Ixalan Sells and Holds


Yes, dear reader, the title isn’t an exaggeration: I’m thinking carefully about what I want to hold through Standard’s rotation in seven months or so. I never want to get caught with too much Standard as rotation approaches, and if I bought in on something that I haven’t yet moved, I definitely want to be ahead of the pack when it comes to selling out.

Before we go too deep, let’s take a moment and reflect on the timing involved.

Let’s face it: the summer before rotation, soon-to-be rotating cards get crushed in terms of their value. That often presents some awesome opportunities for buying cards that fell too far, but I loathe being caught with excess copies in July.

Some examples of why I want to sell out so early:

Glorybringer fell from $6 to under a buck. Ouch.

Hazoret the Fervent actually hit peak price at this point in its Standard life, but now it’s fallen from $20 to $4.


Torrential Gearhulk was above $15 and is now $3. Get the picture?

For us, this means that if we’re not playing with a card right now, it’s time to move on all singles except what we are playing with. There’s a lot of time left in Standard, from a Magic viewpoint. The Magic Finance viewpoint, though, points out that now is the time to get all the value you can for a long list of cards, but today we’re going to focus on Ixalan block.

Carnage Tyrant ($28): Sell

Yup, now is the time to move all but your last four, and I’d be okay if you kept two. There aren’t many decks running the full playset but it’ll still be a force in Standard these last few months. Occasionally, someone has 1-2 of these in a TitanShift deck in Modern, but that’s few and far between. The Tyrant, by Thanksgiving, will be under ten but above five bucks.

Search for Azcanta ($15): Hold

It’s too popular in Modern and Legacy to lose too much value. The decks that want this effect REALLY want it and it comes down so blessedly fast that you don’t lose much tempo. I like picking up the buy-a-box promos in the $50-$60 range, because when the spike comes on, we’re going to hit $100 or more on the Mapsterpieces.


The current graph actually makes me want to wait and buy some more, as it’s trending downwards:

Vraska’s Contempt ($10): Sell

It’s not played in other Constructed formats, and if you want to pick up foils cheap on hopes of future Commander spikes, I think you’re being too optimistic. I’ll give you that it might be the most flexible instant available, and exiling is relevant, but it’s too niche for me.

Star of Extinction ($9): Sell like there’s no tomorrow

This was a $1 card for quite a while and it’ll go back to being bulk in a few months, Keep the few you play and move the rest right the hell now while you still can.

Treasure Map ($8): Sell

I was really hoping that this was played in some Modern decks, or some Commander, but nope. Very very niche, not commonly played. You’ve got better choices in how to draw cards in artifact decks and this has no future after Standard. Time to move on, matey.

Legion’s Landing ($7): Sell, but hang onto foils

While the card is played in only 1400 EDH decks, and I’d play it after I had Kjeldoran Outpost, it’s a solid token card in decks that want the chance to rebuild after the endless board wipes. I think there’s a future here, so foils are what I’ll be getting as the price withers away.

Settle the Wreckage ($5): Sell for now

I’m hard-pressed to find a card that shows up as a one-of in the 75.Control decks want to have access to one, and the first one is devastating. The threat of the second and third is effective, and in sideboarded games your opponent will be more careful. It’s a bad rate once they figure out you have it, though, so you don’t want too many.

I’m intrigued by the card long-term, but only when it drops to the $2 level. It’s only in 1000 Commander decks online, which makes sense. At five mana you get Hallowed Burial, my favorite wrath effect.

Field of Ruin ($3): Hold

Yes, I think you should hold the $3 uncommon, but the risk of a reprint is my biggest fear. Field is all over the place in Modern, and there are three-color control decks playing three copies. That’s quite a hit for decks to take, especially ones that play Cryptic Command! The plan appears to be to get the one or two basics from your opponent’s deck into play, at which point Field is a Strip Mine and Path to Exile is just a Dispatch with metalcraft active.

This is a very easy card to throw into a Commander reprint, but Field foils are already $20. Given the amount of Modern play it sees, that’s actually a very tempting price for me.

Vanquisher’s Banner ($4/$7 foil): Hold, and buy more

This is one of my top targets as the summer winds down. I want all of the foils I can possibly have. Tribal decks are all over the place, and this is a very potent enabler, making your team bigger and adding cantrips to each of the tribe’s members.

I don’t think this price will go down much, though, because none of the demand is from Standard players. This is already a popular Commander card, and that’s what has the price this high without a speck of Constructed play.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, 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.

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!


Unlocked Pro Trader: In Defense Of High Buy-Ins


I typically don’t like to advocate cards with very high buy-in price, low supply and other cards like that. There are a lot of reasons for this. Perhaps the biggest one is that basically everyone who writes about mtg finance does picks like this. It’s sexy and it you call a card that’s teetering as it teeters and 3 or 4 of your readers get the last few copies (and help push it over the edge) you look like a genius to those people. I think this creates a lot of bad feels for most people, though. I have developed a method that lets me find cards long before they pop, giving people a good long time to get their act together, potentially sell other specs to free up money to get in and buy cards that aren’t teetering which could result in the orders getting cancelled once the seller gets wise of the incoming (or incipient) spike.

This has the unfortunate side effect of me “missing” obvious cards, meaning that I don’t talk about them. I also tend to use my limited column space to talk about cards I do like rather than discussing picks I overlook for various reasons. If I am ignoring a card because the buy-in is too high or the supply is too low, I do just that – I ignore the card. That has the unintended side effect of not hipping the readers to the cards that are about to topple. While I think other authors do a good job of identifying those cards, it’s possible I’m not doing anyone any favors by ignoring cards like that. If someone else didn’t tell you to drop $20 on Athreos, you’re probably wishing you had the opportunity to do that, now. I have a bit of a bias against cards like that, possibly, so I think from now on, I’ll include some notes about cards I am not advocating because identifying them is something I know how to do and a non-zero number of you might find it useful. Speaking of Athreos…

Athreos doubled. A lot of cards are going up ten-fold and a “mere” doubling seems quaint in comparison but I want to make the case for there being a lot of value for players in the identification of cards that are already $15+ dollars but are about to get a nod from a new deck like Athreos. There are a few groups of people who would prefer to see these kinds of cards rather than me calling $0.99 cards like Hallowed Spiritkeeper even if that Spiritkeeper hits $10 like I’m hoping it will.

  1. People who don’t have a TCG Player store or similar retail out.

Players who aren’t trying to buy their specs at retail and sell at retail may have some issues with buying cheaper cards that may top out at $5 or $6 even if they got them very cheap. If they are buying with the hope of outing to a buylist, they need to make a significant return because they are both buying and selling suboptimally. This is usually fine, especially if retail is $0.99 at the start and buylist is $6.50 at the end. If you can get dozens of copies from one person and only pay shipping once, that’s great. If you can only pay shipping to send to a buylist once, also great. But if the card goes from $1 to $5 and buylist goes to $2.50, the fees eat all of your profit. A card quintupling is nice, but Travis Allen basically abandoned the cheap spec life and wrote this article about how hard it is to get out of specs.

2. People who DO have a TCG Player store or similar retail out.

You need to be very sure that the demand is real because if you buy 100 copies of a bulk rare, you need to sell 100 copies of a bulk rare. Buylists are attractive because you can make one “sale” and be done with everything, but if you are trying to sell on TCG Player, you need to deal with those cards as “inventory” which means shipping them 1-4 copies at a time. Fees pinch you here, too, especially if you offer free shipping like most “I’ll be the cheapest listing on TCG Player to make sure it moves” sellers. A $1 card going to 3 and a $100 card going to $200 card is theoretically the same amount of growth if you bought 50 copies of the $1 card, but you’re looking at between 15 and 50 stamps, envelopes, TCG Player fees, etc. Your worst case scenario if you’re wrong on the $100 card is you sell it for like $90 and lick your wounds. If you miss on 50 copies of a $1 card, you put them in a fail box forever.

3. People who want to play Magic with the cards.


If you want to play Magic with Athreos, me having gained you $100 in value by convincing you to buy Black Market at $4 doesn’t help you because you still have to pay $35 for Athreos when you get around to building the deck. If you are buying 1 copy of a card because you’re building the deck, saving you $2 on a Skullclamp pales next to costing you $16 on an Athreos.

I don’t want to exclude those groups of people and while other writers on MTG Price do a good job of identifying when to buy Masterpiece Sol Ring and when to sell it and my niche is other cards, I would be remiss if I didn’t occasionally mention some cards I notice for the groups listed above. What’s the point of developing a solid, data-based methodology for EDH finance if you don’t show all your work and people think you’re a savant at finding dimes and missing Hamiltons? I don’t know how I want to structure the high buy-in cards I do notice from now on, but I’ll talk exclusively about a few there’s still time to buy today and we’ll worry about that next time. Or I’ll keep doing what I always do, Travis, Cliff and James will find your Intruder Alarms and you’ll try to buy them before they sell out and I’ll advocate Saproling Infestation and you may or may not make money.

Room To Grow

Since I can actually find these cards, let’s talk about buy-ins around $10 or $15 that have room to go up.

I called this card at bulk and have basically never stopped making money off of it. I sold enough copies at that $4 plateau to pay for my whole order so I am just profiting at this point. (Or, since it’s Theros block, Propheting. Because I foresaw the price increase. And I made money. Look, they can’t all be gems). There is one lunatic with like 40 copies of this for $8 on TCG Player and the next person with more than one copy is charging close to $10. We are at a tipping point and Dictate’s $8 is still cheaper than the $12 for Grave Pact. Grave Pact, by the way, has a ton of printings. It’s also harder to cast than Dictate. I have never once cast this with Flash but that’s still a factor. Add that up, and Dictate shouldn’t ever be cheaper than Grave Pact which is admittedly down a bit from its peak but I think that’s only because Dictate was a credible budget alternative for a while. No longer! Dictate is going up up up and I never mentioned it before because I have “called” this card like 4 times and even though it always went up after, I wanted to find more Flesh Carvers. Don’t congratulate me for calling this again, just make some money and thank me by buying a year of Pro Trader so I don’t feel bad about calling cards I find copies of on Tuesday that I don’t think will make it to Thursday.

What’s Black and White and selling out all over?

Ravos is not that easy to reprint and I think Tymna, Thrasios, Vial-Smasher and a few other of the “ubiquitous” pairs are about to get very dear. Ravos is especially good in Teysa because he does 2 things you need a card to do and that’s very useful. It was going to go up anyway, but Teysa is making this disappear. I hope it’s not too late to grab a copy. Again, this is a card I reasoned would top out at around $18ish where Thrasios, Triton Hero or Tymna, the Weaver is, but they could all go to $30 and then all of us look stupid. At the very least, this was $12ish with a different demand profile and if this “merely” jumps 50%, I saved you $6 and you’re welcome. This is math I did in my head and didn’t include in all of the articles where I didn’t suggest you buy Ravos and now you know why.

It’s not just Teysa cards, either.

Both Vannifar and Nikya are putting in work here and Craterboi is flirting with its historic high. The graph already pegs the fair trade value at above what it was when it didn’t get reprinted in Modern Masters 2017. Do I love a $25 buy-in? Sure don’t. I liked this a lot more at $15. I also like a card that can dectuple and this isn’t hitting $150 bucks, ever, but this is a lot easier to sell, trade or buylist and you don’t ever want to pay $40 for a card that was once $5 so buy these now if you think you’ll use them before they’re reprinted again. Again, I think this card can grow by $7-$10 under likely conditions and there would have to be a serious run on it for it to get to $40 on TCG Player anytime soon, but this is also a card that is basically guaranteed to go up. Some people like the uncertainty in their specs to be “how much” and not “if” and this is a spec for you if that’s you.

This is a high buy-in for a card that was reprinted in a commander deck that had other valuable cards in it, but here we are. This has already doubled. Do I like its current price? No, but other people seem to and of all of the post-popped stuff this seems, to me, the most likely to retain value given its usage in decks outside of Vannifar a deck that, again, I don’t see people building.

In the future, I think I can do a wrap-up paragraph and mention a few of these cards briefly so it doesn’t look like I missed them and so you have the opportunity to save yourself money picking up a copy to play with. I’m not telling you how to use our website. I mean, I guess I used to be, but I won’t anymore. People want finance advice for different reasons and I have acknowledged that on the podcast for 300 episodes so it’s time to do that here, too. Thanks for reading.

The Watchtower 2/4/19 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.

Over the last week Magic’s hot topics haven’t had too much to do with hot cards or hot prices. WotC’s announcement of the…oh, what the hell is it called. “MTG Arena Mythic Invitational.” Sure. Anyways, their announcement of the invite list incited quite a bit of bile. While a chunk of the invites went to those who had earned slots on MTG Arena, several went to “personalities.” This ranged from LSV, someone that I’m confident most players feel deserves to compete, to Hearthstone streamers, a subset that hasn’t particularly “earned” a slot in the highest EV Magic tournament to date. Amusingly, LSV probably loves that those people got invited, because now 25% to 50% of the room is at an FNM skill level while playing for tens of thousands of dollars per finish. TRGR, as they say.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier (Foil)

Price Today: $15
Possible Price: $25

It’s an unfortunate fact that the top slots on EDHREC for black are basically all tutors. Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor. These are bad cards in the format and if you play them you should feel bad. This isn’t the first time I’ve made this pitch though, so I’ll cut it short. After those three tutors, in 7th place is Sidisi, a de facto Demonic Tutor. EDH players love their tutors, and Sidisi gives you a lot to work with. He comes with a reasonable 4/6 body, can be tutored with effects similar to Chord of Calling, is easy to reduce his total cost, provides a sac outlet when you steal an opponent’s creature, etc. There’s a lot there to appreciate.

Sidisi is without a doubt already popular, and his price (almost) reflects that. I don’t care for non-foil copies, but foils are worth considering. You’ll find them at about $15 to $16 each on a few sites. Supply drains quickly as you scrutinize inventory, and it’s not long before you’re finding vendors charging $20+ a copy.

With Tesya’s recent popularity, Sidisi is going to find a whole new slate of players that are in the market for a high-value sacrifice enabler. Supplies are strained and there’s no surplus of copies on the horizon. $15 is a slightly high buy-in price, but I suspect we’ll see prices in the $25 to $30 before long.

Dark Petition (Foil)

Price Today: $6
Possible Price: $15

Along the lines of Sidisi, Dark Petition is a Demonic Tutor that requires a bit of work to be Demonic Tutor. In Sidisi’s case you’re getting the tutor attached to a 4/6 body (which makes it abusable in the right circumstances). In Dark Petition’s case, it’s at best a Demonic Tutor, but the work necessary to get there is considerably less, especially in EDH, where you’ll have spell mastery reliably once you’re out of the first few turns. For the type of jerk playing multiple Demonic Tutors, it’s one of the easiest second copies to play.

Petition is in about half as many decks as Sidisi, surprisingly. One may expect that spell mastery would be easier to trigger than the exploit trigger on Sidisi. I suspect that Sidisi’s abusability – copying the trigger with Teysa, blinking her for repeated effects, being able to tutor or reduce her cost – make Sidisi more desirable in decks looking to play unfairly. Still, half as popular as Sidisi is still popular, with Petition finding itself in about 11,500 lists.

While you’ll pay $15 to get in on foil Sidisi, Petition is a relative bargain, with copies beginning in the $5 and $6 range. I’d call supply on Petition ‘moderate.’ There’s probably 40 to 50 foils floating around on TCG right now, so it’s not going anywhere in the next few weeks. Still, we’re talking about probably the second or third best Demonic Tutor in EDH, and supply isn’t going to keep up with that forever. There’s also always the outside chance that someone figures out a Modern brew that makes use of Petition. After all, spell mastery is trivially easy to trigger in that format, so the real question is whether your combo deck is hitting the five mana prior to casting Petition easily.

Myr Battlesphere (Foil)

Price Today: $10
Possible Price: $20

Alright, no more tutors this week. I wanted to find something for Standard or Modern to talk about, but nothing jumped out at me. Pteramander jumped out at me as a possible sleeper foil, but they’re $15, so never mind there. Nexus is probably about as expensive as it’s going to get, and nothing else seems lined up to spike. I’m hopeful we’ll see some fun lists come out of Modern, but none of the latest MTGO lists are doing anything new and novel. Maybe some of the Twitch brews will start to permeate the membrane of greater awareness within the Magic community, but until then, there’s still a bunch of humans, dredge, delver, and lantern.

Anyways, Myr Battlesphere. You may be shocked to hear that Battlesphere shows up in something like 14,000 recorded lists. If you’re shocked to hear that, you probably haven’t played much EDH. Battlesphere comes down fairly easily, especially as an artifact, since you get cost reduction bonus’ on two card types. It’s got that army-in-a-can effect, with four bonus bodies hitting the table alongside it, you can use the myrs it comes with – and possibly copy or otherwise create more of – to give it some serious power, and the ability to fireball people right in their dumb face means you may be able to close out games against opponents that you otherwise wouldn’t find victory in battle against.

There’s only six – 6 – foil NM copies on TCG right now, each $10. After that it’s a bunch of foreign language copies at a significant markup. I don’t see any parituclar event on the horizon that would cause Battlesphere to spike, as it’s not really a Teysa or Nikya card specifically, but with supply this low, all it’s going to take is one person deciding to drop $50, and then they basically get to set the new price.

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.


MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 153 (Jan 28/19)

MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast paced, fun and useful 60-90 format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: January 28th, 2019

Segment 1: Top 5 Movers of the Week

Card Set Old Price New Price Increase
Flesh Carver CMD14 $0..63 $4.74 +$4.11 (+652%)
Visashino Pyromancer Foils M19 $2.14 $9.99 +$7.85 (+367%)
Hornet Queen Foils M15 $6.50 $19.50 +$13.00 (+200%)
Expropriate (Foil) CSP2  $84.92 $235.00 +$150.08 (+177%)
Hydroid Krasis RNA $14.99 $30.34 +$15.35(+102.40%)

Segment 2:  Picks of the Week

James’s Picks:

Divine Visitation

Card Set Confidence (1-10) Timeline Current Price Target Price
Divine Visitation (Foil) GRN 8 12+ months $13.00 $25.00 (+92%)
Noxious Gearhulk (Foil) EMA 8 6-12+ months $8.00 $15.00 (+88%)
Tezzeret, Artifice Master M19 9 12-18+ months $12.00 $20.00 (+67%)

Travis’s Picks:

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim

Card Set Confidence (1-10) Timeline Current Price Target Price
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim (Foil) OGW 8 6-12+ months $3.00 $10.00 (+233%)
Heritage Druid (Foil) EMA 8 3-6+ months $12.00 $22.00 (+83%)

Segment 3: Metagame Review

James and Travis went over the recent daily Modern lists and the GP Indy Standard results.

Segment 4: Topics of the Week

The guys discussed the Mythic Edition 2 release debacle.