies of this don’t get into circulation, because when you open one, you either put it in a deck that needs it or you trade it to someone else who needs it.

However, the rules of demand work the other way as well in Commander, as evidenced by Collective Voyage:

This was $15 in the summer of 2016 but only because it hadn’t been printed since 2011. A reprint in Commander 2016 destroyed the value because not enough players needed a copy for their deck. This is what’s going to happen to some specific cards that haven’t gotten many reprints, like Kaalia of the Vast. She was in the first Commander set in 2011, then the Commander’s Arsenal, and finally the first Commander Anthology. She’s never been in booster packs, and it looks like we’re going to devour Double Masters. I would be surprised if new copies went for more than $10.

Let’s look at a couple of cards that might be in Double Masters:

Time Stretch ($17-$70, 10th edition and Odyssey)

Sure, we could get something like Time Warp for one extra turn, but I think the prices are right to give this a reprint. This doesn’t have the exile clause that newer cards tend to have, and cheaper spells exist. I’d love to try casting this in Limited! A reprint here would end up at about $7 or less though, as the supply is the problem currently, not the demand. 

Kalonian Hydra ($20-$30, M14 and C16)

This would fall to $5 and start recovering not long after, because the doubling effect fits into a wide range of decks. It’s displayed this pattern before, and has had just enough reprint via the second Anthology to keep the price from skyrocketing. Also, this would be a nice treat for all the Zaxara the Exemplary decks that just got built!

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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Where to, Ikoria?

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.

Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast ($11, up from $10)

If you follow a few Magic professionals on Twitter, you’ll have heard that some form of Lukka Jeskai Fires is the best deck in Standard. Oliver Tiu went farther: 

I played Standard back then, and I was too busy playing eight fetchlands in Mono-Black Vampires in order to help Vampire Nocturnus be amazing. I don’t have a comprehensive view of Standard through the ages, but I can tell you that on Arena, that stupid deck is resilient and powerful.

Lukka has avoided the downturn in prices that most of Ikoria has felt, being a four-of in the best deck ever surely helps with that. The deck has also avoided having something banned so far, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

The metagame share isn’t as dominant as the deck’s adherents would have you believe, though. Lots of decks are putting up 5-0 finishes, but the power of this deck is the redundancy and the thievery, thanks to Agent of Treachery. 

The main point here is that Lukka’s price has resisted falling due to the wave of product delivery, and the only thing keeping me from diving in is Agent’s rotation in October. I would expect this price to stay firm or even rise a little farther, depending on when paper Magic events start up again.

The Triomes ($5-$7)

These are up about a dollar each, on average, and I think that’s the Commander crowd diving in. These are AWESOME in Commander, as long as you’re playing colors that match up with some of the Triomes. It also helps that two very popular decks, Temur Reclamation and the aforementioned Jeskai Fires, each have a Triome of their own to play. That alone would keep the price high, but the price to really pay attention to is the cost of owning a Foil Showcase version of each of these. They were nearly $20 earlier in the week, but have bumped up to the $25-$30 range. It’s not clear how much inventory of Ikoria Collector Boosters is still going to be opened, but having rares in that range will do a lot to shore up the value.

This week, I bought the seven foil EA Triomes I needed (My Ur-Dragon deck is getting five of them!) and I’m glad I did it now. The basic versions are a lock to get reprinted at some point, we’ve got Commander Masters later this year and that’s a draftable set which will desperately want powerhouse fixing.

Here’s the sort of graph I’m expecting for the Triomes:

It won’t happen this week, or even this month, but these are too good, too flexible, and popping up in enough formats that these will be $10 by Thanksgiving (presuming no reprint).

Shark Typhoon ($4, up from $3)

Interestingly ,there was a time about a month ago where this was being sold for nearly $10 before people came to their damn senses. It’s trended downwards, as has almost everything in the set, but being a big part of Fires, Control, and Reclamation decks is something that will get a price going back up.

There’s no shortage of six-mana enchantments that do wonderful things, but the cycling ability on this one is hitting it out of the park, causing people to not flinch at playing three or four of these. Don’t overlook that it’s not only uncounterable (unless you’re meta enough to pack Tale’s End) but it gets by Teferi, Time Raveler’s static ability. 

Control decks will always exist and want some number of this card, and Fires decks will exist in some flavor for the next year and a half. I’d hope that this fell down to $2 by the end of Ikoria’s season, giving it plenty of time to rebound up into $5 at some point.The rest of the set has fallen hard. This is good from a speculative standpoint, and it’s nice that some part of Standard is accessible. The Apex cycle is delightfully cheap, if you’re thinking about getting in for Commander or fun mutate decks. Extinction Event is awesomely inexpensive, and four-mana Wrath effects are always going to be worth playing.

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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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. 

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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