Tradition, Tradition

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My last article got some…mixed reviews. I got emails saying how much some of the readers enjoyed the article, but some of the comments gave me a different impression. Whether or not you felt like the article accomplished its intended goal, I still appreciate feedback. To be honest, the negative feedback actually helped me more than the positive! So keep telling me your opinions on my writing, and I’ll constantly be making small tweaks to try and get it right.

Looking at this week though, I figured I should start doing some card price predictions, and while I’m at it, make it a tradition. So here it is: The 2nd article of every month henceforth will be looking at general card price changes and make some predictions, while the 4th article of the month will look at some newer prices and evaluate how well I did on my predictions. So let’s take a look at what’s been going on in the world of pricing, and what predictions we can draw from it (for reference I'll be using MTGOTraders for online pricing and Black Lotus Project for paper):

First off, we have the rise of High Tide as a legitimate contender in Legacy. Alix Hatfield's win with the mono Blue combo deck refuted many claims that the unbanning of Time Spiral would have no impact on the format. While paper prices remained relatively stable after Hatfield's win, aside from a predictable spike in the price of Time Spiral, online prices shifted much more. Candelabra of Tawnos, a key way to generate mana after a High Tide, shot up 260%, from 1.25 to 4.5 tickets, though I don't see it going any higher. Which leads us to...

Prediction #1

The growth of Candelabra of Tawnos on MTGO will slow, and its price will not be higher than 4.5 tickets by the end of the month

Another addition to the Legacy metagame has come with the rise of 12 Post, a deck that uses Glimmerpost, Cloudpost and Vesuva, alongside the aforementioned Candelabra, to generate massive amounts of mana, which is then used to cast Eldrazi such as Emrakul and Kozilek or sweep an aggro player's board with All Is Dust. Eye of Ugin is essential here to tutor for the fatties, and this has led to it gaining use online, causing a 73% rise in price to 1.3 tickets each.

Continuing in Legacy, the top 16 decklists of the SCG Open in Memphis have been posted, with 3 copies of Team America making top 8. Team America is a B/U/G Control deck combining spot removal, countermagic, and the mana efficient fatty duo of Tarmogoyf and Tombstalker to beat down. Though most of the cards in the deck are already of a high enough value that their prices won't be affected by the deck's success, Tombstalker still has some room to move.

Prediction #2

Tombstalker will hit at least $8 in the aftermath of Team America's success in Memphis

I can also see a slight increase in the price of Stifle. The metagame of Legacy has shifted such that Stifle is becoming an even better choice: manascrewing opponents by countering Fetches, preventing getting decked by Brainstorm in High Tide or killed by Tendrils in Ad Nauseum, or saving your own mana base by dealing with Wasteland. Stifle is supremely well positioned in the current Legacy environment.

Prediction #3

Stifle will increase to at least $11.25

Moving on to Standard, we see 2 new decks making an impact on digital prices. First up we have Pyromancer Ascension. Heavily promoted by Mike Flores prior to the SCG tournament in Edison, the prices of the key cards in this deck rose rapidly. Pyromancer Ascension increased by 95% to 1.95 tickets, and Archive Trap went up by ~92% to 1.15 tickets. However, as its lack of results at the SCG Open indicates, Pyromancer Ascension isn't capable of combating the current metagame. Though it may find success at a later date, today is not that day.

We also saw Ali Aintrazi's mono Blue Grand Architect deck. Based around powering out absurdly strong artifacts with the mana boost from Grand Architect, Ali's top 8 performance boosted the price of digital Mindslavers by 74%, to 2 tickets apiece. Contrasting with Pyromancer Ascension, I can see Architect Blue being a force in Standard when conditions are ripe. It's also worth noting that most of the deck is in Scars block, meaning it will still be around when Zendikar rotates out of Standard in October.

Surprising no one, Thrun, the Last Troll continued to drop, down 37.5% to 5 tickets. Though a powerful card in a vacuum, Thrun simply doesn't have a home in the current Standard environment, especially since both the all-star equipment currently being played lend creatures Protection from Green, an inauspicious sign for the new Troll Ascetic. I'm waiting for a Green based Fauna Shaman deck to make Thrun good, but even then, it will need to be after Zendikar's rotation. Stoneforge Mystic combined with the Scars Swords create too hostile an environment for base Green decks to prosper.

Prediction  #4

Thrun's paper price will fall below $11 by the end of the month.

However, out of the blue, Sword of Feast and Famine has been taking quite a tumble on MTGO even as it increases in price in paper. Online, it dropped a massive 38% to 15.5 tickets even as Starcity raised their sell price by $5 to $24.99. What's happening here? Certainly, part of Sword's drop online is as a result of more Mirrodin Beseiged product being opened, but that can't account for such a large decline. Sword is still seeing more and more play, not only in U/W/X Stoneforge in Standard, but also in U/W and Fae in Extended. I'm personally quite confused at the discrepancy between digital and paper pricings here, but if you have any light to shed on the issue please don't hesitate to let me know.

Prediction #5

Sword of Feast and Famine's current level of growth will slow, and it will not reach $16.50 on Black Lotus Project by the end of the month.

The aggressive strategy of choice in Standard has gradually shifted away from Kuldotha Red and other swarm variants to Boros and Pat Sullivan's mono Red burn from SCG Edison. Both of these strategies don't focus on multiple creatures attacking, rather swinging with one or two large or resilient threats. This has led to a decline in the price of Contested War Zone, a card that is only ever good with three or more attackers on the table, and awful when facing down a Squadron Hawk. Over the past week, War Zone has dropped 47% on MTGO, to 1.85 tickets, and 40 cents in paper to $2.50. Because Boros and Burn have been outperforming Kuldotha by so much, I predict War Zone's dropping even more over the next 2 weeks.

Prediction #6

Contested Warzone's paper price will drop to $2.00 or less.

RUG, a deck popularized by Adam Prosak, Alex Bertoncini and Gerry Thompson, along with several other ringers on the Starcity Games circuit, has experienced a bit of a resurgence lately. The finisher of choice for the deck is still largely undecided, with players waffling between Frost Titan, Inferno Titan, Avenger of Zendikar and Precursor Golem. Of these, the inclusion of Inferno Titan has been near unanimous, leading to a good few weeks for him: 90% growth on MTGO to 7.5 tickets. But RUG didn't put up good results at either of the last two Standard tournaments, which has given some doubts about the lifespan on Inferno's gain.

Prediction #7

Inferno Titan's growth will slow, not exceeding 8 tickets on MTGO

Well, that's all I have for this week. I'll be returning to these predictions in my last article of the month to evaluate how I did, as well as examine more pricing trends.

Don't forget to leave me feedback! At the end of the month I'll be picking one commenter who I felt left the best comment, including at least one positive comment, one constructive criticism, and one future article idea. Your feedback is really helping me to improve the way I structure my articles and offer useful information to my readers, so keep it up.

Looking forward to my new tradition,

--Noah Whinston

nwhinston on Twitter

Arcadefire on MTGO

baldr7mtgstore on Ebay

3 thoughts on “Tradition, Tradition

  1. I really like the layout of this article. It was quick and easy for me to scan for parts that were relevant to me (standard cards) and skip the ones that weren't (legacy). In this way you get to write something that's relevant to everyone without making people hunt for the parts they're interested in.

    I can't say I'm a big fan of rating card prices in tickets, as I deal in the paper world, though I imagine there are just as many players that are the opposite. I.e. Inferno titan, not to exceed 8 tickets is meaningless to me. Criticism 2, shouldn't this be an insider article?

    Article idea? I've been torn on what to do with my Zendikar block collection. Should I be liquidating and hoping to pick up afterwards? Keep them in hopes they'll continue to rise due to rarity, or just hold onto the cards I want because rotation will have a negligible effect.

  2. Card prices in tickets work for most MTGO traders, since thats the currency we transact in game. take 10% off to get a cash price that's accurate, since tix turn into cash instantly.

    as far as insider or not, we like to change it up. Noah's articles are going to be free for a bit to show our non-insiders what our financial content looks like!

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