Tag Archives: Battle for Zendikar Standard

Grinder Finance – This Week in Magic: The Gathering

It’s the week before the Pro Tour and all through the Internet, not a pro player was stirring, not even Tomoharu Saito.  After a grueling tournament, two decks that only feature two colors battled it out in the finals of the Star City Games open in Indianapolis. This week we won’t be teaching any lessons.  I’m going to go through the news with you.

zen fatpack

The Great Fatpack Gouging of 2015

People are up in arms and truly enraged that stores would charge more than MSRP for anything.  The Professor (content producer under the Tolarian Community College youtube channel), had some especially fierce criticism for stores that chose to raise their prices to above MSRP.

fatpack tweets

I respect him a great deal for his huge contributions to the community (seriously if you haven’t checked out his videos I highly recommend them), but I don’t think he, like many people, have considered all of the options.  Most stores sell almost every Magic sealed product for under MSRP.  The exception is usually with limited print run stuff like From the Vault products and Modern Masters.  The only reason to raise prices is because you will sell out of all your product.  Large online stores can’t afford to be out of anything.  If a customer comes to your website expecting to be able to buy a product and you can’t provide that product, they will buy from competitors.  If that competitor has products in stock that you do not multiple times, you will lose that customer.  What this means is that prices have to rise to curb demand.  Stores are still in the business of selling product but the reality is they need to keep something in stock.  You have the option of going to Walmart or Target and trying your luck at picking up a Fat pack but that’s not an option for everyone and the convenience of an online order is worth the $10 to some people.

The other unfortunate problem with selling them at MSRP when in high demand is that people will buy them solely for the purpose of reselling them on auction sites like EBay.  At this point the card store doesn’t get the extra money and it’s pocketed by people who don’t help grow the game.  I’d rather a store get the money if people are going to pay that much.

100 jace
Source: http://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/creativity/artwork/340434-in-jace-we-trust

The $100 Man

Saturday afternoon I looked at TCGPlayer and noticed there were only 29 total listings for Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.  Granted there is not usually much supply added on the weekends (stores generally don’t ship/list on weekends because they’re off), it was still unusual to see such low stock.  Ten hours later there were three non-foil copies listed.  While I don’t think this was a targeted buyout (because there weren’t a ton of copies listed by a single seller), it is indicative of future growth.

jace VP graph

He’s pretty much been on a steady rise since he came out.  The small divets in his price are mostly due to small supply gluts.

liliana HH graph

Compared to Liliana, Heretical Healer (the early frontrunner for best walker), Jace seems invincible.  Liliana has seen some minor success and continues to fall.  Even Nissa — who sees almost as much play as Jace in Standard — has been flat.  Why is this?

Well, Jace is a multi-format all-star blue spell that costs two mana.  While being a good blue spell in Standard doesn’t always equate into a hit, it almost certainly does in Modern and Legacy (more blue-friendly formats).  Jace passes early tests for mana cost and raw card power and continues to over perform in those formats.  This card will likely mimic Liliana of the Veil’s pricing for the near future as it will be the most popular Planeswalker in Modern.

Where does he go from here?  There’s pretty much nowhere to go but up.  Even though we have now seen Mythic rares in Event Decks, it is extremely unlikely we will see this Jace in the near future.  The fact that Jace is a flip card makes him cost so much more money to produce so his chance of being in a sealed product are very low.

Starcity Games Open in Indianapolis

dual command

I’ll assumed you’ve seen who won but, if not, congratulations to Brian Demars for his win including several turn 4 blow outs.  People really like to underestimate the power of the red deck in week 1 and they paid the price.  No, not the Ultimate Price, which would have been spectacular versus Demars.


Ultimately it looks like the price will be paid to play these super multi-colored decks.  I don’t know if Standard will be as expensive as the all Mythic rare decks from the Doran deck days, but it’s showing here how much the price of Khans of Tarkir fetch lands is having on deck prices.  As you can see here, the mostly mono-red deck still plays 10 fetch lands in it’s 21 land mana base.  With the rotation of temples, people have to resort more to fetch / battle mana bases which will put more strain on already expensive Khans fetch lands.

Trading Up

Pucatrade continues to be my #1 way to move cards.  If you haven’t signed up already, you can use my referral link here.  It has some useful tools for pruning your collection and predicting the future.

puca popular 7 day

As of my writing, these are the top traded cards in the last 7 days.  It’s pretty clear people want to finish their mana bases asap and I don’t blame them.  But does that mean that these are the most popular cards?

pucatrade popular

With some searching and filter magic you can see the most requested cards are actually basic lands.  Unfortunately these filters are only available to Uncommon tier of support.  From this we can see there is a large discrepancy in the number of “wants” vs the number of “haves.”  Generally when the “Wants” exceed the “Haves” it means that people value the card more than the currently listed Pucatrade price.  From this we can determine either the card is over valued by players or it is poised to go up.  While I don’t believe this will last long with these basic lands, it is an easy avenue to move large numbers of lands that will be worth a lot less in the coming months.

The Final Act

In closing, this week has been hectic and we will see more shifts as the ebb and flow of the Pro Tour.  Will another red aggressive deck win it?  Will a Dragonlord spread it’s wings over the Pro Tour?  Will See the Unwritten break Ulamog out of his shell?

Credit to this goes to Ty Hill

Or will Siege Rhino win another one?  We’ll find out soon and hopefully have some great things to talk about.

Thinking About Future Stars of Standard

I’m writing this article mostly because I just saw Dig Through Time’s price and noticed that one of most powerful card selection spells in Standard reached its bottom in terms of price.

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 12.32.58 PM

Besides Standard, the card has burst onto the eternal scene and completely changed Legacy (it was already way too good for Modern, and along with Treasure Cruise quickly received the ban hammer). There has even been talk that this card should be banned in Legacy, right along with Treasure Cruise, because it just makes blue decks way too good – especially combo oriented decks like Omni-Tell, where if you have your combo countered initially you can just use all the trashed pieces in your graveyard to dig for another Show and Tell and Omniscience and still win even through an absurd amount of counter magic or hand disruption. For control decks, it makes them even more oppressive because they can also keep going through their deck until they again find a way to lock down whatever you’re trying to do again and again.

Now, Standard obviously can’t abuse Dig and Treasure Cruise like eternal formats. Even if they became more oppressive in the environment, because of the changes to the block structure Khans and Fate Reforged are going to rotate out earlier than they would previously (they rotate once the next large set after Battle for Zendikar is released). This means that there will be a smaller window for profit once we get into the accelerated Standard rotation window if cards like Dig become great. Picking cards before release should also become more profitable (or costly) depending on how good you are at it. For Magic Origins, many of the writers for MTGPrice were able to identify the vast majority of undervalued cards going into the set release so I highly recommend you follow authors like Derek Madlem, James Chillcott, and Travis Allen (if you have premium) so that you are better able to see which cards are undervalued. This way, you can make more informed decisions when it comes time to preorder if you like to add risk to your portfolio.

Besides preordering though, another way to profit on Standard cards is to pick up staples in the current block at undervalued prices before as rotation approaches. Of course, the counterpoint to this is to pick up undervalued casual or eternal cards in the rotating block, but here I would like to focus on cards in the current block that I feel have reached a bottom and have room to grow as Battle for Zendikar is released.

Dig Through Time

My strongest pick for value, both in terms of card selection and the current market price of the card, I would suggest that if you are a Standard player to finish your playset in the near future and if you want to speculate on the new Standard to pick up as many copies as you are comfortable holding. I think that this card is at least doubling up once rotation happens, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it headed to $15 or higher for a short period.


Another card that has reached a low point, this seems to be the direction that Wizards is taking Wrath of God cards. I believe that Standard players are going to be attracted to using it because a four mana board wipe that kills basically everything is the hotness. I especially think it will be a good pickup because Abzan is already an established boogeyman of the format and everyone will be playing aggro decks during the release of Battle for Zendikar to punish the slower decks. Well, this is an aggro punisher if I ever saw one!

I admit though, as Standard goes on I think that Languish will get worse and worse because I’m expecting some super large Eldrazi to come out of the next two sets (I mean, we might even see something bigger than Emrakul!) and Languish isn’t even coming close to killing them. I think the play here is to pick up copies now, and then get rid of extras once a spike happens because I don’t think it has a chance of a second spike during its Standard life.

Siege Rhino, Dromoka’s Command


The lynchpin of the current Abzan strategies, these cards were hit hard by the Clash Pack printing but should rebound nicely as rotation happens in the fall. We’re not going to see $10 Rhinos or $9 Dromoka Commands again but they each should go back up to at least $6, since I believe that many players are going to want tools to fight against Burn and super fast decks as the new Standard is being figured out. Also, both are applicable to Modern and should be buoyed financially if even they don’t experience a major spike in Standard. If you are looking for long term value, I think that since Siege Rhino and Dromoka’s Command were reprinted that both are good places to park some dollars in expectation of future gains, since they both have dropped in price considerably and have eternal application.

Dragon Whisperer

I’ve always ascribed to the philosophy that aggro tends to dominate Standard during the time of rotation, and this is a two-drop mythic rare that could fit nicely into a newly envisioned mono-red aggro deck. Another interesting possibility is its inclusion in a midrange deck which is able to take advantage of the Formidable ability, so you can generate 4/4 Dragons as the game goes on. Either way, for $2 you won’t be losing much if this doesn’t make a splash and have everything to gain if it does. On the plus side, Dragons of Tarkir will actually be Standard legal longer than Khans and Fate Reforged, so there is actually another rotation where this will be legal to see a spike. So you actually get two chances with this card to see a spike!

Whisperwood Elemental

Well, you know what they say, it’s always the quiet ones you need to watch out for… looks like both Whisper cards have hit their bottoms, and both being mythic rares means that if they spike then the price is going to go up higher and faster than their rare equivalents.

Whisperwood being green means that he’ll be better able to fit into ramp strategies, which I think players are going to experiment with once we get some large and imposing Eldrazis to work with in Standard. Whisperwood can keep generating 2/2’s as blockers to keep you alive until you get some Eldrazi online. Seems like a great card to me and I have big expectations for this guy.

Rattleclaw Mystic

I’ve been hyping the Rattleclaw Mystic money train for a while, and I’ve picked up plenty of excess copies of this guy in anticipation of a decent performance in Standard since this is predicted to be the best mana ramp creature we’re going to get. Going with what we’ve seen from Sylvan Caryatid, I expect Rattleclaw to start going up in price some time in October.

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 1.48.17 PM

Caryatid went from $5 to $15 in October, so going with Rattleclaw’s current price of $2 I expect it to be at least $6 by the time October hits.

Final Mention – Fetchlands


Wait a second, you say. How could these things possibl0y go even higher than they are now? Didn’t Polluted Delta and Flooded Strand recently see a significant appreciation in their price?

Despite both of these questions being valid concerns, fetchlands are in a league of their own when it comes to price and will be especially important to Standard since Landfall is being reintroduced in the coming-back-to-Zendikar block again.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Khans fetchlands go over $20 retail in their Standard life, with the most heavily played ones reaching $30 or more. We also have to consider that Modern will be driving demand in addition to Standard, since we just saw a spike of the original Zendikar fetchlands because of Maro letting us know that we have an “exciting” new type of dual land coming out shortly… mhmm, I think I’ll keep my excitement in check until I see those original Zendikar fetchlands reprinted again, mkay?

While the fetches have been trending up nicely over the summer, especially the blue ones, I still think they have room to grow before they rotate from Standard. I wouldn’t expect to get killer deals on these things near or after rotation – remember, everyone is going to be looking to pick them up at rotation so retailers aren’t going to be budging on prices much. While the best time to purchase fetchlands is behind us, I still think it is a good idea to complete unfinished playsets before Standard and Modern hype start bringing the Khans fetchlands to lofty new price highs.

That’s all I’ve got for this week! Which cards are you guys looking at in Standard that have reached their bottoms for some nice fall gains? I know I only covered non-rotating cards, so is there anything from Theros that you think is even more important to keep an eye on than Khans/Dragons/Origins?