Category Archives: Rachel Agnes

Pro Tour Announcements and Modern Finance

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Have you seen the big announcements regarding the Magic Pro Tour? If not, now is a good time to take a look!

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/organized-play/2018s-pro-tours-and-2017s-worlds-2017-07-19

My personal excitement aside, this is a great time to discuss some financial ramifications regarding the changes. Here are a few takeaways that I will discuss from this.

  1. Bigger prizes + Bronze level will lead to a slight increase in players grinding for the Pro Tour
  2. Modern being offered as both a Pro Tour format and qualifying events leading up to it will lead to more players playing high level Modern.
  3. With more interest in Modern, prices will go up due to demand.

More money!!!

My view:

So as a collector/investor what do increased prize payouts mean for you? Even if you aren’t someone interested in getting onto the Pro Tour, there will absolutely be more players willing and eager to do so. The Pro Tour prize money is increasing, including the 25th Anniversary Pro Tour which will award $1,000,000 total in prizes. Financially speaking, the EV of playing in Pro Tours just went up. With this payout increase we will see at least a small increase in the number of players trying to qualify. Thus, we may see a small increase in the price of tournament staples.

Opposing view:

Prize payouts for Grand Prix increased a few years ago and the numbers at Grand Prix didn’t spike in any meaningful way. So isn’t it possible that increasing prizes isn’t an effective way to increase tournament participation?

Discussion:

Yes and no. Healthy formats, well-run events, coverage, and EV combined are effective ways to increase tournament participation. Recently, Grand Prix have spiked their entry fee by roughly double and are not increasing payout accordingly. Additionally, the lack of coverage over the last few years was abysmal and certainly led to less hype and notoriety of the events. These easily overshadowed what could have been a slight boom of players entering Grand Prix.

With Pro Tour slots being more coveted than ever I predict larger turnouts for PPTQs, RPTQs, and Magic Online events. These could lead to an increase in the price of many tournament staples, but those will primarily be tied to the health of the format and game in general. It is still something to keep in mind.

Bronze and what it means

My view:

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Along with the increased prize payouts, the addition of the Bronze tier in the Pro Player’s Club means that there will be more players qualified for RPTQs. This will lead to more players aiming to hit the 10 Pro Point threshold. Not many will get there, but the increase in players attempting it should be noticed.

Opposing view:

A few more players at RPTQs won’t affect my card prices, because it isn’t a large enough scale to matter.

Discussion:

I think the variation in attendance will be slight. Attendance numbers only slightly contribute to card prices. So in the end, yes, I think the prices of tournament staples will only slightly increase. Combined with the removal of the Masterpiece Series from most sets, we could see mythic rares in particular be pricey after the coming Pro Tours.

Modern is back!

My View:

Don’t be fooled, Modern is a Pro Tour format and I am more excited than ever to see its return to the big stage. With big name pros playing optimized, tested, and tuned decks we will see top tier staples go up in price. Modern cards are extremely susceptible to big spikes in price, usually only quelled by reprints or bannings. Even when a deck falls out of favor, the price hardly moves much, as has been the case with cards like Goryo’s Vengeance and Scapeshift.

Opposing View:

People who have been into Modern already have the cards and aren’t going to be reinvigorated by the Pro Tour.

Discussion:

Having a few Grand Prix scattered around and having a showcase at the Pro Tour are two entirely different beasts. Exposing more people to the format, especially with the contrast to the awful Standard environments of the last few years, will grow Modern further. More growth, means higher prices.

What about qualifying events?

My view:

According to the article, there will be Modern PPTQs for a three month span in mid-late 2018. This means that Modern staples should see a significant uptick in price. After all, these cards will now be usable to get you onto the Pro Tour. You know, the one with 4x the prize pool.

Opposing View:

There is too small a window to qualify for the Pro Tour via Modern. Additionally, there will be Sealed qualifiers at the same time, so less events for Modern overall.

Discussion:

These points are valid, but if history is any indicator, when PPTQ season (formerly PTQ season) rolls around, the formats that feed that Pro Tour see their tournament staples increased in price. If you want to sell some Modern cards I would do so in that time span. If you are looking to pick up Modern cards, I would get a feel for a deck you like and save up for it long before that time frame.

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Which cards should you invest in?

As an investor, there is huge opportunity when it comes to Modern. The format has a large player base and regular events at both the Grand Prix and LGS levels. With it being displayed annually on the Pro Tour, and the reintroduction of the “Modern season” of qualifying events, there will be productive time frames to buy and sell modern staples.

Personally, I stick to the staples when it comes time to invest, and the more universal playability the better. I stay far away from casual cards and fringe spikes from Modern decks that are showcased on Twitch or in articles. I want the professional results and the pro player backing behind cards I suggest picking up.

Kind of cards I avoid:

Rite of Passage 

Intruder Alarm 

Phyrexian Soulgorger  

Allosaurus Rider 

Geralf’s Messenger  

I avoid cards like these because they are often novelty or “flavor of the week” combos that will never go anywhere in Modern, and for good reason.  Can you do well getting in cheap around $0.25-$0.50 and selling for $4.00 on cards like this? Sure! It’s just not the grind I enjoy myself.

Kind of cards I would consider:

Karn Liberated

Fulminator Mage

Rest in Peace

Fatal Push

Collective Brutality

I am not saying I would invest in any of these particular cards at the moment. I am just trying to illustrate the type of cards and the juxtaposition between the “do’s and don’ts” I have for investing. Because what is powerful in Modern and the state of reprints are always unpredictable, there is rarely a definitive individual investment to be made.

Is Modern a Pro Tour Format?

My View:

Yes, Modern is a Pro Tour format. It belongs on the Pro Tour because it is another fun way to play Magic and is promoted at many levels including at Grand Prix.

Opposing View:

Modern is not a Pro Tour format because it doesn’t sell packs and they have to ban/unban cards to spice it up.

Discussion:

As a once-per-year event, Modern doesn’t need shaking up. Will WotC ban or unban cards right before a Modern Pro Tour to “make things more interesting?” It’s possible. However, they do not need to do so. There will be plenty of powerful brains at work trying to solve the format. With Modern being as open and large a format as it is, there is little chance everyone will decide on the same unanimous deck unless something is truly broken. In fact, Standard has a way better chance of being broken for a Pro Tour and leading to stagnant matchups and games.

These announcements have me super excited! I just had to get writing and discussing as soon as possible. What are your thoughts on the announcements? What do you think of the future of Modern and Legacy with their appearance at the Pro Tour? Time will tell, but I know it’s going to be a wild ride.

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

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Eye Candy from Grand Prix Vegas (Part 2)

Hello everyone! It’s been a few weeks since Grand Prix Vegas took place and it’s time to look forward to many more amazing events. First though, I would like to conclude my article showing off the amazing and unique items I saw at the Grand Prix Vegas. If you missed part 1, here is a link to it!

http://blog.mtgprice.com/2017/06/21/eye-candy-from-grand-prix-vegas-part-1/

So without further delay, here are some more amazing things I witnessed, and even something I picked up there.

Honey, I’m home! VintageMagic.com’s booth certainly had the lion’s share of Drop of Honey at the Grand Prix that weekend. It was quite the mover due to its showing in the 4th and 9th place Legacy decklists piloted by Jody Kieth and Jarvis Yu. This powerful reserved list spell is a new innovation for sideboards in the Lands deck. To start the weekend, you could still snag these off tcgplayer.com for under $100, but now you are looking to pay close to $300 apiece on them.

Well who’s that? That’s me! Of course, being the Lands player I am, I had to take an opportunity to snag up a few copies myself. Being in the know about a card this rare spiking is surely helpful. I had to drop some really honey to buy these, but not as much as I would if I were to buy them today.

There were many awesome sights down artist alley. Dozens of artists were featured at this historic event and many brought with them prints, playmats, and original artworks. On display above is a painted print by Dan Scott of his Ponder artwork. Up close and in a frame, it really  resembled an original artwork to the point where it even fooled me. I had been under the impression the artwork was done digitally (which it was) meaning a true original did not exist. The added brushstokes for texture really brought this piece to life. Who wouldn’t love to have this beauty hanging up on their wall?

If you have a keen eye, you may have noticed this sweet alter from my Drop of Honey picture above. Also at the VintageMagic.com booth, was an Alpha Forest signed and altered by none other than the legendary Christopher Rush himself. A piece like this is truly special as Mr. Rush is no longer with us, but his artwork and love of Magic will always live on. Illustrating his iconic Black Lotus on this Forest, which could very well have been pulled from the same pack as one, is the icing on the cake.

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No one man should have all that power. That sure is a lot of old school Magic goodness. Literal rows worth of Power 9 cards, including black bordered versions? That’s enough to make my jaw drop. I just wanted to grab into this case and build a 93/94 deck right then and there.

Okay Snapcaster Mage and Jace, you guys aren’t old school but it’s cool you can chill. Mahamoti will allow it. We coo.

Do U Sea what I see? I see a down payment on a house worth of sweet cardboard crack right about there. I would killll to play with some of these beautiful cards in all their black bordered glory. Imagine the powerful spells cast by these iconic dual lands. Serra Angel and The Hive most likely, but hey, casting a Jace, the Mind Sculptor off these in today’s era would make this girl swoon.

Do you like your cards nice and minty? Well who doesn’t? These are some pristine cardboard rarities here. BGS and PSA 8’s and 9’s seriously skyrocket that price point, and for good reason. How can you one-up the next person’s Alpha Power and dual lands? Have yours graded and show off that pack-fresh godliness. Graded cards aren’t really for me. I have to take it out of the box and play with it!

It might have been long before I started playing Magic the Gathering, but many old school players surely have played against their fair share of Shivan Dragons. Gem Mint PSA 10 Beta Shivan is truly a spectacle and I would happily be scorched and engulfed in flames by this mystical and expensive piece of cardboard. Take my money!!

Well look what we have here! Stacks of cash? Meh. Richard Garfield exclusive cards? Shrug. One of each Summer dual land. JACKPOT. I have never seen one of each Summer dual land in one place, and you likely never will either. The prices on these I couldn’t even begin to figure, I will just let you know it’s a lot. Better yet, I saw them out of the case and being negotiated on by a potential buyer. I can’t even imagine the amount of money that changed hands during Grand Prix Vegas, but I am sure it puts that wad of cash there to shame. Also, yeah, that’s a blue Hurricane just chilling there.

Ohhh gurl, there she is! I was speechless seeing this beautiful card. Easily the most expensive card in the room at Grand Prix Las Vegas, a BGS 10 Beta Black Lotus is easily worth upwards of $80,000!! Don’t let my nails fool you, I couldn’t afford this bad boy even if I sold my entire Magic collection and my car. I was just happy to bathe in its light. What a truly inspiring and unique piece of MTG history.

On the topic of inspiring and unique, there was far more to take in at the Grand Prix than just Magic cards. Here was a cosplayer posing as Nissa, Steward of Elements from Amonkhet. And right beside her, the original artwork for that very Nissa. Illustrated by Howard Lyon!

It doesn’t get any more unique and spectacular than that! Owning an original Magic the Gathering artwork is an amazing feat, and one that is both rewarding and exciting. Be warned, once you have one, you won’t want to stop. I do not own this beauty, but I was lucky enough to pick up an original artwork at the Grand Prix of my own…

Makeshift Mannequin from Lorwyn! I was so excited to finally see the artwork for the first time in person. A very kind person from the Facebook Mtg Art Exchange page, Luke, sold me this amazing piece and I couldn’t be happier. I absolutely love the colors and details on this piece as well as the lighting. I love all things faerie and MTG, so when I saw the piece I knew I had to own it. Picking this up was one of the highlights from my trip to Las Vegas and I won’t soon forget it.

And so there you have it. My Grand Prix Las Vegas adventure. I was one of the last people to leave the event hall before closing time on Sunday, spending my last hours cube drafting the night away. I had a wonderful and magical time at Grand Prix Vegas and I would absolutely do it again next year! From all the artists and vendors to the friends and events, I couldn’t even express how much fun I had. I hope you also had fun living vicariously through me a little through these photo essays. I surely had a blast taking the pics and spreading the word.

Thanks so much for reading! What were your favorite sights from the Grand Prix? Did you pick up anything cool? Let me know it the comments!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

 

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Eye Candy from Grand Prix Vegas (Part 1)

Whewwww! Grand Prix Las Vegas is in the books and it was quite the experience. Having attending multiple two-day Grand Prix, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as this massive five-day event was concerned other than “Yeah, this event is just going to be longer, right?” Well it sure was longer and larger than I could have imagined and I knew I had to document some of my favorite sights and scenes from the Grand Prix!

The WotC coverage team did a great job as always taking photos encompassing the venue, the attractions, and players of the event. I figured I would do something a bit different and would go hunting around for awesome photo opportunities and capture some less photographed rarities and special cards. Everyone would see pictures of cosplayers and artists’ alley, but would you get to see a full set of Summer dual lands? Original Magic artwork? Graded cards galore? Come take a look at the amazing items I found at the Grand Prix! (Sadly, no, I did not purchase any of these items)

Hopefully you got to attend the Grand Prix. If not, I hope these photos help you live vicariously through me to see some of the awesome eye candy from this historic MTG event.

Okay, I absolutely LOVE the way the Masterpiece Series looks in dealer cases. They are real eye catchers and so shiny that they get this girl to waltz right on over. Some pretty solid prices here to boot. Oh yeah, check out those ten Black Lotus on the right side there. No big deal right? There were certainly several hundred Black Lotus in the room this weekend which is mind-blowing to think about!

Speaking of power, here are some Power 9 cards that have various alters on them. Although admittedly, the thought of applying a paintbrush to a Black Lotus makes me shudder, I do understand that sometimes these can be restoration projects as well.

I am not too big a fan of the basic land alters such as the Mox Jet with the Urza’s Swamp background or the Mox Sapphire with the Zendikar Island background, but they are an interesting and unique take for sure. As for the prices, I honestly have no idea if they are a bargain or not. I certainly wouldn’t purchase them but that doesn’t meant they wouldn’t make great additions for some folks.

Similarly, the Power 9 with the updated artwork from the Magic Online Vintage Cube versions, while well-done, doesn’t do it for me. OG artwork all the way, but it is an interesting way to have your pieces stand out.

Magic calculators!! Well, sorta. Sadly, most have moved towards pen and paper to keep track of life totals, but real men and women use an abacus! These relics of days gone by were released by Duelist Magazine all the way back in 1995 and are still quite rare to this day. Obviously, the blue one is the most expensive of the lot, but $50 for a green one isn’t too shabby. If only this was the go-to method for keeping track of life totals we would see these be astronomically more expensive. However, if you and your opponent get into a life total dispute, if they have pen and paper and you an abacus, I don’t need to tell you who the judge will side with. SAD.

Be still my beating heart! What unholy disaster has taken place here? And before you ask, NO, these are not those new white border plastic inserts. Someone actually took an eraser to those borders and committed a cardinal sin. Jokes aside these look surprisingly cool and certainly are quite eye-catching. Don’t let the new white border inner sleeves trick people into thinking you aren’t deranged. There is plenty of crazy out there for us all!

SAND!!

But for real, these sculptures were really awesome! Someone was building each day of the event and they were hard at work toiling away like a citizen of Naktamun! Perfectly flavorful and super interesting addition to the Grand Prix.

This lucky fellow won an uncut rare/mythic sheet of Amonkhet. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I got it. Would I frame it or just resell it? I’ll get back to you on that when I win an uncut sheet tournament!

I met some awesome people from Spain this weekend who played in the main events. One of them had some sweeeet Japanese foils to show off. A full playset of Japanese foil Mishra’s Baubles is something I’ve never seen before and must be worth a pretty penny (especially since the set wasn’t printed in Russian).

And don’t even get me started on those Thoughtseizes. Good gracious! I would love to pimp my ride one day with those beauties. What I love about images like this is that is shows the heart and soul someone pours into their deck to pick up rare cards and customize things the way they love.

The Original Magic Art, OMA, booth was bustling this weekend as well. So many amazing choices when it comes to tokens for your deck. So what’s interesting about them? They feature historic real-world art from around the world and through the centuries. What could be better than using The Great Wave of Kanagawa as a Master of Waves Elemental Token?

Alright, well here are some most Masterpieces! Quick trivia, without scrolling up to the top of the page which booth had better deals? Look at the Mind’s Eye and Mind Twist. Which booth was better? The previous picture showed Mind’s Eye at $16 and Mind Twist at $25 while here you would be paying $28 and $33 respectively. That’s a 67% increase, or a free $20 bill to spend elsewhere. Tsk tsk. It always pays to shop around at Grand Prix and for many floor traders and dealer flippers it works out like an hourly wage. For those who just want to pick up a sweet card for their decks or cube, it will still always behoove you to shop around.

Unf, I want theseeee. Look at those delicious black borders. There is nothing better than playing with cards from Alpha and Beta, and while I don’t always gravitate towards signatures, I would happily sleeve some of these bad boys up. Notice the lack of prices? If you have to ask, you can’t afford them 😉

At what would a wonderful and hectic Grand Prix day be without concluding with dinner? This was an amazing Wagyu Beef that was out of this world. The food in Las Vegas is world-class and this dinner was one for the ages. A big thank you to VintageMagic.com.

There you have it, some great finds and hidden gems from the monumental Grand Prix Vegas. I hope you enjoyed checking it out and will enjoy part 2 as well. What were your favorite things from the Grand Prix? I would love to know in the comments!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast.
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

 

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Drawing Inspiration from Alters

What is the most rewarding part of playing Magic the Gathering for you? For some it is the gameplay and for others competition. For many it is just something to play casually with friends. For others, their favorite aspect of paying Magic the Gathering is customizing their cards. Finding unique and fun ways for everyone to enjoy Magic is something the game itself strives to do. Creating a welcoming environment where players are free to express themselves explains the need for so many different formats and variations of cards. Having your card stand out from the pack is something many players desire when playing Magic.

Some players find foils a great way to do this, and will go out of their way to find premium versions to spice up their decks. For some people, misprints are their preferred method of standing out. Misprints occur where something happened in the actual physical manufacturing of the card itself causing an abnormality to occur. For others, alters are the way they choose to cultivate their creativity. Today, I will be discussing some of my favorite MTG alterists at the moment and some of their alters that have really caught my eye.

It may come as a surprise to some, but there is actually a massive online card altering market. Ebay, Etsy, and Facebook have provided successful social media outlets to display your artwork and players have been devouring it. The desire to have your cards customized by not just top notch alterists but even small, lesser known alterists, is ever-growing. I do not purchase many alters myself because all my allotted MTG money is spent on foils and artwork, but I do absolutely have some favorites.

5. Eric Klug

https://www.facebook.com/klugalters/

Eric has been in the altering business for almost a decade and he is at the top of his class when it comes to producing high quality alters. I figure most people reading this have heard of him before and even purchased an alter from him. Here are a few of my favorites of his.

I love Klug’s alter on the most powerful spell ever printed, Black Lotus. His ability to replicate Terese Nielsen’s gorgeous Guru land style is superb. This full-art alter that covers the entirety of the border, yet somehow doesn’t take away from the allure of the lotus itself.

This MC Escher inspired Maze of Ith is one of Klug’s most famous alters. The line-work is amazing and I can’t even imagine how beautiful it looks on the battlefield.

This is one of Klug’s most recent masterpieces. I absolutely love Damnation and Gustave Dore so this alter hits me in all the right ways.

4. Brossard Alters

https://www.facebook.com/brossardalters/photos/?tab=album&album_id=432419673635182

I absolutely love this alterist’s way of blending real world items into their pieces.

I absolutely LOVE alters that take a spin on what the card does.  Casting Maelstrom Wanderer in Commander is always a spin of the wheel and the images on the roulette wheel certainly represent some sweet hits. Can you name them all?

Ok, admit it. We ALL thought that that promo Snapcaster Mage looked like a soccer player. This is a brilliant execution of that concept and I love how the lines on the field and the number 25 on the shirt look like the foiling process itself.

You know an alter is top notch when you confuse it with a photograph. I cannot get over how realistic the casino chips look on this Mox Emerald. Masterful shadowing and scale.

3. Blacklion Alters

https://www.facebook.com/pg/blacklionalters/photos/?ref=page_internal

This alterist makes the list for their masterful border extensions and full-art re imaginings. I absolutely love these Unglued basics because the colors really pop and you can’t tell where the original artist’s work ends and where the alter begins.

Ooo I love me some cherry blossoms and I absolutely love how this alter uses the Japanese influence to compliment the top. It doesn’t overdo it, which is an important thing to consider.

Ok someone is gonna have a sickkk looking Modern deck here. Hard to pick which my favorite here is because of how the picture is taken, but I love how they all work together. The colors are great and the cards are easily recognizable.

2. Sandreline Mousse

https://www.facebook.com/sandreline.altered/photos_albums

Sandreline has many different styles and each of them is masterfully done. I can never tell right off the bat when a piece is done by her but if it catches my eye and is beautifully done, I am never surprised it was painted by her.

Those lions look super realistic and majestic. It’s easy to forget that these are on Magic cards, they are so well done. I absolutely love the black and white aspect here too.

These art nouveau inspired duals and very popular alters by both Sandreline and Eric Klug. I think they are unique and interesting, even if I do prefer clean Fbb’s myself.

Stained glass Lightning Bolt?! Be still my fiery heart! I absolutely love all her stained glass alters but this one takes the cake for me. Talk about a sweet idea for a future Masterpiece series.

  1. MIB Alters

https://www.facebook.com/pg/MIB-MTG-Alter-1431618703795097/photos/?ref=page_internal

I’m not gonna lie, I absolutely had MIB alters as my number 1 pick for favorite MTG alterist by a landslide. I absolutely adore their style to no end and cannot get enough of seeing each of these amazing alters. I would KILL to own one someday.

I absolutely love this art style and it is so unique to MIB alters. I can instantly tell who illustrated it and its uniqueness even among alters really strikes me. I love this Daretti because of his facial expression. I just screams curious mischief to me.

The colors here are absolutely breathtaking and the facial expression is both natural and cartoony at the same time. I don’t know how that’s even possible.

All hail Phyrexia! Praise to Atraxa our overlord and long may her reign be! Okay, this artwork captures an adorable Atraxa, which isn’t easy to do while still keeping some of her menacing features. An absolute home run, and alters like this are what keep me coming back to MIB for inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed checking out some sweet alters with me. There are so many amazing alterists and alters that I didn’t get to mention here. I truly respect all forms of this art and do recommend purchasing at least one alter in your life, even if you just use the card casually. Who are your favorite alterists? Do you have a favorite alter that you own? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading!

Alter by BlackWingStudio

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast.
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

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