Tag Archives: ixalan

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Adjusting to the Times

I have been buying and selling cards for a while, but I have to admit that I’m not so sure about what rules apply and what rules don’t anymore.

This year especially, I’ve been waaaaaaay off a couple of times recently and I want to try and fix that. I also want to see where some cards are coming in, to teach me some new ideas to guide me for this ‘three Masters sets in 18 months’ sort of world we are living in.

I also want to try and apply what this year and previous years have taught me, to see if there’s stuff I want to start picking up, now that we are in the end-of-the-year doldrums.

Philosophy #1: What will be good in a year?

I didn’t like 18-month Standard, and I freely admit it. I dearly love scheduled-rotation Standard, as it gives me a very clear timeline to follow. I want to pick up cards at the end of their cycle, hoping that they will spike in about 2-3 sets, or 12 months. The timeline is fungible, the results are not.

The best examples of these are Fumigate from Kaladesh and the bicycle lands from Amonkhet. Fumigate was down to about $1.50 when Amonkhet came out, and stayed there until about a year after it was printed, when we got other good tools to play with it (notably Settle the Wreckage and Search for Azcanta) and it spiked to nearly $6.

Fetid Pools is another case study, but a couple of the other lands had a similar tale to tell:

A land or a fresh card, every control player’s dream!

Both Fumigate and Fetid Pools are rotating in ten months, making this a very difficult card to pick up in hopes of selling at a profit later. That ship has sailed, but there’s cards I’m thinking about.

Vraska’s Contempt at $6 is a very intriguing card, but four mana is a scary cost for premium removal. While I want to dive in headfirst because Hero’s Downfall taught me to pick up the good black removal while it’s cheap, the need to exile creatures is also rotating in the fall, when both Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God go on their next great adventure.

The other option for premium removal is Walk the Plank, and I’m scared here too. Being an uncommon isn’t terrible, just means you have to target buylists instead of eBay. Under most circumstances I’d happily get a hundred of these for a quarter each, as it’s seeing very little play and I’d be looking to buylist them for a buck each.

Instead, vendors are wise to this play and are selling at fifty cents, a price that means my margins are pretty thin. Plus, there’s a promo version out there, but I’d be betting that Walk the Plank jumps to a four-of in a lot of decks, gets to $1.50-$2 to buylist for my target of $1, and that’s a more dicey proposition for making fifty cents a copy.

Personally, I am trying to decide between these two, and a couple of other targets are tempting too. Search for Azcanta at $9 is sweet, even with the promo version, but control decks aren’t playing four copies…yet. Deathgorge Scavenger is awesome at $3, as one of the very few ways to both affect the board and deal with graveyard synergies, but are there such strategies coming?

I want to think that Wizards has learned the lesson about having answers, especially as we get to one-set blocks and we get wave after wave of new sets and new mechanics. We will see, though.

Philosophy #2: Casual still rules, kind of?

Commander is likely the reason MTG finance is still a thing. We’re all suckers for a format where you get to do most things, and assemble the jankiest of combos or play the tightest, most tutorrific deck guaranteed to take 20-minutes turns and win via disgust. Fun comes in many forms.

The format is exactly what the market needed, from a gameplay perspective and a financial one, and we’re all benefitting.

The downside is that we are getting hit over and over with reprints, and there are a lot of cards getting treated for repeated bashing right in the wallet. Most concerning to me is not when $10 cards get reprinted, but when $2 cards get that treatment and don’t have a chance to reach the lofty heights.

And it’s a gorgeous foil, too!

I know Sunbird’s Invocation in foil is EXACTLY an EDH card. It does nothing when you play it, it’s six mana, and if you untap with it in play you’ll be super far ahead. It’s at $5 and that’s after being more than twice as much at release. Those who had to have it immediately, they have it now and it’s time to start stocking up.

At the same time, there’s stuff like Panharmonicon ($2.50/$8 foil) which should also be easy money, but I’m super wary of the reprint risk. I think I’m more likely to go in on foil Panharmonicon, but I’m not sanguine about it. This could easily be in Conspiracy 3 or some other non-Standard product.


Cliff is an avid cuber and has been making mostly-sound MTG decisions since using Magic cards to buy a new transmission in 2001. Follow him on Twitter @wordofcommander or check out his articles weekly here on MTGPrice.


The PT starts today. Right now, as a matter of fact! I’m posting this at 6 am PST, two hours before the first draft starts, and I’m stoked. I agree with the people who say that the three hours of broadcast would be better spent showing us different drafts for 2/3 of the time and then maybe the finals of a draft pod. I don’t like watching the draft games, but I’m not in charge.

I’m also on the watch for decks that are going to be played, and what cards are ripe for a spike. There’s a few factors at play, but it’ll come down to camera time, frequency of play, number in a deck, and final performance. Making the Top 8 will be good, but winning will be better.

With all this in mind, here’s the cards I’ve been picking up this week. I haven’t laid any big bets, but I’ve picked these up in trades and sniped a couple of auctions.

Ruin Raider – I suspect that black aggro will be in play this weekend, even if it doesn’t put up a huge finish or a big slice of the metagame. There’s a lot of flavors of aggressive decks, and this is a creature that allows a deck to catch up on cards, especially if Fumigate is all over the place. This is a card that rewards players for attacking, which is all an aggressive deck wants to do anyway. Plus, it’s relatively cheap at $1-$2, depending on fees. It’s also got two years to get good, so even if it doesn’t see play this weekend, it’s got good potential.

Bomat Courier – If aggressive decks are as prevalent as I suspect, then this is a card with room to grow. It’s got about 11 months before it rotates out of Standard, and that’s going to bode well for this card. It went up to $3 when Ramunap Red first premiered, and now it’s down in the $1.50 range. This is more of a ‘sell into the spike’ sort of card, it’s not for long-term holding.

Fatal Push – This has quickly become one of the top removal spells in Modern and Legacy, dealing with a wide range of problems for one mana. It’s also very widely played in Standard, and I don’t see this as something that’s going to drop anytime soon. Nonfoils are about $9, foils are $30, and the FNM promo can be had for $10. I am a big fan of grabbing the foils at $30, as $50 seems in play within a year or two, and it would be unusual for it to be reprinted too soon in a Masters set of some sort. (Note I did not say impossible!) Supply is at maximum, and you should acquire accordingly.

Rogue Refiner & Blossoming Defense – I think this is going to be a big weekend for these two uncommons. They aren’t exactly cheap now, but after the PT, you’ll be able to buylist these for a little more than you can today. Both are efficient at their mana cost, and Rogue Refiner is a great pick to bump to above a dollar.

Bristling Hydra – I wish energy wasn’t as good as it is, but this is one of the cards that has room to grow. It’s been slowly growing in price to get to its current $2.50, and one more big tournament showing might be enough to solidify its status, considering that this is one of the cards common to both the Sultai and the Temur builds of energy decks.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner – I really want this to be good, as it’s a way to convert energy into a more tangible advantage in a long game. It’s $2.50 now, and just like the Hydra, I think it’s due for a weekend where it breaks $4 or $5.

Rampaging FerocidonIxalan is probably not going to have a huge weekend, considering the spikes that have already grown to impressive numbers. This is a $3 card, as a four-of in a lot of Ramunap builds, and it takes away one of the big advantages of Approach of the Second Sun decks: the 7 life gained is often just enough of a cushion to get there. I think this is a good candidate to break $5 if the Red deck runs rampant.

Dread Wanderer – If mass removal is all over the place, I like this as a recursive answer alongside some Vehicles and some Scrapheap Scroungers. Being able to reload effectively after a big Fumigate is a real test for some of these decks, and while you need to dump your hand, Hazoret the Fervent wants you to do that anyway. This is at a very low price, can be had for $1, and is ripe for the picking and ripe for a bump.

Chart a Course – I don’t think this is going to be big on the PT, but it’s got a foil price that is about 10x the nonfoil. Two mana to draw two is amazing, especially if you dropped a Delver turn two in Modern or Legacy. It’s a two-of in Vintage Delver, even! Standard decks looking to abuse the graveyard with God-Pharaoh’s Gift love casting this turn two as well. I’m snagging the foils whenever I can get them around $5, and I’m prepared to be patient.

Carnage Tyrant – This is due to drop. There’s no deck playing this as a four-of, though the biggest deck, Temur Energy, is playing one main and one in the board. The big dino has been slowly declining from its initial spike to $30, and is already sub-$20. I think it’ll get to $15, though I highly doubt it’ll go down to $10. Once we are done opening Ixalan packs, I’ll have to see if I pick some up for a spike about October 2018.

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Will these prices hold?

The first week of Ixalan Standard is in the books, and we’ve got some cards that have taken a big leap financially.

I want to look at a few of these cards, at the jump they have taken, and figure out if those prices are the price they will stay at. There’s a lot of factors to consider at a time like this, and some money to be made. I’ll make money either by selling now, buying now, or holding out.

Heroic Intervention ($2-$5 this week): This is worth looking at because it’s a great Standard answer to Fumigate, as pointed out by our reader hargismb. It’s in enough sideboards to cause a decent spike, and $5 feels about right.

That said, I’m not convinced. I can’t tell if it’s my own bias against this card, but it’s bad in a lot of situations where you’d hope it would be good. I don’t want to play this card, I’d rather have proactive ways to get cards back in Commander. I would be trading these away like mad at $5, especially since you likely didn’t get them at that price.

Approach of the Second Sun ($0.75 – $3): Alternate win conditions are always going to have a certain appeal, and this one offers a certain inevitability. Counterspells or bust! The assorted Approach decks had a pretty good first week, and I don’t think this is done growing.

I am in favor of trading for this card until it gets to $5 or so, and I think buying copies for a total price under $2 is a winner too, but only if you’re going to trade the card away. The margins eat you alive if you buy at $2 and sell at $5. It’s not worth it in that context.

Hostage Taker ($5-$18): This was the card of the weekend, doing work in a variety of decks and it’s earned that praise. This pirate is an awesome creature, demanding an immediate answer before you get control of their creature. It plays very well with The Scarab God too!

However, it’s a rare from the current set. It’s been a long time since such a card held a price at or above $10, so I’m telling you to let these go pronto. Get as much as you can as fast as you can, because hype or not, this price just can’t hold.

I will be watching this closely, though, because when we aren’t opening Ixalan packs, this will be a prime contender for a jump back to $15-$20 in a few months.

Fumigate ($0.50 – $4): Wrath effects have often ended up in the $5 range, and I don’t think this will be much different. It’s a year old, and I think this will be no different. I’m getting out of extra copies, and I’m putting some of my profits into a few sets of Dusk to Dawn, as Dusk appears to be the best pairing if Approach needs some extra removal. Bontu’s Last Reckoning and Yahenni’s Expertise are also good specs on this basis and won’t cost you much.

Gifted Aetherborn ($1-$2): There is a black-red aggro deck doing well online right now, and this is a four-of in that deck. I would be raiding my old draft boxes with gusto, because if I can buylist a stack of uncommons for $1 each (or more!) I’m all over that. You have to strike while the iron is hot, though. This deck won’t be popular forever, so you’ve got just a few weeks to sort your uncommons out and get them in the mail. Ebay auctions are closing near to $10 a playset, and that’s really tempting too, even with the fees.

Deathgorge Scavenger ($1.50 – $6): The winning deck and the 3rd place deck each ran a playset of this Dinosaur, mainly for the ability to mess with Scarab God interactions. (Each deck also played a miser copy of that God, and bringing this back Eternalized must have felt great!) Again, it’s an in-print rare but the necessity of some graveyard hate appears to be the hot tech right now. Six bucks feels a touch high, I imagine this settles a dollar or two lower than that, unless the next sets give us more graveyard recursion. This has great potential as a spec if it drops to $1-$2 at rotation.

Fetid Pools ($4 – $8): What makes the cycling duals great is the interaction with the checklands from Ixalan. Play the cycling land tapped, and all the checklands come into play untapped, so you can cycle the extras away. Value ensues.

Fetid Pools was the biggest gainer, due to control decks, but Irrigated Farmland isn’t far behind and all of them should go up another dollar or two. I’m letting all of my spares go, and I’ll be picking these up at rotation for the long-term Commander value.

The Scarab God ($25 – $40): If you’re going to play it in the next year, bite the bullet and grab your copies now. I suspect this is going to hit $50, as a small-set mythic which casual demand has made more scarce than most. This God is awesome in Zombie decks and offers so much value in a Commander game, it’s no surprise that the combination of format demand results in a super-pricey card.

I’d be surprised if this fell below $20 at rotation, too. Being on an Invocation isn’t helping the price much, the gameplay value is just ridiculous in casual games.

Samut, the Tested ($2 – $5.50): Travis picked her a few weeks back at $2, and said that $10 was his target. It’s a two-of in a deck that finished 45th at the SCG event but has won some online leagues. I’m going to trust him on this, and tell you to hold this card a bit longer. My inclination is to take the double-up and get out, but if you got in at $2, then it’s all profit. Hold on a bit longer, as she needs a bit more publicity, camera time, and a publicized win. Then sell out with huge profit margins!

PROTRADER: Preorders and Prerelease Prices

Hello and welcome to the first weekend of Ixalan! I hope you’re going to have a great time at your local Prerelease, and every three months, I have the same advice: Trade it all!

These prices are at their highest for 95% of cards, and I will just play it safe and trade them all away. I’m going to be highlighting one or two things that I think have potential to rise, but I expect almost all of these to fall.

I’m going to start with the preorder prices, which have been really active for some of these cards.

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