Category Archives: Watchtower

BANNED’MRAKUL: Early Banned & Restricted Announcement Jan 9th/17

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Hey all,

Wizards of the Coast surprised everyone this morning by announcing the Banned & Restricted list changes for all official formats a week earlier than was planned.

Here are the results:

Ok, so that list was a bit, er, unexpected. Let’s unpack the signals.

Standard

Emrakul, the Promised End

Emrakul, the Promised End is banned because, as part of the various flavors of Marvel Aetherworks combo decks she represents a massive feel-bad scenario as early as Turn 4. The ability to put Emrakul into play in the early game and absolutely wreck opponents on the spot has been a central figure in the perception that we were in the midst of a “bad” Standard format since a few weeks after the release of Kaladesh. Now that sales of Eldritch Moon are no longer a priority, shaking up Standard carries massive benefit as we head into the release of Aether Revolt and Amonkhet, and this ban was widely discussed in the context of potential fixes for the format heading into the announcement.

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Smuggler's Copter

Smuggler’s Copter was targeted for being so pushed that it was impacting the diversity of the format. Translation? It gets played in too many decks, but it also reduces the chance that many other cards will get played, including other Vehicles and Planeswalkers, of which we have several incoming in upcoming sets. Still, this is going to be a tough pill to swallow for the many Standard players that bought full play sets and the stores that are carrying heavy inventory of the card. My head is now on swivel for this card to crash in price immediately, and I will be looking to pick up foils on the cheap in case it ends up making a splash in Modern (via aggro, Ensoul Artifact or BW tokens builds) or Frontier continues to grow (where it may be safe for now given the unsanctioned nature of the format and some folks desire to make use of their copies.)

Reflector Mage

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Reflector Mage is a very odd choice that WoTC explained was necessary to ensure U/W Flash didn’t run rampant in the format with the other bans on the table. I’m not sure I agree that such a ban was necessary, but at least this one doesn’t cost us much money. Had they targeted Archangel Avacyn, Spell Queller or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the financial body count would have been getting pretty high, so a powerful lower cost target makes some sense from that angle.

The most important takeaway from all of this is that Wizards is more than willing to ban for participation issues rather than big tournament/on camera dominance. This factors heavily into the safety of future specs since any card that might be deemed to be impacting sales is now at risk.

Modern

Gitaxian Probe is a card that has been discussed as ban worthy by many pros on the basis of being too flexible, too easy to cast and too useful in sussing out the likely shape of a game in Modern. In decks like Infect and Death’s Shadow Aggro the card allows a pilot to dig deeper, check whether the opponent has a relevant answer in hand, and fill the graveyard with Delve count. The card doesn’t win games by itself, but eliminating it makes some of the most dominant aggro decks a little weaker, and hopefully provides some breathing room for other strategies to rise.  Thankfully, I sold any spares I had lying around months ago as ban whispers were rising, and I hope you did the same.

Golgari Grave-Troll now holds the dubious distinction of being a card that has been banned not once, but twice in Modern. In fairness, Drege did not look like a threat when the big green guy last came off the list, but the printing of Prized Amalgam and Cathartic Reunion in particular helped turn the deck into a finely tuned juggernaut capable of ridiculously explosive and non-interactive game play. There was a good time to sell this card earlier in the year, and I hope you took the chance if you were holding because we are highly unlikely to see this card at relevant top tables again any time soon.

New B&R Schedule

The other noteable announcement is that we are now going to get B&R changes before and after Pro Tours. Here are the details:

From a financial perspective this is going to make speculating on especially strong cards a bit more risky, since there is now an official safety valve on hand should things get out of hand. This should be read as a measure being introduce primarily to ensure that Standard seasons stay on track in terms of sales and participation, since problems of this kind can’t really be easily discerned on this schedule for Modern, since there are no longer Modern Pro Tour stops.

Make sure to note the relevant days in your calendar so that you can stay on top of things moving forward.

James is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

 

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower: 1/2/17

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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


A new year, a new set, a new hope. For our bulk box specs to break out, I mean. While this weekend’s New Year’s Eve festivities precluded any important Magic, we’ve been gifted Aether Revolt spoilers today. As with any first day of spoilers there’s some exciting material right out of the gate, and that’s what we’re going to focus on today. Trying to spec on brand new cards is generally a bad idea, of course, so  rather than pick out Aether Revolt cards we think may rise, we’re instead going to look at what they enable. Those will be our targets. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

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expensive cards

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 12/26/16

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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


Those of us in North America are starting this Monday morning one day removed from Christmas. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I ate a good three to four diabetes’ worth of sugar this weekend. I’ll be working for a while to undo the damage I’ve done to myself over the last few weeks.  

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the entire country tends to grind to a halt at this time of year. As such, there were no meaningful Magic tournaments this weekend to look back on, and there won’t be any next weekend either. So I did the only thing I could do — I dug through piles of Modern constructed leagues to find the cards I thought were most promising.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower 12/19/16

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 watch this YouTube channel to keep up to date with Cartel Aristocrats, a fun and informative webcast with several other finance personalities!


SCG’s 2016 Player’s Championship is in the books, with Joe Lossett having hefted the trophy up by Sunday evening. It was a three ring circus, with players competing in Standard, Modern, and Legacy. Despite battlegrounds in all three formats, we’re only looking at Standard in today’s roundup. Legacy isn’t worth looking at because prices are fairly stagnant these days without enough events to drum up dramatic shifts, and Modern didn’t have a lot going on we hadn’t already seen plenty of before. Add in that we’re just leaving the Modern PPTQ season and Modern Masters 2017 is slated for release in just three months time, and you can see why we shouldn’t expect much growth in that field with a handful of exceptions in the near future.

Did you catch that, by the way? Modern Masters 2017 officially releases March 17th. That’s three months before GP Vegas, which the last two times has been held much closer in time to the set’s release. Instead, we’re now going to see Modern Masters hitting shelves eight weeks after Aether Revolt’s official release. If spoiler season starts two weeks before MM3, it will be a short six weeks between it and Aether Revolt.

Verdurous Gearhulk

Price Last Week: $7
Price Today: $7
Possible Price: $15

Early on in spoiler season people began getting excited about Verdurous Gearhulk, and this peaked just as the set released, with prices at nearly $20. It showed up in several Standard decks at the time, but the play pattern wasn’t strong enough to sustain those numbers at the time. Since then, the price has slowly eroded to around $7 to $8.

We saw several players pack full sets of Verdurous Gearhulk at the PC this weekend, serving as a reminder that the card still exists, and still packs a punch. Standard looks fairly set right now between UW Flash, GB Spider Lava Axe, and Marvelworks, but that doesn’t mean Revolt won’t shake things up enough to make room for Verdurous. If it does, he could end up a consistent four-of in a third of the format. Should that come to fruition, a double up isn’t out of the question at all.

Torrential Gearhulk

Price Last Week: $12
Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $25

The premium mythic slot of Kaladesh is currently held by Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but it’s a tenuous grasp at best. Torrential Gearhulk remains one of the strongest cards in Standard, and its range of replayable spells is about to be widened by Aether Revolt. Like its Verdurous brethren, Torrential Gearhulk is a powerful, potentially format-defining mythic that’s just waiting for an opportunity to take over. I can’t guarantee you that Aether Revolt will bring that to bear, but I can guarantee you that it’s possible.

Weeks after Kaladesh’s release saw Torrential jump into the $30 range, so we know there’s strong expectations around this one. An opening weekend that sees it come out strong could rapidly push the price well above $20, and it could feasibly become the Primeval Titan or Sphinx’s Revelation of its respective format. Keep an eye on how things begin to shake out during spoiler season soon. One or two good instants could make a world of difference.

Spirebluff Canal

Price Last Week: $6
Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $13

We haven’t talked about lands much in Standard lately. Not since Khans of Tarkir was still in Standard anyways, when it was all about fetches and battle lands. When the UR fastland was spoiled a ways back I advocated keeping an eye on it, as the pedigree of UR lands is remarkable. It saw an uptick shortly after Kaladesh’s release towards $10, and has been settling since. After this weekend, I’m wondering if it’s getting close to the floor.

Spirebluff showed up in quite a few Standard decklists, and was in every Grixis Modern deck to boot. With 21 months of Standard legality left, it seems almost guaranteed that this will break double digits at some point. Remember that the most useful Temples back in Theros Standard did that regularly. Inventions certainly change the equation here, so it’s difficult to put too fine a point on it though. So far we really only have Battle for Zendikar to look at as a template, but that set has behaved so significantly different than Kaladesh at every point that it’s almost useless as a reference. We’re left to work on the assumption that a fall set can still support a $10+ land. At this point, if any of them are going to, Spirebluff is probably the best positioned.


 

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