Tag Archives: standard rotation

PROTRADER: Looking to Standard Rotation – Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins

My interest in Standard is usually very fleeting. When I’m covering a Standard event, I get pretty deep into it. I know the decks, I know the pilots and designers, I know the strategies. Then a few months will go by without me covering a Standard tournament, and I’ll gradually lose interest and track of the format. Coupled with the fact my Friday Night Magic is Draft instead of Standard, it means my connection with Standard is tenuous at best most of the time.


Except at Rotation, that is.

That’s where we’re at now, or at least heading up on it. Previews are coming fast and furious — not to mention in some pretty incredibly awesome ways — and we’re quickly getting ready to depart pre-Sarkhan-meddling Tarkir (the Dragons will be sticking around). That means the fetch lands are going away. Gone is Siege Rhino. Mantis Rider is no more. We won’t be cruising or digging through time any more, nor will we be dashing any Kolaghans.


I love Rotation. It’s a time of unbridled creativity for deckbuilders, and as much as I enjoy writing finance and coverage, the truth is I like to play a little Magic too. In truth, I actually play quite a bit. While I’ll leave the Grinder Finance to Jim since I’m rarely ever to play in big tournaments anymore thanks to doing coverage at them, I spend a lot of time playing in several tournaments a week at home, and I play a good deal of Magic Online.

My favorite format to brew in is Modern, and I’ve had a fair amount of success doing so. Obviously Merfolk is the deck most people associate with me, and I’ve done a lot of work over the years to help shape it into its current beautiful form. But I’m constantly brewing up other decks as well, and while I’m not sure I had anything to do with it I was streaming Flagstones of Trokair – Boom/Bust for a week before they spiked.

Anyway, I won’t bore you further with my exploits, other than to say I enjoy Rotation for the same reasons. It makes Standard new and exciting, and often times more fun.

It also brings with it financial opportunities. It’s those that I’ll be exploring today.

The Future of Standard

Honestly, I feel like a lot of post-Rotation decks will be heavily based in Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins unless Shadows over Innistrad just blows it out of the water (which is certainly possible). But take, for example, this Jeskai Dragons deck that Top 8’ed the Star City Games event two weeks ago. Outside of the mana base, which will adjust for all decks, only nine(!) cards rotate from the maindeck, and some of those are fairly easily replaceable with cards from Magic Origins or newer sets. The Dragonlords themselves are all still very powerful, and Thunderbreak Regent and Draconic Roar isn’t getting any worse.

Thunderbreak Regent

It’s not the only deck in this position – the Bant Company deck that won that event has only some fetch lands and a pair of Wingmate Roc rotating out. In many ways, we’re already living in the future.

So what opportunities does this present financially?

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Goodbye to Theros, Hello to Holds

Over the weekend, the last Theros legal tournament was held at SCG: Milwaukee. Because of this, many players are going to be looking at getting rid of extraTheros cards that they will no longer need moving forward. Rotation is upon us, so it is time to look at what the future might hold for Theros cards and which ones will be worth holding over the long term.

Target number one, the best of the best from Theros block, is going to be Thoughtseize. I mean, take a look at this history just to get a picture of how in-demand this cards is even with tons of players looking to dump Theros in favor of Battle for Zendikar.

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Rotation hasn’t even made a dent in this card. One would argue that Goblin Rabblemaster is another powerful card from the current Standard, and look at what rotation is doing to it.

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Arguably one of the most powerful cards in Standard is getting kicked in the teeth because of rotation. What does this tell us about Thoughtseize moving forward, a card that we can expect to always see in Modern and Legacy?

  • We’re not going to see much cheaper copies of Thoughtseize around, at least not until the next Modern Masters set is revealed.
  • Players are holding this one, as we’ve been advising to them to do as #mtgfinanciers. The low point for Thoughtseize was $15, so if you bought in then you’re looking pretty good now. The next best time to get out will be during the hype of the next Modern season.
  • Foils are also going to be very in demand, since eternal players like to foil out the various parts of their deck. Surprisingly, the foil copies of Theros Thoughtseize are starting to reach a low point upon this rotation cycle. Check out the price history below:
  • Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 6.47.39 PM

We all have a pretty sweet chance to get in on a foil lull for the               card.

All in all, Thoughtseize is looking pretty good as a spec moving forward, as we all know it will be. But what about other maybe non-obvious pickups? Let’s review some of the more talked about cards from the Theros block in reverse order, since Journey into Nyx was opened less and therefore we can predict that cards from this set will be more valuable in the future since fewer packs were cracked for drafting.

Journey into Nyx Current Prices (Non-Foil Top 20)

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Eidolon of the Great Revel is the number one card from this set that you should be targeting if you play any Modern or Legacy. Burn was put back on the map due to the power of EotGR, so picking up copies for future value gains is a good move since players are looking for playsets that want to play them.

Keranos is looking to be the most valuable god from the sets, but I would pick up copies for Commander demand more than anything else. Yes, he does see play in Modern and sometimes Legacy, however I think his effect on these formats is marginal at best, and that most future demand for all the gods in general is going to come from the casual crowd. I would wait a bit to pick up all the gods, about three months from now when rotation prices are going to bottom out as more and more Standard players continue to dump cards like gods. All the gods from JIN are going to be great pickups at this point, as they are the rarest gods by numbers are JIN was the least opened of theTheros sets. A CAVEAT – The enemy colored Commander decks being released this fall could contain one copy of each of these gods. If that is the case, then the JIN gods are going to take a huge hit in value and be suppressed in price for quite some time. Keep this in mind while waiting to pickup gods. Foils are better targets for this reason, at least until we know if they’re in Commander 2015.

Dictate of Erebos is the final mention I’d like to make.  This card is going to be casual gold and is the bottom dollar slow gainer that will make waves over time. It is already almost up to $2 retail with no Standard play and rotation about to happen. Foils will be especially good targets moving forward.

Born of the Gods Current Prices (Non-Foil Top 20)

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Unfortunately there just isn’t anything appealing to me in BNG for pickups moving forward. Brimaz is a great card, it is very efficient for the mana cost, but right now white weenie strategies in Modern just aren’t that great. He will be an amazing Commander, and will even be great in Legacy Death and Taxes, but for Brimaz to carry the bulk of the set’s value is pretty sad and I don’t think he is going to be going over $10 for the foreseeable future.

Even Courser, a Standard powerhouse, is lackluster in eternal formats and is hardly worth picking up right now. Again, Commander applications and sometimes seeing the Courser in Modern/Legacy isn’t going to be enough to make it see significant gains anytime soon.

Since we’re not going to be getting enemy colored Commander decks in the near future, I would feel very comfortable going deep on some of the more popular gods from the set about three months from now. Even with Karametra, you can’t go wrong picking up copies at $2 or less since casuals love these types of big, splashy mythics.

Theros Current Prices (Non-Foil Top 20)

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We’ve already discussed Thoughtseize at length, so let’s take a look at some of the cards in the set with the knowledge that they are going to be the most suppressed since Theros was open the most of the sets in the Theros block.

Ashiok is a sweet card, one that has applicability both because of Modern and Battle for Zendikar’s Eldrazi Ingest theme. I don’t think the card is going to get much cheaper than $6-$7 per copy, since UB Mill is a thing with casual kitchen table Magic. Picking up plenty of copies in anticipation of future demand is a fine move. On the other hand, I’m not so keen on Theros Elspeth due to the Duel Deck printing so I would advise to avoid these cards since there are tons more Elspeths than Ashioks out there.

Both foil and non-foil versions of Nykthos have started seeing upward movement upon rotation, and for good reason – this card is a Cabal Coffers for any color that is also Modern legal. I mean, the foil has already spiked and it hasn’t even left Standard yet! Pick up your copies now before the next season’s Modern deck is going to make non-foils spike as well.

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Master of Waves has a great Modern advantage due to being featured in Merfolk, one the top decks of the format. Foils are great targets, but even nonfoils at $4 and less are going to look good a while from now.

Monocolored gods, like their BOG and JIN bretheren, are also going to be nice pickups for future gains. Some will gain more than others as we see how they fit into Commander moving forward, but foils of each should be nice collector’s items in the future. If you want foils to finish out Commander decks than rotation is going to be the best time to get deals on these cards.

Final Thoughts

So there you have my thoughts about Theros since rotation is upon us. Is there anything else you guys think I should be mentioning, or that I glossed over that has more applications than I think? What are you guys targeting for rotation, and how deep are you? Personally, I’m looking to start picking up foil Theros Thoughtseize since I think it will be one of the more solid places to park value, but maybe I’m overlooking a cheaper option. As always, let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.


Jace, the $40 Origins Mythic

Blue is Back in Standard

For a set that is still being drafted, I find it hard to believe that there is a mythic that is $40 and still rising within the set.

However, Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy has spiked to levels (for blue mythics) we haven’t seen since the last time Jace spiked this hard in Standard. And last time he kept going, past $100 eventually.

Let’s be clear – Vryn’s Prodigy is no Mind Sculptor, nowhere even close. First of all, Prodigy is a creature – a Merfolk Looter that will flip into Telepath Unbound once yet get five cards into your graveyard. Granted, this is pretty easy to accomplish, especially in decks based mainly around spells like Jeskai Tempo or Esper Dragons.

Even once he is flipped, he still affects the game only in marginal ways for each ability. Giving creatures -2/-0 is not bouncing them, he isn’t Fatesealing your opponent out of the game, and he isn’t giving you direct card advantage and/or selection. So what’s the deal? Why is this new Jace’s price, whose power was initially dismissed out-of-hand initially by many players, starting to mirror the version so good that it was included in From the Vault: 20?

Let’s view this from another perspective, that of Nissa, Worldwaker.

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Nissa also started out very high, around $30, and eventually hit $50 while in Standard and stayed there for about two to three months. Then, the decline started happening. By January of this year, she dropped to around $20 and has slowly been decreasing ever since. Now, she is around $10 and will probably go lower once she rotates out of Standard. I think that the new Jace will follow a similar trend. But only because I have Nissa to base him off. Let’s compare how Jace is different than Nissa, and how that could affect his future price.

First, Nissa is green which is arguably one of the strongest colors in Standard. Blue has been argued to be on the weaker side of the spectrum these days, since counterspells, removal, and card draw have been getting worse and worse over time. The decks where Nissa was included were some of the strongest in the Standard metagame, and there were no shortage of Pro’s that extolled her virtues both on camera and through the written word. Her abilities are really good if you can get her online, especially against control decks as she can create an army out of your lands over time. Jace being blue means that if he continues to be amazing, he will be included in basically every blue deck since the options for blue have been limited these days. This will, of course, make the price go even crazier eventually.

Second, Nissa costs five mana while Vryn’s Prodigy is only two. There is a colossal difference between two and five mana, which is why we see Jace being included as a playset in all decks that play him as a card. Another reason Jace is included as multiples in the decks he is featured in is because he can enable decks with combos to initiate them faster since his primary function in the deck is to loot, loot, loot. He is also a great target to use up your opponent’s removal, as you really aren’t losing much if he gets killed early (he’s only a 0/2 after all) and you will gain big over time the more he is left alone. So, Nissa was limited to two copies max in the main decks (with one or two copies in sideboards if control was big in a particular metagame) and Jace will see more copies played in decks since opponents will remove him early, which means you want more copies to replace those that are going to bite the bullet early game.

Finally, the last difference between Vryn’s Prodigy and Nissa is eternal applications. Check out the following stats for recent decklists that have featured Vryn’s Prodigy.

  • Modern, Splinter Twin – 22% of decks
  • Legacy, Grixis Control – 25% of decks
  • Legacy, Esper Stoneblade – 29% of decks
  • Legacy, Sultai Delver – 50% of decks
  • Legacy, Jeskai Stoneblade – 25% of decks
  • Vintage, Mentor – 29% of decks

Granted, the number of copies per deck is mostly restricted to one or two copies, but there is a clear breakthrough of Vryn’s Prodigy into Legacy since he is seeing play in at least four different archetypes that we know. This explains why his foil version is already $90 and climbing. I expect that he will break through to Modern as well once more blue decks pop up over time. The most surprising is Vintage, which as we know only the best of the best break through to see play. For Jace to see play in Vintage, either it was very good tech for the moment (which could be the case, I’m not a Vintage expert by any means) or his looting and flip to pseudo-Yawgmoth’s Will is actually a nice addition to decks that want to continue flashing back cards from their graveyard. All in all, the eternal play could be a flash in the pan for something like Vintage but I really think that Jace has staying power in Legacy since he is seeing play across at least four different archetypes as another way to (cheaply) help control the game.

All in all, Vryn’s Prodigy is one of those cards that is deceptively powerful. He could be compared to cards like Pack Rat, where if you never played against it you might think it isn’t that good, but once you get beat because of it you’ll forever be changed.

How about Vryn’s Prodigy’s price moving forward? I think Vryn’s Prodigy is going to drop once Origins approaches rotation as all Standard rares will, though the foil isn’t going to move much in price if he is already seeing play across several different eternal decks. If we base his price off Nissa’s, but alter it to include the fact that he is being played as playset in Standard decks and blue needs all the powerful tools it can get to be good, I think this could be his price trajectory:

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My boldest prediction is that Jace could hit $60 while in Standard, but only because he is currently being utilized as a playset in many blue decks. If that changes, then $60 will look like a silly prediction. Right now though, no one’s laughing at his $40 price. Being featured as a playset in, say, a Pro Tour winning deck could seal the $60 deal through winter. Eventually though, by August of next year he should be back down to around $15, if not before then if his time in Standard dwindles prematurely.

Hung Up on Hangarback

I also wanted to mention how Magic Origins was a preorder bonanza based on the past and current prices of the chase cards. You had the chance to preorder Vryn’s Prodigy and Hangarback Walker at bottom dollar prices. That’s not something that we see happen very often. Nissa / Goblin Rabblemaster were the previous pair from the last core set, and Rabblemaster was cheap initially but Nissa was never below $10. Usually the cheap preorder is either one or the other. This time players had a chance to get both!

While I and many others missed out on these preorder opportunities (since they almost never work out favorably) we shouldn’t get hung up on what we missed out on. This is the fastest way to drive yourself crazy with Magic finance. The best way to get back on track is to figure out where the metagame is going and how we might prepare for it.

We know with Battle for Zendikar that we’re continuing to get strong multicolored cards – both Converge and Devoid multicolored cards have been spoiled and several of them seem spicy enough to see Standard play. With all the converging and devoiding that is going to be happening the future, we know that Hangarback is going to continue being good since it is a colorless creature that slots into everything from aggro to control. What other conclusions might we draw from multicolored still being supported heavily?

Khans Uncommon Tri-Lands

The Khans  tri-lands will continue, along with fetchlands, to support these multicolored combinations. I expect the price of these lands to hold strong through Battle for Zendikar, with the off chance that one or more might go up at least $1 due to heavy Standard play.

Aggro Champions

On the flip side, aggro cards will be great against these slower 3+ color strategies that emerge. Cards like Monastery Swiftspear should rise to meet demand for decks like Red Deck Wins that exploit slower formats. Aggro also tends to be good shortly after rotation, since the format is still being figured out and the aggro deck’s linear strategy is easier to pilot than the emerging midrange or control deck’s strategy.

Rotation Staples

If you don’t have the time or energy to try and figure out the format, why bother? Just get a list together of eternal playable staples that are about to rotate and start picking them during the next few months after rotation. With Thoughtseize leading the Theros pack of rotation cards that are definitely going to hold value and even increase over time, there are certainly multiple other cards from the Theros block (and M15) out there that will be good long term holds. Granted, these cards aren’t going to turn you a quick profit, but they will hold value long term which one of the primary strategies I advocate with #mtgfinance.

That’s all I have for this week! As always, let me know what you think in the comments and on Twitter @gildedgoblin.

Penny Stocks of Tarkir

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a regular article! Thanks for sticking with me. I had to skip a week due to covering the Pro Tour in Vancouver, and last week I had an impromptu article on fetch lands take over my normal spot thanks to the breaking news (which I’m really proud of how the team here covered). Anyway, we’re back to normal this week, and this topic is one I’ve had in mind for a bit and I think is a fun (and profitable) one: penny stocks!

What Are Penny Stocks?

Basically, in the “real world” a penny stock is exactly that: a stock that costs you only pennies to buy but can provide big percentage gains as a result of having such a low buy-in. You make your money with volume, and they’re attractive options for casual investors.

Magic’s penny stocks are much the same. While we have to adjust the definition slightly—I’ve chosen to include cards up to $2—the theory holds, and every year we seemingly see something from this category of cards break out and subsequently shoot up in price. A couple years ago it was Desecration Demon and Nightveil Specter. We see something like this almost every year, and I don’t think this one will be an exception.

So let’s dig in.

Mantis Rider

Mantis Rider

Believe it or not, this little bug has fallen all the way to fifty cents. This thing was nearly $8 at one point!

And while some Jeskai builds have sat this guy on the bench in favor of more burn spells, that won’t necessarily be an option after rotation. Much of the deck’s core will stay in the format to keep it strong, but enough rotates to make room for Mantis Rider again—not to mention that versions of the deck still play this thing as a four-of and do well today.

At near-bulk status, this is a must-have. You’re out nothing if it misses, but the gains could be huge.

Savage Knuckleblade

Savage Knuckleblade

Another card that has seen Standard success but is currently 50 cents. Temur has a lot of tools post-rotation, even if it’s a little out of the limelight now, and between this and the next card on this list, there’s a lot of reason to think the deck could be poised to find a place in the format. With playsets of this card available for a single dollar, I don’t know how you can pass this up right now, even if it means taking a flyer on a fringe deck.

Rattleclaw Mystic

Rattleclaw Mystic

I’ve written about this card before, but I’ll repeat it now: this is the best mana-ramp creature in Standard after Sylvan Caryatid leaves. It’s been slowing trending up but still clocks in under $2, and there’s not way this little guy won’t see continued Standard play next season. I love this as a pickup.

Surrak Dragonclaw/Sagu Mauler

Surrak Dragonclaw

Remember how I said Temur could be poised to break out? These are a few of the cards that make it possible. Sagu Mauler is actually bulk while Surrak is a dollar, but both of these are 6/6 creatures for five mana, which is conveniently easy to achieve a turn early thanks to Rattleclaw Mystic. Both of these could flame out into nothing, but both have great upside in the weeks following Rotation.

Sagu Mauler

Utter End

Utter End

Sure, there are lots of better options for removal available now, but that won’t be the case forever. Utter End is as flexible as you want, and while it is expensive in a gameplay sense at four mana, it’s super cheap in a fiscal sense at 75 cents. It’s possible the Game Day promos are a better play here, but the lowest risk certainly rests with the regular copies.

Shaman of the Great Hunt

Shaman of the Great Hunt

This thing saw a little fringe play upon its release, but has since fallen off the map. As a mythic from a small set, there’s definitely solid upside here, though be aware you’re taking a super speculative route with this one. It’s a very strong curve-topper for aggressive decks, but the red decks of the format don’t lack that even after rotation, and the decks that can make use of the final ability may not need it, either. Still, the price upside on this is what makes it worth a look, even if it never quite gets there.

Outpost Siege

Outpost Siege

We already see this Siege get a ton of sideboard play, and there’s no reason to expect that won’t continue or that the card may even move to main decks after rotation. I don’t fully understand why this is under a dollar given all that, but it’s cheap enough to warrant a spot on this list. After all, sometimes the market is just slow to react: Dromoka’s Command is all over the place and yet is only $2. Sometimes if something seems wrong, it’s not because you’re missing something, it’s because it is wrong.

While we’re at it, if you want to talk bulk rare Sieges, Frontier Siege could be huge in ramping to eldrazi and is only 50 cents. Just saying.

Surrak, the Hunt Caller

Surrak, the Hunt Caller

Dragons of Tarkir offers us fewer options than the other sets in the block, both because it’s a set that wasn’t drafted a ton (a large set but never drafted alone), and because there are already a number of expensive cards floating over the arbitrary $2 mark. Still, there are a couple cards worth mentioning, and the smaller Surrak is one of them.

This saw a little play upon its release., the stats are solid (trades with Siege Rhino), and the ability is good and not that difficult to turn on. At 75 cents, it’s worth having at least a playset of these for yourself. Remember, ramping into eldrazi and having the ability to give them haste could very well be a thing we’re concerned about in three months.

Dragon Whisperer

Dragon Whisperer

Red decks still have a lot of gas post-rotation, but with a few spots opening up, we could see the Whisperer slip in. It’s both an acceptable two-drop and a way to sink some late-game mana into a powerful effect. I’m not a huge fan necessarily, but as a mythic, the upside is definitely there.

Icefall Regent

Icefall Regent

Another dragon that has seen competitive play in the past. It peaked over $4 and could possible find itself a home again post-rotation. At just over a dollar, it earns a spot on our list, even if it seems like a long-shot.

Wrapping Up

I realize I’ve thrown a lot of cards at you, and it’s a certainty that not all of these will hit either play-wise or financially. I realize that, but I view my job as a writer to give you the options and my thoughts on them and leave it to you to make your own decisions.

I’m sure there are cards on this list I like more than some of you do, and undoubtedly you have favorites that I’m not sold on. Regardless, these are the cards that most fit the profile of “super-inexpensive card to break out post-rotation,” and all of these offer a chance to get ahead of what you think the Standard metagame will look like in a few months.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter