Category Archives: Casual Fridays

The Pattern of Growth

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By: Cliff Daigle

In the past couple of weeks, I and others have shared with you some advice on Theros block cards that are likely to go up during Khans of Tarkir block this coming fall/winter.

We aren’t basing these cards on pure chance, but on a series of previous cards that have hit a low as their block ended, then rose during the next.

Let’s go over a few of these so you can see trends to look for. I’ll be using the initial price, the 9-month price, the 14-month price, and the 2-year price. We are almost to that two-year mark, and as we get closer, prices will go even lower as the card prepares to rotate out of Standard.

Remember, all you have to do is set the slider to look into a card’s financial past.

Jace, Architect of Thought
Initial: $40
9 months: $8
14 months: $25
2 years: $5

While this cards exemplifies the trend I’m talking about, it’s far from the only one. As a planeswalker, Jace 4.0 had a high initial and preorder price, which lowered over the course of the block. He was an easy pickup at $8, and when he spiked, there was a lot if money to be made.

Desecration Demon
Initial: $3
9 months: $3
14 months: $10
2 years: $2

Pack Rat
Initial: $1 or less
9 months: $1 or less
14 months: $6
2 years: $2

desc dem

Both of these cards, as well as Underworld Connections, benefited from the rise of black devotion decks, and the reach of Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Pack Rat was a bulk rare, notable only for how impossible it was to beat in Draft or Sealed formats. Demon’s price was often lower than $3 because of the tokens everywhere his first year, especially off of Lingering Souls.

When these two hit, they hit big. They are back to a low price now because there’s no home for them in Modern, and there isn’t enough casual appeal to maintain the high price. Remember, you always want to sell into the hype. Don’t get greedy. If your $2 card hits $7 on buylists, sell or trade them all. Don’t agonize over feeling like you might miss more profit–take your profit and be happy. Just look back at Jace, AoT. He spiked then trickled down for months.

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Supreme Verdict
Initial: $5
9 months: $3
14 months: $8
2 years: $4

I don’t have a lot of money to speculate with. I prefer to trade, not purchase, but when I have a dozen that I traded for at $3 get to a buylist price of $5, that’s a really good feeling. There’s a chance this starts creeping back up, because Modern might utilize this over Wrath of God. Keep in mind that this was the buy-a-box promo, so the supply is slightly higher for casual players.

Domri Rade
Initial: $15
9 months: $10
14 months: $30
2 years: $9

Domri, as a three-drop planeswalker, has mountains to climb. Cheap ‘walkers can rarely protect themselves, but he can grind out advantages, and his interaction with Courser of Kruphix led to his abrupt spike. It’s amusing to me how much this and Xenagos both want to be in all-creature decks!

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Nightveil Specter
Initial: $2
9 months: $2
14 months: $10
2 years: $3

This was another card that went crazy with the premiere of the Devotion mechanic. It fit into the mono-black AND the mono-blue lists, both of which surged in popularity, and are still among the top archetypes. Being the Release promo didn’t make a difference to the price at all, something to keep in mind when a card is spiking.

Notable about this card is that there was a window between devotion being spoiled and this card exploding. This is why spoiler season brings out all the speculators, for good or ill. Boros Reckoner hasn’t made the same sort of impact, mainly due to the colors. Blue wants Thassa to be a creature and Master of Waves to make lots of tokens. Black wants the biggest Gray Merchant of Asphodel effect. Red does have the Fanatic of Mogis interaction, but that hasn’t proven to be as strong.

Mutavault
Initial: $15
6 months: $35
1 year: $25

These last two cards, being part of Core Sets, have a shorter time in Standard, but the curve is apparent. Started low (especially for being a reprint of a $40 card) then got very high as all sorts of decks started including the best ‘man-land’ ever, and is trickling downwards as we near rotation. It sees some Modern and Legacy play, mainly in tribal decks, but not enough to justify too high a price.

It’s a tribute to the consistency of Temples and shocklands that three-color control decks would run a few of these, often as an answer to opposing Mutavaults, but wow. Colorless lands in a three-color deck!

Archangel of Thune
Initial: $30
6 months: $15
9 months: $35
One year: $15

arch thu

There has been a real rollercoaster on this card in the past year.  As a mythic of a very popular tribe, her price is never going to be very low, especially at a measly five mana. She spiked when control decks boarded her in, a threat that grows and gains you life, and tricks with Mutavault help too.

These are only a few examples. There are historical ones too, but we need to keep an eye on what Magic is now, especially in terms of the number of cards printed.

I hope this helps you think about and identify the same trend in Magic 2015 and Khans of Tarkir!

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The Beginning of the Fall

By: Cliff Daigle

Welcome to Magic 2015!

Last week I went over some prices from this set, where I’d expect them to settle out.

This week, I want to note some current prices and start to track how fast they fall. They will almost all fall, because the release of a set will allow the mass cracking of packs, to fill preorders and stock inventory. Buylists also kick in, and let me say this clearly: if you open something amazing, trade it or buylist it ASAP. I opened a Sun’s Champion on release weekend and buylisted it for $25 cash.

So if you crack a Chain Veil, you’re going to get more for it this weekend than you are for quite a while. Trade it to that person who’s dying for it. Don’t be afraid to call it out in a store, seeking that person who wants it SO BAD!

Nissa, Worldwaker ($37) – The midweek spike on Nissa indicates that someone, or a group of someones, has decided that the preorder/prerelease price on her was too low. If this is due to testing for the Pro Tour in August, or some Standard combination of cards. (She is pretty amazing with shocklands…) We don’t know what the motivation is for this spike, but it’s happened very quickly, since the stock on this card is currently very low. We are about to get a lot more available, though, so unless she takes over quickly, her price will lower again.

Garruk, Apex Predator ($25) – The eBay price on this card has dropped about $10 in the past weeks, and at seven mana I don’t think he will be more than a two-of in decks that can play him. It is worth mentioning that in the right deck, Nissa can get Garruk out on turn four without working too hard. His price probably won’t go much below $20, from people who like playing lots of planeswalkers.

Ajani Steadfast ($15) – Here is the problem with this Ajani: at four mana, he requires others to protect him. Without other creatures, he is likely to die quickly and have no lasting effect on a game. His decline will be thorough, barring something very unusual.

Jace, the Living Guildpact ($12) – While this Jace isn’t quite as powerful as some of his brothers, his ultimate is something everyone wants to do. He starts at five loyalty, and it can go up to six immediately on turn four. That’s a lot of damage to do quickly, and if needed, his bounce is expensive but useful. Putting a card in a graveyard appears to be something that the next block will care about, so that sort of speculation will keep him from going more than a couple bucks cheaper.

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Sliver Hivelord ($12) – The downward trend has begun for a card that was preordering at $15. I would expect to see the price climb a little as Sliver EDH players scramble this week to get their singleton, and after that demand is met, there’s nowhere to go but down.

Chord of Calling ($11) – Even if there’s a Standard deck that starts playing this, it’s a core set rare. There will be lots and lots of these in circulation, and it needs to be a rather ubiquitous card (like Mutavault this past year) for such cards to keep a price. It sees some Modern play, but probably not enough to see a price increase. It will get to $7-$10 before long.

Soul of New Phyrexia ($10) – Yes, it has a neat activated ability, but this is no Aetherling. To play it and keep the ability open is going to cost 11…and won’t protect from Banishing Light and the like. The price will drop by half.

Perilous Vault ($7) – I suspect that this card won’t go much lower. It’s too good and too scarce to stay in the $5 range. This will be the bane of many Commander games, but considering how easy it is to build a graveyard recursion deck, perhaps this is for the best.

Waste Not ($7) – Dump it now. This will be lucky to stay at $2.

Hushwing Gryff ($3) – Let me talk you out of hoarding this card, looking at it like it is Aven Mindcensor‘s second coming. The Aven is a $10 uncommon because of the set it was in and the number in circulation. We don’t get the specific numbers, but a Magic 2015 rare is probably lots and lots more common than a Future Sight uncommon, solely due to the number of cards printed and players who open packs. The Gryff is not going to hit $10 based on Modern appeal, and I don’t want to hear any more Mindcensor comparisons.

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Magic 2015 Casual Appeal

By: Cliff Daigle

I want to reiterate a point I’ve made before: Trade everything you open at the prerelease. The prices are at their peak and demand is at the maximum. By all means, let people get the cards they are rabid for. Those cards are 95% guaranteed to be cheaper in two weeks, and cheaper still in six weeks.

There will always be exceptions, but the logic has served me well.

Now, let’s talk about what having casual appeal means from a financial sense. In the past couple of years, with the growth of EDH and Cubing, some cards have become very expensive, considering that the card doesn’t see play in organized formats.

Case in point: Vigor. It’s around $15 for a card that was a rare in a set that wasn’t opened heavily, is quite bad against removal and sweepers, but is terribly awesome in formats where you don’t care.

If a card has casual appeal in a new set, the price will stabilize higher than you think it should be, and then start to climb slowly over a period of a year or more. Primeval Bounty is a good example of this. It should be a bulk-price mythic, but it’s pretty awesome in casual formats (which includes the impossible-to-track ‘kitchen table’ 60-card deck builders) and never got as cheap as I thought it would.

If you pick up a card for its casual appeal, you’re looking at a long-term hold. You probably won’t be able to trade these away at a higher price for at least a year, and perhaps longer. As time goes on and the set becomes more of a memory, then prices start to creep upwards.

Capture

On to some specific cards!

Ajani Steadfast – I referred to the ‘superfriends’ style of deck when I talked about the Mentor of Heroes, and there’s an aspect of that to this card too, since it can buff your other planeswalkers. His plus ability is rather weak, and I think that says more about the designs of planeswalkers over time, because if they are too good, they are overwhelmingly good. This would be one of the first planeswalkers I cut from the deck (there are 48!) and I wouldn’t feel bad at all. I would only pick up at $5 or less.

Garruk, Apex Predator – I don’t know if seven mana is too big a cost for Standard. He’s not going to get it done in Modern or Legacy, so even if he’s too good, he’s only around for a year. I’d trade him away right now, and not worry about his price for that year. The casual appeal is high, especially with lots of ‘destroy’ abilities, but the best long-term play might be to wait until rotation in 2015 and pick him up cheap then. I’d be in if he falls to $10.

Jace, the Living Guildpact – There is a lot pointing to a graveyard theme/focus in Khans of Tarkir, and this seems like a seed planted for such things. The +1 is not as good as a scry 2, but in a deck that can utilize the graveyard, he might be amazing. He’s got very high loyalty to start, too, and a universal bounce ability will always be useful. I suspect that speculation about the next block will keep his price higher than his play warrants until the block arrives, and then we will see if he has an Architect of Thought-like spike in him.

Liliana Vess – We’ve got multiple foil promos, three printings in large sets, and this little lady keeps on keeping on. I would imagine she stays in the $5-$10 range despite the new copies on the market. 

Nissa, Worldwaker – In a format where shocklands are rampant, I’m very glad that Farseek has rotated out and isn’t legal to play with new Nissa. In casual mono-green ramp decks, she’s rather insane. I do think that she’s going to be used in EDH with great trepidation, since having your lands be creatures is a drawback. I do not expect big things out of her price.

Perilous Vault – It’s a unique effect, and it’s colorless, so it can go into any deck. Nevinyrral’s Disk used to be an auto-include for similar reasons, and this gets around everything. There is no defending this, no protection, no indestructibility. Just a big red RESET button for your game. I think that this will not go far below $10, and it’ll be something that people will want to trade off of you for quite some time.

Sliver Hivelord – There will be healthy debate over whether this or Sliver Overlord should be the default Commander of the deck. Overlord finds the Hivelord, but being indestructible is a big draw. Either way, this is a card that will likely end up around $7, and the foils will be around $30.

The Soul Cycle – The Soul of Theros will probably be a little more expensive, due to how it buffs all of your creatures, but all of these will find their way into decks. Soul of New Phyrexia is the most intriguing to me, as a colorless creature, but all them offer powerful and repeatable effects.

The Chain Veil – Another card meant for the superfriends decks, only not good enough in Standard. In Standard, if you’re consistently activating ‘walkers, you’re ahead anyway. This is a ‘win more’ kind of card, and that’s the sort of card we love in casual circles! Four mana to use one Planeswalker twice is great, but if you have two or more than it’s just broken. It’ll be a niche card, so likely closer to $4 than $10, but the foils on this might get a very high premium. This is also an excellent candidate for a special printing, a Judge foil or some such.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled – I’m dying to put this in every EDH deck I can. It’s so powerful and it punishes so hard. I want to cheat it into play with Kaalia. I want to Pod it into play in response to things. I want to ramp into it and then laugh as others squirm. I don’t believe his price will ever be higher than a couple of dollars, or any of the five legends, but the foils might end up being a different story.

Scuttling Doom Engine – This might be a surprise card in the coming year. It’s big, reasonably costed, and doesn’t mind getting killed. It reminds me a lot of Thragtusk.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth – I hope you got rid of any nonfoils you have, because the supply on this is about to go up by at least three times what it was. Scarcity was the only reason the price was so high, and that problem is now solved.

Enjoy your prerelease!

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The Right and the Wrong of the Past Year

By: Cliff Daigle

Last week, I went over five of my best articles of the past year. Today, I’d like to go over some assorted statements I got right and wrong, and perhaps why.

The bad news first.

Planning Ahead for Commander 2013

I made two specific predictions in here. One, that the Zendikar fetches would be reprinted in these decks. Oops. But then again, we’re going to predict those reprints over and over again until they happen, because everyone wants them to happen.

I also said that the foil versions of Command Tower would be breaking $20 when these decks came out, and they have actually ticked downward. I still like picking these up in foil, as there’s been only two ways to get it in foil, and neither of which is easy to find in trade. As soon as someone trades for it, it goes into a deck.

Cents and Sensibility

While I firmly believe that Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is a plant for the coming block, it’s getting difficult to stomach trading for something at $10 and seeing it dip to the nearly $5 it’s at now.

I’m only in for a dozen copies, so if it doesn’t pan out, I’m not too deeply in the red, but it’ll sting. I’d be likely to just sit on them and wait for the casual appeal to tick it back upward,

To happier subjects! Meaning, what have I been right about?

Where’s the Price Drop?

I stand by this, not in a financial sense but in a self-assessment sort of way. It’s important both professionally and personally that when you make a mistake, you look at why you made that error and how you can avoid it.

I think my biggest error there was overestimating how much M14 was opened. Several rares and mythics from that set have kept a high price despite seeing low numbers in play. All of M14 is about to rotate, and people have started to move on.

Side note: Garruk, Caller of Beasts has a Fair Trade price under $10. I’m trying hard to get these because they are just outstanding in any casual format. A plus ability that digs deep? Sold.

Are You a Collector?

You need to know this. Everything’s a reprint! Everything! This is sound financial advice, especially as we see Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Chord of Calling as incoming reprints. I believe that the originals will take a hit but they needed to. They didn’t see enough tournament play for their prices.

Don’t trade or buy cards that can be reprinted based on their scarcity. Pick them up based on how well they would survive a reprint.

Neat Tricks with MTGPrice

This is the first article I refer people to. There are a lot of features built into this site and you should take advantage. Prices, ProTrader, and more. I use these constantly and you should too.

I’m going to link to another article but it’s not yet time for me to evaluate how well I did:

October Price Rotation Targets

In a couple of months, I’ll be able to give that the right amount of time to see how well I did. Some I was right, some I was wrong. That’s one I’m looking forward to, mostly. Some things, I’m dreading.

Join me next week when we go over some Magic 2015 cards!

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