Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 12/14/20 – Going Rogue

The Rogues deck in Standard has been a mild point of contention recently, with wildly varied takes on how good it is due to the large disparity between how well it has been performing in the hands of the pros vs how well the average Arena ladder-grinder does with it. I’ve played a bit of it myself and had very mixed results, but it’s had me thinking about some Rogues that have applications outside of a Standard environment. There are some interesting ones flying around both in EDH and other competitive formats, and I think they’re worth taking a look at.

Opposition Agent (EA)

Price today: $19
Possible price: $35

Alongside Hullbreacher, Opposition Agent has been one of the biggest hits from Commander Legends, with the Rogue just falling short of first place in favour of the definitely-shouldn’t-be-blue Pirate here. EDHREC will show you the five dual lands as being in the top five spots for Commander Legends because of percentage inclusions, but in terms of raw numbers both Hullbreacher and Agent outstrip them by a mile (around a thousand decks to be a little more precise). These two are super-staples and should realistically be in most 60%+ power level decks that can play them, and you can kind of take them as a pair in terms of my pick logic. But my article isn’t titled “Going Pirate”, is it? So here we are.

Anyway, I’m looking specifically at the EA non-foils here, because they’re only a few bucks more than the regular non-foils at $15, and about the same price as regular foils. That small gap isn’t much when you’re already paying $15 for a card, and so I think that a lot of players will happily fork over the extra few dollars for the extended art versions over the regulars. With the lower supply of the EAs (only found in Collector Boosters), that means that the gap is going to widen, with the EAs increasing in price more quickly than the regular versions.

Now, this is the kind of card that seems like it should be fairly reprintable in Commander sets, but I think we can still get a good run out of it before we see it again. It’s difficult to predict Wizard’s logic on reprints sometimes; as Jason Alt mentioned in the Discord yesterday, Dockside Extortionist seems like a similarly reprintable card but we haven’t seen that one again in 18 months – but either way, the place that this is most likely to show up would be a Commander Precon, which means that it won’t be in extended art, so these versions are safe.

Thieves’ Guild Enforcer (FEA)

Price today: $5
Possible price: $15

Switching gears now, we’re looking at a card that’s geared more towards the competitive scene. Thieves’ Guild Enforcer has been putting some real work in for the Standard Rogues deck, and can looks fairly innocuous at first but plays multiples roles of milling your opponent, whilst also attacking and blocking excellently a bit later in the game when their graveyard is stocked full. To my mild surprise, it’s been doing exactly the same thing over in Modern, which is half the reason I’m writing about it today.

I’m sure we all predicted the Modern mill deck picking up Ruin Crab from Zendikar Rising, but a fair few of the decks have also been playing a suite of Thieves’ Guild Enforcers to help things along as well. There are a few different variations of the deck but it’s clear that the deck is much better than it used to be, and has been putting up results to prove it. Mill used to be a bit of a meme deck in the format, but has slowly been garnering new tools and is a real role-player in Modern now.

I know I said that this is more of a competitively slanted card, but it actually has some decent chops in EDH as well – at around 1000 decks it’s a big player in both mill decks and Rogue decks (and mixtures of the two), of course being very popular with Anowon, the Ruin Thief. At $5 these are pretty damn cheap for an extended art foil, and I don’t think you can really go wrong with these on a slightly longer horizon.

Puresteel Paladin (2XM Foil)

Price today: $6
Possible price: $15

“That’s not a Rogue!” I hear you say. Well, you’d be right. The eagle-eyed among you have probably spotted that this is, in fact, a Human Knight. So why am I talking about it in my Rogue article? Because there’s a new deck on the scene in Modern, and it’s a bit of a rogue one. Hah!

Affectionately named “Hammer Time” (according to MTGGoldfish at any rate), this is a deck that takes advantage of cards like Puresteel Paladin and Sigarda’s Aid to equip a Colossus Hammer for free and swing in for 10+ damage as early as turn two. Drop an Ornithopter or Memnite on turn one, then Sigarda’s Aid on turn 2 means that even if your opponent has a blocker you can fly over with your Thopter and drop in the Hammer after blocks, rendering the “loses flying” part of the card irrelevant for at least one bout of combat. As well as enabling the free equipping that the deck needs, Puresteel Paladin is a real engine in the deck, using all your cheap zero and one mana artifacts to draw into any combo pieces you’re missing – and it carries the hammer pretty well in a pinch too.

I knew I wanted to pick out something from this deck to talk about today, but foil Colossus Hammers have all but disappeared and Steelshaper’s Gift is well overdue a reprint. Puresteel Paladin, however, has just seen a reprint in Double Masters and the foils are looking real tasty. Original foils from New Phyrexia are up over $20, but the 2XM version is still down at $6 – and there aren’t actually many left sitting around. Only 19 listings on TCGPlayer (and almost all are single copies) means that I think this is due for a correction fairly soon, especially if the deck keeps picking up steam.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

The Watchtower 12/07/20 – Bring a Friend

Another week, another Watchtower, another loosely themed article. I don’t know if doing them like this is better or worse for you as a reader, but it definitely helps me to write them and nobody has told me they don’t like it yet, so I’m gonna keep going! (Please do shout at me on Twitter if you feel strongly either way). You can probably take a good guess at the kind of cards that I’m going to be talking about today, but I do like to bury the lede just a little bit to try and keep you interested, which means I can’t be too specific with my article titles. Anyway I’ll stop rambling – let’s jump in.

Obosh, the Preypiercer (FEA)

Price today: $7
Possible price: $20

I was flicking through some of the Standard decks that are being played at the moment, and something caught my eye. Almost all of the Temur ramp/adventure decks that are being played at the moment are playing Obosh, the Preypiercer in the sideboard as their Companion – it’s effectively a free-roll as you really don’t have to exclude many cards to get it to fit in, and you’re still able to cheat a little bit with it by playing cards like Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower that have odd converted mana costs but even costed spells attached to them.

This led me to looking at where else Obosh is being played right now, and it turns out that the current version of the Prowess / Burn decks in Modern are doing exactly the same thing (and even including the Bonecrusher Giants to boot). Being able to play a Companion without needing to significantly warp your deck around it is a great boon to any strategy, and we’ve seen Lurrus and Yorion decks still performing very well even after the change to the Companion rule. I think that Obosh is going to fall into a similar pattern, perhaps not being quite as prevalent as the other two but a decent role-player nonetheless.

I and others have talked about Lurrus in articles and on the podcast before now, as we’ve seen supply dwindle and the price going up and up. Yorion has done the same, and I’m absolutely sure that Obosh is going to do the same thing. You can currently get some outrageously cheap copies around $7 on TCGPlayer at the moment – bearing in mind that Lurrus, which sees around three times the amount of play in Modern, is over seven times that price. There aren’t too many under the $10 mark though, and it ramps up pretty quickly with only 29 FEA listings on TCGPlayer. I think that this will very easily be a $20 card in a few months, and probably head towards $40 before too long (given that I doubt we’ll see it reprinted any time soon).

Akroma, Vision of Ixidor (Foil Etched)

Price today: €8 ($9.50)
Possible price: $30

Come on now, you didn’t think we could get another Akroma printed without a good bit of keyword soup, right? Give it a few years and the next version will probably have so many keywords that the text is so small you need a jeweller’s loupe to read it. But until then, let’s take a look at what we’ve got to work with for now. Aside from just being a decent body with a bunch of relevant abilities, the fact that this new Akroma has Partner strapped to it as well makes it a whole lot better, and we’ve already seen it being paired with other keyword-endowed cards like Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh, which is quite neat and fairly amusing really.

So it’s a popular card from Commander Legends – great. But what I want to focus on here, as is hopefully evident by the fact that I’ve given you the current price in Euros, is that these are way cheaper in Europe than in the US at the moment. It’s the age-old adage (I think that’s a tautology, but oh well) of EDH cards being cheaper in Europe, and yes I’m going to keep hitting you over the head with it.

Now let’s be clear here: the etched foils from Commander Legends can be found in regular draft boosters, unlike the EA cards that only come in Collector Boosters. That means that there’s a decent chunk more supply of etched foils in general, but Akroma here is a mythic and there really aren’t too many copies going around (in the US at any rate). Prices start at $17 on TCGPlayer, almost double what they can be had for on MKM, and even after you’ve taken into account the arbitrage gains I think this card is heading upwards if you hold onto it for a while. EDHREC is showing us that it’s one of the most popular new Partners, and that’s mirrored on TCGPlayer with it having much lower stock levels than the other etched foil Mythics. I think we’re onto a winner here.

Giver of Runes (Foil)

Price today: €18 ($22)
Possible price: $50

I’m rounding things off with another arbitrage pick, and want to give a shoutout to one of the Protraders in the MTGPrice Discord for putting this on my radar last week – it’s a good find. I’m stretching the ‘friends’ theme a little bit here, but don’t worry, it’s worth it! I reckon that Giver of Runes could definitely be your friend, given the ability and flavour text on her – after all, friends are the family that we choose.

Either way, this is a card that’s been consistently performing well in various Modern decks since the release of Modern Horizons, as well as showing up in around 5000 EDH decks listed on EDHREC. Highlights include Heliod Company decks, Devoted Devastation builds and the more classic Death & Taxes lists; it’s really great at protecting combo pieces as well as shoring yourself up against removal-heavy strategies.

There are a grand total of nine NM foil listings for Giver on TCGPlayer at the moment, which start at $45 and don’t exactly go down from there. That makes the $22 copies on MKM an absolute slam dunk, great for immediate arbitrage and even better to hold onto for a little while. I can’t really think of anywhere that this could be reprinted soon other than Modern Horizons 2, which isn’t hitting until Q3 next year anyway (and even then I’m kinda doubtful that we’ll see it again there). On that kind of timeline this could be a $75+ foil by that point, especially if paper play has started to pick up again, even just at an LGS level.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

The Watchtower 11/30/20 – Revisiting Zendikar (Again)

I last wrote about Zendikar Rising back in September, before the set had been released and talked about some EDH cards I wanted to buy when they bottomed out. Let’s check back in on those shall we?

  • Thieving Skydiver at $1: check.
  • Ashaya at $5: well it’s $6 so I’m counting that as a hit.
  • Moraug Showcase foils at $15: They’re down to $10, so even better!

So some free advice: now would be the time to buy some of these if you fancy some good returns in a year or so.

Seeing as most things from Zendikar Rising seem to have bottomed out now, I wanted to revisit the set and take another look at what I think some of the best pickups are at current prices (other than my previous, incredibly prescient picks).

Skyclave Apparition (FEA)

Price today: $16
Possible price: $30

Talking about things I’ve talked about before, I’ve also talked about Skyclave Apparition before in one of my articles. That was a mouthful that I probably definitely could’ve worded better, but oh well. A couple of months ago I called Skyclave Apparition FEAs to move from $10 to $25 based on the back of some early competitive play for the card, and I’ve got to say it’s only gotten better since then.

Skyclave Apparition has been showing up in a bunch of different top tier decks across Standard, Pioneer, Modern and Legacy (and Historic I guess?). It’s been heralded as the best white card printed in years, and to be honest I can’t really dispute that when it comes to these competitive formats. The card is fantastic and is doing even better than I had hoped for when I wrote about it back in September.

You can go and read what I wrote about the card back then, but I want to update my projection for the FEA copies and call them from where they currently are at $16 to land north of $30 before too long. There are only 25 listings left on TCGPlayer, a grand total of five of which have more than one copy listed (and even then only contain 2-3 copies each). When paper play picks back up (and yes, I know I keep saying that but trust me – eventually it will and you’ll be glad you picked up cards when they were cheap because oh boy are some cards from sets released during the pandemic going to get pricey), these are going to be in very high demand and you’ll feel quite smug outing your copies you got at $10-15.

Ancient Greenwarden (FEA)

Price today: €18 ($21.50)
Possible price: $40

Is it a competitive staple? No. Is it a big EDH card? Yes. So where are we going to buy it? That’s right, in Europe! Well done, we did it. That wasn’t so hard now was it?

Jokes aside, you can follow this logic for most Magic cards. Competitive-focused cards are generally the same price in the US and Europe, or cheaper in the US, and EDH cards are almost always cheaper in Europe. There’s already a steep ramp formed on TCGPlayer of these, starting at $23 and heading to $30 in no short order, with only 22 total listings. Over on MKM however, there’s a relative glut of supply at the €18 mark – some tasty pickings if I ever saw them. The healthy supply in Europe might mean a weaker demand profile for the card on this side of the pond, but that just makes it an even better arbitrage opportunity to ship Stateside.

Ancient Greenwarden has been one of the most popular EDH cards picked up from Zendikar Rising, because it’s green and says ‘land’ and ‘graveyard’ on it. At a touch over 2400 decks, Greenwarden clocks in at the number 5 include from the set – it’s effectively a beefier Ramunap Excavator that is actually a relevant body on the board, especially seeing as it has Reach strapped onto it (because it wasn’t doing enough already).

Given the steep ramp on the card already, I think we’ll see these up to $40 within 12-18 months or less, which makes for a nice return if you’re picking a bunch up in Europe.

Thieving Skydiver (FEA)

Price today: $7
Possible price $20

Sorry to disappoint anyone hoping for a non-foil pick today, but these foil extended arts are just too good to skip out on. They’re the lowest supply versions of cards being printed into Standard sets at the moment as well as being the prettiest things around, so what am I to do really?

Thieving Skydiver has uh, taken a dive in price (unimaginative, I know) since the release of Zendikar Rising, but remains one of the most popular EDH cards from the set and takes the number one slot for blue cards. Mana rocks are such a huge part of EDH, and so being able to steal them for such a low opportunity cost is a huge boon – especially in a blue deck that may well not be playing green and so be worse off when it comes to ramping out.

Although this is only a rare and not a mythic, I think that $7 is way too low for an FEA EDH all-star, and before long this is going to start climbing significantly. You should probably be playing this in every blue EDH deck you own, so I’d grab some personal copies here alongside some more to spec on. They’re around the same price in Europe at the moment so grab whatever is easiest, but give it a year or so and these aren’t going to be very cheap at all any more.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

The Watchtower 11/23/20 – How Uncommon is an EA Common if an Uncommon Could Be Common?

We’re only a few days past the official release of Commander Legends, and already we’re seeing some crazy numbers from these Collector Boosters. Turns out that the Extended Art cards (which can only be found in the Collector Boosters remember) are a lot less common than you might think, especially when it comes to the Common and Uncommon slots. I can already tell I’m going to be sick of typing ‘common’ and ‘uncommon’ in a few minutes.

It looks like there isn’t a difference in terms of print run between EA commons and uncommons in these Collector Boosters, so the rarity difference doesn’t actually mean anything there. Thanks to some maths run by James at MTGPrice on the collector boosters, we have some pretty solid estimates of how many copies of each card exist in the world…and it’s less than you might think.

Judging by the data we have available to us, it looks like there are less than 10,000 of each FEA common and uncommon from the entire print run of Commander Legends collector boosters, and that estimate is probably on the high side by quite a bit. Don’t be fooled by the common and uncommon rarity symbols they have stamped on them; these are premium pieces of cardboard and should be treated as such. We’ve been given quite a few EDH ultra-staples here in FEA for the first time, and some of those cards have never really had a fancy version printed before, making them a must-have for many EDH players.

I’m focusing on a few of those cards in my picks today, but you can apply this logic to plenty of the other FEA commons and uncommons and go have a look at targets for yourself. There are definitely too many good options to fit into one article!

Command Tower (FEA)

Price today: €12 ($14)
Possible price: $30+

It’s been a little while since I properly dedicated a slot to an arbitrage pick, so here you go! EDH players in the US have already been taking a shot at these, because other than the Commander’s Arsenal version and Judge Promo (which are both $100+), Commander Legends is the only other place you can find a foil version. And what’s better than a foil? An extended art foil, of course. We know by now that EDH is much more popular in the US than in Europe (and if you don’t, then go and read my article on arbitrage here), and that’s reflected in the pricing here. €12 on MKM compared to $24 on TCGPlayer is some serious arbitrage immediately, let alone if you wait a few months to sell.

Let’s talk some more numbers. Command Tower is listed in 277,283 decks recorded on EDHREC. 64% of all decks (and I’m surprised it’s that low), because duh – it’s a free untapped land that taps for any colour for you. The only real reason not to run it is because it doesn’t have a land type and so in mono-colour (and sometimes 2-colour decks) it can be worse than a basic land for you. But anyway, 277k decks that could want this card, and less than 10k FEA copies in the wild? Looks like some easy maths to me.

We are getting another foil Command Tower printing in Commander Collection: Green next month, but the premium versions of those sets (the ones that have the foils) are only being distributed to WPN stores and so allocation numbers are low – like, really low. Judging by the direction Wizards are going in we’ll most likely see another premium printing of Command Tower at some point, but I doubt we’ll see a FEA for a fair while. And remember, numbers on these are very limited compared to the number of players that are going to want them, so prices are going to be headed upwards pretty quickly.

I’m already racking up the word count on this article, so I’ll try and be a little more brief on my next two picks. Most of what I’ve said above in general and about Command Tower applies to both of these next picks, so I’ll explain a little more about them but not more than you should need to be convinced.

Terramorphic Expanse (FEA)

Price today: $2
Possible price: $10

Myriad Landscape (FEA)

Price today: $3
Possible price: $10

Terramorphic Expanse is an interesting one here, in that there have been zillions of printings and plenty of foils alongside that, but other than very slight border differences they all kinda look the same. The only one with a different art is the version printed in Jumpstart, and there weren’t any foils in that set so it’s not quite hitting that true premium spot. Getting this FEA version in Commander Legends is going to really scratch that itch for a lot of players, aaaaaand let’s check EDHREC…yep, 116k decks. Less than 10k copies. You know the drill!

Myriad Landscape is on a very similar footing, but with only one previous foil in Masters 25, this FEA might be even more popular than Terramorphic Expanse. It’s “only” in 81k decks, which is obviously still a huge number but not quite the territory that the other two hold – but it is a very good option in multicolour decks to go and find the lands you need to cast your spells. Fewer people are probably running it than should, but demand is still more than high enough to run down the supply.
Both of these can be picked up at around $2-3 both on TCGPlayer and MKM at the moment, which is just way too cheap. Yes, they’re technically commons and uncommons, but It’s better to think of them more like regular rares or mythics than what they’re labelled as. Demand for these is going to be super high and supply is much lower than people might think. It’s basic stonks.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.