The Watchtower 8/12/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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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.


Magic has changed much over the last five years, to the extent that I’d say the delta over those five years is larger than the delta of the prior two half-decade blocks. One of the downstream impacts of these developments has been the increase of mid-summer activity. Time was that a few weeks past the core set was a dead zone, with little to no deck innovation or financial churn prior to the fall spoiler season kicking things off. You’d have two solid months to grab rares and mythics that headlined the spring’s block Pro Tour (remember those?) before upward swings began after college students began returning to campus’. Now there’s enough activity through June, July, and August to keep us plenty busy. Things may slow down in the latter half of August, with Commander spoilers finished and a new Standard tantalizing close, but even if that’s the case, two weeks is a lot shorter than two months.

Samut, Voice of Dissent (Foil)

Price Today: $3.50
Possible Price: $10

As what may end up being the most popular commander out of Commander 2019, Atla was late reveal that grabbed the communities attention. Having a playable Naya legend is refreshing enough, after the seeming deluge of Sultai or Simic-based commanders we’ve had lately. Add to that that she’s a little meme-y — “eggs” — and you’ve got a recipe for someone popular. The icing on the cake is that she looks like she’s actually both good and fun; capable of generating a stream of random gigantic monsters.

Mechanically, there’s several things to focus on with Atla. Certainly populate, which is the whole theme of the Naya deck this year. Haste is going to be relevant, both for Atla and the stream of monsters she’ll enable. Some sort of self-damaging or sacrifice mechanic will be important as a way to chew through your eggs, and creature-type changing is excellent as well, since it lets you make every creature on your board an egg, perfect in the face of a wrath. (My secret tech recommendation for the deck is Aether Flash.)

It’s the haste that I first spied on Samut that caught my attention, and the untap ability that sold me. Samut will give Atla and all your egg hatches haste with which to attack or use abilities immediately, and being able to untap Atla for a second pass is gravy. She’s even a creature, rather than another card type, which means Atla can flip you into Samut, who can then immediately untap Atla for another pass. Sounds good to me.

Foils of Samut are where to look for now, since the non-foil supply is too deep, and there’s not enough additional demand from other sources. You can sneak in at $2.50 to $3.50 depending on where you look, which is just about the absolute floor of foil mythics. I’m expecting a slower burn here, since we’re several weeks away from Atla actually landing in players’ hands, and the turnaround after that won’t be immediate. The utility is there though, and we could see $10+ foil Samuts eventually.

Eldrazi Displacer (Foil)

Price Today: $6.5
Possible Price: $15

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C19 Commanders are the talk of the town this week, but Golos remains in the top slot for the time being. Even once C19 hits shelves, Golos should remain popular. He’s a better Solemn Simulacrum that lets you play every spell in Magic, and doesn’t push you towards anything specific other than “have lands” and “play large cool spells.” This flexibility should ensure Golos is popular for quite some time.

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A relatively popular creature in Golos is Eldrazi Displacer, which to be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed. Sure flickering Golos is good, but like, run Displacer just to flicker him good? It must be that flickering Golos is only part of the equation. Displacer lets you flicker all your other creatures — I notice Avenger of Zendikar one slot to the right — and acts as a slightly more expensive Maze of Ith, with the potential to scale up to multiple targets. Really, Displacer is just a powerful, flexible card, and I’m sure Yarok players curse the white mana symbol.

Displacer is great because unlike Samut, which has recently been activated by Atla, it’s already good. Displacer is in over 4,000 EDHREC lists which, while not a particularly impressive amount, reveals that there is at least a base of demand. Additionally, you’ll find Displacer is popular in Modern Hatebear style lists, which while quiet at the moment in the face of Hogaak, have been in the format for almost ever, and will continue to be so. 

Foils land in the $6 to $7 range today, with a reasonably healthy supply. Hatebears will continue to apply pressure, albeit slowly. Golos might turn that attrition up a bit though, and the open endedness means that every spoiler season brings forth the possibility of something busting it. (Zacama and Displacer is infinite mana, for example, and Zacama is suddenly seeing a lot of play in early Atla decks. Will Displacer start showing up there too?)

Jace’s Sanctum (Foil)

Price Today: $4
Possible Price: $9

Atla isn’t the only commander to upset the package face general. Elsha appears to be a considerably more popular Jeskai commander than Sevinne is so far. Elsha, you’ll recall, basically has Future Sight in the text box, along with Prowess for good measure. As such she’ll be something of a storm deck; perhaps not exactly so, in that it’s not trying to win with Grapeshot, but Elsha players will certainly be in the market to jam piles of spells every turn. 

Elsha lets you play noncreature nonland cards, which means it includes artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers in addition to instants and sorceries. I’ve no doubt that artifacts will find their way into the mix often, but there’s no question instants and sorceries will be far and away the most popular card time to chain together. As such, Jace’s Sanctum is going to do some heavy lifting. Since the deck is going to be a pseudo-combo deck in many instances, cards that allow you to set up to have a big turn down the road will be effective. Sanctum accomplishes this by saving you a mana on nearly all the spells you play, which means that for your four mana investment you could end up easily saving 10 or even 20 mana down the road. If that weren’t enough, the scry also means that you’ll be able to keep lands and creatures off the top of your deck as you go off, which is exactly what an Elsha deck is going to be looking for. Saving mana and fixing the top of the deck is basically everything an Elsha deck needs.

With the only foil printing from Magic Origins, supply has had plenty of time to drain. You’ll pay $4 to $6 today for a copy, but there aren’t many left at all. And since the non-foils are in the precon, there’s a whole lot of people about to be introduced to how potent this card is in their deck. We’ll be looking at $10 to $15 foils of Sanctum within six months, I’d wager.


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.


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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Brainstorm Brewery #351 Full Pitch Integration

http://traffic.libsyn.com/brainstormbrewery/Brainstorm_Brewery_351_Full_Pitch_Integration.mp3

Corbin (@CHosler88), DJ (@Rose0fThorns), and Jason (@jasonEalt) are excited to announce a bunch of new changes coming to Brainstorm Brewery, a new sponsor ChannelFireball.com , Commander 2019  and exciting new perks for the patreon!

Make sure to check us out on Youtube because everything is better with video. https://www.youtube.com/user/BrainstormBrewery

Seconds-in-Command

Commander 2019 previews have finally finished, and I hope you took my advice and bought plenty of the foils I told you to buy a month ago

The headliners for all the decks are three colors each, but one of the odder things about these decks is how the secondary legends can cause spikes all on their own, depending on the mechanic involved. So this week, I want to look at these cards and see what jumps out at me. I wish I could say with confidence that these are all going to go crazy, but at the least, they work well with what each of these Commanders is trying to do.

Greven, Predator Captain is a fun card, very thematic, and someone we ought to hear more from. I like the ability that draws cards and plays into what the deck wants to do. The question is, how can we make this hurt as much as possible? Rakdos cards often focus on the opponent losing life, but there’s a lot of cards that can really pay off for us.

My favorite accessory is even on theme: Hatred. Only costs half your life to kill someone now. Unspeakable Symbol can get you there too, but requires a little more math.

Or, if you’re absolutely sure that no one at the table is playing with Lightning Bolt, then Soulgorger Orgg is your guy. Have a sacrifice outlet ready if you really want to impress. Black and red offer some fun ways to discard/reanimate creatures too, and I will respect you greatly if you pull off the Orgg tricks at instant speed, or even twice in one turn!

Bond of Agony also is good for a laugh, Dire Fleet Ravager says hello, Havoc Festival is truly nutty, and you have both Necrologia and Necropotence to have your life loss lead to more good things. 

Doom Whisperer, Erebos, God of the Dead, Kuro, Pitlord, Vilis, Broker of Blood all have fun effects too. There’s a whole deck to be made out of paying life, just be sure you can do the tricks more than once.

Elsha of the Infinite is a Jeskai card built around noncreature and nonland spells, but what are we going to do that’s better than just plain old Talrand, Sky Summoner plus cantrips and spells?

One way is tokens. Mastery of the Unseen is my favorite way to turn the unneeded lands on top of your library into semi-useful creatures and get them out of the way. Sure, you could play Ghoulcaller’s Bell and other such things to just mill them away, but get your value!

The standbys of Soothsaying and Sensei’s Divining Top are going to be very good here, but let’s really dive in. Think Tank is slow, but it does some work as a backup to the really good effects of this type. You know what’s on top anyway, why not arrange things appropriately? Search for Azcanta is going to draw you a lot more heat but is also good. You’ve got to balance power and efficacy here. Yes, Elsha allows you to cast planeswalkers at instant speed but thankfully, only Teferi, Temporal Archmage allows that to give value. 

The Mirari Conjecture is an excellent way to regain value off of the instants and sorceries you’re casting, and has that 10x foil multiplier that all the Sagas do:

Off the top of the deck for value means Oracle’s Vault has a lot of potential, but it was a promo and all the versions are cheap, so spec carefully. A much better spec card, because it’s on the Reserved List, is Bosium Strip:

Basically, it’s going to give flashback to any instant or sorcery in the yard for three mana. It’s harder to kill, being an artifact, but the buy-in of only $3 is exceedingly tempting and quite safe since it’ll never ever be reprinted.

Tahngarth, First Mate wants to attack. A lot. So how can we make sure he does so safely, or at least hits like a truck? 

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Whispersilk Cloak is the clear winner here, but there’s EIGHT printings and four foils. This is going to be hard to make money on, especially because the oldest one comes from a block with crappier foiling. Tahngarth also kicks butt with a Sword of Anything and Anything Else, but I don’t expect those prices to move too much based on his use.

Fireshrieker has potential to kill a lot of players, but at three printings and three foils, big gains are unlikely. Hot Soup, Prowler’s Helm, and Hammer of Nazahn all have potential too, or maybe you want to get galaxy brain and pick up the equipment assistants: Stoneforge Mystic, Steelshaper’s Gift, Stonehewer Giant, and Steelshaper’s Apprentice. 

You’ve got choices when it comes to enchantments too, but I don’t like those as much because of the one-use factor. Wrecking Ogre is particularly hilarious though. Be careful about the instants you select, because sometimes, you won’t have control of Tahngarth and things like Temur Battle Rage might not be game over.

Volrath, the Shapestealer is something that cares about counters and while some of these cards have already gone crazy, having the third color of blue allows for some real shenanigans.

Necrotic Ooze is a pet card of mine. Any time we want to do fun things with abilities, this should come along for the ride. Also fun with Body Double. Crumbling Ashes has spiked more than once and yet hasn’t been reprinted. If Volrath shows up on EDHREC as a top new commander, I’d expect this to blast through $10 and approach $15.

Flourishing Defenses is a lot more mana but free tokens are free tokens, especially when combined with something truly busted like Contagion Engine. Double up on the effect with Nest of Scarabs, and thank me later.

Cytoplast Manipulator and Simic Manipulator are a fun way to go if you want to control things instead of destroy them. Beguiler of Wills can be a very fun thing to copy with Volrath too. Finally, the old standby of Cauldron of Souls is pretty great in a deck where putting those -1/-1 counters can be a benefit. Save all of your things as well as the things you want to copy!

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: In Defense of Just Buying the Things

Readers!

We’re in the thick of a 4 day “reveal all of the commander decks at once like animals” week and boy has it been a doozy. I’m writing this on Tuesday, when exactly half of the whole decklists have been revealed and people seem pretty upset. Gavin Verhey assured everyone they read everyone’s disappointed reddit posts about the lack of value despite the price of the decks going up $5 and came on Brainstorm Brewery and assured us they would make some changes with the decks going forward. At first blush, they appear to have done… not that.

This looks pretty bad at first. People were expecting a big, flashy reprint, sort of like Wurmcoil Engine, or an obviously busted Legacy crossover card like True-Name Nemesis or Containment Priest. This has neither. The most expensive reprint is Seedborn Muse which is coming off of another recent reprint and is about to get dinged a lot more, currently sitting at about $7.50 for Battlebond copies. Most of the rares and mythics are bulk rares and none of the new cards look like they can soak up all of the value. Worse still, obvious cards like Ixidor and Dream Chisel we omitted from the deck, forcing people to go out and spend even more to make the deck serviceable because of the glaring exclusions. People seem pretty upset online. Are they right?

Let’s look at the list that came out today.

This looks even worse. River Kelpie and Ghostly Prison are about $5 but there is no big, sexy card and cards like Past in Flames were left out.

Is it really as bad as it looks? To answer that question, let’s go back and look at Commander 2018 and see how it looks a year later.

On paper, this looks like trash. Avenger of Zendikar was basically the only money reprint and the new commanders all looked like trash. Obvious reprints like Burgeoning, Exploration or Oracle of Mul Daya were excluded. Cards like Deathreap Ritual, Budoka Gardener, and Sakura-Tribe Elder that were showing signs of growth were going to tank and the new cards are pretty lackluster.

If you add up the current values of all of the cards in this deck, a year later, though, you might be surprised to find that the contents of the deck add up to roughly $80. There are plenty of completed listings on eBay for $60. Whiptongue Hydra, Nesting Dragon and Windgrace’s Judgment are $5 cards. Budoka Gardener climbed back to over $2 and EDH staples like Sakura-Tribe Elder, Sol Ring, Cultivate, and Explosive Vegetation basically shook the reprinting off. At the time, this seemed like the weakest deck but value-wise now, a year later, it’s the second-best (the worst is the Estrid deck, to the surprise of few and the chagrin of many).

How misleading is the “$80” figure? After all, there are 100 cards and if they’re all retailing for 80 cents, that means they’re worthless and won’t buylist for much. Wouldn’t a more fair way to look at it be based on buylist value? We’re not going to buy at retail and sell at buylist on the Commander 2019 products, but it’s still a good idea to look at those values.

If you look at the cards in the morph deck, there is some value there. Some of the cards will obviously tank, but a lot of the good ones will recover in a year and currently the buylist numbers aren’t too bad. If you put the 83 non-new cards into TCG Player and tried to buy them all, it would cost you $100, first of all. That’s not that telling, but it’s worth noting. The number of cards that in the Morph deck that currently buylist for a dollar or more is a staggering (Hooded Hydra, Ixidron, Grim Haruspex, Den Protector, Seedborn Muse, Thelonite Hermit, Great Oak Guardian, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Overwhelming Stampede, Tempt With Discovery, Strionic Resonator, Sol Ring, Thran Dyanmo, Darkwater Catacombs, Exotic Orchard, Llanowar Wastes, Sunken Hollow, Thespian’s Stage, Yavimaya Coast, Ash Barrens, Bojuka Bog, Command Tower, Reliquary Tower). That’s $32 of your $35 right ther, buylist value, excluding the 17 new cards whose values are unknown. Do we expect any of them to be worth anything? Well, historically, the decks will have at least 2 new cards worth $5 (Arixmethes and Estrid’s Invocation, Treasure Nabber and Endless Atlas, Lord Windgrace and Windgrace’s Judgment and Nesting Dragon and Whiptongue Hydra , Aminatou and Yuriko). If you tack on at least another $10, you’re reasonably safe buying at $35, especially if you want any of the cards. If there is a Yuriko this year, which has settled around $15, you’re in even better shape.

Are these a great investment? I don’t know how you feel about buying at $35 to sit on them for a year and sell for $58 BIN on eBay but in the short term, there will be money to be made busting for singles, selling the new, hot cards before they equilibrate down and holding the reprints while they equilibrate up. If you’re a player, absolutely preorder one of each deck at $35 each (you should be able to do better and get a set around $120) and build to your heart’s content.

We haven’t seen the other 2 decks but I’m not sure we need to – I am confident these are a better buy than people think, the value looks a little better than last year with a lot of money in pricey lands like Sunken Hollow and creatures like Seedborn Muse and there are bound to be some sexy, $5-and-up new cards. Here are a few I like.

Old Docksides, as he likes to be called, is pretty punishing in multiplayer. I have heard people talk about using him in Vintage, which probably can’t happen since the decks that let you cash in with him probably have lethal on board or a Mycosynth Lattice and Karn lock. This is nuts, however, in a format where everyone has Sol Rings and Signets. Bring him back over and over with Grenzo, tutor for him with Goblin Recruiter or Matron, blink him with Deadeye Navigator or Conjurer’s Closet or just play him, get a pile of treasure and win with Revel in Riches. This isn’t Smothering Tithe but it sure is close.


This card is stupid. I love it.

Historically, I have said that I tend to ignore supposition about the cost of Legendary creatures and prefer to focus on the decks that they’ll enable, but since we have data from last year, we can look at it. The Legendary creatures and planeswalkers from Commander 2018 worth more than $5 are Aminatou ($5), Yuriko ($15), Arixmethes ($7) and Lord Windgrace ($5). Nothing from the Saheeli deck mattered, as much as everyone raved last year about how you should buy Varchild’s War Riders. Pramikon has meme value and could end up being this year’s Arixmethes, which is a bad card but a huge casual hit. You know how many people are swinging with tribal sea monsters? More than are playing the Tuvasa Voltron deck everyone on reddit said couldn’t be beat.

This isn’t as bad as everyone says it is and I bet the deck it’s in is the worst one, helping its value even more.

If I had to guess, I think this will surprise people and get built a lot more than the marquee cards in the decks. This is what EDH players want.

That does it for me this week. Buy the decks, I think. I’ll be back next week with some data and some supposition about which specs to buy. Until next time!

MAGIC: THE GATHERING FINANCE ARTICLES AND COMMUNITY

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