The Watchtower 01/04/21 – New Year, New Specs, Same me

This week marks a whole year of me writing for MTGPrice, and it’s been a great journey so far. Although 2020 seemed to last indefinitely, with a period of time that I even switched to writing solely about MTGO picks because of the uncertainty about the future of paper Magic, it still seems odd to think that I’ve written 52 articles since it began, with a lot of good calls, a few medium ones and a sprinkling of misfires along the way.

Despite the pandemic this has still been a good year for MTG Finance, and it’s clear that paper Magic is going to pick back up once the world opens back up again, and so I’ve no doubt that 2021 will be more of the same great content from me, and I hope that you’ll all stay along for the ride.

Deflecting Swat

Price in Europe: €15 ($18)
Price in US: $32
Possible price: $40

For my first trick pick I’m going somewhat back to my roots with a solid arbitrage pick. The Commander 2020 set brought us a suite of free spells that you can cast for no cost if you control your commander, and Fierce Guardianship was expensive pretty much right out of the gate. The others were less popular to start with, but have been gaining ground more recently, particularly Deflecting Swat.

Being able to change the target of a spell is a great ability for red to have when it doesn’t have access to counterspells and the like, especially when you can cast it for free, and the numbers are backing it up – Fierce Guardianship is around 20k EDH decks on EDHREC with Deflecting Swat catching up fast at a little over 13k.

Prices in the US are already over $32, but in Europe where (if you read my articles) you’ll know that EDH is far less popular, the card is only around $18. That’s some solid arbitrage as it stands, but without a reprint probable on the near horizon it looks like this could keep heading up towards $40. Only 17 listings on TCGPlayer a steep ramp has already formed, so I think that this is a great short-term opportunity to bring some over from Europe.

Zagoth Triome (Showcase Foil)

Price today: $28
Possible price: $50

The five Triomes are by far and away the most popular EDH cards from Ikoria, and rightly so. Three colour lands that cycle and have basic lands types (which means they’re fetchable) are a slam dunk auto-include in any 3+ colour EDH decks that’s not just running all original duals with shocks and fetches to boot (which isn’t many decks, really). I’ve talked about the Triomes before along with some other staff members here, but today I wanted to highlight one that I think is still undervalued.

Zagoth Triome ranks the highest out of the five on EDHREC by around 400 decks over Ketria Triome, and in terms of competitive play Ketria sees a little more play than Zagoth in Pioneer and Modern, but not by a lot. In terms of price, Ketria currently starts at $33 on TCGPlayer and Zagoth at $28, but what’s interesting is that Zagoth actually forms a steeper ramp with fewer listings, leading me to think that the cheaper copies are undervalued.

I do think that all of the showcase foil Triomes are still good pickups at the moment – they were better a few months ago but even now you can pick the cheaper ones around $20, which I think should have a good run up to $40 in the next 6-12 months. Supply is draining on all five Triomes and I don’t think we’ll see them printed like this again for a long time, so personal copies and specs are a must-buy soon if you want them at current prices.

Bane of Progress (CC1 Foil)

Price today: $14
Possible price: $30

Commander Collection Green was a bit of an odd product in that the premium versions were only available to WPN Premium stores, meaning that supply of them has been severely throttled compared to the regular versions. Preorders got crazy high, and once the foils got dumped onto the market prices did come down a reasonable amount but the low supply has meant that a lot of the cards have been snapped up pretty quickly.

Cards like Worldly Tutor and Bane of Progress have had first-time foil printings, and so EDH players that have been playing these cards for a long time and waiting for foils of them have jumped at the chance to get hold of them. Bane of Progress foils in particular got down below $10 and I called them out in the ProTrader Discord as a good buy, and they’re already back up to $14.

This is a card registered in 12k EDH decks on EDHREC and there are only 15 foil listings on TCGPlayer – this won’t be a $14 card for much longer. Over in Europe you can still get some copies around €7 which is honestly a steal, and I think that this will be $30 sooner rather than later. It doesn’t seem like there’s a restock of Commander Collection Green coming any time soon, so take a look at some of the other foil singles as well and see what you think!

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, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

My Year In Review

This is going to be very simple: I’ve had a whole year of assorted predictions, and I’m going to give you some of the best and the worst. Enjoy!

One big caveat before we begin: Standard, and paper play in general, has been very negatively impacted by the coronavirus, and the result has been that lots of cards didn’t move that should have. I’m not going to bother repeating ‘pandemic’ for picks that are both good and bad though.

The Best

Embercleave (EA Foil) – If you scroll waaaay back in my archives you’ll see that on 1/3/2020 I picked this as a buy at $45. It’s $90 today. Interesting that the other versions haven’t moved much since then. Embercleave is one of the top five in terms of price from Throne of Eldraine, and that’s unlikely to change. If you like Equipment-themed Commander decks, this is a must-have. I don’t think it’s going to grow too much farther, unless some ridiculous Commander comes along for it.

Shadowspear (all versions) – I picked this at $5.50/$7/$11/$36 and all of those have gained nicely. I fully expect Shadowspear to be one of the top EDH cards from Theros 2 when all is said and done. It’s a colorless staple, giving your creature two extremely relevant abilities and also taking two backbreakers away from your opponents’ creatures. 

Divine Visitation (foil and non) – Picked on 4/24 at $11/$16, it’s up to $13/$20 and climbing as one of the best things to do in a token strategy in Commander. It’s true that on MTG Fast Finance I didn’t think that the foils would ever be below $20 when it came out, and I was pretty wrong about it early on. I still think it’s an amazing card long-term, as a foil mythic from before they goosed the foil drop rates.

Omnath, Locus of the Roil – Picked on 4/24 at $4/$7, you had a chance to get out at $19 on regulars and the foils are currently $22. Nothing like making 3x or 4x your money! Note that this is not the banned Landfall-themed Omnath, but the Elemental-themed one that’s only three colors. It remains a very good card when it comes to that tribe, dealing damage and giving all of your lands a cantrip when you get to eight. 

Sell Breeding Pool at $27 – I gave this advice on 5/1, which was about top of the market. Down more than $10, and still declining. Getting less than you could have gotten doesn’t feel great, but it’s still a solid sell. The power of Uro in assorted formats is why this is still so expensive, even years after rotation. Only two others are above $10, but I’m still a seller, except for personal copies you might want in your Commander deck. 

Sell Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy at $18 – Written on 5/8, is now down to $6, exactly the $5-$7 range I predicted. For most mythics right out of the gate, you want to be a seller, but there was a rush of things that Kinnan caused a spike for. I can understand why, as Kinnan both gives you more mana and gives you something to do with that mana, but this card itself wasn’t going to be pricey. The foil EA at $40 is pretty appealing, though, for a set that wasn’t opened much in paper and this is the second-most popular Commander from Ikoria.

Rhythm of the Wild (foil) – I picked this at $9 on 7/3 and it’s about doubled to this point. It’s a fantastic card, just what assorted creature-based decks want to be doing. It’s both uncounterability and hasty goodness! The range of strategies this enables, and the even wider range of decks that it fits into, is a sign that this is here to stay. It’s in 25,000 decks on EDHREC too, a full quarter of all decks that can run it do run it. I don’t think that it’s going to be hitting $50 or something, but there’s only 8 NM foils on TCG, and eleven more copies that aren’t NM. That’s a pretty tiny supply, and I strongly urge you to get personal copies now.

Finale of Devastation (foil) – Picked the foil at $35 on 7/17 and it’s up to $50+ in just six months. It’s a big green finisher, plus a tutor. Gotta have something to do with all that Nyxbloom Ancient mana. There’s only three NM foils on TCG, and they ramp up to $90. That’s not enough data points for a strong correlation, but there is a real lack of these out there, as a foil mythic.

The Worst

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse (regular) – I said on 1/31 that this was a buy at $12. Currently at $4 and showing no signs of popping up before rotating in the fall. Doomed.

Arclight Phoenix (regular) – I said this was a pickup on 4/17 at $4, and it’s now down to $3. The foil is really what hurts: I traded for one at its peak of $50, and it’s now down to $12. Mega-ouch.

Box Toppers from Double Masters – I freely admit I way underestimated how much VIP product was going to be created and bought. Personally, I bought a set of foil BT Lightning Greaves at $100, and then saw those come down to their current price of around $15. I still believe in the card long term, given the cost of the Invention version, but the higher supply of these cards means I have to be a little more patient.


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: Before “When Did THAT Go Up?”


I know I love to do a data-driven series. and you love to read such a series, but 2020 is almost over, and I think it’s time to take a look back at stuff that came out in 2020, will be expensive later, and which you can get for less now. Let’s have the “wait, when did that get expensive?” conversation now that the stuff is gettable for a reasonable price, shall we?

I’m serious, I usually do a few paragraphs of preamble to have something “above the fold” so to speak because we like to tease non-Pro Traders for a few days to incentivize people to buy the membership but I am too eager to get into it, let’s talk about cards I love from 2020.

There was never a “great” time to get this card. It’s going to go up, especially the extended-border versions. The ship has largely sailed on the $40 foil (I didn’t really expect its initial price of $30 to be a bargain, but it never dropped below $30). Beyond Death is a weird, topheavy set that was the first set to have collector boosters, was hit hard by distribution issues related to the pandemic and rares in the set are somewhat overshadowed by the marquee mythics in the set. Theros Beyond Death actually has quite a few cards that I like bordlerless long-term.

I haven’t looked at how the most-played cards from that set have shaken out, and if I was surprised, it’s possible you will be, also.

What is this, a picture for ants?

You can check the page yourself and peruse through the entire set – it’s worth it. The surprises here are Underworld Breach played a lot in EDH, Heliod’s Intervention in the Top 5, Calix in the Top 10 and Nyx Lotus, Athreos and Woe Strider not in the Top 10. I didn’t like Nyx Lotus much, but I thought I was alone.

Focus on Theros – it’s a year old already and prices are flat but demand could catch up to supply soon. EDH is basically the only plague-proof paper format, thanks largely in part to spelltable. You can find some cards I missed, but I’m going to move on.

These are all too cheap. They look great, they’re not curly-ass stupid foils (I like the showcase foils, too, though) and they’re played a lot.

Cards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the set are the Triomes. The fact that the showcase versions aren’t just full art but their stylized, sexy, unique art tells me that they are going to be the go-to in the future. I hate foils but I don’t hate making a deck look nice and now I don’t even have to use foils to make my deck look nice if I don’t want to (I don’t).

The extended art triomes are too cheap. They look to me like $1 Rishkar’s Expertise and Aetherflux Reservoir used to. Buying in above $5 is a little loose but it’s reality and is likely a bargain. I don’t know how reprintable these are, but I suspect “not very.” I think there is a lot to like from this set, but a lot of it is “very good” and not “slam dunk” but I think the full-art triomes are and always have been a slam dunk. I don’t see anything in the data to suggest otherwise. All of the top 20 cards in the set are worth looking at extended art, but the triomes are far and away my favorite. I am considering ending the article here so you don’t get distracted by other picks.

Core set 2021 was a real mixed bag. I expected… some of these things. #1 card is Sanctum of All? Granted, it’s sorted by percent inclusion, meaning a significant portion of the 5-color decks made in the last 2 years include Sanctum because a significant portion of them are sanctum decks. It’s generating its own headlines, essentially. Check out this Top 20 – it’s nuts.

At $11 on TCG Player, I think this is a fine pick-up. It might not have the most upside at this price, but it’s been flat for too long and this stupid card draws too many stupid other cards. It’s too good. You know what card I hated and James said on Fast Finance he liked and I said “No, that card sucks” and now everyone is playing it but it doesn’t matter because the price hasn’t changed much?

Could this go to $5? Maybe. It’s a non-mythic rare from a core set, but no one even drafted the set and the extended border gives it so chops. I hate foils, but the foil isn’t unattractive.

As this approaches the price of the non-foil, I more and more relax my anti-foil stance. The card is played a ton in EDH and it reminds me of cards that end up in a ton of casual decks and become $5 overnight, surprising everyone. I don’t want to be surprised, I want to have a lot of copies when this goes up. Let’s all look at the price graph and marvel at how James said it was a great card, I said I hated it, everyone is playing it, and he would have been wrong to buy them in July and I was right not to. MTG Finance is easy when you’re never punished for being wrong.

I’ll do another article like this in 6 months for the stuff printed more recently. We have time for long-term specs to materialize but, until then, stock up and prepare to look smart later. That does it for me this… year, I guess. Thanks for being great readers and we’ll see you all in 2021 where Boston Dynamics robots will become self-aware or a meteor will hit or something will make us all tweet “Man, I thought 2020 was bad.” Until then!

The Watchtower 12/28/20 – Penny Stocks

Buying a stack of cheap Magic cards and waiting a year or two for them to go from $1 to $3 or whatever is one of the most boring and least sexy things you can do in MTG Finance – but it really works. Some examples of recent wins for me, so you know the kind of thing I’m talking about:

  • Guardian Project – in at $1 around 16 months ago, CardKingdom are currently paying $4.40 cash for them
  • Narset’s Reversal – in at $1 around 10 months ago, CardKingdom are currently paying $3.70 cash for them
  • Bolas’s Citadel – in at $1 around 15 months ago, CardKingdom are currently paying $2.05 cash.

They aren’t particularly exciting, but if you can identify some EDH all-stars like these at peak supply of newer sets then you’re onto a winner, and they’re great to just stick in a box and come back to 12-24 months down the line for a nice buylist win. Low risk, medium reward specs like this should be the bread and butter of your MTG Finance game, rather than chasing Reserved List buyouts or some other silly nonsense.

Bala Ged Recovery // Bala Ged Sanctuary

Price today: $1.50
Possible price: $5

Zendikar Rising brought us the new MDFC card type, and with it a lot of flexibility and utility. Speaking in terms of EDH, the non-mythic MDFCs (so the ones that come into play tapped) can generally count for somewhere around half a land slot, give or take. It depends on the kind of deck you’re playing and whether or not you can pick those lands up later in the game etc., but when you start running a few of them you can start cutting lands from your deck. This is fantastic news for EDH players, the vast majority of whom don’t run enough lands anyway because they hate cutting non-land cards from their decks, and so cards like Bala Ged Recovery have quickly become staples.

Bala Ged Recovery, being a regrowth effect, is leading the pack of MDFCs, and is in fact only just beaten to the top spot from ZNR by Feed the Swarm (in terms or raw numbers rather than percentage inclusion). Over 4000 decks since the set was released is very high for such a relatively new card, because realistically it should be going in pretty much every green deck that’s not more than 3 colours.

The non-foils of these are currently available for around $1.50 and up on TCGPlayer, with some decently sized stacks between $1.50-$2. Over on CardMarket (MKM) in Europe they can be had much cheaper, with reasonable quantities starting at €0.50 plus shipping. It’s worth noting that this is an uncommon, but we’ve seen even recent high-demand uncommons like Veil of Summer reach silly prices, and CardKingdom are already paying $0.85 cash/$1.11 credit on this so I can easily see it reaching $4-5 in 18 months or so. Reprint risk is probably low for these MDFCs so we should get a good run out of it.

Armored Skyhunter

Price today: $0.50
Possible price: $3

Commander Legends has given us quite a few great white cards for EDH, and it seems like the tide may finally be turning in favour of the colour. White has long been possibly the worst colour in EDH and probably Magic in general, with green and blue being favoured heavily in terms of power level for some reason. But Commander Legends has given us cards like Akroma’s Will, Keeper of the Accord and the card I want to talk about today: Armored Skyhunter. I wanted to talk about Court of Grace, but I’ll have to save it for another time because although it’s a great card it’s a little expensive to fit into this article’s theme.

When I first glanced at this card I assumed it was going to put an Aura of Equipment into your hand, which is fine but incredibly unexciting and not all that powerful. Reading the card properly put me in my place though – you get to drop something onto the battlefield and attach it to a creature you control, meaning that your attack probably just got a whole lot better.

With Kaldheim just around the corner we know we’re going to be getting some more cool equipment, which pushes the stock of this card just that bit higher, but even disregarding that I think Armored Skyhunter has some good future prospects. Currently available in stacks for ~$0.50 (and around the same in Europe), buylists for this should easily cruise up to $2-3 a couple of years from now. It sounds like a long time in such a fast-moving world, but you barely need to spend any of that time thinking about it, and I love low-effort specs like that.

Scute Swarm (Showcase)

Price today: $1.50
Possible price: $5

Jumping back over to Zendikar Rising again, we’ve got another all-star that’s already in 4k+ EDH decks listed on EDHREC. Scute Swarm is not only a hallmark Landfall card, but fits well into regular token strategies as well, and coupled with a fetchland or two can take over a boardstate surprisingly quickly. It’s enough of an all-rounder that it can slot into a lot of green decks, and that shows through in the number of different archetypes and Commanders that utilise it. It’s the kind of card that’s a big favourite with casual players as well, flooding the board and being a great Craterhoof/Overrun enabler to finish a game in style.

The Showcase variant of these actually seems to be a touch cheaper than the regulars, which is a little odd but I’m not really going to complain because the Showcase frame looks great on it and the art is definitely superior. Non-foils start at around $1 but for a decent number in one go you’re going to be paying $1.50. Over on MKM you can bite off chunks at $1 a piece which is pretty enticing, because I think that this is a $5 card down the road.

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.