The Watchtower 12/2/19 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 few hours after this article releases we’ll be getting an update to the Pioneer Banned and Restricted list. I’ve no more information than anyone else, but I’d wager that Smuggler’s Copter and Field of the dead are at the tippy top of the list, and while I can’t be certain they’re both going, smart money is on their exit today. That will unlock a lot of new movement in the format since, at the moment, it’s gated fairly hard by Mono-Black Aggro and the few flavors of Field. Be sure to keep a close eye on the 5-0 results after today, since that will give you an early indicator of what my have gained ground in the vacuum. We’ll check in next week to see what’s blossoming.

Lotus Field (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

I did a double take when a retweet crossed my feed a day or two ago regarding a Lotus Field combo in the Pioneer PTQ taking place. The build uses Lotus Field, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and Hidden Strings. It’s not a full loop, as encoding Hidden Strings on the Vizier doesn’t do much, since it requires dealing combat damage. Rather, it’s sort of like playing with a fast mana engine. Field isn’t “fast” of course, but once you pair it with Vizier, you’re now getting six mana a turn from one land and one creature. A single Hidden Strings allows you to double dip on both, and now you can make twelve mana. That’s the gimmick, since at that point you cast Omniscience.


It’s no surprise that a land that casts a Black Lotus every turn is going to show up in some Pioneer combo decks. Playing it fairly is mediocre, but once you’ve got any sort of effect to take advantage of it, it’s going to get silly quickly. While the package described above is one way to approach it, I saw some other builds in the 5-0 collection using combinations of Kiora’s Follower and various Kiora planeswalkers to add additional untap mechanics. 


Flip over to EDHREC and you’ll find Field in just over 2,000 lists too, which isn’t insignificant at all. It’s quite a new card to the scene, as Magic 2020 has only been on shelves for a few months. Looking at M20 further, you’ll see that Field is the fourth or fifth most-played card from the set. Not all builds are going to be interested in Field for sure, but there’s no color restrictions on it, and anyone trying to capitalize on untapping lands is certainly going to make sure to toss a copy in.

Non-foils are still far too deep in supply to think about today, although I do suspect they’re going to be worth revisiting in the future. As for foils, the supply isn’t low by any means, sitting at around 90 vendors. Prices have been coming down, with the market over $11 and the cheapest copies at $8 or so. We could see these bottoming out in the very near future, with non-foils sitting at $4 or more. That will put foil Fields on an upwards trajectory, feeding both Pioneer combo players and the EDH crowd.

Cascading Cataracts (Foil)

Price Today: $5
Possible Price: $12

Had I written this article tomorrow, I’d be calling it Two Lands Tuesday. But I didn’t, so it’s still called The Watchtower. Sorry to disappoint. 

Cataracts, aside from a problem with your eyeball that old people get, is a useful tool in any EDH deck looking to cast five color cards. Five colorless in, any five colors back out. You pay a mana for the privilege, but generally, the color fixing is going to be worth the cost. Being able to hit those WUBRG cards early and reliably can mean a great deal to those decks, especially ones that can’t come to the party with a $3,000 mana base to ensure they’re always getting there. Tossing a Cataracts in is much more cost effective than scrounging up ten fetches and ten duals. 

While I’m sure it’s not terribly common, I imagine that 4c and even 3c decks may occasionally want to run Cataracts. It’s been my experience with 3c decks that I was more likely to be hamstrung on type of mana than volume of mana. Being able to convert some of your Gaea’s Cradle mana into black mana, for instance, could be quite useful. 

At $5, foils are tempting. The issue here is the two big walls of about 50 copies each. Those two vendors alone seem to have more inventory than the entire rest of TCG combined. I’d consider this to be superior to those copies being distributed across the seller market, since as $5 copies begin getting bitten from one of the two vendors with deep supply, they’ll begin raising the price, effectively increasing the price on 30 or 40 copies at once. Were those copies distributed, there’d be more copies racing to the bottom. Anyways, $5 foils of a 7,000 EDHREC land are worth keeping on your radar into 2020.

Masterwork of Ingenuity

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $9

I worked hard to find you guys a non-foil this week. While Korvold has been holding steady as the most popular Throne of Eldraine commander, Syr Gwyn has been quietly putting up numbers back in third or fourth place. As a knight and equipment themed deck, she’s adding demand to two subsets of cards that don’t always see a lot of love. Digging into the equipment theme we find Masterwork of Ingenuity, a once very hyped card that’s been quieter since the initial release, but has seen its stock drain over the years.

Masterwork is, of course, an equipment clone for one mana. Oftentimes that’s going to be a solid mana savings. Pair it with the swath of abilities that allow you to equip for free or at a discounted rate, and you can get some real cheap equipment going. To that end virtually every equipment-based commander finds copies in their lists. The reason Masterwork is still only at 2,200 lists despite having been released some five or six years ago is that there simply aren’t that many appropriately themed commanders released regularly. Syr Gwyn is the latest, and prior to that it might have been 2017? With 2020 the year of Commander, I suspect we may see a new leader pick up the mantle, which would put a great deal of strain on a now-depleted supply.

We’re down to 25 vendors on TCG, and nobody has a deep well of copies. Without any changes a few copies will sell each month, eventually pushing this up towards $10. As soon as another equipment commander is printed, the last of the liquid copies will go, and you’ll be happy you had yours prior to that.

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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.

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.


Unlocked Pro Trader: Synergy 2, Synergy Harder


Everyone loves a sequel, except Martin Scorsese but he just released a movie that’s basically exactly The Departed only it’s 3 and a half hours long and it’s on Netflix because that’s how you save cinema, so we can safely ignore anything he has to say.

We’re back with the next edition of the article I wrote last week that I think was a great resource for new and old financiers alike. I’m always tweaking my process so thanks for coming along for the ride with me. Anyway, here’s some homework for you – if you didn’t read that article, go read it bow because I’m not going to go back and do that now because I’m not going to explain anything I explained there, I’m just going to give you some information and you can do with that information whatever you’d like.

The Next Impetus

We found out what was in the Secret Lair set and… look, as a finance person I think they’re great for now because I think they’re going to sell well and retain value but I think it’s also pretty jacked that a “set” that consists of a Bitterblossom and Bitterblossom tokens is being released by a company that won’t acknowledge the secondary market.

I don’t know if that signals their willingness to sell single cards directly to consumers (at the expense of the LGS, you know, that place where people congregate to play the game) but I do know the CONTENTS of the set and that’s a thing we can talk about with some certainty.

Image result for secret lair mtg

Image result for secret lair mtg

There are more sets like “Secret Lair part of a Dredge deck” and “I can’t believe we’re getting away with selling just a Bitterblossom” and “Ooops, All Serum Visions” but the ones I care about are these – 4 tribal commanders all with new art.

Are new people going to build decks around these commanders on the basis of this re-issue? Absolutely. Are people with those decks built going to update them? Also yes. They won’t buy all of the staples, but they’re more likely to buy the new ones. Playing your Reaper King deck down at the LGS once every 12 months doesn’t motivate you to go through and find a few cuts for Smothering Tithe and Revel in Riches but I bet a new art for your 7th favorite commander will.

Maybe the individual effect of people updating old decks and a few people building for the first time is enough to move the needle, maybe it isn’t. What I DO know is that if there are cards that are in all 4 decks, they’re 4 times as likely to move the needle. I mean, maybe not 4 exactly, but the actual number is both incalculable and probably pretty close to 4. Let’s use the technique I used last time to figure out which cards are in all 4 decks and could be in play. It might not be just Tribal staples.

Here is everything in all 4 decks before I clean it up. If you have an issue or a question with something I omit from my next list, leave it in the comments section.

Arcane Signet4List A, List B, List C, List D
Command Tower4List A, List B, List C, List D
Cultivate4List A, List B, List C, List D
Door of Destinies4List A, List B, List C, List D
Evolving Wilds4List A, List B, List C, List D
Explosive Vegetation4List A, List B, List C, List D
Farseek4List A, List B, List C, List D
Flooded Strand4List A, List B, List C, List D
Guardian Project4List A, List B, List C, List D
Helm of the Host4List A, List B, List C, List D
Herald’s Horn4List A, List B, List C, List D
Icon of Ancestry4List A, List B, List C, List D
Kodama’s Reach4List A, List B, List C, List D
Lightning Greaves4List A, List B, List C, List D
Mirari’s Wake4List A, List B, List C, List D
Path of Ancestry4List A, List B, List C, List D
Rampant Growth4List A, List B, List C, List D
Reliquary Tower4List A, List B, List C, List D
Smothering Tithe4List A, List B, List C, List D
Sol Ring4List A, List B, List C, List D
Swords to Plowshares4List A, List B, List C, List D
Temple Garden4List A, List B, List C, List D
Terramorphic Expanse4List A, List B, List C, List D
Unclaimed Territory4List A, List B, List C, List D
Vanquisher’s Banner4List A, List B, List C, List D
Vivid Grove4List A, List B, List C, List D
Vivid Meadow4List A, List B, List C, List D
Windswept Heath4List A, List B, List C, List D
Wooded Foothills4List A, List B, List C, List D

Here’s the stuff I think is interesting and not just “Multi-color manabase card.”

Before I do that, I just want to point out that every one of these decks will have Arcane Signet and anytime someone builds a new deck, they’ll need a Signet from a finite current supply, so anything that makes people build a new deck between now and a Signet reprint is significant with respect to that card.

Door of Destinies 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Guardian Project 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Helm of the Host 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Herald’s Horn 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Icon of Ancestry 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Mirari’s Wake 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Path of Ancestry 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Smothering Tithe 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Unclaimed Territory 4 List A, List B, List C, List D
Vanquisher’s Banner 4 List A, List B, List C, List D

A lot of tribal stuff here, but Mirari’s Wake is a card that is in a lot of “older” decks but has gone under the radar a bit lately. The rest of these cards are great in tribal decks, but Guardian Project and Smothering Tithe are especially curious since they’re newer cards in older decks. Enough people updated their lists on EDHREC when those cards came out to have those cards end up in a high percentage of decks on the database, so that backs up my assertion that people are going to build new copies of the deck.

The most interesting card here is clearly Helm of the Host. Let’s talk a lot about why I like it so much.


It’s trending upwards, it’s sold out of Card Kingdom, it’s underpriced on TCG Player, it’s an artifact, it’s the 7th-most-played equipment on EDHREC (Greaves, Boots, Clamp, Sunforger, Whispersilk Cloak, Sword of the Animist), it’s tricky to reprint, it’s the 11th-most-played card in Dominaria and, most importantly in my opinion, it’s in all 4 of these decks because people are figuring out that it’s a better Conjurer’s Closet in most decks and anything that scales off of the number of creatures you have or number of creatures in a tribe wants this. Helm of the Host is underpriced under $5 and it’s a card I’ve always liked, now more than ever since it’s going up from where I said to get it initially when I told people to buy them too early.

The ability of this card to shrug off reprints is commendable. It looks as though we should have bought in heavy when this price tanked as a result of a Commander 2017 reprinting, but the good news is it’s going up precipitously. If you buy some of these and get caught by a reprinting, buy new copies until your average price paid is satisfactory to you than watch all of them grow. It doesn’t change the fact that you overpaid a bit but it does change how good you feel about the price starting at $4 and reaching for the stars.

There are a few more interesting cards if you drop down to cards that show up in just 3 lists. A lot of the cards that weren’t in the 4 lists are because Arahbo is only 2 colors and the other cards are 5 colors. There is more signal but also more noise, if that makes sense.

I try not to do this that often but this card is in 3 of those decks, it’s played in tribal a lot, it’s got a sub-2x multiplier and the stock is super low. This is a card that’s going to organically reprice itself if none of us buy copies for speculation purposes. Players will snap up the last few copies, the price will go up, people will blame speculators and you won’t have any more money than you did last week. I’m not sure if I sound like a supervillain rationalizing his plan to drop a nuke into a volcano to make a third of Bolivia’s palm oil more expensive of make people buy kindles or whatever lame plan Bond villains have these days or if I just sound like a guy with like 10 years of MtG finance experience who has pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we get blamed for stuff we don’t do and not wanting to get blamed for things is no longer a reason not to do them. Just make some money on these cards, one of you. Seems easy.

Hey, look, it’s a tribal card in Green that has demonstrated the ability to hit $8 in the past that currently costs less than $8, is about to be in more decks and is relatively low stock.

I guess my point is that if you find the right lists to compare, you can do in 30 seconds of copying and pasting and a few minutes of paring lists down what used to take me much longer. If you don’t trust yourself to remember what was going on between multiple decks and you don’t think you know too much about EDH Finance to get actual data to back up your gut feelings, use a list comparison tool and see what’s really going on. You could have guessed Herald’s Horn, I bet, but who saw Helm of the Host coming? Not me, that’s why I do this now. You should, too.

That does it for me this week. There are some low-stock picks here that were going to hit a natural tipping point when people start building these new tribal decks anyway, so be in a position to sell to them rather than being in competition with them for copies. Your orders don’t get cancelled that way, in fact, you’re the one receiving the order, not placing it, and that’s how we make money rather than risking it. Until next time!

The Watchtower 11/25/19 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.

As a player that has leaned into green since I started playing some 25 years ago, to see the color succeeding so wildly across multiple formats that it keeps getting banned is weirdly satisfying. Two of the four cards added to the Pioneer ban list are green, all three Standard bans last week were green, and even the Legacy ban was green. I imagine rooting for a color is a bit like rooting for a sports team, just abstracted slightly.

In any case, the general consensus is that Standard is considerably better now that Oko, Once Upon a Time, and Veil of Summer are all gone. It calls into question how much frequent bans in Standard (or any format) do to chill sales and erode public confidence in the brand and product. Is a constant cycle of pushing cards with the expectation that some will break formats, the rise of those cards, the eventual banning, and the “clean slate” format that emerges the new ecology of Magic? In essence, and more simply, “we Yu Gi Oh now?”

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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 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.

Collecting Today

Magic’s structure was the very first collectible card game, commonly called a CCG or now a Trading Card Game, the TCG in TCGPlayer.

A whole lot of Magic’s value is tied up in the collectibility of these cards, in how we can get some unique or special or exotic versions of a regular card. 

Interestingly, though, not all collectibles are created equal, and definitely show unequal levels of growth. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.