Tag Archives: Conspiracy

Learning from Past Conspiracies

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Good lord, I can’t draft Conspiracy: Take the Crown enough. Did two drafts in a row on Friday, one more Sunday, and I’d be up for drafting it any night of the week. The combination of valuable cards AND messing with a draft AND incredible multiplayer mechanics and gameplay is just breathtaking. This set is a jewel and I strongly encourage you to go experience it.

An aside: If your LGS doesn’t know how to do this, allow me to give a plug to mine. Eight people draft, break into two four-player pods. Two games will be played, with prizes to first and second place for each game. The second game is to mitigate from mana problems, and it takes a truly busted deck to win two games. More often, the person who won game one will get hated out early in game two.

My ravenous joy in this set is tempered by my experiences with the original Conspiracy set. I’m treating Take the Crown as though it’s the original set. There’s four things I learned from last time around, and I’m taking those lessons to heart.

Lesson #1: Stuff is cheap!

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Exactly ten cards are worth more than a pack at $4. That’s a terrible ratio, and all of the special schemes are less than a dollar in nonfoil. Truly, that’s atrocious. Conspiracy is not a place for long-term value, and there’s a consistent graph of reprints tanking in value.

So I’m not looking for value in these, and in fact, I think that right now, you should be avoiding Take the Crown cards, as they have farther to fall. Likely around the release of Kaladesh, I’ll be prowling these cards for the best value, as supply will be maxed.

The impact of this being a print-to-demand set is real. Take the Crown is in the big-box stores, and there is no limit to the supply, aside from when people stop asking. Do you know when they stop asking? When your local store is stocked up and actually has more than they want! I’m hoping that my store and my peers want to keep drafting this until Kaladesh shows up.

Lesson #2: Except for Foils!

As I pointed out last week, there are some amazing foil multipliers at work in original Conspiracy, and there are some amazing ones already at work in Take the Crown. Leovold, for instance, is multiplied by seven. Kaya’s alternate-art foil is about ten times more expensive. Marchesa is fifteen times more pricey, to get the foil!

I’m all about shiny cards. I am absolutely that kind of magpie person, who needs to have the new one be shiny and new and some of these cards are calling to me. I want to let the initial rush fade, and be patient in my pursuit of these cards. I’m hoping they come down some in the second and third weekend of release.

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Lesson #3: Sealed Product

While the original Conspiracy is a lot of fun to draft with friends, it’s not a place to park value. I refer you to others who have kept more sealed product around, and the short version is that there isn’t value in it. Even now, I can get a box of the original on Amazon for less than $100 shipped.

The value in long-term holds of sealed product is the value of the cards, not the worth of the experience. This has Berserk, and Show and Tell, and some other fun things, and the end value of those cards will determine the long-term value. I’m inclined to say no, nonetheless.

Lesson #4: Draft-specific cards don’t hold value

Allow me to give you the benefit of my ill-spent money. I went after the assorted ‘draft matters’ cards in foil, spending some significant amounts.

I bought early, and set them aside, thinking that as people build Cubes, they will need Cogwork Librarians and such. But they don’t. They absolutely don’t. So while you might really want that foil Sovereign’s Realm, you should get one for yourself and don’t try to corner the market.

My $20 foil Worldknits are just going to sit here in a corner and weep silently. Don’t join us.

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Reprint Awareness, Part 2

So a bunch of new things are coming this year, and as I said last week, there’s a lot of cards that I would be worried about. These are cards that I do not want to have extras of right now, or even if I do keep some, I do so knowing how easy these are to reprint.

Reflecting Pool ($8): It’s been printed three times, and has two foil versions. But it’s ridiculously good in multicolor decks, and four-color Commanders are going to make everyone want one of these. I will be ready to order a ton of these if we get the decklists and this hasn’t been printed again, as a spike to at least $15 seems reasonable.

Doubling Season ($40): Oh, this is scary. The good news, though, is that every time it’s been printed (Judge version, Modern Masters 2013) it’s eventually rebounded. I think this gets printed before the Commander decks, and if it goes as low as $20 I will be picking some up. It’s just too good in the long term with tokens, planeswalkers, counters, etc.

Path to Exile ($11-$13): Seven printings! Including an FNM version, as an uncommon, and yet here it is. I stand by my thinking, though: This is easy to print, a powerful yet balanced effect, and if it dips down to $5 it’ll be an attractive buy target. I would not be holding spare nonfoils.

Akroma’s Memorial ($16): I’ll be honest, I love cards like this that just end the game of Commander. Drop this down and immediately remove someone from the game with your hasty, vigilant, first striking army and don’t be afraid of any retaliation. This is a very high price for such a casual card, though, and a reprint is going to bite deeply into its value.

Cavern of Souls ($54): This is the new Damnation. We know it’s going to get reprinted. It’s an amazing card in Constructed for uncounterability and in casual formats for tribal color-fixing. I would call this somewhere between scorching and radioactive, in terms of how this would be burning a hole in my binder to get rid of it. I’m actually hoping for something with better art, because the foil isn’t all that pretty. Get rid of every copy you have, as I will be stunned if this makes it to New Year’s Day without a reprint.

Blood Artist ($4): As an uncommon from one of the worst Limited sets in recent memory, it’s surprising to see this be worth so much, but the effect is bonkers in a lot of settings. A reprint will tank this hard and you should move these out now.

Rune-Scarred Demon ($6): I don’t think Dark Petition is going to get a reprint this year, but I do believe that seven mana for a 6/6 flyer and a tutor is awesomely good enough to see a new version in one of the sets we get this year. I couldn’t say which, but I wouldn’t keep any of these around.

Oblivion Stone ($30): Big-mana strategies are in vogue and this hasn’t had a printing since 2011. There’s a lot of casual players who would love to have one of these, and you should move your extras out pretty soon. This could literally be in any set.

Champion’s Helm ($10): One of the underrated cards from the original Commander, this is one of the best ways to keep your general safe for a low cost. Lightning Greaves is the gold standard, but this is not far off. However, it’s only had the one printing, and a new release will really impact the price.

Consecrated Sphinx ($26): It’s due. It’s so due. It’s also an excellent candidate for a banning in Commander. I would let go of every copy that wasn’t in a deck right now.

Darksteel Plate ($8): It’s hard to grasp how long ago this got printed, and it’s had no additional versions added to the supply. Get your extras out of your binder and avoid the price loss that will happen.

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Asceticism ($12): If you’ve never had the honor of playing with this, it’s even better than you think it is. Pinpoint removal is no good, and also it regenerates when needed. It’s also no mana to protect your creatures, and it’s a popular card in green Commander decks. This is rather expensive for a rare from a big set, and adding to the supply is going to torpedo the price.

Genesis Wave ($7): Speaking of Scars of Mirrodin! This card pops up from time to time when a ramp deck wants a big finisher, and this is ridiculously awesome in Commander games. I expect this to get printed again, losing at least half of its value when it does.

Steel Overseer ($19): I would imagine that one of the new Commander decks will be artifact-based, likely the one that isn’t green. This card would be fantastic in that set, and if it’s not printed, will likely go up by $5-$10, and drop by at least that much when printed.

Serra Ascendant ($19): I don’t think this would be in the Commander product, because it lacks the modern template of Chalice of Life and different playgroups have different ways they want to handle this card. The price, though, is going to drop like a rock, since this was a rare in 2011.

Captivating Vampire ($9): Sees no competitive play, one of the top tribes in Magic, five years old. It’s an excellent target for one of these supplemental products and won’t be even $5 after a reprint.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence ($52): This is another card that keeps dodging a reprint and I’m more and more surprised each time. If I had any extras, I would be very nervous. She’s continued to creep upward in price and kudos to you if you want to keep walking the tightrope with her.

Nirkana Revenant ($22): Everyone loves this effect in casual circles and it even comes with something to do with all of that mana! It’s a mythic from forever ago, though, and the supply is tiny. Expect this to drop to a third of its value.

Master of the Wild Hunt ($14): Another ancient mythic, this is really more and more amazing with all the new wolf creatures and token makers. Trade these away freely.

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Reprint Awareness

In case you’re not aware, the next six months are going to give us a lot of ways to experience Magic that are not Standard-legal booster packs.

June 10, 2016: Eternal Masters

August 19, 2016: From the Vault: Lore

August 27, 2016: Conspiracy: Take the Crown

November 2016 (exact date not yet released, likely the first week or two): Commander 2016

 

Yes, that’s only one week between an FtV and the new Conspiracy set. My wallet already hurts.

Notably, this list leaves out Eldritch Moon (July 16) and the next large set (codename is Lock, due to land in September 2016) but those are less likely to have reprints in them.

FtV: Lore is something I don’t want to speculate on. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from Wizards’ decision to put Iona, Shield of Emeria in Modern Masters 2015 and then immediately again in FtV: Angels. I know there’s some logic, some rationale, but I’m done trying to predict what they will and won’t do.

Instead, I want to think about what’s safe, as I attempt to weather the storm ahead. I also want to consider the three reprint-focused sets (Conspiracy and Commander are mostly reprints) and what I have that’s exposed from a financial standpoint.

One of the things that I have learned is to trust the high-end market. The things that there will not be any more of, that’s only going to go up. There are blessed few examples of a three-figure card crashing down to earth, and those usually involve multiple bannings.

With the best of the best, a reprint doesn’t often hurt a card. Let’s looks at the poster child for ‘careful what you wish for’ reprints: Thoughtseize. Here’s the graph for the foil:

Tseize

Theros came out in fall 2013, and you can see the dip down to about $100. If you got in at that point, congratulations. I love it when any card triples in value, but climbing $200 or so is truly awesome. In retrospect, we should have seen it coming. We should have known that this card is good. Incredibly so. Format-warpingly amazing. It’s a mainstay in Modern and Legacy and while lots of people were telling you to pick up $20 copies at the end of Theros, I don’t remember many voices chiming in about Lorwyn foils.

Original set foils are resistant in the long term, often carrying more value than newer versions that seem exactly the same. Woodfall Primus, a fun reanimation target but not a Constructed card currently, has a $6 gap between the Shadowmoor foil and the Modern Masters 2013 foil.

It takes a lot to dent the prime cards and Onslaught fetches are one of them. Those cards have seen Judge printings, Khans of Tarkir reprints, and now Zendikar Expeditions. Even with all of that, the lesser lands have stayed about where they were. Here’s Windswept Heath:

heath

While it’s seen some ups and downs, it’s been mostly at home in the $150 range. This is true for the other four, and now my secret: GET THESE NOW.

No matter which version you want, supply is at a peak. If you ever wanted these for a Commander deck, or your Cube, or whichever, now is the time. People have gotten theirs and they are coming out of circulation and there’s nowhere to go but up. I like the set foils and the Expedition versions to grow the most in the next two to three years, but these will, at the worst, keep their price.

On a related note, I really, really like getting into foil Zendikar fetches. These might not get the Standard treatment as the Onslaught ones did, but the trajectory is there. Buylist on a foil Scalding Tarn has already gotten back to where it was before the Expeditions landed, and I think that all the foils are going to tick steadily upward. At worst, they stay safe, and I’ll be insulated against all the reprints that are coming.

Watchlist

Now, let’s talk about some unsafe cards.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx ($8): This worries me, and I have about 20 that I picked up for $4. It’s too easy. This shines in a set that focuses on individual colors, or hybrids. I’ve seen some chatter that an Elf theme is quite possible in EMA, and this fits in very well as a “Oh, you’ve done a bunch of stuff? Have a boatload of mana!” card that Gaea’s Cradle is ideal in.

Thespian’s Stage ($3/$14): The foil multiplier is due to the Dark Depths combo and the awesomeness in Commander. I banged the drum on this card for years as a dollar pickup and here we are, a triple up…and I’m frightened. There’s a lot of people on PucaTrade who want this, and in the interest of disclosure, I sent out half my copies this week. A reprint, in any set, will send this back to fifty cents or lower, and it fits literally anywhere.

Stony Silence ($11): Cheap, easy, and a great answer to a lot of problems. I’ll be surprised if this hasn’t had a new printing by the end of this year.

Innistrad enemy check lands (Sulfur Falls, Woodland Cemetery, etc.): These have had one printing and it was five years ago. It’s time and the values will drop by at least half. Lots of spare copies have been soaked up by the casual market, and they are a great add for easing mana fixing.

Craterhoof Behemoth ($26): A great finisher for swarm decks, this might be too obvious if there is an Elf theme in one of the reprint sets. I don’t think they want to take an Elf deck and reprint it as-is, but as I said, I’ve been horrifically wrong about what Wizards will and won’t do.

Rise of the Dark Realms ($7): Big, expensive, splashy, and usually game-ending. Sounds like the definition of a card in Commander 2016.

Primeval Bounty ($6): Whatever you do after casting this, it gets significantly better. But it does nothing at six mana, yet it’s got this price. Ripe for reprinting!

Omniscience ($16): Another excellent candidate for a Commander reprint, it’s just silly, especially if the Reserve List gets bent and best buddy Academy Rector gets a reprint along the way too.

Gilded Lotus ($9): Don’t sleep on how good this card is, because it’s been in two large sets and as an FtV and yet it’s still here at $9. It’s a first-pick card in Cube too.

There’s a lot more things that I don’t want to have spares of, and I’ll try to wrap up the list next week. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments or the forums!

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PROTRADER: Everything In Its Right Place

This week’s article is not a continuation of the Playing Better series (which will continue next week), but is more of an address to the various things that have come up since I started that series. This is going to be one of those grab bag style pieces that is slightly more focused than a collection of quick hits. If there is one major point to be made, however, it’s the following:

NOT EVERYTHING IS FOR EVERYBODY: We have three supplemental Magic products coming out this summer, and they are all in the form of actual sets (as opposed to pre-constructed decks or something). This is unprecedented, and has a type of psychological impact that people have largely had trouble articulating.

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