Gods Part I: The Theros Five

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By Guo Heng Chin

I initially planned to write this article sometime during the summer, but last week happened. The Commander rules committee announced one of the biggest shake-up to the format in recent memory: commanders can no longer be tucked. Players can now choose to send their commanders back to the command zone if their commander was sent to the library, just as they could if their commander was sent to the graveyard or exiled.

Removing tuck proved to be a controversial move, accompanied by some very vocal dissension on Twitter and Reddit. I would not dissect the implications of the change on the format in this article as I am not exactly the most qualified person to speak about it. Plus I am in favor of the no-tuck change, being a fan of build-around-me commanders. For those interested to read about the impact of the new ruling, I would highly recommend reading Jason Alt’s article on the change, one of the most impartial commentary on the removal of tuck.

The new ruling made me reevaluate a set of Standard-legal cards that are also Commander staples. What I am going to talk about today is a set of cards which I think would make a good long-term investment. A set of cards that, to paraphrase Mark Rosewater, were designed to be a wow factor in Theros boosters. Those cards have been getting a lot of love in Commander, and whose power level was bolstered with tuck removed from Commander.

Don't get your hopes up. Just kidding, read on.
Don’t get your hopes up. Just kidding, read on.

The Theros block gods are ostentatiously impressive. They have flashy abilities, come in special Nyx-ified frames and are indestructible enhancements that become alive if your board state is sufficiently devoted to their cause. Sounds like a recipe for a long-term casual hit if you ask me. Also how cool is it to be able to play with gods?

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Their abilities and indestructibility made some of the gods enticing commanders and a few, like Kruphix, God of the Horizons seemed to be designed with Commander in mind. The fact that the gods are enchantments unless their devotion is activated blanks a slew of commander removal. Together with indestructibility the gods are practically glued to the board once they resolve. Tucking used to be one of the few ways to remove a resolved god commander.

Would god become more popular as commanders in a post-tuck world? I do not know the answer, but one thing for certain, the gods are more resilient now and players can run build-around-me god commanders without worrying about their engine being tucked and having to play with a pile of garbage for the rest of the game.

As scoeri’s monthly Commander metagame sweep shows, the gods are already quite popular as Commanders.

scoeri gods
Popular commanders from 30 March 2014 to 30 March 2015. The number indicates the number of decks for that particular commander. Snapshot taken on 31 March 2015.

Three of the Theros block gods are in the top 50 most played commander in the previous twelve months. Purphoros, God of the Forge and Erebos, God of the Dead used to be on the list as well, but they have been knocked off in recent updates.

Of course, the gods were not just popular as commanders. They were also played as one of the 99 and I believe they saw more play as one of the commanded rather than the commander. There are a lot to be written about them and rather than spill it all out in a single encyclopedia of an article, I would to split it into three parts.

In the first part today, we are going to take a look at the Theros gods and their long-term financial potential, with a focus on foils.

The Theros Five

Theros Gods
Breakdown of the most played cards from Theros. The digits indicate the number decks running those cards. Snapshot taken on 31 March 2015.

scoeri’s analysis offers a multitude of options for dissecting the popularity of Commander staples and one of them is a breakdown of the most played cards by set (only for recent sets). scoeri’s list is an invaluable resource for Commander aficionados and I would certainly recommend anyone engaged in or merely interested in the format to read it.

In the image above, we have the breakdown of the most popular Theros cards in Commander. Unsurprisingly, Burnished Hart and Prophet of Kruphix occupied the top two spot, one being a ramp spell that fits into any deck (whose foil is a good spec target) and the other being borderline bannable.

All five Theros gods are on the list, with three of them in the top ten, and Nylea, God of the Hunt and Heliod, the Unloved trailing at eleventh and twelfth respectively. They are the most popular Theros mythics in Commander.

Purphoros, God of Pew Pew Pew

It’s not surprising to see Purphoros as the third most popular Theros card for Commander, and the most popular Theros god. Purphoros is pretty much a staple in any deck that runs red and makes creatures. Token strategies are popular in Commander and when he is not attending to his forge, Purphoros is the God of Tokens.

Purphoros is also a Duel Commander staple. Marath, Will of the Wild and Prossh, Skyraider of Kher are top tier commanders in the format and Purphoros is a staple in both, although the Prossh Food Chain deck was killed by the recent Duel Commander banning of Food Chain. Nevertheless, Prossh Elfball is still legit and Prossh remains one of the top ten most played commander in multiplayer Commander.

More importantly in terms of financial prospect, Purphoros was one of the biggest benefactor of the new no-tuck legislation. Purphoros is a classic build-around-me commander. A Purphoros, God of the Tokens deck is pathetic without Purphoros himself. Five mana for four goblin tokens just would not do in a format where five mana nets you your opponent’s Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. Unless it comes together with a double Flame Rift‘s worth of commander damage.

Purphoros Six Months

As of writing, a foil Purphoros is sitting at $17, a little on the expensive side. However, scoeri’s weighted 200 list which shows the percentage of decks that included a card when possible (e.g. how many decks running red included Purphoros) tells us that Purphoros enjoys a similar level of ubiquity as with another monocolored staple Doubling Season.

16% of lists with red play Purphoros compared with 14% of lists with green running Doubling Season and Doubling Season foils are hovering between $36 to $42 after three printings. Granted, all three printings of Doubling Season would probably yield less foil Doubling Seasons than foil Purphoroses, but you can’t use Doubling Season as your commander.

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I am not advocating that you should go out and buy ten foil Purphoros right away. Foil Purphoros is a good trade target at the moment if you get the opportunity as Theros cards just started their downward spiral. Foil Purphoros may fall a little at rotation, but I doubt he would drop below $12.

As for non-foil copies currently sitting at $7, I would wait for rotation to buy in. Picking up a few at $3 to $4 looks like a no-brainer long-term investment. After all, Purphoros is the only god who made it into the top 200 weighted list.

Popularity do come at a price. Sheldon Menery noted in his article elaborating on the Commander Rules Committee’s decision to ban tuck that they are keeping an eye on Derevi and Purphoros, two commanders who became more powerful (or annoying, depending on which side of the table you are on) in a world without tuck. So don’t get too deep on foil Purphoros and if you do, keep a close tab on the general sentiment in the Commander scene regarding Purphoros.

Although we don’t like the idea of an official Watch List, it would be disingenuous of us to say that we don’t keep our eyes open for danger spots and/or cards that we know folks are talking about. – Sheldon Menery

The Big Mermaid

She may have a tiny casting cost of three, but  Thassa, God of the Sea is no little mermaid. Ushering elementals  through blockers and fixing topdecks since Pro Tour Theros, Thassa recently experienced a bit of an uptick since Shorecrasher Elemental was spoiled, but the heralded revival of Mono-Blue devotion has yet to arrive.

Regardless of whether Mono-Blue makes a comeback, Thassa has found a home in Commander. She really is three cards in a single three casting cost card that could easily slot into any blue decks. She is an indestructible source of card advantage, a trump card in clogged board states, and a 5/5 creature when needs be.

Thassa may not be a popular commander but she is definitely a staple as one of the 99. Besides multiplayer Commander, she is a key component in Geist of Saint Traft Duel Commander and some Merfolk builds in Modern run her.

Thassa also has the benefit of being one of the two three gods legal in Tiny Leaders. Thassa Merfolk may not be tier one, but it’s something!

Thassa Chart

With normal copies at $8 and foils at $21, I would wait until summer or rotation to pick Thassa up. Thassa is one of the top 50 most played blue cards with Modern playability, is played in Duel Commander and is the leader for a fringe Tiny Leaders archetype. Thassa is definitely one of the Theros gods I am keeping an eye on as rotation enters the horizon.

Erebos, Not Erebor

Erebos Chart

Erebos, God of the Dead is going for $5 non-foil and $15 foil. I would not mind trading into foils at the moment, but I would wait until summer or rotation to grab some non-foils. A pseudo-Phyrexian Arena on a stick that hoses lifegain shenanigans (aplenty in Commander) can’t be too bad. Erebos is also on the top 50 most played black cards list, right in the  middle.

Nylea, the Ugly Duckling of the Pantheon

Nylea Chart

Nylea, God of the Hunt foils at $11 may be one step cheaper than the three discussed above. She is allegedly not as popular as the rest. Nylea is not even in the top 50 green list. I would stay away from both foils and non-foils ($5) for now.

Heliod, the Unloved

Heliod Chart

Heliod, God of the Sun is one of the most interesting god in terms of financial potential. Heliod is the cheapest among the Theros pantheon in foil ($8) and non-foil ($2.50) but he enjoys the same level of popularity as Erebos and Thassa in their respective color’s top 50 most played list (Purphoros was the only god to be in the top ten – fifth indeed – of the top 50 by color list).

I suspect Heliod may be severely underpriced due to the fact that he was the only Theros god who saw no play in Standard. $8 for foil Heliods looks good. $2.50 for a non-foil of a mythic that is a white staple in Commander? Hell yeah.

Closing Thoughts

Besides their Commander appeal, one of the most enticing aspect about investing in gods is their extremely low chance of being reprinted. The gods are inexorably tied to the Theros plane in their flavor and their Nyx-ified frame adds a further restriction on where they could be reprinted. I cannot imagine seeing one of these in Modern Masters 201X a few years down the road. And I certainly could not envision visiting The Mothership one day to be greeted by ‘Announcing From the Vaults: Gods’.

Personally, I would focus on acquiring foils, because Commander staple foils turn into gold bars over time (the only recorded instance of successful alchemy), and because Nyx-ified cards look gorgeous in foil.

It's hammer time!
It’s #humblebrag time!

Foil gods are appealing picks when the price of Theros cards bottom out upon rotation. Most of the gods discussed today do not see modern play and that is a good thing. Look at the price of foil Keranos, God of the Storms who saw a little Modern and Legacy action, mostly from the sideboard.

scoeri’s statistics show that the Theros gods are Commander gold, and unlike Modern staples which do not dip in price upon rotation, Commander staples do see a drop upon rotation and would gradually appreciate over the years. Investing in foils provides extra buffer against reprints, which are getting increasingly frequent these days.

I have yet to set a date for the next part of this series, with next week being the week before the Pro Tour, and it is customary for Magic finance writers to throw their hats into the ring and bet on breakout cards. Comments are more than welcomed. Drop you thoughts below or find me on Twitter @theguoheng.

Edit: There are three gods legal in Tiny Leaders, not two, as a reader pointed out in the comments. Thanks ‘Annoying commenter’ (yes, that is his/her username. Check the comments below)! 😉


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An Introduction and an Approach to Risk

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By: Sigmund Ausfresser

Hello everyone, and welcome to my new home. After over three years of writing for other MTG Finance websites, I’m delighted to reach a broader audience here at MTGPrice.com.  The opportunity is truly energizing, and I look forward to engaging dialogues each and every week. To that end, I encourage you to please share your thoughts – both positive and negative – in the comments section whenever you’d like.

Before I jump into my financial content for today, I wanted to first share a brief overview of my background. This context will really foreshadow many of my future topics, underlining my general approach to MTG Finance. Allow me to explain.

Background and Motivation

Technically, I’ve been playing Magic for about 18 years now…well, if you consider casting numerous Craw Wurms and Dark Banishings “Magic”. For over a decade I was solely a casual player; never understanding the allure of tournaments or adhering to certain rules dictated by various formats. Finally around Time Spiral block I dipped my toe into the competitive waters. I couldn’t understand why a card like Strangling Soot was so good, and why my first picking of Pardic Dragon wasn’t winning me games. It was the rare, after all!
Dragon
My defeats were swift and merciless. Clearly, there was much to learn.

A couple years later I was introduced to the concept of MTG Finance at my local card shop by a couple of influential members of the community. I distinctly remember asking the question that changed my perceptions of MTG Finance forever.

 Me: “How did you get all of these valuable cards? Do you just open a lot of packs?”

Him: “Through trades.”

My paradigm of Magic was changed forever. I had finally realized the power of knowing not only the value of my cards but the value of others’ cards as well. I also discovered that cards had wildly fluctuating prices, which lent themselves to opportunistic exchanges and investments. Needless to say, I was immediately hooked. My soul purpose for attending local events suddenly became about trading, not battling. The methodology was easy to pick up, I signed up for a Twitter account to follow other MTG Finance experts, and the rest is history.

What’s left out of the story above, however, is my primary motivation. At first my goal was simply to avoid losing/spending money to play Magic. I learned a very difficult lesson after Psionic Blast went from $25 to under $5 after Time Spiral block rotated out of Standard. I had no idea rotation was a thing, and I certainly regretted giving up so much value for the under-appreciated Blue instant.
Blast
After these unfortunate trades, I swore I would pay much closer attention to financial trends. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

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Through frantic research and continuous education, I learned how to not only avoid pitfalls such as these, but also how to trade into cards with potential appreciation. A cautious approach was my friend, ensuring I didn’t move into any cards too rashly.

About a year later my spouse gave birth to our son, and my priorities changed dramatically. Finding inspiration from a kind gesture from another member of the Magic community, I decided I’d refocus my efforts in MTG Finance with a new goal: to make money from the game so as to offset or cover college costs for my son. Three years later I can confidently say I’ve made a small dent in the projected cost of his education, but I know I have a ways to go.

Risks and Rewards

This new-found motivation to pursue MTG Finance segues nicely to my financial topic for this week: risk. Everyone manages risk differently and in an uncontrolled, often manipulated market there is a full continuum of risk/reward strategies one could pursue. We’re talking extreme opportunities here. Ranging from buying one case of every new set to sit on for ten years (on the conservative end) to buying 1,000 copies of a seemingly bulk rare such as Amulet of Vigor, only to see a 1200% return over an 18 month time period.
Amulet
I often hear about how difficult it is for even the most adept hedge fund managers to beat the S&P 500 on a consistent basis. If only they heard about MTG Finance!

The reason I bring up this risk continuum is because I share where my strategy lies, for context. Generally I am a risk-averse person. I also have a lingering fear of MTG Finance in general – the secondary Magic Card market is easily manipulated and unregulated, controlled only by Hasbro’s whim. Therefore I make a point not to overextend my exposure to MTG. Everyone has their financial flexibility and limitations, and I’m comfortable with my allocation to investments in this game.

Additionally, I strive to keep my goal in focus. If I truly hope to put a dent in my son’s college education costs 15 years from now, I can’t go around taking dramatic risk. The reward potential may be large, but losing significant money in this game could set me back years. Therefore, I focus on a strategy of diversification. I try my best to allocate capital towards an array of targets, including cards from Vintage, Legacy, Modern, Standard, Commander as well as sealed product. This way if any format were to suddenly drop in popularity or shift dramatically I wouldn’t lose too much at once. It’s a strategy I borrow from Wall Street investing and it has worked well for me thus far.

A New Risk

In the past few years, Wizards of the Coast has dramatically increased their tendency to do something potentially detrimental to MTG collection values everywhere. Know what it is? Here’s a hint:

MM2015
Wizards of the Coast has decided to tap into the powerful secondary market by creating more and more products with reprints. Can you really blame them? Duel Decks, Event Decks, Commander products, From the Vault series, more and more judge promos, Modern Masters, and all these old set rehashes (e.g. Return to Ravnica, Scars of Mirrodin, and Battle for Zendikar) – every single one has given Wizards of the Coast an opportunity to increase sales by bringing back strategic valuable cards from old sets. And while the reprint is nothing new, their frequency is surely alarming to a conservative speculator such as me.

How do I manage this new risk? Besides diversification, I’m a strong believer that certain cards are more prone to reprint risk than others. My strategy is to identify the lower risk cards which see plenty of play and move in accordingly. This goes beyond sticking with newer cards cleared from MM2015 such as Snapcaster Mage, mind you. While Snapcaster was a terrific buy a couple months ago, I think there are some other less obvious pickups which should be relatively safe from reprinting.

I should point out that not everyone agrees with this sentiment. A recent Twitter conversation was the first time I recognized the dissonance in community opinion.

tweet
I have complete respect for Nick, but my opinion was not influenced by Twitter debate. Since I have more than 140 characters to work with, I’m hoping I can share my perspective here.

Let’s start with a premise: Wizards of the Coast does not want Modern Masters 2015 to be too much like Modern Masters. If there’s mostly overlap between sets, the new product won’t have a new “feel” to it. Players wouldn’t like this. Additionally, the new Modern Masters 2015 set will have a broader menu of sets to include reprints from. The first MMA set contained cards ranging from Eighth Edition through Alara Reborn. Yet MM2015 will contain cards all the way up through and including New Phyrexia. The larger pool of cards dictates most the MMA cards cannot reappear in MM2015.

“But but…what about Tarmogoyf? We already know he’s back again!”
Goyf
While true, let’s look at this with a little pragmatism here. Tarmogoyf continues to be the most expensive card in Modern despite getting the reprint treatment in the first Modern Masters. In fact, the value of the Green creature went UP upon reprinting. This means two things for WOTC. First, they have license to reprint this card again knowing another printing at Mythic Rare won’t absolutely destroy Tarmogoyf’s market value. And second, they would be crazy not to include him in the new Modern Mastsers set. That card alone is going to sell the set. Suddenly paying $9.99 for a pack is less worrisome when you know you can open up $200 in a single card.

So while there will likely be a few other strategic reappearances, I still think this set will be designed to have a different “feel”. New mechanics will appear (e.g. annihilator, metalcraft) and Wizards will need to print sufficient cards to support those strategies in draft. There are also a good deal of valuable cards in the newer sets of MM2015, and these cannot be ignored.

With all this said, I stand by my tweets above: some cards are less risky than others.

For example, Pact of Negation, Slaughter Pact, and Summoners’ Pact got the reprint treatment in MMA. I don’t anticipate they’ll show up again. That would be three repeat slots taken up, and I just don’t think they’ll come back. There were also only fifteen Mythic Rares in MMA. We already know Goyf is coming back as one for MM2015. How many repeat Mythics will show up? With a bunch of Eldrazi, Mox Opal, and a few other expensive, newer cards to reprint I can’t imagine we see too much overlap in the Mythic Rare department. Vedalken Shackles still hasn’t recovered fully from its reprinting and is unlikely to come back. Or how about the two swords we got in MMA? Wouldn’t it make more sense to see two of the newer swords in MM2015, such as Sword of War and Peace and Sword of Feast and Famine?

And forget the Dragon Spirit cycle – that’s five relatively cheap Mythic Rares no one wants to open in a $10 pack.

Net, I don’t only believe some cards are more reprintable than others. I believe we can strategically mitigate risk to our portfolios by anticipating which cards are unlikely to show up for a second go around. I doubt I’ll predict things perfectly, but if I can use any information available to me to avoid taking unnecessary losses on cards, you’d better believe I’m going to do so. Often times, that’s what the name of the game is – using information available to us as best as we can to try and create an edge.

It’s that edge that leads to sustainable, consistent profits. It also adds discipline to our approach, ensuring we think through our investment decisions before committing funds. And in a world of rampant buy-outs and needless hype, strategic thinking is even more critical in order to avoid pitfalls of baseless speculation.

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully my introductory article here on MTGPrice covered the backdrop for how I approach MTG Finance, while also hinting at some worthwhile targets in trade. Something like Pact of Negation is unfortunately already $20+, but it’s also the only played free Counterspell in Modern. It also sees occasional Legacy play, which makes the card even more attractive for the long run. And with its appearance in the first Modern Masters, you could do worse than to trade into a few copies if you’re looking for slow, stable upside.

Other safer targets include Engineered Explosives (my number one Tiny Leaders target), Glen Elendra Archmage, and Lotus Bloom.

In the future I hope to look beyond Modern and share some of my favorite targets in other formats, along with how I’m currently allocating my funds toward each format. I’ll explain why I think Dual Lands have pulled back significantly over the past few months, and why I see that trend reversing very soon. I’ll share the economic theory behind rising prices in the Vintage market. And I’ll share my misadventures in the sealed product space.

With so much to discuss, along with a backdrop of an ever-changing environment of buyouts and new sets, I hope to be writing for MTGPrice for years to come. I look forward to each and every week.

Sig’s Quick Hits

Each week, in addition to my actual article, I like to share three interesting tidbits worth noting based on Star City Games’ stock. The information is shared in rapid fire fashion, and the reader is left to interpret the implications and act in the way they deem best. I hope to continue this practice here at MTGPrice.com, and I’d appreciate comments from readers as to whether or not this section is well-received.

  • As long as Affinity remains popular in Modern, Stony Silence will be a worthwhile card to acquire. And with the likely inclusion of metalcraft in MM2015, perhaps the interest in this archetype will increase even further. Star City Games currently has just 3 copies in stock, with a price tag of $4.45.
  • Why do I think at least some Dual Lands have finally bottomed? Well Volcanic Island’s stock at Star City Games has continued to dwindle. They now have just 13 total Revised copies in stock, with NM copies listed at $299.99. After dominating the Dual Land world for decades, Underground Sea may finally lose its status as “most expensive Dual Land”. It too retails for $299.99 but SCG has 45 total copies in stock, although none are NM.
  • Foil Command Towers are still tough to come by. Star City Games is still only charging $29.99 for both Commander’s Arsenal and judge promo copies. Though, it’s worth mentioning they are sold out of each. I suspect they increase their prices when they restock.
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Commander 2014 Price Tracking – Part 2

By: Jared Yost

This week I will continue with my review of the Commander 2014 decks to see if there is anything currently undervalued now that the set has been in stores for several months and has been widely distributed.

For the white and blue decks, please check out the first part of my review.

Sworn to Darkness

Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath – For this guy, I’ll quote what I said previously about the planeswalkers from Commander 2014.

There are several factors that make me very interested in the C14 planeswalkers:

Only one printing (though this is a mass distributed product, I still feel this attribute is important in this case)

  • Completely new planeswalkers that haven’t been seen before
  • They are tied into the lore of Magic very closely, and they included throwbacks to Teferi and Freyalise which is awesome
  • Unique Commander appeal, due to a slight rules twist that allows these planeswalkers to be played as generals
  • Decently strong effects, since they are the headlining cards of their respective pre-cons

All of these attributes, in addition to the planeswalkers only being $5-$7 each, make the planeswalkers very desirable pickups from the C14 decks.

In addition, I’ll say that Ob Nixilis interacts well with life gain effects and we all know how players love their Sanguine Bonds and Exquisite Bloods. I think all the planeswalkers are going to be casual favorites for years to come and Ob Nixilis will be a decent pickup for $6 like the rest of them.

Flesh Carver – I really like this card if you can pick them up for cheap. Having a reusable sacrifice outlet for Commander decks can be quite powerful if you have combos that synergize with the graveyard or if you are creating massive amounts of token that can be sacrificed easily. I like the Carver because he also leaves behind a body in case he dies. So evasion in the form of intimidate plus a body left behind if he dies is a pretty good deal for me. If you can pick these up for bulk I’m sure they will appreciate nicely in the future.

Crypt Ghast – Despite the massive reprint it had in the Commander 2014 decks, Crypt Ghast is still about $1 retail. Players love being able to double their mana in formats like Commander and I foresee Crypt Ghast being a black staple for years to come. I like foils and nonfoils as pickups because even the nonfoils will be desired by casual players looking to building black commander decks.

Abyssal Persecutor – The Worldwake version of Persecutor is $3 retail while the C14 version is $1.29. Not sure why there is a huge difference in price but it tells me that Persecutor could eventually be worth more than bulk since some versions are still above $3. Persecutor is a really strong card with an easy to ignore drawback in the right deck. 

Magus of the Coffers – Just like Crypt Ghast, Cabal Coffers on a stick is going to be a thing in black decks in order to generate massive amounts of mana in a single turn. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth has made sure that “swamps matter” effects are powerful in Commander. Planar Chaos copies are still above a $1, so picking up the C14 copies for bulk seems like a good play to me. Planar Chaos foils are actually pretty cheap for this guy too at $6 retail, so those might be worth looking into as well. 

Ghoulcaller Gisa – Cards with lots of lore flavor and powerful effects seem like good pickups to me. Even though she is at $2.75 retail I think there is room for upward movement as time goes on. Outside of an Innistrad themed set, it is going to be super hard to reprint her, so I think the reprint fear with this card is pretty low. 

Sol Ring – I’ll copy my thoughts on Sol Ring from the first part, just so you know I’m not skipping over it for any reason.

Sol Ring has finally been printed so many times that it is now around $3 per copy. I really don’t think Ring is a great place to put your money anymore. Wizards has proven that they’re going to print this card in every single Commander pre-con that they make, so players aren’t going to be looking for copies that often. Foils are another story, however I feel that regular Sol Rings are past their price prime due to being reprinted into oblivion.  

Jet Medallion – My thoughts on the medallions from the Part 1:

The medallions are a great addition to any mono colored Commander deck, so even with the reprint they will continue to gain value over time. The Tempest copies haven’t been drastically affected by the mass C14 reprint, so even if you have the old school version you didn’t lose that much value (due to the new art and card look compared to the old version). I feel like each medallion has entered its low point going into the $1.50 and less range. I will be looking around for extra copies to trade into and buy for all the colors. 

Malicious Affliction – This card is very close to Legacy playable, but unfortunately it is so hard to trigger Morbid in Legacy that I doubt it will ever see play there. However, we might see it in a Legacy deck eventually if the format changes in order to support the card.

Even without Legacy play, Malicious Affliction is still a very strong card in Commander and casual formats. Two black mana to kill two nonblack creatures is very efficient. At $3.50, the price seems a little steep to me. However, if it starts declining down into the $2 range then it will be time to pick up copies.

Built from Scratch

Daretti, Scrap Savant – I think that Darretti is right in the middle in terms of planeswalkers desired from the C14 decks. He isn’t as popular as Teferi and Freyalise, however he is the most efficiently costed planeswalker at four mana and has a nice card filtering ability which is almost always desired by mono red decks. Since Wizards has now decided that looting is a red ability, the color has been getting more loot effects over time. Daretti is the culmination of those efforts (at least for now), as Tibalt was a failed experiment and the only other somewhat playable looting cards are Faithless Looting and possibly Tormenting Voice (along with of course Wheel of Fortune and similar cards).

One downfall to Daretti is that you have to play him in an artifact heavy deck. Otherwise, you can use him as a loot-walker but sometimes looting isn’t what you’re looking for in a Commander game. Yet, at $5 it is a very low buy-in for Daretti and I think he has plenty of room to move up from there.

Goblin Welder – With Urza’s Legacy copies still going for $6, if you can find C14 Welders for under $2 I don’t think you can go wrong with picking up some copies. This is a known Legacy card, albeit in a pet deck, yet Legacy and casual demand in addition to Commander will drive Goblin Welder’s price back up over time. 

Dualcaster Mage – How the mighty have fallen. What was once a $15 card is now hovering around $4.50. I’m not sure if the judge foil reprinting of Dualcaster Mage and Feldon of the Third Path will affect the nonfoil price, since judge foils are so rare these days due to the foil distribution shakeup. However, I think that Dualcaster Mage is a pretty awesome card for Commander and might even see some eternal play if red keeps getting more love from Wizards over the years. $4.50 and lower is a good price to pick them up if you’re interested.  

Feldon of the Third Path – Though the card never started out at a very high price, I still think that Feldon is one of the stronger mono colored generals to come out of the C14 series. His ability to copy any creature in a graveyard for a turn, without exiling the card permanently (which means that you can repeatedly copy the same things if you choose), is not something that we see Wizards allow very often. Crappier cards than Feldon have required us to exile the re-used cards in graveyards, so I think that for $1.50 you will have a great spec on your hands. 

Solemn Simulacrum – Since we can expect this card to be in every ohter Commander release from this point out, I don’t think it is worth picking up even though it is card that is ubiquitous in the format. At $4, there are better cards to get that will go up in price sooner than Solemn Simulacrum. Like Sol Ring, I think the days of this card gaining value are over since Wizards continues to reprint Sad Robot. 

Wurmcoil Engine – The most exciting card to receive a reprinting in C14, due to the Modern and Legacy applications of the card. I think that $12 is pretty close to the floor for Wurmcoil Engine – if it isn’t reprinted in Modern Masters II. I’m not sure if they will reprint it there, with the C14 reprint being pretty recent, however I can’t rule it out until I see the set list. I’ll be keeping an eye on Wurmcoil Engine and if isn’t reprinted in MM2 then it will only go up over time. 

Ruby Medallion – See my thoughts on the Medallions in the Sworn to Darkness section. 

Chaos Warp – Even though Commanders can’t be tucked anymore, I still think Chaos Warp is one of red’s most solid removal spells. Most of the time, I’m not even targeting someone’s commander with this because something even more threatening needs to be taken out. Though Wizards has proven that Chaos Warp is bound to get the reprint treatment in Commander products, I still think that if you can get them for $2.50 or lower you’re doing pretty good. 

Scrap Mastery – I really like this card because it has Daretti’s picture on it (hard to reprint) and grants red a recursion spell that has never been seen before for artifacts. Being able to return all your binned artifacts is really powerful. This card is currently less than $1, which means that it is a pretty good speculation target. I’ll be picking up a few extra copies for the future.

Guided by Nature

Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury – One of the two most popular Commanders from the release, Freyalise should be a high priority for those looking to collect planeswalkers from the C14 set. I’ve talked about the planeswalkers plenty before, but even though Freyalise is $7 I still think she has plenty of upward mobility due to the casual demand she generates.  

Ezuri, Renegade Leader – This is more a Tiny Leaders spec than anything else. Unless Ezuri is banned in the Tiny Leaders format, the elves deck is one of the stronger decks I’ve seen. At $2 and less, it seems like a good pickup to me. The only issue is if he sees a Modern Masters II reprint, than the price will probably drop to $1 and stay around there. Without a reprint though, I could definitely see Ezuri trending upwards over time. 

Immaculate Magistrate – I like this card because it represents two things casuals love, Elves and counters. +1/+1 counters specifically seem to speak to the casual crowd well. At $1.50 and less it seems like a card that is bound to increase in price over time on the back of casual demand. The Lorwyn version is still $4.50 after all.

Creeperhulk – What an awesome Commander card! Being able to ramp out into the hulk and then turn all of your mana dorks into 5/5’s with trample is pretty insane. I’m not sure how this card is still bulk. I think it is a great spec target for future gains. 

Titania, Protector of Argoth – Though a steep buy at $6, I wouldn’t mind trading for a few as a speculation. This card is awesome in casual player’s eyes since it gives protection from land destruction, one of the most hated types of cards in casual games. Being able to beat someone in the face for destroying all your lands is very satisfying. $6 might not be the floor for this card but I feel like it is very close. I’ll be watching Titania closely for any future price movements. 

Siege Behemoth – I like this card because it provides a way for green players to push through that extra damage, but on a budget unlike Craterhoof Behemoth. Buying in cheap here could yield decent returns in the future. 

Lifeblood Hydra – I think this hydra is pretty awesome. It provides a huge trampler than can draw you a bunch of cards when it dies, kind of a green Sphinx’s Revelation with the life gain considered. Certainly cheap at $1.50 or less, I would expect this card to go up over time based on casual demand. 

Emerald Medallion – See my thoughts on the Medallions in the Sworn to Darkness section. 

Song of the Dryads – Now even better with the new Commander rule, Song of the Dryads was already pretty awesome for green removal. Pick up some extra copies and set them aside for future growth. 

Wave of Vitriol – One of the more powerful artifact and enchantment wipes, this card is sure to be included in mono green commander decks that don’t utilize many of these card types for quite some time. It is so devastating when cast because it gets around indestructible, which is key when playing against cards like Darksteel Forge. This card is super cheap right now, so you can pick up several copies to hold for gains. 

Summary

This concludes my review of the Commander 2014 decks. What did you all think of the decks this time around? I thought they were much more powerful than the C13 decks and provided quite a bit of financial value, in addition to the card and synergy strength of the decks, for the MSRP.

Did I miss anything you think is important from the C14 decks? Let me know in the comments.


 

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MTGFinance: What We’re Buying/Selling This Week (March 28/15)

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It recently occurred to us here that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when we actually put our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such we’ve decided to run a weekly series simply breaking down what we’ve been buying this week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought without hope of profit, where appropriate. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we were up to this week:

Buying Period: March 22nd -28th, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

BOUGHT (Dragons of Tarkir)

  • 4x Dragonlord Ojutai @ $5.50 per
  • 4x Dragonlord Ojutai @ $4.50 per
  • 3x Sidisi, Undead Vizier @ $4 per
  • 5x Dragonlord Atarka @ $6.25 per
  • 3x Dragonlord Silumgar @ $5.30 per
  • 5 x Haven of the Spirit Dragon @ $2.70 per
  • 4x Blood-Chin Fanatic @ $1.00 per
  • 6x Corpseweft @ $0.90 per

BOUGHT (Other)

  • 4x Training Grounds @ $2.70 per
  • 1x Doubling Season (Judge Foil) @ $27
  • 1x Supreme Verdict (Foil) @ $3.15
  • 1x Wild Nactl (FNM Foil) @ $1.75
  • 2x Seance (Foil) @ $1.75 per
  • 1x Athreos, God of Passage (Russian) @ $14

SOLD

  • 3x Murderous Cut (Japanese Foil) @ $17 ($8 cost)

SOLD (Pucatrade)

Note: Points roughly equal USD/100. Eg) 700 points equals $7 in card purchasing value.

  • 1x Inquisition of Kozilek @ 713 points ($3 cost)
  • 1x Chromatic Lantern @ 589 points ($2.50 cost)
  • 1x Horizon Canopy @ 3593 points (pack opened)
  • 4x Savor the Moment @ 443 points ($1.75/per cost)
  • 1x Remand (Ravnica) @ 1669 points (pack opened)
  • 1x Sword of Light and Shadow @ 3490 points (pack opened)
  • 1x Tolaria West @ 573 points (pack opened)

Most of my Dragons of Tarkir purchases were in line with decks I’ve been testing and cards that I highlighted as undervalued in my Digging For Dollars (DTK Edition) last week. As of this afternoon, 4 copies of Dragonlord Ojutai have made the finals of the Star City Games Invitational Standard tournament this weekend, and the card is spiking into the $12-15 range. If you invested last week on my go sign, you would have already doubled up and there’s room for further growth towards $20 if the card continues to do well.  I’ve be holding onto a playset for the season, and selling the rest of my copies into hype. Atarka and Silumgar have also seen play this weekend and seem likely to find a $10 spike at some point during their time in Standard as well. All three dragonlords are great long term casual calls regardless. The more dragons that make Top 8 tables, the better Haven of the Spirit Dragon starts to look and again it’s hard to go wrong with a specialty tribal land that is still available under $3 and has fantastic EDH and casual appeal in the long term. Assuming Corpseweft fails to find a home, I expect it to hit $.50 this summer, at which point I’ll go in for 100+ copies. Having played with this card, I can attest to it’s power potential, and it’s my top pick for a long term 10x return in the set once it bottoms out. If someone finds a way to abuse it in standard before it rotates in 18 months, all the better.

Beyond the DTK purchases, Training Grounds was highlighted by Pat Chapin in a video series this week alongside Pack Rat, and passed my “does it get better over time/it it unique” test. Doubling Season judge foil pricing has been too low, and they’re drying up, so I snagged a local copy. I’ve started picking up Theros gods for the long haul, and a Russian Athreos, God of Passage is a card I long to break in Modern.

This week marked my first exploration of the Pucatrade platform. So far, so good, as I managed to hit my initial limit of 10 cards to ship in under an hour. Most of my outbound cards were either pack opened cards that were collecting dust in my collection or opportunistic dumps (Remand/Inquisition of Kozilek) related to forthcoming reprints in Modern Masters 2015.

Douglas Johnson (@rose0fthorns)

BOUGHT (Pucatrade)

  • 6x Abrupt Decay @ 1206 points per

Douglas says:

“[With the Abrupt Decays I am] putting my money (or pucapoints) where my mouth is, for the reasons that I discuss in my http://devblog.mtgprice.com/2015/03/26/cold-tomatoes/ article this week. I firmly believe Abrupt Decay will creep up to $15 in the next few weeks, heading towards $20 by the end of the year. It’s definitely a safe investment, barring reprint as a GP promo. “

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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