Tag Archives: Battle for Zendikar Spoilers

PROTRADER: Battle for Zendikar – First Impressions

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The Eldrazi have returned. So too have the allies. The world of Zendikar is still under assault, and the denizens have rallied to try and fend off their otherworldly invaders. It’s an epic struggle that will almost certainly end in drama, tragedy, and possibly heroics.

Also, we’ve got some cool cards.

It’s the latter I’ll talk about today. Battle for Zendikar has a lot of things going for it (and spoiler season isn’t even over!), and I want to touch on some of the major ones today.

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Post-Prerelease Panic

We’re back with more of a Finance 101-style topic this week, so don’t expect anything too revolutionary or mind-blowing. Just a lone 20-year old rambling about certain Magic: The Gathering cards that I believe will go up, down, or remain stagnant as bulk rares for the rest of their miserable existences. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I do kind of have a theme here. I want to wedge in a little bit of discussion about the best ways to out your prerelease bananas.

Tasigur the Golden Fang by Chris Rahn from artofmtg.
Tasigur the Golden Fang by Chris Rahn 

Bananas?

You know how bananas only last like three hours at a maximum before they turn black and gross and banana-bread material? That’s pretty much what 95 percent of the rares and mythics in Battle for Zendikar  are going to end up doing, too. You might look them up on your phone or tablet when you open them at your local prerelease and exclaim with pure joy: “Oh, golly me! My Undergrowth Champion is selling for a whole $10 American dollars on eBay! I ‘made’ money by adding up the value of all of the mythics, rares, and uncommons in my pool!”

undergrowthchampion

We all know what happens next. I’m very guilty of it myself. We go home, let that Champion sit in our binder for the next two FNMs, but nobody points it out as a trade target. Suddenly the card is only worth $3, and we buylist it for $1 because we’re sick of looking at it, and you know it will never see Constructed play. You only got like one slice of that delicious banana bread out of that deal, when you could have been fast enough to trade off that ripe banana for some apples or carrots. Those don’t go bad quickly, right? I don’t know. I’m not Gordon Ramsay over here.

That Zada, Hedron Grinder (which is one of the more stupid names that I’ve heard for a card in a while) is pre-selling for $2 now, but you and I both know that it’ll be a bulk rares in about two weeks. If you didn’t know that the legendary hedron grinder (ugh) will be a bulk rare, then consider it something you’ve learned from this article.

zadahedrongrinder

So how do you get rid of stuff like that? Ob Nixilis Reignited is preselling for $15 on eBay (which is one of the lowest prices we’ve seen for a planeswalker preorder in a long time), but you won’t be able to set him free on TCGplayer until the set’s official release date. Selling on eBay yourself is an option, but the fees are too high for my personal tastes, and the customer service is weighted heavily against you as a seller. There will also be a large number of people at your FNM who read articles like mine, telling them to stay away from  your precious Ob Nixilis like it’s the plague, until it’s a paltry $7. If you really want to move that demon buddy now, then I’ve got a couple of suggestions that you may want to pocket.

Like Dis If U Sell Evertim

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Facebook is one of the best way to move new cards. Actually, I’m coming to a realization that I mention this in pretty much every damn article I write. And you know what? I haven’t been convinced that I’m wrong yet, so I’ll keep saying it. I wrote in detail here about selling a picked-through collection via Facebook, but I want to emphasize this here: most non-competitive players don’t go to your LGS. They’re not sitting across from you at FNM, or scanning through the spoilers every single day like we are. They don’t have eighteen different sources of price-tracking info coming into their brains, but most of them will have a Facebook page.

Most of those non-competitive-but-on-social-media players most will have liked a Magic: The Gathering page at some point in time of their social-media lives. If that page allows the buying, selling, and trading of cards, this is where you want to be. You want to ride just under the prices they’re seeing on eBay and TCGplayer, because these are the impulse buyers of Magic. They want their sweet new cards, and they want them as soon as possible. Timmy Incarnate behind his computer screen has been waiting to add that Desolation Twin to his Eldrazi deck for weeks now, and you’re going to help make it happen. How much is it going to cost Timmy? $2? That’s it? Bam. Easy. And it saved you from sullenly sliding that Twin into your bulk rare box a month from now. Everyone’s happy. Sell those $12 copies of Ob Nixilis, $13 Kioras, and ride that prerelease hype wave as far as you can surf, until those 8/8 octopuses turn all of your hard-pulled cards into gross little bulk rares.

Alternatively, you can test how fast your fingers can click and try your hand at PucaTrading those new treasures away. Trader be wary though: everyone is going to be looking at the same target here. If you thought Standard cards were difficult to move on PucaTrade as just an average Joe user, you’ll be disappointed to learn that cards straight out of the new set are on another level. Everyone wants to get that sweet, uncut value.

Traps in Battle for Zendikar

I mean, there aren’t any actual trap cards, like Archive Trap and whatnot, but I do believe there are a couple of other trap cards from Origins that I believe I’m in minority of rallying against. Everyone is up in arms about these two tricks of Nissa’s being near-guaranteed landfall spec targets, but I’m not seeing it.

SwordOfTheAnimistanimistsawakening

Both of these cards are hovering around the $3 point right now, and they’ve each crept up to that point relatively recently. I don’t think you want to pay four total mana to play and equip Sword of the Animist just to get a landfall trigger every turn, especially when your guy could just get bolted in response. If we’re equipping a creature and attacking with it, I want to win the game very soon after. I just don’t feel like Sword of the Animist has the power level to do that. Even if it does see play in a Standard list, how many do you play? Probably two at most—I can’t see you wanting three copies. You’ll draw too many at that point. So do you expect this to go to $6 or $7 in a set where there’s already a $20 non-mythic holding up a substantial portion of the set’s value? I’m just not buying it. Literally. I’m not buying this card, unless I get it at buylist prices.

As for Animist’s Awakening, I feel like it’s way too much of a gamble to be investing that much mana into crossing your fingers and hoping for more ramp. If you’re trying to abuse this with Omnath, you should be able to end the game off of two or three more landfall triggers, fueled by fetch lands and maybe a single ramp spell, not casting this for seven or eight mana and hoping that you have 50 power on board. While I play it (and absolutely love it) in my Child of Alara EDH deck, that’s a completely different environment, and I can’t see this being run as a four-of in any particular landfall deck. It sees $3 off of two things: hype for the new set and mechanic, and people like me who jam it in EDH. If you’re holding onto either of these cards at $3 and hoping they jump, my recommendation is to sell off now into that hype.

End Step

Did you know Hardened Scales is a $2 Magic card? I mean, I knew it was pretty good in EDH, but I didn’t think it would be more expensive than a Prophet of Kruphix. I’m pretty sure I have several copies of Scales in my bulk-rare boxes right now; or at least, I’m pretty sure I used to. Some smart reader out there probably realized that the card was worth more than I was selling it for, and pulled it out to make money off of me. Good for you, if you did that.

DragonWhisperer

Dragon Whisperer is the same price as Hardened Scales. Now, that can’t be right. I know my friend Travis has written about this card extensively, and put his money where his mouth is. I can’t say I blame him, and I’m tempted to dump a reasonable chunk of change to follow suit. There are a lot of abilities on this card, and it fits perfectly into the curve of the mono-red deck that we all know will exist post-rotation. Writing this paragraph and looking at this price graph is slowly convincing me, so you’ll probably see me in What We’re Buying and Selling This Week on Saturday with my pile of Whisperers that I bought for two freaking dollars each.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this week. I got a little bit side-tracked, but that’s alright. I didn’t have too solid of a topic anyway. Let’s talk about Magic cards in the comments below. You’re probably more likely to get a quick response if you use Twitter or Facebook, though. Fair warning. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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PROTRADER: Analyzing Standard as Battle for Zendikar Nears

Rotation is nearly upon us, and the spoilers are coming in hot and heavy. Full-art basics. New, fetchable dual lands. Full-art fetches and Shocks. Crazy, mythic Eldrazi. This set is going to have it all, and for the first time in my life, I plan on buying a case of the new goodies.

It’s true that we’ve seen a lot of things out of Battle for Zendikar. But there is one thing I haven’t seen in droves yet: Standard-playable cards.

Sure, Gideon is incredibly strong and will be played, and the lands of course will be good. But getting to 10 mana for Ulamog with what we have available doesn’t seem great, and while casting See the Unwritten into huge guys will almost certainly be a deck, I’m not seeing a ton of good ramp options to go along with Shaman of Forgotten Ways and Rattleclaw Mystic. Of course, those are two good options to start, so it won’t take much more to make it viable, but it’s worth mentioning that we’re not there yet.

Now, I know most of the set hasn’t been spoiled, so it’s a little early to start saying it’s not going to drastically shake up the format, because with so many cards leaving ,there’s no doubt that it will happen.

Still, given that Battle for Zendikar has all the makings of a set that will quickly become the best-selling of all time, I feel most comfortable looking at the current Standard format as a sign of things to come, rather than looking forward to Zendikar to being the driver in that equation.

With that in mind, looking ahead to next season begins with looking back. In this case, to the World Championship, where the world’s 24 best players met and battled it out (congratulations to Seth Manfield for winning, by the way). The World Championship was fun to watch, and I believe it’s a good place to start when we evaluate the decks that will survive rotation.

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Rise of the Rise of the Eldrazi

PAX Preview Pain

One of the downsides to my articles being published on Thursday means that I’m usually pretty late to the party for any Magic news that was shown over the weekend. For example. I was going to spend a few solid paragraphs thoroughly expressing my disgust for how Wil Wheaton butchered the Battle for Zendikar preview show at PAX, but I’m not even going to attempt to hold a candle to Travis Allen’s beautiful explanation on how much of a vomitfest that was. Seriously, if you were thinking, “Maybe I should watch the preview show. Seeing a dumpster catch on fire has no value to the world, but it’s kind of entertaining…”, then forget about it. Don’t give them your clicks or views. Just go be entertained and informed by Travis, then come back here.

Wizards of the Coast, if you’re reading this. Hire literally anyone else to do the preview show next time. Pick a random guy or girl out of the crowd, and let them do the preview show with flashcards or a teleprompter. It would have been better than the middle-school presentation that I had to dredge through. The only things that kept me remotely interested in the show were spoiled cards, MaRo’s interesting design talk, and this guy that I’ve circled in the below image.

Screenshot 2015-09-02 at 10.47.23 AM

Every time they panned back to the crowd, this guy was sitting in that exact pose, giving off that “yeah, I’m not gonna clap for this bad meme personified, just give me the damn spoilers” vibe. Mystery crowd member, you are my hero of the weekend.

Eldra..gons of Zendi…tarkir

You know what? Forget it. There’s a clever joke in there somewhere, but I’m not going to sit here for twenty minutes and try to figure out what it is. I’ve got Magic cards to write about, not subheading puns.

My point is that back when Dragons of Tarkir was released, every goddamn dragon in the game suddenly went up approximately a billion dollars, just because everyone wanted to play dragon everything. Scion of the Ur-Dragon EDH, 60-card dragon casual, 78-card unsleeved dargon casual, you name it. Well, every dragon went up, except for the FTV copies of Bladewing the Risen that I’ve had for forever…

Anyway, the point is that with Battle for Zendikar quickly approaching, I think it’s time to look back at a few of the older Eldrazi and get in on them before any hype starts to lift them up off the ground. I want to look for safe targets that aren’t likely to plummet any time soon, and some of them will definitely be longer-term holds.

While BFZ won’t be the “Eldraziest Eldrazi set that ever had Eldrazi” as DTK was with dragons, I still think there are some safe pickups and holds that have room to grow. A lot of the dragons that picked up the price pace weren’t even good in EDH, but were just being purchased by casual players who enjoy slamming big, fire-breathing threats onto the table. We’re going to look at a few parallels here in the old Eldrazi set.

Spawnsire of Ulamog

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Spawnsires

At only $3, I really like Spawnsire of Ulamog as a pickup. It dodged all reprints up until now, it makes a lot of mana dorks, and the last activated ability is perfect for both Timmy and Johnny to get excited about. The annihilator 1 is pretty irrelevant, but who cares? We’re casting every Eldrazi ever. Spawnsire gets a whole lot of new tools with this set, and I don’t think he needs to see competitive or EDH play to get up to $6 or $7 on casual demand alone. SCG is out of stock on NM copies at the moment, but has plenty of SP/MP. eBay is practically dried up of non-foil copies, and there are still quite a few on TCGplayer. Maybe this doesn’t pick up until casual players start cracking packs and building decks, but this is a card I’m very bullish on. You don’t see me pick out spec targets very often, but this is one of them.

Eye of Ugin

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I’ve heard some rumors and suggestions on Eye of Ugin recently, so I wanted to clear the air with my thoughts. Eye of Ugin just got reprinted into dust because of Modern Masters 2015 by being rare instead of mythic, and you only really need one, maybe two in a deck. I’ll admit that I almost had a heart attack when I considered using it with the devoid mechanic, because Forerunner of Slaughter is technically colorless… but you still need to pay colored mana to cast it. Maybe there’s still something there, though. It makes you only need one black mana to cast Dominator Drone, and if you’re in black then you can run Urborg to let Eye tap for mana… I don’t know. Maybe I’m crazy. Being able to tutor for “colorless” devoid creatures isn’t irrelevant late-game, but there’s just so many copies in supply right now. I’m calling Eye a hold for now, because I don’t want to give up on the possibility that there’s a really cool interaction in the set that we haven’t seen yet.

Awakening Zone

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Awakening Zone has been creeping and crawling very subtly over the past couple of months.

Azone

It’s easy to not notice a trend of a card slowly creeping from $2 to $3, and Awakening Zone has shrugged off two multiplayer product reprints  over the years. It doubles as a repetitive token engine and ramp spell, and we could definitely see increased demand with the new Eldrazi. It’s always been a semi-staple in Commander decks that can make good use of the tokens, but additional casual demand could put it in the $4 to $5 range relatively quickly.

Keep an eye on this one, but I don’t think we buy in at the $3 it is now. If you want to buy a $3 rare, go for Spawnsire. Just be ready to sell this off at $4 to $5 if it makes it there. I still think it’s a good trade target at $3, especially if you end up being able to move soon-to-be BFZ bulk rares.

Eldrazi Temple

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How the mighty have fallen. If it weren’t for the back-to-back reprints, I would’ve loved this as a pick-up. Everyone would have. Being dropped down to uncommon from rare basically kills any chance for this to be worth anything in the next ten years, so don’t even touch it, unless you’re picking bulk and basically getting them for free. Sell them for a quarter to all of the new Eldrazi players and enjoy the small demand bump, but don’t go hoarding them thinking that you have a master plan.

Pathrazer of Ulamog

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Did you know that Pathrazer of Ulamog is close to being a $3 uncommon? Yep, it’s worth almost as much as a Gitaxian Probe or a Boros Charm, and those ones actually see competitive play. I always preferred Artisan of Kozilek in my EDH decks because of the bonus reanimation and cheaper mana cost, but I suppose there’s something to be said about a higher annihilator number and pseudo-unblockability. At $3, though, I wouldn’t expect this to see any additional gains. The rule here is identical to how you’re moving Eldrazi Temples: be happy with the new buyers, and don’t look back.

End Step

Now, let’s step back into something more recent. Shaman of Forgotten Ways recently shot up to $8 off the back of pure, unadulterated hype, but there’s no actual decklists to back up the price tag yet. Because of that, I made the executive decision to list my copies on TCGplayer yesterday, and they sold in less than three hours.

Azone

Nick is correct in that it’s not particularly fair for me to say that I sextupled up purely from speculation, because I paid buylist prices for them anyway back when they were $2 retail. I was just happy to unload them into the incoming hype, when I still haven’t seen a tangible decklist yet for any sort of green ramp containing the new Eldrazi. Mark Rosewater confirmed that Ulamog was the only titan left on Zendikar, so we won’t be getting Emrakul or Kozilek as backup (at least in this particular set). I’m curious to see if there will be anything else worth slamming down for 10 or more mana mana; if not, then See the Unwritten and Shaman of Forgotten ways could both very well crash and burn. I don’t want to be holding them when that happens.

Do you have any pocket picks that you expect to jump up from the BFZ spoilers? Let’s continue the conversation below, or on Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook. I’m not picky.

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