Category Archives: Watchtower

UNLOCKED: The Watchtower 5/1/17

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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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


What the hell was that? Last week I sat here and talked about how surprised I was that Wizards didn’t ban Felidar Guardian, that it was probably a mistake, that Standard was miserable, that there were no financial opportunities, and how our only hope was to see what they did five weeks after Pro Tour Amonkhet.

Pfft.

Roughly 48 hours after the initial announcement, Aaron Forsythe posted an addendum that by the way guys, Felidar Guardian is also banned. In a post that Patrick Sullivan charitably described as “intellectually dishonest,” Aaron said that they changed their minds after seeing the first 24 hours worth of MTGO Standard leagues and how they were still all Copy Cat. Bulllllllllllllllshit. They had thousands of data points leading up to that, but the very first constructed league results — events that were guaranteed to be won by Copy Cat, because people hadn’t even had time to buy new cards, much less brew and test new decks — are what changed their mind?

What actually happened is that they saw how angry people were and decided that while their decision not to ban had been because they were concerned about eroding player goodwill, it was immediately clear that they were doing even more damage by leaving Guardian unbanned. So off it went.

Now with the first SCG Open in the books, things are looking cautiously rosy. Mardu Vehicles won the whole shebang, to the surprise of no one, and took five out of the top eight slots. Don’t let this fool you. It’s not shocking that the best deck in the format won a day-zero event full of untested and untuned lists. It will take until the Pro Tour for the Vehicle crushers to fully be realized. To wit: as soon as you got out of the top eight the decklist variety explodes. It’s unlikely that the Pro Tour and ensuing metagame will look too similar to this, but it’s a refreshing to have something to look forward to after the last few months of a brutally stale format.

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Nissa, Vital Force

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $15

Did you also forget that this card exists? Because I did. Five mana Planeswalkers have been stone unplayable up until now, with both Gideon and Felidar Guardian available at four. Now that you run much less of a risk of dying if you tap out on five, Planeswalkers like Nissa and Liliana, Death’s Majesty are much more viable. Both were found on the tables this weekend, and while not in the greatest concentration of play, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for growth here.

Nissa in particular is a remarkably tantalizing $4. There aren’t many Planeswalkers that come and go with a price tag that low. Nissa would have to be in the bottom quartile to fare so poorly. Looking at those abilities, I don’t think that it’s likely to be. Her first ability, while not as obvious as Gideon’s on first pass, actually does protect her. The land she animates stays animated until your next turn, not the end of the current turn. Your 5/5 land gets to play blocking duty if need be. And since the +1 untaps the land as well, it means you can tap out on turn five (or four) and still protect her. You’ve then immediately got the option to ultimate her, which will draw you multiple additional cards over the course of the game. If you don’t choose to go that route, you can still set her up to keep returning the most dangerous threat in your graveyard every few turns.

At Atlanta this weekend we saw Nissa in the sideboard of G/R Energy and G/W Tokens decks, as well as sprinkled elsewhere. This is hardly a commanding position, but that’s that’s because this article series looks at cards out on the horizon, not at what’s already cemented as a format pillar.

Perhaps what’s most intriguing about Nissa to me is the fact that she’s in Kaladesh. Which means that she doesn’t rotate in five months, like the Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad blocks. No, she rotates in 17 months — the fall of 2018. That gives Nissa quite a long time to hit her stride. When Ixalan rolls around this fall and Gideon and all of SOI take off, there’s going to be a chance that Nissa hits it big.


Scrapheap Scrounger

Price Today: $1.50
Possible Price: $8

Mardu Vehicles. B/W Zombies. Mono-Black Zombies. Mono-Black Aggro. These are some the decks running playsets of Scrapheap Scrounger this weekend, and that’s just the lists on the first page of results from the Open. It quickly became clear, several months ago, that Scrapheap Scrounger was a fairly real card. Modern Dredge had picked him up quickly, and anyone in Standard that wanted to attack with less than an infinity of cats was probably in the market for him as well. After this weekend, there’s no doubts whatsoever that we can expect to see Scrounger as a major part of Standard moving forward.

As far as determining whether or not a deck has Scrounger in it, the decision tree seems to be fairly straightforward. A. Does the deck make black mana? B. If yes, does it want to kill its opponent dead? If you answered yes to both of these, chances are that Scrounger is there. Two mana for a 3/2 is a reasonable enough rate, and when combined with the fact that you get to do it over and over again, it quickly gets out of control. Scrounger completely invalidates many of the format’s premier removal spells, such as Fatal Push, Unlicensed Disintegration, and (soon to be premier) Sweltering Suns. Aggro decks are often looking for key cards that help them crawl over the finish line, and a threat that keeps recurring through removal spells is about as good as it gets.

Scrounger has a few things working against him. He’s a rare, rather than a mythic, and he’s from Kaladesh, a heavily-opened fall set. That said, he rarely shows up as less than a full playset in his respective decks, and it looks like there are a lot of lists looking to scrounge. I fully expect the large variety of decks this past weekend to consolidate in the near future, especially after the Pro Tour, but that doesn’t mean there will be any less Scroungers. At around $1 or $1.50 a copy, we could see Scrapheap Scrounger make a real run in this new Standard, and if not this season, then in October when the prior year’s fall set experiences its peak. Given the numbers of Scrounger we’re seeing already, it’s hard to imagine he’ll make it to this time next year without having taken a ride at least up to $5.

Pull from Tomorrow

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

Remember Sphinx’s Revelation? That dang card was $30 at one point. It drew you a boatload of cards and undid your opponent’s last attack step (or three). It was Standard.

Now we’ve got Pull from Tomorrow, a card clearly scaled back from Sphinx’s Revelation. While it costs on less mana, it also draws one fewer card and, most importantly, gains no life. Having to discard a card at the end of the spell is probably mostly inconsequential (how often did you need every single land from a Revelation), but the lack of any sort of line gain is sure to hamper the card.

And yet, we’re seeing a recent upturn on the price of Pull. It looks like some time Saturday evening or Sunday the $2 copies began drying up, likely in response to the fact that people were playing with it at the Open and actually winning games. Now we’re in an interesting position where people are trying to figure out if it’s going to break out at the Pro Tour. If it does, expect to see the price triple. Having your copies on hand ahead of the PT will be a humongous boon if that happens; ship them Sunday and Monday Morning without hesitation and enjoy whatever profits you find.

Will Control make it back into Standard? I don’t know yet, and nobody save for maybe Wafo-Tapa does either. After a reasonable first weekend though, and rumblings of control’s return detectable on Twitter, I’m certainly keeping a close eye on what Tomorrow holds.


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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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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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 4/24/17

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Well, uh, so much for a fresh, new, exciting Standard, eh? It’s not much of a stretch to say that nearly everybody, even those that wouldn’t have cared for the decision, were expecting a ban on Felidar Guardian. After Wizards openly admitted that it was a mistake in the first place, and seeing that it’s now nearly 40% of the metagame, and possibly an even larger percentage of Standard top eights, how could they not get rid of the combo? Removing Copy Cat would dramatically open up the format for all sorts of strategies to try and find their home, an excellent recipe for a Pro Tour.

Instead, Wizards changed nothing in Standard, and we’re left with existing Standard + Amonkhet, rather than New Standard. While Amonkhet brings new tools to the table, (and I find myself wishing I could reasonably spec on Manglehorn), I’m suspect that we’ll really see any especially exciting shakeups. Our most likely universe is the one in which there’s a bunch of Copy Cat and Vehicles players, each with some clever tech for mirrors, and then 10% of the room playing something different, of which one or two will manage to make T16.

It’s disappointing, especially from a market perspective, but what can you do? Join us again in about two months when we go through this song and dance once again. For today, I’m going to skip Standard, simply because I’m not sure where to turn. Glorybringer is already up to $5, and beyond that, a lot of pros are talking on Twitter about just locking Copy Cat now and moving on to drafting. Once I have a better idea of what changes to Standard may look like, I’ll start covering cards over there.

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Odds/Ends

Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $15

I’m as surprised as you are, but it’s my duty to share these things with all of you. If ever there were a longshot with a payoff potential, it’s Odds//Ends.

As some of you may recall, there was a change made to the way split cards are handled in regards to their converted mana costs. This came as a blow to their playability, with cascade spells no longer able to hit the cheaper half, Brain in a Jar no longer able to cast them, and other similar effects. Well, it turns out there’s a silver lining to all of this. The downside of not being able to cast split cards with cascade effects is that…you can’t cast split cards with cascade effects.

Practically, this allows decks that rely on cascade cards to now be able to play split cards without worrying about connecting with them. This is a considerably smaller scope than before, but it could have corner applications. In this case, it’s Ari Lax pointing out that there’s now a counterspell that’s playable in Restore Balance and Living End decks. (He built a URx Living End deck, in case you were wondering how he’s casting it.) Odds works by either A. countering their spell, or B. making a copy of their counterspell, which then counters their counterspell. Technically Determined of Bound/Determined is better at keeping your spell uncountered, but Odds//Ends lets you stop opposing combos, something Determined decidedly doesn’t. Odds only works half the time in that scenario, but half the time is better than none of the times, right?

Copies are floating around $.75 right now, and honestly, I don’t know why. They are though, and there aren’t that many, all things considered. Like Protean Hulk, it’s from Dissension, which means the supply is as close to zero as you can get in Modern. If this ends up a common component of these style decks, expect to see the price hitch up towards $3 or $4. It’s not a big gain, but if you can snag these out of $.25 or $.50 rare boxes, or you find them for cheaper than TCG somewhere online, there’s very little risk involved.


Protean Hulk

Price Today: $4.50
Possible Price: $30

While I was writing the intro to this article, Protean Hulk got unbanned in Commander. Know any quiet shops that don’t see a lot of online business? Now’s your chance. For most of us, this is a “there it goes,” not a “here it comes.” Sorry, I can’t tell people to slow down. I’m sure TCGPlayer is being bought out as I type these words.

Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was on the EDH ban list, but then again, it’s not the type of card I would ever seek to play. The mere fact that Hulk’s legality status has changed will probably bring the card to the attention of many players that simply didn’t know it existed, because they’re not the type of person to know a random rare creature from Dissension, and nobody in their EDH playgroup was running it (because it was banned). Now that they’ll see it out there, there could be a “oh, that’s a card? I need that!” moment for a lot of players. It helps too that the card is quite good in EDH; saccing this to any random sac effect allows you to set up an instant kill, if you so desire, or even just value engines if you don’t. There’s probably some engine in there with Eternal Witness, Restoration Angel, and a few more copy/bounce effects that will let you drag every creature in your deck under six mana into play.

Protean Hulk was sitting at $4 to $4.50 before the unban. He’s been on the (very remote) fringe of Modern a few times, which pushed him north of $10 for half a day, and has since hung out in the “people hope this combo gets good some day” price range. Now with EDH legality, once the dust settles, I expect copies to sell for at least $8 to $10, and depending on what Jason Alt tells people to think about this card, it could end up above $20 if it’s as evergreen as some of the other green monsters.


Body Double

Price Today: $1
Possible Price: $5

Since I started playing EDH, I was surprised that Body Double was as cheap as it is. It’s relatively inexpensive, gives you a copy of the best creature that’s been cast all game, and enables all sorts of shenanigans, either from being flickered or because of its zero power. Given that most cards I find myself saying “huh, that’s surprisingly cheap” eventually end up not, and Protean Hulk, Body Double’s most dangerous enabler, is now legal in EDH, I think Double is worth turning our attention to.

Modern’s most common variant of the combo required Mogg Fanatic, Viscera Seer, Body Double, Reveilark, and of course, Protean Hulk. That’s across all five colors, and given that this is EDH, it would be nice to streamline that a bit. It’s likely this could be streamlined in terms of color requirements, especially given all the tools available outside of Modern. Instant kills aren’t required to make Body Double useful, though. If you just assume that eighty percent of people who now need a Protean Hulk also need a Body Double, and add in that a bunch of people may not realize they should have been playing this card already, and you can see how demand can mount fast. If you find yourself saying “claiming that eighty percent of people who bought a Protean Hulk would need Body Double is ridiculous,” mind I remind you that A. shut up and B. blue is the second best color in EDH, and the best color to pair with green.

Copies are available in the $1 range, and possibly lower if you dig hard. Inventory isn’t especially low, but it’s lower than some of the other cards we talk about in this series. There’s about forty-ish copies of the original on TCG right now, and maybe one hundred of the duel deck printing. That’s the only other printing of the card other than Planar Chaos though, a set many EDH players probably don’t even realize exists. Add to that that there’s probably over 100 EDH decks represented at your local store alone, and you can see how that reserve may dry up fast if there’s a glut of players looking to Double their Hulks.

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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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Watchtower 4/17/17

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Now that we’ve got the full Amonkhet spoiler, pros have begun brewing in earnest for the Pro Tour that will just be wrapping up about four weeks from now. Until then, we’re going with articles that get posted by (presumably) non-pros and whatever is happening over on the MTGO beta client. Then this coming weekend will be the first SCG Open with new cards and we’ll get our first true glimpse of Amonkhet Standard.

And then it’s all for naught! Amonkhet’s Banned and Restricted List update is next Monday, seven days from now. Most expect something to go – whether it’s Felidar Guardian, because why is Splinter Twin legal in Standard, or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, because he was never intended to exist alongside Gideon of the Trials, thanks to the rapid reversion to the two-year rotation cycle. Or even both, perhaps? Heart of Kiran? Will we get Emrakul, the Promise End back? We can’t say for sure, but one thing is for certain. People are expecting change, especially with how rotten Standard has been for awhile now.

Aetherworks Marvel

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $10

Remember this guy? It was terrorizing Standard for a brief window, and in parallel, had reached price tags of over $10, sometimes even $20. Vehicles and Copy Cat have since taken over Standard, especially after Aether Revolt, and Marvel has fallen by the wayside as a result.

Our biggest reason for keeping an eye on Marvel is the Banned and Restricted list announcement coming in a week. While it’s been chased out of Standard, the removal of either key Vehicles and/or Copy Cat pieces would blow a massive hole in the format, and I’m sure this would rush in to fill the void, at least temporarily. While Emrakul may be gone, most of the other tools are still there, and newcomer Approach of the Second Sun is weird, cumbersome, and deliciously tempting in a Marvel deck.

This isn’t a call to arms, though. Without a meaningful change in Standard, this set is only going to be more hostile to Marvel with cards like Manglehorn entering the fray. Our real decision point will be Monday morning. Yes, Monday morning – NOT the SCG Open this weekend. Don’t forget that that event fires before the B&R List update.


Mizzix’s Mastery

Krark-Clan Ironworks
Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $12

Mizzix’s Mastery was an early gainer out of Commander 2015, and since has been off the radar, as most Commander-only cards tend to be. “Off the radar” only applies to those looking at the radar though, which is a, well, two-dimensional way of looking at things. For those that track Commander cards long after the initial hype as died down, this has been a Thomas the Tank Engine, gaining slowly and slowly each week.

Supply is finally reaching critical levels, with only six copies left under $7 on TCG. You can score copies closer to $3 and $4 if you start digging, but not many. Once this dries up it will get relisted at $7 to $8, and while it will decline slightly at the start, it won’t take long to start climbing again. Eventually this should sit comfortably at the $9 to $12 range. It could take another year or so to reliably sell at that range, but we don’t invest in Commander because we expect rapid profits.

With reprints extremely limited to future Commander sets and maaaaaybe a Conspiracy-type set, we should have plenty of time to let these mature before overloading TCG with our spare copies.


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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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: The Watchtower 4/3/17

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. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


Amonkhet spoilers keep rolling, and so far, it seems the community’s reaction is muddled. With Invocations having left such a bitter taste in the mouth of many, it seems players are receiving the set a tad more cynically than normal. That’s impressive, considering how cynical Magic players are to begin with. 

So far, the money card appears to be As Foretold. While the card itself is far too expensive right now to consider, it’s all the things that it does that people are eager about. The rules change I griped about last week hoses split cards, but the free cards like Restore Balance and Living End got a huge boon in that card. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and once the set is legal, it will be exciting to see what crops up on MODO and beyond.

Amonkhet spoilers finish this week, and then will begin the exciting month before the Pro Tour. I’ll be watching the first SCG Open eager to see something compelling. (I’ll probably turn it off after round two.)

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

This is probably the first time I’ve talked about Krark-Clan Ironworks (KCI) in this article series, but it isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the card in general. KCI is a long fringe favorite in Modern, solely enabling the Eggs archetype that we’ve seen crop up in various formats. While KCI wasn’t involved in the version of the deck that got banned, it’s been the clear successor to the deck. At a few events both in the meatspace and online it’s managed success, but nothing large enough to push it too far. The recent printing of Breya, Etherium Sculptor jumped it from $4 to $10, and after a month off, it’s back to climbing again.

Recently Michael Jacobs, a semi-pro player that’s been on the quieter side of things, tweeted that he’s 18-5 with a new KCI build. This one makes use of Scrap Trawler to create cascading chains of value, and I’m sure all sorts of devious tricks await those who make the effort to dive into the deck.

KCI has a current price tag of $10 and there’s very little supply out there. Add to that that it’s already spiked twice before, which means there isn’t a lot of liquid copies left to flood into the market on the back of a price spike. Vegas is in two months, and a lot of players are going to have Modern on the brain. If this particular strain of KCI Eggs takes off, expect the namesake to claim healthily.


Mistbind Clique

Knight of the Reliquary

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

That these two cards happen to basically have the same price and outcome profile doesn’t mean I’m just being lazy ok.

Nobody was really paying attention to the Modern Classic this weekend. It’s not surprising; it was a Legacy Open, which is one of the few times necrophiliacs can publicly enjoy their vice. If you had made a point of stopping by the Modern results though, you may have noticed that UB Faeries came in not only 3rd, but also 13th.

When Fatal Push was spoiled several canny players noted that it could mean big things for the disgraced Lorwyn tribe. With four main deck copies in both lists, it would appear it has had at least a small impact on the deck’s viability. What’s even more interesting is the relative lack of Ancestral Vision, with only two copies in a sideboard between both lists. That means there’s a lot of other room for prices to grow, since there isn’t a playset of a corner $60 mythic capitalizing budget space.

Like most cards I discuss, supply on Mistbind Clique is already extremely low. I’m not sure exactly when this will trip, or even if it certainly will, but it’s definitely got the profile and the potential to make brave investors a fair return.


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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