Dallas the Tundra and Cheap Standard Cards


This past weekend was Grand Prix DFW, and the entire experience was marred by an Ice Storm. Roads were covered in sheets of ice, three hour drives dragged into the tenth and eleventh hour, and Twitter told the story of pro after pro giving up and going home after their umpteenth cancelled flight. It resulted in an abnormally small GP, warping the field to be considerably soft, as many professionals were unable to attend. Ice Storm

The top eight had the word “Mono” in it a bit less than previous GPs, but we still saw devotion to black make an appearance, as well as a nearly-mono red devotion list. The winner was Marlon Gutierrez’s Orzhov control deck, which looked a lot like Esper just without blue and a ton more removal and discard. He was packing the full set of Blood Barons in the main deck, hoping to capitalize on his resistance to much of the popular removal and significant lifegain capabilities.

Blood Baron was $7 at one point before everyone collectively realized what the card said and he was $20 almost overnight. He’s now down towards the $18 range, and hasn’t see any real bump from GPDFW. I think it’s possible we’ll see him tick up a little bit in the near future, but I would be surprised if he climbed above $22 or $23. He should crater pretty hard by the time rotation rolls around, at which point you should be willing to snag plenty of copies, as casual demand will keep him up for years to come.

Desecration Demon and Pack Rat made their usual appearances in both the winning list as well as the black devotion list, and continue to hold strong at $10 and $3 respectively. Don’t be afraid to ask for real cards in trade with Pack Rat these days. He’s in everything, and if people want to use it, they should expect to trade away relevant cardboard.

Hero’s Downfall was popular again, but like Blood Baron, didn’t see any real movement based on the results of the event. The next North American Standard GP is in late January, which is where many role-players like Downfall will see a rise in price if it’s going to happen this season. Trade for them now at $10, and don’t be in a rush to ship them.


Mutavault was everywhere again; no surprise there. Get used to it, as it’s going to be in 50% of top eight manabases until September. It’s now easily $25, a few dollar increase from the last time I mentioned it a few weeks ago. The ceiling is probably around $30, which I’m guessing we’ll brush our heads against during January or February. If it wasn’t rotating this fall I’d peg it to go even higher. At this point, that’s all that will keep it from being a $40 rare.

Supreme Verdict

While there wasn’t anything I would really call a breakout performance, UW certainly made an impressive showing after being rather quiet lately. Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict, and Detention Sphere were out in force, with a healthy amount of Jace and Elspeth rounding out the package. Jace has rebounded to $20 after slipping as low as $14 after the JvV announcement, at which point people noticed the release date said “May” and stopped the firesale. Like Blood Baron, I can see him ticking up a few more dollars, but I don’t think we’ll see him crest $25, especially with a very clear date of auxiliary supply on the horizon. Elspeth has lost a ton of value lately, falling to $20-$22. To her credit, It took awhile for her to get there from her prerelease days of $35. I would guess we’ll see her continue to decline through the summer, and late next fall we’ll see a resurgence.


Sphinx’s Revelation should behave similar to Jace and Blood Baron at this point; that party has mostly come and gone. Keep in mind that it will probably drop of the face of the earth come September, as it’s not good enough for any other formats, and is hardly a “cool” card. Don’t get stuck holding the bag. Meanwhile Detention Sphere is also still seeing a lot of action, and I’m hoping its price reflects that in the near future, mostly because I bought 30 or 40 of them before they announced the event deck. I hate event decks.

Supreme Verdict seems low to me right now, especially given how much devotion decks play on the battlefield. By the way, did you happen to notice that MTGSalvation put the three Scrylands from Born of the Gods in their spoiler? It includes the UW land and the GW land. That bodes very well for Verdict, and Bant in general. On top of that, Verdict will continue to remain relevant in nearly every format even after rotation, so this is a strong pickup $4-$5. Even if it doesn’t hit $10 during this season, a number which seems entirely plausible, the floor shouldn’t be much lower than $3 or $4.


Lately while keeping abreast of cards I’ve seen a lot of powerful effects that are considerably lower than I realized, and I want to put some of them on everyone’s radar. First of all, have you noticed that Xenagos can be had for as little as $8 on TCG? That is very low for a Planeswalker that just put two copies into a top eight that was very soft to a pile of satyrs. I’m not saying he’s going to pull a Domri, but there is no way he stays this low forever.

Continuing in the trend of underpriced Planeswalkers, Ashiok too is quite affordable, with plenty of copies under $9. He’s already proven his chops, so we know he’s at least capable. Given how popular both mill and Planeswalkers are with casual folk, there’s no way he doesn’t rebound at some point. Grab your copies and hang on. And if you’ve got a little extra cash this time of year, might I suggest some Korean copies? Visions of Meloku.

I see two copies of Chained to the Rocks available for $.44 cents each right now, with quite a few under a $1. That’s awfully cheap for a very powerful removal spell; just barely above bulk. Mizzium Mortars is a $3 card. Is Chained that much worse? It’s hard to say without knowing what the lands will be next fall, but I would be awfully surprised if those wrought iron chains don’t end up costing more than pocket change at some point. Purphoros, God of the Forge

Speaking of rocks, Purphoros is down in the $7-8 range. Ok, I wasn’t really speaking of rocks, but whatever. Overall he was the most expensive god during the prerelease season because of an obviously very powerful triggered ability. We haven’t seen much come of it yet, but there’s a whole lot of time for him to matter yet. Keep in mind too that not only could he become a legitimate force in Standard, that ETB trigger is ripe for bashing people with in more combo-oriented formats. How about a Genesis Wave deck? Or some sort of elf brew? I don’t claim to know the best way to go about it, but it’s possible we end up seeing him in decks that never plan on turning him on in the first place.

Speaking of gods (hey that time it worked), Anger of the Gods is easily purchasable under $2 these days. I wouldn’t be rushing out to purchase them at the moment, but this is a legitimate sweeper with a powerful clause. Firespout has seen a lot of play in Modern, and Anger may manage the same. That exile clause may be mostly irrelevant in Standard unless its sweeping away weird leaf-deer things, but it matters quite a bit in older formats where Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, and Scavenging Ooze are mainstays.

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Commander 2013 – Price Drops and Undervalued Cards

This week I would like to delve into both the new cards and reprinted Commander 2013 cards to see the monetary potential of new commander staples, reprinted commanders, and reprinted commander staple cards that are found across a myriad of decks and archetypes. I will try to pick out cards that I feel are either undervalued or have dropped so much in price that now would be a good time to pick them up if you are so inclined. I’m going to avoid talking about True-Name Nemesis because it has been covered quite well already (see here, and here) and I don’t have much else to add to the conversation.

Toxic Deluge

Toxic Deluge

Speaking of TNN, Toxic Deluge is a great answer to him! Outside of the TNN hype though, I think that Toxic Deluge has a lot more going for it than first meets the eye. Let’s compare it to similar spells that can be played in Legacy:

I will argue that Toxic Deluge is better than all of these cards because:

  • Its effect is stronger than similar cards (Perish, Nature’s Ruin, Virtue’s Ruin)

  • It is cost efficient (cheaper than all other options for mass creature removal except Pyroclasm, Cave-In, or miracled Terminus)

  • It gets around protection, particularly dealing with TNN and Sword of Feast and Famine

  • -X/-X can deal with indestructible , regeneration, or other effects that are seen from time

I have a feeling that as creatures become more powerful and players are left looking for answers to cards like TNN or various protection effects, Toxic Deluge will become more and more popular. With popularity will come an increase in price. For $14 I believe that Toxic Deluge is undervalued.



Unexpectedly Absent

Unexpectedly Absent

Though on the surface Unexpectedly Absent appears to be marginally good, this card has more going for it than others give it credit for. In Legacy, the option to remove any nonland permanent for a turn should not be underestimated. Combine this with the use of fetchlands and other shuffle effects that are found in the format and it can be a real beating if played at the right moment. Though Swords to Plowshares in my opinion is still a better card, Unexpectedly Absent does not give your opponent life back. This could be important in a deck like Death and Taxes where not only could you get rid of something later in the game, but you could use your mana denial resources to make it harder to play that spell. I’m not sure if $14 is the right call for this card but I will be watching its price as time goes on.


Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix has seen a large drop in price since its reprinting – it can currently be had for around $9 from many vendors. A very popular casual card with a small following in Legacy, Baleful Strix will continue to have a significant level of demand moving forward. I don’t think Baleful Strix is quite done dropping in price, since C13 will continue to be restocked going into the next year. His popularity will be enough reason to keep this as a prime target to watch moving forward. Once it gets down to the $5 price range it will be time to get in.


Primal Vigor

Primal Vigor

I would like to say that Primal Vigor is the next Doubling Season and that you should be actively picking them up, but Primal Vigor has two huge drawbacks against it.

One, it affects all players in the game. In the way that Caged Sun is slightly better than Gauntlet of Power (though Gauntlet does cost 1 less mana, but work with me), Primal Vigor is slightly worse than Doubling Season because it allows your opponents to take advantage of the effect before you can most of the time*.

*As an aside, I find it interesting that Wizards gave this enchantment a global effect since many of the new cards that they have been printing have moved away from this design philosophy and have instead focused upon only granting the abilities to things you control. A prime example of this are the M14 Slivers compared to “classic” Slivers from Time Spiral, Legions, or Tempest. Though I can understand in Primal Vigor’s case, since the card was in a multiplayer product and having cards that can take on a political role adds another element to the game.

Two, the second ability only utilizes +1/+1 counters rather than any type of counter. The fun part about playing Doubling Season is all the non-P/T counters: Planeswalker loyalty counters, charge counters, and many other types of counters. (Cool trivia fact – did you know that there are over 90 different types of counters that have been created for MTG cards over the years? Many of them are used only on a single card, but because of Doubling Season, casual players have the option to to expand their usefulness). Restricting Primal Vigor to just one counter type takes away the other cool options Doubling Season offers.

That being said, I still believe that Primal Vigor is undervalued right now and in the future I can see people wanting them in order to have a “cheaper” Doubling Season. Pick them up while they are still fairly cheap because I think this enchantment has room to grow.


Karmic Guide

Karmic Guide

Karmic Guide has never been cheaper! Now down to as low as $4 per copy, Guide has quite a bit of casual appeal. It might go a bit lower as more C13 is released, but I think Karmic Guide has almost reached the floor of its price. It can’t go too far though, so I recommend picking up your copies before C13 goes out of print and they become harder to find.


Sydri, Galvanic Genius

Sydri, Galvanic Genius

I think that Sydri is undervalued right now but that she has not reached her floor yet. I will compare this general to Animar, Soul of Elements. Currently sitting at around $7 and rising, Animar needs a deck to be built around him similar to Sydri, and is in a popular slice of the color pie for commander decks. At his low point, Animar was almost at bulk status for a long while but then this year he really started going up in price to match his popularity as a commander. Sydri will follow a similar path since she is Karn 2.0 with a little more flair that players will love to build around. I’m going to wait for her to reach her floor and then will trade for them.


Bane of Progress

Bane of Progress

Bane of Progress is probably one of the more powerful cards to be created for the C13 product line. By having an ETB ability that destroys all artifacts and enchantments, this creature can be abused very easily through reanimation, blinking, or other effects that get him into play cheaper. While he is amazing in Vintage, that format is not really a driver of prices and I will be looking at the casual crowds and possibly Legacy to start adopting Batman’s latest villain. I think that he is undervalued at $3 and should be picked up in trade whenever possible. It will be interesting to see how high this card can climb.


Other Specs

For a quick roundup, I think the following cards should also be watched going forward because they definitely have the potential to be popular casual cards and in addition may shakeup an eternal format from time to time:

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
Marath, Will of the Wild
Serene Master
From the Ashes

Also, the following reprints are now super cheap and can be picked up for quite a discount. Until their next reprinting, I can only see these cards going up from their floors:

Strategic Planning
Sol Ring
Command Tower
Decree of Pain
Sharuum the Hegemon

Five Things to be Thankful For

By: Cliff Daigle

Thanksgiving was last week, and I hope you had a pleasant holiday.

The festivities got me thinking about Magic, what we should appreciate about it, and the people who make it.

#1: Wizards is made up of people who love to play Magic.

This may sound a little self-evident but it needs to be said and appreciated: the employees of WotC are frequently people who really love to play this game. Because they love to play it, they don’t want to mess it up. This leads to a game that is continuously new and consistently interesting.

#2: Those folks at Wizards actually listen to the community.

It doesn’t always feel like they do, I know. However, every tweet I’ve ever mentioned Helene Bergeot in, she’s replied to. The recent outcry over Magic Online’s stability problems is a reflection of the continuous demand for a more stable game and interface. It used to be that prerelease weekend was easy money: you’d enter an event, crack your packs, play your games…until the event invariably crashed, at which point you’d apply for and get a refund. I’m told MTGO very rarely has those sorts of issues now – I haven’t played online in several years.

#3: They have an incredible lead time for new cards.

I write something every week. It takes me a couple of hours. Perhaps you work in a field where you need to create some form of content or project on a regular basis. Imagine working in an environment where you get YEARS to get that content right, and you’ve got a peek into how R&D works at Wizards. I’m sure they feel the pressure of time, but designing and developing the cards is not a fast process, especially when it comes to figuring out how cards fit into every one of the formats we play.

#4: The variety of supported formats

The good people of Wizards of the Coast know that you really, Really, REALLY wanted that legendary Green-White-Red beast for your beast tribal EDH deck. They gave minotaur players a White-Blue-Red legend in the first Commander preconstructed decks. They will eventually give you the legendary werewolf you want so very very very badly. They will shortly have horde Magic decks as part of the Hero’s Path. They gave us Archenemy, and Planechase, and Vanguard, and all sorts of ways to play this game.

#5: The community

If you’re reading this, then you’re part of the community. You are reaching out to learn new things, either with a financial bent or just in general. You want to expand your knowledge of this game in order to maximize the enjoyment you get. That’s all we can ask for. Magic is a fun game, something that creates personal connections, and when you strive to know more, you’ll pass that on and help others in the same way.

My on-topic tip for this week is Master of Waves.  I told you before that you should stock up on Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx while it’s easily available and cheap. It will not remain that way for long, nor will the Master. His hype and previous price spike will make it easy to trade these away for $20 or more within a year, so if you can pick them up now in the $11-$12 range, you’re setting up for long-term gains.

Real Value from Small Gains

By: Travis Allen

MTG writers are frequently telling you what cards to be on the lookout for, especially in Standard. Anticipated shifts in formats and mid-week articles can herald the coming of a previously-overlooked rare, resulting in both greater demand and greater price for the card by Monday morning. This happens all the time, and we don’t need to look too far back to see examples of it.


When Mono-blue exploded after the Pro Tour, the big winners were obviously Master of Waves, Thassa, and Nightveil Specter. Then there was Tidebinder Mage. Tidebinder jumped by a dollar or two. If you bought in Friday morning at ~$1.50, you saw a nice uptick to about $4 retail. Buylists didn’t move much though, and even if they did, it wasn’t for long.

More recently we experienced the same thing with Pack Rat and Underworld Connections. Both were under $1 before the Mono-black list exploded at Louisville the weekend before Halloween. After that, they jumped to a good $2-3 each, and thanks to black’s continued success, remain there today.

Let’s say you are excellent at speculating, and saw the Pack Rat/Underworld Connections jump coming. You likely would have looked at Nightveil Specter, saw a card gain $10 in two weeks, and had dollar signs in your eyes. You bought and traded for a bunch of copies of Rat and Connections, followed by spending some time adding all sorts of cool foils to a shopping cart, just waiting to make bank.

Your prescience paid off, and you indeed made profit. Well, kind of.

Pack Rat and Underworld Connections jumped, sure. But how much, really? The cards quadrupled in value, which sounds amazing on paper, but what is your actual rate on that? They went from $.50 or $.75 to $2 and $3? You definitely came out ahead, but realizing actual concrete profit on that is tough. A quick review of a few buylists shows that you may be able to get $1 to $1.50 on those now. That means if your cost was a true $.50 per copy (making sure to factor in tax and shipping), you may make a net profit of $.50 on each card sold back, minus the shipping fees to get the cards to the buylist. (If sending more than five or tend cards, your shipping could easily be $5+, which is ten cards worth of profit alone.)

That giant spike sadly only represents a $2 rise.
That giant spike sadly only represents a $2 rise.

How many cards would you have had to buy to see actual cash in your pocket? 200 copies of Pack Rat would net you somewhere around $90 in profit, assuming some store actually wanted 200 copies (or multiple stores were offering $1). That sounds nice and tidy, but you would have had to shell out $100 upfront for 200 copies of Pack Rat. How often are you that sure of your success? Sometimes you Just Know, like the guys that preordered huge piles of Deathrite Shamans, Bonfire of the Damneds, Sphinx’s Revelations, or Snapcaster Mages. It’s not uncommon for people to just buy several playsets though, hedging their bets in case the card doesn’t pan out the way they hoped. In a situation where you pick up four to twenty copies, it isn’t even worth your time to go to the post office to mail them to the buylist. What then?

One of the side effects of a card jumping like this is that not only did the price rise, but demand also rose as well. Because of the general floor of rare values, as well as a seemingly invisible casual market, many rares will hold a price of $.25-$.75 with only the remotest chance someone actually wants to trade for any. When they hit $2-3, not only did the value go up, but that means the demand at your local store will have went from a stone cold nothing to an appreciable amount. This is where your best opportunity is to capitalize on small-value cards with large percentage gains.

Imagine you bought four playsets of Underworld Connections for $.75 a card, hoping they’d spike. Your spec didn’t completely bomb, as they’re currently around $2.50 in trade, with a best buylist of $.90 as of 12/2. That’s hardly worth shipping to a buylist though. Instead, you should stick them front in center of your binder and head off to your LGS. With a trade value of $2.50, you can ask a good $10 in trade for the set. You can then utilize good trade practices and disparity of information to perhaps grab a Master of Waves from someone looking to move into black. Now, suddenly your $3 investment on a set of Connections has turned into a real card. If you can manage that three more times, you’ve managed to turn a mildly successful spec into a hot playset of Standard mythics.

You can further take advantage of this situation by identifying cards with a good buylist spread. The long and short of it is that the smaller the spread, the better positioned the card is on the market. If Card A sells for $10 but has a buylist of $3, it has a huge spread and is less appealing to trade into. If Card B is a $10 card with a buylist of $7 or $8, a considerably smaller spread, it will trade at the same value as Card A but will make you more than double if you decide to buylist it. Those are the types of things you really want to be aware of when making trades in search of profit.

This is physically painful for me to look at.
This is physically painful for me to look at.

Remember how I said Master of Waves is around a $10 card? As of 12/2, his best buylist is $4.18, and you may have a tough time getting one for a set of Underworld Connections anyways. Desecration Demon, meanwhile, has a slightly lower trade value, and has a best buylist of a whopping $6.30. If you sold those sixteen Underworld Connections at buylist for $.90 each, you would have made $2.40 in profit, which wouldn’t even cover shipping the cards to a store. Four Desecration Demons will make you $13.20 net cash profit from a buylist for the exact same trade value, whose trades you may even be able to get a throw-ins on. Smart trading indeed!

Buying a few playsets of a card with good a outlook is common practice in the Magic world for those with a keen eye and prudent sense. Sometimes they jump, but you aren’t quite sure how to actually make money if the gain isn’t large enough. Now you have the knowledge of how to profit from these meager market shifts. Happy trading!