The Wave Approaches

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Next week, on May 15, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is supposed to be released throughout the world. It’s been on limited release for about a month now, and even though there’s blessed few places/ways to play in paper, some prices have really stood out.

Now comes the true test: What will the prices be once we can buy and open all we want?

While I think almost everything is going to come down in price, there’s a certain mindset of ‘people can buy, but can they play? That’s a much more difficult question to answer, and my guess is that even if stores are open, are people going to go there? I certainly don’t feel ready to go storming back in like nothing’s changed.

With that caveat, let’s focus on the current prices for the pack nonfoils, the most basic versions of cards in Standard.

Fiend Artisan (nonfoil, regular art is currently $27)

The Artisan is in quite a spot. There’s been a lot of versions of Cat Food decks, most of which are using Mayhem Devil and the new hotness is Obosh, the Preypiercer as a Companion. That version can’t play this even-costed Artisan, but holy wow, is the Artisan perfect for the deck. Get bigger with every card in the yard, can upgrade one creature into just about any other creature. Note the lack of ‘nontoken’ to sacrifice. Note that you’re paying the new creature’s cost, even if that’s huge, and it’s going right into play! 

Even with all the awesomeness of this card, I think it’s due to come down a little. It’s not going to go too far, as it’s a fine card in multiples and these sacrifice-themed decks will want at least three. I see this as ending up at $15-$20.

If I’m wrong, and the Food decks take over in paper, watch for Korvold, Fae-Cursed King to jump again. He was $30 at one point, and has fallen down to $6. The rise of the Artisan could make Korvold jump to $15 again.

Luminous Broodmoth ($19)

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There aren’t a lot of decks playing a ton of this. I love seeing this with Gyruda, Doom of Depths as wrath insurance, but since the main use of this card is that sort of defense, that’s generally not the sort of proactive plan that decks succeed with. It’s a powerful card, one that demands its own removal spell first, and that will help keep the price near $10.

There’s a Mardu Sacrifice deck out there that might take off, and if it does, the Broodmoth will rise and you should also get in on cheap copies of Nightmare Shepherd. Currently a dollar rare, if the deck is real it’ll hit $5 easily.

Lurrus of the Dream Den ($19)

This price is entirely due to the proliferation of decks using this companion in older formats. Standard doesn’t have decks that can satisfy this requirement easily, though I played against one that used a variety of reanimation cards quite effectively. Modern Burn has adapted to this card quite easily, and Legacy isn’t far behind. Sometimes the goal is just to recur a Mishra’s Bauble, and sometimes the goal is just to have the 3/2 lifelink lurking for whenever you need it.

I don’t think this price can hold once we’re opening packs at the normal rate. My instinct is that it’ll flirt with $10 and lower within a couple of months, but the long-term outlook of this card entirely rests on how broken you think it is and if it’ll merit a ban.

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy ($18)

There’s not a lot of Standard fun with this kid yet, but the synergy with Castle Garenbrig is real and terrifying. I think the big appeal of this card so far is in Commander, as I can’t find many lists with Kinnan yet for Standard. The combination of Commander appeal and the limited amount in circulation is a formula for a price that’s teetering on the edge of a precipice, and the fall is about to happen. Unless a new Standard deck pops up with the prodigy (and I’ll be pissed if it’s not called Firestarter!) it’s headed towards $5-$7 or so.

Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate ($13)

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Five-drop planeswalkers need to be overpoweringly good on their own for their price to get high and stay high. This version on Vivien is not overpowering, but untapping with her in play is likely to lead to wins. The value of playing the top of your library is good, but this effect exists in a couple of creatures already: Vizier of the Menagerie and Garruk’s Horde. Neither is expensive or game-ending in Commander, which doesn’t bode well for her price long-term. 

I’d expect her to drop by half soon, and stay in that range for most of her life in Standard.

Rielle, the Everwise ($11)

There is a deck playing Rielle, and it’s awesome to see someone cast Cathartic Reunion with her in play. As you can imagine, this is an Arclight Phoenix deck, and a decent one. Rielle as a mythic is going to drop pretty hard, as there’s better choices for a Commander of a cycling-themed deck. I’d say she will end up about $3/$4 when prices begin to fall.

Narset of the Ancient Way ($11)

The Fires of Invention decks love having good four-drops that can get ahead on the board. Fires is a do-nothing by itself, but Fires into Narset can take care of a big threat nicely, depending on the discard. Jeskai Control is another deck that would dearly love to get this emblem going, and 2 life on the plus adds up quick. I think Narset’s price will fall a little, but not too far, and hover near $10 for quite a while.

Winota, Joiner of Forces ($10)

Of all the cards on this list, I think Winota has the greatest chance to rise in price. The deck playing her is going to play the full set, and rightfully so. You can choose any flavor of low-cost non-humans, but Winota is the reason for the spike in Agent of Treachery recently and I won’t be shocked to see Haktos the Unscarred rise from bulk into the $2/$3 range as well. Winota decks are capable of some absurd turns: Spectral Sailor into Raise the Alarm into Chandra, Acolyte of Flame means five Winota triggers on turn four, and you’ll be looking at an absurd 30 cards in total.

What you really want to keep in mind with Winota is the scaling effect. Every cheap non-Human makes her easier to activate, and every good Human makes her triggers that much better. It’s unlikely we’d get something as good as Agent of Treachery’s trigger, but who’s to say?

In terms of her Commander appeal, my favorite Human hits in her colors are probably Konda, Lord of Eiganjo and Lena, Selfless Champion. Depending on your local metagame, Vulshok Battlemaster might be the perfect card too.

Winota needs to win something spectacularly, like a SCG open on camera with a turn-four kill, just to put her capabilities into everyone’s mind. Then she’d hit $15 or $20, as befits a mythic that must be played as a four-of.

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.

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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Unlocked Pro Trader: The Year THey Reprinted Everything

Readers,

There were a ton of potential good specs for like half of these decks and all of them got reprinted. Instead of being good $3 cards that could get to $5 or $8 on the basis of adoption in the decks, they’re trash, bulky, bulky trash. Forever, probably. All of this made me wonder – are there any cases of cards that were good in the EDH deck they got reprinted in that went back to their pre-reprint price after a year or two? If so, could we make a case for anything in the Commander 2020 decks that look like trash now?

Sorry about the hard cut, but I don’t want to take up too much time here. Let’s just talk about some cards.

Ghostly Prison appeared in Modern sideboards and went nuts . Despite a few extra copies floating around from the Planechase 2012 reprintings, Prison was mostly really scarce really fast. The $18 was never going to hold but the Commander 2016 printing tanked the price and shattered the brief illusion of flirting with $20 it had enjoyed. Still, it went from $2.50 in April of 2017 to $8 in October of 2018. Was the same Modern usage that spiked it in the first place still a factor as it climbed back? Not really. Over the period of January 2016 to January 2018, it barely featured in a now-defunct Modern deck’s sideboard and didn’t really appear anywhere else, so its EDH play was the most likely factor for the climb. It’s since gotten a reprint in Conspiracy, take the Crown and the price is down a bit lately, but this did experience an 18 month period of solid growth despite a reprinting that wasn’t even its first. Can we find some examples of cards that weren’t helped by Modern? I’m sure we can.

Crusade hasn’t experienced a meaningful (read not in a Commander Anthology) reprinting since 2016 and it has grown precipitously. It looked bad when it got a reprint in 2014 and in 2016 but Commander is much more of a format than it was back then and this is a $10 card waiting to happen, barring a reprint. When Commander 2016 came out, Crusade was $1.50. A year later it was $3.50. A year later it was $6. A year hasn’t happened yet but it’s on its way to $10, but who knows what Covid does? The point is, if something can impact EDH but dodge a reprint, it has upside.

Eviction is an EDH powerhouse, sweeping away entire decks sometimes. The name is a little redundant since all evictions are merciless but this one is especially Merciless. Printings in Commander 2016 and Commander 2017 kicked the card in the ribs hard as it was getting to its feet but nothing since then has allowed it to grow mostly unbidden. The 2016 printing took it to bulk status – around $0.60. In a year, it was $2.50, then it was reprinted again. Since then, it has climbed to nearly $4.50. If a card that just got smashed by a reprinting ends up as ubiquitous as does Merciless Eviction, we could see it shrug off not only this reprinting, but another one.

There’s a problem, however.

The Commander 2020 decks, like the Commander 2019 decks, are built around mechanics. The cards that are good in those decks have a high inclusion score but also a high synergy score. A high synergy score means it’s more likely to just be good in that deck. Every Black and White EDH deck build since 2017 has to look at Merciless Eviction and either say “Yes” or “No” but I’m not going to build a deck ever that’s going to need to rule on Fluctuator or New Perspectives. High-inclusion, low-synergy cards are what we should be targeting and while everything that would be a good spec based on the Temur and Jeskai decks (they overlap so much, it’s nuts) was basically reprinted or spiked already, none of it is that applicable outside the context of decks built with the rest of those cards. It’s good that every Gavi deck will want a Drake Haven but no one else will and the price will stay bulk forever.

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It’s clear there are cards that can shrug off reprints, but we will have to select them fairly carefully. Here’s what I think could be in play.

The research, by the way, was pretty painless because EDHREC put all of C2020’s reprints in their own section on the page for C2020 and sorted by amount they’re played. You’ll need to click on the individual card, select a commander for it and go to that commander’s page then find that card to find the synergy score for that deck, but something tells me there aren’t a ton of high-inclusion, high-synergy cards, it’s likely one or the other.

Windfall is both used in a lot of decks in the past and it’s also likely to be in play in the future. Wheel effects, forced draw and other cards keep popping up – the number of times I have made money on Puzzle Box astound even me. Windfall likely stays good, pops again on the basis of a new commander and it’s likely going to go down from where it is now once people integrate new supply from C2020 and stores open back up, but who knows when that is? I think when this bottoms out, scoop a bunch. It’s hard to reprint outside of a Commander deck and it’s unlikely they’ll make a set of commanders that wants it in the next 2 years, leaving us free to make our money back and then some.

This has shrugged off a Masters set reprinting and kept on ticking. I would say the reprint risk is more significant than a typical Commander deck card, but I think they’ll likely reprint Blood Artist before they reprint Zulaport Cutthroat again.

If you’re noticing that I like a lot of the Uncommons more than a lot of the rares, it’s likely because the uncommons tend to be less specialized than the rares and able to go in more decks.

That said, here is a rare I like when its price bottoms out.

Here’s one that got a new, better-looking border.

And here is a great longer-term spec/grim reminder that Covid-19 is the least of our worries.

I think you should be able to find a few more cards that aren’t just good in one deck that are likely to rebound in price and you should be able to pick them up, especially locally in trade from people who busted the decks and don’t want most of the cards, if that’s ever a thing again.

That does it for me. Really study the set lists from this year as well as years past to see what cards have managed to recover and I’ll be back with more next week. Until next time!

The Watchtower 05/04/20 – Unthematic

I usually try to base each of these articles loosely around a theme of sorts, or at least make something up that tenuously links the cards I talk about – but this week I’m afraid to say I was stuck. So alas, it’s an unthematic week, and I’ve just talked about some cards that I think are worth taking a good look at buying on MTGO.

Having said that, I still think that these are all some solid picks (otherwise I really shouldn’t be wasting time writing about them), so have a read and let me know what you think!


Fiend Artisan

Price today: 14 tix
Possible price: 20 tix

There were a lot of mixed opinions on Fiend Artisan in the run-up to Ikoria’s release, with a lot of people comparing it to Tarmogoyf or calling it Green Sun’s Zenith on a stick, but others saying that it was trying to do two different things but did neither of them very well. The recent results, however, have shown us that this card can definitely put some work in in a Standard environment.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den Companion decks are all over the place, and the Orzhov Aristocrats deck in Standard plays a suite of Fiend Artisans along with Lurrus as the Companion. It’s able to tutor up key pieces like Priest of Forgotten Gods, as well as being a big beatstick later in the game. The Artisan has also been showing up in Pioneer, most recently making the finals of the Team Lotus Box Pioneer tournament over the weekend in an Abzan Rally shell. It’s reminiscent of the Rally the Ancestors deck from BFZ Standard, but the wider card pool of Pioneer has made for a much more streamlined, powerful deck.

After peaking at 30 tix around Ikoria’s release, Fiend Artisan has been hovering between 12 and 15 tix since then. It’s sitting around 14 at the moment, and I think that this is a powerful card that can find multiple homes in multiple formats. I think there’s a lot to do with the card that hasn’t been explored yet, and I expect the Rally deck to gain some more traction in Pioneer over the next couple of weeks.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Price today: 4.5 tix
Possible price: 10 tix

Speaking of Pioneer, and more specifically Team Lotus Box’s Pioneer tournament this past weekend, the Lotus Breach combo deck is being pushed back down after having had a week or so back in the sun. The Damping Spheres are back in the sideboards for now, but give it another month or so and people will slowly remove them again and we’ll see Breach do well again, and then rinse and repeat…

Anyway, I’m not supposed to be talking about Breach here. Dimir Inverter was by far the most represented deck on the weekend, with over double the metagame share of the next deck (Lurrus Burn). A new flavour of Inverter has appeared on the scene – can you guess what’s different? That’s right, the deck can play a Companion now. Yorion is the ally of choice here, expanding the deck up to 80 cards and filling the slots with more interaction and cantrips. As well as just being a 4/5 flier that’s a free card in your opening hand, Yorion can actually help you win by flickering your Inverter of Truth and flipping over your library again.

So what’s the pick here? Jace, Wielder of Mysteries has been trending down online since mid March, after its spike when Dig Through Time didn’t get banned. But see that little turnaround at the bottom of the graph there? I think we’ve reached the bottom and the price is going to be headed back up now. Jace has been 18 tix before and so I think that 10 is a pretty reasonable target for this play. This Yorion version of the deck has great potential, and I expect to see more of it in the MTGO leagues over the next couple of weeks.

Sunbaked Canyon

Price today: 13 tix
Possible price: 20 tix

See how I mentioned Lurrus Burn in the previous section? Well, now I’m segueing into talking about another card from the deck – but in Modern. That was a smooth transition, right?…

Anyway, Sunbaked Canyon has been a staple in Modern Burn decks since it was printed, and now that Lurrus has given the deck an extra boost it’s really putting up results in Modern. Due to the Modern Horizons flashback draft on MTGO a couple of weeks ago, the Horizon lands (along with most other MH cards) took a dip in price online. A lot of staples have recovered since then, but the Horizon lands have, for the most part, stayed down. I don’t think that they’re going to stay that way for too much longer though.

I’m calling out Sunbaked Canyon because it’s the most widely played, but this logic roughly applies to the other four lands as well. Canyon was up at 21 tix before the flashback draft, and I think it can get there again, especially with the heavier-than-usual representation of Burn in the Modern metagame.


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.

Time to Let Go

I realize that we’re currently in a really divided time. A majority of the states are going to be open in some way starting May 1, and there’s a whole lot of leeway when it comes to what businesses are allowed to function and which aren’t. 

Game stores are in a vulnerable spot, and the main factor for us to consider is that the paper Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths isn’t supposed to be released until May 14. The Commander decks are supposed to be available then, as well. I don’t think we’re going to have normal times for quite a while yet, but we will see.

We are also about five months from rotation, and there’s some big names at big prices. It’s time to get out while the getting is good…

My main goal for you is to be safe, no matter what your state/country is requiring of people. Getting in a Commander game is not worth your life. More people have died from COVID-19 in the United States than died in the Vietnam War. If you look only at the statistics and decide you like your odds, that’s your call, but remember that you’re an infection vector and could transmit the virus to someone who isn’t as lucky.

Or you’d roll a 1 on your d20. 

People want things to be normal. I like the creative ways folks are making lemonade out of these shelter-in-place lemons. We’re seeing a wide range of online tournaments. People have been busily playing Commander via webcam, or less official programs, but prices are still changing by the week.

I’m impressed at the way prices are almost acting normal. Lurrus is big in Modern and Legacy, and has a price to show it. I’d expect that price to fall once people start opening packs in real numbers, especially because people need exactly one copy per deck. Some Companions are worth playing extra copies in the main (Gyruda, I’m looking at you, buddy!) but Lurrus precludes that. 

Right now, given the proximity to rotation out of Standard, it’s the perfect time to sell extra copies of overpriced things. All of these suggestions are presuming that you’re going to keep the ones you need, but in some cases, I’m going to be raiding my Commander decks and selling cards that I can put back in once rotation happens and these prices come back to earth.

If you play Standard, keep what you need, but the profit-taking is about to happen for some of these. Sell at the highest price!

Some overpriced cards I think you should sell:

Breeding Pool ($27 nonfoil from Ravnica Allegiance)

Blood Crypt ($15)

Yes, I think you should sell every once of these that you’re not playing. Right now, Simic is clearly the best guild in Standard, it’s been given all the fun toys even when Once Upon a Time and Oko are both banned. Blood Crypt has had a bump recently with the popularity of the assorted flavors of Mayhem Devil-centric sacrifice decks, but the Pool is at one of the highest prices I can remember for a Standard land. 

Blue-Green is that good, that dominant, that prevalent. It’s not in as many decks as Fabled Passage, but the Breeding Pool decks tend to start with four of the shockland. Most decks with Passage want less than the full playset (but do stock up before Passage breaks $20!) and I’m getting out of these shocks entirely. As I said above, I’m even taking a couple of copies out of Commander decks and selling them, the value is too good and shocklands will come back to earth later this year when rotation happens. 

I have trouble imagining a world where a soon-to-rotate land with this much stock goes higher. The Gatecrash version is $25, original Dissension is $34. I’m taking the value now and I won’t be sad if it bumps to $30. My eyes are firmly fixed on when this is $10 at Halloween.

Hydroid Krasis ($17)

Get out while you can. Krasis is a fantastic card in big-mana Commander decks, but let’s take a look at the graph:

The big spike has happened, and only the popularity of UGx decks has allowed it to maintain this price. It’ll be in the $10 range by the end of summer, and at that point, you’d better not have any excess copies in your inventory. Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is no Nissa, who Shakes the World, even though Uro is going to be a staple for the next year and a half. Too much of the ramp deck is rotating for me to want to try and hang on to the Krasis.

Again, if you’re planning on playing Krasis in some paper Magic this summer, keep your playset and dump the rest. The value needs to be extracted and applied to other worthy targets. 

Agent of Treachery ($6)

Holy biscuits, take a look at this graph and tell me you shouldn’t be selling like mad:

Agent has always been a favored ramp payoff, there’s something delightful about ramping up and then taking the thing they were going to kill you with. Drawing three from the second ability tends to earn immediate concessions, and I have been on both ends of that spectrum.

Agent isn’t played in other formats, though it’s a fun Commander card. Dump your spare copies and dump them now. This will be a dollar rare in a few months.

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.

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