This past weekend I failed miserably at a Southern California PTQ. This did, however, give me a chance to wander around the room and look at people's decks. There were tons of the usual suspects including G/R Aggro, Naya Pod, Mono-G, Ramp and Delver, but a bunch of the fringe strategies showed up, and G/U Infect showed up in force. Ultimately U/W Midrange took down the event over a buddy of mine, John Kassari (www.twitch.tv/ehhhhhhh) playing RUG Ramp. This particular event hand a handful of vendors, and as usual, the top tier Mythics skyrocketed at the event site.
Bonfire of the Damned
At the event site, Bonfire of the Damned was selling at $40+ and dealers were buying them at $25 when doors opened but as high as $32 minutes before the Event started. I still feel this card settles down in the $20-25 range, but me and some friends had a discussion, and they didn't agree with me. I'm fairly confident in my estimate, but they presented a good argument that I wanted to pass on. "What percent of decks are playing Bonfire?" (About Half) "And how many copies do they play?" (Four.) "So, the card is a 4-of in 50% of the format. $30-40 isn't absurd."
I think this line of thought is fine, and I understand it. The issue I have with this is that even though limited season is over for Bonfire, it's price could reach a breaking point where Dealers simply break open product to find more of them. Whenever a price gets this high, it affects the overall value of a box. The more and more that dealers crack, the more that hit the market, and we'll see it decline back to Earth. Further, we have no idea if it will continue to see the quantity of play that it does now. Over the last 24 hours, EBay listings have been closing right at $35 range, and in a fairly decent volume. Some say that if it begins to see play in Legacy it could hit as high as $50.
Sean, my local dealer who you may know from the forums is my resident Legacy expert. He claims that this is exactly the card Control decks in Legacy would love, but there just isn't a true control deck that can use it yet. These arguments are not unfair. In my experience, cards like this dominate a format, and people have to adjust their deckbuilding so that they aren't stone-cold-dead to a miraculous Bonfire. Until a true control deck arrives in Standard, we don't really have decks that are able to side-step the burn spell. I'm still on the side of the fence that says it has to come back down to the $20-25 range, but be aware there are those that disagree with me.
This was my "sleeper" for M13, and so far, it's looking like a good pick. What started out in the $1 rare bin, is now up to $2.50 on retail sites, and it may have room to creep up a bit more. I got my set cheaply, as I was excited to play with the card, and traded for a few more while it was still around $1. The Mono-Black list has been running it, executing a Mindslaver lock as a possible win.
At the PTQ I saw a 4-color post deck, as well as U/B. Trading Post is a tricky card, because unlike other format staples, the card itself doesn't dictate what the deck surrounding it must look like, and it will take some time for people to find the right build. Especially when the format has so many powerful decks, the best innovators may not be looking at new decks until the format rotates.
I'm still advocating picking up Trading Posts, but mostly in trades, not at retail. Buy lists have this card around a quarter, which is about 10% of retail, so this is one that I'd be using the buy list pricing if you're trading with people that like to look stuff up. Of course, we also want to keep our eye on spoilers too. If Selesnya really has a token theme, maybe these Goat tokens will have more uses than chumping.
As a cornerstone of the newest iteration of Delver, this Legend has crept up to the $5 range on EBay as of this writing. This price is fair for him, but a bit higher than I'd expect him to settle. At $5, we don't have much room for him to pick up any more steam. It's possible he makes an appearance in Modern, which would totally change my valuation, but barring that, he's at about his ceiling.
His playability is fairly narrow to certain decks and his Legendary status, but I will mention I've seen some pretty sweet EDH decks featuring him as a General. I'd be targeting foils of this card as heavily as possible, especially after rotation when we may see him dive back down a bit with the rotation of Ponder and Mana Leak. If you need copies of him for Standard, I don't think you stand to lose much by buying in now, but if you can wait, I would.
Liliana of the Dark Realms
Has everyone forgotten about her yet? She's fallen to as low as $18 on some retail sites, like Card Kingdom, but I wonder how low this could go before it's a good buy. She's got powerful effects, but is only playable in certain strategies. I fear she has a taste of the Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas syndrome, which I did lose some money on last year. This has me a bit hesitant to even consider her, but even Tezzeret had moments in the spotlight where his value shot up.
How low does she need to go before it's worth taking a risk on her? I'm confident enough that Shocklands are coming back, that I'm guessing she'll have utility in more than just Mono-Black Control, but even then, is $18 too high? If this comes to $13-15 I'm picking up at least one set, and going to ride it out.
Now that the format is developing with M13 in it's wake, what cards have new valuations or potential going forward? Is there any cards that are going to find their way into older formats like Legacy or Modern? I'm hopeful for Trading Post to be my big winner of this set, and I want to find a new speculation target from M13 while drafts are still running rampant at my LGS. The last tip I want to mention is Blood Artist. It's selling rapidly at $5/set on EBay, and my local dealer has bumped his up to $6/set. If you're moving these online, you may want to do the same.