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Collecting Today

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Magic’s structure was the very first collectible card game, commonly called a CCG or now a Trading Card Game, the TCG in TCGPlayer.

A whole lot of Magic’s value is tied up in the collectibility of these cards, in how we can get some unique or special or exotic versions of a regular card. 

Interestingly, though, not all collectibles are created equal, and definitely show unequal levels of growth. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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One Way or another

There was a time that I used to take bets on cards getting banned. 

And then Hogaak happened, where Wizards first decided to ban an auxiliary card in a format’s new and overwhelming deck, and I lost money because I didn’t think that they would just let it go.

After that, they DID ban Hogaak, causing me to lose money again because I figured they’d made it clear that the old cards were the problem, not the new one that could still be opened.

Now I’m wiser. I don’t have any idea at all what’s going to happen on Monday. Will Oko, Thief of Crowns be dethroned? Will there be collateral damage?

What I do know is, there’s plans to be made in either scenario. 

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First, let’s take a moment and appreciate something truly special about Oko’s price: the heavy weight of an expected banning.

Yes, dear reader, CoolStuff was selling Oko for a month at $90, while it was being opened. Then the oppressive nature of the card, and its compatriots in Standard, started dragging the price downwards. 

There’s some hay to be made about how the value of any set goes down over time, and I’m planning on exploring the effect that Collector Boosters are having on the finance of the game, but really, Oko ought to be much more expensive than it is. 

The saturation is quite real:

  • 69% of the Day 1 metagame at the Mythic Championship was some form of Oko deck. There’s a lot of variations, and I appreciate snappy deck names such as Cat Food, but the dominance of the deck in Standard got more profound in Day 2, where the percentage went up, despite the pros knowing it would be popular. Noxious Grasp and Aether Gust were in maindecks all over the place and it didn’t matter much.
  • Oko is showing up in a lot of Modern decks. Whirza likes a copy. Amulet Titan has a couple to play with. There’s some artifact-based decks that are trying to go off with Oko. 
  • Legacy has copies in winning Temur Delver lists.
  • Vintage is rocking Oath of Druids with Oko, powering down their artifacts and giving them creatures to let your Oath resolve. Nasty and powerful.

It’s Oko’s world, until Monday. Oko’s price has been dropping since the dominance started, in defiance of all expectations. When Wizards banned Field of the Dead on October 21, you’d think that Oko (and Oko-related cards) would spike as that deck took over, but it seems people bought in quite reluctantly.

So, we have two scenarios coming next week:

If Oko gets banned

I won’t be shocked if some other green cards get the hammer too, for the record. The only thing that will shock me is if Wizards just unbans Field of the Dead and tells the pros “You figure it out!”

Oko’s price will fall some. Not by much, due to demand in the other formats, and that includes Cube and Commander. Oko’s flexibility and power cannot be denied. I doubt the price will go much below $25, frankly. A lot of Oko’s current price point is tied up in the expectation of getting banned. 

Long-term, however, I think Oko has a lot of potential. Foils of Oko are very low price compared to the original. On TCGPlayer, you can get NM foils for $40, which seems like a very good price even if it’ll never get the heights that the borderless foil has gotten to. Oko is too good in too many formats to stay cheap. Around the time that we start opening Theros: Beyond Death boosters, I want to be picking up Oko for the long term.

What gets unlocked if Oko and some accomplices get banned? Aggro decks get a lot better, and the card I love most in those lists is Embercleave. 

Yes, it’s no longer $5 but it’s gettable at $7.50 and a total face-wrecker. Aggro decks are generally playing three, and if the format swivels to being super fast, this is going to hit $20 again.

I’m also a big big fan of picking up Murderous Rider at about the same price. We’ve seen what powerful, flexible removal spells do over time, and the trajectories of Vraska’s Contempt and Hero’s Downfall tell me to buy while it’s cheap: 

If Oko isn’t banned

It seems super implausible that Wizards would try something like banning Once Upon a Time, Gilded Goose, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World but not banning Oko directly…but it could happen. 

My impulse would be to snap-buy all the Oko copies currently languishing on eBay in the $25 range, hoping to resell at $45 or $50 to the people playing Standard or realizing how good the card is in other formats. 

Given that everyone already expects a banning, this might not work, though. Maybe the price doesn’t change because everyone will expect the next banning to finally take down the menace. Maybe people will expect that the card sucks, without all the good accessories to play with.

To those folks, I’d point to Hogaak. The meta immediately settled on a Bridge from Below build that self-milled wonderfully and then really kicked into gear. Banning the Bridge merely made the deck change to a more Vengevine-focused one. Trying to ban around Oko is going to make some currently cheap cards into very expensive ones, and my best advice there is to make sure you’re primed and ready on our Discord channel.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that Oko was going to be $100 and going to be banned. Eventually, Wizards will see the light and ban the card, and from the ashes, a new Standard will rise.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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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Pioneering for profit

Pioneer is here! We’ve been expecting a new nonrotating format for a while, and having the fetches be banned is going to determine the outline of the format. The preliminary look of the thing is wild, with Modern’s bans not shaping the new format…yet.

I get it, I do, that Wizards wants to give people a chance. There’s not going to be an Eldrazi winter, since Temple, Eye, and the Tron lands aren’t legal. Heck, there’s not even bouncelands!

What we do have are some strong opportunities for gaining value, and while you’ve heard some of them, others are yet unpicked…

First of all, two caveats:

  1. Stuff is going to get banned. Sure, there’s no fetchlands, and that makes Deathrite Shaman a lot less busted, but does that mean Treasure Cruise is bad? Dig Through Time, Energy decks, Saheeli Rai plus Felidar Guardian…all of these are too good for a format like Modern, and Pioneer has a lot less answers.
  2. Stuff is going to get reprinted. Aaron Forsythe went on Twitch and said that Mystery this November isn’t Pioneer Masters, but it seems silly that they’d premier a new format without giving availability a boost. The reprints might not be soon, but they will happen. Masters sets sell far too well for this to not happen.

Keep both of these factors in mind. When a card spikes, sell and sell hard.

Heart of Kiran ($2.50 nonfoil/$14 foil)

Travis picked this to hit $5 on Monday, and I think he’s being super pessimistic. This is going to be $10 again, until Abrade becomes a maindeck card. We have two three-drop planeswalkers that have two plus abilities. Heart into The Royal Scions is SIX first strike, flying, trample damage coming in on turn three and that Heart will be available for defense too!

Smuggler’s Copter is the Vehicle getting all the attention, because it’s amazing and pushed, but Heart is the one that’s got a lot less of a chance to get eventually banned. 

Prized Amalgam ($2.50/$5)

There is a Dredge deck in Pioneer, but more accurately it’ll be a self-mill deck. Satyr Wayfinder, Glowspore Shaman, and Grisly Salvage are going to fuel a deck that just keeps coming back again and again. I’m not sure what form it will take, but the payoffs are going to be Amalgam, Narcomeba, and likely Haunted Dead. Amalgam is the only rare I’m interested in from this deck.

Pack Rat ($2/$7)

Amazingly, this has dodged a reprint all these years. People are going to start Pioneer off by rediscovering the hits of the past, and Pack Rat is one of the most resilient cards ever printed. I’m not sure if Mono-Black Devotion is going to be a thing (Or if Devotion returns when we go back to Theros in January) but the Rat was an integral piece to that deck. Thoughtseize is back up to $20, Collective Brutality is $13 (very tempting) but the discard suite is real in Pioneer, with Duress and Lay Bare the Heart likely the best options left.

Elder Deep-Fiend ($1/$2)

Wow did I hate this card in Standard, tapping my lands on my upkeep or tapping down blockers I was going to need. There’s a lot of lists floating around but the good news is that people want to chain these together, turn after turn, which means you’re playing the full four. As a small-set rare, there’s a lot less of these out there than you might expect, and it’s going to have a time where it spikes to $5 or more. Get your copies now, and feel free to hit up foils since they aren’t that much more expensive.

Kozilek’s Return ($2/$7)

The higher price on this is because it’s absurd in Commander, with the number of giant Eldrazi and the need to clean up the little ones. Yes, in case you forgot, this plays VERY well with the Deep-Fiend, and nonfoils should make it back up to $10 when people see this wreak havoc all over the place. 

Master of Waves ($2/$5/$2 Duel Deck foil)

Allow me to introduce you to a little combo I like to call “Oh no…oh yes”: 

Yes, this is a combo. There’s a lot of Elemental goodness to be had in Pioneer, such as Voice of Resurgence, but this is the build-around I’m fascinated with. The presence of a Duel Deck foil doesn’t faze me at all, because I know how well the Master does when you manage to draw more than one. People are going to play a lot of copies, and that’s to the good. Get your now before the camera shines and the spike hits.

Part the Waterveil ($1/$7)

What’s lovely about this card is that it’s going to give you an extra turn and hit your opponent like a truck, all at once. Yes, it exiles itself, but Nexus of Fate is legal in this format too. Waterveil is the best of the rest of the options for extra turns, unless you feel like going deep on Magistrate’s Scepter somehow. If you’ve never cast one of these with Awaken, you’re in for a good time, and dollar mythics almost never go lower. Grab a few now for when they hit big.

The Pioneer Creaturelands (fifty cents to $1.50 for nonfoils, $3-$7 foil)

There’s a lot of talk about what the manabases are for Pioneer, and so far, not enough people are addressing the creaturelands. Mutavault and Mobilized District are options too, but colorless lands need to be a bit better in this format, and all of these have seen some play when they were in Standard. 

I think the default ranking is going to be shocks-buddylands-fastlands, but please don’t sleep on these. All of them are still cheap, haven’t moved much, and haven’t been printed in several years. The good times are going to roll when all of these make it back up to $5+, and my guess would be for the BG and BW ones to be first.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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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Seek The Horizons!

The Mythic Championship is this weekend, and after that, it’ll be a Players’ Tour, and from there, make your own joke. I’m old enough to sound crotchety when I complain about the names of things, or how the simple things aren’t so simple, or old rules…you get the idea.

What isn’t old, though, is that Modern Horizons is ready to pop. Buckle up.

First of all, an illustration of the overall pattern for Modern Horizons: Giver of Runes.

You can see that the price had some wild early movement and has now settled in nicely, being stable for about the last month.

The headliner for the set has a similar graph. Benjamin Franklin, meet Wrenn and Six.

There’s one motable card ticking upward the last couple of weeks, and the recent success of Whirza decks, sometimes with or without Paradoxical Outcome, shouldn’t make the uptick in the Lord High Artificer a surprise:

What you may or may not be thinking about is the rest of the set. Oh, sure, you needed some new Canopy-style lands for a deck, and you’ve got to get a couple of Prismatic Vista for different Commander decks, plus there’s only two Force of Negation in the main but you want two in the sideboard…

Modern Horizons has stopped being drafted, and Modern events aren’t center stage at the moment. This is the time to strike. I can respect if you don’t want to go deep on Arcum’s Astrolabe as eventually a $5 card, because you fear Pauper bans. Have you noticed the prevalence of snow lands? A couple of coverage teams have noted on streams that the decks people play no longer have a preference for which art they liked best, they are playing snow lands because they are strictly better. Every percentage point counts.

As wise, aware people, we can see that the combination of a semi-limited run plus falling out of favor plus higher initial price plus very high playability in multiple formats means a set rife with investment potential.

Let’s get one thing straight: If you play a lot of Modern, it’s likely time to get in and buy your playsets now before they cost you a lot more. 

Urza, Lord High Artificer ($42 nonfoil/$142 foil)

The only fly in the ointment is that Urza is a fantastic candidate for reprinting as a Judge foil or other special prize. The card is straight-up busted, fantastic as a commander or in the 99, and is the key to unlocking some amazing turns in the new generation of decks. Thopter-Sword is good, but now Urza gives you infinite spins at the top of your deck, too? Some decks are going the Jeskai Ascendancy route, sometimes with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, but every flavor is delicious in its own way.

Urza is going to be $75 by the beginning of summer, and quite likely sooner if some version of this deck takes down another GP or SCG Open. Foils are a lock to grow and grow, even if a Judge wave hits I’d feel good in the long term. Yes, it’s a lot to buy into a card at $40, but you’re going to resell at a tidy profit within a year.

Mox Tantalite ($4/$24)

That’s a huge multiplier for a card that is only in 500 decks on EDHREC and has 65 foil copies available on TCG. Someone is buying these. Lots of someones. I’m not sure who, but there’s enough of these folks to give a rarely-played card a 6x foil multiplier. This happens with every mythic in the set, and a lot of the rares: foils are more expensive than I would have thought. Either the amount of foils is lower in Modern Horizons (we would have noticed by now) or the demand for the foils is higher across the board. I don’t know the cause but I’m trying to find out.

I do love to buy mythics at very low prices, and I’d understand if you wanted to get in now, but I’d advocate waiting a little bit longer. There’s no rush on a long-term spec like this. Many suspend cards have eventually had their time to shine, and I’m sure this Mox will too.

Echo of Eons ($5/$35)

At only 2000 listed decks, it’s not blowing up Commander yet but I think it’ll get there in Modern first. I like this a lot more than I do the Mox, and I bought a couple playsets when this was in the $8 range. I’m picking up four more at this price, and I’m going to be patient until the day someone breaks this card in half. It’s likely going to be when there’s a second ‘your opponents can’t draw extra cards’ effect like Narset, Parter of Veils, but it’s a question of when the card spikes, not if. 

Dead of Winter ($1/$12)

This foil price is impressive as hell, considering that it’s not seeing much play yet in Whirza sideboards. If you’ve played Gates Ablaze in Standard or even limited, you know how good this effect can be, and it’s so cheap! A little attention will pop this over $5 briefly, and watching it decimate creature strategies will help that price stay.

Whenever you can get in at such a low point, patience is key. It’s not going to take off to $20 out of nowhere, but one day you’ll wake up and be able to see huge returns on very little invested.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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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