The Watchtower 05/25/20 – Thinking Ahead

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Last week I moved back from MTGO picks to looking at some longer-term paper specs, and this week I’m going to be continuing in that fashion. In my last article I mainly focused on cards that are popular in EDH, but today I’m taking a look at cards I think will be relevant to the more competitive formats when paper Magic gets back up and running again.


Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast (Foil & Alt Art)

Price today: $12
Possible price: $20

Lukka, Copper Outcast (feat. Yorion as companion) has been thoroughly dominating Standard over the past couple of weeks, where the name of the game has been ‘who can get an Agent of Treachery into play first?’. A few other decks are still putting up strong results too (Jeskai cycling, mono-red, Temur Reclamation), but with many pros touting it as the best Standard deck we’ve had in years, Lukka is the clear top dog.

It’s not just Standard that Lukka is putting up results in though – he’s found homes in both Modern and Pioneer too. The Pioneer superfriends deck has been clawing its way up the metagame ranks, again using token generators and Lukka to cheat out early Agent of Treacherys, backed up by Yorion and a suite of other powerful planeswalkers. Over in Modern, Lukka has seen a smattering of play in the Gruul Obosh decks, which have moved more away from a Ponza style and become extra midrangey.

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The point I’m making with all this is that I think Lukka is a strong contender for one of the multi-format all-stars from Ikoria, and even though Agent of Treachery rotates out of Standard in the fall, I don’t doubt that the Lukka decks will change and survive rotation, and that Modern and Pioneer play of the card will continue to increase.

I was planning on just talking about the regular versions of Lukka here, but then when I took a look at the prices on TCGPlayer I noticed that there are both regular foils and alternate art versions starting at pretty much the same price as the normal version, give or take a dollar. Even with the increased foil drop-rate these days, this seems like a no-brainer to me. Once paper Magic gets back on its feet, people are going to need their copies of Lukka, so I think that picking up these more premium versions for basically the same price as regulars is easy money.

Abbot of Keral Keep (Foil)

Price today: $4
Possible price: $10

There could well be a new best deck in Modern. A little over a week ago, Red-Black Prowess took three of the top four slots of the Team Lotus Box Modern League tournament, only losing out on the top spot to Ad Nauseum. Somewhat oddly titled ‘Lurrus Jund’ on MTGGoldfish, the only hint of green to be seen in this deck is on Manamorphose, so I think they need to update their deck labels. This is definitely a Lurrus deck though, using the companion to replay their cheap creatures from the graveyard later in the game.

Four maindeck Cling to Dust was one of the MVPs from this new deck, giving a good maindeck answer to cards like Uro and providing a life buffer against other aggressive decks. But another surprising powerhouse is Abbot of Keral Keep, something that wasn’t often seen in the old mono-red versions of this deck. Here it’s in as a playset though, because beside the obvious fact that your deck is loaded with cheap spells to play off the ETB trigger, if you can cast one of these twice in a game with Lurrus and get lucky enough to be able to play both spells off it, then you’re REALLY flying.

Abbot foils start at $4 on TCGPlayer, but once you get past the first 10 or so listings, the ladder climbs very sharply. This is a single printing foil from almost five years ago now, and once those cheaper copies are gone, the new price is going to be at least $10, probably higher. It’s also worth noting that there are only five listings for the prerelease copy, so if you’re quick enough you can grab the cheaper ones there too.

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Fiend Artisan

Price today: $15
Possible price: $25

Speaking of Lurrus decks (because let’s be honest there’s not much other than Lurrus and Yorion going around at the moment), I’m taking a look at Fiend Artisan. I talked about this card in relation to MTGO a few weeks ago, and it’s done well over there but I think it’s a good pick-up in paper too. It might not quite be good enough for Modern, but Fiend Artisan has seen a good amount of play in both Standard and Pioneer so far, both in Aristocrat-style decks.

In addition to this, it’s one of the more popular EDH cards from the set, already seeing inclusion in close to 600 decks listed on EDHREC. I mean, why only play one Birthing Pod when you can play two? Being a mythic from Ikoria, supply is much lower than other rares that players are buying, and this is a card that’s being torn in two between competitive play and EDH play. Those factors mean that it won’t be hard for Fiend Artisan to run a high price tag, and I think that EDH players are the most likely section of the market to be buying cards right now – so if you want these I’d pick them up sooner rather than later.

There are a few of these around at $15 and more at $17, so if you can snag the $15 copies I think you’re golden, and if you’re on the $17 copies then you’re still doing fairly well. The Pioneer Aristocrats decks will probably ebb and flow a bit depending on how much graveyard hate there is around, but when those decks are left to their own devices it can be pretty brutal.


David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

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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Where to, Ikoria?

Three weeks ago, I wrote about how the prices in Ikoria were about to take quite a bath. If you added up the price of every card in the set (regular art, nonfoil) it was just about $400. 

Today, that’s down to $250. Oof.

The question is, though…are prices done falling? Let’s take a look.

Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast ($11, up from $10)

If you follow a few Magic professionals on Twitter, you’ll have heard that some form of Lukka Jeskai Fires is the best deck in Standard. Oliver Tiu went farther: 

I played Standard back then, and I was too busy playing eight fetchlands in Mono-Black Vampires in order to help Vampire Nocturnus be amazing. I don’t have a comprehensive view of Standard through the ages, but I can tell you that on Arena, that stupid deck is resilient and powerful.

Lukka has avoided the downturn in prices that most of Ikoria has felt, being a four-of in the best deck ever surely helps with that. The deck has also avoided having something banned so far, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

The metagame share isn’t as dominant as the deck’s adherents would have you believe, though. Lots of decks are putting up 5-0 finishes, but the power of this deck is the redundancy and the thievery, thanks to Agent of Treachery. 

The main point here is that Lukka’s price has resisted falling due to the wave of product delivery, and the only thing keeping me from diving in is Agent’s rotation in October. I would expect this price to stay firm or even rise a little farther, depending on when paper Magic events start up again.

The Triomes ($5-$7)

These are up about a dollar each, on average, and I think that’s the Commander crowd diving in. These are AWESOME in Commander, as long as you’re playing colors that match up with some of the Triomes. It also helps that two very popular decks, Temur Reclamation and the aforementioned Jeskai Fires, each have a Triome of their own to play. That alone would keep the price high, but the price to really pay attention to is the cost of owning a Foil Showcase version of each of these. They were nearly $20 earlier in the week, but have bumped up to the $25-$30 range. It’s not clear how much inventory of Ikoria Collector Boosters is still going to be opened, but having rares in that range will do a lot to shore up the value.

This week, I bought the seven foil EA Triomes I needed (My Ur-Dragon deck is getting five of them!) and I’m glad I did it now. The basic versions are a lock to get reprinted at some point, we’ve got Commander Masters later this year and that’s a draftable set which will desperately want powerhouse fixing.

Here’s the sort of graph I’m expecting for the Triomes:

It won’t happen this week, or even this month, but these are too good, too flexible, and popping up in enough formats that these will be $10 by Thanksgiving (presuming no reprint).

Shark Typhoon ($4, up from $3)

Interestingly ,there was a time about a month ago where this was being sold for nearly $10 before people came to their damn senses. It’s trended downwards, as has almost everything in the set, but being a big part of Fires, Control, and Reclamation decks is something that will get a price going back up.

There’s no shortage of six-mana enchantments that do wonderful things, but the cycling ability on this one is hitting it out of the park, causing people to not flinch at playing three or four of these. Don’t overlook that it’s not only uncounterable (unless you’re meta enough to pack Tale’s End) but it gets by Teferi, Time Raveler’s static ability. 

Control decks will always exist and want some number of this card, and Fires decks will exist in some flavor for the next year and a half. I’d hope that this fell down to $2 by the end of Ikoria’s season, giving it plenty of time to rebound up into $5 at some point.The rest of the set has fallen hard. This is good from a speculative standpoint, and it’s nice that some part of Standard is accessible. The Apex cycle is delightfully cheap, if you’re thinking about getting in for Commander or fun mutate decks. Extinction Event is awesomely inexpensive, and four-mana Wrath effects are always going to be worth playing.

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.

Unlocked Pro Trader Our Fates Are Sealed 2: Sealed Boogaloo

Readers!

Does the title of this article make 0 sense to you? Either you’re not aware that people have been riffing on the title of the 1984 Dance movie “Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo” since basically 1985 or you’re not aware that I wrote part 1 of the article last week, or maybe both. I just explained the one thing, so go read the other thing and meet me back here in 5 minutes.

So since I don’t have to do a ton of preamble here, I’m just going to pretend I got a 2,000 word writing start on account of you just read last week’s article and I’m just going to leap into more product. GET READY.

One thing I didn’t mention last week is that as the decks begin to sell because it turns out I sometimes know what I am talking about, the Japanese versions of the decks will lag behind. Japanese EDH cards tend to lag behind English in price quite a bit because Japan doesn’t play EDH and players in English-speaking countries like to be able to read and have their cards read. Which card draws a card when an enchantment comes into play and which draws a card when you play an enchantment from your hand between Argothian Enchantress and Eidolon of Blossoms? You may be pretty sure, but being able to read the cards helps. If you’re buying cards predicated on Competitive EDH, however, the foil Commanders, especially the partner Commanders, are just as valuable in Japanese, sometimes more. These players want to play 100 card Vintage down to the premium versions of the cards. Japanese foil Thrasios is going to be sought by cEDH players, so the Japanese versions of the decks are not bad if you can find homes for the rest of the cards. I personally downgrade my own Sol Rings and Swiftfoot Boots into Japanese and sell the English copy I just freed up, but if you’re buying more than 5 decks, that’s not doable. Consider buying English if the non-foil cards in the deck are not almost all staples.

Thrasios is not often discussed in EDH without it being alongside Tymna, the Weaver and Tymna is in a deck that has a non-trivial amount of value in it. The deck is $100 and the $55 Tymna takes a huge bite out of that. The $18 Tana, the Bloodsower is on its way up, Ravos is $15 on its way to $30, Conquerer’s Flail is currently $10, there’s a Lightning Greaves, a Skullclamp and some of the EDH staples like Beastmaster Ascension and Blind Obedience that went a few years without a reprinting are starting to nudge up. It’s easy to flip the Tymna and get a free deck or flip the deck and get a free Tymna. Act fast and you should be in good shape.

Other decks from that era are in play given the fact that partner commanders are targeted right now and you can sell for inflated prices now that most of the sellers on TCG Player are offline.

Even the least exciting deck, Stalwart Uprising, is in play given the rising price of the partner commanders and the partners commander that is Kynaios and Tiro. K&T (Not Kydele and Thrasios, the other K&T) are at $15, approaching $20, Ludevic is in the same boat and the deck has both a Propaganda and a Ghostly Prison on top of a host of $3 cards. I’m not as eager to attempt the flip with this deck as I am the others, but even the least desirable deck here has potential if Sidar Kondo goes up from $5 or the other ones hit $30 like they just might.

Ironically enough, Breed Lethality has very little value outside of Atraxa, something I predicted but only as a joke. Time has a way of changing attitudes about boring commanders like Atraxa, the popular cards from the popular deck have a tendency to get reprinted, the desirability means the copies don’t end up stranded on store shelves and WotC could have secretly shipped more of the Breed Lethality decks than the other ones. We have seen this over and over in the past with the Commander decks, so when a deck is selling out like Breed Lethality, Mind Seize and whatever deck has Dockside Extortionist in it, try and see if you can get discounted copies of the least desirable deck. Sometimes it turns into money with Blade of Selves, Urza’s Incubator and Fiery Confluence being in the top 5 most expensive cards in the set and sometimes you end up with the 2013 Naya deck where the second-most expensive card is Wrath of God. That Homeward Path tho.

If you’re looking for another way to get the decks cheaper, consider being less picky. Since we’re buying to open and flip, being in pristine, sealed condition isn’t necessary. People who bought Commander Anthology sets, for example, might not want every deck and some are gettable on eBay for a discount.

$50 for a Wade Into Battle isn’t bad at all given the $12 Blade of Selves and the $18 Urza’s Incubator, although they used to be cheaper and the ship has mostly sailed. You’re banking on Fiery Confluence staying around $10, Basalt Monolith continuing to climb and Gisela not getting reprinted for a while. For the record, I don’t hate those bets and this is a good way to get those cards to play with. If you are good at eBay or message sellers privately to make an offer, you can do even better. Paying full price isn’t the kind of advice you pay me for, after all.

ONE WORD (errr, paragraph) OF CAUTION

Sites that aggregate the prices of these decks will often spit out a figure like “$230 for a C17 Precon!” and that is not to be trusted. Think about what you will get back after fees if you’re not keeping the cards. Fees hurt on a $15 card but they eat all of the profit on a $0.75 one. If you have a huge TCG Player store, sell direct, or think that someone buying a Whispersilk Cloak is likely to get a bunch of other cards, consider those cards value, but a bulk rare is calculated at $0.75-$0.99 by those sites and they’re really a dime, if you can get that. Add up the values of the cards you can get close to retail for and call everything else bulk. That will help you avoid paying $45 for $120 worth of cards that’s actually $35. You’re much better off paying $35 for a deck with a $30 Dockside Extortionist because at least you know what that’s worth.

That does it for me. Until next time!

The Watchtower 05/18/20 – Back To Basics

This week I’m switching it up again. Or rather, switching it back again. I’ve spent a few weeks (could be months actually, I’m not really sure any more) on MTGO specs and it’s gone pretty well for the most part, but this week I’m looking back at some paper specs. Whether it’s correct or not, lockdown measures are starting to be relaxed in some places, and paper card sales are starting to flow a little more again.

There are obviously still no paper tournaments happening for the time being, so I’m focusing on cards that I think are good pickups for a longer hold time, or at least things that aren’t dependent on an ever-shifting metagame. Spoilers, we’re looking at some EDH cards!

Triomes (Showcase)

Price today: $8
Possible price: $15

If you hop onto EDHREC, I’ll give you one guess as to what the top five cards from Ikoria are. The clue is in my subheading. Well done, you were right! The five Triomes (I still want to call them Tricycle Lands) are, to nobody’s surprise, at the top of the pile for Ikoria inclusions on EDHREC. These three colour lands are strictly better upgrades to the tri-lands that Shards of Alara and Khans of Tarkir gave us, adding both cycling and basic land types to them.

The regular versions of these cards are great, but the Showcase versions with art from Robbie Trevino are just stunning. There will undoubtedly be a big draw for these premium versions from EDH players, especially seeing as the Triomes are auto-includes in any deck that matches their colours. I’m probably going to have to grab a copy of each for my five-colour Canadian Highlander deck…

Showcase versions of all five Triomes can currently be had on TCGPlayer for around $7-8, and I think that this has the potential for a double-up in the longer term. As I said, they’re auto-includes in EDH decks that can play them, and that’s not even taking into account Standard (and possibly other constructed formats?) demand for them. I could also see dipping into the foils at around $30, with a view to hit $40 or even $50 in 12 months or so.

Shadowspear (EA Foil)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $50

What’s that? Another premium version of an EDH staple? How unoriginal!

Yes, it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but I reckon it’s pretty solid, and that’s good enough for me. Shadowspear is the 3rd most popular card from Theros Beyond Death on EDHREC, because being colourless it can slot into any deck! I’d argue that it’s pretty much just an upgrade from Loxodon Warhammer, a card that’s found a home in almost 15k recorded decks. Sure, it grants a couple fewer points of power, but the ability to remove Indestructible and Hexproof from your opponents’ creatures is invaluable.

There are too many different versions of this card between the regular, prerelease promo, planeswalker pack promo and EA version, PLUS all the foils of those, so with cards like that it’s best to just look at the most basic version and the most pimp version. The regulars aren’t amazingly enticing at $6, so instead I’ve flipped the switch to the other end and looked at the EA foils.

These ones start at $30 on TCG and have a pretty reasonable ladder up to $40, and I’m actually surprised that there aren’t any priced higher than that at the moment. There are only 28 total vendors with copies, which considering the number of people playing this in EDH is not a lot. $40 within 6 months seems easy for Shadowspear, and I think that $50 in 12 months is entirely reasonable.

Castle Garenbrig (EA Foil)

Price today: $25
Possible price: $40

Hopping back in time by another set to Throne of Eldraine, here’s another EA foil for you. Castle Garenbrig is another boring old staple in, well, decks that play a lot of creatures I guess. Boasting a respectable 5400 decks on EDHREC, it’s a relatively easy inclusion in heavily green-based EDH decks, probably coming in untapped most of the time and helping ramp out early threats. But there’s a twist: it’s actually not that boring because it’s had its fair share of time in the sun in Modern as well.

Primeval Titan decks love this card, and although Amulet Titan has shrunk back from the forefront of Modern for the time being, I highly doubt that the giant’s time in the format is anywhere near to finished. The Amulet Titan and Titan Field decks are almost always seen playing the full suite of Castle Garenbrigs, and supply on the foil EA Castles isn’t exactly high so if a couple of players pick a set up for their decks then the market will drain quickly.

These start at $25 on TCGPlayer, but with only thirteen (13) total NM foil copies listed, that price could jump up real quick. With the Modern and EDH demand for this card, along with a smattering of Pioneer play, I think that riding this up to $40 in 6, maybe 12 months, is a pretty safe bet – and if you want some to play with then I definitely wouldn’t hesitate.


I’ll probably be back next week with more paper specs for you to stash in the closet and gather dust until we can play paper Magic properly again, so I’ll see you then!


David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

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