Tag Archives: Modern

Cold Tomatoes

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Welcome back, financiers! I was happy (and a little bit relieved) to receive a lot of positive feedback to my article last week. It looks like my year and a half writing for Brainstorm Brewery prepared me well for this jump to MTGPrice. One of the Facebook comments on last week’s article asked for discussion of a completely opposite topic: the cards that can’t be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 and other upcoming supplemental products. I thought that was just a fine and dandy idea, since it keeps me from having to come up with another idea for this week. Let’s look at what won’t be reprinted in the near future, why it won’t be reprinted, and what to do with the cards—whether you have them or not.

request

Oh, right, I almost forgot to explain the title of this piece. You see, because this article is the opposite of last week’s, I wanted the title to be the opposite to match it.

The opposite of hot is easy: cold. But what’s the opposite of a potato? Well you don’t have to Google that, because I already did that for you. I blindly clicked on the first few results, and I’ll let you see what I saw.

Potato

Potato2

Potato3

Interesting stuff, this internet thing has to offer. Where were we again? Right, Magic finance. Let’s get back to that.

Snapcaster Mage 

snapcaster

Let’s get the big one out of the way first. I get frequent requests to explain what to do with Captain Snaps now that he’s reached close to $50. He can’t be put into Modern Masters 2015 because the set only goes through New Phyrexia (which is one of the reasons he’s climbed this high already). He can’t realistically be put into Magic Origins, because that would require reprinting and creating a bunch of new cards with the flashback mechanic. They’re already bringing back double-faced cards from Innistrad as a mechanic (yes, I know it’s only for the five transforming planeswalkers), but I highly doubt they resurrect flashback along with that.

So, what do we do if we have Snapcasters? If you bought or traded for a bunch of Tiagos back when they were $20 or $30, you’re in luck! You don’t need to be in a huge hurry to cash out, and you can probably continue to expect a steady climb into the $55 to $60 range.

This is a classic example of the steady, consistent gains that I love to see in a spec. I’d start to move them toward the end of summer or start of the fall, just to be safe and lock in profits before anything is announced that could warrant a reprint. If you’re actively using them in a deck and don’t see that changing in the near future, I wouldn’t worry about unloading them. The utility you gain from holding onto them and playing them in actual events will most likely outscale the profit you gain by ripping them from your deck, selling them, and waiting for the reprint.

So, what do we do if we don’t have Snapcasters? I’ve heard a lot of people suggest buying in now for the flip potential, because the $55 to $60 price range coming in the next few months is all but guaranteed. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with this strategy. First of all, you’re tying up a lot of money over a long period of time. If you buy in right now at $47, and look to sell at $60 towards June or July, you’re making next to nothing after fees and shipping. There will most likely be multiple hot specs between now and then that could have made you a lot more money.

On the other hand, what if you need them for a deck? What if you desperately want to play Splinter Twin, and have zero copies of Snapcaster despite the deck running a playset? Well, I think you just have to bite the bullet and buy them. Burn the $200 before you have to burn $240 later in the year, and at least you’ll get the value of casting them during the time you own them. The card’s not getting any cheaper. Try to forget about the fact that you didn’t get in at $30 and mitigate that error by getting in now.

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Voice of Resurgence 

voice

The good old $60 Standard mythic has been reduced to a token of its former self, hanging out at $18 ever since its rotation from Standard. It holds onto a relevant price tag thanks to seeing play in one of the stronger Modern decks of the format, and the fact that there were approximately seven packs of Dragon’s Maze opened throughout the entire world. It’s outside the realm of reprints in the near future, so do we want to pick itup at $18?

My position on this card is similar to Snapcaster, so I should be able to save a few words here. If you need the card to play with in the Abzan deck, I recommend picking it up now. I don’t think it goes any lower than its current price, and the trajectory looks to continue on a plateau, maybe going up a couple of dollars over the next few months due to how few copies there are on the market.

If you’re looking for a sweet spec target, I’d look elsewhere. If it does creep upwards, the trend will likely be too small to make a reasonable profit. It does, however, look like a nice trade target (along with Snap) if you’re trying to turn volatile Standard stuff into a secure chunk of value that won’t move for a while.

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Liliana of the Veil 

lilianav

Liliana is more expensive than Dark Confidant and has been for almost two months now. I don’t know why so many people are clamoring for another reprint of Bob when he hasn’t been seen in a top-tier Modern deck for a long time now. Liliana is by far the more powerful and popular card, seeing play in a variety of decks. She has a small reprint on the way in the form of a PTQ promo, but I don’t expect that to slow down her price growth very much. There won’t be a massive number of promos out there, and she’s certainly not going to be in any of the rest of the currently announced products for the rest of 2015.

To be perfectly honest, I fully expect Liliana of the Veil to be the next $100 Modern staple, a price currently sustained only by Tarmogoyf.

Quick Aside on Dark Confidant:

If you’re not using these (and you probably aren’t), I actually recommend selling them. While the card probably won’t be in Modern Masters 2015, it also hasn’t put up any significant results for a while. Bob has even seen a lot less play in Legacy lately, so I feel that a large chunk of its price is inflated by a combination of price memory and how iconic the card itself is. Trading Bobs into the other cards mentioned in this article will provide a much better return on investment in both the short and long terms.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed 

mikaeus

Speaking of mythic black cards from Innistrad: “Dead Mike” has slowly crept up the past year and a half from his low of $4 to the current price of $12. Although he obviously has zero competitive applications, his power level in Commander is not to be ignored. I play one myself in my Marchesa list, and I’m never disappointed to draw it.

I don’t think this card stops creeping upward as the year goes on, and I can see it hitting $20 by the end of 2015. Foils are currently $32, and I’d get them now if you feel that you really need one for Commander, as there certainly won’t be any more getting added to the market anytime soon.

Mikaeus seems like a Doubling Season-esque situation to me, where the card will invisibly creep up to $25 or $30, and everyone will wonder when that happened.

Oh, Doubling Season is $30 again, by the way. And the judge foil can be found for $30 on eBay right now, with a few copies trailing behind in the $35 range. You can’t explain that.

Dseason

Abrupt Decay 

AbruptDecaycard

Decay has been sitting at a steady $12 to $13 for almost six months now, refusing to budge above that and break into the $15 range. What has changed, however, is the card’s buylist price. If you check out the blue line on our MTGPrice graph, the strongest buylist price has slowly crept up from $6, which is a 50 percent spread, up to $9, a mere 25 percent.

I don’t need to tell you how powerful Decay is in both Modern and Legacy—you already know that. You probably also knew that this card was going to creep back up to $20, due to the fact that it will be hard to find a spot for a reprint in the coming months. I’m here to give you a thumbs up and tell you that you’re right. Abrupt Decay is a fine pickup in both trades and cash, assuming you’re looking for an extremely safe investment.

I also want to touch on foil Decays. While it’s not impossible to reprint Decay due to its ubiquitous name (it doesn’t reference a specific plane, name, or faction, unlike Inquisition of Kozilek, for example), foils will be a lot harder to put into the market. I can see Abrupt Decay being put into a Duel Deck product in the future (although they’ve already done Golgari ones to death), or a casual product like Commander, but the cards in those decks aren’t foil. Copies are approximately $75 at the moment, but they’re definitely safer from reprint than non-foil copies. I admit, though, that I don’t expect quite the same double-up with foils as for non-foils.

End Step

Overall, I’m seeing a pretty similar trend in a lot of these “un-reprintable” (at least in the coming months) staples. If you can acquire them in trades by liquidating Standard staples, or cards that are ripe for reprinting, then I fully approve.

I also wouldn’t disapprove if you were purchasing Snapcasters, Voices, or Lilianas for your own personal deck construction, because they appear to either be holding steady, or steadily creeping up over the course of the spring and summer.

You still have a chance to liquidate all of your Zendikar fetches, Bolts, Probes, and Mox Opals before Modern Masters 2015 arrives, but be sure to pick up your staples that you’ll be needing before the full brunt of the storm arrives, too.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or content that you feel needs to covered. I’m easily reachable through Twitter, Facebook, email, Reddit, or the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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Legacy Hero #6

Legacy Hero #6.5

 

This week I’m going to try and answer some questions that have been filling up my inbox. I didn’t think I would be going to writing a mail bag article this soon. I’m going to take that a compliment though. It means that I’ve been doing something right. To keep the powers that be happy I will make sure to have some magic finance content and next weeks article will definitely be more about the numbers. I have some exciting stuff on the speculation front as well as some promising results from a local player that picked up his older brothers cards when he moved out.

Let’s start things off with by addressing the most popular email I’ve been getting. To paraphrase, it goes something like this. “I play in an area with a decent sized magic group. We average 30 players at our FNM events but those are only standard. None of the players at my store play anything older than Modern and even then it is tough to get those events to fire. I really want to play legacy but I can’t get anyone else to even think about it. Do you have any suggestions on how to help popularize legacy?”

At first glance, I thought that this would be an easy question to answer. When I put the pen to the paper, I was wrong. I realized that this would take much more than a quick email response. There are a lot of factors in play here. As always, the first hurdle of legacy is the cost of entry. The cards in the legacy decks are just more expensive. With that expense comes a stigma that you have to be rich to play the game.

Overcoming the expense of getting into legacy is what the base of my entire series is about. I can’t write a step by step guide personalized to everyone thinking about joining the legacy crowd. There are far too many variables.  What I hope to do is give everyone who reads my articles enough information to try the same things I’m trying. By following along I hope that everyone will eventually succeed in getting that deck finished and sleeved up. The part I didn’t really think about is what happens when you finally have your deck sleeved up and you’re ready to play?

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It my area here in Michigan, I have at least 6 stores within an hour drive that have a weekly legacy tournament fire with an average of 10-12 people. 4 of those stores have regular IQ events or standalone events that feature a large enough payout to bring out the majority of the legacy ringers out of the woodworks making these events worth driving double that distance or at least that’s what I hear when I go. I’m pretty sure you have seen a few of these people play on camera at the SCG legacy opens. Tom is pretty hard to miss at over 7 feet tall.
Having a legacy community thrive takes a few things. First and foremost, you have to have the players willing to spend  the money at their local store. That money can be for entry fees or the occasional larger purchase from the case.  The store has to do their part as well. The store has to invest in those higher dollar cards for their legacy players and they need to invest in events that are worth the time to play in. How many players are they going to get if they charge $10 and give away packs? Personally, I would rather have one larger event an month with better prize support and more players than a weekly event that is lucky to break 8 players.

I had to submit this article on early Thursday morning because I wanted to get some feedback from a friend of mine. His store is a couple of years old. They average 20-30 people for FNM. They haven’t been able to get a legacy community going over there.  I thought his feedback would offer some insight on the situation.

Here are the important highlights of our conversation:

Me: How many people do you get asking about legacy at the store? Have you guys tried having legacy events at all?

Kyle: 0 yes and me and Jarod were the only ones interested in them

Me: I’m writing a mail bag article and one of the most emailed questions seems to be “How do I get my lgs to support legacy?” So I’m trying to get a store’s feedback on this.

Kyle: Yeah the only two people interested in legacy around the shop are me and Jarod.

Me: So if you guys posted a Duel for Duals, you wouldn’t get any people to show up?

Kyle: We might get a few people like the ones that don’t come to our store for FNM or anything like that. Those kinds of tournaments(Duel for Duals) bring in a lot of people.

Me: But if you had a tourney like that, do you think it would increase the interest from the locals?

Kyle: Probably not our regulars. They all are into standard pretty much exclusively. Except recently a lot of them have been building puper decks since they are so cheap

Me: What about modern? You guys getting any more action on modern at all? And do you think the new WotC rules about being able to sanction anything will help Legacy at all?

Kyle: Modern fires for FNM but not every week. There are maybe 6 people who exclusively only play Modern and EDH on the side. As for Legacy FNM probably not. The cost to get into Legacy is slightly more than Modern and prices for entry into other formats is what scares people. The reason Standard is so popular is because the initial cost to get into it is relatively cheap compared to Legacy and Modern

Me: Agreed. Just trying to get feedback here.

Kyle: You said this was for your article or something so I was giving you descriptive answers. lol

Me: Thanks!

Kyle: What confuses me is that even after I explain to people the price of the cards I have in my(legacy) deck and what I was able to pick them up for they still refuse to get into Legacy.

Me: Why do you think that is? Are they just blinded by the perceived prices?

Kyle: Force of Will is around 90-ish (90.55 on mtgprice.com) and I picked mine up when they were like 50 or 60. I’ve only made value on them along with a few other cards in the deck like Wasteland. (Note: Kyle is an AVID Merfolk player. No matter how hard I try, he always sticks to fish.)

Me: Your Vendilion clique promo is a good example (He bought it at $60 a couple years back. I didn’t think the price was going to hold. I was wrong.)

Kyle: Yeah basically. People see the price for cards and go holy shit I can’t afford that. Then I destroy their logic when I explain that Standard is actually the most expensive format. Especially since they(WotC) are making standard rotate sooner in the near future

Me: That is one of the major themes I’ve been trying to get across in my article series.

Kyle: At most for Legacy you spend like $20 here or there to update the deck. Not $400 on an entirely new deck every X amount of months

Me:What do your players do at rotation? Do they dump all their rotating stuff on you guys for store credit or what?

Kyle: They trade in things that we don’t have an overload on and then buy a box or two of the newest set out.

Me: And you guys are giving half of scg(selling price) in trade, right?

Kyle: We go off of magiccards.info mid price which I believe is TCG mid price

Me: It is. So they are getting half of tcgmid in store credit on stuff that you guys need. Otherwise, they’re stuck with it?

Kyle: For the most part yeah. I mean there are a few things here and there that see their way into Legacy or Modern that we might give a little more on.

Me:I’m sure they can trade some of the stuff away to other players but I don’t see many of your local players shipping stuff off to CK or Troll and Toad.

Kyle: Exactly. A few of them have been starting to do that Pucatrade thing to get off of things that just rot otherwise

     As you can see from our exchange, his store doesn’t have people asking about legacy so he doesn’t feel like there is any incentive for them to even try and run events. This ties in with the emails that I’ve been getting about the subject.

These problems are why I started writing this series to begin with. I can help you, as an individual, overcome the financial hurdles to build a great legacy deck without burning all of that disposable income but it took all of these emails to realize that having the deck is only one of the hurdle to overcome for what seems to be a lot of people. It takes a group of dedicated people to make a community work.

The best advice I can offer is to keep asking your store for a legacy event. If you get them to run an event, make sure you do everything you can to get everyone involved. There are a lot of budget options for legacy. Pretty much everyone can build a Burn deck.  Manaless Dredge is pretty cheap, but not everyone’s cup of tea. Substituting shock lands for dual lands is certainly an option. Having the allied fetchlands in standard will help with the cost of any legacy deck. You can even try and make a specific legacy budget challenge.  Try setting it up in a way that players are rewarded for taking advantage of the budget options available to them. The store can offer prizes for the player with the cheapest deck with the best record. This actually  reminds me of one of my favorite parts of the Vintage Championship at Eternal Weekend. They they run a bonus prize for the person that has the best record without using any of the power 9, Bazaars, Workshops, and a few other of the expensive cards. I think there was a deck that had 7 wins this year.

The key to all of this is getting as many people on board as possible. It  will showcase the diversity of the format and help your local community grow.  The people that enjoy it will be able to grow with you and gradually put together the top tier decks with all the goodies. These are the people that will make the trek to the bigger events around.  Remember, building a UWr Stoneblade isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, unless of course you have a lot of disposable income or very giving parents.

Writing this article and reading the emails made me realize just how lucky I am to have such a great legacy community, which has definitely made me wake up and rethink a lot of what I’m going to be writing about in future articles. I have to figure out how I’m going to implement my thoughts into positive changes for everyone. but it will be great. I promise that these changes will make for a better Legacy Hero! I’m going to stop here for today and pick things up next week where we left off.

I originally posted this deck at 7am without editing it.  I hadn’t slept the night before so I had planned on saving it as a draft, taking a 30 min nap and then editing it when I got into my office for the day. As many of you noticed, it didn’t happen like that. I posted it instead of saving it. I’m sorry for that. I want to give you guys the best product I can. This won’t happen again.

Before I go, I worked out a trade online using one of the many Facebook groups out there for trading. I’m going to show both sides of the trade and I want you guys to vote on which side you would rather be on. Vote here http://strawpoll.me/3167162

Side A:

  • Veteran Explorer x1
  • Reanimate x4
  • Rest in peace x2
  • Ad-Nauseam x1
  • Tendril of Agony x1
  • Dryad Militant x1
  • Swans of Bryn something x2
  • Mental Misstep x2
  • Forked Bolt x1
  • Serra Avenger x1
  • Mind Twist x1
  • Phyrexian Revoker x3
  • Hymn to Tourach x3
  • Exhume x4
  • Crop Rotation x3

Side B:

  • Spell Pierce
  • Daze x2
  • Steam Vents
  • Inquisition of Kozilek
  • Godless Shrine x2

As always you can email me mtglegacyhero on the gmail @somethingsays on twitter.

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City of Traders: the Fiscal Axis of M14

By Travis Allen

By the time you read this, it will be a few days past the Magic 2014 pre-release. While you were all jammed together with sweaty nerds in the heat of July in card shops without air conditioning, I will have been tanning getting burned on the sunny sand of Myrtle Beach. We’re all back to the real (fantasy) world by now though, and my goal is to provide some additional perspective on the fiscal axis of M14.

Before we take a look at any specific cards, there’s a well-worn point that yet bears repeating: purchasing or trading for cards at this point in the set’s life cycle is almost unquestionably a poor choice through the lens of value. For every Sphinx’s Revelation or Voice of Resurgence, there are a lot more Armada Wurms or Koths. A set’s cards just cannot maintain the price attributed to them during the pre-release period. Anything you buy into is significantly more likely to lose value rather than gain. If your goal is to make money, you have to be exceptionally confident that you’re better at predicting a card’s trajectory than many other very intelligent people attempting to do the exact same thing. About the only time I would really recommend getting in now is if you notice a very powerful, very obscure combo that nobody else seems to have picked up on yet (e.g. Dark Depths + Vampire Hexmage.) In general, it is far more prudent to wait several weeks for the prices to settle to reasonable levels, and then jump in. If you’re picking up a playset because you need it to compete, or your goal is to hedge against future price increases, that’s understandable, but speculating this early on is a fool’s game.

A strategy I like to use for pre-releases is to go in with a plan. If I show up without any trade targets in mind, I let myself get caught up in the hype and end up trading for cards that have nowhere to go but down. Instead, sit down and open up the notepad app on your phone. Make a short list of specific cards you’d like to acquire. That way, while everyone else is chattering about the new cardboard, you can be trading your inflated property for under-valued targets that will be rising in coming weeks rather than falling. That said, let’s take a pass through the spoiler and see what catches our attention.

 

Scavenging Ooze

The reason I put this card first is because this card is b-a-n-a-n-a-s oozenanas. I’m convinced that anyone that dismisses its power level has simply never cast it. The ability on this guy ranges from tangentially useful to game-dominating. In his worst matchups, he’s a reasonable threat that keeps growing while the life-gain and graveyard-consumption will be inconsequential. In some of his better matchups, he’ll provide you enough life to race or keep your head above water against aggro. In yet others the ooze will singlehandedly shut down your opponent’s strategy by blanking their entire graveyard. Read Ooze again: it exiles any card, not just creature cards.Granted you only get the +1/+1 counter and the life from slurping up corpses, I don’t think you’ll be complaining when your ooze is happily munching on Unburial Rites or Past in Flames.He’s not a one-ride pony, either. Every girl at the party gets a turn: Scavenging Ooze is going to be even more important in Modern than Standard. Out of the top 16 decks from GP Kansas City, there was exactly one deck that didn’t care about its graveyard at all. Read that again: one out of sixteen decks had no interaction with their graveyard in Modern. The rest had some combination of diverse threats such as Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster, Kitchen Finks, or Goryo’s Vengeance. He’s going to have incidental value against a gigantic swath of the field, and be a severe threat to a significant portion. Here’s another way to appreciate his wide-spread application: in Legacy, Maverick decks cut Tarmogoyf completely for Scavenging Ooze.

What other factors are going to affect the price of the ooze? He was in the first wave of Commander precons, so there’s a small supply of him out there already. He’s also the Steam promo for DOTP, which will definitely help suppress his value. The flipside of that is the quantity of formats in which he is relevant. Most recently, the best parallel I can think of is Thragtusk. He’s a high-utility green creature against many decks, his casting cost is not restrictive, and he’s not a single-copy threat in the same vein as Aetherling. Thragtusk peaked at $30, and spent very little time at less than $10:

Thragtusk. August 2012 - July 2013.
Thragtusk. August 2012 – July 2013.

While there are fewer copies of Thragtusk in circulation, Scavenging Ooze is relevant in every real format. So overall, there will be more copies of Ooze available, but both more and longer-term demand. With that consideration, if Ooze ever gets below $10, I’d start getting in aggressively. I expect his demand will spike once the Modern PTQ season begins and he’s needed concurrently in Standard, Modern and Legacy. Even if for some reason he didn’t rebound while he’s still legal in Standard, he certainly will once M14 rotates and he continues to be a premier 2-drop in Modern.

 

Archangel of Thune

I’m a lot less excited about this card than many in the multiverse are, and I’m seeing conflicting reports. Gerry T thinks she is reasonable, but isn’t too high on her making that much of an impact. Sam Black didn’t even mention it in his set review. Meanwhile, others are hailing her as the venerated Real Deal. The closest thing I can liken Archangel of Thune to is Sublime Archangel.  Both are midrange white angels that want to beat your opponent up, and reward you heavily for having lots of bodies.  Sublime Archangel showed up a little over her tenure, although accomplished nothing of note. Having said that, Sublime Archangel spent months above $20, and only recently slipped below $10. Archangel of Thune is a mythic, an angel, and the type of player that likes angels is likely to like lifegain. Sam Stoddard also pointed out some nifty synergies with things like Seraph Sanctuary. Her usefulness really depends on what sort of methods there are to gain life. A soul warden on steroids in Theros could certainly push her over the edge. Overall, I think $30 is unwarranted, but even if she sees absolutely no play in Standard, she’ll likely be $6-10. With only transient Standard play, $15-20+ is certainly viable. This card is probably the one on the list I am most unsure of.

 

Bonescythe Sliver

He’s currently $2 on SCG. If you can get these for $1 in trade, I’d get in on it. Double Strike may as well be Alpha Strike. It never even has to do anything relevant in Standard to be worth $3-4 at some point due to it being a Sliver.

 

Burning Earth

Plenty recognize this for the gut-wrench-inducing effect it is against some players. I personally remember playing Turboland, ready to untap and unleash a torrent of spells with my 9 lands in play after finally stabilizing against a red deck. Then he cast Manabarbs, and I basically lost on the spot. This will be capable of similar gastrointestinal torment. It’s only $1 on SCG at the moment, but with only a single copy in stock. I can’t imagine ever having to take less than $1 for this in trade, and it could easily be a several dollar card, as it has a distinct chance of transcending sideboard-grade into being main deckable. This will be great to try and pick up as a throw-in from players that remember Manabarbs being a cheap card, forgetting that there were 11 printings.

 

Chandra, Pyromaster

There has already been a fair amount written about Chandra so far by others. Without reading a single word on the card, it’s important to consider the climate into which this card is released. M14 has Chandra’s face plastered all over it. I find it unlikely that Wizards would make her the central theme of a set and then put out another smoldering pile of a planeswalker. My gut feeling is that, like many planeswalkers, she’s better than people are originally giving her credit for. $25 is definitely far too much money to for us to be interested, but there’s certainly a point at which we get in. Gideon, Champion of Justice is $4, and Vraska is $7, so I’d say $5 is roughly her floor. With that in mind, keep an eye out for how she fares in the format, and look closely at anything we learn about future sets that may indicate a greater value in her abilities. There may be a lot more relevancy to “can’t block” in Theros than there is right now. It’s also worth noting that after going all out with her in M14, it’s unlikely they’ll do a complete redesign just a year later, so expect to see the Pyromaster in M15 as well.

 

Elite Arcanist

This card seems like one of the better chances to be a sleeper out of any I’ve seen so far at a mere $1. Several players who are far better than I have gone out of their way to mention how good it seems. In a format where removal is sparsely played, a 1/1 that generates a powerful effect repeatedly is king. It could end up doing nothing, but Dungeon Geists were $1 at one point too, then everyone saw Jon Finkel casting it. I’m not saying this card is Dungeon Geists, but rather we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it.

Dungeon Geists. Feb 2012 - July 2013.
Dungeon Geists. Feb 2012 – July 2013.

 

Fiendslayer Paladin

$8 seems way too high for this guy, but I like him a lot, and not only because my inner 17 year-old thinks his art is super sweet. He’s not quite protection from Black or Red, but protection from Black and Red removal is still solid. We’ve already had a 2/2 first strike lifelink for WW before, so we’re only paying 1 for the added pseudo-protection. With Doom Blade and Shock in the M14 spoiler, he’s probably going to be safe from a majority of the removal in the format. If in the next few weeks we see Standard shift to all Doom Blades and Pillars and Incinerates, he could be great in 3-drop Hexproof with a pile of mana dorks next to Witchstalker and Geist. It’s also possible that Knight ends up being a relevant creature type in Theros. Watch this guy closely. At worst, you have a playset of sweet-looking Knights.

 

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

I haven’t read as much about Garruk as Chandra, but he seems real legit, and it’s easy to imagine scenarios where he’s just busted. A turn one elf with a Farseek sometime in the next two turns means a turn 4 Garruk, who spits out an Armada Wurm. You could have just cast the Armada Wurm, but now you get a Planeswalker that’s threatening a never-ending stream of action next turn and two blockers to make sure he gets there. There’s also the combo-esque element of him where you’re slamming Craterhoof Behemoths into a board full of elves and Elvish Archdruid, or putting Worldspine Wurm into play seven turns early (at FNM). I’d watch him closely, because if he drops below $10 at any point, a single breakout performance at a GP (likely at the hands of Brad Nelson or Brian Kibler) will quickly double his price.

 

Imposing Sovereign

A 2-mana 2-power creature is always close to castable in certain Standards. A 2-power 2-drop that puts your opponent’s ability to block behind by an entire turn is definitely playing ball.  While very similar to Blind Obedience, I’m guessing that 2-power attacker will be worth more damage than extort in most games. Reading Twitter, I get the impression this card may be slipping through some cracks at the moment. It’s preordering sold out at $3 while I write this, and it seems like it could quite easily be a $5-$8 card depending on how prominent it becomes. I’d watch this very closely, because this is the exact type of card you can get people to under-value in a trade when it starts to sneak up.

Speaking of which, I find it odd that Wizards would print this on the heels of Blind Obedience. It leads me to believe that the “no blocking” mechanic may be particularly relevant in Theros. It’s not limited to just these two cards, either. Blind Obedience and Imposing Sovereign are similar in a sideways manner to Chandra’s +1. Not blocking is shaping up to be available in several flavors at the moment. Sam Stoddard mentioned that the synergy in M14 with the fall set is a lot more subtle than Farseek and Arbor Elf were. Maybe it’s something, maybe it’s not.

 

Into the Wilds

God, I wish.

 

Kalonian Hydra

Zvi Mowshowitz was talking about this card, and when Zvi goes out of his way to discuss particular cards, I pay close attention. It has a lot of hype right now, and is sold out at $30. This number is inflated without any results, so unless it comes thundering out of the gates, expect a pretty rapid crash. As a Mythic though, it will always have the possibility of tripling in price after spiking an event. It certainly is the most competitive Hydra printed so far. It suffers from the MTGS-maligned problem of doing nothing except eating doom blade before your attack phase, but when it attacks, boy does it ever. Don’t forget that this hydra is BFFs with Corpsejack Menace, taking advantage of the replacement effect twice by the time he’s in the red zone, meaning he’s a whopping 24/24 trampler. As far as “do nothing” creatures go, he does nothing until he’s sideways and killing your opponent. Like several other powerful cards without an immediate home, this has the possibility to pull a roller-coaster. Skyrocket pre-release, crash post-release, then spike an event and skyrocket again.

 

Liliana’s Reaver

Cards of this type have historically been too weak to see play by any but the most mindless zombie aficionado, whether because they cost too much or don’t do enough when you finally get them to connect. Reaver has an outside shot at bringing honor to his genealogy though. It gives you another attacker next turn, and makes it tougher for your opponent to fight back by stripping resources. Remember when I was talking about how many ways there were to make blocking less reliable in this format? You’ve also got the semi-hyped Lifebane Zombie to remove any restorative angelic figures that may swoop in unexpectedly ahead of time. This is card I’ll definitely be trying to get as a throw-in during trades. If it goes nowhere, it won’t have cost me much, and if it does, I’ll look like a genius.

Edit: I wrote this bit about Liliana’s Reaver before I realized it was an intro pack rare. I’m leaving my initial reaction to him intact so that you can see the thought process. Let this be a lesson that it’s important to be aware of additional product Wizards is putting out and the impact that product will have on card prices. All in all, that piece of information sets his ceiling a little lower than I anticipated; perhaps around $4-5. Still, there’s room to profit on him as good throw-in fodder.

 

Mutavault

$15 for this card is close to the cheapest it has ever been. Mutavault been a player in Legacy for years. It hasn’t done too much in Modern yet, but that’s to the surprise of many. That format is rather combo-heavy at the moment, but if Wizards decides to push things back towards battling again, it could quickly become a big player. I can definitely see it seeing play in a basic-heavy list alongside Burning Earth. Helping it’s case is that almost any deck that wants one Mutavault wants four. I don’t see a time this card was ever less than $10, so I’d be willing to get in on any copies I could get at that price or lower. Even if it doesn’t immediately rebound, it will in time.

 

Ogre Battledriver

If you untap with Ogre Battledriver, your opponent is in a world of hurt. Can you imagine casting Increasing Devotion with this in play? Hah. It also works pretty well with Young Pyromancer, another card lots of red mages have been chatting about. The biggest hurdle to overcome here is that he’s an intro pack rare, which will set a pretty low ceiling on him. Even so, $3-5 isn’t impossible. If you’re paying almost nothing for him in a trade, I’d go for it.

 

Path of Bravery

I don’t really care for Path of Bravery, but players better than I think it’s worth discussing. I bring it up because at the moment it’s only $2 on SCG. Any lower and it’s a fairly low-risk target.

 

Primeval Bounty

I only mention this card because as I was flipping through the spoiler, saw the art, recognized the card, and in my head guessed $.50. Then I saw it was A) a Mythic, and B) sold out at $8. What? Let it crash to $1 before you pick it up for EDH.

 

Sanguine Bond

Just pointing this out because two weeks ago I told you how to avoid getting hit by reprints, and this card was most assuredly reprintable.

 

Savage Summoning

This is not a $6 card. This is not even a $1 card. Certain players really, really hate counterspells. Don’t be suckered into trading for it.

 

Scourge of Valkas

Look for cheap foils. He will be popular for dragon-centric EDH decks.

A quick note about all five planeswalkers – there is going to be an all-black promo of each at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. In traditional Wizards fashion with limited-run product, the box of five will retail for the ludicrously low price of $65. It’s going to be available at SDCC, then there’ll be what I’m assuming will be an incredibly small supply available on the Hasbro website following the event. These things are going to be bonkers expensive. First of all, they’re going to be real scarce. Probably Book Jace scarce, who by the way is currently about $180. Second of all, they’re not just a simple alt-art promo; they’ll be the only Magic cards in existence to be printed with this design. On top of all this, not only is it an incredibly unique style, they also happen to be all black, which will certainly appeal to the angsty teen that is still alive and well in the heart of many anime-watching Magic nerds. I fully expect sealed packages to be $500 within about a year, and I see it entirely possible they’ll be $700 or more down the road. The only thing that will prevent these from hitting astronomic prices is that we already know three are virtually uncastable outside of Standard, and I don’t have high eternal hopes for the new Garruk or Chandra either.

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How to Dodge Hazards in Trading Modern

For several years, Magic players have consistently placed a premium on trading into “Legacy Staples”: cards like Force of Will, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and any Dual Lands. The appeal was that even if you didn’t have an immediate outlet for the card, its value was very secure – particularly if the card was on the contentious reserve list. This practice contrasts with a policy of picking up Standard staples, which are prone to frequent and occasionally violent shifts in price. Trading for Modern cards leaves us in sort of uncharted territory, however. On the one hand, price swings downward are less frequent and less rapid than in Standard. On the other, there is no reserve list, so the threat of reprint hangs heavy over the head of every card. Modern is a field ripe for investing and profit, but it’s important to minimize our risk in a field fraught with uncertainty.

This week I will discuss potential hazards in Modern trading, and next week we’ll evaluate safe options.

Our goal is to identify targets with increased chances of being reprinted, as that is something we can attempt to predict and will allow us to minimize any potential losses. There are a few critical factors when considering reprints: keywords, ties to specific flavor, adaptable mechanics, and general utility.

Keywords

Chord of Calling. (c) 2005 Wizards of the Coast.
Chord of Calling. (c) 2005 Wizards of the Coast.

Cards with specific Keywords are much tougher to reprint. Something like Chord of Calling can’t show up in a core or expansion set unless the set also contains Convoke, and repeating keywords happens rather infrequently. Additionally, once a keyword’s presence in a set is known, you typically have some time to ditch excess copies before a reprint is confirmed. This leaves only supplemental product as an unpredictable potential pathway for more copies of the card to appear: GP Promos, Modern Masters, Planechase, PT Promos, etc. Cards without keywords can be slotted into new sets, allowing them to theoretically be part of any group of cards Wizards lets out the door.

Flavor
Similarly, cards with ties to specific flavor are much tougher to reprint. Inquisition of Kozilek has the mechanics of a French vanilla discard spell, but the mention of Kozilek means that it can’t appear in an expansion or core set unless that set has something specific to do with the Eldrazi. I’m guessing it’s still probably a little early for their eldritch return, so like keyworded cards, unique flavor mostly restricts reprints to special print runs.

Common Use
The oracle text of the card matters as well. How universal is the card’s effect? Path to Exile has nothing in the rules text that could be tied to specific block’s mechanics. This card is a mono-color instant that references creatures, exiling, and basic lands, which are all things that are in every block.

Knight of the Reliquary. (c)  2013 Wizards of the Coast.Knight of the Reliquary, however, while lacking a distinct keyword, clearly needs a very particular environment to be reprintable. Wizards isn’t printing a creature who so clearly incentivizes you to pile lands into your graveyard without a method by which to accomplish it.This is exactly why we saw her adjacent to the fetchlands (and why her price didn’t skyrocket until we did.)

 

 
Usefulness
Finally, how useful is the card? Is the effect something that has been historically universal, or does it have a very narrow application? A card like Blood Moon would have been fairly low-impact in Innistrad, as there was nothing particularly unique or degenerate about the manabases at the time, but would be a huge role-player in a Shockland-dominant format where basics are few and far between. In contrast, Dark Confidant is going to be Dark Confidant so long as there are black cards and life totals, irrespective of the format around him. It’s feasible they could craft a Standard format where he isn’t very good, but I don’t think it’s a world any of us want to live in.

Look at these four factors when considering whether a card is likely to be reprinted, and invest wisely. If the card has no characteristics that make it resistant to reprinting, tread carefully, especially if the card has seen a spike in price recently. Large and rapid increases indicate a high price volatility, which indicates that the card’s value can be easily swayed. If nothing more than rumors, perceived scarcity, speculation or a single event is driving severe changes, then it has yet to find a stable price, and a sudden influx of copies could have a dramatic effect. This is in contrast to real estate like a Dual land, whose value is far more insulated from current events and is unlikely to shift by too many percentage points at any given time.

Next week we’ll look at what types of targets are considerably safer, and may even see upside from being reprinted.

By the way, know what card carries not a single marker that would inhibit reprinting, has doubled in price fairly recently, is heavily represented in the Twitter rumor mill, would have its power level tempered by a shockland format, was in a small card pool that Wizards has specifically identified as wanting to provide increased accessibility to, seemed an ominous omission from Modern Masters, and is at an absurd price for being a no-nonsense utility card? Thoughtseize, with a current Fair Trade Price of $69.

Thoughtseize as of July 2, 2013
Thoughtseize as of July 2, 2013
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