Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 12/23/19 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.


Happy holidays everyone, and welcome to the Christmas edition of the Watchtower. WotC already gave Pioneer players their Christmas gift last Monday with the banning of Oko, and the format is finally starting to feel like it has an identity other than “two or three decks with cards that should obviously be banned.” It sounds like ban list changes are going to be falling in line with the new, “not every week but whenever we feel like it” timeline as well, which means that they believe the format is hitting its stride. One suspects that once we reach this point, plenty of players scared off by the constant churn will begin to more seriously buy in.

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  ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.


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 12/16/19 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.


We’ve got an entire seven days between us and the latest Pioneer ban announcement, which means we’ve got marginally better data about how the format looks without Once Upon a Time and Smuggler’s Copter. My initial impression, scrolling through a list of league 5-0s, is that despite what I imagine is Wizards’ desperation to not reveal it as such, Oko is setting the tone of the format. Gilded Goose and its keeper are doing a lot of work in Pioneer right now, which puts us all in a tough spot. Do we spec and buy cards presuming that this is how Pioneer will look for several months? Or is WotC going to do what needs to be done, performing a major reset in the process? This weighs heavily on me this week as I dive in.

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To learn more about being a ProTrader, click here to see all the benefits.

  ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.


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.


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The Watchtower 12/9/19 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.


Now that Standard has returned to something approaching normalcy with the removal of Oko and crew, this weekend’s Mythic Championship looked great. Deck diversity abound (at least as far as Standard is concerned) which is all anyone wants. Simic Flash, Jeskai Fires, GB Adventures, Simic Trade Binder, etc. Get ready to start riding the rollercoaster, because Wizards is watching. The cycle is going to be 1. Print cards that are almost assuredly busted, 2. Let those cards either prove to be fair or, more likely, slowly take over Standard 3. Finally ban the card after it’s become entirely oppressive 4. Reap the reward of people being excited that Standard doesn’t suck any longer. Imagine that in a “10 20 goto 10” joke format if necessary. 

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  ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cavalier of Dawn

Price Today: $2.50
Possible Price: $6

That’s right, a non-foil Standard pick. Truly remarkable. 

Cavaliers, while having been slow to start, are making a foothold in Standard. Cavalier of Thorns, the green Cavalier, was beating people up in Simic Ramp at the MC, and Cavalier of Flames and Gales are both a big part of Jeskai Fires. There’s no question the Cavaliers pack a big punch. That’s to be expected, since they’re five-drop mythics that have deep color requirements. No question they’re intended to be titans redux, if not a little more fair. 

Ok, what’s my point. Well, back in the days of the original titans, they each had their moment, and it was a different time for each. Frost Titan specifically stands out in memory, as it was the cheapest of the group, until people realized that it was the Titan that beat the other titans, and the price soared. Over time, each Titan found a home and became a staple. Just because it doesn’t land immediately, it doesn’t mean that shifting formats and new cards won’t make one a staple. 

Looking at this pattern from several years ago, I find myself wondering about Cavalier of Dawn. There’s no question the enter play ability is potent. Beast Within was a key card during its own Standard, and continues to see sporadic play in various other 60-card formats, and is a staple in EDH. With the rise in Planeswalkers, especially lower on the curve, this is an even more potent effect. Nice Oko idiot. Here have an elephant. The general way to evaluate an effect like this is “if there’s no good target for the ability, you’re already winning.” Even the death trigger is useful, since we know Banishing Light is returning in Theros from the leaks several weeks back. Cavalier returning a Banishing Light that got destroyed a few turns prior on death will be helpful. 

Of course, right now the card is completely unplayed, which makes this purely speculative. Can we buy Cavalier of Dawn based solely on the fact that the other Cavaliers are good? No, probably not. There’s more here though. We also saw the Elspeth Planeswalker from those Theros leaks, and that card also looks like it’s going to be legitimate. Playing Elspeth on four and then Cavalier on five is going to be a hell of a whammy. That also puts you in a position to be playing devotion as well. White wasn’t the color you went to for devotion in the first Theros, but that could change this time around.

All of this makes Cavalier of Dawn a highly speculative pick, but I like the way the pieces are falling into place. Buying in playsets you’ll pay about $2.50 a copy today. I’m not recommending you start adding them to your cart, but you’ll want to pay close attention to the card as Theros creeps up on us.

Creeping Chill (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

We started with Standard, now we’re doing Pioneer, and we’ll finish the week with EDH.

Creeping Chill should be familiar to anyone that’s played Modern. Milling the card domes for three, and in a strategy that’s putting plenty of cardboard in the graveyard, you’re looking at 9 to 12 damage for free in a game. It’s become a common sight in Modern strategies, although you’d be forgiven for not knowing that at this point, because who is looking at Modern lists?

A recent Pioneer league saw Dredge manage 5-0, and in the main deck, four copies of Chill. That got my attention, because so far the archetype has been relatively quiet in Pioneer, but that is highly unlikely to be the case for long. Wizards can’t stay away from the graveyard for too many sets in a row, and in fact, in Theros alone we know we’re getting a mechanic that returns cards to the battlefield, and supporting pieces to go along with it. If Dredge doesn’t have the tools to make itself a serious part of Pioneer today,  it’s only a matter of time.

As graveyard strategies do more work in Pioneer, I expect Creeping Chill to be a mainstay. It’s good enough for many Modern lists, and there’s certainly more room for it in Pioneer lists. Furthermore, as a card that isn’t EDH-oriented and was recently printed, it’s going to be a long while before we see another copy, especially foils. 

There are only about 40 vendors on TCG right now, and there’s no inventory walls to speak of. A few players looking to fill up their collection are going to quickly tax the available inventory, and then these will be another annoyingly expensive foil uncommon.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

I didn’t expect it when she was printed, but Shalai has become one of the most popular creatures in Commander, period. She’s a top 20 popular creature over both the last two months and the last two years — and remember, she was printed less than two years ago. Giving most of your permanents hexproof is big game in EDH. While that sort of lock isn’t quite as airtight in EDH as it might be in Pioneer or Standard, it’s still a monstrously powerful effect. Add in the mana sink, which gives your board a permanent boost when you’ve got excess mana, and plays into the +1/+1 counters theme that’s so popular, and it makes sense that Shalai is seeing so much play. Hindsight, etc. etc.

Flip over to the foil inventory and things look good. Again, about 40 vendors have stock, and nobody has much that’d deep. ChannelFireball, one of the parties notorious for having a block and slowing price gains, is only holding seven copies. Other than that, it’s primarily one-ofs all the way down. Ok, I admit there’s a guy with 13 copies listed — although they’re at $16. Given that Shalai keeps putting up numbers over and over, these should pay off in 2020.[/hide]


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.


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The Watchtower 12/2/19 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.


A few hours after this article releases we’ll be getting an update to the Pioneer Banned and Restricted list. I’ve no more information than anyone else, but I’d wager that Smuggler’s Copter and Field of the dead are at the tippy top of the list, and while I can’t be certain they’re both going, smart money is on their exit today. That will unlock a lot of new movement in the format since, at the moment, it’s gated fairly hard by Mono-Black Aggro and the few flavors of Field. Be sure to keep a close eye on the 5-0 results after today, since that will give you an early indicator of what my have gained ground in the vacuum. We’ll check in next week to see what’s blossoming.

Lotus Field (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

I did a double take when a retweet crossed my feed a day or two ago regarding a Lotus Field combo in the Pioneer PTQ taking place. The build uses Lotus Field, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and Hidden Strings. It’s not a full loop, as encoding Hidden Strings on the Vizier doesn’t do much, since it requires dealing combat damage. Rather, it’s sort of like playing with a fast mana engine. Field isn’t “fast” of course, but once you pair it with Vizier, you’re now getting six mana a turn from one land and one creature. A single Hidden Strings allows you to double dip on both, and now you can make twelve mana. That’s the gimmick, since at that point you cast Omniscience.

It’s no surprise that a land that casts a Black Lotus every turn is going to show up in some Pioneer combo decks. Playing it fairly is mediocre, but once you’ve got any sort of effect to take advantage of it, it’s going to get silly quickly. While the package described above is one way to approach it, I saw some other builds in the 5-0 collection using combinations of Kiora’s Follower and various Kiora planeswalkers to add additional untap mechanics. 

Flip over to EDHREC and you’ll find Field in just over 2,000 lists too, which isn’t insignificant at all. It’s quite a new card to the scene, as Magic 2020 has only been on shelves for a few months. Looking at M20 further, you’ll see that Field is the fourth or fifth most-played card from the set. Not all builds are going to be interested in Field for sure, but there’s no color restrictions on it, and anyone trying to capitalize on untapping lands is certainly going to make sure to toss a copy in.

Non-foils are still far too deep in supply to think about today, although I do suspect they’re going to be worth revisiting in the future. As for foils, the supply isn’t low by any means, sitting at around 90 vendors. Prices have been coming down, with the market over $11 and the cheapest copies at $8 or so. We could see these bottoming out in the very near future, with non-foils sitting at $4 or more. That will put foil Fields on an upwards trajectory, feeding both Pioneer combo players and the EDH crowd.

Cascading Cataracts (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

Had I written this article tomorrow, I’d be calling it Two Lands Tuesday. But I didn’t, so it’s still called The Watchtower. Sorry to disappoint. 

Cataracts, aside from a problem with your eyeball that old people get, is a useful tool in any EDH deck looking to cast five color cards. Five colorless in, any five colors back out. You pay a mana for the privilege, but generally, the color fixing is going to be worth the cost. Being able to hit those WUBRG cards early and reliably can mean a great deal to those decks, especially ones that can’t come to the party with a $3,000 mana base to ensure they’re always getting there. Tossing a Cataracts in is much more cost effective than scrounging up ten fetches and ten duals. 

While I’m sure it’s not terribly common, I imagine that 4c and even 3c decks may occasionally want to run Cataracts. It’s been my experience with 3c decks that I was more likely to be hamstrung on type of mana than volume of mana. Being able to convert some of your Gaea’s Cradle mana into black mana, for instance, could be quite useful. 

At $5, foils are tempting. The issue here is the two big walls of about 50 copies each. Those two vendors alone seem to have more inventory than the entire rest of TCG combined. I’d consider this to be superior to those copies being distributed across the seller market, since as $5 copies begin getting bitten from one of the two vendors with deep supply, they’ll begin raising the price, effectively increasing the price on 30 or 40 copies at once. Were those copies distributed, there’d be more copies racing to the bottom. Anyways, $5 foils of a 7,000 EDHREC land are worth keeping on your radar into 2020.

Masterwork of Ingenuity

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $9

I worked hard to find you guys a non-foil this week. While Korvold has been holding steady as the most popular Throne of Eldraine commander, Syr Gwyn has been quietly putting up numbers back in third or fourth place. As a knight and equipment themed deck, she’s adding demand to two subsets of cards that don’t always see a lot of love. Digging into the equipment theme we find Masterwork of Ingenuity, a once very hyped card that’s been quieter since the initial release, but has seen its stock drain over the years.

Masterwork is, of course, an equipment clone for one mana. Oftentimes that’s going to be a solid mana savings. Pair it with the swath of abilities that allow you to equip for free or at a discounted rate, and you can get some real cheap equipment going. To that end virtually every equipment-based commander finds copies in their lists. The reason Masterwork is still only at 2,200 lists despite having been released some five or six years ago is that there simply aren’t that many appropriately themed commanders released regularly. Syr Gwyn is the latest, and prior to that it might have been 2017? With 2020 the year of Commander, I suspect we may see a new leader pick up the mantle, which would put a great deal of strain on a now-depleted supply.

We’re down to 25 vendors on TCG, and nobody has a deep well of copies. Without any changes a few copies will sell each month, eventually pushing this up towards $10. As soon as another equipment commander is printed, the last of the liquid copies will go, and you’ll be happy you had yours prior to that.


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.


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