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.

Presents For You

This holiday season, I want to express my love and appreciation for everyone who reads the words that we all post weekly. It’s a lot to do, to make weekly content, and I’m happy knowing that so many people enjoy the work we put in around here.

So this week, I have a list of gifts that I hope you get this coming year, and why we’d appreciate such generosity.

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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: Redundancy Versus Obsolescence


We talk about reprint risk a lot but today, I want to talk about the opposite of reprint risk and how a category of cards that keeps making itself obsolete is not only sheltered from reprints, but also benefits from the need to redundancy. Today, we study cards that beg for new and improved copies of themselves that are also cards that are new and improved copies of something else. That sentence will make sense later, I hope.


OK, so you know how one of the earliest things Blue knew how to do was pretend to be something else?

Vesuvan Do.. | LEA: $1259.99

It was a good effect, and a very blue one. Being able to copy their best creature and thus neutralize it, copy your own best creature and thus double it and generally get a ton of value from a card that had a lot of utility in a color that wasn’t exactly known for having efficient creatures was popular early. Doppelganger and Clone both became popular cards and for years, Clone was reprinted into absolute oblivion. Doppelganger was left alone, mostly, but Clone lived on as the de facto, well, Clone effect. Eventually, WotC realized it was a fun design space and started sexying up the clones a bit with new effects, broader ranges of targets and better names than “Clone”.

The question is, if Clone had 0 reprints after, say, Unlimited, would its price be higher because of scarcity or lower due to being obsolete? I realize it’s an unfair question, but the question itself isn’t that important, it’s how I’m framing the rest of the article. We should be thinking about how a format like EDH with 100 cards that are 1-of effects is so profoundly different from a format with 60 cards that are 4-of effects that being “the best” Clone effect doesn’t matter, and being “the worst” doesn’t even matter some of the time. Sometimes you want to do your best Ash Ketchum impression and leave home 10 at to go engage in a bunch of what is basically legal dogfighting with no parental supervision catch ’em all.

Sakahsima is very popular right now and while there are a lot of decks pairing Sakashima with other creatures to amplify those effects (Krarkashima is blowing a lot of other decks completely out of the water, which has been a nice surprise and is why I didn’t try to guess which combinations would be the most played because I would have guessed wrong) people are also going mono-Blue Sakashima. Why? To load up on Clones, baby! And why not?

If you have enough clone effects, you can copy the same creature with a powerful (or hell, even a weak) ETB effect every turn and make opponents feel a sense of deja vu that ends with their death. It’s a silly deck but people like it and if people like it, they’re going to buy the cards.

If the deck needs basically all of the good clone effects, it doesn’t matter which is the best or worst, but merely how many the deck has room for. Since Clone effects, for whatever reason, are cards they’d rather redesign than reprint, the reprint risk on them is very low, making them appealing targets, and the fact that a deck can come along and make swaths of them relevant again all at once and could do so again in the future, makes them also appealing targets. Let’s look at the Sakashima page on the ‘Rec and try to find some good ‘uns.

The harder-to-get and less-printed ones have already begun to tip. The thing about Commander 2015 is that after everyone grabbed the one obvious card out of the deck, they sort of stopped caring about everything else and a lot of those cards started to pick up steam in EDH. Everyone was so focused on Containment Priest and Teferi that they didn’t realize that a lot of the decks have $3 cards in them. A lot of $3 cards. A lot of the Black deck has these 7 mana spells that most players didn’t even read that are pretty powerful effects in EDH. Gigantoplasm is still gettable for $2 on sites that didn’t get the memo and it’s unlikely the card ever gets printed again. It’s not flashy like Clever Impersonator, but there is something to be said for not being Clever Impersonator and therefore not getting reprinted. I like these at $2 and I don’t even hate them at $4.

So what will it take to push a card like Cryptoplasm out of bulk rare territory?

It seems like, with a similar amount of play for both cards, we’re waiting on supply to dry up. There are simply more copies of a bulk rare from a regular set than a card from a Commander deck. The demand for the Blue deck didn’t really materialize until it was far too late to print more – Teferi decks became a cEDH staple, Cyclonic Rift hit $20 and climbed more and we don’t need a third thing, two things is enough when those two things are the two things, but you were expecting a third thing.

So if Cryptoplasm doesn’t get there, are there cards that can?

Are we better off waiting for a card we know will recover to do that, buying when we know we’re at the absolute floor because the price has rebounded ever so slightly and the set it’s in was 10 products and 2 months ago?

Do we buy on the basis of a huge price disparity between two sites because we know that Card Kingdom slings a lot of EDH product, we’re not likely to get a reprint soon, the card sees play in a lot of formats because it’s not just a big, durdly, 4-mana clone?

Do we buy somewhere between the floor and ceiling because we know there are additional factors that make a card difficult (but not impossible) to reprint and we know once it goes out of print the price will go up?

It’s hard to know exactly what to do when we see data like this. Personally, I think if we were going to target a card like Gigantoplasm, the time to do so would have been before it started to get bought up a bit, buying in at the floor. A card that is a bad version of a good card and therefore obsolete can lay dormant for years, waiting for the deck to need enough redundant copies of the effect to spike it up and when that happens, the price spikes hard. You want to be the one selling into that first wave because a second spike isn’t guaranteed for a card with medium demand and 0 supply the way it is for a card with high, sustained demand and medium supply in two waves.

I don’t know if I like any of these Clones other than Gigantoplasm which appears to have some room to grow and some supply at the old price, Phantasmal Image which has grown a lot but isn’t done and Spark Double which has additional utility but less reprint risk. You don’t HAVE to target any of these, really. But what we can do is use this case as a lesson because while tribal cards are obvious when a new tribe is announced, you’re not always the one holding Louvisa Coldeyes, sometimes you’re the one trying to buy Bitterblossom because WotC announced a fairy tale set and you stopped listening when you heard the word “fairy.” “Clone tribal” turned out to be a thing, if you apply a very loose definition of what tribal decks are. But hear me out – the people applying the same loose definition of what cards should be grouped together in a deck the way players are going to are the ones who will be prepared for the next thing that is a little less obvious than “they spoiled a Minotaur, you know what to didgeridoo about it.” Until next time.

The Watchtower 12/21/20 – It’s Snowing On Kaldheim

It’s long been theorised that Kaldheim will be a snowy plane (and I don’t just mean snowy, I mean snowy), given that it’s set inspired by Norse mythology and the Nordic landscapes, where it does tend to be a little chilly – especially around this time of the year. A couple of weeks ago we saw leaks from the Commander decks for the set, and it was incorrectly ‘spotted’ that one of the cards had a Snow mana symbol on it. Now that we’ve had the official preview for Rana the Ever-Watchful we’ve seen that it isn’t actually a Snow mana symbol – but that doesn’t mean that Snow won’t be in the set. If we take a look at the most recent updates to The List, it’s clear that we’ll be getting more Snow cards, with things like Into the North and Scrying Sheets being added.

As well as the Snow theme, it looks like we’re getting some more tribal synergies going with Dwarves and Giants abound – so where does that land us?

Ice-Fang Coatl (Foil)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $60

Ice-Fang Coatl has pretty much been a staple in Modern and Legacy since its debut in Modern Horizons back in the summer last year (gosh that seems like forever ago), and along with the gone-but-not-forgotten Arcum’s Astrolabe it effectively forced the majority of Modern players to start playing with Snow basic lands. With Kaldheim just around the corner we’re almost sure to be getting some more Snow cards to play with, which will drive demand for Snow cards that are already prevalent in eternal formats.

Ice-Fang foils hit a high of around $50 a few months ago, and since then – most likely due to a lack of paper demand for cards – we’ve seen it drop back down to around $30 again, but supply is still on the low side. There are 27 listings on TCGPlayer with a few copies around $30 but the rest form a nice ramp up towards $60. Ice-Fang has just been added to The List for printing in Set Boosters, but that (1) is a tiny number of cards in reality, and (2) doesn’t include foils anyway.

Now there are two sides to this coin – although I’m fairly sure most coins have at least two sides so I guess that’s a silly turn of phrase anyway – but I think we could see this go either of two ways. If we get some exciting Snow cards in Kaldheim that look like they could break into Modern, then I’m sure that people will hop aboard the hype train and start to snap up cards like Ice-Fang Coatl that seem like they’ll do well in the format. That would give you an earlier out for these. Otherwise, as paper play starts to return around the world (hopefully sooner rather than later), people are going to need Ice-Fangs for their Modern decks regardless, as I think it’s going to remain a staple of the format whatever happens – that’s a slightly longer horizon but the foils are fairly well drained already and it won’t take much to bump the card up in price.

Cavern of Souls (ZNR Expedition Foil)

Price today: $80
Possible price: $130

Another card that has just been added to The List is Cavern of Souls, and that along with a new Dwarven Lord and a new Elven Lord coming to us from Kaldheim previews signifies more tribal synergies to come with the new set. Cavern of Souls has seen a wide degree of variation in its competitive play over the years, depending on how good certain tribes are at different points. Merfolk had its day in Modern, Elves is still around here and there and Eldrazi has always been playing the card, with the current use mostly being a one or two-of in Heliod Company and Amulet Titan decks.

Over on the EDH side of things it’s a popular card in any and all tribal strategies, clocking in at over 22,000 decks registered on EDHREC. Albeit a higher price barrier than a lot of EDH cards, it’s still a favourite amongst players, and with a few different versions to choose from now it’s worth taking a look at the latest one. In terms of premium copies, the main contenders are the original Avacyn Restored foil, the Ultimate Masters Box Topper and now the Zendikar Rising Expedition foil. Although I’m not a huge fan of the ZNR Expedition frames in general, I think it actually works really well on a few of the cards, this being one of them.

Things get really interesting when we take a look at price. Avacyn Restored foils are around $120 and UMA Box Toppers start at $180, but the newest ZNR Expeditions are only $80 – and arguably with the best art yet. That’s mostly down to personal preference but I think I’m definitely safe in saying that it’s a stunner; ethereal rays of light penetrating the gloomy cavern. As supply from ZNR Collector Boosters starts to drain out, $80 won’t hold for much longer – that’s currently $10 than even the regular UMA foils. Give it 12 months or so and I can see these heading towards $120-130, so if you want personal copies or specs I’d grab them now.

Embercleave (FEA)

Price in Europe: €45 ($55)
Price in US: $75
Possible price: $100

With the return of Dwarves in Kaldheim we’re also seeing a bump in the number of equipment cards and synergies that we’re getting in the set. Now, Embercleave has been more of a Standard and Historic card than anything else but it does also show up here and there in Pioneer and Modern, as well as being in a little over 5000 EDH decks listed on EDHREC. That’s not a huge amount of demand, but aside from this being an immediate arbitrage win, the key here is that supply is very low. With only 14 FEA listings on TCGPlayer (and only 16 total copies), the ramp from $75 up towards $100 won’t be a very difficult one for the card to climb before too long.

You can pick these up in Europe for around €45 ($55), which is a win straight away if you’re moving them over to the US for sale. If you prefer to wait a little longer, the only way is up for this card, and so especially with more equipment synergies coming to us from Kaldheim I don’t think you can go wrong with it at all.

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.