Category Archives: ProTrader

First Spikes Count


Hello again,

We talk sometimes about second spikes on cards. I’m going to pretend that both you didn’t know that sometimes we talk about that and also that you don’t know what that means. When a card’s price is at a certain level and it jumps up rapidly, due to a large amount of the supply being bought out and retailers restocking the card at a much higher price, it’s said to “spike” and I can’t believe I feel like I have to explain this, like who even doesn’t know what that means? Let’s get through this. We mention “second spikes” when we talk about a card that has spiked once due to some circumstance and then, later after the price recovers a little, spikes again to different or sometimes even the same circumstances.

The first spike causes the price to go up which means dealers need to restock which usually means buy prices go up and finance people start feeding the dealers copies. Stores that have mispriced copies either change the price or they get bought at the old price, meaning the cheap, mispriced copies disappear forever and the new price is the new price, mostly. That means when a card spikes a second time, most of the copies are concentrated in the hands of dealers so without cheap copies to mitigate the new demand and dealers free to establish the new price, prices spike much higher and faster the second time. You probably knew all of that but since I want to talk about first and second spikes, it didn’t kill us to go back over it.

We’re seeing a lot of second spikes lately on cards that were spiked by Nekusar and Leovold because of The Locust God. I avoided writing about The Locust God initially because it felt like all we were going to see were second spikes on wheel cards. While that’s true to an extent, the Locust God is distinct from Nekusar in Leovold in a way that’s obvious in hindsight but wasn’t a factor I considered initially when I was evaluating it as a commander. That difference could cause some “first spikes” nestled among the second spikes and let you buy in at the ground floor on some important cards in a deck people seem excited about.  What are we in danger of missing by focusing on the sexier, second spike cards that are more obvious?

How Are The Locust God and Nekusar Similar?

They’s is both the Magic cards.

Welp, I think we’re done, now. See ya!

You need more analysis than that? Fine. OK, since they both scale off of the number of cards a person draws, wheel effects seemed appealing right off the bat. By “off the bat” I mean, “it took like months for that stuff to go because all anyone cared about doing with Mind Seize was busting it for the Strix and Nemesis, not building Nekusar” but eventually, pieces of human excrement (this is an opinion piece) started building the deck and cackling like a Lich King whenever someone played a spell and got domed by Forced Fruition.  Playing a Windfall to make everyone pitch a bunch of cards then get domed when your full hand made them draw a dozen cards added to their feeling of helplessness. It’s not much fun to play against and they get enough cards that they can build their web of hate.



Similarly, The Locust God loves wheel effects. You dump a hand and draw all new cards and suddenly the table is dumping the cards they tutored for and getting mystery cards and you have an army of Locusts. Wheels help you keep an army of critters ready to alpha strike and keep your irrelevant cards out of your hand while letting you cycle for new stuff.

How Are They Dissimilar?

Well, while Nekusar players casting wheel effects domes your opponents for a lot of damage when they draw cards, it doesn’t help you per se. Sure, if you sock away a lot of land in your hand and wheel it away, that’s good but if you cast a wheel with an empty hand it would have the same effect on your end game because you’re trying to hit them for damage. You can play spells like Forced Fruition because you’re trying to put them between a rock and a hard place and grind them out with Howling Mine effects and wheels.

The Locust God players don’t want the opponent to wheel. Sometimes it screws them, but sometimes it helps them. Nekusar doesn’t care how many cards they draw that are good because ultimately they won’t live long enough to use it and they will likely just get wheeled again. Half the time, Locust God players would prefer only they got to wheel. That’s an interesting proposition when you realize that while generic wheels have been good from Nekusar to Leovold to The Locust God, wanting “personal” wheels all of a sudden turns on cards that weren’t used before. You could chase the Portal Winds of Change to $50 or you could get on the bandwagon of first spikes at the ground level. What are some cards that The Locust God will uniquely make go up that weren’t good in Nekusar decks?


This is a card designed for you in a Locust God deck. You don’t lose cards, you just bottom them meaning you could conceivably loop back around. You can also have easier (theoretical) access to them if you shuffle. Really, though, this is just about turnover. Keep on cycling hands and watch those Locusts fill the board. Find your skullclamp and your Mana Echoes, kill them with Impact Tremors. Boom.

Foil Moil doesn’t look too bad, either, below $5. Ravnica is pretty old and there are probably fewer copies of Mindmoil than there are of Mythics from Innistrad so once supply dries up, it’s likely to gallop out of control. I normally think saying “just buy the foils” is really lazy intellectually and it requires you to find people who want to foil out their Locust God deck rather than just spend that $20 on cards for another deck, but Foil Moil could his $20, at least temporarily. This is one to grab now while it’s still relatively cheap.

Arjun, the Shifting Flame

Mindmoilmancer is a pretty saucy commander in his own right. If you build around him, throw in a Locust God. If you build Locust God, throw in an Arjun. Commander 2015 stuff is never going to get cheaper unless it’s reprinted and while the Mizzix deck wasn’t super exciting, the value needs to come from somewhere. These are bought up, as evidenced by seeing Daxos decks still on shelves to this day, and it’s likely Arjun was underrated until now. This is a mythic-level card from an out-of-print set and it’s like a buck. You’d have to suck bad to not make money on this card. This is in 3/4 of the decks registered on EDHREC so it’s clear EDH players are aware of this card. With Locust God continuing to be opened and with people just now taking their completed Locust God decks to the shop to trounce people, there is upside here.

Tolarian Winds


Could be too late on the foils as they are selling out (I mentioned this on BSB last week and multiple listeners have sent me pics of the 7th foil Winds they bought) but there is hope, I think, for Beatdown Box copies. It may sound odd at first, but if you look at Portent, the Ice Age copies moved less than the Ice Age precon deck copies. If you remember, when Coldsnap came out, they made Ice Age block precons with Ice and Age Alliances cards in them and Portent got a reprint.

The Beatdown Box version could have similar upside. Tolarian Winds has a few too many printings to really move from one deck (that’s why we like Mindmoil but not Jace’s Archivist, for example) but foils are already irrevocably spiked and other premium versions could be next.

Magus of the Wheel

This is close to popping off as well. It’s got the exact same supply as Arjun but appeals to Nekusar players, also, as well as Feldon, Yidris and Vial Smasher players.  This was a card we liked as a Nekusar card but just needed a push, and a push it got with The Locust God decks.

Impact Tremors

When you see something like this discrepancy, it means a card is moving.

The Market Price is good for showing you what things used to sell for, which is great when prices are pretty stagnant. People sold foil Impact Tremors for $3.50 +/- last week? List yours for $3.50 +/-. That is, unless you check the currently listed Median and it’s double the Market Price. When do you see that? Why it’s when something sold steadily at a price then got restocked higher. It means the price moved. Look at what things used to sell for but also look at the listed Median. It may be the same but it may not. In this case, it looks like Foil Impact Tremors is about to double in price, so get those copies under $6 while you still can. It’s a win condition, it’s a foil from a bad set and it doesn’t need a third thing.

Check out the EDHREC page for The Locust God for yourself if you think there are cards I didn’t mention (there are) that might get there (they might). Foil Forgotten Creation? Enter the Infinite (finally, right?)? You decide. I gave you a few tasty fish here to sample, but if you think you’ve learned to fish on your own, give it a try. As always, the comments section is reserved for the Guatemalan company that tries to sell us cheap NFL jerseys no matter how many thousands of Spam posts our filter catches and also for people telling me I’m wrong and/or telling me I wrote a great article. Sometimes it’s both. As long as it’s not neither, we’re in good shape.  Let’s see if we have some C17 to talk about next time. Until then!

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7 Thoughts About Hour of Devastation in EDH

Hey, readers,

The Hour of Devastation is almost upon us and that means we get to wait around forever for EDH prices to move. The stuff that was going to move immediately already has – Solemnity was a massive earthquake that ripped through a swath of old Magic cards and made them suddenly valuable. Everything else could take a minute to move, which is probably a good thing because it gives us time to scoop cards up. Unlike previous sets, we’re not going to have to wait for card prices to plummet on our long-term holds because unlike with previous sets, this set isn’t worth jack and/or shit. Is redemption going to enforce a higher box price, forcing singles to take the hit? Are Masterpieces going to keep box prices low? Is this set just another Dragon’s Maze without the benefit of a Voice of Resurgence to keep the boxes at all worth buying? I don’t know how things will shake up, but what I do know is that it’s never been easier to buy our EDH cards right out of the gate. Let’s take a look at some thoughts I have had about this set and where it fits into EDH.


1)Solemnity isn’t done

Solemnity came along and made a bunch of prices go nuts. Lucky for you, I managed to predict a lot of them and if you read the article the same day it came out, you had a decent shot at getting some of the cards before they sold out and people started to cancel orders. Lucky for us, Solemnity interacts with a TON of cards and not all of them were mentioned or even all that obvious up front and there is still a chance to get in on a few of them.

Odyssey: Delaying Shield

Delaying Shield is like $0.70 currently and you straight don’t take damage with Shield and Solemnity out. This isn’t all that good without Solemity but it’s not all that bad, either. If you don’t draw your Solemnity, this is a card that lets you take damage as normal but also opt out of some of it if you choose to untap your mana and prevent some of it. Not only that, this prevents you from dying when everyone else dies so a lethal earthquake that would kill the table suddenly makes you the winner. Zedruu decks were running this already to take a ton of damage then donate the shield to let opponents deal with the consequences. This is fun in EDH, it’s cheap, it’s old so therefore scarce and it’s unfair with the most exciting card in the new set.

Solemnity decks are starting to shape up on EDHREC so take a look at the cards other people are running with it. While there’s not a ton populated yet, there’s stuff to learn. Zur is most likely the deck that benefits from this card. What other cards do Zur decks run? I don’t know, click on Zur and find out. EDHREC is still the best resource I have found for predicting price increases predicated on a card making another card better. And, before anyone accuses me of shilling super hard for EDHREC because I am employed by EDHREC, let me just say that it’s the other way around – I’m employed by EDHREC because of how hard I shilled for them before they even started paying me. If there were a better resource for what we do in this column, I’d use it. There isn’t. Go get the free money.


2)The Planeswalker decks are loaded

The set appears to be dumpster lasagna from a financial standpoint. The Masterpieces are hot and the set looks like it’s really balanced in terms of Limited (I have a feeling I’m going to take Deserts really hard in draft and ride that synergy wave) but that doesn’t really do much for the prices. Pre-sale data on TCGPlayer is super depressing.

Of the 14 cards pre-selling above $3, 3 of them (Nicol Bolas the Deceiver, Nissa, Genesis Mage and Visage of Bolas) are in the Planeswalker packs. Combined, the 3 cards total $21 in pre-sale value. The Planeswalker decks are available for $23 combined from Miniature Market.  I’m not advocating buying at that price, but what I am saying is that there are 3 cards that people really like (or liked a few days to weeks ago when the Market Price was established – I bet those cards are cheaper now) and they don’t care that they’re not in boosters, they just want them to jam with. You think anyone is jamming an 8 mana Planeswalker in Standard? No chance. How about a bad mana rock that tutors for an 8 mana walker? No, this is casuals and EDH players establishing those pre-sale prices on those cards and making the rest of those planeswalker packs (each of which includes an Hour of Devastation booster pack) essentially free. People like Planeswalkers and this set has a lot of Planeswalkers and they aren’t all in boosters.

3)Obvious cards are too cheap

Mill is always a buy. Good mill even more-so. EDH players benefit from mill the least out of everyone (or so you’d think, but look at Phenax decks) but mill cards are always good financial decisions. This set has, basically, Mill Reflection and it’s like 30 cents.

Hour of Devastation: Fraying Sanity

This card is really good for taking out one player. Even if you play this in EDH, this makes it really easy to kill one person quickly so you can use your Traumatize on everyone else. Alternatively, curse yourself and fill your graveyard with cards to use to kill them. This is already a bulk rare and this will not be a bulk rare long-term. This is a sicko mill card and it’s very, very obvious as a pickup but people don’t seem to want to worry about that until much later. If you end up with someone who trades at TCG Player value, out a terrible card like Nimble Obstructionist for 10 copies of this and you’ll be very happy in a year or two. Is it still the dreaded “value trading!(cue Wilhelm scream)” if you’re doing it based on the values from two years from now? There are plenty of other obvious cards that are bulk already and which you should be targeting.

Hour of Devastation: Hour of Promise

This one comes to mind, for example. Bulk is too cheap for this forever.

4)Gods could be too cheap

I have seen a lot of people excited about The Locust God and wheel effects. You may remember wheel effects from going up in price when Nekusar was spoiled and again when Leovold was spoiled. How many times am I going to be able to make money from Teferi’s Puzzle Box? Skullclamp, Windfall, Arjun, etc.

Image result for you got a stew baby

The Locust God is $6. Now I realize that in order to go up, this card will need to impact Standard, right? As much as it’s cool to Skullclamp your Locusts, or win with Purphoros, Skullclamp and Ashnod’s Altar (a pretty easy combo to assemble once you get Skullclamp going) we don’t have access to that in Standard. But do the guys truly need to be that good in Standard to maintain their current price? I only ask because this set seems like hot garbage, there are no cards over $20 and booster boxes are like $100 retail. If people stay away from the set because it’s hot garbage, scarcity will keep prices artificially medium. If they get high enough, it makes sense to buy boxes again and people will. But if people aren’t compelled by anything in the set, the value has to be somewhere and why not the Gods? $6 is already pretty reasonable and they could at the very least maintain some of their value if nothing else from the set jumps. I’m not saying invest, but I’m going to pay $6 for a copy of The Locust God now, build that hilarious deck and laugh at people and I doubt I’m going to look at the price of the God in 3 months and think I took a bath.

5)Read what EDH players are building

I was focused a lot on Solemnity shenanigans and brewing decks with lots of Gods in them for my Gathering Magic article so I didn’t really take a look at what people are doing with the rest of the set. Think about which cards will go into existing decks. Is there a card that’s going to go in Atraxa? There is?! Well that’s worth knowing.

Hour of Devastation: Djeru, With Eyes Open

I also recommend using EDHREC for a sort of reverse-engineering. Instead of typing in a God and seeing how to build it based on suggestions from the other decks in the database, start with a single card and see which generals want it. The cards in those decks are more and more attractive the better that commander is.

Hour of Devastation: Swarm Intelligence

Swarm Intelligence is a new card and I think it has potential, but I don’t know where. What do other people think?

There isn’t much consensus, yet, but I didn’t think about Narset when I first read Swarm Intelligence, but it makes a lot of sense. And since The Locust God seems to be coming up a lot, it doesn’t hurt to see which cards are going in that deck because while some people may scrap their Nekusar deck for cards to put in the deck, some won’t and that means they’ll need to buy cards they already have. A lot of cards in the Locust God deck are creeping up lately and it pays to check that. Without looking, how much is Chasm Skulker worth, knowing it was first in M15 and was just reprinted in Commander 2016? Bet you were off. Bet you’re glad you looked because if you’re like me, you have a bunch of them shits in a box somewhere.

6)Bad Standard sets can be good for EDH

Not always, though. Let’s look at every card in Dragon’s Maze worth above $1.

Gross. Mirko Vosk is under $1. Where is this pressure on prices coming from? It’s not like boxes are flooding the market. Still, even this is less bleak than it looks at first. Voice and Progenitor Mimic are low due to reprinting. Deadbridge Chant is a solid EDH card, as is Savageborn Hydra. With strong, powerful Standard cards like Varolz and Aetherling worth diddly, it seems like EDH is the only thing making these cards worth anything. This is the worst case scenario for Hour of Devastation – no good cards and therefore no value no matter what set redemption has to say about it. Let’s look at a set that’s closer to Hour of Devastation in terms of being disappointing for Standard but giving us lots of EDH cards.

M15 is much closer, if you ask me. We had a lot of cards that were good in Standard like Hornet Queen and painlands fall off a bit and EDH cards came in and picked up the slack. Chasm Skulker is between $2.50 and $3.50 after a reprint and was a bulk rare when the set was Standard legal. I think Hour of Devastation will force the EDH cards to take up value in the coming years, which is perfect because I think there are cards like Neheb that are up to the challenge. They’ll be overlooked for a minute, but not forever.

7)Look for more Solemnities

Anything that is a good card could be worth some money and if it gets better as people discover how to use it properly, it could be worth even more money. That’s base tier. The we have cards that are good in one deck the way Abandoned Sarcophagus will be good in a cycling deck, and that deck’s increased popularity could drive up some of the prices of the other cards in the deck. That’s mid tier stuff. The truly worthwhile cards are ones that bring up multiple different decks, interact in a stupid way with a lot of other cards and in general are going to go ham with lots of prices. That’s Solemnity. Could we have missed another Solemnity in the set? It’s possible. If there are cards in the set that I think could be potential top tier finance cards, they’re these.

Hour of Devastation: Razaketh, the Foulblooded

This not only could be the commander of his own deck, I think he goes in Athreos and Shirei-based Shadowborn Apostle decks and probably Kaalia decks. Are a bunch of people building Kaalia lately? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that Kaalia just became more affordable when it was jammed in the Commander Anthology set. Razaketh seems like it could make a bunch of other cards in other decks go up and I think it’s the closest thing we have to another Solemnity.

That’s all I have for you. 10 seconds before wrapping this up, I saw

so I bet you know what we’re going to talk about next week. Until then!

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The Crucible Reprint We Deserve, Not the One We Need

Wizards has gotten a little bit better about reprinting stuff before or just after the price goes nuts. It’s kind of impressive, really, when you think about it. If a card spikes like Goryo’s Vengeance did this week, Wizards can’t issue a reprint next week. They can’t do it next month. They probably can’t do it next year under a lot of circumstances. They simply aren’t as nimble as they would need to be becuase sets are planned far in advance. In the case of something like Modern or Eternal Masters, I suspect some last minute changes can be made but even then the cards are sent to the printer months in advance. Official WotC product isn’t a cigarette boat, it’s a huge oil tanker and if we know anything about oil tankers, it’s that they aren’t easy to turn and sometimes disasters happen. When WotC does nail a reprint of a card soon after the price really goes up, it almost seems like it was an accident given how difficult it is to see that far into the future.

You can add to that the fact that if a card isn’t reprinted when it needs to be and no reprint seems to be forthcoming anytime soon, that in and of itself is a reason for people to begin to hoard the card and for the price to go up. I write fairly often about cards that are either a do or die reprint in Commander sets – they get the reprint they need or the price is going to go out of control. We saw that with Phyrexian Altar and I think we’re going to see that with Patriarch’s Bidding. I was going to say the same of Mana Echoes, but people didn’t even bother waiting for Commander 2017 to be spoiled fully before they went out and bought Mana Echoes because I guess they think the Locust God is going to be much better than The Locust God probably is. I think a card in particular, Crucible of Worlds, is well outside of its “painless reprint window” meaning that its reprint options are so limited that anywhere it’s reprinted is bound to barely make a dent. Cards that cost as much as Crucible are basically reprintable as Masterpieces, which will do approximately both jack and shit for the price. Where else can you jam a card that costs more than $35? In a Commander deck with a $35 MSRP? Reprint avenues are super limited and the card might as well be on the Reserved List at this point.


But things are not always so bleak as they seem. Even though Hour of Devastation isn’t giving us Crucible of Worlds, we are getting a functional semi-reprint in the form of a card that is sort of similar. It’s not an artifact, it’s a green creature but what it lacks in being an artifact it makes up in being a Crucible of Worlds with feet. This is going to do two things in my estimation. First, it’s going to give decks running Crucible a second Crucible which will allow them to go a little deeper on their Crucible strategy. There aren’t a ton of decks not running green doing Crucible stuff – per EDHREC, the only generals with Crucible in the top 10 that aren’t green are Daretti and Oloro. Daretti wouldn’t run a non-artifact Crucible creature even if it were red and Oloro is for people who steal their neighbor’s wifi and cheat on their taxes so there’s no pleasing human garbage like that. We have a green card that can go in the mostly green decks that were running Crucible before, only this time you can find it with a green Sun’s Zenith or Worldly Tutor meaning there’s some upside. The second thing I expect this to do is put a Crucible of Worlds into the hands of people who cannot afford a Crucible of Worlds. It’s the most expensive card in a The Gitrog Monster deck, for example, and all of a sudden people who couldn’t afford to play the deck at all can suddenly make it happen. The card priced some strategies out completely and a budget alternative existing is great for Magic.

As always, I don’t have much of an opinion about the price of Ramunap Excavator itself because I don’t know what Standard and Modern are going to do and you don’t care what I think about something as hard to know as that. I stick to the easy, obvious money from EDH picks because I’ve learned that in this business it’s not worth it to pontificate about stuff you aren’t sure about because you want people to consider you an expert. Why bother trying to predict everything when all you’re going to do is get predictions wrong because you had no business making them in the first place. Rather than try to figure out the price of a card with changes to MODO redemption, a Standard banning every ban cycle, Modern and Frontier to contend with, shifting metagames in all formats and the rest of Hour of Devastation which could make the card better or worse in Standard, not to mention how this set will fit in with the block before and the block after it, why don’t we just look at what we know? What we know is kind of a lot, actually, so let’s see what is going to go up in price as a result of Crucible decks getting a second Crucible and poors getting their hands on their first Crucible.

Constant Mists – Below $4

I know this card basically already went up, but this is a very old card. It’s under $3 right now and with more people able to make a perpetual fog happen, it’s attractive to think about jamming these two cards together. Mists is getting concentrated in the hands of dealers as the buy price goes up and people beging rooting these out of collections. Being in green is especially helpful for this card because it can go in any deck that Ramunap Excavator can. Not everything that paired with Crucible will pair with Ramunap Excavator but green cards sure will and this is a green card.

Squandered Resources – Below $6

You’ve probably already made your money on this, but there is a non-zero chance we could see a second spike. People who never had access to Crucible before now do and that could be big things for a card like this, and not only in The Gitrog Monster decks. We were all over this card at a quarter and buying in at $5 to sell at $7 isn’t as sexy, but if you want to play with this card, now is the time to buy before it potentially goes up again. Remember, this would be a second spike so the odds of someone ferreting out cheap copies to relist on TCG Player at the same price it sold out is less likely so if this card does go, it could potentially go pretty hard.

Green Sun’s Zenith – Below $7

Speaking of GSZ, this card is fresh off of a reprint and it’s banned in Modern which limits is price upside. It’s also Green Sun’s Zenith and it’s probably as cheap as it’s ever going to get. I imagine this card recovers organically from its last printing and I imagine additional upside from being able to tutor for a Crucible is going to help out. Grabble these up.

Dust Bowl – Below $12

A super underrated EDH card, Dust Bowl does not play even remotely fair when you have Crucible of Worlds. You’re not going to be able to lock someone down with this, Dust Bowl’s role is more to keep them off of lands like Gaea’s Cradle than it is to strand them with no lands at all. Super versatile, a great pairing with Crucible and Excavator and pretty cheap to buy into despite being from a block as long ago as Mercadian Masques, this card covers all bases. I’m excited about this.

World Breaker – Below $5

World Breaker is a card that while it doesn’t benefit directly from Excavator, appears in nearly every deck that Excavator is likely to be in. This is a bit of a stretch, maybe, but I’m exploring the possibility of correlative links being enough to drive price increases rather than causal ones. If Excavator makes Crucible decks better, it stands to reason more will be built and the cards that are in those decks will have upside. I could be super wrong about this, but I also think it’s pretty tough to lose if you can buy Eldrazi under $5, especially ones that are this good in EDH.

Next week, I hope our server migration is complete which will mean the return of price graphs. Thanks for sticking with us through this tumultuous time. Next week I should have my thoughts about the financial implications of Hour of Devastation as a whole on EDH and you’re not going to want to miss that. Until next week!

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: What We Learned (so far!)

So I think we need to be honest: while a lot of the attention and coverage is on the triple Grand Prix in Vegas and all the associated silliness, there’s a lot still going on, especially as this is Announcements Week!

I’m not here to remind you of what’s happened. If you have a Twitter account, if you even glance at the Magic subreddit, if you engage at all the you’ll read this and not need me to tell you the base news, but there are some things worth taking away from all the stuff that’s gone on.

I’m going to be referring to this site quite often for the next year or so: the ‘Coming Soon’ page. This is a list of what’s coming out and when, though some specific dates aren’t on there, it’s at least a month/year listing.

Financially speaking, there’s a whole lot of things to be aware of. It’ll be up to you about what action to take.

The Masters Sets

We’ve had expensive times in Magic before. I don’t think we’ve had anything to compare to this, though. In one 12-month period, we will have had Modern Masters 2017, Iconic Masters, and 25th Anniversary Masters, or Masters 25 as they are calling it, and I devoutly hope a better name comes along before then. I get that it has to say ‘Masters’ in there someplace, to continue the naming convention, but wow that makes for awkward branding.

Those three sets represent 747 reprinted cards, in just one year. There might be some overlap, there might not.

Why we care: Reprint risk has been at an all-time high lately, and this is a pure minefield. Something like Conspiracy would at least have some new cards, but this is all reprints and all will likely have the one-foil-per-pack setup we’ve gotten used to.

I don’t know what they are going to print and speculation is rampant. We’ve had a lot of reprints covered in the Masterpiece series (more on that in a second) but right now, I’m taking stock of what I’ve accumulated and if the value has appreciated enough, I’m going to look at moving it. This many reprints in this short of time is a minefield, and I want to minimize what’s going to hurt. I don’t think you can escape, if you have a lot of cards you’re holding long-term.


From the Vault: Transform

One of the things that’s come up over the years is the logistical difficulties of printing double-faced cards, and how safe those are from being reprinted. I wonder if anyone thought this would be the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There’s only 92 cards that are completely double-sided, and 59 of those are from the last two years. Will they have fixed the terrible appearance of FTV? Will these somehow curl on both sides?

Why we care: The quick consensus seems to be that Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is going to be the expensive card of the set, and Delver of Secrets seems like an easy inclusion…and then what? I freely admit that I’d been quietly picking up foils of Archangel Avacyn, and that seems likely to take a hit. Are we going to get the Arilinn Kord reprint we didn’t need? There’s not a lot of value in double-faced cards, and what value there is, is about to take a major hit.

I think a Meld pairing is going to be included, but which? I think Hanweir, the Writhing Township is most likely the choice but who knows? Will we get the full Delver trilogy? Will they do something wild, like turn the Kamigawa flip cards into full transform cards? Who knows. Would we even care? I highly doubt the prices of old flip cards would budge if new double-sided versions were premiered this way.


The third Un-set: Unstable

I’m exceptionally torn about this. On one hand, playing with either of the first two silver-bordered sets was an amazingly enjoyable experience. On the other, I think I would pay full price to draft this…twice? Three times, tops? We have a recent example of how this model doesn’t always work: Conspiracy: Take the Crown. It’s a lot of fun, a unique draft experience, it’s got its share of valuable cards, and yet you can still get boxes dirt cheap.

Why we care: The basic lands. When we get around to opening these packs, we are going to expect some sort of unique land design. I don’t think they can match, much less excel, the standard set by Unhinged’s minimalist approach or the beauty of John Avon’s work. I do think these will look…nice. Pretty, even. But they will need to carry all of the value, since none of these cards will be worth anything else. Foils will likely not carry much weight either, as you can’t put these in Commander decks. How many thousands of Unstable cubes will need to be created for this to be valuable?


The beginning of single-set blocks and the return of Core sets

This might be the biggest news of all, aside from the leaked cards. We’ve had things sort of like this before, such as a standalone third set (Rise of the Eldrazi, Avacyn Restored) or the big-big-small model of Return to Ravnica block, but this is going to be interesting. Sets will be opened for three months and that’s it. No more 6:2:1 of the three-set block, or the 3:1 ratio of two-set blocks. This is one and done. Supply will be pretty clear at that point. We also get Core sets back, which means reprint mania!

Why we care: I like the single-set model because I don’t have to worry about that trickle of packs during the second set. For example, as we go into Hour of Devastation, does the small amount of Amonkhet being opened mean the price of Anointed Procession will keep trending downwards? Core sets will likely be on the modern model of some reprints and some new cards, keeping the set interesting while providing a place to reprint stuff that might not have fit, flavor-wise, into some other block. Think of Stifle or Inquistion of Kozilek in Conspiracy 2.


The Ixalan Leaks

So someone who’s working on test prints for Ixalan (the set is three months away, the cards should pretty much be set in their wording, barring emergencies) decided to snap a couple of photos and spread the word. This is wrong and bad but not something that we can ignore.

Why we care: We’re about to get a new tribal-based block, with some interesting color shifts. Merfolk in green. Vampires in white! DINOSAURS! We are also about to get tribal Commander decks in August, so if stuff avoids reprints in that set and this, it’s got nowhere to go but up.

The Commander decks worry me, because, again, that’s a lot of reprints. Foils are probably safe, but only if they couldn’t possibly be in Ixalan. Something like Obelisk of Urd, where the nonfoil is an easy inclusion into a Commander product, but the keyword is ruling it out of Ixalan.


Masterpieces becoming rarer

Someone at Wizards must have said, “Holy crap, we’re already down to printing Divert as a super-mythic alternate frame chase card? We need to throttle back.” So Masterpieces will be back, just not in every single set. FTV: Masterpiece is probably just a couple of years away.

Why we care: Standard will be a little more expensive now without chase cards goosing the value of the product. I think this is the worst side effect of a good change. We’re too used to this, and it’s in our best interest to have this be something we are excited for, a bonus, instead of an expectation.


Cliff is an avid kitchen table player who’s loving the Drake Haven deck in FNM. He’s been at this since late 1994 and doesn’t appreciate being called iconic, though he’s extremely likely to build a foil Unstable cube. Find him on Twitter @WordOfCommander.

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