Tag Archives: cliff daigle

Checking the Sideboards

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Today I want to look at some sideboard cards in Modern and Legacy, things which aren’t seeing a lot of play yet but if they are good enough to make the 75, it’s worth thinking about what might pop given a little time or a minor metagame shift.

Deck: Death’s Shadow

Collective Brutality – $10/$18 foil – This is a very intriguing card, since it’s a small set rare with a foil multiplier that’s under two. It’s not seeing play in Standard currently, so this price is mostly from the other formats. This is seeing play in a range of decks, but not in large numbers. Mostly, it’s a one-or-two-of, as befits such a flexible card.

Forecast: The number of decks this is played in, and none of those being Standard, means that this is unlikely to get lower when it rotates this fall. If it goes even to $8, I would be in on this, as being $15 or more in a year seems very likely.

Maelstrom Pulse – $16/$32 – While not a big card in Death’s Shadow decks, it’s also present in Jund and this is a fantastic card in Commander. It was a mythic a long time ago, in a third set, it was a rare in the first, underprinted Modern Masters, and then it was a Grand Prix promo. It’s around, but there’s also demand.

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Forecast: The buy-in is high here, but the potential is big. Only a couple of decks play this, but casual demand has soaked up a lot of the available copies. It’ll break $20 if not reprinted soon.

Deck: Burn

Atarka’s Command – $9/$14 – This requires the three-color Burn list, and some players are content to be only Boros, because of access to Kor Firewalker. If you’re adding green, though, this is flexible and incredibly powerful.

Forecast: One of the Dragonlords is going to get a Duel Deck or a Commander appearance or something, and that’s the only thing I’m worried about. This is already on an upward trajectory, and it’s easy to see this gaining 50% or more in the next few months. If Burn wins a tournament, or performs well on camera, that could be a lot sooner.

Deflecting Palm – $0.75/$3.50 – This is from Khans of Tarkir, so there’s a lot more of it than there is for Atarka’s Command, but my goodness, this is exactly what I want in a sideboard card. It’s cheap, and incredibly swingy. When you draw this against a Death’s Shadow deck, you feel like you can’t lose. They are going to go for the win and you’re going to prevent your own loss and beat them with one play. It’s not widely played, though.

Forecast: Very slow growth. It’s not in enough decks, frankly. I don’t see this gaining a lot of value anytime soon, barring the unforeseen.

Deck: Affinity

Ghirapur Aether Grid – $1/$13 – The foil multiplier here is truly impressive, as is the uncommon being at $1. There were two copies in the intro pack too! This is casual gold, and sees light play in Lantern Control as well.

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Forecast: I’m in on the foils, to be frank. If this gets reprinted in a Commander product the nonfoils will take a hit, but they just printed an artifact Commander deck and didn’t include this. I think it’s safe for the next year, so picking up nonfoils is fine too.

Spire of Industry – $5/$13 – This is a maindeck card, but one worth attention as supply dries up and we move into Amonkhet. It sees a lot of play in Standard, but the casual appeal and the Modern usage has me eyeing this.

Forecast: I think this is a $10 card around Christmas of this year, and the foils are going to rise slowly but surely over time.

Deck: Abzan

Thrun, the Last Troll – $12/$34 – He’s dodged reprinting over and over again, and I don’t think he will end up in a Commander set. The supply from a middle-set mythic five years ago was never big, and without a supplementary printing, he’s due for a pop.

Forecast: This seems pretty safe to me. His value is a bit too high for easy reprints, and his next set would be Modern Masters 2019. I don’t know when he will spike, but spike he will. Sometime in the next 18 months, this will go up to at least $30.

Kitchen Finks – $12/$20-$30, depending on the foil version – This card is played a lot, as shown by its price. It’s resilient, catches you up, and can be played in white or green. Only two printings, plus the FNM promo.

Forecast: As an uncommon, it can be added to products easier. Its price has been quite low in the past, but it is also part of infinite life combos in Modern. I do not think the time is right to move in on this yet. I think it’s due for a reprint, and when that happens, I will want to be ready to pick them up. The exposure is too high here.

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Hitting Bottom

Modern Masters drops today! It’s so awesome! Value all over the place, depending on the amount opened. We will be keeping an eye on the prices, but drops of 30-50% should be expected. A lot of cards have fallen that far already, and as time passes we will have to keep an eye on the value of MM3 cards.

Today, though, I want to focus on Kaladesh and Aether Revolt cards that are good targets for increasing in value later on. Some stores are going to keep opening those in drafts and events, but all the hype is on Modern Masters, and we are about a month away from Amonkhet prerelease events.

Prices for the Kaladesh block are at their lowest right now. Supply has been maximized, and those who need cards have gotten them. We are now at the point where if a card gets popular in Standard, it’ll spike, because they aren’t getting opened anymore.

This is also when I want to get cards that I think are good long-term investments, due to casual appeal or playability in Eternal formats.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary – $1.20/$4 foil – This is one of the easiest picks around. Have you played with this card? It’s amazing in any format where you can resolve it without dying, and you play creatures. Commander loves this card, and a scry 1 might help this be good enough in Standard. Creature decks run out of gas, and drawing a card per creature cast is rather phenomenal. I’m advocating this due to the casual appeal, but I am not ruling out that this spikes anytime before the big set of Fall 2018. My low end of this is $3-$4 in two years, but Standard could push that issue sooner.

Foils are awfully appealing at a mere $4. They started out at $10 on release, and it’s a card that you have to come up with a good reason against if you’re a green Commander player. I want all of these at $4. Just all of them. They are going to be leeched out of the market as time passes, so be ready when they slowly climb back to $10 or more.

Whir of Invention – $1/$5 – This is a card looking to be broken. Brewers are trying hard with this and Inspiring Statuary, but I feel the Whir will get broken first. It’s also a card you can put into a deck that’s almost all artifacts, where the Statuary needs both lots of artifacts AND big spells that aren’t artifacts. Whir is also much better in casual formats, being something that I can easily see every Commander deck playing to go find that Darksteel Forge or whatever you need. I love getting in on a dollar card with upside we haven’t found yet. It’s quite possible that either of the blocks coming have artifacts worth tutoring for. I think this will find a home in some decks in Modern at some point, and doubling will be conservative.

The foils are also super appealing. It’s very easy to add this card to a deck with a few choice artifacts in Commander, so seeing the foil go up to $10-$15 within a couple years is a very believable idea.

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Release the Gremlins – $0.75 – I’m surprised that this isn’t seeing more play in sideboards, but it’s such a cheap card and we are so lacking in artifact removal in Standard that I want to have some of these around just for the scalable potential. It’s not going to blow up Modern or Legacy, not when Shatterstorm is legal, but this might have Commander appeal too. This is more likely to be a Standard spike, and otherwise might need a very long timeline to pay off in casual circles.

Planar Bridge – $2.50/$11.50/$43 for the Invention – For an in-print mythic, this is surprisingly low. There is the Invention version that soaks up some of the demand from Commander players that have to have it, but it’s still a card that the format desires. I want to have some of these around, and frankly most of my Commander decks should be playing it, but my hesitance is all due to the reprint risk. This is super reprintable, and as long as the value stays low, it can be added to a preconstructed Commander deck pretty easily. I think this risk is present in all of my picks today, but the fact that this is totally colorless gives an extra layer of risk.

Personally, I’m in favor of you getting the Invention right now if you want it, and have some foils for speculation. I think that the casual demand will have this foil up to $20 by the end of the year. I’m not expecting Tron decks to blow this up, it would be a one-of at best and that wouldn’t bump things hugely.

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The Ground Floor

The spoiler for Modern Masters 2017 is here, and while it’s full of juicy speculative goodness, I’ll get to some safe picks in a moment.

I want you to understand that next weekend, when we can draft with this set, is going to suck the air out of Kaladesh block drafting, and Amonkhet is only six weeks away from prerelease events, so preview season for that starts in about three weeks.

Stay disciplined. Get your Whir of Inventions for pennies. Stock up on foil Metallurgic Summonings. Trade for all the Panharmonicons you can at $4 or less. If you don’t have them already, get your Fatal Push playset now, instead of waiting and watching the price go up. Don’t let the new shiny things distract you from what you should be doing: Getting all the last Kaladesh block cards you want now.

When a new set comes out, I have a two-step process. I figure out what cards I want to have, and the price I want to pay for them, cash or trade. That’s how I try to make sure I’m growing my collection’s value, by not overpaying when I get in on cards.

The sheer number of once-pricey rares in this set has me a little spooked about going too deep on a card. Going forward, I don’t want to be in on too many copies of a card, it’ll be better served to diversify what I’m holding.

For this set, I want to look not at the cards being played in Modern, but the casual stars that have been reprinted. For the most part, these are cards that can own the table in Commander or Cube, and since they are being printed right now, I think they are likely safe from being in Commander 2017 or some other supplementary product.

Probably.

These are the cards that I want to pick up, in anticipation of solid, steady growth.

Cavern of Souls – I need this to get cheaper. It’s not played in a lot of decks but it tends to be an all-star in a playset. This is the land that Sliver decks and Ally decks and tribal decks love most. I sold every one out of my Commander decks when it broke $40, and I’m really hoping this drops to the $25 range. At that point, I would get one for each of my tribal decks and I would absolutely sell them again when the prices go back up again.

Craterhoof Behemoth – Right now you can get these for $10 or less on preorder, and that’s a price I already like. If it drops lower, to $8 or god forbid $5, I’ll be all over this and sorely tempting my new ‘don’t go deep’ philosophy. This is a game-ender card, a stellar casual creature, and something that goes in lots of decks.

Temporal Mastery – Extra-turn cards are always going to have legs. This is a card I want to make sure I pick up a couple of sets of, and it can be had for $3 in preorders. I don’t think it will fall much farther, and this is why I love the card:

A couple of times there was an extra-turns deck that would pop up, but this graph is what I want to see. It’s in consistent demand, so I want plenty at a low buy-in.

Cyclonic Rift – I had expected this to be in another Commander printing before long, but being here means I want some at $4 or less just to hold. I hate the existence of this card, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it got banned in Commander.

Phantasmal Image – I’m hoping this makes it down to $1 or so, and I would pick up quite a few. I’ve seen it be recurred too often and do too much work to stay that low for long.

Venser, Shaper Savant – My target for him is $5. The FTV version didn’t dent him too hard, but this is too good in too many ways to stay $5 forever. He almost never shows up in constructed formats, but he’s very powerful in casual settings and I do think his price will go back up over time.

Stay away from:

Griselbrand – Being banned in Commander is the big strike against him. He’s one of the premier cards to cheat into play, making him a four-of in combos, but the supply is too high for me to get in.

Sphinx’s Revelation – No price movement for years and years. Observe.

That’s a card that isn’t going to recover from this printing.

Past in Flames – Nope, nope, never.

Thragtusk – Solid, dependable, reprinted into oblivion.

Zur the Enchanter – Before the judge promo, before this, I could have been talked into him, but now I think he’s going to drop to near-bulk status. I don’t even want to get in on foils.

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Inventions: Time to Buy

Time to speak some truth: I’ve been buying Inventions and Expeditions whenever I can.

Part of it is that I have a magpie’s eye for shiny and unique things. I have written before that I think foiling out a deck is a worthy quest and a good financial plan at the same time. The Masterpiece series has grown on me and I think it’s worth acquiring.

Especially right now.

The market has set the price on these relatively quickly, and while the prices all started super high on the Expeditions, they settled to a more reasonable level within a few weeks. To be fair, we didn’t know exactly how many would be printed and how many people would want them. Some of the preorder prices turned out to be comically high, but that’s the nature of things showing up for the first time.

Let’s look at Polluted Delta.

 

What I love most about that graph is the dip at the end of 2016, when the Standard Showdown packs were announced and started being opened. Given the frequency of having an Expedition or Invention in those, the amount of supply added was probably not 20% more, but that’s how far it has fallen at that news.

To buy low and sell high is a prime tenent of Magic finance, and the slight falling of values means that I want to get in on some lands. I’m a bit more optimistic on the enemy fetches, but I’m also aware that the player base is clamoring for a reprint of those.

Intellectually, I know that the pack foil of Twilight Mire is more expensive than the Expedition version. I know that the pack foil versions of cards are almost always the most expensive foils, depending on reprints and arts.

It doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of owning these cards with the unique frame and appearance, which is why I pick up as many of them as I can.

The most important detail about the Masterpieces is this: They do not circulate a lot. People get them and put them in decks and leave them there. High-end foils are like that, and while the supply might be large, the number in circulation isn’t. Cubes and Commander decks soak up Masterpieces that get opened, and I don’t think they have a chance to lose that freshly-opened-pack smell before being double-sleeved and given a place of pride.

Normally, this is a good time to buy cards, at the tail end of a season. I wrote last week about some pickups I really like from Kaladesh. What makes this a good time for Inventions especially is that it’s going to take truly special circumstances for more of them to get into circulation.

I’m not ruling out a future edition that Wizards does, I think it’s super unlikely for them to release a significant amount of these again. It would be analogous to releasing a new batch of SDCC black planeswalkers, to my mind.

We are about to start spoilers for Modern Masters 2017, and I have a strong suspicion that it’s going to lower the amount of drafts done at local stores for AER-AER-KLD. We don’t know enough about the set or what’s in it, but players are fickle. We like new things, especially the chance to open something super expensive. Cutting back on the drafts done means that the supply isn’t going to go up very much, and so there’s a few Inventions with strong casual appeal that I really want in on:

Solemn Simulacrum – $66 – Universally good and has been reprinted a ton, yet still holding some value. The pack foils are not visually striking, while this is, and I like this to grow nicely over time.

Rings of Brighthearth – $55 – The card in regular nonfoil has apready risen recently, at at about $10 more than the pack foil, I’ve gotten two of these for different decks. There are not a lot of decks that want this effect, but it’s amazing when it’s good.

Chromatic Lantern – $55 – The gold standard of mana fixing, a card very popular in casual formats, and something that ought to go up over time.

Cloudstone Curio – $30 – Have you seen an Animar deck go off with this? Or an Elf deck? It’s a combo enabler, and those are the things that can really spike when a new card makes them good.

Gauntlet of Power – $31 – I’m not ruling out weird Infinity War crossovers or stuff like that, but with the nonfoil at $15, this is a great price for an auto-include in single-color decks.

Paradox Engine – $45 – Again, this is just a silly card that does silly things and is breakable even now. It’s also gorgeous, which is important.

Planar Bridge – $36 – It can’t go find the sorcery or instant you need to win the game, but it does tutor up a ridiculous number of broken things and that’s at the heart of Commander games. I love having these in long-term storage, because it’s got excellent potential.

Something that hasn’t happened yet to the Inventions or Expeditions is a spike in those prices. They have dipped a little and recovered to within a few percent, but they represent at least steady long-term growth, and the potential for a huge payoff should they ever spike. It might even be a Reserved List buyout, which we saw a few times this past summer, as some people attempted to clear out the market.

Torrential Gearhulk has seen a bump already, in all versions including the Masterpiece:

 

The bump from Pro Tour play affected all versions of this card, and that’s helpful to know if someone breaks Paradox Engine during Hour of Devastation.

Any chance you get to trade for a Masterpiece, you should at least consider. Depends on the trade and the percentage that someone is asking for, but they are fantastic trade bait, a sweet target for people to aim for and a financially stable card that you should seek to add to your portfolio.

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