Category Archives: Going Mad

Going Mad – Spring is Here

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By: Derek Madlem

Like a bear that catches the scent of spring it’s time to crawl out of your cave and care about Magic again. I admit that the last couple months have been exceptionally unexciting for me and that I had a real hard time paying any attention to the game. It’s really hard to care about another week of Siege Rhino, but there’s gotta be an end in sight right?

Modern

This past weekend we saw some major Modern action in Cincinnati, with 1,000 players showing up to sling some spells. While Wizards of the Coast is still trying to reconcile the discrepancy between the cards they’re trying to sell and the formats we want to play, players and speculators alike are setting the secondary market ablaze.

Leading into this weekend the new hot fire was Bx Eldrazi, or as I prefer to call it: BadTron. This deck capitalizes on the interaction between Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Eye of Ugin. Eye of Ugin effectively taps for three mana when casting colorless Eldrazi spells…you know things like Oblivion Sower and Wasteland Strangler, add in a few Eldrazi Temples and you have a deck full of Ancient Tombs, minus any drawbacks. While this deck seemed at first to be the next big thing, it ultimately didn’t put up very great results with only a single copy in the top 32.

Turns out that Urza’s real estate combined with his robot butler are just a more powerful threat when it comes to casting big stupids in Modern, but that didn’t stop the speculation:

Eldrazi Temple – $7+
Eye of Ugin – $25+
Relic of Progenitus – $7+

Yeah…maybe we’re going a little deep combining Relic of Progenitus and the processors we saw in Battle for Zendikar, but it does draw a card! These cards are already coming back down to Earth as armchair vendors are digging through their bulk boxes and draft scraps for Eldrazi Temples and Relics of Progenitus and flooding the market, there’s probably still a time to cash in. If you’re like me, all your Eldrazi Temples cost you was not throwing them away, so any dollar amount is basically pure profit. I expect we haven’t seen the last of this archetype as there is sure to be more “colorless” Eldrazi in Oath of the Gatewatch to benefit from Eye of Ugin’s cost reduction powers, but I’m feeling pretty fine calling this the high tide marker for this archetype.

We’re also seeing the beginnings of another price surge for Modern staples, Scalding Tarn has always been a good barometer of things to come and it’s price is reaching a boiling point…in any other week the 19% increase would be pretty impressive, but it’s buried under a list of Eldrazi nonsense that’s casually up 300%.

Spoilers

Official spoiler season is now under way. So far what we’re seeing out of Oath of the Gatewatch is a heavy planeswalker subtheme and a ton of cards that get cheaper when you (or your 2HG partner) are casting multiple spells in a single turn. While the Surge cards are hardly exciting, the planeswalker related spells so far have been pretty sweet. I know that my five color planeswalker EDH is already out of room, so I may have to break it into a Super Friends deck and a Legion of Doom deck just to contain all the planeswalkery goodness.

Oath of Gideon

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I’m not planning on being particularly crazy for many cards in Oath of the Gatewatch, thanks largely in part to Expeditions making another appearance and the extreme internetification of Magic, but these cards do give us some insight into what people will be trying to build in the future. Just as Battle for Zendikar reignited the fire for Eldrazi related things (looking at you Spawnsire of Ulamog), I expect Oath’s planeswalker accessories to push other planeswalker accessories in popularity. Like what?

How about everyone’s favorite planeswalker related card:

Doubling Season

Doubling Season comes from a time before planeswalkers and sort of backdoors the rules based on some quirky wording, but the long and short of it is that your planeswalkers all enter the battlefield with twice as much loyalty which is usually enough to use their ultimate immediately.

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Doubling Season is a pretty low-risk spec target because this card has been popular for years and years. The ability to effect all varieties of counters AND token creatures gives this card plenty of appeal. Doubling Season also feels relatively safe from reprinting because we’ve seen Wizards intentionally printing around Doubling Season without being doubling season (Primal Vigor, Parallel Lives, etc).

Ajani Steadfast

If there any card that says “play with planeswalkers” it’s Ajani Steadfast. Ajani is pretty much every planeswalker’s best friend as he tromps through the multiverse being the exact opposite of every cat I’ve ever known – helpful and caring. Steadfast has been sitting pretty flat with a very gradual decline forever despite being one of the most synergistic planeswalkers you could include in a Super Friends deck. At $6, this sees like a pretty safe pick up as the worst case scenario here is that you still have a planeswalker.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes

Ajani does what Ajani, Mentor of Heroes does – helps planeswalkers. Like a cat sifting through a litter box, Ajani sifts through your deck hoping to get his sock hooks on some planeswalker friends. Ajani has been pretty stable since rotation thanks to saying things like “put counters on dudes” and “gain a hundo life” but the desire for planeswalkery things might reignite the demand for this iteration of Ajani.

The Chain Veil

Finally we come to the penultimate planeswalker toy, The Chain Veil. This card is hovering just over a buck and that seems like a modern Greek tragedy to me. Getting double activations out of your planewalkers seems to be living the dream. This card seems like an easy home run if the desire to make planeswalker decks takes hold, and why wouldn’t it?

Oath of Nissa

So a green Ponder with the casual bonus of fixing your mana for planeswalker spells? This is a card that I expect to see heavy play in a lot of green decks. I’m honestly confused how this card even exists with Wizards being so heavily against cantrips in general…oh no I can’t delve it away, it must be garbage!

Really looking forward to grabbing a few foil copies of this card and riding them off into the sunset.

The Other Tribe

Zendikar is home to another tribe that is due for a jump in popularity.

General Tazri

Yes, it is a white card. Yes you can use it as your Commander in a five color ally deck. Thanks to the Bosh rule, legendary creatures can be commanders for decks featuring the colors of mana that appear in their text box. I wouldn’t go crazy buying up all the Angelic Captains you can get your hands on, but there are some sweet allies hiding in Zendikar and Worldwake that are pretty much essential for any deck featuring Tazri as a commander:

Harabaz Druid
Kabira Evangel
Kazuul Warlord
Sea Gate Loremaster
Turntimber Ranger

A couple of these have already drawn the attention of speculators and reached a few dollars, but most are available under a buck. Sure, Allies.dec is just a different iteration of Slivers.dec but for now it’s the budget version and that gives it some pretty broad appeal. I can tell you with fairly good certainty that my shop is already devoid of allies.

With a number of these rares costing less than $1, there’s not a lot of risk involved in buying a small stack and waiting until the casual crowd figures it out in a few weeks.

(Un)bannings?

There’s been a lot of talk (again) about Amulet Bloom getting a ban because it’s “so good” and “unstoppable”. The deck can do insane things, there’s no doubting that. The stories of a player casting Primeval Titan twice on turn two are spreading like wildfire across the internet…how can such a deck be allowed to exist!? I can have a Primeval Titan on turn 2!? ERMAGHERD!!!

Modern is format with plenty of ridiculous crap happening on turn two, have you heard about Griselbrand? How about Glistener Elf? Both of these cards are capable of turn two kills and aren’t constantly the subject of witch hunts…why Amulet of Vigor? The deck is hard to play, IT MUST BE WITCHCRAFT!!

This time around…it might happen. Wizards doesn’t often listen to people (or reason), but when they do, it’s usually a high profile member of the community and we’ve had no shortage of high profile Magic players saying “OMG Amulet is insane, it has to be banned” on social media. I don’t agree with a ban here if Glistener Elf is allowed to roam free but I’m starting to believe it’s a real possibility.

Stoneforge Mystic

Stoneforge Mystic is your Grand Prix promo for the next year. What does this mean? Wizards hates Legacy and wants nothing more than for it to crawl under the porch and die, so it’s unlikely they’re pushing a Legacy staple as their GP promo which leaves us pretty much one option: it’s going to be Modern legal soon.

I’ve long been a proponent of Stoneforge Mystic coming off the ban list in Modern with one stipulation: Batterskull goes on. We don’t have to worry about Umezawa’s Jitte becoming a problem because it’s basically going to stay banned forever, but Batterskull is the card that broke Stoneforge. Sword of Feast and Famine was sweet, but it was the recyclable 4/4 creature with lifelink and vigilance for two mana that really pushed things over the top and lead to Stoneforge being banned in Standard and pre-banned in Modern before it even had a chance to be broken.

What goes up with an unbanning? Well Stoneforge for a while, it takes a few months for those GP promos to really run their course. The real winners are going to be the most playable swords: Fire and Ice, Feast and Famine, & War and Peace in that order. These are already commander all stars so if they start seeing any Modern play you can expect the needle to move on these pretty quickly.

Or maybe they’re mentally unstable and don’t ban Batterskull immediately, in which case you can expect those to skyrocket.


 

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Going Mad – A Magical Year, 2015

By: Derek Madlem

No matter how you look at it, 2015 has been a big year for Magic. From a personal standpoint, 2015 has brought about the biggest changes for my personal connection to Magic in all of the years of playing. Seeing as it’s the end of the year and I’m not really interested in forcing an article about the rares featured in the Oath of the Gatewatch intro packs, how about a year in review? Glad you’re as excited as I am.

Khans of Tarkir

Yeah, technically this was released in 2014, but who are we kidding? Khans of Tarkir rang in the new year as the second coming of Christ and that momentum is carrying through to this day. From an #mtgfinance standpoint, Khans was very important lesson in aggregate pricing in modern Magic releases. When a single cycle of cards soaks up so much of the expected value from a box, the price of everything else collapses. Even Siege Rhino, one of the most powerful and most played creatures of all time, couldn’t maintain a price above $5 thanks to the fetch lands soaking up so much of the set’s value.

Fate Reforged

Fate Reforged was ultimately a gimmick set. It was a small set that was meant as a pivot point to be drafted with two separate large sets and is likely to be the first and last time we ever see that gimmick play out. The overall reception for Fate Reforged was not incredible despite having a decent concentration of powerful and expensive cards including Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Monastery Mentor. Even the bonus inclusion of a fetchland in every box wasn’t enough to keep this set from falling to the wayside in short order.

Vending

It wasn’t long after the release of Fate Reforged that I got my first shot working as an MTG buyer. Two Headed Games needed help for the SCG Regionals in Columbus and gave me a shot at helping out. Buying seemed to come naturally to me as I understood both the player and the business side of the transaction. I knew which cards players wanted and I knew how much the store had to buy them for to run a profitable business. At first I was meant to just be an extra set of hands, but a smoke break combined with a rush of players looking to sell cards put me in the buyer’s chair and my foray into MTG buying had begun.

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MTGPrice and Dragons of Tarkir

Going back and looking for my first article published on MTGPrice, it seems fitting that my words first graced this website on April Fool’s Day…a coincidence that explains why nobody takes me seriously to this day. When the opportunity to write for MTGPrice presented itself, I was already writing for Quiet Speculation but was excited about the prospect of reaching a larger audience so I asked that none of my articles ever appear behind a paywall.

Meanwhile Dragons of Tarkir had just been released and I made some predictions that turned out to be mostly bad. You can go back and take a look here if you need fodder for mocking. Dragons of Tarkir did something that previously hadn’t been accomplished in quite some time – made the spring set relevant to constructed. Dragons of Tarkir managed to strike a chord with the casual crowd while still giving the constructed format a good shakeup and in general did better than previous spring sets according to a number of retailers that I talked to at the time.

The Big Stage

In May I began working as a buyer for Aether Games and my big debut was at Grand Prix Atlantic City. I learned a very valuable lesson on this trip: traveling for Magic is a lot less glamorous when the destination is a complete dump. Atlantic City is a place that everyone should visit at least once, if only to learn that such a terrible place exists in the world.

The event itself was alright, nothing too exciting or too terrible outside of a fire alarm going off mere minutes before the doors were set to open. I can attest that the last thing you want to hear after carefully placing cards in a display case is “scoop them up, we have to leave”.

Modern Masters 2015

As spoilers for this set came to completion, it became clear that this set was stuffed to the brim with Modern’s most expensive cards and featured a number of rares that suffered extreme prices based mostly on casual demand and small print runs. With larger print runs (and higher MSRP) making this set available to everyone, we were able to see the effect of aggregate pricing in action; a number of rares that were previously worth $10+ were suddenly available under $2…call it the Creakwood Liege effect.

Ultimately anything that wasn’t reprinted saw a surge in price thanks in part to the #mtgfinance hive mind and the realization that a flood of cheap Mox Opals hitting the market meant that more people would need Inkmoth Nexus and Arcbound Ravager. While much of this felt like market manipulation, much of it was more likely do to cards being frozen in price leading up to a potential reprint…after all, no vendor wanted to be buying cards for more than they would be able to sell them for in just a few short weeks. Either way, we won’t be making that mistake again…right?

Grand Prix Vegas

Grand Prix Vegas was billed as the biggest Magic event of all time and it definitely delivered. I had attended the previous Modern Masters Grand Prix in Las Vegas, thanks to my wife using it as bait to get me to agree to a Vegas vacation, so I thought I had a decent idea of what to expect going into this event, but it exceeded all expectations and set the bar pretty high going forward.

This was my second event working with Aether Games and I had front row seats to one of the greatest lessons of all time in #mtgfinance. Aether decided they were going to pay extremely well on a few cards when the rest of the room had intended to capitalize on the perception that everything was going to be worth much less. One vendor making an informed stand slowed the plummeting prices of cards like Dark Confidant, Vendilion Clique, and Tarmogoyf. While these cards eventually dipped in price, it was much more gradual and a lot less brutal.

Magic Origins

“The best core set since Magic 2010” – everyone
“I’ll take a pack of Khans” – everyone

Magic Origins and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy reminded us of an age old #mtgfinance proverb: if a card is printed in a set and nobody buys it, shouldn’t it be $80?  We were reminded again by Magic Origins that good cards in unpopular sets will climb in price. We saw a similar thing happen with Nissa, Worldwaker and Chandra, Pyromaster in the previous core sets. The last core set–good riddance.

The Ending of Vending

It wasn’t too long after Magic Origins that I realized vending probably wasn’t for me. After trying my hand with a few different vendors I realized it’s really a young man’s game. While I’m far from old man status, the prospect of sharing beds, sleeping on floors, hours and hours crammed in cars, the time away from home, and eating nothing but garbage for every meal just wasn’t worth the pay. Overall it was a good experience and I learned a lot in a very short amount of time; some of which you can (re)read here, easily one of the most (only) useful articles I’ve ever written.

SCG, PTQ, & Grand Prix Changes

This year also brought us a number of changes to PTQs and Grand Prix level events. PTQs as we knew them are wiped off the face of the Earth and with them so is low level vending. Grand Prixs are more expensive than ever for both players and vendors. Oh yeah, don’t forget that Star City Games killed Legacy–again. The sheer number of tournament changes this year has left the player base a little dizzy and many are still trying to figure out what the best path going forward is.

Battle for Zendikar

We learned with much certainty that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. Battle for Zendikar is just the latest installment of increasingly worse “return to ______” expansions that somehow continue to get worse and worse with each iteration. The set would have probably been a total loss if not for the inclusion of randomly inserted 2/3rd art promo versions of the shock and fetch lands. The mediocre feel of Battle for Zendikar does little to make us excited for a return to Innistrad this spring, but there’s still hope…right?

Ultimately the roll out of BFZ was pretty rough, it did little to shake up Standard, more or less causing the format to go into hibernation at the local level while players patiently pray that Oath of the Gatewatch will bring us the change we need to make Standard fresh again.

The expeditions were enough to break me as a collector of Magic. For the first time I had to look at a set of new cards and acknowledge that they were simply unattainable for me, something that really took the wind out of my sails going forward.

The Rise of Massdrop

I don’t know if you’ve heard this yet, but massdrop.com is the place to buy older boxes of Magic at ridiculously low prices. With boxes of sets like Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash selling for as low as $80, it’s pretty much a fool’s errand to speculate on sealed booster boxes going forward. While this is great news for drafters, it’s terrible news for the couple dozen sealed booster boxes I have tucked away in my vault.

But really this isn’t just about Massdrop, it’s the internetification of all things. Amazon is especially guilty of this, but we’re seeing it more and more – volume without margins. Why sell ten of something for $20 profit each when you can sell a hundred at $2 profit each? This race to the bottom has grown more and more prevalent across the singles market just as much as it has the sealed product market. We now live in a world where the price of things goes down drastically if you’re just willing to wait a couple weeks.

Spoilers

If you listened to Wizards’ employees, this was a goddamn Greek tragedy. Somebody somewhere leaked photos of some damaged Expeditions and spoiled the big surprise that wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone that had given the topic much thought. We were given a heavy handed guilt trip about the leak ruining their marketing plan and blah blah blah, but that wasn’t enough. Wizards took it a step further when they suspended a number of judges simply for failing to report that said leak existed. This scandal is far from over, but it really became the cherry on top of the turd sundae we’ve been munching on all year.

A New Job

The end of the year took an interesting twist in my personal life as well. I was offered a job managing a local game store seemingly out of no where. It’s an awesome opportunity to test my mettle at something I am passionate about. But the drawback is that I’m forced to test the words that I’ve been told time and time again: once you start running a game store, you lose all interest in playing. Time’s going to tell on this one.

May your 2016 be filled with Expeditions in your packs, power in your bulk, and no lands in your opponents’ starting hands.


 

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Going Mad – More Expeditions

By: Derek  Madlem

We’ve known for a while that we were going to get 20 additional expeditions in Oath of the Gatewatch, then Mark Rosewater confirmed that they were, in fact, also going to be lands. The #mtgfinance hive mind quickly settled on the man lands and filter lands to be the most likely culprits. The “spoiling” of Mystic Gate seemed to confirm our suspicions, but then we were thrown for a bit of a loop and the dream scenario of ten random lands showing up  rather than the man lands came true.

Hierarchy

In my last article, I stated that the price for these lands doesn’t fall into a clear hierarchy like we saw with the fetches and shocks. We knew which were going to be the most expensive and every other would just fall in line behind it in a rough percentage based way. With this, that hierarchy is not as clear. Sure, we’re most excited about Wasteland at the top, and probably the least excited about Tectonic Edge, but then again…Tectonic Edge sees more tournament play than Wooded Bastion by a pretty significant margin.

So let’s take a look at each of these and figure out where they fit in with past printings financially.

Wasteland

wasteland

Wasteland exists in a really weird place on this list because it first appeared in a set that existed before foil printings but has since had three, count ’em three, promo foil printings. The prices breakdown of these is like this:

Original Art – $250
Second Printing – $205
2015 Judge foil – $275

The latest printing is still sitting a bit high because these haven’t been fully dispersed to judges yet, or maybe they have, who really understands the new judge foil program? I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect that $250 is going to be the ceiling on the Expeditions Wasteland because “OG” pimp trumps “new money” pimp, a phenomena we saw with the original Onslaught fetches vs. Expeditions.

I would expect the Expeditions copy to settle in the $200-225 range, and I also expect the 2015 Judge FOIL to fall into line around $200 with the second printing once they have been more widely dispersed.

Horizon Canopy

horizoncanopy

Horizon Canopy has the dubious honor of being expensive as all holy hell on the basis that it’s just kinda rare. It’s not widely played as more than a one of in Modern outside of Bogles and is pretty much only showing up as a singleton in Legacy Maverick and Death & Taxes decks.

Current foil copies of Horizon Canopy are hovering around $175 and I doubt this copy is going to supplant the original. I’d put the ceiling for this card at $150, but realistically that number is going to creep lower as this takes much of the upward pressure off of the original printing of Horizon Canopy printings. Giving players an alternative when it comes to foiling out decks is never good for the price of the original and Canopy typically showing up as a one of doesn’t help…Expeditions make a great choice for singleton “pimping”. I’d expect this to settle out around $100-125.

It’s likely that these two are the “top dogs” of the Oath expeditions, but where’s everything else fit in?

Ancient Tomb

ancient tomb

This is where things get tricky. Ancient Tomb shows up in variety of Legacy decks and in Vintage Workshop decks. There is a foil printing of Ancient Tomb but is has a major issue – it’s a From the Vault printing. This series has been loved and hated for providing foil versions of cards that were never printed in foil and then doing so with a finish that makes the cards somehow less desirable. The Expeditions Ancient Tomb gives Magic’s 1% something that they don’t have to be ashamed of.

The FTV Ancient Tomb is hovering around $16 currently, and there is little chance that this isn’t in the 4x to 5x range of that printing right? Even an Expeditions Smoldering Marsh is $45, so $60-75 seems like a very easy threshold to cross, but where does it stop? I’ll be honest, I am not well versed in the mindset of Vintage players when it comes to pimping their decks. How do they feel about Expeditions in general? It makes perfect sense to prefer the original printing of a fetch land to the latest incarnation, but what about in a heads up dual with FTV?

There is a world where these end up closer to $200 than $100, but I’m not sure whether or not we’re living in it. The biggest drawback for Expeditions is the atrocious border and mostly opaque text boxes that keep them from actually being “full art”. Maybe there’s a few among those reading this that can shed some light on how the Vintage pimps feel about Expeditions.

Forbidden Orchard

forbidden orchard

Forbidden Orchard has what I feel is one of the cooler artworks in this round of Expeditions, but is pretty much featured in a single deck in all of Magic – Oath of Druids in Vintage. Pack foils for the original are under $20 and there’s also a FTV printing that’s sitting around $7, so the value of this Expeditions card is going to lean heavily on the question we asked with Ancient Tomb: how do the most hardcore of Vintage players feel about Expeditions in general?

Strip Mine

stripmine

Now if I was a smarmy turd, I would point out that the artwork for this appears to be quite the opposite of strip mining as it’s clearly underground…oh right, I am, and I did. Once you get past the technically inaccurate artwork for this, you have another FTV vs. Expeditions cage match. Strip Mine is only allowed as a one of in Vintage and gets heavy play in Commander because ruining someone else’s fun is the name of the game.

In general I feel like the low water mark for any of these Expeditions has to be the $45 mark we see with Smoldering Marsh, but pimping our Commander decks IS a thing, and shiny singletons still command (see what I did there?) a premium. With the FTV printing hovering around the $30 mark, I can’t see this being much more than $60, but again, who knows? Strip Mine is the only card that is literally in each and every Commander deck I’ve ever built, so I feel it’s pretty universal in that format and there are a lot of Commander pimps out there, not to mention that whole Vintage thing again…

Dust Bowl

dustbowl

Dust Bowl is for those Commander terrorists that just want to watch the world burn. Pack foils for this card are around $75, so that seems to be a pretty reasonable ceiling for these as they do not really see much play outside of Commander.

Eye of Ugin

Eye of Ugin

One the topic of spicy one ofs we have Eye of Ugin. With two printings and foil copies for as low as $7, there’s not too much hope for this one unless there’s a sudden surge to really embrace Expeditions as the de facto pimp edition. While this does see constructed play in Modern Tron and fringe play in Legacy Cloudpost decks, it’s unlikely this one is going to get past that “technically it’s an Expeditions” price at the bottom of the pile.

Mana Confluence

Mana Confluence

Not really excited about this one kneecapping my spec on foil Mana Confluences for eternal formats, but at least the art has something happening on it this time around. Mana Confluence has the dubious honor of being the best land for a bad deck. Generally only showing up in Legacy Dredge and Modern Bloom Titan decks doesn’t help the forecast for this one immensely, but it’s ability to slot into nearly any multicolor Commander deck makes it at least a desirable card for some players. I’d put this one somewhere in the $45-60 range as it’s probably less desirable to own than any of the shock lands but it’s still a Expeditions land.

Kor Haven

korhaven

Kor Haven was a good catch on Wizards’ part for a land that’s cool and fits thematically on Zendikar. Kor Haven is one of those cards that I still feel like Commander players have failed to rediscover as foil copies have been steady around $45 for as far back as there are data points on it’s price. This doesn’t make for an extremely compelling case that this one’s price will be much different as it’s not likely that the Expeditions copy is even half as rare as the original printing. There’s a chance that the Expeditions copy being printed makes the Commander hive mind remember this card exists, but probably not enough to really move the needle.

Tectonic Edge

tectonicedge

Tectonic Edge has the dubious honor of being the worst of three uncommons to appears as Expeditions. This is going to see far more Modern play than Smoldering Marsh and friends, but it might be hard for players to get past the fact that Tectonic Edge was printed at uncommon during this decade. It gets played in Modern but not in any significant quantity. Sure it sees play in Commander, but mostly as a budget alternative to Wasteland and Strip Mine…and there just aren’t a ton of budget pimps in the world. Tectonic Edge is likely going to sit on the price floor, or be the one to break through it completely. I would not be at all surprised to see these as low as $25.

Filter Lands

firelitthicket

Filter lands haven’t made huge waves in constructed formats since their rotation from Standard, typically showing up as singletons outside of aberrations like the Geralf’s Messenger Jund before the Bloodbraid Elf ban. However, they remain extremely popular in Commander and are one of the premiere dual land cycles in that format.

Currently their prices range from Graven Cairns on the low end at $18 to Cascade Bluffs on the high end at $65. Wherever these fall on the spectrum, we can expect loose ranking based on color desirability with the blue ones on the top end and the Naya colors on the low end with black / red trailing as the caboose, because let’s face it – nobody likes Graven Cairns.

I think it’s fair to guesstimate these falling primarily in the $50-75 range, as there’s not a huge demand to push these above and beyond their predecessors.

Wild Cards

The two questions that will most impact the prices of these Expeditions are “how are these received by Vintage players?” and “how much do Commander players care about consistency?” It’s quite possible that demand (and therefore price) for the filter lands goes higher if Commander players embrace these lands in general.

If you’re already pimping your commander deck with Expeditions shocks and fetches, there’s a decent chance you say “might as well” and follow suit with filter lands, Wastelands, Strip Mines, and Mana Confluences. A similar phenomena is possible within the Vintage community when it comes to the Ancient Tomb/Forbidden Orchard/Mana Confluence conundrum.

Of course there’s always those eBay preorder prices to  look at for reference…looks like Forbidden Orchard is sitting unsold at prices anywhere between $55 and $400 so you can take that for what it’s worth.

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Going Mad – The Distortion

By: Derek Madlem

Well, the cat’s out of the bag and this time it’s no Rootborn Defenses. The release of Oath of the Gatewatch has been plagued with a series of leaks and we’re supposed to feel really bad about it. Well except for all those “accidental” leaks we had in the past…are we really supposed to take this seriously when Wizards is staging fake leaks all the time?

Kozilek, the Great DistortionThe first thing we saw from Oath was combination of Wastes and Kozilek, the Great Distortion. These cards sent people’s imaginations flying and there was some pretty terrible things speculated about the new mana symbol that luckily are not the case.

As it turns out, those little diamonds are quite simple: colorless that is actually colorless. That’s it. So now we finally get the big payoff for the pain lands being in Magic Origins (OMG THEY’RE BASICALLY TRI-LANDS!!!), but we also get a boatload of errata. Like this guy:

KZC

Oh that’s not awkward at all…see here’s the kicker, Wizards obviously knew about this change for a very long time but waited until the second half of a block to introduce what is to be an evergreen mechanic. Yeah, yeah, you’re right, it’s not really a mechanic so much as an unnecessary restriction that adds needless complexity to one of the most complex games to ever exist, but I’m sure it’s totally worth it!

The simple and most elegant solution would be to have included the new colorless mana symbol on those pain lands we talked about and just rolled it out from there. Nobody is excited about “the big payoff” of seeing that Kozilek has a restrictive casting cost…maybe there’s other things in the pipeline that are totally going to blow our minds, but I’m not holding my breath. Among the spoilers are a cycle of guildgate style duals that just enter the battlefield tapped and a number of two-color legendary creatures so we can infer that a decent portion of the set is carved out for multicolored cards.

Kozilek’s Return

The bulk of the spoilers leaked so far have been pictures of damaged Expeditions, but we’ve already seen half our mythic rares spoiled which isn’t going to leave us much to open Christmas morning (or whenever the awkward media blitz begins). We’ll circle back around to the Expeditions, I want to talk about the new Bonfire of the Damned.

Kozilek's Return

See here’s the thing about giant wormy creatures that destroy everything in their wake, they’re bound to come bursting out of the ground every once in a while and lay waste to everything around them. This card is strong enough as a three mana instant speed Pyroclasm that gets around protection…but then they decided to bump it up two rarities and tack that second paragraph on and you’ve got what is likely to become a format warping card.

Big stupid decks have always been soft to the fast and wide ground game in Magic and this shores up a lot of those problems. Having played the big dumb ramp deck for the last few weeks, I am excited (and afraid) of what this coming Standard format is going to look like. The Eldrazi deck already has an incredible long game in abusing Sanctum of Ugin to chain Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger into Ulamog into Ulamog, but give me the ability to exile two permanents, deal five damage to all creatures, and search up Kozilek for an encore really pushes the strategy up a few rungs on the ladder.

Shrine

Shrine of the Forsaken Gods seems like a pretty good endeavor at this point. Shrine essentially allows you to cast your Ulamogs (and now Kozileks) an entire turn sooner than you would have been capable of before. This card is critical for any attempt at a Standard Eldrazi deck and they’re currently sitting at less than a buck a piece, so it’s hard to make an argument against Shrine. But what’s stranger to me is that it’s partner in crime is below 50¢ and is played with the same frequency.

Sanctum

Sanctum of Ugin is the real powerhouse in Big.Dumb.Eldrazi.deck because it allows you to chain threats into more threats. In what is surely a Vorthos blasphemy, this allows you to cast an Ugin and fetch up an Ulamog to mop up whatever the spirit dragon is unable to. With Oath, this card only gets better as you can use it to fetch up Kozilek to refill your hand with more big stupids and a pile of functional counter magic.

Ulamog

Ulamog is one a very small handful of cards in BFZ that I still have any optimism for going forward, but a mythic that is going to be a 4x in Standard while also slotting into Modern and Commander decks seems like a pretty safe bet, especially when the current archetype gains so much from just two cards and the bulk of the set is still waiting to be revealed.

If you’re even of the mind that you COULD play this deck in Standard, now’s the time kids. There’s a good chance this gets ugly.

Infinite ObliterationThe current foil for big dumb Eldrazi is Infinite Obliteration, this card was  fairly simple answer that the various Jace and Abzan decks could slot in to answer Ulamog outright. The deck can still win with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon but he’s nowhere close to the clock that Ulamog is and is often forced into the -X game rather than the Lightning Bolt game. There’s a chance this card continues to be the go-to answer for Eldrazi, but even having a second big dumb stupid is usually more than enough for the Eldrazi.

Void Winnower

Void Winnower is currently sitting around $2.50 which seems criminally low for a sweet game altering mythic rare. Void Winnower could play a very important role in the upcoming Standard as it plays a dual role: it stops your opponent from casting both Ulamog and Kozilek and it also diversifies your threat package to avoid Inifinite Obliteration from the decks that can cast it. If nothing else, I like this card long term because it does something annoying in Commander and is a mythic rare. <Obligatory “can’t even” joke>

Pure Speculation

Drana

I like Drana, Liberator of Malakir. Drana is the kind of underwhelming powerhouse that steps up and surprises you from time to time. I have a harder and harder time imagining a world where Drana stays at $7. We have another set that is seemingly going to be heavy into the Allies followed by a return to the land of Vampires, how can you lose? Ironically, in a realm with four color decks, Drana is somewhat hard to cast thanks to that double black in the casting cost but that’s all going away in just a few short months as the tri-lands and fetch lands rotate out in April and we’re forced to return to something a bit more modest. But if Drana alone wasn’t enough to convince you that Vampires might be a thing…

Kalitas

Another leak from Oath, Kalitas is back and has apparently joined the wrong side for the Battle for Zendikar because he’s now a traitorous jerk that eats your opponents friends, makes them into zombies, and then eats them again. While I don’t expect this card to be a Standard powerhouse, it is another moving part in a black deck featuring Liliana, Heretical Healer and Wasteland Strangler and exploits the death synergy to good measure. There is a world that exists where we get a lot of sweet commons and uncommons that synergize well with this, but given Wizards’ recent track record, I don’t think we’re living in it.

Expeditions

I’ll go into the Expeditions more in a future article as I probably have to do some research to back up any outrageous claims that I’d make about them. I can admit that I’m pleasantly surprised with the assortment of lands that’s included as I was expecting them to consist of just the man lands and filter lands. While it’s disappointing to see Tectonic Edge in the ultra-mythic-super-saiyan-rare slot, it could have been much much worse.

If we’re fine with putting uncommons into that slot, the Mike Linnemann in me would have much rather seen an Eldrazi Temple with really sweet art just to hammer home the flavor. I thought the inclusion of Kor Haven was a flavor good catch on their part as it’s a Commander staple that actually fits contextually on Zendikar.  The entire cycle in general appeals to a more causal audience than it’s predecessors, but still has some hardcore gems like Mana Confluence, Forbidden Orchard, and Horizon Canopy…you know, in case you want to pimp out that Bogles deck.

The prices for these are going to be much harder to peg down as shocks and fetches had a pretty well established hierarchy. We knew that if Scalding Tarn was going to be $250, everything else had to be less. This time around we’re going to have to let the market do most of the heavy lifting as there are no clear winners.

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