Category Archives: Watchtower

The Watchtower 7/29/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

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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The Watchtower 7/22/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

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.

SDCC brought us a fun few days of Magic news, didn’t it? Fall’s upcoming set is Throne of Eldraine, a mix between Camelot and Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including, surprisingly, faerie tails. We’ll see gingerbread men, goldilocks, some new card type that seems to be in the vein of sagas, etc. It strikes me as a cross between Lorwyn and Innistrad, in that they basically took Lorwyn’s theme and shoved it into Innistrad’s art direction and top-down design. Should be a flavorful, resonant set. That’s only one of the announcements too. There’s also been a significant shakeup in the sealed product delivery, which you’ll need to tune into @mtgfastfinance to hear discussion of (see: complaining that it’s clear as mud).

Anointed Procession

Price Today: $12 (20)
Possible Price: $25 (40)

Mini update: When I wrote the following section I got my wires mixed and combined aspects of proliferate with populate. Populate only copies one token, not any of them that you wish. Anointed Procession will still be important even with this distinction, as it doubles the efficacy of both creating the token and populating the token.

What I didn’t mention in the intro is that we know the four Commander themes: morph, madness, populate, and flashback. I’m going to hit on all but flashback today, as that one feels like the most difficult to key into. We’ll start with populate, which, if you weren’t playing during our second trip to Ravnica you may not remember, creates copies of any tokens on the battlefield. Populate, copy any number of tokens. Lots of tokens. Cool beans.

If the commander deck is built around populating, you’re going to need tokens. Cards will need to generate them, and others will populate them. You’re going to be putting a lot of tokens onto the battlefield over the course of the game. If that’s the case, you really can’t do better than Doubling Season and Anointed Procession. Of the two Procession is better positioned, since the starting price is so much lower than Season. 

Let’s say you make a single zombie token, and then populate. You now have two zombie tokens. Whoopdee doo. What if you’ve got Procession in play first? Now you get two zombies on the way in. Then you populate, picking both tokens, so you put two more in. But Procession triggers again, so you put four total in. Now you’ve got six total tokens, compared to the two you would have without Procession. Each time this gets more absurd too; one more populate would get you to 4 and 18, respectively. Essentially, populate as a mechanic lets Procession work overtime, since you get the bonus on the way in for the token, and also with each populate.

Procession is already in about 12k lists on EDHREC, so people have already figured this out. There will be a rush on inventory as people start finding the precons in their hands. Despite a healthy supply, nonfoils at $12 are going to drain fast once people start picking their copies up. We could see Procession climb upwards of $20 or $30 as an already impressive demand is heartily renewed. Foils at $20 are tempting too, and don’t carry the risk of reprints that the nonfoils do.


Price Today: $2.50
Possible Price: $6

Next on Returning Mechanic Theatre is morph. Morph’s true heyday was in Onslaught, when they printed a slew of wild cards that interact with turning creatures face up. This is in contrast to Khans of Tarkir, which brought back morph (and megamorph and manifest), but didn’t seed as many “when a creature is turned face up” mechanics. Looking through relevant cards there’s a slew of amusing options, but given that they’re from Onslaught, supply is already essentially nil. I’d love to pick Chromeshell Crab or Dream Chisel but there just aren’t any to pick. I’m going a different way then, for a card that doesn’t explicitly say “morph” on it, but plays well with the mechanic.

Ixidron is already semi-popular in the format for his ability to “wipe” the board. He doesn’t get rid of everything, of course, but he neuters your opponent’s creatures while resetting your morph abilities. His use so far is primarily in hammering your opponents. Introduction of a morph-based precon will enable the other half of his design space, which is reloading all your morph guns. Unmorph three creatures, get their payoffs, play Ixidron, turn your opponent’s boards into 2/2 tokens, and set up to unmorph your guys again. If one of them is Echo Tracer you even get to do it all again!

Short a reprint, I suspect most people tweaking the morph precon will go looking for an Ixidron copy. Supply is medium, but the two printings are Time Spiral and Commander 2014, which is to say, not recent. There’s not a major supply out there waiting to be tapped. Snagging these around $2 or $3 could set you up nicely to be looking for a $6 or $7 return in the late fall.

Grimoire of the Dead (Foil)

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

Madness is the third returning mechanic, and this one is definitely the odd man out of the group. While madness is certainly a potent mechanic in constructed competitive formats, it doesn’t exactly fit with the overall essence of EDH. In a format that’s all about furiously drawing cards and building massive mana reserves, discard a card to save a few mana feels out of place. I suspect we’ll see some pretty wild madness cards then, since basically all of the existing ones are certainly underpowered relative to just about anything a typical bant deck can manage.

As a theme, madness is a two-card combo: the card with madness written on it, and the effect that lets you discard the aforementioned card. All of these strategies require enablers to function. We saw it recently with Teysa, where cards that provided a sacrifice mechanic jumped. This time we’ll see discard enablers move, which is a subset of cards I’m not sure has ever undergone scrutiny within the context of EDH. Given the relative imbalance between madness cards and their enablers, I’d expect most of the meat in the precon to be in the madness cards themselves, with WotC letting existing discard outlets do a lot of the heavy lifting.

If that’s the case, Grimoire is going to look reaaaaal tasty. In the past, you’d use Grimoire to discard something you didn’t mind in your graveyard, or an excess land you had, or whatever. Basically, you didn’t profit much off the discard, you just tried to mitigate it as best as possible in the hopes of getting paid off. Now, with madness as the key mechanic, the discard is actively great. You want to tap Grimoire. And after three triggers? Why, you get to cast Rise of the Dark realms for free. Pretty dang good!

Foils don’t really exist these days, but there’s still a smattering of non-foils left floating out there at $3. Like Ixidron and Anointed Procession, if it’s not reprinted, I expect a heavy run on existing copies through the fall and winter.

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 7/15/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

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 week later and Modern is settling nicely, with plenty of variety in the metagame. MTGO’s most recent Modern League gives us eight distinct decks, with a surprising victory by Goblins. It’s hard to imagine Goblins becoming a pillar of Modern, given that they’re lacking the two best Goblins cards, Wasteland and Rishadan Port, but this isn’t the first appearance of the little red menace at the top of the standings. Another two victories like this and I’m going to be writing about Goblin Matron. Two weeks from now is PT Barcelona, a Modern event, which should give us a firmer perspective on where things are headed. I’d be surprised if Izzet Phoenix isn’t the most popular deck, and also the best performing by the numbers, short of a new combo deck arising.

Thopter Foundry

Price Today: $2
Possible Price: $8

Glancing at the challenge league results is amusing, as there are two decks that appear similar at first blush, Urza and UrzaTron. To an uninformed observer, the only difference between these two would be the inclusion of ‘Tron,’ whatever that is. Of course, we know just how far apart those two strategies are. UrzaTron is a big mana deck that makes use of the busted land cycle named for their creator, Urza, whereas Urza is a grindy artifact-based control deck that wins via attrition in the shape of countless 1/1 flying thopters, supported by the decks namesake, Urza. Got all that?

After Sword of the Meek’s unbanning most of us expected Thopter Sword to run rampant in Modern, and that was hardly the case. It has taken until the arrival of Urza for the strategy to become more utilized, and now that it is, it’s looking to have some real traction. Since Modern Horizons’ release several weeks ago most events have included a list making use of Urza, Sword, and Thopter. Urza is like $60 or some nonsense, Sword has one printing and is priced appropriately, which leaves Thopter Foundry, which also happens to be the one most often played as a four-of. 

While foils already have scarcity and popularity baked into the price, non-foils are considerably more accessible, thanks to two Commander precon printings. The latter of those was three years ago, in 2016, which means supply isn’t nearly as liquid as it would have been otherwise. Prices across all three printings are floating around $2 to $2.50, and while supply is reasonably healthy, there’s clearly a growing demand source that didn’t exist before. Without a reprint there should be a steady burn as players pick up sets to give Urza a whirl. Foundry will creep up towards $4 or $5, and then overnight end up at $8 or $10 as the last of the cheap supply gets polished off.

Ramunap Excavator (Release Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

Last week we looked into Kykar, as she (?) was surprisingly just barely beating out Yarok in popularity. As expected it didn’t last, and Yarok has a good 20% more decks today than Kykar does. I fully anticipate Yarok will become a household name at LGS’ everywhere, similar to, but perhaps shy of, Muldrotha and Meren. People like Panharmonicon, you know?

Ramunap Excavator isn’t exactly a Yarok card per se. In fact, Excavator has negative synergy, indicating that he’s more popular in green decks that aren’t Yarok than are. That’s fine, and it doesn’t really influence our position here. Yarok led us to Excavator, and Excavator may be better elsewhere, but doesn’t mean Excavator isn’t worth considering. For instance, Excavator is in about 11,000 decks, and is the second-most popular card from Amonkhet, behind only Torment of Hailfire by about 2%. Some Yarok players will buy Excavator, fewer than those that don’t, but it will be bought, and people building other green decks, like Lord Windgrace, a permanent fixture in the top 10, will keep buying copies.

In particular the “Release party” promo is appealing. Both the pack foils and prerelease foils are floating in the $6 to $7 range, and are each well poised to move north of $10 as it is. Meanwhile the release promo, which has more colorful art, is at half to two-thirds that price, with supply that’s not exactly about to empty tomorrow, but is showing signs of wear. You’ve got a little time on this, with roughly 35 vendors on TCG, and at least two with double digits of supply. It will only take one or two enterprising speculators for that to be gone though, and then you’re looking at a short rode to $10+.

Villainous Wealth (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

Villainous Wealth falls roughly into the Excavator camp; played in Yarok, if not especially designed for the strategy, while overall relatively popular (for a wedge-colored card). 4,000 decks isn’t exactly blowing EDH out of the water, but it’s also the 6th most popular tri-color card in the entire format, with 12% of all decks capable of running Wealth finding a slot for it. Even though the overall profile is on the lower side I still like cards like this; they’re big, splashy, and fun, and exactly the type of thing people are going to try to find room for.

I don’t need to sell you on putting Wealth in your decks, that happens without my involvement just fine. The story instead is the pricing. There’s only 15 vendors with foil copies of this card left. Zero prerelease copies. If your memory is long enough you’ll recall there was a price spike on this bad boy about a year ago, when it jumped from under $2 and landed around $4. Since the start of this year the price has slowly climbed to the current $6 to $7, which I love to see. Foils drained from the market in the spike, everyone rushed to relist, and rather than prices retracing to their former $2, they’ve been slowly climbing again for months. This means that when the price inevitably spikes again, there won’t be any supply left to backfill demand.

Of all the cards I wrote about today, this is what I expect to go the quickest. Supply is low, the price graph is appealing, and people like the 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.

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The Watchtower 7/8/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

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.

None of us should be too surprised to have seen Bridge from Below get the axe this morning. Hogaak was running rampant in Modern, and even without Ian’s statistics to back it up, it didn’t take long on MTGO to get a feel for how dominant the deck had become. Altar of Dementia and Hogaak are both new to the format courtesy of Modern Horizons, so it would be surprising to see Wizards remove brand new cards that have existed for barely a month. Bridge from Below, on the other hand, has been a key component every time Dredge has been a problem before, likely because it’s so unlike most other Magic cards. It’s a smart choice, and I’m happy they made it, since we’ll get a new era of graveyard decks that previously had no point in existing so long as Bridge was around.

Of course, it’s a lot tougher to make picks based around a ban than an unban, so nuts to that.

Allosaurus Rider

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Hogaak and Altar of Dementia are still legal, but significantly weakened. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they maintain a significant presence in a revamped shell, especially Altar. That is not a fair Magic card. For the meantime though, the metagame has space to breathe, and some of the marginally-less-degenerate decks will get their opportunity to annoy the hell out of everyone. I was skeptical at first, but the Neoform deck has been posting results since it hit the block, and in conjunction with the pros getting a little hand-wringy over it, I suspect there’s more to come.

I’ve mentioned before that this was a tricky deck to find opportunity in. At that time, I was considering it still a fringe strategy that was unsafe to throw too much money at. My opinion has shifted since then, to the point that I’m willing to think about Allosaurus Rider itself. This is It, the single key piece in the strategy. This deck does literal nothing without Rider, and it’s important enough that beyond the core play set, Summoner’s Pact is typically present as a four-of in order to provide redundancy. Additional iterations and refinement to the general concept may shift numbers of other components, but it’s tough to imagine how you could play anything resembling the Neoform deck without a set of Riders.

While you’ll find there’s several printings of Allosaurus Rider out there, all are old and of limited distribution. There’s maybe 20 playsets of Rider left on TCG at this point? And that’s probably quite high. Before this morning this was already reasonably poised, and with today’s changes, is looking even better.

Dark Petition (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

The other news that I didn’t cover in the intro was the EDH changes: out with Paradox Engine and Iona, Shield of Emeria, and in with Painter’s Servant. Anyone lamenting Engine’s departure was never truly your friend, and you should disassociate with them immediately. Iona is a bit puzzling, but really, not exactly a card that exemplifies EDH’s intended game experience. If you’ve got an issue with it, take it up with Sheldon. Painter’s Servant is the real story, and while I’d love to give you some great picks based on it, that list is short, and was picked clean within ten minutes of the announcement. All the cheap Servants are gone, as are the Grindstones. Beyond that, what’s left? If you know the answer to that, well, you probably just made a few hundred dollars.

Instead I’m picking through Yawgmoth here, since he’s quite popular at the moment. A lot of his bread and butter cards simply aren’t quite popular enough yet, like Nest of Scarabs, or are surprisingly popular, like Pitiless Plunderer. Dark Petition is hiding out further down the page, and while it’s not exclusively a Yawgmoth card, it’s still great, and the fact that it isn’t a Yawgmoth card proves that it’s just a generally good black card. It’s essentially Demonic Tutor in EDH, where the five mana up front is typically trivial, as is the spell mastery condition. In fact, one could even look at the mana cost as a minor upside, as it gives you the ability to filter colorless or useless colors into black mana. Is Demonic Tutor popular in EDH? Well, Doubling Season, perhaps the face of EDH, is found in 10% of all green decks. Tutor is in 30% of all black decks.

Anyone looking for foil Dark Petitions can only look to Magic Origins for now, meaning supply is aging and limited. There’s maybe 30 vendors, between original and pack foils, with copies below $8 (and there aren’t too many above that either). At an entry of $6 to $7, I’d anticipate a solid 100% return in the next few months, maybe a year.

Aetherflux Reservoir (Foil)

Price Today: $18
Possible Price: $35

Magic 2020 brought several new wedge commanders, and rather surprisingly, Kykar is in the lead as the most popular by slim margins. Most would have expected Yarok I’m sure, and while he’ll take over eventually, it looks like veterans of the format are trying to spread their wings with Kykar’s more novel play style. 

Casting as many spells as you can is the name of the game with Kykar, and while that’s hardly a new goal in EDH, the requirement that they’re non-creature, and the payoff of building your own mana engine is something new. It’s not often that players sit down to the EDH table with a deck full of cantrips and their ilk. In a build like that, where does one turn to get rewarded? Well, it looks like the answer is Aetherflux Reservoir. Reservoir will certainly be a staple in Kykar decks, since it provides a pseudo-line of defense in a deck that may have trouble softening an opponent’s offenses, and more importantly, turns into a gigantic cannon that will one-shot players if given some room to flex. 

Reservoir is from Kaladesh, an absolutely stacked set with a pile of staples for Modern, EDH, and the kitchen table. Even still, Reservoir is the third-most popular EDH card in the set, beyond Inventor’s Fair, a colorless land, and Panharmonicon, another banner EDH card and effect. Foils are priced as one may expect, with an entry point around $18. Prices climb into the mid-twenties rapidly, and then supply runs out, with only 28 copies total available on TCG between pack foils and promos. This is on a timer regardless, and with Kykar adding additional demand, you’ll be able to sell these for over $30 by the time school is back in session.

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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