Thursday: Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

Karn Liberated as of Feb 13, 2013
Karn Liberated as of Feb 13, 2013

After the pro-tour this weekend, we will be in the thick of Modern season. With Bloodbraid Elf and Seething Song being banned, people are looking for the next best deck, and are buying accordingly. There have already been several Modern cards that have skyrocketed (sometimes inexplicably) in price, so I’ll identify some other cards that have the potential to do the same.

First, let’s look at some of the Modern cards that have shot up in price in the past month.

I’ll start off with the great puzzler of them all: Marrow-Gnawer. This card has risen from a mere $5 to being worth almost $15 virtually overnight. What can I say; I guess Ogre Slumlord was the card that put Marrow-Gnawer over the top. Or maybe Marrow-Gnawer was underpriced all along and has enough casual appeal to sustain this new price tag. Whatever the reason, I was happy to ditch my copies for $11 to get out while the price was still high.

Now for cards that are commonly played in Modern decks:

Cryptic Command has gone up 59% in a month; from around $22 in January to its current $35 price tag. This card is used most notably in Scapeshift decks, but can also be found in Splinter Twin and in a variety of control decks. Its necessity in Scapeshift, combined with its utility in other decks, explains its price increase.

Vendilion Clique (up from $40 to $50), Aven Mindcensor ($4 to $7), and Celestial Colonnade ($3 to

Celestial Colonnade as of Feb 13, 2013

Celestial Colonnade as of Feb 13, 2013

$7) have all increased because of the new W/U/R American Midrange deck that won back-to-back online PTQs a few weeks ago. This deck has continued to place fairly well in the subsequent PTQs, so expect these cards to maintain their value.

Karn Liberated has been the big winner so far, as its price has nearly tripled when it gained $24 jumping from $15 to its current price of $39. The Tron deck plays a full four copies of Karn Liberated, and it is the centerpiece of that deck. Many people are expecting this deck to become a big player now that its worst match, Storm, has been eliminated from the metagame. Karn had been slowly creeping up in price, but really took off after the bannings were announced in Modern. People being keen to play this deck also help explain why Oblivion Stone and Grove of the Burnwillows have seen modest price increases as well.

Now for the cards I suggest you invest in:

Birthing Pod, like Karn Liberated, is also the centerpiece of a deck (two decks, actually: Kiki-Pod and Melira-pod), and they also play the full four copies of Birthing Pod. Now granted, Birthing Pod has seen print in an Event Deck, but the fact remains that people who want to play this deck must obtain four copies of the card. The increased availability from being printed in an Event Deck is offset by the fact that the card was originally printed in the 3rd set of a block, so not as many packs were opened of New Phyrexia compared to the 1st and 2nd sets in drafts. Birthing Pod, at its current price of under $4, is a steal.

Splinter Twin is another sub-$5 card that is the focus of a tier-1 deck. Twin decks also play four copies of the card, which increases the demand for it. Splinter Twin has already seen a modest increase of a dollar, but I feel the true price ascent is yet to come.

As cards across the board for Modern are going up in price, I find it hard to believe that Birthing Pod and Splinter Twin won’t soon follow suit.

Spellskite. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast
Spellskite. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast

The last card I was going to write about was Spellskite; unfortunately, this article comes a little late to the party on that card. Between last week, when I planned what I was going to write about, and this week, Spellskite has increased by $5: from $4 last week to now over $9. This is more of a utility card, but it is so universally found across many different decks that it was primed for a price increase. Most Twin and Pod decks play a copy or two of Spellskite in the maindeck, with extras in the board. In addition to that, Spellskite is also among the most valuable sideboard tools at combating not only Twin decks, but also Burn decks as well. Since it is colorless, any deck that wants the attributes Spellskite provides can play it without hesitation. Because of both its effectiveness, usefulness in a variety of situations, and the fact that any deck can play it, I figured that Spellskite was due to rise in price.

Hopefully this article gives you some food for thought as the rest of the Modern season plays out.

Wednesday: Fetchlands with Andrew Smith

Scalding Tarn. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast.

If you haven’t yet noticed, Wizards of the Coast wants you to play Modern. They’ve dedicated a PTQ season for it. There is a special limited release product of Modern-format staples due out this year. It’s a regular format for Grand Prix and Pro Tours alike.

The reasoning is simple: people want a non-rotating format they can afford.

Legacy players spend years perfecting their play with one deck without worrying about it being illegal in just a few months. But the barrier to entry is extremely high. Competitive decks can cost thousands of dollars, amounts most players just can’t afford.

Modern is supposed to be the cure, with relatively inexpensive cards that can be purchased without the threat of rotation. Bannings have been commonplace thus far, making it certainly less stable than Legacy.

This emphasis on Modern has caused prices to skyrocket. And nowhere is this more noticeable than in the price of the manabases. Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash have offered us reprints of the shocklands, but as those prices drop, fetchlands – their partners in crime – continue to increase with no end in sight.

At the end of October 2012, prices of the “blue fetches” from Zendikar, Misty Rainforest and Scalding Tarn, increased dramatically. Mid-October the average price was $15; by the end of the month it had risen to $30. Currently, the average price for a Misty Rainforest is above $35.

Misty Rainforest as of Feb 12, 2013
Misty Rainforest through Feb 12, 2013

The other Modern-legal fetches are catching up. Verdant Catacombs climbed to just under $30 this week. Arid Mesa and Marsh Flats are over $25. For players hoping to build a Modern deck, the savings on shocklands from the most recent block is more than overshadowed by these increases.

It’s important to note that the release of Modern Masters this summer will only serve to continue to drive up these prices. The announcement for Modern Masters stated that cards printed originally in Eight Edition through Alara Reborn would be eligible to be reprinted in this special set.

As players get their hands on high priced staples like Tarmogoyf, they are certainly going to start building new Modern decks. Unfortunately, Zendikar falls outside of this timeframe. It would appear that, barring a new set that returns us to Zendikar or a Modern Masters 2, no increase in supply will be available to offset the increase in demand that is surely coming our way.

State of the Site: February 2013


I’m Alasdair, one of the developers of I wanted to give people a quick update of where we expect to be in a month or so since we have so many features planned.

1. Our primary goal is to keep everything running, so bugfixes take top priority. Sorting in the collection view is currently broken and there are a few missing cards in sets we support and we also are missing several foil prices from a few vendors (notably foil Thragtusk). I’ll be working all weekend to get our bug count as close to zero as possible.

2. The “buy list prices” feature is working out very well – these are the prices at the bottom of a car results page. For example, ABU Games is willing to pay $23.27 for a Karn Liberated today. I’d like to add another vendor and generally clean this feature up. This should go out around Tuesday.

3. We’re adding more vendors! Amazon should also be up by Tuesday and I’d like to see Troll and Toad up by Friday 15th February. After that point, we want to go international and add and some other european sites and have a toggle between euro’s and dollars. This is complex and we may need to make some changes to the way we display the graphs to ensure there isn’t information overload.

4. ProTrader is getting some new features, starting with an update to the emails we send out. Our emails will include 3-day and weekly price and inventory changes as well as daily. We’re also going to build an “arbitrage tool” to show all cards where the buylist price of a vendor (the amount they will pay cash to buy a card at) is higher than the price someone is selling the card at elsewhere. If you can get a good deal on shipping, this is essentially free money. Additionally, we’ll add buylist prices to the ProTrader Money Board and send out emails when stores increase their inventory levels significantly. Finally, we will add per-store and aggregate inventory graphs to the card pages for ProTraders.

5. The collection tracking tool is very simple right now. We’re planning on adding a stack of features, the first of which will be better management tools like changing the quantity of a card, adding a filter and import/export. We’ll also have “for trade” lists and wishlists with very basic alerts to tell you if a card on your wishlist is available at the price you want. We have plans for a much bigger suite of tools but realistically this is as far as we’ll get this month.

6. Huge infrastructure updates. We’d like to start doing full scans of prices on an hourly basis instead of daily to ensure the prices we show are always up to date. We also plan on having a toggle for the graphs to show hourly price changes/ daily/ weekly and have the ability to look at only a sub-set of all the data. The default view will be 6 months worth of daily prices.

Doing hourly scans is going to be costly. We’re buying a pair of dedicated servers to handle the load (and to provide a backup in case one breaks) and we’re making significant improvements in scanning speed to avoid harming the sites we fetch prices from. For the most part, the sites will see little difference as we will only download updated prices instead of all prices as we do now.

Because of the cost involved, we’ve decided to make hourly graphs available only to ProTraders but everyone will have access to the latest prices. For 95% of users, this is all that they care about – moment-by-moment price changes only really matter to speculators and active traders. You will only need to be a ProTrader if you care about how much a card was 4 hours ago rather than 1 day ago.

Getting all of the above done in a month is going to be tough but we think it’s doable. Our ultimate goal is to get to the point where we can hire another developer to build features, something we’d like to have in place by May of this year.

We love feedback! Please let us know if you have any suggestions or comments or bug reports at the following url:

Money Ramp – with Zack Alvarado

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

January 26th marked the beginning Gatecrash’s pre-release, which began as early as 12 am Saturday (Jan 26th), and went as long as 11 pm Sunday (Jan 27th). Many card prices remained the same before and after the pre-release; some even depreciated and are still trending down (Aurelia’s Fury). However, for power-traders like myself, there was a light at the end of the tunnel during the weekend’s course of price alteration: it was Boros Reckoner!


Listed below are the prices of Boros Reckoner, across multiple retailers, on January 26th:

Star City Games  $4.99
ABU Games  $3.99
TCGplayer (low) $4.24
CCGHouse  $3.98
Hotsauce Games  $4.25
Strike Zone Online  $3.99
Channel Fireball  $3.99

Now, I attended pre-release, but did not play – instead, I bought my sealed guild-box, dropped, and ran the retail booth for my LGS. However, I had the opportunity to walk around our event and observe a few game-states. During the time I spent watching others play, a few cards immediately stuck out to me as cute “win more” cards, such as Biomass Mutation; whereas others stood alone as “win well” cards, such as Aurelia, the Warleader and Boros Reckoner. Since the release of Gatecrash, it’s of no surprise to me that both of these cards have scaled in price, with Boros Reckoner simply soaring!

Listed below are the prices of Boros Reckoner, across multiple retailers, between Jan 28th & Feb 2nd:

Star City Games  $9.99  Jan 30th
ABUgames  $9.99  Feb 1st
TCG Player (low) $9.99  Jan 30th
CCGhouse  $9.98  Feb 1st
Hotsauce  $11.99  Jan 31st
Strike Zone Online  $9.55  Feb 2nd
Channel Fireball $9.99  Jan 30th

 And here is the graph as of 2/8/2013:


As you can logically assume, the experiences players had with Boros Reckoner during pre-release weekend greatly influenced his demand, and thus his price; on the 26th of January, Boros Reckoner’s average price was $4.20; his average price on January 31st was $10.20 – an increase of 243%!

In closing, I presume it’s safe to assert that Boros Reckoner will be a brickhouse in standard-constructed; the demand is there, the price is there, and the power is there – but I feel that he’s found a solid home in the market in the $12-$13 range.

In my previous article, I said that I would be discussing some bad investment practices that our Protrader feature can save you from making; but I’m out of time for this week, so that will be the focus of my third installment. Stay tuned!

Money Ramp Weekly Tip:
[ Keep an eye on Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger ]

Until next time,

Zack R Alvarado
Twitter: Rh1zzualo