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Insider: Planeswalkers of Innistrad Block

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As we approach the release of Theros and Standard rotation, MTGO speculators should be getting ready to start picking up cards that will be Modern-legal only. Cards that are played in Modern will have value and appreciate in price when the Modern PTQ season starts up near the end of Spring 2014.

Also bear in mind that all mythic rares from rotating sets have value to redeemers, and so keeping in mind the redemption angle is important too when evaluating potential specs.

A Look to the Recent Past

Koth of the Hammer from Scars of Mirrodin (SOM) sets a good precedent for cards that don't see much competitive play. It bottomed out in the first week of November last year at around 3 tix, and subsequently rose to over 6 tix by the first week of March 2013. The other SOM planewalkers saw similar patterns, but varied in terms of price levels.

We'll use this is a guide for targeting Innistrad (ISD) block planeswalkers where most of the value comes from demand from redeemers.

Although we don't have an all-format staple planeswalker, Karn Liberated is a Modern staple in Tron decks. Last year it bottomed in the middle of October at 12.9 tix and rebounded to 28 tix by the start of Modern season in December.

We need to keep in mind that Karn is a third-set mythic rare, so this early price bottom is due to a combination of factors. This pricing pattern suggests that a card with supply constraints (the third-set effect) and recognized constructed applications will not take as long to bottom out.

Garruk

Although less played than Karn, Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed makes occasional appearances in Modern. It also has the novelty of being the only double-faced planeswalker. These two factors are important, but the fact that it comes from Innistrad (ISD) means that speculating on this card will be a no-brainer.

ISD is going to present quite a bit of value to redeemers due to the presence of Snapcaster Mage and Liliana of the Veil. It's also a landmark set in terms of casual appeal due to the gothic horror theme. Once prices come down on ISD cards in general, the ISD mythics will get increasingly scarce online and start moving up in price.

Garruk might get overlooked in favor of the more conspicuous Liliana, so be sure to sock a few of these away in October.

Liliana

Speaking of Liliana of the Veil, she casts a long shadow in Modern where she anchors Jund decks and she also does work in the latest iteration of B/G decks (aka The Rock). Timing the bottom on this card could pay off handsomely. I put out a poll last week for people's guesses on what price it will bottom out at, and the results were quite flat. You can see the poll here.

My own guess was for the 20-25 tix range, but I'll be watching this very closely. There is little doubt in my mind this will be back into the 40+ ticket range by the time Modern season rolls around next year. Although getting in on this card will tie up quite a bit of capital, it's as close to a lock as speculative opportunities get these days, with little chance of a reprint in the coming eight months.

Tibalt

From a powerhouse planeswalker, we come to the much maligned Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. This card had already bottomed in my estimation. It's basically seen zero competitive play since it was printed and there are no indications this will change as it rotates out of Standard. The only value this card presents at the moment is from redemption and a small amount of casual appeal.

Fortunately, Tibalt appears in a set that will present good value to redeemers. Avacyn Restored (AVR) is chock full of angels, including the Modern staple Restoration Angel. This ensures strong casual appeal.

It also has the miracle mechanic. Cards such as Terminus and Temporal Mastery show up in Legacy where Sensei's Divining Top is legal. AVR has its fair share of competitive cards as well as a healthy dose of casual appeal.

Tamiyo

The other walker from AVR, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, has seen some competitive play in Standard so it carries a higher price tag. Koth is probably an excellent guide for determining the bottom on this card, with some premium applied due to being from a third set.

I'll be looking to pick this card up near the end of October in the 3 to 5 tix range. This target price range will get narrower as we move into October. Again, being a part of a set that will have demand from redeemers ensures Tamiyo will see higher prices in the winter.

Sorin

The last planeswalker to examine is Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. At the moment, Dark Ascension (DKA) presents almost zero value to redeemers due to the relatively high price of the online cards compared to paper versions. This might change, but for the moment I am cautious when considering speculating on any mythic rare from DKA.

Outside of redemption though, Sorin has seen some Standard play, thus should not be discounted from showing up occasionally in Modern. However, showing up in a duel deck reduces the upside on this card.

Where to Focus

If you are looking out for the next speculative opportunity on MTGO, my advice would be to save your tix until October and start acquiring rotating mythic rares then.

The planeswalkers of ISD block will be a great place to start, particularly Liliana and Garruk. Buying Tibalt right now is good value. Stay away from Sorin though, and be cautious when considering any DKA mythic rare.

15 thoughts on “Insider: Planeswalkers of Innistrad Block

  1. “Temporal Mastery show up in Legacy where Sensei’s Divining Top is legal.”….not really on this one…Terminus you’re 100% correct (as I’m a Miracles player myself…and love it) but Mastery has gotten no love in the format..

  2. Legacy is not my forte so thanks for pointing that out! Entreat The Angels sees play though right? Kibler has been running Bonfire in the board of his Modern Naya deck. I suspect the Miracle mechanic will be a small but steady component of older formats.

    1. Yes..Entreat does see legacy play…though I honestly cut it from my Miracles version (I run RIP/Helm combo though). I’m not suprised to hear about Bonfire in modern…the problem I see is that it’s ONLY good against other creature based decks…which might make it fine in modern (though there are still plenty of combo like decks) but in legacy it’s really bad as it’s more often than not a miracled fireball….in a format with Force of Will, Daze, Spell Pierce, and Misdirection. The miracle mechanic is still amazing on Terminus, which has honestly allowed true control decks back into Legacy. Putting the creatures on the bottom is actually better than destroying them, simply because it 1) doesn’t help the opponent reach threshold and 2) eliminates “indestructible” creatures. So long as Legacy thrives as a format, I see Terminus growing in value.

      1. Thanks for the perspective! It’s good to know Terminus has had such an impact on Legacy. I’ll be socking away a few of these on MTGO. I think that Legacy has lots of room to grow online, and I think when WoTC has some resources to spare, they’ll be able to market MTGO play as a safe, stable and competitive outlet for Legacy play.

        As for Bonfire, Kibler agrees with you about it’s application in that format as it’s a 3 of in his most recent sideboard.

  3. Great overview Matt! Thanks.

    If you would do another poll for Liliana’s price in a year from now I would bet she will be 40+ Tix. Being playable in so many formats + good redemption set is really great, (un)fortunately she is not in a third set.

    1. I agree on that price in a year, we’ll just have to see how much MTGO players value tix today versus Liliana in a year. =)

      As usual, I will place my money on players needing tix and being short sighted.

  4. Does Liliana show the same upside for paper copy investment? She’s only down about $4 since early summer. If I’ve got a little capital to put into her, can I expect her to rise come Modern season?

    I’m new to the spec scene, and have very little knowledge of the MTGO/MTG overlap.

    1. I think the general consensus is that Liliana is a good bet for future gains, both in paper and MTGO. But, I am not an experienced paper speculator so I would do more research and I’d check in with what the rest of the QS community is saying.

      In general terms, there is feedback between paper and digital prices, mostly transmitted through the redemption mechanism. Redemption also creates a bottleneck around mythic rares on MTGO, forcing most of the value in a complete set onto the mythics. You’ll notice that rares are much cheaper online than in paper. That’s a combination of the large amount of product in the market (via drafters) and the redemption bottleneck.

      For out of print sets (ie sets that are no longer redeemable), the connection between paper and digital is more tenuous. Both IRL and MTGO have different supply and demand factors that go into prices. Pauper is quite popular online which pushes the price of lower supply commons up very high, such as Crypt Rats.

      In general, MTGO and paper both matter to each other but treat it on a case by case basis.

  5. When reading this article, I suddenly wondered what Goatbots will be doing when rotation hits. They didn’t exist yet last rotation so I’m wondering it they will keep the innistrad-block-cards on their tradelists; if they do trading them will be a lot easier !

    One question : is Carvern of Souls a staple in older formats ? If it is I think i will make it one of my prime targets if it drops enough (I only play limited so no idea on legace/modern).

    1. Good question! It will be interesting to see what Goat does.

      I just looked at mtggoldfish, and cavern of souls only shows up in Standard in recent decks. I think I’ll be in the same boat as you; if it drops enough I’ll buy some.

      My recent experience suggests that picking up non mythic rares for Modern/Legacy should have hold times up to 2+ years. I’m still holding all my fastlands, but I think there will be a good opportunity to sell these in summer 2014. To me, this implies that prices should be very low for me to start buying.

  6. One more question : I got some sphinx revelations lying around, should I sell those now and use those tix for the rotation-pick-ups or do you see Revelation heading for 50 ?

    1. I’ve been wrestling with the same question and I don’t have a clear answer. I think it’s at an inflection point while ISD block is still in Standard. After rotation, it will either head higher quickly, or start drifting lower. If it goes higher, it should be back in the 40-45 tix range pretty easily.

      It looks like the paper price has been heading higher in the last month. Recently I’ve been watching how paper prices could be a signal for MTGO prices. As long as paper prices are moving up, this should support prices on MTGO.

      All told, after writing out this response and thinking about it some more, I think the best course of action is to hold. It looks like there is still upside on Sphinx’s Revelation and it’s still too early to target the best rotation pick ups.

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