This Week in Insider, July 6-13

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Jason Alt - Lame Ducks

Jason looks at M14 and M15 to see what craziness might ensue during the brief window of dual core set eligibility at the end of the summer.    He sees the Hexproof deck getting a few strong new additions, and evaluates a card that makes painlands much more painful to play.  He also looks at what 2 sets worth of Slivers will do during this brief window, including an evaluation of Mutavault.  Which is a Sliver.  And a Cat.  and an Octopus.

He also really likes Mana Confluence, and explains his rationale.

The ultimate painland. Slivers jams this if it comes about, and if multi-colored decks are the new normal, this could have some real upside. The price it’s at currently is in a world where the best decks are mono-colored. With shocklands gone and temples and painlands fixing mana, Confluence could go up as precipitously as I expect Nykthos is going to tank.

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Sylvain Lehoux - Online Perspectives on Core Set Mythics Like We've Never Seen Before

Sylvain turns his MTGO spotlight onto the new Mythics of Magic 2015.  They're unique in a few senses, but one of which is the relative lack of true junk Mythics.  

What do I consider junk mythic? To me, a junk mythic is a mythic that is worth less than 1 tix within the first few weeks of release. The price of a junk mythic can go as low as 0.25 tix and will barely make it over 1 tix, only for redemption purposes. A junk mythic doesn’t have any serious constructed applications–at best a feature in Travis Woo’s brews. Often, a junk mythic doesn’t even have any limited application either, and is barely playable in casual decks. Finally, a common trait of junk mythics is an overly expensive casting cost.

Sylv goes on to explain how this effects his typical strategy of buying "baskets" of cards.  It will mean watching the Pro Tour and paying attention to what does not see play.  He sees a lot of upside in M15, but we're going to have to see what happens in the coming weeks before prices begin to resemble actual usage.

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Ryan Overturf - A New Choice for Legacy Burn

A Vintage Masters draft reveals a Conspiracy card that makes Burn an even more attractive option in Legacy.  Inspiration comes from the strangest places.  Anyway, Ryan takes this as an opportunity to deconstruct the Legacy Burn lists and reconsider some conventional wisdom.  Is Price of Progress really a 100% non-negotiable main deck staple?  How about Sulfuric Vortex?  And why are you sideboarding Vexing Shusher anyway?

I really like how he discussed every choice he made (including his omissions).  Here's his deck list, but you'll really want to read the full text to truly understand it.

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Sigmund Ausfresser - Bear Market Territory

I have no actual idea how Sig managed to avoid a Bear pun in this article.  He's a better man than I.  While Wall Street defines a bear market as a period of decline to the tune of 20%, Sig uses a slightly different criteria.

I consider a market to be a “Bear Market” when positive catalysts, which are supposed to drive prices higher, have no effect or a negative effect on prices...

It just so happens that in the MTG Finance world there are now two catalysts which should be driving the Modern market higher: Modern PTQ season and SCG’s recent announcement of Modern support. Despite these occurrences, the Modern market continues its decline.

And yes, prices in Modern, specifically, are down about 20% across the board, if not more.  This is probably something very new and scary for people who only got into the trading game recently.  Sigmund discusses what positions he's already closed out, and debates what to do with Shock lands.

Since Sigmund writes his article early in the week, I had the advantage of reading this, summarizing it, then seeing what he did about his Shock Lands.  He settles this debate in glorious fashion in his article that was just released this morning.  How?  You gotta read it to believe it.  

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Mike Lanigan - M15 White & Blue

With Mass Calcify replacing the Day of Judgment, what will Standard look like once Supreme Verdict rotates?  Will Spectra Ward see play in Hexproof decks?  What about Aetherspouts - the new Wrath, or just another Browbeat-style trap?   Mike talks about all of this, and more, in the first part of his M15 review.  What's his favorite blue card in the set?  Hint:  It's not a rare or a mythic.

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Adam Yurchick - Standard Sideboard Staples from M15

Adam is one of our resident Pro players and focuses on sideboarding each week, so we're glad to have him weighing in on M15's new additions.   He thinks blue got a lot of tools.  Specifically, Adam is a lot higher on Aetherize than Mike is, calling it a one-sided Wrath.   He also sees a lot of potential in Polymorphist's Trick, comparing it to Sudden Spoiling.

I also like that he sees value in Profane Memento, a 1-mana artifact that I could see getting way out-of-hand in a Mill strategy.  Nevermind that Mill strategies generally suck.

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Corbin Hosler - Magic 2015 Prerelease Primer

There are a lot of cards in M15 that are selling for bulk prices, and Corbin thinks a few of these are mistakes.   Two are once-valuable reprints.  One duplicates the functionality of a highly popular Commander artifact, but on a body.  If you think hard, you can probably figure out which are which.   He's got a strong opinion on pain lands, too:

One of the places I want to put [money] is into the painlands. I know these aren’t exactly sexy reprints given how unloved they were and are, but they do get the job done. Once shocks rotate out these will look a lot better, and I’m pretty sure $3-5 is where they will all be. If you want yours to play with, the current prices are fine, and I see more up than downside here, even if it’s not a very large gap.

And on Slivers, specifically the new Sliver Hivelord.

This is the best five-color Sliver ever printed. Things that get the “best” tag don’t typically tank in value. People have a bad taste in their mouth due to last year’s Slivers and are really skimming past this year’s. Foils of this will always be super valuable, and I imagine this increasing in price steadily over the next few years.

Couldn't agree more.  Corbin is QS's longest-tenured finance writer and when he speaks, we listen.

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David Schumann - Legacy Metagame Analysis

I love graphs.  David took an intelligent approach to breaking down the Legacy metagame, and the end result looked like this:

I might be giving up all the goods by reposting this chart, but that's OK.  David complements this visualization with short summaries of each deck and how they fit into the bigger puzzle of the metagame, so this article serves as a good guide for those who want to get caught up on, or get started with, the Legacy format.

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Alexander Carl - Vintage Masters Update & Free Money

Once again, bad PR for MTGO.  This time, poor communication about the future of VMA drafts lead to wild market fluctuations.  Unfortunately, buy on rumor and sell on news is impossible when sources aren't consistent and trustworthy.

Wizards had made misleading announcements, like the one from Alison here which implies VMA events would be available on demand throughout the summer.

Moreover, ORCs were reportedly telling anyone who asked that these events would continue.

Wizards got a ton of negative feedback. It must have been a deluge, since they made an almost unprecedented reversal of their Tuesday announcement. Drafting would continue for 8 more weeks. Within hours, prices dropped 20% or more, and are now back to their pre-spike levels.

Now VMA supply is confirmed to remain high for a long time, and tix will be syphoned out of the economy by upcoming set releases.  That means the EV of cracking VMA packs is pretty poor.  Alexander offers a few tips on how to spend your money instead.  One of them is, "Draft Theros!"  Why?

  • Theros block drafts: 10 tix gets you three matches of Swiss. Card prices are low but will rise as Return to Ravnica block rotates and people switch to drafting M15 and Khans.

Seems like a good way to expose yourself to upside while playing cheap Magic!  He also digs up an old MTGO article I wrote way back in the day about organizing your collection across multiple accounts.  Why is this important? Because in this article, I said, "I am not a programmer by trade, nor do I intend to be, but SQL and I got along really well."  Yeah.  We got along so well I became a database engineer and built Trader Tools.  Guess I was wrong about "not intending to be".  Anyway, there are some current incentives from WOTC that might make people consider signing up for multiple accounts, and Alex lays out a laundry list of things you can do with the extra accounts.

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Dylan Beckham - Looking Back

In light of the recent bear market in Modern, Dylan is revising some of his price predictions for the end of the season.  He revisits cards like Voice of Resurgence, Snapcaster Mage, Scapeshift and the omnipresent Tarmogoyf.

The Modern bear market hit hard, which is probably for the best; a lot of new people got into MTG finance in the recent year, but were taught that unbridled optimism will always be rewarded.  It's good that they get to see that the Gods of MTG don't always fart sunshine and rainbows.  A bear market will recalibrate people's expectations back to reality.

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This week's winner is Alexander Carl.  Not just because he quoted my 4-year-old MTGO article in which I said I didn't think I'd ever become a programmer, but because he approached the current state of MTGO so thoroughly.  He's quickly proving to be talented at taking all the facts at hand and synthesizing them into a single article.  Frankly, if you're on MTGO and not reading his work, You're Doing It Wrong.

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