Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 5/21/18 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 what may be the strangest announcement day so far, we heard nothing about any future Masters sets and nothing about Commander. We did get a single spoiler for Battlebond — which has full spoilers starting today — news that there’s a three set Ravnica block this fall (which we all knew already), and finally that China is getting its own Standard format. Huh? Announcement day should be exciting and build hype for things to come. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that literally nothing here was set up to make people excited about the next six months of Magic.

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The Watchtower 5/14/18 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.


There was a common thread between the two Grand Prix; in one, the winner wept in a touching display of humanity, and in the other, everyone wept after seeing the top eight was nothing but vehicle decks. October is going to be fun, if for no other reason than we’re going to get a hard reset with the loss of Kaladesh block.

Birmingham was Legacy and, as a result, doesn’t mean anything to anyone, really. New Karn showed up in a couple of sideboards, which is cool, and bodes well for the card. Beyond that, there wasn’t anything in the lists that stood out as noteworthy, and even if something did, it would be hard pressed to move any needles hard. I was tempted to talk about picking up Lion’s Eye Diamonds, but they’re already $250, so forget it.

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The Gitrog Monster (Foil)

Price Today: $13
Possible Price: $30

Gitrog was, at the time of his spoiling, a card people were awfully excited to brew with. He did things players loved — drawing cards and putting lands into play — and he was also a giant frog. What’s not to be attracted to here? A frog, for god’s sake.

With Muldrotha’s release in Dominaria, and the subsequent popularity of….it, Gitrog has found another yet home. He fits right into the strategy of playing things from graveyards, and again, he’s a frog.

More importantly, he’s a single printed legend with dwindling supply. Shadows Over Innistrad isn’t an underprinted set, per se, though one look at stock on foil Gitrogs and you’ll see that doesn’t matter much. Given that his EDHREC numbers are actually a touch more anemic than I would have anticipated, it seems that there’s probably strong kitchen table demand for everyone’s favorite evil frog.

A couple copies remain below $15, and beyond that, there’s isn’t much left at all. People are going to keep adding Gitrog to their decks, whether as a commander, or as an include in Muldrotha, or anywhere else, and foils are going to hit $30 right along in the process.


Goblin Chainwhirler

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $10

Making sense of Standard results at this point in the format can be difficult, since it’s such a wide open brawl (heh). Once the fall and rotation comes, and card prices begin moving in the good direction, the format will be so different that it will be tough to figure out what cards will be important. Our best bet is to try and find strong cards in each color that are seeing play now, that could remain or improve their position after rotation.

Aggressive decks have remained popular after Dominaria, and they’ve come in two stripes, those with a heavy vehicle presence and those without. In all the decks without a vehicle component, Goblin Chainwhirler has been a key figure. Hitting everything on the other side for one damage can be a nuke depending on the board setup, and a 3/3 first strike is no joke either. Given that we can expect Llanowar Elves to remain a key card in the format regardless, Whirler will almost assuredly have targets.

Four dollars isn’t as cheap as we’d normally like our Standard picks. Ideally you can spot them in the $.25 range and then get out above $10, ala Nightveil Specter. They’re not all going to be that good though, and in the meantime, Chainwhirler may (I emphasize “may” over “will”) end up as a tier one card between now and the end of October.


Zendikar Resurgent (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

Of course I have to include at least one solid, slow burn spec. Resurgent was obvious in the same way a baseball bat to the temple is obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. It’s taken about two years to get there, and now we’re just about at the point where the price is poised to jump.

Resurgent is guaranteed to be reprinted at some point, if not this year, then next year is certainly on the table. And at the same time, it’s guaranteed not to be in an expansion set, since it’s so closely tied with the Zendikar plane and story. (Although the return of core sets changes that math a bit.) Most likely, we’d see it in a commander product — in non-foil, of course.

A few copies are floating around $8 or so, and it’s not a deep well after that. How could it be, when it’s in 13,000 decks on EDHREC? This will sit comfortably between $15 and $20 once it runs out the first time, and will keep creeping up after that until it shows up in foil again, whenever that is.


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 5/7/18 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.


All anyone in Magic can talk about these last few weeks is the reserve list, and how everything there is going wild. Undoubtedly a few players with deep pockets are picking cards off left and right, with plenty of smaller time operations joining in the fun where they can. Is there any meat left on the bone at this point? Hard to say. I can’t imagine there are many reserve list cards that haven’t been targeted yet that you could actually sell after buying into, but who knows. Wilder things have happened.

I’m confident in two things at this point. One is that the prices on many of these won’t decrease too much, and in many cases will continue to improve, since reserve lists cards obviously aren’t showing up again. The second is that it’s almost definitely correct to sell most of them, since the rate of appreciation in most cases won’t keep up with the opportunity cost associated with holding them.

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Growing Rites of Itlimoc (Buy-a-Box)

Price Today: $25
Possible Price: $100

So far it has remained unknown to most Magic players that there’s a fourth Masterpiece series. Inventions, Invocations, and Expeditions are the obvious ones. We know about those. The secret Masterpiece set is what I’ll dub Explorations, that is, the Ixalan Buy-A-Box promos. BaB promos from Ixalan, of which there were ten, were flip cards (e.g. Search for Azcanta) that had alternate art on the back. All ten form the map from Ixalan, which is a nifty Easter egg, and a reason to have all ten.

When purchasing a box of Ixalan you received one at random, which means each is fairly rare individually. It’s possible a lot of players have them in their trade binder and don’t even realize they’re different, since the front face is indistinguishable aside from the small “buy-a-box” text in the bottom left corner.

All of this is to say that cards like Rites and Search, which are already popular, have obscure, limited-run special editions. Without a doubt these will get picked up by people in the know while prices are low, and eventually they’re going to get real pricey. I’m thinking $75 to $100 or more for the real good ones, and $30 to $50 for the less popular ones.


Parallel Lives (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $30

The Weatherlight has had many passengers, but so far, only one stowaway. And he’s disgusting. That’d be Slimefoot (the stowaway). He unlocked quite a few saproling cards already, with prices on stuff like Elvish Farmer having gone bananas. (Which is like six bucks, which for Fallen Empires, is bananas.) Slimefoot also plays up well known favorites, which is where we are at the moment.

Parallel Lives isn’t new to anyone; if you’ve created a token in EDH before, you’ve tried to fit this into your deck. It’s the budget Doubling Season, if “budget” is even a fair term here. You’ll find it listed in over 13,000 decks on EDHREC, which is just about as good as it gets. Tokens are a popular strategy in that format, and this is basically the second best enabler out there.

Enterprising individuals will find a few foils at $15, but not many. We haven’t seen a price spike on these recently, which means there weren’t a bunch of sub-$15 copies that were just cleaned out and now supply appears lower than it is. There’s just not that many out there. With Slimefoots hitting binder sleeves now, and our knowledge of how slow to react the EDH population at large is, I expect additional demand to begin applying pressure to Parallel Lives in the near future.


Pyromancer’s Goggles (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

Remember Firesong and Sunspeaker? The two Hurloon Minotaurs that are only available as a Dominaria buy-a-box promo right now? That if they’re accidentally good in Standard will cost $70? Excellent decision on that, WotC. Anyways, they’re also breathing new life into Boros EDH decks, since that color pair now has a general that isn’t some variation on “shove everything into the red zone.”

As a general that rewards you for playing red spells that do damage, there’s a newfound interest in all sorts of effects that were otherwise underwhelming in the format. Heck, even Lightning Bolt is playable in a Firesong deck. Deal three damage to a creature, gain three life, then deal another three, either to the same target in order to finish it off, or to remove something else? I imagine the deck is a bit one-trick pony, but it’s probably a fairly fun pony at least.

Anyways, one of the best cards in the deck is undoubtedly Pyromancer’s Goggles, which let you copy red spells when you use it to cast things. What’s better than one Star of Extinction? Two! Especially when you gain life from the first copy but nobody else does! Goggles are an all-star in this deck, and regardless of what you’re doubling, it’s going to be somewhere between “solid value” and “game-ending.”

At the moment you’ll find foil Goggles in the $6 range, but not many. They ramp up to $10 fairly quickly, then basically straight to $30. Magic Origins is three years old this July, which is definitely in the “EDH cards begin spiking” time frame. As a card that’s unlikely to be reprinted outside of Commander product, foils are an excellent bet.

Plus, if you own this card, you can use it to cast a white spell and then gleefully shout “the goggles, they do nothing!” before passing out from self-induced culture referenced euphoria.


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 4/30/18 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.


Dominaria was officially legal as of Friday, and it certainly made its presence known across all formats. Standard saw considerable card additions, with Tereferi, Karn, Lyra, Seal Away, and Blink of an Eye, among others, finding their way into main decks. Of course there were still five red aggro decks in the top eight of the SCG team constructed open, but it’s opening weekend, so that’s to be expected.

Modern and Legacy saw pips of Dominaria as well, with Karn especially making waves in Legacy. Pair all of this with Dominaria having the largest prerelease of all time and the set looks like it’s a smashing success by most metrics.

Jadelight Ranger

Price Today: $9
Possible Price: $20

Two deck archetypes stole the show in Standard this weekend; UW control and red-based aggro strategies. UW control was roughly what you would expect; a few copies of a planeswalker, a top end creature to close out games, and a pile of removal and permission. Red strategies were either vehicle-heavy or not, but all had the same general goal of using Mountains to get ‘em dead quick.

Outside those two, there was a fair bit of green midrange at SCG. We also had a Standard MODO PTQ fire Sunday, which contained a lot of green decks, with varying levels of aggressiveness (although all were certainly trying to punch you hard.) An important factor here, and one of those tweaks that can spell a world of difference between our universe and alternate-universe Standard, is the presence of Llanowar Elves. We haven’t seen these guys since their doppleganger Elvish Mystic in Magic 2015. The presence of a unconditional one mana dork has many ripple effects.

One of those is how easy it is to play three drops, especially YGG cards. Elvish Mystic was powering out Courser of Kruphix constantly in Theros Standard, and I suspect we’ll see him slamming Jadelight Rangers constantly as well. On turn two you’re putting down a 4/3 that scrys one, or a 3/2 that draws a card and probably scrys one, or a 2/1 that draws two cards. A turn two 2/1 that draws two lands when it comes into play? I’m getting sweaty over here.

Clocking in at $9 or so, Jadelight Ranger is hardly an unknown quantity. Still, there’s room to grow there. Remember that Ixalan is missing the Masterpieces series, which means singles prices will be inflating in a way we didn’t see with Kaladesh or Amonkhet. If Jadelight Ranger becomes a pillar of the format as a backbone for all Gx decks, we could see a legitimate $15 to $20 rare in Standard again.


Karn, Scion of Urza

Price Today: $35
Possible Price: $50

Not one, but two Standard cards? What world are we living in? It’s amazing but Karn had one hell of a weekend, both at the SCG Open and on MTGO. Most of the spectrum found a use for Karn, from midrange to Standard, colors be damned. We shouldn’t be too surprised; he’s a colorless four mana planeswalker. Even if he were weak to average on the power level scale every deck could decide if they could make use of his abilities. Karn isn’t weak though, which means not only does every strategy get to consider him, many will find use.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that Karn wasn’t just showing up in Standard. Both Mono-Red Prison (third) and Colorless Eldrazi (sixth) were casting copies in Legacy. Seeing Karn hit the tables in Legacy the very first weekend he’s available is definitely worth paying attention to. You know who else did that? Liliana of the Veil. Is Karn as good as LotV? Almost definitely not. But there’s a lot of room for him to be worse than LotV and still an absurd card. And while I haven’t seen him in Modern yet (not that he hasn’t shown up at all), I suspect he’ll make the journey. After all, if Legacy Eldrazi is making good use of him, I’d expect the Modern version to do the same.

Considering all of this, does that make Karn a buy at $35? That’s a tough sell. I don’t think you can spec on him here. Maybe at $25. $35 is too rich, too fraught with risk, to spec on. At least, too rich to buy twenty copies of. What about your personal playset? What about trading away your other brand new Dominaria cards for a copy? Those are much better ways to approach this. It appears there’s room for Karn to flex up to $50 in a set without anything approaching Masterpieces, though fair warning, it’s far from guaranteed.


Mystic Remora

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

I would be irresponsible if I didn’t find room for at least one new card for all the commanders Dominaria has bequeathed unto us. A set packed with legendary creatures is going to put a lot of new builds on the table, and build EDH players will. Keep in mind too that we’ve seen EDH players lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to purchasing cards. When Vampire Hexmage was spoiled in Zendikar, competitive players jumped on Dark Depths before the set was legal. EDH players are snap buying Spore Frog when they see Muldrotha spoiled though. They’re waiting until they end up with a Muldrotha in hand, then going through their binders to see what they’ve got for the deck, and then deciding if the want to add anything to the list. It takes time, and as such, there’s a slower ramp up for new commander staples. (Except for the ones speculators pounce on, like foil Secrets of the Dead.)

We’re truly through the looking glass now, with my first two cards this week being Standard driven, and my third hailing from Ice Age. Yes, ICE AGE. That Ice Age. The one that, pound for pound, is cheaper than firewood. The scourge of vendors and bulk managers everywhere, who buy 50,000 card collections and find 48,000 cards from Ice Age, Homelands, and Fallen Empires. One of the most feared set symbols out there for a subset of individuals.

And yet…Mystic Remora. Currently in 11,000 EDH decks on edhrec.com, putting it in the top 40 most popular blue cards in the format. (And that’s a competitive color, let me tell you.) It’s also a signature card in the most exciting, brand new commander of Dominaria. And finally, supply is…dwindling? There’s forty-ish vendors on TCG. SCG is out of NM copies, though they’ve got a pile of SP ones.

Floating at $1.50 to $2, these are cheap, but not free. If Muldrotha catches on as the next big thing, two things will happen. Every person that wants to play Muldrotha will add Mystic Remora (apparently). And everyone in the EDH scene who previously was mostly unaware of Mystic Remora will learn about it as they encounter it in the wild, and some of those players will be inspired to go pick up a copy for themselves, for whichever deck needs it. This is a double dip of demand that only particularly old cards get to enjoy. (Come on, Marton Stromgald.) Will Remoras hit $10? That definitely sounds like a stretch, but in a world with $2,000 Tabernacles, $8 Mystic Remoras don’t seem as absurd.


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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