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The Watchtower 1/21/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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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.


In an effort to be more proactive, Wizards has seen fit to remove Krark-Clan Ironworks from Modern. Reviewing the precedent set with past combo bannings, such as Second Sunrise, this is certainly a decision made sooner than may have been anticipated. This could point to a desire to more quickly shuffle cumbersome combo decks out of the format in the future. We’ve no doubt that they came down on KCI much quicker than other decks that were more pervasive but less “tournament-unfriendly.” We’ll be wise to keep that in mind in the future should any other of these strategies arise.

Krav, the Unredeemed (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $17

I’d love to detail all sorts of Modern specs that have been given new life by KCI’s departure, but to be honest, there isn’t anything terribly clear or obvious. Other combo decks may show up in greater numbers again — Tron comes to mind — but any price activity is likely to be shallow enough to not represent a worthwhile investing opportunity. So instead we’ll think about Ravnica Allegiance today, and some of the new commanders that set has brought us. To begin, we’ll look at Teysa Karlov.

Teysa decks are in their infancy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to see where the strategy is going to head. Athreos’ spike a week or two ago means other people are figuring it out already as well. There’s three basic levels to Teysa. Level one, cards that reward you for things dying. Level two, ways to sacrifice those creatures. Level three, card draw to make sure you can keep doing those two things, since by it’s nature the deck is going to cannibalize its own board. Krav sits comfortably in both levels two and three.

On-demand sacrifice effects are often underappreciated in EDH. Their utility extends to an untold number of corner cases. Drawing cards and gaining life are of course both great as well, and need no championing. If you’re building a Teysa deck, it’s tough to imagine Krav doesn’t make it in.

Krav is of course from Battlebond, which means a single foil printing. Supplies are mediumish, with less than 50 copies on TCG, and basically none in stock at sub-$12 prices at direct vendors. Should Teysa prove to be a popular commander, I expect the supply on Krav to run low quickly. We’re looking at a summer set, that didn’t have excess demand to drive multiple print runs, that’s been out of the public eye for awhile. Inventory is latent, but new demand will drain it quickly.

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Lifeline

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $40

Another Teysa hit, Lifeline is a very old rare, all the way back from Urza’s Saga. (One set before foils, unfortunately.) Lifeline’s text is a tad clunky, which may be why adoption rates to date have been relatively low. Basically, if any of your creatures die and there’s still A. Lifeline and B. another one of your creatures on the battlefield, the dead creature is reanimated at the end of the turn. What this means for you is that you can do things like use Yahenni’s ability to make him invincible, sacrifice your entire board to various value effects, and then return them all back to play at the end of the turn because you have A. Lifeline and B. indestructible Yahenni. You can certainly get blown out, but even still, it’s a powerful line. It’s even sillier with something like Grave Pact or Dictate of Erebos in play.

As I said, Lifeline hails from the time before foils, so that’s not an option in this case. We’ve got different assurance though, as Lifeline finds itself on the reserve list. Normally we like foils for EDH since they can’t show up in precons, but in the case of RL cards, that’s not an issue, so the foil isn’t quite as important.

Lifeline’s biggest issue is that to date it’s not a wildly popular EDH card. That’s a bit surprising, as I’d imagine there’s a series of commanders that could make good use of it, but litigating whether a card should or shouldn’t be good in EDH doesn’t mean anything for it’s price. If it’s not seeing play it’s not expensive, no matter how good we think the card is. (I’m looking at you, 200 copies of Marton Stromgald.)

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Still, a new commander that specializes in death in a way no other commander really has could be just what Lifeline needs to go from virtually nonexistent to niche gem. That’s not a recipe for booming demand, but when we’re talking about a card that’s what, 21 years old, supply and the ravages of time are on our side. Like Krav, we’re not likely to see movement if Teysa isn’t popular, but if she is, this could be a major component of aggregate decklists.

Vizier of the Menagerie (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

We’ll wrap up by looking at a different Allegiance commander, Nikya of the Old Ways. Nikya wants you to play absolutely nothing but creatures, and rewards you by functioning as a walking Mirari’s Wake. How do you make the best use of this? By putting yourself in situations where you can cast hordes of creatures fast and hard. Lucky for you, Vizier does just that, as every creature on top of your deck is akin to drawing a card.

Unlike Lifeline an Krav, Vizier already has a base in EDH, with over 4k decks registered with a copy. That’s not remarkable in its own right, but it does give us an idea that there’s already a segment of players generating demand. A new commander that is definitely going to be after this effect stands to accelerate drain on a surprisingly limited supply.

Checking in on TCG, there’s roughly 30ish NM foil copies, starting at $8 and ramping to $10, and then $15 quickly. Other vendors are already out of stock, or are priced north of $15. Even without Nikya I’d like this as a spec, although admittedly it looks like it may be a slow burner. Hopefully Nikya drives a few people to to snag their copies and accelerates the drain on the existing supply, which would position you to turn a 12 to 24 month spec into a 3 to 4 month spec.


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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Time to buy UMA!

Yes, you read that title right.

This week, we saw a buyout of the Box Topper version of Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, and briefly, the card was over $100. It’s settled back down in the $75 range, but that’s still about $25 more than it was.

We’ve had the two GPs that were Ultimate Masters sealed deck, and with the beginning of Ravnica Allegiance previews, we’re all staring at the new shiny things.

Meanwhile, the UMA prices are at their likely bottom, and surprisingly, some are already starting to come back up. Usually for a Masters set there’s a couple of months for the supply to work through all the channels, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

This means that we have some real opportunities for value, and if nothing else, I want you to get the copies you need/want now, before they go back up. In many of these cases, the prices have gotten to the point that the UMA foil is about the same price as a nonfoil from a different set.

For example…

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Amonkhet Block at Rotation

Last week I had some picks for what to acquire now that Kaladesh block is FINALLY rotating. Amonkhet is also going, and this is our chance to pick up some cards dirt cheap.

I’ve got a combination of cards that are already good but underpriced, the casual foils I am targeting, and the spec cards that might not be worth much now, but in a world where Wall of Kelp is $10, anything is possible!

First up, Amonkhet, and then Hour of Devastation, the last small set we’re ever going to have until Wizards decides to go back to this model in two years.

As Foretold ($6 nonfoil/$20 foil)

There’s a few fringe decks using this, and it caused several of the nonexistent-mana-cost cards like Restore Balance to spike hard. What remains true is that this is a unique and powerful engine, and it’s a mythic that would be a four-of in the deck trying to break it.

Eventually, it’s going to get broken. Someone will figure out a new combo, or a new card will be printed that makes this a totally ridiculous play.

It’s not a big casual card, being in 3700 decks on EDHREC, but I want to have some of these for when Modern brewers make this the new terrifying play. Whenever it happens, I’d expect the nonfoils to hit $20.

Anointed Procession ($6/$10)

First of all, these foils are too cheap or the nonfoil is too expensive for the current prices. The ratio doesn’t line up at all. I’d expect this to either be $3 nonfoil or something like $15-$18 in foil. Frankly, I’m not sure which it is, but I’m super-in on foils at this low price. It’s in 6700 EDH decks, and that’s not bad for such a recent card. Compare to Parallel Lines, which is $18 and in 14,000 decks online. I think that’s a case of reverse recency bias, where older cards have just been around for a longer time, building up fans and decks. White is very good at making tokens, and I think the foil is due to correct upward by at least $10. There’s 80 copies on TCG, compared to 60 foils of something like Soul-Scar Mage or 200+ for Prowling Serpopard.

Soul-Scar Mage ($2/$5)

I’m hoping that the rotation in October floods the market a little on this card. It’s seeing just enough Modern (UR Wizards) and Legacy (UR Delver) to be worth putting a few copies away, I’d just like to get in as cheap as possible.

A wild ride indeed!

The reason both of those decks are running this card is because it’s a one-drop with Prowess, so a deck stuffed with cheap spells and interactions is going to have a field day with this.

I would prefer to get in at $1 or less, or hopefully $3 on the foils, but there’s a good chance that we are at the bottom for this card. It’s done a lot of coming and going, as the graph shows, but I’m hoping that people dump their supply.

Hour of Devastation

Crested Sunmare ($5.50/$8)

This is another card where the prices just don’t line up. There’s 120 nonfoils on TCG, and 60 foils, so there’s not a huge gap in supply. A price like this makes me think that the card has been carving up Standard, and people are playing the foil and the nonfoil at almost an equal rate. I can’t find any decks with this doing well in Standard, either.

Regardless of why (I wish I knew but shrug) the important thing is that the foils seem quite underpriced. It’s a much better Regal Bloodlord, triggering every turn and making a more powerful creature. There’s no Horse tribal synergies yet, so I’m just going to scoop up the foils at or under $10 and store these away. It feels like the foils will have a better growth pattern than the nonfoils, so that’s what I’m pursuing.

Mirage Mirror ($3/$8)

This is a pickup because it’s stunning in Commander games. It is a hasty clone effect, it can copy their Mirari’s Wake, or even pull a Thespian’s Stage and get you a Dark Depths 20/20 creature!

Terrible on its own, but in a Commander pod?

I am consistently impressed by this card, because it offers maximum flexibility and it gets used over and over again. Please, just go try it. You’ll be amazed too. I think this is a lock to end up in a Commander set sometime in the next couple years, and that’s why I strongly advocate you get foils now. Something’s going to happen and it’ll spike to $20, easily.

Scavenger Grounds ($3/$6)

I like this one for the amount of play it’s getting in Tron maindecks. It’s only a one-of currently, but in decks that are heavy on the colorless mana AND have 8 land tutors (plus a set of Ancient Stirrings) it’s pretty great to have this available game one. It’s notable that decks are playing this over Bojuka Bog, which might have been your first thought, but here we are. It’s not a heavy player yet, but I’ve seen this do a lot of work in Commander for not a lot of cost, and can be re-used if there’s more than one desert in the deck.

Abrade ($2/$8/$3 gameday non-foil)

The Game Day version of this card is sweet, but have you seen how many non-rotating decks play at least one copy in the main or sideboard?

courtesy of mtggoldfish.com

It’s so flexible, offering a lot of decks a lot of options. I don’t mind that several of these decks are playing just one in the board, as I’m going for the foils. There’s only 40 foils on TCG at the moment, and that’s a surprisingly low number for an uncommon printed just a year ago. All of these point to a moment when the card tips, and I don’t think that time is far away. I also think that it’s not going to do a small jump–this will be a $25 card. Don’t sell when it hits $15.

 

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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The Watchtower 6/18/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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.


If you weren’t at a computer last night an hour before Midnight EST, you missed a moment in Magic history. Watching eight players crack a bunch of unsearched Beta boosters was pretty dang cool, and aside from GenCon in a month or two, is unlikely to ever be repeated again. Wizards slept on the 20th anniversary, but they produced something quite cool for the 25th at least.

Of course what’s amusing about all of this is how excited the Wizards employees were, chief among them Aaron Forsythe. When they flipped Time Vault onto the table — a card that I’m assuming is unplayable in draft, or probably close to it — everyone cheered, and it was repeatedly referred to as “a big pull,” or something to that effect. Essentially that it’s one of the best cards they opened. But if it’s terrible in draft, why be excited to open it? Obviously you and I know the answer — it’s valuable. The director of R&D essentially admitting as much on camera, without using those words exactly, was probably just as fun as seeing it opened.

Goblin Chainwhirler (again)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

As Magic 2019 spoilers are rolling out, we’re seeing a Goblin theme is front and center, and possibly the biggest thing in red period. Of particular note so far is the Volley Veteran, which is a scalable Flame-Tongue Kavu. He’s not shooting down creatures when you’ve got an otherwise empty board, but he can scale up past four toughness, so it’s sort of a wash. Between new tools like this, and the heavy Goblin theme in Dominaria, we may see the tribe push hard in the fall.

Which, of course, would have Goblin Chainwhirler front and center. A three mana 3/3 for three is good stuff in general, and shooting down all the little guys on your opponent’s side is just savage. As is obvious, given how prevalent the card has been so far.

Chainwhirler was on my list a month or so ago, and I’m bringing it up again because the evidence is mounting that it’s going to be a key card in Ravnica’s Standard. Even without tribal support in M19 it was looking good, and now it’s shaping up to be even better. A month ago it was $4, now it’s $5. Will it be $15 in November?

Cryptolith Rite (Foil)

Price Today: $9
Possible Price: $20

Browsing EDHREC, I stumbled upon a nifty card that I’ve been waiting on for awhile; Cryptolith Rite. It was clear on release that this would be big game for EDH decks, and I’m not wrong. You’ll find Rite in about 10,000 EDH decks, making it (roughly) both the 50th most played green card and enchantment. Competitive categories both. Being able to provide any green deck that spits out tokens — which, come on, how many green decks can’t — a sudden army of Birds of Paradise is potentially insane, especially if you’re pairing it with Intruder Alarm, or Seedborn Muse, or any one of those busted cards.

As always, when it comes to EDH cards, we want to start with foils. Supply is quite low, but still close to the two times multiplier unexciting foils tend to have. I don’t believe this is accurate positioning for the card, and I suspect we’ll see a shift in the near future. In at $10, out at $20 is my goal.


Titania’s Song

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $30

You’ll recall last week I was talking about 93/94 EDH. It’s not any more of a thing today than it was last week — at least not that I know of — but I’m still thinking about it. We know how key EDH has been to card prices over the last two years, and unlocking an entire new market of EDH would be so, so sweet. You’d of course have dramatically fewer players, but with the scarcity of the cards for the format, I’m not sure that would matter.

Perhaps the most important difference between regular 93/94 and 93/94 EDH is that cards that would otherwise be just about useless in the prior could be astounding in the latter. I mean, Doubling Season has never been seroiusly cast in Modern since the format was introduced so many years ago, yet it’s one of the best cards in EDH imaginable. Which, if we extrapolate from that, leads us to believe that there are serveral 93/94 cards that are dead fish in two player games but will be format all-stars in EDH.

Titania’s Song, for those unwilling to read that garbage text above, says that all noncreature artifacts lose all their abilities and become creatures based on their CMC. Which means you can either play a ton of artifacts that Do Things, then cast Titania’s Song to use them to kill people, or use Titania’s Song to annoy the hell out of other people trying to Do Things with their artifacts. Play it on offense or defense, either one works!

There’s a handful of NM copies hanging around at $5, and an original printing of of such a dramatic effect is unlikely to remain at that price if the format catches on, especially given how the whole point of the format is to play the oldest copy available.


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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