Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 8/19/19 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.


Vegas begins this weekend, and it’s disappointing, but the luster is definitely gone. When they were once every other year, aligned with Modern Masters releases, they were just often enough to remain an exciting spectacle you wanted to make an effort to attend. As a yearly event it’s just another con, competing for vacation time for Origins, Gen Con, HasCon, and all that weeby anime crap. The twist of the knife this year is that Hogaak is going to remain legal until August 26th, after the main event, which means there are going to be no exciting results or decks coming out of this event whatsoever. I’m sure those on the ground floor are going to enjoy it thoroughly, and I can’t say I wouldn’t too were I there, but it’s no longer the must-attend it was in years past.

Ashnod’s Altar (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $30

A week on and Atla remains the seemingly most popular commander out of Commander 2019. How could she not? Eggs. K’rrik and Kykar are doing their best to keep up, but they’re barely 2/3rds as popular. Perhaps that will level off after this weekend, when the product begins hitting store shelves, and the community that isn’t pre-posting decklists begins to actually unwrap some cards.

In any case, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting card for Atla than Ashnod’s Altar. It comes down fast and easy, gives you a painless sac outlet for your eggs, and best of all, saccing an egg gives you the mana to make another egg! What’s not to love. Find a color-shifted Intruder Alarm (such as Thornbite Staff) and you’ve got a machine that will put every creature in your deck into play. The only questions left is whether Atla herself is laying those eggs, and if so, how.

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Ashnod’s Altar lands in nearly 30,000 EDHREC lists, suitably earning “wildly” as an adjective to describe its popularity. Sac outlets, especially free ones, are useful in nearly all EDH decks, and 30k is probably too low, honestly. Copies start in the $15 range and ramp up to $18 and $20 quickly, where there’s a short ramp to $30 and then no more stock. The fact that this isn’t already in the $40 range is because it’s an uncommon, rather than a rare. With an already impressive resume, and Atla adding to the pile, we may see prices in the $30 range before too long.

Crypt Ghast (Foil)

Price Today: $14
Possible Price: $25

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Doing his best to keep up with Atla is K’rrik, Yawgmoth’s thousand year old son. What does “son of Yawgmoth” even mean? Did Yawgmoth, as a human, procreate? By the end of the Weatherlight saga he was so evil he wasn’t even corporeal. Is the title of “son” more formal or metaphorical than literal? My technique for finding this answer is posing the question here, and waiting for one of you to tweet me the answer (cite your sources). 

Any mono-black deck is going to be interested in Crypt Ghast, and K’rrik is no exception. Extort is exactly what he wants, since paying two life to deal one to each opponent and gain three is a net win for the K’rrik player. Doubling your mana is of course also excellent, since it pays for the colorless requirements of cards, or saves you life, or works with K’rrik isn’t in play. 80% of listed K’rrik decks are running Crypt Ghast, which is impressive considering that a non-foil version wasn’t even in the list this year.

Crypt Ghast is no Ashnod’s Altar, but few cards are. You’ll still find him in 15,000 lists though, which means Ghast is something like the 9th or 12th most played black card in the format. That’s a juicy boy. I remember calling these foils back at $5 or $7 or something, so you’ve made a profit if you’re still holding on, and if you already sold, it may be worth considering another trip. Supply is low and K’rrik is going to drive additional demand again, and at the same time, Gatecrash isn’t getting any newer. If this fall sees a re-release of MH1 rather than a new product ala Ultimate Masters, you’ll be golden on reprints for at least another six months after too.

Inexorable Tide (Foil)

Price Today: $8.50
Possible Price: $18

It’s easy to get hung up on the first several entries for the most popular commanders this week, all hailing from C19 or Magic 2020. Scroll down to this month’s most popular commanders though, and right there in slot number four is Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice. Atraxa remains the most popular Commander in the modern history of the format, with something like a 40% lead on the second highest (which is Edgar Markov, if you can believe it). People like proliferate, things keep coming out that make proliferate good, and people are going to keep making Atraxa.

One card in Atraxa that’s looking well positioned these days is Inexorable Tide. The most prolific (heh) card in Atraxa is Astral Cornucopia at 70%, meaning Inexorable Tide is the 5th most played card in Atraxa lists at 55%, for a cool 5,700 total lists. I’m surprised only 55% of Atraxa lists play the card honestly. The entire deck is cards that proliferate, or are happy to be proliferated. I’d conjecture that it’s a function of non-foils costing $5, which is something of a barrier for real budget players, of which I’d expect a large amount for the most popular deck in EDH. Yet Atraxa doesn’t lend itself to budget cards, as Planeswalkers benefit most from proliferate strategies, which aren’t a cheap card type. Who knows!

Tide’s got two foil printings, the original Scars of Mirrodin printing and Modern Masters 2015. SOM copies start at nearly $14, while MM2 copies are available for less than $9, so there’s already a gap to exploit. About ten copies in and you’re catching up to the SOM copies, at which point there’s a grand total of 20 liquid copies left on the entire market. I’m not anticipating a rapid price change here, since there’s no new motivating factor, but the card is well positioned to ding $20 without another foil reprint in 2020.


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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


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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The Watchtower 8/12/19 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.


Magic has changed much over the last five years, to the extent that I’d say the delta over those five years is larger than the delta of the prior two half-decade blocks. One of the downstream impacts of these developments has been the increase of mid-summer activity. Time was that a few weeks past the core set was a dead zone, with little to no deck innovation or financial churn prior to the fall spoiler season kicking things off. You’d have two solid months to grab rares and mythics that headlined the spring’s block Pro Tour (remember those?) before upward swings began after college students began returning to campus’. Now there’s enough activity through June, July, and August to keep us plenty busy. Things may slow down in the latter half of August, with Commander spoilers finished and a new Standard tantalizing close, but even if that’s the case, two weeks is a lot shorter than two months.

Samut, Voice of Dissent (Foil)

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

As what may end up being the most popular commander out of Commander 2019, Atla was late reveal that grabbed the communities attention. Having a playable Naya legend is refreshing enough, after the seeming deluge of Sultai or Simic-based commanders we’ve had lately. Add to that that she’s a little meme-y — “eggs” — and you’ve got a recipe for someone popular. The icing on the cake is that she looks like she’s actually both good and fun; capable of generating a stream of random gigantic monsters.

Mechanically, there’s several things to focus on with Atla. Certainly populate, which is the whole theme of the Naya deck this year. Haste is going to be relevant, both for Atla and the stream of monsters she’ll enable. Some sort of self-damaging or sacrifice mechanic will be important as a way to chew through your eggs, and creature-type changing is excellent as well, since it lets you make every creature on your board an egg, perfect in the face of a wrath. (My secret tech recommendation for the deck is Aether Flash.)

It’s the haste that I first spied on Samut that caught my attention, and the untap ability that sold me. Samut will give Atla and all your egg hatches haste with which to attack or use abilities immediately, and being able to untap Atla for a second pass is gravy. She’s even a creature, rather than another card type, which means Atla can flip you into Samut, who can then immediately untap Atla for another pass. Sounds good to me.

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Foils of Samut are where to look for now, since the non-foil supply is too deep, and there’s not enough additional demand from other sources. You can sneak in at $2.50 to $3.50 depending on where you look, which is just about the absolute floor of foil mythics. I’m expecting a slower burn here, since we’re several weeks away from Atla actually landing in players’ hands, and the turnaround after that won’t be immediate. The utility is there though, and we could see $10+ foil Samuts eventually.

Eldrazi Displacer (Foil)

Price Today: $6.5
Possible Price: $15

C19 Commanders are the talk of the town this week, but Golos remains in the top slot for the time being. Even once C19 hits shelves, Golos should remain popular. He’s a better Solemn Simulacrum that lets you play every spell in Magic, and doesn’t push you towards anything specific other than “have lands” and “play large cool spells.” This flexibility should ensure Golos is popular for quite some time.

A relatively popular creature in Golos is Eldrazi Displacer, which to be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed. Sure flickering Golos is good, but like, run Displacer just to flicker him good? It must be that flickering Golos is only part of the equation. Displacer lets you flicker all your other creatures — I notice Avenger of Zendikar one slot to the right — and acts as a slightly more expensive Maze of Ith, with the potential to scale up to multiple targets. Really, Displacer is just a powerful, flexible card, and I’m sure Yarok players curse the white mana symbol.

Displacer is great because unlike Samut, which has recently been activated by Atla, it’s already good. Displacer is in over 4,000 EDHREC lists which, while not a particularly impressive amount, reveals that there is at least a base of demand. Additionally, you’ll find Displacer is popular in Modern Hatebear style lists, which while quiet at the moment in the face of Hogaak, have been in the format for almost ever, and will continue to be so. 

Foils land in the $6 to $7 range today, with a reasonably healthy supply. Hatebears will continue to apply pressure, albeit slowly. Golos might turn that attrition up a bit though, and the open endedness means that every spoiler season brings forth the possibility of something busting it. (Zacama and Displacer is infinite mana, for example, and Zacama is suddenly seeing a lot of play in early Atla decks. Will Displacer start showing up there too?)

Jace’s Sanctum (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $9

Atla isn’t the only commander to upset the package face general. Elsha appears to be a considerably more popular Jeskai commander than Sevinne is so far. Elsha, you’ll recall, basically has Future Sight in the text box, along with Prowess for good measure. As such she’ll be something of a storm deck; perhaps not exactly so, in that it’s not trying to win with Grapeshot, but Elsha players will certainly be in the market to jam piles of spells every turn. 

Elsha lets you play noncreature nonland cards, which means it includes artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers in addition to instants and sorceries. I’ve no doubt that artifacts will find their way into the mix often, but there’s no question instants and sorceries will be far and away the most popular card time to chain together. As such, Jace’s Sanctum is going to do some heavy lifting. Since the deck is going to be a pseudo-combo deck in many instances, cards that allow you to set up to have a big turn down the road will be effective. Sanctum accomplishes this by saving you a mana on nearly all the spells you play, which means that for your four mana investment you could end up easily saving 10 or even 20 mana down the road. If that weren’t enough, the scry also means that you’ll be able to keep lands and creatures off the top of your deck as you go off, which is exactly what an Elsha deck is going to be looking for. Saving mana and fixing the top of the deck is basically everything an Elsha deck needs.

With the only foil printing from Magic Origins, supply has had plenty of time to drain. You’ll pay $4 to $6 today for a copy, but there aren’t many left at all. And since the non-foils are in the precon, there’s a whole lot of people about to be introduced to how potent this card is in their deck. We’ll be looking at $10 to $15 foils of Sanctum within six months, I’d wager.


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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The Watchtower 8/5/19 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.


GenCon brought with it our next slate of money engines in the form of the new commanders. 2019’s mechanics were made public, intentionally or not, about a week ago, so the overall themes weren’t a surprise. The commanders themselves were new though, and there’s definitely a power level gap across the four. For my money Anje, the madness legend, is by far the most fascinating, boasting a high potential power level while not pigeonholing players into a specific course of play or experience. On the other end of the scale is Ghired, the populate commander, who I’d consider the least engaging. I ranted about him on Twitter a little bit already, but basically, you have to put your 2/5 commander into the red zone every turn, all to score a single populate trigger, that could arguably be worse than a normal populate trigger. 

Big Game Hunter (Foil)

Price Today: $11
Possible Price: $25

Anje’s really only got two lines of text;  “T: Loot,” and “if it had madness, do it again.” Whether you’re in the market to build the deck aggressively, or as a control build, or as a vampire build, it’s up to you. Truth be told, the limiting factor on Anje is the dearth of meaningful madness cards out in the wild. The mechanic has typically been designed as a low-to-the-ground cost cutting tool. There’s lots of lightning bolt approximations that only cost lightning bolt mana in the madness cost. Jumping through hoops to cast bolt in Standard might have been worth it, but EDH is a different game entirely. Here’s hoping they really go to the wall on the madness support in Anje.

Though the existing madness pool is uneven in its options, there’s a few standouts that will be locks for any Anje deck, and Big Game Hunter is one of those. His iron price is B (good) and he destroys any creature with four or more power (also good). Even his gold price is a respectable 1BB, which means the card isn’t unusable if you don’t have a madness enabler. There’s no way to build Anje that BGH isn’t going to be a useful tool in your 99, and unless every single card in Anje’s box is a competitively costed madness card, players are going to need to branch out to find more. That’s when they’ll find BGH.

BGH has just a single printing in his history, as an uncommon from Planar Chaos. That’s not a particularly deep well to draw from. Foils are sparse, and they won’t last long once the deck is in the hands of the players and they start looking for cards to add, or cards to foil. If you can scare any up at $10 or $11, I fully expect at least a double up on your investment.

Altar of the Lost (Foil)

Price Today: $.5
Possible Price: $5

As far as the new commanders go, I’d consider Sevinne rather bland. His immunity isn’t underwhelming, it’s just doesn’t whelm. There’s no whelming to be had. Doubling flashback spells is nifty, and we know that doubling spells is reasonably popular as is, so that will light a few fires. I would have liked to see something more fascinating than “do the thing you want to do twice,” but, ah well. There’s more flashback spoilers to come another day this week, so maybe an alt-commander will be more thrilling.

Whichever flashback commander you end up playing, you’re going to want two things: flashback spells and mana with which to cast flashback spells. Flashback costs tend to be prohibitive, so adequate mana will be key in making that deck function. There’s always your standard options; Sol Ring, Thran Dynamo, etc. Aforementioned mana rocks tend to produce colorless mana, which you accept because of the raw output. Altar of the Lost is a special case that’s rarely worth its slot, but in Sevinne decks, will be a better Worn Powerstone. Worn Powerstone is in 25,000 EDHREC lists, so a better Powerstone is going to be great in Sevinne. 

Of course, Altar of the Lost is only going to be useful in flashback oriented decks, so it’s not like this is going to reach the level of play any of the other rocks do. Still, every Sevinne player will want to include a copy, and plenty should go pick up a foil as well, since they’ll be affordable. Getting in now at 50 cents may give you the opportunity to sell piecemeal at $4 or $5 each, or dump piles into buylists at $2 to $3. Either way, it’s a small ball choice that should see some real increase in demand over the next few months.

Alchemist’s Refuge (Foil)

Price Today: $11
Possible Price: $25

Let’s say you enjoy metal. Specifically, altering and transmuting metal into other metals. You might be inclined to call yourself an alchemist even, if you’re pushed to it. And let’s say you’ve been working hard and need to take a break. Get away from it all for awhile. Stop thinking about lead and gold. Where does one go to escape the clanging and banging of everyday life? Some sort of retreat I’d imagine. Perhaps even a refuge.

I’m fairly confident I’ve talked about Alchemist’s Refuge before in this column, perhaps more than once. I don’t know what the price was when I first started talking about it, but you know what: I still like it. Supply is extremely low, there’s still only a single foil printing, and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon. On top of that, Kadena adds a new layer to demand profile. Kadena notably says “each turn,” not “your turn.” If you’re able to play creatures at instant speed, that means you can take advantage of that three mana discount again and again. Find a way to untap that Refuge and you’re really getting paid. (And no, Aluren doesn’t work with Morph.)

Any copies you can find under $10 are basically a complete lock. Enjoy.


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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The Watchtower 7/29/19 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.


It’s in the intro to these articles that I typically touch on the coolest parts of the Pro Tour, especially if it’s Modern. I’ll nod to the breakout deck that made some card spike in price, or discuss a fringe deck that solidified its position in the metagame. I’ll also try and include a card or three in my article below, since everyone expects the results of the PT to have set up a few cards to move. 

Instead, there’s not much to say. Despite only taking a slot or two in the top eight, it dominated the best performing decks. I don’t recall the exact stats, but not only was the deck’s popularity an outlier within the context of PT history at the start of day one, the conversion rate to day two was excellent. Our takeaway is that Modern is going to be all about Hogaak for at least a few weeks, and realistically, a few months, with the tonic coming either in the form of a lot of Leyline of the Voids, or a surgical extraction performed directly by WotC themselves. Either way, I’m not feeling like there’s a lot of fertile soil as a result of these…results. Maybe it’s because zombies keep climbing out of it.

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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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