Common Cents

Hello, I’m Aaron Dettmann, and I’ll be writing finance articles mostly about which cards you should be looking to pick up or trade away. A little about me: I’ve been playing Magic for a little over ten years, and the past couple of years I’ve become more and more immersed into the financial side of Magic.

WotC recently announced that Dragon’s Maze will contain all ten shocklands from Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash. I’m here to tell you why you should still be trading for and accumulating shocklands from Return to Ravnica.

I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions about the significance of the shocklands being reprinted in Dragon’s Maze. Some have suggested the supply of shocklands will be increasing by 50% (because they’re being printed in two sets instead of one), or by 33% (because Dragon’s Maze will be drafted in a 1-1-1 format, so will comprise 1/3 of the packs opened). The actual influx of shocklands from Dragon’s Maze will actually be much less than either of those percentages. Both theories fail to take into account that all ten shocklands are being reprinted in Dragon’s Maze, so that already halves the likelihood of seeing any one shockland compared to RTR or GTC. In addition, in Wizards of the Coast’s official announcement, they said that you are half as likely to open any shockland in Dragon’s Maze as in RTR or GTC. When you also factor in that a mere one pack of Dragon’s Maze is going to be opened during its drafting life compared to the three packs we’re used to with RTR and GTC, it becomes clear that the impact of Dragon’s Maze on shocklands will be minimal, at best.

Really, how low can these shocklands even go? The fair trade price for Steam Vents is at $8 right now, and both buyers and sellers tend to group these lands together at specific price data points. The dual lands in M13 which have now been reprinted three times are all currently $4 or higher, capping off at over $6 with Sunpetal Grove, and shocklands are much better than the M13 lands.

Sunpetal Grove as of Feb 2, 2013
Sunpetal Grove as of Feb 2, 2013

I’d bet that the absolute floor for shocklands is at $5, and even if they happen to reach that price, I highly doubt they’ll stay that low for very long. In fact, I could even see the Return to Ravnica lands getting a slight bump in price in the next few months as they stop being opened in drafts; people realize they need them for different Modern decks, and will start looking ahead to decks for Standard. Shocklands at $7-$8 are a low-risk investment; they have very little room to go down, and they could easily double or even triple in price just like the Scars and Innistrad lands did one to two years ago.

Thanks for reading this week’s article!

Modern Madness

Hello world! I’m Igor Shapiro. I’ve started a business out of magic within the last 2 years. Learning this ropes in this market isn’t easy; it’s been mostly a trial and error process. In a world where everyone has the Internet in their pocket, spotting trends and being able to analyze how the market behaves is what I believe will set you apart from every other floor trader. My goal is to help the community understand this market better and how it works. But enough about me – let’s get to the numbers!

As some of you may have noticed, Modern cards have recently skyrocketed in value. For example, look at the trend of Kiki-Jiki:

Kiki-Jiki as of Jan 27, 2013



It almost doubled in price within the last 3-4 months. But why is that? It’s simple: demand for Modern has significantly increased due to the PTQ season. The availability of older cards (Pre m10) has always been low. Especially since lots of Kiki-Jikis are already hidden away in EDH decks. Now with the PTQ season everyone wants to play Modern. Kiki-Jiki is found as a 3-4 of in the Kiki-Pod decks and also at least a 2 of in some Splinter Twin decks.

This card is on its way to $30. I sold my copies to a vendor at a recent local PTQ for $22.

This card may have surprised many people. If you told me a year ago that this card would be $30, I would have laughed. But Kiki-Jiki isn’t the only card that has spiked to extraordinary amounts. Almost every card in Modern has reached very high price points, higher than we’ve ever seen before. I would want to own as many Modern cards as possible right now. With the Modern PTQ season in progress, the demand for these cards is through the roof and supply is low. They have a high liquidity and vendors are willing to overpay on these cards just to remain stocked. Most Modern cards can be sold to many vendors for close to eBay prices. Learn what vendors are paying on hot Modern cards and remember that trading for these hot Modern cards on the floor can be the equivalent of trading for cash.

The next card I want to look at is Venser, Shaper Savant. Let’s look at the data:


Venser as of Jan 27th, 2013

You can see the sharp increase happened very recently.  I don’t think the $20+ price tag is stable. He’s starting to see more play in legacy and is still a popular EDH card. Let’s investigate what happened.

Speculators helped buy up all the copies online (especially on TCG player) causing the price to rise to a ridiculous number. There was a point where you could list them on TCG at $18 and they would sell by the end of the day.  But cards have a certain chain of exchange.

Let’s look at Venser as an example.

  1.  Here, the card starts trending upwards, with slow, gradual growth.
  2. Then, speculators buy the Vensers from stores.
  3. Supply of the card dries up online, accelerating the price upwards as everyone wants to get in and make money.
  4. Vendors raise the buy price for Venser in order to restock.
  5. The speculators that bought Vensers sell them back to vendors at the new inflated price.
  6. The vendors drop the buy price.
  7. The new price is either stable if it reflects actual demand (are there people that are willing to purchase at the new price point?) or the new price drops above what it was before the spike but below the inflated price it was at when there were no copies online.

The most important question to ask is whether the card actually has use somewhere.  What formats does it see play in? (Remember that Casual is a format when it comes to MTG Finance). In the case of Venser:

  1. It sees minor play in Legacy.
  2. It sees minor play in Modern.
  3. It sees minor play in EDH.

In the end, I think that Venser’s price will stabilize at $15. It’s not seeing any groundbreaking amount of play in any new decks but still is a fine casual and cube card.

Now let’s look at what you should be trading for this week. All these cards are trending up and you can capitalize by picking them up at their old prices before the market and everyone else catches up.

Clifftop Retreat – Many new Boros cards are in Gatecrash (Boros Charm, Aurelia’s Fury). People

Clifftop Retreat as of Jan 27th, 2013

will want to build the deck. The retail price is up to 15 on some major websites. Pick these up at 10-12 in trade if you can. Should be very liquid.

Huntmaster of the Fells– This guy is finally starting to see a lot more play in standard and even Modern. In most lists he’s a 4 of. If you can still pick him up at 25 on the floor I’d snap them up. These DKA mythics are only getting harder to find. There is also upside if Gruul is a deck. I can see him being $40+ in the upcoming months. (Thundermaw Hellkite is a good precedent)

Inquisition of Kozilek – How is this still $6? This is a $12 card. It’s seeing a good amount of Modern play, it’s seeing a small amount of legacy play, and it’s a budget replacement for Thoughtseize. Also, being in Rise of the Eldrazi doesn’t hurt either. I was offered $5 from a vendor and still said no. I’d trade for these at 6-7 confidently.

Inkmoth Nexus – $5? Really? Go ahead and look up the price of Blinkmoth Nexus. This is a 4 of in the Infect deck and Affinity. I see this card being $12 by next season very easily.  I’d buy any copy I see at 4 (was being offered this by vendors). Inkmoth Nexus is still $5 on a lot of major sites so take advantage of that when trading.

NOTE: Inkmoth and Inquisition can’t be reprinted in Modern Masters which makes me like these cards even more.

That is all for this week folks!  I hope you enjoyed my article.





Money Ramp

Hello everybody and thank you for tuning into this week’s edition of Money Ramp!

My name is Zack Alvarado, and I will be your host for the present. My first installment on will examine price increases on the current market and discuss what I believe has influenced these changes.  Specifically, I will be discussing Modern format dual-lands and why they’re currently on an unavoidable uptrend.

Pain Lands, such as Temple Garden, are staple picks for land slots in Modern comps (competitive deck builds) that are utilizing multi-colored spell bases:  they provide an efficient mathematical dunamis – in terms of spell-casting and ability-activating potential. Paying 2-life to ensure that a vital 1-drop (such as BoP) can be played on the 1st turn, while simultaneously extending the variability of castable spells on turn two, seems very hard to argue against.

Now, what about Filter Lands from the Lorwyn-block? Five were printed in the Shadowmoor expansion, and five in the Morningtide expansion, but they haven’t received much favor until recently – why? Well firstly and foremostly, they lack a basic land type:  rendering them unfetchable by cards such as Scalding Tarn and Misty Rainforest. But I digress, are 8-12 Pain Lands necessary for efficient mana-fixing? – Especially in conjunction with 4-6 Fetch Lands? – I don’t think so – and neither do some of the currently best players.

Lorzeno Calzolari, who recently reached the top-8 of Grand Prix Bilboa, was asked what changes he would make to his deck after the tournament; he replied by saying, “I swapped a Cascade Bluffs for an Island at the last minute. I wouldn’t change anything else.” (staff). Calzolari wasn’t the only top-8 player at Wizard’s GP Bilboa this weekend to include Filter Lands in his build; 5 of the top 8 decks were utilizing Filter Lands this weekend. Why? Well, perhaps they agree that there is a point where a deck can have too many Pain Lands and Fetch Lands – freeing up a few slots for Filter Lands and the strong mana fixing they provide at the cost of 0 life.

I knew that players would mathematically tune their mana bases for Modern and would realize that Filter Lands have a solid home (in small amounts). A month ago, on Dec 22nd, 2012, I suggested that players invest in their sets of Modern filter lands via Twitter, #mtgfinance:

Let’s look at the increasing prices of Filter Lands at, via – simply because they have the least price flux, as opposed to; and the most stable inventory, as opposed to Now, I use the ProTrader features from MTGPrice to access my data – so your charts won’t go back as far as mine unless you’re a ProTrader as well. However, if you look at the price-spikes after my tweet on December 22nd, and prices at Jan 22nd, 2013:  you’ll understand that the database offers unprecedented reports of the MTG market that can assist traders in predicting uptrending and downtrending volatility.

Here are the price fluxes of Filter Lands between May 19th (the date that Modern format was announced) and Jan 22nd, 2013.

So all in all, it is apparent that these cards have skyrocketed since Modern became ‘a thing’: the 10 Filter Lands have collectively averaged a price increase of $6.25! Their collective average price in May was $7.50!

Stay tuned for my second article to drop next week – I’ll be revealing some premature uptrends and discussing bad investment practices that ProTrader features can save you from making!

Money Ramp Weekly Tip –
[ Keep an eye on the Lorwyn-block Lieges: you’ll be happy you did – or I’ll be happy you didn’t! ]
Until next time,

Zack R Alvarado
Twitter: Rh1zzualo



Johnson, G. (n.d.). Mathemagics: Onslaught Fetchlands. Retrieved January 20th, 2013, from

staff, W. o. (n.d.). Manders is Modern Man of the Moment. Retrieved from Wizards of the Coast: