Tag Archives: ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Succinct Selections

When life gets hectic, sometimes it’s better to cut a few corners to produce something, rather than skipping it altogether. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say. I’m moving to a new home this week so instead of delivering a comprehensive theme, I’m going to quickly share a few selections I’ve been watching personally and discuss the reasons behind my interest in each. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Silence (Old Border Foil)

Arbitrage: $30 in EU, $60 in the USA

I didn’t realize that Silence was such a widely played EDH card until I sold an old border foil (OBF) from TSR for $60! This price was much more than I was expecting, which got me to evaluate this card more closely. It’s in an impressive 50,000 decks on EDHRec.com. Based on this, it should come as no surprise that the OBF version is doing so well!

Fortunately, for those of you with access to the EU markets there are copies of the TSR OBFs still available for around $30 each, which is less than the CardKingdom buylist currently at $42 cash. OBFs have been selling at a modest but steady rate on TCGPlayer.com – so if you’re able to source cheap copies – you’ll likely have no problem making a quick buck on this card.  

Vanishing Verse (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $7.50
Potential Price: $18 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A

Vanishing Verse is a solid removal spell, but its color requirements make it more challenging to include. Despite this in Pioneer it hits most creatures and several important planeswalkers and has been seeing quite a bit of play. As a result, Vanishing Verse is currently being run in Niv to Light, Esper Control, and Greasefang, among other archetypes. While I normally don’t like to spec on removal cards because they historically get replaced with more impactful spells over time – it seems to me that Vanishing Verse should have a few more years in the spotlight before it’s overshadowed in Pioneer. In Commander, it’s not an all-star but it’s in a respectable number of decks on EDHRec.com at 11,275. Being two colors limits its ceiling – but these are still reasonable statistics when combined with its competitive play.

Vanishing Verse could easily be reprinted into a future commander deck due to the low price for the basic version of this card, which is why I would prioritize the Foil Extended Art versions of this card for any long-term speculation. We are roughly 16 months past Strixhaven’s release date, so new supply on this set should be relatively limited going forward and only 21 TCGPlayer.com vendors currently have this version in stock.

Prismari Command (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $9.50
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A

Many of the same points about Vanishing Verse apply to Prismari Command, which is in a similar number of decks on EDHRec.com decks – at 17,819. It also sees competitive play, but instead in Modern which is a larger driver of card prices in general. It typically sees play in archetypes that lean on its ability to either dump cards in the graveyard or to create treasure tokens, with the other two modes providing helpful support and flexibility. Most recently Indomitable Creativity lists have been running three to four copies of Prismari Command consistently. Despite seeing slightly more play in both casual and competitive formats, Prismari Command has more availability on TCGPlayer.com than Vanishing Verse, with around 50 vendors having it in stock, which is surprising. Going forward I think Prismari Command will continue to see reasonable demand that will slowly drain its supply and pressure its price over time.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Following a Few Clues from Goblin Charbelcher

The Modern Showcase Qualifier this weekend featured two Goblin Charbelcher (“Belcher”) decks in the top 8 from users victorjcoll1 and ZYX_Jerry. While Showcase Qualifiers are smaller, relatively high-stake events, in which the winner earns a spot in the Champions Showcase with its prize pool of $70,000 and a Pro Tour (Season 1) or World Championship (Season 2–3) invitation. A complete metagame breakdown can be found here. While Belcher decks pop up from time to time, it was very interesting to see not one but two in the top 8 for a premium MTGO tournament. This article takes a deep dive into the key cards of this deck that are run in multiple formats, which you may want to consider picking up sooner rather than later.

Below is the 7th place version of the Belcher deck from MTGO User victorjcoll1.

Goblin Charbelcher decks have had their ups and downs over the last year. Despite having success, many thought they would fade after the printing of the ultimate fair land destruction spell, Boseiju, Who Endures, which is a two-mana stone rain against Belcher. Critics of this deck were correct that Boseiju would see a large amount of play. It is currently the 5th most popular land in the Modern format, being included in 37% of decks, typically with two copies. But those critics apparently incorrectly assumed that Boseiju, or its predecessors like Cleansing Wildfire or Field of Ruin, would be enough to keep this highly unfair deck down.  

Many cards in the Belcher come and go but are not essential to the strategy, or are too narrow and are only good in Belcher decks to be trustworthy (I’m looking at you Irencrag). But there are several cards in this archetype that have cross-format appeal and deserve a much closer investigation.

Pact of Negation (Non-Foil)

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own 33 copies.

Pact of Negation is a key card in several combo decks. Its purpose is obvious, allowing you to win the game during the turn it’s played, or alternatively, in the late game it’s an expensive awkward counter that is typically only used against a top threat. For decks like Belcher, it allows you to push through an opponent’s hate to combo off and win the game with very little downside!

In Modern Pact of Negation also plays an important role in Ad Nauseam, Storm, and Neobrand. All are very unfair combo decks that lean into what Pact of Negation does best. In Commander, Pact of Negation does extremely well too. It’s included in 74,500 decks on EDHRec.com, which is about 10% of all blue decks!

Another reason I like Pact of Negation is because of its strong price history. The A25 version also fell to around $10 about a year after its reprinting, but then proceeded to climb to $40 before it was announced in Timespiral Remastered (TSR), combined with being in “The List” for a while. It’s hard to believe, but TSR was released in March 2021, nearly a year and a half ago. While supply is still fairly deep, Pact’s price has been holding steady thus far, and in my opinion, it’s only a matter of time until Pact of Negation begins to climb again!

Valakut Awakening (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own 40 copies.

For the low cost of coming into play tapped, Valakut Awakening is able to selectively cycle away your dead cards and land in exchange for fresh new cards. At instant speed no less and it replaces itself! It is no surprise to see this card seeing competitive play, but typically decks run one or two copies as a backup plan like Omnath or Living End. But here, Belcher is running a full four copies! Love to see it. It has also recently been seeing Pioneer play in Jund Transmogrify and other Indomitable Creativity shells.

On top of seeing competitive play, Valakut Awakening is in 67,000 decks on EDHRec.com. This significant amount of commander play, combined with the Modern and Pioneer, is why I selected the premium version of this card. It’s unlikely that a better card filter card will be printed anytime soon that accomplishes the same flexibility as Valakut Awakening with such few downsides. Assuming a lack of premium reprint, all versions of this card should continue to climb.

Mythic Zendikar Rising Lands

A lot has been written about the Mythic Zendikar Rising lands since their release and this deck provides one more example why you should own a reasonable number of these lands. Some have missed their best entry points, but not all. They are essential for strategies like Belcher but are also role players in countless other decks and are strong EDH cards too.

Watch List: An Offer You Can’t Refuse (Promo Pack: Streets of New Capenna)

Current Price: $8

You may have noticed this sneaky little card is included as one copy in this Belcher list. An Offer You Can’t Refuse in many situations emulates a one-mana negate. For now, Belcher is one of the only consistently strong decks that include it. But at least one other fringe deck, Song of Creation storm, runs a full playset. While I’m not sold yet on An Offer You Can’t Refuse becoming extremely prevalent in competitive circles, I do think it’s worth keeping an eye on to see how it’s being incorporated in decks going forward. I could easily see this card becoming more mainstream, juicing demand for this card.

Turning to EDH, this card is in an astounding 35,000 decks on EDHRec.com, which is extremely high for a set that released in April. To put that into perspective Swan Song is in 145,000 decks. At this rate, An Offer You Can’t Refuse is on track to be a mega staple in Commander.

Another question that is outstanding on this card is when will be peak supply? This version comes out of Promo Pack from Streets of New Capenna. It’s unclear to me whether we are currently in peak supply or if a solid amount of new inventory is coming to the market soon.

For now I’m keeping an eye on it, but don’t be surprised if you see it as a future pick.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Obvious is Easy, But Still Good

I’m back this week with more Modern talk! Last week we discussed how the Modern format still has an impact on card prices, despite less extensive paper play. This week we’ll consider a few more key role players, all of whom have proven to be resilient in the metagame over the last year. Each of these cards is a Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) mythic rare, which helps ensure that their price floor is reasonably high. If you look at the current price of all mythics from original Modern Horizons, the lowest priced card is around $5.00, meaning that even if the metagame shift, these cards are unlikely to lose most of their value.

Murktide Regent (Non-Foil)
30th Most Frequently Played Card in Modern  
7th Most Frequently Played Creature in Modern

Current Price: $16
Potential Price: $35 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: N/A

Murktide is a known quantity. It’s been dominating Modern and Legacy for a while. It’s the best at what it does, which is sticking a very fast clock for a small amount of mana. Despite its continued success, Murktide’s price remains near its historical low due to new supply entering the market. One factor that has helped suppress the price of Murktide over time is the possibility that it could get banned in either Modern or Legacy. While this is possible, I don’t think a Modern ban is in the cards anytime soon (if anything, Omnath would be the first target). WOTC has taken a hands-off approach to Modern lately, so I’m not worried unless the metagame becomes even more heavily skewed in favor of Blue/Red Murktide. In Legacy, I do think a ban could be possible, but even if that occurred, I don’t think it would be anything more than a blimp on Murktide’s price trajectory. Legacy’s impact on paper cards is nominal these days, especially for a basic no frill version.

Like most other MH2 cards, I’m not sure whether Murktide Regent is already at its price floor or whether it will continue to decline through December, but personally, I plan to start moving in on these cards slowly over the next five months until the end of the holiday season.  

Archon of Cruelty (Non-Foil)

Current Price: $11
Potential Price: $25 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own a few copies. 

Archon of Cruelty has come and gone in several different shells already. Current decks that run it include Five-Color Indomitable Creativity, which has seen the most success, Esper reanimator, Dimir Control, and more. What unifies these shells is that Archon of Cruelty is the best creature threat to cheat into play at the moment, even better than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in decks that have both options, which is a bit absurd honestly. How does an 8-mana mana value card compete with the biggest baddie of them all? Much of Archon’s success can be attributed to it having an enter-the-battlefield (ETB) effect that has the potential to be a 3-1. And if it lives, the effect compounds. That’s pretty back-breaking. The original Archon shells were more fragile, but over time they have built-in resiliency and more redundancy.

On top of Modern play, Archon of Cruelty is in 13,677 decks on EDHREC.com. This is solid for a mythic from MH2, trailing only Ragavan and Sword of Hearth and Home. So even if Modern doesn’t apply enough pressure to Archon, over time Commander may take care of the job on its own.

Grist (Non-Foil)  

Current Price: $6
Potential Price: $15 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A   

A strong three mana planeswalker that is played as a full four copies in a top-tier deck? Sign me. Grist was clearly designed to be a strong, yet unique card. It seems to have succeeded in both – being limited generally to one type of deck, but is able to be very strong in that deck. The mix of uniqueness combined with power reminds me a bit of Urza, Lord High Artificer, except of course that Urza was designed to be crazy powerful while Grist is a value card. But neither can be just thrown into a random deck – they both require build around synergies.

It’s hard to evaluate whether Grist’s ability to be a create when not on the battlefield will ever be more useful than it is today. I could see a world where Green Sun Zenith gets unbanned, forcing Grist’s price to spike hard. But this is not a scenario that I would want to rely on, it’s rather icing on the cake. I could also see a world where a two-card combo comes together that allows Grist to efficiently mill one’s entire deck via its +1 ability, but that seems even more unreliable to count on.  

Grist is run in 7,100 decks on EDHREC.com, plus an additional 2,235 decks as a commander! While these numbers are too low to be the basis of a speculation target, they do help Grist a bit here.  

Watch List: Hydroid Krasis (Etched Foil)   

Did you see that epic steamer Kanister ran a full four copies of Hydroid Krasis in his 6th place (two main, two sideboard) list during the recent Modern Challenge as part of Amulet? And he wasn’t the only one.

Is Hydroid Krasis, once the terror of Standard, getting a second life in Modern? My guess is this innovation will be a flash in the pan that won’t be around in a few months. Amulet, more than other decks, seems to “find” new tools and then forget about them quickly. Some stick around like Cultivator Colossus, while others go by the wayside.  

My advice here is to keep an eye on Amulet decks for the next few months – and if Krasis continues to do well – then consider picking up some of the Double Masters 2022 Etched-Foils, which are unique, much rarer than other editions, and fairly gorgeous.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Let’s Discuss Affordable Pioneer Staples

I’ve been writing off-and-on for MTGPrice.com for a few years, but I’m pleased to report that going forward I’ll be publishing articles every Monday discussing developments in the competitive Magic scene and their potential implications on MTG card prices. I’m still working on finding my groove as a writer, so I hope you’ll provide your feedback (good and bad!) along the way via Twitter @OkoAssassin.

Prior to jumping into week-by-week specifics, I thought it would be best to zoom out first and look at the big picture. This week I’ll review a few current role players within the Pioneer format, and next week I’ll look at Modern. Once we have level set a bit, in future weeks I’ll begin to share a noticeable change in the key competitive formats and their potential impacts on prices.

Most players used to shrug when Pioneer’s name came up, but that all changed when WOTC made their long-awaited organized play announcement, which made clear that Pioneer would be a signature format going forward. The Pioneer metagame has been fairly consistent over the last months including a combination of the following archetypes, along with others:

  • Izzet Phoenix
  • Rakdos Midrange
  • Azorius Control
  • Boros Aggro
  • Burn
  • Mono-Green Ramp
  • Lotus Field
  • Mono blue/Bant spirits

While some of these strategies are more dominant than others, each plays an important role in shaping the Pioneer format. Cards that overlaps between multiple archetypes – or are otherwise unique – are often worth a look due to this format’s growth potential. As Pioneer becomes more popular, prices should increase going forward, albeit maybe slowly. Paper events are key here – if COVID locks down the world again, Pioneer will once again fall on hard times. So take all this commentary with a large grain of salt.

If you don’t think Pioneer matters, look at the price of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker – which is the 11th most played card in the format. It currently sits around $11 for an in-print rare! Similarly, the top played pioneer card Unlicensed Herse is around $15! Both get support from other formats – but I would argue that Pioneer is a key driver for the price of both cards. 

Many of the key pioneer stables are commons and uncommons, making them unattractive from a speculation perspective, even if they see quite a bit of play. Additionally, the number of mythics that see play is also relatively lacking, and most played mythics have seen one or two reprints over time or their prices are fairly high due to their lack of reprint. For these reasons, today we’ll be focused on evaluating a few played but potentially underpriced rares.

Supreme Verdict (Foil Borderless)
37th Most Frequently Played Spell in Pioneer  

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8.5/10
Disclosure: None

Supreme Verdict is a long-time staple in both Modern and Pioneer. Blue/White Control is fairly popular in Pioneer and these decks typically run three copies of Supreme Verdict. It’s also solid role player in EDH, being included in nearly 45,000 decks on EDHREC.com.

Absent another reprint the Double Masters 2022 Foil Borderless edition should do well over time – especially if you’re able to time this purchase at its lows. My guess is that these lows will be in December, while others are betting on today. I’m betting December because more collector boosters will eventually be opened and hype will wind down over time, but we shall see. Even at today’s prices, having this card go from $10 to $20 is not unreasonable and seems very likely.

Graveyard Trespasser
23rd Most Frequently Played Card in Pioneer  
4rd Most Frequently Played Creature in Pioneer  

Current Price: $3.00
Potential Price: $10 in 12 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: None

This card protects itself well even on the turn it’s cast, provides mainboard graveyard hate, and comes at a relatively efficient mana value. Personally, I used to not rate Graveyard Trespasser very highly until I played against it. All it takes is a few frustrating games to understand why this card is so highly played in Pioneer. This card has maintained a high price point on Magic Online for a while based on its high level of play, but that same enthusiasm has mostly not yet transferred to the paper version of this card. It’s a rare from AFR and the supply is extremely deep for the regular and showcase versions of this card. But the Double Feature version is relatively scarce by comparison. 68 copies of the Double Feature version sold already on TCGPlayer.com in July, which is very solid relative to current inventory levels. Assuming this card doesn’t fall out of the metagame – and isn’t reprinted in the upcoming Pioneer Challenger Decks (a risk in Orzhov Humans) – it could see solid gains going forward.

Old-Growth Troll (Foil Extended Art)
38th Most Frequently Played Card in Pioneer  
13rd Most Frequently Played Creature in Pioneer  

Current Price: $5
Potential Price: $15 in 12 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: None

About 13 percent of Pioneer decks run a full playset of Old-Growth Troll – and only a limited number of Foil Extended Art copies remain available at a reasonable price. The low supply is surprising considering that Kaldheim was cracked heavily by vendors leading to a seemingly never-ending supply. Mono-green has been a staple since Pioneer’s inception, so it’s unlikely to fall off the map completely anytime soon, although its power level has fluctuated over time. Combine all these factors together and I can easily see Old-Growth Troll increasing in price to $15 over the next year.  

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance (Borderless)  
3rd Most Frequently Played Land Card in Pioneer  

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire (Borderless)  
10rd Most Frequently Played Land in Pioneer  

Current Price: $5.50
Potential Price: $12 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: None

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance, and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire both see a reasonable amount of play in Pioneer. They both average a paltry 1 copy per deck, but they see play in many decks as they provide free value, in a similar way as Otawara and Boseiju. They do not see Modern play for the most part, which is reflected in their relatively low price point. Both also see solid EDH play as well, being included in 20,000 and 30,000 decks respectively. I believe cards like these seem underwhelming for now, but over time, they will continue to slowly grow in price as copies drain out based on modest but well-rounded competitive plus EDH demand.