Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 1/14/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

ADVERTISEMENT:


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.


While there’s no major news on the Magic front today, there’s plenty brewing. The Ravnica Allegiance spoilers wrapped up last week, and the full set will be found in players’ hands shortly. There’s plenty of tasty cardboard in this one, and I know I’m not alone in looking forward to seeing how it reshapes Standard and Modern. I’m especially excited to see Electrodominance do some work, maybe balancing out the format.

The format needs balancing too, what with the way Arclight Phoenix has been going lately. Apparently something like 17% of decks at SCG Worster were Phoenix? That’s a whole lot for Modern, where non-PT numbers tend to top out at single-digit percentages. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a UR deck reach that level of play, and the last time it did, Splinter Twin paid the ultimate price. We’re only a few weeks into really understanding Modern with Arclight as a tier one strategy, so Wizards isn’t going to be in a rush to answer it with heavy hand, especially since all things considered, it’s a fair strategy. Expect some time for the format to adjust organically before action is taken.

ADVERTISEMENT:


Amulet of Vigor

Price Today: $22
Possible Price: $40

There’s been whisperings of Amulet Titan in Modern for a few weeks now, and it managed to take first this weekend, beating out piles of Phoenix decks. It’s a strategy whose popularity was hit harder than its efficacy by the Summer Bloom ban. It would seem a good foil to Arclight Phoenix, considering that we’ve been seeing an uptick in play along with the growth of Phoenix decks.

While there have been various versions of the deck, and several strategies for deploying as many lands as possible, two pieces are non-negotiable, and I hope unsurprisingly, they’re the two pieces whose names make up the archetype’s title: Amulet (of Vigor) and (Primeval) Titan. Amulet of Vigor’s effect with Karoo lands is what makes the deck tick, after all.

Amulet has been a worthwhile spec for awhile now, and the new attention is probably going to max this card out in a hurry. If Amulet Titan really is a strong choice for battling a Phoenix-infested metagame, players will flock to it in a hurry, especially as a tested strategy that’s already proven it has the chops to compete. When that happens, the single-printed rare is going to undergo extreme supply duress. Even though prices are already $22-$23, I don’t doubt at all that prices could climb into the $40 to $60 range, especially if it’s good without leaning on “Phoenix predator” as a feature.

Spirebluff Canal (Foil)

Price Today: $20
Possible Price: $45

While we started with the Arclight foil, we’ll turn back around and hit an actual Arclight foil. Arclight is an Izzet deck looking to cast a tremendous number of cheap red and blue spells each game. It’s fast, looking to top out at four mana or so, and has an impressive array of selection. It is a perfect candidate for fastlands, as it wants to leverage them hard early, and can eschew them later when they slow down.

Of course, this is only one in a long history of strong Izzet decks in Modern. There always seems to be one hanging around, and even when there isn’t one, there will be shortly. It’s a powerful color combination, and I’m expecting to see another soon with the printing of Pteramander, Delver’s amphibious cousin. And it will be a quick, spell-heavy deck looking to satisfy two mana colors early in the game.

We are now more than eight years past the printing of Scars of Mirrodin, and we’ve yet to see a fastland reprint of any sort. If we assume the same timeline for the Kaladesh fastlands, we wouldn’t see a reprint of Spirebluff Canal before, well, we’re all dead. Which means foils are going to be in short supply (right up until there’s no one left to buy them and it’s all rather irrelevant). There already isn’t a deep pool of these, and several more weeks of Phoenix hysteria, paired with constant pressure from other Izzet strategies that pop up in Modern, is going to empty the market soon. Foil Blackcleave Cliffs are $95, and nobody is even playing Jund today. I’d consider finding your Spirebluffs soon.

Butcher of Malakir (Foil)

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $10

Wrapping up the week we’ll look in on EDH. With Ravnica Allegiance around the corner we’re going to get a few new commanders, and they’ll for sure be hitting the “Top Commander” lists for a few weeks. Don’t forget too that EDH players take awhile to buy into their decks, unlike constructed players, who will shovel playsets into their cart at a moment’s notice. New commanders will easily take months to move large volumes of cards to those intending to play them, simply because on the whole, 99s aren’t built in one afternoon.

Anyways, Edgar Markov has held steady on popularity for months and months now. There’s a deep pool of vampires to draw from, and sitting across three colors allows some flexibility in what you’re able to include. I’m not expecting an explosion in popularity any time soon, but he’s a consistent fan favorite.

If I’m looking for specs in a tribal deck like this, I want to find cards that are excellent in the tribal build, but still playable elsewhere, in order to capture the largest demand profile. Something like Door of Destinies, a card which otherwise defies my expectations regarding pricing, is a good example. Any vampire deck is going to want to be in the Door business, and at the same time, many other strategies are too.

A not-Door of Destinies card in Edgar Markov lists is Butcher of Malakir. She’s a vampire, which is uh, about all the checkboxes that need to be checked for an Edgar list. She benefits from all the tribal synergy floating around, and even moreso, she provides an extremely powerful effect in her “Grave Pact on a stick” deal. Grave Pact is of course a long-standing EDH favorite. This is reflected in Butcher’s play stats – over 15,000 decks on EDHREC, to be specific. That’s the cross-deck synergy I’m talking about. An excellent choice in a popular tribal strategy, and also a great pickup for plenty of non-vampire decks.

[/hide]

ADVERTISEMENT:



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.


Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

ADVERTISEMENT:


Please follow and like us:

The Watchtower 1/7/19 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.


2019 brings with it plenty of exciting Ravnica Allegiance spoilers. So far the biggest jump has been on the heels of Prime Speaker Vannifar, a creaturefied Birthing Pod. Astute readers immediately jumped on Intruder Alarm, which when paired with Vannifar should provide you a win on the spot. She sacrifices a creature to find something bigger, when that enters play it untaps her, she sacrifices sit again, etc etc. Throw a persist creature into the chain to double the bodies you have available to you. Really, the difficulty isn’t finding the win, it’s finding the setup necessary to put both cards on the table together.

Engineered Explosives (Promo)

Price Today: $70
Possible Price: $120

While they may already feel like old news by now, Ultimate Masters Box Toppers are still quite fresh in the Magic timeline. Only officially released thirty days ago, box toppers have been available for purchase in quantity for a few weeks right around Christmastime. Yet it feels like we’ve collectively moved on to Ravnica Allegiance already. I assure you though, while Allegiance is the fun thing to look at and talk about on Twitter, movement on cards like the box toppers is still going to be happening.

Explosives doesn’t need me to outline the card’s qualifications. It’s a top 25 in Modern, common in Legacy, and a staple in Cubes everywhere. There’s a reason non-foil copies are $28 despite having been reprinted a month ago.

Take a look at Inventions copies and you’ll see they’re around $120 at the moment. Those are great copies which look excellent and are truly unique. In contrast, UMA Box Toppers are clocking in around $70 right now. They’re not quite as dramatic a departure from the standard Magic appearance, but that’s no knock against them. Their borderless design is going to appeal to a wider range than the Inventions copies will. Supply is decent for a card of this nature right now, with roughly 50 on TCGPlayer (far fewer than that under $90 though). We’re rapidly approaching the end of new box topper supply if it hasn’t already stopped, which means this is as deep as the pool is going to get. When people see the borderless box toppers are $50 cheaper than the Inventions copies, they’ll gravitate towards these. It won’t be long after that before the UMA promos end up close to the Inventions.

Stony Silence (MM3 Foil)

Price Today: $13
Possible Price: $22

Six slots down from Engineered Explosives on the list of top Modern cards is Stony Silence. Like Explosives, long-time players need no introduction. Not only has it been a core piece of Modern since the format’s inception, along with Affinity, it continues to find new applications as the format evolves around it. As of late it’s useful as a tool to battle Krark-Clan Ironworks, a deck whose entire gameplan is activating artifacts. Not a bad card in that match-up, I’d say. So long as KCI keeps churning, and keeps winning, this will become more and more important.

Furthermore, we’re heading into a period where there’s an expectation that Modern staples will begin to pick up steam at the same time that the Magic index generally rises anyways. If there’s one card type that’s looking good over the next few months, it’s Modern staples.

You’ll find a few foils of this hanging around the $13 mark, but not many. (And possibly none by the time you read this.) The Modern Masters 2017 foils hit $15 quickly, and then…they’re out. Innistrad foils start close to $20, where you’ll find about two playsets, and then…they’re out. Supply is shallow on foils on both copies of this. With MM3’s arguably better art, newer frame, and cheaper entry point, this seems guaranteed to pick up to the $21 to $26 range.


Thing in the Ice

Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $23

It’s Modern Monday today, and we’re finishing with Thing in the Ice. And non-foil to boot! How often do you see me recommend those? Non-foil Modern cards. What year is it, 2013?

Thing in the Ice is just outside the top 30 cards in Modern, and an easy top 10 creature. It had modest application in Modern when it was printed in SOI, and has only managed to increase in utility with the introduction of Arclight Phoenix. That deck is proving itself capable time and time again lately, and is looking a lot like Grixis Death’s Shadow at this point. It’s going to have an insane few months, and while the format will eventually stabilize and adapt to it, it will remain a meaningful component of the Modern tapestry. That’s all very good for Thing.

You’ll find a couple Things hanging around $12 and $13, but not many. It’s into the $15 and $16 range rapidly, and supply dries up not long after. Most major retailers are out of stock. There’s been a huge run up in price on this since the development of Izzet Arclight, but frankly, if the deck keeps up, I see no reason why this won’t be a $20 to $25 card.


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.



[/hide]

Please follow and like us:

The Watchtower 12/31/18 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.


Don’t expect a lot of excitement over the next several days. Our western pagan holidays slow everything down considerably. While players are still enjoying Magic at home with friends, and are certainly capable of placing orders, the lack of tournaments and gaps in content creation tend to slow the market down. It’s only temporary though, as late winter tends to be a watermark for prices each year. Somewhere in February, the entire Magic index will likely hit its peak for the year. I wonder how much of this is due to people just being excited about being able to leave their homes comfortably, although I admit I may be projecting, give I’m in upstate NY.

Tempt with Discovery

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $10

If you’re anything like me, your eyes sort of glaze over this card when you browse an EDH deck list. Tempt isn’t what I’d consider a particularly sexy or fun card. It’s heavily political in nature, and at its best, is just tutoring for a few lands. Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s a powerful effect at a great rate. I’m simply not one to care much for tutors that get non-typed lands, especially multiple at once. Anyways.

There’s no denying Tempt is popular in EDH. You’ll find it in well over 11k lists on EDHREC, so we know there’s plenty of fans. Some of the top commanders for the card are Omnath, Locus of Rage and Gitrog Monster, two fan favorites. And while it doesn’t show up on Lord Windgrace’s page, I find that suspect. This effect would be great in that deck. Basically I don’t believe it’s not finding its way into a pleothora of Windgrace lists as well.

You’ll find copies of Tempt with Discovery at $5 and $6 right now. It’s commonly found with two well-regarded commanders, and will almost certainly show up with Lord Windgrace in the near future. There’s some supply out there, but we’re not talking hundreds. At a glance, there’s maybe 70 copies below $8, with not too many more above that either. If you fade another reprint this year, I suspect we’ll see a $10 floor on these in the future.

Temporal Trespass (Foil)

Price Today: $7
Possible Price: $18

TCGPlayer gave Seth  Manfield a fascinating article a few days ago, in which he looked at the top ten best-selling cards on TCG in 2018. Most of them were Standard commons and uncommons, unsurprisingly. By volume, there’s no doubt that those sell exceptionally well. There’s also no doubt that you’ll go insane trying to grind a profit on $.08 Knight of Graces.

Without question, what stood out most to me was Temporal Trespass. Of all the casual and EDH-oriented cards, Trespass sold better than everything else? It’s not like it just came out this year and people are stocking up. It’s from Fate Reforged, which was a few years ago now. Why would this be so popular this year? This is also TCGPlayer we’re talking about. They’re no small organization. A few guys deciding to try to corner the market on Trespass wouldn’t be able to buy enough copies at once to put this into the top 10 sellers. Anything on that list needs to be a sustained effort.

Given this, I had to go check immediately. The non-foil stocks is still healthy, but foils are dwindling. At the time of publication, there’s 22 NM English foils. A couple at $7, a couple at $8, a couple at $9, a couple at $15, and they’re gone. Other vendors don’t look any better. If this sort of popularity persists, it’s only a matter of time before the foils go.


Sleight of Hand (Foil)

Price Today: $8.50
Possible Price: $16

While Sleight of Hand has been in Magic since 1998, there’s not that much of it out there. It started in Portal Second Age and Starter 1999. It made an actual return in 7th and 9th editions, the latter being how it ended up Modern legal. Those two sets were also previously the only foil copies. If you’re reading this article you’re probably aware of what 7th foils tend to look like, and 9th isn’t that much better. Fast forward to 2018, and Ultimate Masters brings us the first foil since YouTube was created.

I don’t feel like telling you about Sleight’s popularity is necessary. It’s been a staple of Modern for a long while, and I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

The cheapest non-UMA foil Sleight is about $60, so $8.50 certainly looks like a steal. I’d be happy to snag copies at $8 to $9 all day, especially in trade. They’re plentiful now, but I bet it’s going to be a very different story in six months.


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.



[/hide]

Please follow and like us:

The Watchtower 12/24/18 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.


Holiday tidings are upon us, and as the country spends the next 36 hours sharing their love with family and friends, we, the truly enlightened, are grinding Magic card value in front of our computers. Today we’ll hit a cross section, touching on Standard, Modern, and EDH. Buy some cards, then go eat a bunch of christmas cookies, drink egg nog, and fall asleep before the stomach ache sets in.

March of the Multitudes

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $15

I’m poking my head into Standard again with the release of some Ravnica Allegiance spoilers. This time around the guilds are Orzhov, Gruul, Azorius, Rakdos, and Simic. Of the mechanics we’ve seen so far, Orzhov’s ‘afterlife’ is possibly the most competitive-aligned. Back in the second Ravnica era, there was a remarkably successful and popular deck by the name of Aristocrats. Lacking anything in common with the meta-joke told by comedians to each other, Aristocrats was a strategy that used Doomed Traveler, Falkenrath Aristocrat, and their ilk to value opponents out with plenty of 1/1s, small advantages, clever play, and fun interactions between creatures.

‘Afterlife’ is a codified version of this deck, essentially turning every single creature with the mechanic into a Doomed Traveller. Even if a true Aristocrats-style deck doesn’t materialize, the value generated by your creatures leaving behind a 1/1 is significant when utilized properly. March of the Multitudes favorably interacts with afterlife on two dimensions. On the one, afterlife ensures that you’re better able to keep bodies on the board to convoke into a large March. On the other, both March and afterlife create 1/1 tokens, meaning that both are going to be rewarded for the same payoffs, e.g. Divine Visitation.

March at $5 is just about as low as we’re going to see it in Standard. If an afterlife value engine emerges from Allegiance, and March is part of that, we could see prices double or even triple as the key mythic in the deck. Keep an eye out for forthcoming articles from pros, specifically Sam Black, to see if they combine the two.

Kitchen Finks (Foils)

Price Today: $4 ($35)
Possible Price: $8 ($80)

On the Modern side of things, Ultimate Masters brought quite a few reprints that will reward opportune investment. There’s price points all over the board here to capitalize on, and on the lower end of things, we have Kitchen Finks this week.

Now, if you know anything about Magic, I don’t need to explain Kitchen Finks to you. Other than perhaps Lightning Bolt and Birds of Paradise, I can’t think of a card that has been a more permanent staple of the format. Their usage waxes and wanes with the format, of course, but you’ll never lose money betting that you’ll find a few of them floating around the room of any Modern tournament.

With UMA come new pack foils, which are available for as low as $4 today. Looking in on other foil editions, we can see that’s quite low. MMA foils are fetching $8 to $9, and they rise from there, up to $30 or so for Shadowmoor foils. With Finks’ ubiquity, I see the UMA foils catching the MMA ones eventually. If you’ve ever wanted a foil set, grab your UMA ones now, because I suspect they’ll catch up to the MMA ones before long.

As an addendum, those box toppers are great looking, and liable to climb strongly from $35. If you can catch some of these on an eBay 15% off sale or something similar, I’m a fan. I suspect box toppers across the board are going to rise, and these are eminently playable, and cheap enough that one could chase the full set.

Bonus Round (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

Over in EDH, Niv Mizzet continues to be one of the most popular “not Atraxa or Muldrotha” commanders. As a general that encourages drawing cards and pinging people, there are some cool ways to build him, such as those that use Thousand-Year Storm. And while that’s a cool card, it’s not what we’re looking at today.

Rather, I’m checking in on Battlebond. Remember that set? All the way back from June of this year? Man it has been a long 2018. Yes, Battlebond was printed just six months ago, yet we’ve all collectively forgotten it exists. EDH hasn’t though, and they continue to make use of the cards found there. While scrolling through Niv Mizzet lists, I decided to check in on Bonus Round, and I see potential.

Bonus Round is, most importantly, a cool card. EDH has lots of cards. Many are cool, and many are utilitarian. The cool ones are more likely to find their way into decks, because when deciding if your deck should be efficient or it should be cool, you’re going to pick cool in EDH. Bonus Round sets up huge turns that do awesome things, and no self-respecting EDH player is going to forgo Bonus Round in any deck where it fits. Not when it provides so much potential.

You’ll find foils at $8 right now. There’s some on the market — some. It’s only been six months though. What’s this going to look like a year from now?


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.


 

[/hide]

Please follow and like us: