Category Archives: Watchtower

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 12/12/16

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

There wasn’t much in the way of Grand Prixs or SCG Opens this weekend. Rather, this weekend was one of Modern RPTQs. Results are only just starting to trickle in, so we don’t have everything to digest yet. Still, we can start looking through what’s available for what popped up on the radar this week.

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PROTRADER: The Watchtower: 12/05/16

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

After last weekend’s dearth of meaningful events, this weekend brought a deluge: GP Denver, GP Madrid, and the SCG Invitational. That’s three Standard events and a Modern event to look across. The story of the weekend was certainly Aetherworks Marvel, but there’s some other exciting stuff going on beneath that as well, which is welcome news, since Standard has been looking grim lately.

Aetherworks Marvel

Price Last Week: $4
Price Today: $7.50
Possible Price: $20

I didn’t want to talk about the same card two weeks in a row. My goal was to look a little further out toward the horizon most weeks, and it’s hard to call this on the horizon any longer. Yet after such an explosive weekend, I don’t see how I can choose to ignore Marvel.

Two decks in the top 8 of Denver were Marvel, including second place. Four decks in the top 8 of Madrid, including the win. Five in the top 8 of the SCG Invitational, including the win. Yes, I’d say Aetherworks Marvel had a, well, marvelous weekend.

When we looked at Marvel last week the price was hovering around $4. It was still in that range Saturday afternoon, but by Sunday, the TCG low was up to $6. Upon waking up Monday morning, it was $7.50 to $8. I expect a great deal of that movement is players picking up copies for their own decks, rather than speculators gobbling up the low end, but I can’t be sure.

We’re probably past the buy-in point at this point, as you’d need to hit the absolute best case scenario in order to make it worth your while. If this doesn’t hit at least $15, paying $7 to $8+ is a negative value proposition. Whether it can climb that high is a function of what support Aether Revolt brings, what tools that set brings GB Delirium and UW Flash, and how stable the deck’s position in the metagame is. My expectation is that the most likely result is that between now and April it peaks around $11 to $12, though I’m pegging that outcome around 50%.

Prized Amalgam

Price Last Week: $3
Price Today: $3
Possible Price: $9

What started life as a “oh I wonder if Dredge will play that” type of card has become a sacred cow of a tier one Modern deck, and is also a star in more than one Standard strategy. Amalgam made top 8 of Denver in a UR Zombie Emerge list that never plans on hard casting it, and we saw it in the top 8 of Madrid in BR Zombies list that, amusingly enough, also never planned on hard casting the medium-sized engine that could.

As a staple in a single Modern deck and nothing more, $2 to $3 was a reasonable priced for Amalgam. If we begin to see it take firm hold in Standard, though, prices will react accordingly. Standard is always the biggest driver of rares, and without that demand, it’s unlikely that other constructed formats will push anything recent too high. Add in that Standard demand though, and you’ve now got the largest competitive format pushing a card’s price, while Modern is helping pull from the other side.

All things considered, double digits would be a real stretch for Amalgam. It’s not the only rare in the decks we see it in, in any format. That there are other reasonably valuable cards flanking Amalgam in each deck list means that it doesn’t get to be the star of the show as far as price tags go. Still, we could certainly see him climb into the high single digits as a key piece in multiple strategies across multiple formats.


Price Last Week: $3.50
Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

This is one that I’m sure some number of readers are thrilled to see, and another group are upset about. On the one hand, it’s great that Panharmonicon, a certified Cool Card, is Standard-relevant enough to show up here. On the other hand, if you’re a savvy EDH investor and have been waiting for your chance to vacuum up cheap copies, this is far more attention than you’d like the card to garner.

Seth Manfield made the top 8 of Denver playing UW Panharmonicon, and a buddy playing the same thing wasn’t far behind. The strategy played some familiar Standard faces in the way of Reflector Mage, Eldrazi Displacer, and Smuggler’s Copter, but it also runs the much more exciting Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and, much to LSV’s delight, a full set of Cloudblazer. What madman wouldn’t enjoy playing this?

I especially like that there’s ironically not a lot of value in this deck right now, all things considered. It consists mostly of commons and uncommons, with nearly every other rare in the deck mentioned above. That sets up Panharmonicon (and Skysovereign, to a slightly lesser extent) to enjoy the spotlight moreso than if this was packed with mythics.

Of course, Standard is hardly Panharmonicon’s bread and butter. That’s clearly EDH, where playing creatures without ETB effects is akin to not bolting the bird — it may be the correct play, but you better have a damn good reason for it. That constant pressure from the 100 card crowd is what has kept Panharmonicon where it is, so any meaningful Standard demand is going to build on an already strong base. It’s tough for Standard to pull $.50 rares up to $3, but pulling a $3 rare to $7 or $10 is way more feasible.

Add to all of this that Panharmonicon’s price on MTGO has more than doubled since Friday in response to it’s showing at the GP weekend. That doesn’t mean the card is due for a spike, of course, but it means players took notice quickly and are eager to play a strategy that A. isn’t GB, UW, or Aetherworks, and B. looks like an EDH deck in Standard.

The Watchtower: 11/28/16

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

With Thanksgiving this past week, major Magic events in North America were sparse. Or, rather, nonexistent. A single GP fired in Japan, but it was Legacy, a format whose ability to influence card prices has been questionable for the past two years and is now approaching whatever the opposite of the speed of light is. That said, we can still check in on some MTGO league results to see if we can spot any juicy turkeys.

Aetherworks Marvel

Price Last Week: $4
Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $20

Lately the story of Standard lately has been GB Delirium and UW Flash. Yet even prior to the Pro Tour, decks that focus on generating energy and dumping that into Aetherworks Marvel to cast Emrakul, the Promised End and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger have been right on the edge of the format. The deck hasn’t exactly been an award-winning strategy lately, mostly due to its relative inconsistency, but lists are managing to show up in the 5-0 results of MTGO leagues.

Aetherwork’s appeal doesn’t come from the results it put up this weekend, but rather the results it may put up in a month or two. Aether Revolt officially releases January 20th, and we can expect it to bring a slew of energy cards with it when it does. While energy creation hasn’t been the Aetherworks deck’s biggest issue, it’s certainly a component, and smoothing out that aspect of the strategy could go a long ways towards building a better mousetrap.

There are also fringe strategies developing in Modern that allow this to function even without energy support. It’s easy to forget that Aetherworks is capable of generating its own energy, a fact that (theoretically) allows for a player to drop it turn four, bin six permanents, and then fire off the Marvel in hopes of finding an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I’m not relying on Modern demand, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the prospects.

At $4, this is quite low for a semi-playable Modern mythic. If we look at the MTGO pricing we can see that it began to tick upwards ever so slightly a week or two ago, which is a good sign for paper prices. If Aether Revolt turns on Aetherworks Marvel again in Standard, expect prices to rise dramatically, possibly to a seat as the most expensive mythic in Kaladesh. That may sound unlikely, but what else would you expect a tier one mandatory four-of mythic to cost?



Price Last Week: $1.50
Price Today: $1.50
Possible Price: $7

While he was the darling of Eldritch Moon spoilers at one point, Cryptbreaker hasn’t broken much of anything except for perhaps the hearts of zombie lovers everywhere. Zombie-based black aggro decks have been relegated to 2-2 FNM performances everywhere for the most part, though it seems as if that may be changing.

Multiple lists have popped up in the 5-0 leagues lately featuring Cryptbreaker as a major component of a zombie-themed offense. It’s no surprise that if the deck exists, Cryptbreaker is going to be right there, breaking into crypts, and breaking out of crypts, and generally being a threat to all crypt-oriented existences.

$1.50 today is a steal compared to the $20 or whatever Cryptbreaker debuted at during prerelease season. And, like Aetherworks Marvel, his price on MTGO is heading in the right direction. I don’t mind looking for cheap copies of this guy when I’m out and about, because there’s no telling what may bring a tier one competitive zombie deck together in the near future. There’s no guarantee we’ll see this card break through this season, but it’s certainly worth keeping your eye on.


Metallurgic Summonings

Price Last Week: $2.50
Price Today: $2.50
Possible Price: $10

It’s been easy to miss, but Metallurgic Summonings has suddenly found itself all over my Twitter timeline recently. Multiple pros, faced with the prospect endless GB or UW mirrors, are turning to an amusing and pleasantly effective brew with Summonings. The core of the deck is the same that was pioneered several weeks back; Metallurgic Summonings, Part the Waterveil, and a pile of other instants and sorceries. The latest build has been UB, though I’d expect any number of color combinations to be explored.

Initially a $2.50 card during the prerelease season, it spiked to over $10 after the initial list was posted. Reality rapidly set in, and it has coasted all the way back down to $2.50 again. If the deck begins to assert itself in the metagame for real this time, expect price movement to be swift. This is a nifty deck with real appeal, after all — who doesn’t want to play a deck with four Time Walks?

The Watchtower: 11/21/16

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

Copperline Gorge

Price Last Week: $10
Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $25

Last week’s Watchtower started with a Scars of Mirrodin fastland, so I figured I’d do the same this week. With this weekend’s World Magic Cup in the books, it’s clear that Dredge is going to be a mainstay tier 1 deck until people are playing four main deck Rest in Peace or Wizards buries Golgari Grave-Troll again. Until either of those happen, Dredge will show up at every Modern event, and in every Dredge deck you’ll see Copperline Gorge.

Almost always run as a full playset, Copperline Gorge is exactly the type of land Dredge wants access to. It’s a dual land that comes down untapped with no drawbacks for the first three turns of the game, which is the most crucial window for a strategy this aggressive. Dredge isn’t the only deck looking to leverage the early explosive power of this type of land either — we see Naya Burn pick up copies of Gorge when that pops up in results too.

Gorge has climbed to $10 on the back of Dredge’s success, and I don’t think it’s done ascending. Blackcleave Cliffs was $25 when Jund was at its peak, and with the amount of play Gorge is seeing, it could land right there as well. Even if it doesn’t make it all the way to $25, there’s a lot of room in between there and $10. Blackcleave Cliffs was the first SOM dual to break out, and it looks like it’s finally time for the others to follow suit.


Eldrazi Displacer (Foil)

Price Last Week: $11
Price Today: $12
Possible Price: $30

If you listen to MTG Fast Finance, you’ll know James and I are fans of Eldrazi. Pick any of them, foil or not, and they likely have a rosy outlook. There’s one that’s especially appealing though, and that’s Eldrazi Displacer.

This popped up on my radar once more after looking through the WMC results and seeing Bant Eldrazi everywhere. Part of the appeal of Eldrazi in a team constructed format is that it doesn’t overlap much with other strategies, of course, but that doesn’t mean it can’t stand on its own two…four-ish…appendages in a normal tournament. Bant Eldrazi has been consistently performing at Modern events for months, despite suffering a dramatic setback in early 2016 when Eye of Ugin was banned.

Eldrazi Displacer is regularly a four-of in the deck, working to incapacitate blockers, rebuy Thought-Knot Seer triggers, and provide a never-ending stream of Scion tokens with Drowner of Hope. Beyond the Bant build, we also see Displacer filling a similar role in the White Weenie/Taxes builds floating around in tier 2 or 3 as well. And to top it all off, it’s an EDH all-star that fits in nearly every deck that produces white mana.

Foils are about $11 to $12, and they’ve never been much cheaper. As we approach the one year anniversary of Oath of the Gatewatch, copies are going to continue to get scarcer. With demand across multiple decks and multiple formats, I don’t see foils staying this cheap forever.


Nourishing Shoal

Price Last Week: $6
Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

A year or so back the world fell in love with Grishoalbrand, a brutal combo deck that had lie dormant in the format for years. It combines the draw power of Grislebrand, the life gain of Nourishing Shoal exiling Worldspine Wurm, and oddly enough, the odd card advantage of arcane. We haven’t seen too much of the strategy in the last couple months, but it popped back up at the WMC, reminding everyone that it is indeed viable, in no small part thanks to its turn two kills. Most of the components are known quantities at this point — Goryo’s Vengeance and Through the Breach chief among them. There’s one piece in particular, though, that’s appealing.

Nourishing Shoal is a key component of the strategy and utterly irreplaceable; there is no card in Modern that approximates this effect. With a single printing during Kamigawa, supply on Shoal is as low as they come for a Modern-legal rare. As a uncuttable 4-of in a powerful combo deck with highly restricted supply, the price stability on this is tenuous at best.

When Grishoalbrand was first introduced to the world, Shoal spiked quickly. Since then, the price has tempered and fallen to $6. Next time this spikes, it won’t be so fast to fall. During the first spike all sorts of copies come out of the woodwork — bulk boxes, trade binders, and $1 rare binders all get looted. Next time, that supply won’t be there to raid, and the price is going to spike harder, and with more longevity. So long as they don’t ban Simian Spirit Guide, this is bound for $15+ eventually.


Lantern of Insight

Price Last Week: $2.50
Price Today: $2.50
Possible Price: $8

An aberration originally, a showcase of Modern-legal cards Wizards wishes weren’t, Lantern Control has since cemented its place in the format tier structure. Right in the middle of it all is the eponymous Lantern of Insight. Lantern is an uncommon from Fifth Dawn, the fourth-oldest set in Modern. Just as Nourishing Shoal has just about the least supply possible for a Modern Rare, the same is true for Lantern of Insight and uncommons.

Perhaps most tellingly, the price on Lantern has spiked hard online over the past two weeks. Online price trajectories are often an excellent indicator of paper behavior, so this is important to notice. Many times over have we seen prices move rapidly online, only to see something similar happen in paper a few short weeks later.

One only needs to look to Mishra’s Bauble to see what mythic uncommons can do in Modern when it comes to price tags. I don’t foresee Lantern being quite that successful, as it’s only found in one deck, but that doesn’t rule out gains entirely. I’d say that high single digits is a comfortable price for this card as a low-supply archetype-defining uncommon.