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UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 7/10/17

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By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Hour of Devastation’s prerelease was this weekend, with casuals and spikes alike swarming local stores to get their hands on new EDH fodder in the form of The Locus God, and competitive staples like…hmm…check back with me on that. In fact, HOU has an abysmal expected value at the moment; perhaps one of the lowest of the last five years or more. That’s pretty dang low. Two other spring sets come to mind that looked this way: Dragons of Tarkir, which came out of the gate looking like a heaping pile of garbage for Standard, and Dragon’s Maze, which, well, same.

There’s a remarkable divergence in behavior after prerelease weekend though. DTK ended up taking off — Dragonlord Ojutai was a major Standard staple, and the other dragonlords were reasonably popular. All of the Command cycle was respected, and there were some other hits in there too. However, over on the DGM side of things, it got worse and worse. Voice of Resurgence ended up at an absurd $40+, Blood Baron of Vizkopa hung around $10 or $15, and that was it. That. Was. It. Voice was so expensive because every other card in the set save for Baron was so miserable.

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What’s going to happen with HOU? Will the god cycle pull up as it turns out they’re playable in Standard? Will several rares turn into sleepers, in the same way Atarka’s Command and Kolaghan’s Command did? Or will it be another Dragon’s Maze, with Nicol Bolas hitting $35 and the rest of the set a scene of devastation?

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Anger of the Gods (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $40

Not quite the same gods, but still on theme to be fair. Anger of the Gods has been a mainstay in Modern basically since it was printed, and while supply was deep initially, given that it’s from Theros, it has slowly sapped over the years, and is finally turning the corner into a semi-valuable card. The non-foil well is still fairly deep at over 100 copies on TCGPlayer, but stock on the foils is perilously low.

Dredge is an obvious reason to play Anger, especially since they’ve moved hard towards using a fleet of small-ish recurring creatures. An Anger after one of their big turns could easily take out five or six bodies and leave them reeling. Similarly, it will frustrate Abzan Company players, exiling their Kitchen Finks and Redcaps while also clearing away all the clutter of their mana dorks and combo enablers. Valakut decks stalking the MODO queues lean on it, Boros Nahiri decks use it, even Living End and Scapeshift stash some copies in the board.

You can score copies for $15, but not many. I wouldn’t expect a run on these any time soon, but copies will slowly get eaten, and without a reprint, it’s not unreasonable to see a Modern staple foil hit $40. Look at Collective Brutality and Kolaghan’s Command for reference, which Anger is played less than and more than, respectively.


Astral Cornucopia (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

I feel like I’ve talked about this card before, but if I can’t remember when then it’s been long enough that I don’t feel bad bringing it up again, and it’s still a good choice. Do you know what the most-built EDH deck on EDHREC was this past week? Locus God? Scarab God? Scorpion God? Well it was none of them. It was Atraxa. Again. Nearly twice as many as Scarab God, in fact.

Atraxa is going to be the most popular commander for quite some time. I doubt any of these upcoming tribal commanders are going to surpass her, in fact, for the simple reason that Atraxa is so flexible. Want to make Planeswalkers? Atraxa. Infect? Atraxa. -1/-1 counters? Atraxa. +1/+1 counters? Atraxa. Filibuster counters? Atraxa. Her sheer versatility is hard to understate.

If you’re playing Atraxa, Cornucopia is one of the best mana rocks you can play, if not the best. Sol Ring is the only artifact mana played more than Cornucopia, and that’s probably incorrect. Sol Ring is better for like two turns tops. With Atraxa in play and a single additional proliferate trigger, Cornucopia gives you your mana back on the same turn you play it, and a few turns later could conceivably tap for more than your opponent’s entire mana base.

There are still foils at $4, and as the most popular commander in the format, these are going to keep getting bought, and without additional foil supply, these will end up over $10 soon enough.


Supreme Verdict (BaB)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

A player has at their fingertips an expansive array of sweepers these days. Most cost over four mana though, what with Wizard’s push towards bigger costs and bigger effects. Four mana sweepers have been deemed too efficient and oppressive to creature strategies in Standard. This all means we’re unlikely to see more four mana wraths anytime soon, and what we’ve got is what’s available for awhile. Of the ones legal in Modern, Supreme Verdict is right at the top of the pile.

Realistically, there are three top unconditional wraths in Modern. Wrath of God, Damnation, and Supreme Verdict. Damnation obviously occupies a different space than Verdict, which mostly leaves Wrath. Wrath has the benefit of being easier on the mana and wiping out regenerating creatures, but that last clause is irrelevant in 98% of matches. Not requiring a second color is nice, but really, the number of mono-white decks casting wraths is miniscule. The average deck in Modern that wants to cast Wrath would prefer Verdict, since getting through Remand and Stubborn Denial and whatever else is mandatory for when you absolutely have to resolve a wrath.

All that said, Supreme Verdict is also in over 12,000 EDH decks. That’s a lot of decks!

Admittedly both the Buy-A-Box and the pack foil have good art, though I’ve always been partial to the BaB copy. The colors are great, and more importantly for us, supply appears to be lower than the pack foils these days. With the spell as popular as it is in EDH and the go-to wrath in Standard, these BaB promos have nowhere else to go.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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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.

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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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50 Shades of Non-Foil

I love promos. Do you love promos? Of course, everybody loves promos. There are hundreds of promos to discuss in all their foily glory and I do own quite a few of them myself. However, foils aren’t for everyone. Some people dislike how foils warp in humidity and others dislike when they can’t foil out their entire deck, which is sometimes the case in Legacy. So what promos exist for players who aren’t fond of foils? Today I will be showing off my top five favorites.

5. Guru Lands

(1999-2000)

Some of the nicest lands ever printed, Guru lands were given out in a promotion that Wizards launched in 1999 and only lasted a year. What’s so special about these lands? Well for starters, they are illustrated masterfully by the talented Terese Nielsen and feature an eclipse panorama that hasn’t been replicated since. But let’s get to the real issue here, Guru lands are incredibly expensive.

Islands are close to $400 a pop and the others are over $200 as well. Talk about supply and demand.The supply is incredibly low, especially Near Mint copies. The demand is off the charts. There are almost no players out there who wouldn’t desire one of these beautiful lands to accessorize their deck. They are more expensive than ANY foil basic land in existence, so if foils aren’t your thing you can still give your deck some bling bling treatment.

The reason these don’t place higher on the list is because of the price tag. Honestly, while I do absolutely love them and they look amazing on the battlefield as quite the display of opulence, I cannot support their price tag. For that price, you are better off investing in cooler cards, foil or not. The fact that you can purchase a Beta Taiga for around the price of two Guru Forests should really go to show that these promos are just for those with the richest of tastes. Perhaps if you aren’t spending your money on upgrading your foils, you may have a bit to blow on those basic lands.

4. Ugin’s Fate Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

(2015)

Fate Reforged was the middle set in the Khans of Tarkir block and was released in early 2015. At the pre-release, if you and your clan completed certain tasks you were awarded an “Ugin’s Fate” booster pack containing two random cards with alternate artwork. There were 26 cards total that differed from their traditional booster pack art, and they were supposed to depict an alternative future in the story line. By far the rarest and most sought after Ugin’s Fate exclusive card is Ugin, the Sprit Dragon.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon sees play in Modern, EDH, and cubes everywhere. On top of being a highly coveted planeswalker, it is one of only two colorless one printed to date. Ugin has competitive and casual uses alike so it is no surprise that this extremely rare version of the walker commands a price tag over $100. That’s a lot of money for a modern-day printed promo, and you can purchase a playset of regular Ugin, the Spirit Dragon for the price of one Ugin’s Fate Promo.

The decks that tend to play Ugin can usually be entirely foiled out. But for those who do not appreciate foils, the Ugin’s Fate promo makes an excellent substitute and you would only need to purchase one or maybe two copies. Chris Rahn’s artwork on it is spectacular but the regular pack artwork by Raymond Swanland is still my favorite.

3. Player Rewards Promos

(2005-2011)

The Player Rewards program was an excellent promotion run by Wizards for about a decade that officially started in 2001. While the promos given out started as tokens, playable cards started being released from 2005 to 2011. JUST in time for me to miss it as 2011 is when I started playing. Tilt. This free program rewarded players for playing a lot of Magic. Talk about a win-win program! Suffice to say, it was a tragic loss to players everywhere when it was discontinued.

All player rewards cards were sent in the mail and they were all textless. The more pricey and coveted cards, the rares, were foil. The commons and uncommons (with the exception of Lightning Bolt) were not foil. Dozens were printed over the years, but my favorites are Ponder, Mana Leak, Lightning Helix, and Terminate.

These cards have been creeping up slightly over the years, as they make great additions to decks that do not aim to be foiled out. All players rewards cards do have foil alternatives available to them but each textless card comes with unique artwork from their set arts, making them ideal candidates for this list.

2. Euro Lands

(2000)

Euro Lands were given as rewards to stores the distributed boxes of Nemesis, Prophecy, and Invasion. There are 15 total lands, 3 of each type, and they are quite hard to find in large amounts or sealed.

The artwork on these stunning lands are all done traditionally and are extremely high quality depictions of the real world. This offers a major contrast from modern-day Magic art direction, as the goal is to create and depict fantasy worlds that offer very little resemblance to the real world. There may be inspirations like steam punk and India for Kaladesh or ancient Egypt for Amonkhet, but when you see the actual world, you are not drawn to the exact parallel in the real world.

For the Euro Lands, the goal is exactly to transport you somewhere that exists here on Earth. I absolutely love that aspect of the cards and they reflect a unique time in Magic’s history that I am sure we will never see again. With a price tag much more affordable than Guru lands, these provide an excellent substitute to any foil lands on the market and absolutely earn their high spot on this list.

  1. States/Game Day Promos

(2006-Present)

The Champs/States promos and Game Day promos are two different systems, but I grouped them together due to their similarities. States for the US (Champs for the rest of the World) was a yearly program where a Standard tournament was held to determine the champion for a particular region. Though it was eventually discontinued, the most similar, currently running program is Game Day. A few weeks after each Standard-legal set release, there is a Standard tournament to decide who the top players for the format are at local game stores.

The similarity in the promos given is also evident. Along with a higher-end foil promo given to the top 8 competitors, there is a non-foil uncommon card given to each player who participates regardless of finish. In the case of States/Champs, it is the same artwork as a card but given a full-art and border treatment, the likes of which hasn’t been replicated again. For Game Day promos, there is an alternate art from the set version, and it is also given a full-art treatment.

I like many of these promos but my favorites are Imperious Perfect, Electrolyze, and Reclamation Sage. I always though Imperious Perfect’s artwork was never done justice on the tiny art from Lorwyn, and this is as close as we can get to seeing more of Scott Fischer’s masterpiece artwork blown up. When I think of ways to upgrade decks without using foils, these are the first promos that come to mind for me. For that reason, they are the number one on my list.

I hope you enjoyed checking out some unconventional ways to upgrade your decks. The go-to cards many people consider when blinging out their decks are foils, but foils aren’t for everyone. I may enjoy foils more myself, but I respect these various promos offering something excellent and different for a different type of collector. What are some of your favorite non-foils you enjoy in your decks. Would you like to see Wizards print more non-foil options regarding promos these days? I look forward to your feedback in the comments. Thanks so much for reading!!

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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The Art of Art

Hello everyone! I am back today to bring you a rarely discussed topic in MTG finance, card artwork. Part of this is because art is very subjective. As you know many Magic cards have various printings. Some have different borders, rarities, and artwork. All of these components tend to have varying effects on the prices among different printings of the same card. So today I will be discussing how otherwise similar cards having different artwork can affect price in a big way.

Many of the best artwork on cards are on the original version. While this is my opinion, I’m here to show you the price often reflects that. While that isn’t always the case, I find that  more often than not, the older artwork is superior. We know that the original printing of cards tend to fetch a slightly higher price than any reprints do. However, we can also see cards with the same artwork that are reprinted have prices very close to each other. Many cards boast the same or less than 5% price difference when the versions share the same art. This even applies to cases where one has a much smaller print run or wasn’t opened as much.

Some examples of cards that have been reprinted years after the original but containing the same artwork are:

Notice anything about these prices? The prices of the reprints are right in the same ballpark as the originals. Basically, the demand to have one version of these cards over the other is so small, that there isn’t a profound price difference even where the original has far fewer copies in circulation.

Additionally, many cards that have been reprinted with different artwork have similar prices. I have found that when the quality of artwork is relatively similar, two different versions of the same card tend to only have small price differences. In other words, if the player base is relatively split when it comes to artwork preference, the prices synchronize.

Some examples of this would be Goblin Guide, Engineered Explosives, and Vendilion Clique. The prices for these between their different sets and artworks is relatively consistent. In my opinion, this can be attributed to a lack of one artwork being vastly superior to its counterpart.

Today, I will be discussing cards whose prices do differ significantly. The most likely reason for these price differences in my opinion is the artwork. In some cases, the old frame versus new frame may cause a bit of the price difference, but for me, the true appeal of these cards is the artwork.

  1. Chord of Calling

I absolutely love the original Ravnica Chord of Calling. The way Heather Hudson uses the colors for the lighting and the focus on the giant bird are more pleasing to the eye than the M15 version. The M15 Chord comes off somewhat jumbled and confusing and I do not get the whole “I am summoning a sweet creature” vibe from it.

While both cards have a post-8th Edition frame, the Ravnica version commands roughly a 33% higher price tag. The price of the foil Ravnica version is three times higher than the M15 as well. This goes to show that when players are choosing how they want to search out their toolbox creatures in Modern and EDH they are willing to shell out a few extra dollars for the beautiful colors of the original printing.

  1. Venser, Shaper Savant

Venser is one of my favorite blue cards of all time. When he isn’t putting work in cube, he can be found smashing face in competitive and casual EDH alike. Just missing the bar of playabilty in Modern, it’s these casual formats that caused this amazing tempo creature to soar in price before being reprinted twice in recent years.

While I do like the blue colors in the newer Venser, the original Future Sight artwork is just so iconic. Future Sight commands the highest booster box price tag of all Modern-legal sets and Venser is right there on the box artwork as the focus. You can buy an entire playset of Modern Masters 2017 Vensers for the price of ONE Future Sight original version. And when it comes to foils, the newer version could buy you exactly one Chipotle burrito. A Future Sight Venser however, could buy you one burrito per day for a whole week. Because both Vensers have the post-8th Edition frame and rarity, it can only be surmised that the artwork plays a huge role here. I absolutely agree, you can’t beat Aleksi Briclot’s amazing artwork here and we will see another of his iconic works later.

  1. Cabal Therapy

Cabal Therapy may be the only uncommon on my list, but it has certainly earned its spot. The original Judgment printing is worth double it’s recent Eternal Masters counterpart. You could also buy two playsets of pack foil Cabal Therapy from Eternal Masters for the price of ONE Judgement foil. Now, some of this can be attributed to some preferring the old border compared to the new, but that’s not the end of the story.

The original artwork for Cabal Therapy was created by the talented Ron Spencer well over a decade ago and the artwork really speaks to me. I was actually shocked to see the original artwork of this piece change hands a couple years back for under $2,000. Nothing against the newer artwork, but the two are light and day to me. I could never part with my playset of Judgment Cabal Therapy and combined with the old border, there’s no other way to go.

  1. Mana Crypt

Just because you flip a coin for Mana Crypt doesn’t mean you should leave your artwork selection up to chance. The original Mark Tedin artwork for this powerful Vintage, Cube, and EDH staple evokes what I feel to be subtle ominousness. It looks so quaint, but complicated. Unwelcoming, yet fascinating. I always wanted to see what lies beyond that corner. Sometimes, I imagine that there are two wizards waiting there right around the bend, where the light source is coming from. One has a gift of mana for you, the user, waiting eagerly to provide aid when you reach for your Mana Crypt. The other wizard has a spear ready to offer you, stabbing you in your side when you reach to the crypt.

Anyways, my crazy fantasies aside, the price difference between the media promo version (which happens to be the original) and the new Eternal Masters Mana Crypt isn’t a figment of your imagination. The original crypt will set you back about 40% more than the newer one, so for those of you with many Commander decks, you could buy three new ones for the price of two old ones. I do believe the very handsome old border plays some part of this massive price difference, however you can’t discount the artwork when comparing the two. Since you are expecting the crypt to stick around on the board as long as you are, I would absolutely choose the original.

  1. Sneak Attack

Surprise, you’re dead! That’s what happens when you allow a Sneak Attack to resolve these days in EDH or Legacy. With the power creep of creatures over the past decade, Sneak Attack’s stock has risen quite sharply and it even finds itself the focus of a few Legacy decks. While it was recently reprinted in Eternal Masters with different artwork, the original from Urza’s Saga commands a 33% premium over the newer version. This is even despite an upshift from rare to mythic rare.

Now there is quite some allure to the older border when it comes to Sneak Attack. I absolutely love the old red border magnitudes above the post 8th Edition border.  But by far, the biggest selling factor for Sneak Attack is its artwork. Illustrated traditionally by Jerry Tiritilli, the artist for Rishadan Port, the colors and movement of the piece are absolutely stunning. Goblins teaming up and attacking a dragon beat some kavu attacking a random soldier any day for me. The Urza’s Saga version sticks out on the field quite vibrantly, despite me always grumbling when it is played against me. The masterful artwork combined with the amazing flavor text on the original means we certainly have a winner, and the price reflects that.

  1. Grim Lavamancer

Red players eat your heart out! If you have respect for the color red you will use the original Torment version of this amazing 1-drop. There are very few red artworks in all of Magic that beat out Grim Lavamancer to me. Jim Nelson hit it out of the park with the original art from 15 years ago. The blue of the lavamancer’s cloak contrasts the reds and oranges flowing from his hands. The facial expression on the lavamancer himself and the Obstinate Familiar on his shoulder really set the callous red player’s mood.

When it comes to pricing, it seems that most players agree with me. Non-foil Grim Lavamancers from Torment are priced around 40% more than their M12 counterpart. For the price of a single foil copy from Torment you could buy ten foils from M12. I cannot speak poorly of Michael Sutfin’s amazing artwork either, as he is also the illustrator of Sensei’s Divining Top, Vendilion Clique, and Exalted Angel. However, when it comes to this lavamancer, any choice other than the original would be grim.

  1. Tarmogoyf

“Ach! Hans, run! It’s a very price inflated version of the lhurgoyf!”

Surely everyone reading this has heard of Tarmogoyf. At one point it was the most expensive creature in all of Magic, even beating out Imperial Recruiter and Juzam Djinn. Thanks to recent reprintings, the mighty Tarmogoyf has shrunk in price to an affordable… $300 per playset. Well that could buy you the cheapest playset out there. If you want to play your goyfs in style, you will have to shell out closer to $500 for a playset of the Future Sight version. A this point, Tarmogoyf has been printed four times and I suspect that number to rise to five by 2019. Foil Future Sight Tarmogoyf is one of the most expensive foils in all of Magic. Commanding more than some Beta dual lands should be an indicator of how coveted the premium version of this powerful creature is. It would be cheaper to acquire a playset of foils from any other set than shell out for a single copy of this extremely rare foil. There are two reasons for the huge price difference between versions.

The most obvious reason that sticks out, is the border. I would wager that on my list, the card that has the most contribution to its price from its border is Tarmogoyf. The amazing and unique Future Sight border that appeared on “future shifted” cards hasn’t been replicated since, and players do jump at the chance to throw them in their deck. We see this with other cards like Street Wraith, Narcomoeba, and Bridge from Below. I absolutely love this frame as well and can certainly see it contributing to the price difference.

However, let’s not forget that Tarmogoyf was upshifted to mythic rarity when it was reprinted in all three Modern Masters sets. Because the original version is simply a rare, we must attribute another factor to its price premium. The artwork for Tarmogoyf certainly plays a factor here. I will admit, the original artwork for Tarmogoyf is peculiar. It was produced by an artist who was given one other card and never illustrated for MTG again. Calling Tarmogoyf’s artwork a masterpiece would certainly be pushing it. “Iconic” is more aligned with how I feel when I see a Future Sight Tarmogoyf. The artwork actually looks amazing when combined with the border, something few other cards can boast. Immediately recognizable and always sizeable, it leaves me and many others hungry for the original.

  1. Polluted Delta

I was tempted to put all five original Onslaught fetchlands here on the list but decided that I would just do my favorite, Polluted Delta. You can’t beat a traditional Rob Alexander landscape painting and it isn’t remotely close when compared to the Khans of Tarkir version. Polluted Delta is one of my favorite artworks of all time and it is absolutely one of the top 10 most powerful lands ever printed to boot. The colors Rob uses to illustrate a very calm but tainted scenery are perfect and this artwork will always command respect from me. Also the Khans version has flavor text. Ew.

The Onslaught version is about 40% more expensive than the Khans version and for good reason. Did I also mention the 700% difference in price between the two pack foils? That insanity partly comes from the amazing old border but you gotta hand it to the artwork as well. It is a display of good taste to use original Rob Alexander fetchlands from Onslaught, but those aren’t the only of his works you should pay a little more for…

  1. Hallowed Fountain

Number 2 on this list shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone but I chose the Ravnica shockland cycle. Just like the fetchlands, I decided to focus on my favorite one of the bunch rather than dive into the set of 10, but for artwork the original 10 are vastly superior on each count.

Hallowed Fountain is one of the best pieces of artwork for the game, hands down. The amount of detail and intricacy in the artwork isn’t seen in the rest of the game, old or new. The size and scale of the piece is remarkable and the use of shadows and details makes it quite stunning. Mr. Alexander strikes again and it is always nice to be able to use a fetch by Rob to grab a shockland by Rob.

As for the price, you are going to pay roughly double for the original Dissension version over the Return to Ravnica edition. The foil version of the original is worth roughly 550% more as well. That means you couldn’t even buy a single copy of a Dissension foil for the price of a playset from Return to Ravnica. Both versions have the exact same border and the exact same set rarity, so the artwork seals the deal here.

  1. Thoughtseize

The moment you have all been waiting for, the number 1 spot. Thoughtseize was the main card that inspired me to write this article in the first place. I found the difference in artwork quality so vast and the playability of the card so frequent that I had to bring up the discussion.

Thoughtseize from Lorwyn is illustrated by the talented Aleksi Briclot and captivated everyone from the moment it was printed. Don’t let the beauty and elegance of the colors fool you, getting Thoughtseize’d is no fun at all. One of the most powerful plays in Modern, Legacy, and sometimes Vintage, it would behoove a player to have the best artwork of the card. After all, it often sits there, glaring your opponent in the face taunting them, as you write down the contents of their hand. Might as well give them something nice to look at.

The original Thoughtseize from Lorwyn is worth about double the Theros version. When it comes to foils, things get crazy. Lorwyn Thoughtseize foil versions have really been shaken up lately on the market and the prices have been fluctuating between expensive and very expensive. Currently, an original foil Thoughtseize will set you back close to $600, while a Theros foil goes for around $45. Considering both cards have the same set rarity and border, it is another clear indicator of artwork superiority.

And that concludes my list of cards that demand premiums based on their superior artwork. There were many cards that I felt missed the list not on their merits but because rarity shifts had too important a role in their price. For instance, Snapcaster Mage from Innistrad is worth roughly the same as the Snapcaster Mage from Modern Masters 2017. I believe the original artwork far outshines the reprint, but the price hasn’t reflected that yet due to the upshift in rarity. The same goes for Vampiric Tutor from Visions and Eternal Masters.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these amazing pieces of Magic history as much as I enjoyed gathering them. I hope we see a new direction of artwork, calling back to days long gone in the future. What are your favorite versions of popular cards? Do you prefer the newer art style or the old? Feel free to let me 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.
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