Category Archives: Common Cents

Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

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Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze is playing out this weekend in San Diego. While it’s true the Block format the Pro Tour features this time around isn’t widely played, it can provide a sneak peek into which cards may be good in Standard once the Innistrad block rotates out in a few months. Therefore, even though there might be a dominant deck, the cards found within the deck may not drastically rise since few people play the Block format. However, it will still definitely be worth keeping track of the popular cards, as they may be the key building blocks for Standard in a few months’ time, and may foreshadow which strategies will do well, and which cards may raise in price.

Speaking of looking ahead to future Standard, I would sell all the Standard-legal Reanimator pieces right now, such as Angel of Serenity. Why? Because Scavenging Ooze is going to be reprinted in M14. This legacy staple has a very high power level, and will see high levels of play regardless of how prevalent Reanimator decks appear in the metagame. In legacy, some have said they prefer to play this card instead of Tarmogoyf, because it can get as big as Tarmogoyf – if not bigger – relatively easily, and they like the utility of graveyard hate attached to a major threat. The effectiveness of Scavenging Ooze at removing cards from the graveyard, combined with providing a relatively quick clock, will definitely put a crimp in the plans of what Reanimator decks are trying to do.

Plasm Capture as of May 19, 2013
Plasm Capture as of May 19, 2013

One strong interaction in Standard that hasn’t yet seen widespread play is Plasm Capture into Aetherling (or the more commonly used Sphinx’s Revelation). Aetherling is a stupendous creature; it is virtually impossible to kill, and because of its built in evasion and pump, it ends games very quickly once it has been cast. It does cost a bit of mana to play, but once it enters the battlefield, it has a significant impact on the game. With Plasm Capture being available, it enables the deck to counter a spell on turn four, and then next turn cast Aetherling and leave mana up to flicker Aetherling if needed to make it impervious to any removal spells. With Plasm Capture and Aetherling both only costing around $4, they both have room to grow if this synergy gains traction.

Have fun watching the Pro Tour this weekend. I’m very excited to see which decks and cards will do well.

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Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the Wurm. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast.

Grand Prix Portland is coming up this weekend, which brings Modern cards to the forefront of peoples’ minds again. However, this is an out-of-season format, so if there’s an unexpected deck or card that does well and jumps up in price, I would unload any copies you’ve obtained quickly. People will soon realize that the Modern PTQ season is still over half a year away. That realization will cause the cards’ price to swiftly drop again until the Modern PTQ season approaches, so make sure you have an outlet where you can rapidly sell any card you speculate on for this tournament.

One card that I believe is primed to rise in price due to Grand Prix Portland is Beck // Call. Elves is the brand new deck that is made possible by Beck // Call; a Glimpse of Nature clone. Glimpse of Nature is banned from the Modern format for being too powerful, and is currently at $25. Beck // Call has the same effect as Glimpse of Nature for a miniscule one additional blue mana, and is a bargain at a meager $2. With both the Fetchlands and Shocklands available in the Modern format, the additional color requirement is not much of an issue. The additional mana cost is a little annoying, but Modern is not a super-fast format right now, since Storm and Eggs got banned, and the Elves deck is good at generating extra mana. In addition, Beck // Call can be more powerful than Glimpse of Nature in certain situations: Glimpse of Nature demands a creature spell to be played to satisfy the prerequisite to draw a card, whereas Beck // Call merely needs a creature to enter the battlefield. This difference can become relevant if you want to fetch a Dryad Arbor into play mid-combo, where it will draw you an additional card if you’ve played Beck // Call, whereas with Glimpse of Nature it will have accomplished nothing.

Switching gears over to Standard, I think that token and populate cards have a great opportunity to rise in price. Advent of the Wurm is a terrific card that has already seen some success at last weekend’s SCG Open. With the addition of Advent of the Wurm to the token arsenal, a dedicated token deck might be ready to become a contender; there might finally be enough under-costed token creators to make a potent token themed deck. Token creators such as Call of the Conclave, the angel from an attacking Geist of Saint Traft, and Advent of the Wurm are all prime populate targets.

Because of the abundance of quality token creatures, I would keep my eye on Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, Scion of Vitu-Ghazi, and perhaps on Growing Ranks as well. Trostani was $15 at one point, and only dropped down to its current price of $5 because there weren’t enough quality targets to populate. With Advent of the Wurm added to that cache, Trostani could easily double in price.

Scion of Vitu-Ghazi is an army all in one card; at worst it’s essentially a Cloudgoat Ranger, which saw lots of play when Lorwyn was in Standard. However, most of the time it will be able to create an additional copy of the best creature on your battlefield, in addition to bringing its 4/4 body and bird token into play. At a measly $1, there is very little risk in trading for this card.

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Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

All the cards from Dragon’s Maze have finally been spoiled. The new cards from Dragon’s Maze have enabled several two-card-combos that have significant potential in both the Standard and Modern formats. These cards may not fit into ready-made decks, but they are just waiting for a prospective deckbuilder to find the right fit for them to rise in value.

Beginning with Standard, we now have the Whispering Madness plus Notion Thief combo. When these two cards are played together, they add up to your opponent discarding their hand while you draw an abundance of cards. I think you can usually manage to win after achieving that. Right now Whispering Madness is at the low price of $0.68, so the entry cost to get in on this card is very low.

Whispering Madness as of April 23, 2013.
Whispering Madness as of April 23, 2013.

While it is debatable how tournament worthy this combo is, casual appeal alone should drive this card up to a few dollars at least. Other options besides Whispering Madness that also combine with Notion Thief are Reforge the Soul, if you want to dip into red, and Otherworld Atlas for double the card draw with no downside. These support cards that combo with Notion Thief are all under a dollar right now, so there is very little risk in speculating in these cards. Even if the price doesn’t go up, they should trade very well because of this combo, so you can just flip them into something else you want. If you want to use this combo in Modern, any symmetrical draw effect such as Howling Mine works well.

The next combo is best utilized in Modern, where we can take advantage of Intruder Alarm plus Beck and Call. When Beck was first spoiled, the price of Cloudstone Curio immediately shot up to $10.00. Intruder Alarm has the potential to follow that same rise, as it is not immediately apparent which combo piece the Modern Elves deck wants to use in conjunction with Beck. Intruder Alarm works better at creating massive amounts of mana, while Cloudstone Curio is better at drawing extra cards after Beck has been played. Whichever card (or maybe it will be both) ends up getting played in the Elves deck, I expect it will maintain a high value, as Elves was among the most powerful decks in Modern before Glimpse of Nature became banned.

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The last combo I’ll write about for today is Death’s Shadow plus Varolz, the Scar-Striped, to be used in Modern. With Varolz in play, any Death’s Shadows that are in the graveyard can be scavenged back to grant a permanent +13/+13 to a creature.

Death's Shadow as of April 23, 2013.
Death’s Shadow as of April 23, 2013.

One good aspect of Death’s Shadow is that you have control over whether you want to play it immediately to see it die for its scavenge counters, or to hold onto it to use as a big creature later on, depending on your situation. I could easily see these cards fitting into a Vengevine deck, along with all the other usual suspects.

One last note for now: Staff of Domination was just unbanned in EDH, so don’t forget to adjust your price accordingly when trading! The foil price, especially, has gone up.

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Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

Last week I talked about how better, more accurate pricing information provides an advantage when trading. This week I’ll talk about another method to utilize to get an advantage while trading.

A resource that has been very useful to me has been the ProTrader Daily Market Updates I get from MTGPrice. This daily email update lets me know which cards are rising (or falling) sharply in price, so I can join in on the buying action before all the stores realize the trend and raise their prices. In addition to a card price change update, the email also includes a card stock inventory update, which keeps track of various stores’ supply of a card. If the inventory supply of a card goes down by a lot, that’s a good indicator that demand is high and the price is likely to increase. This information is especially useful on Pro-Tour and Grand Prix weekends, as there are often brand new decks that employ previously overlooked cards that will rocket up in price.

One example of when I utilized the ProTrader Update was the weekend of Grand Prix San Diego (Modern format) on March 16th. I woke up on Saturday morning, checked my ProTrader Update email from MTGPrice, and saw this information staring back at me from amongst the cards of interest:

Percent Price Change of Ajani Vengeant Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I thought these numbers were interesting, as Ajani Vengeant had jumped up in price by almost three dollars, and risen by 50% of its value overnight. Next, I scrolled down to check on the Inventory Change of the card and saw this:

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Percent Inventory Change of Ajani Vengeant Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This information let me know that the number of cards available to buy on the market had already been halved, and confirmed that demand for Ajani Vengeant had become very strong.

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I was now very intrigued by this card, and clicked on the link to take me to the price graphs on MTGPrice, so I could see the history of what is going on with Ajani Vengeant. When I saw the graph, all the stores had kept their prices the same except for ChannelFireball, who overnight had more than doubled their price by raising it from $5 to $12. They alone were responsible for the increase in price on MTGPrice.com. Now remember, I received all this information on Saturday morning before even the first round of the Grand Prix had been played. Since ChannelFireball had drastically raised their price on Ajani Vengeant, I could deduce that the deck their team planned on playing that day both heavily utilized that card, and that they were very confident in their deck choice. The ChannelFireball team was convinced that they would do well at the Grand Prix, and since the new addition to their deck was Ajani Vengeant, they decided to preemptively raise the price of that card on their website.

Since I now knew that team ChannelFireball was going to play Ajani Vengeant at the Grand Prix, I had inside information to guide my buying decisions. When the ChannelFireball team has a deck that everyone on the team likes and plays, they usually get at least one person into the top 8 of that tournament. I put my trust in the team as well, and started buying up all of the Ajani Vengeants from the websites that still had them at low prices. I bought dozens of copies from stores at $3-$5 (depending on which version I bought), and have now sold most of mine away for $8-$10, a tidy profit of $5 per card, more than doubling the money I put into this investment.

The emails I get from the ProTrader Daily Market Updates are a great tool to keep me ahead of pricing changes on cards. As you can see from the example in this article, sometimes you can even figure out which cards pro players are going to use in their decks before the tournament even starts. Use all the information at your disposal to keep ahead of the change in prices.

Bonus PTQ tip:
I expect a lot of Turbo Fog decks in the online standard PTQ on Sunday; it has a terrific matchup against the current bogeyman of the format, Junk Rites. After Turbo Fog placed 2nd in last Saturday’s PTQ, I faced off against it three times in the PTQ the next day. In addition to that, this past week the best bow-tie-wearing magic player Roberto Gonzalez (9th place at Pro Tour Gatecrash) stated he was pretty sure he was playing Fog in the PTQ, and Todd Anderson wrote an article about the deck and played it in the PTQs himself last weekend. The best ways to beat the deck are with Skullcrack (completely dominates the card Fog) in conjunction with being faster than Turbo Fog can set up its’ defenses, discard (although Turbo Fog does bring in 3-4 Witchbane Orbs), or with Planeswalkers.

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