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Insider: The Summer Lull & Weekly Picks

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As we move into Spring and Summer we enter what is typically a slow period in Magic finance, when prices tend to trend downward rather than surge. The monkey wrench in the equation is whether or not the new Standard rotation will change things up a little bit. Typically, prices would begin to dip because people are sick of Standard and looking to hock their cards before they rotate in the fall.

The new rotation changes things up, because we have a brand new exciting Standard and people have no incentive to sell their cards! The big question will be whether or not this continues to drive players to play tournaments over the Summer. In the past tournaments tended to dip a bit, but it's unclear how much of this was just due to competition from other summer activities.

So, all bets are off on the traditional summer lull.

Today I have a couple interesting speculation targets that I'll be breaking down into two categories. The first we'll call "risky, but interesting." The second group are specs that are likely to hit---these are the "safe-ish specs."

Risky But Interesting

These are cards I could see going up in value for any number of good reasons, but there are some other number of reasons for why they could miss.

Generally speaking, these are pretty reasonable speculation targets. My main issue is that as a finance writer I always feel a sense of responsibility when telling people to buy up certain cards. I'm dreading the day I get a letter from some individual who is like, "Thanks a lot, a-hole. I bet my life savings on Inexorable Blob and now I'm homeless."

I mean, obviously that is a pretty loose example---but still, anytime I'm giving people advice about how to spend their money I want to do the best job I can. Even if it is just to remind them that this is essentially gambling on a finance market, where nothing is a sure thing or a done deal.

Kalitas


The problem with this card is that it's already $25. I don't typically like to invest such large quantities into individual cards, and even more specifically, not Standard cards. So, pretty reasonable downside.

However, the upside is pretty bright as well. First of all, basically every single deck that isn't a white aggro deck is a black deck playing Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. It also looks as though the Kalitas control decks (B/W Control, Grixis, and Esper Dragons) have favorable matchups against the most popular decks in the format.

So, let me get this straight. Kalitas is from an old set, didn't go down when the new block came out and now is trending upward? Seems like a good sign. The card is also one of the strong reasons to play these decks (because it is so good against the popular decks) so you can't play these control decks without it (nor would you want to).

It is also worth noting that it is the only good graveyard hate in Standard. If "graveyard matters" stuff is emphasized in the next set, Kalitas gets even better. Imagine how good Kalitas gets if cards like Relentless Dead or other recurring threats matter.

The other upside for this card is that it is pretty good in Modern Jund-style decks. It will continue to be a thing post-Standard which allows the price to get a little bit higher before it rotates.

Also worth noting, I love foil versions of this card as a long-term investment. The card seems great in Commander.

Fetchlands


I've noticed Flooded Strand is like $18 on TCG Player and Star City Games has the card listed at $28.00. The spread is really big which means there's a pretty good chance we may see the entire Khans of Tarkir fetch land cycle rise in value in the near future.

These lands are a prerequisite to play basically every single Magic format besides Standard. They will always be useful. People need them for everything. Pretty much every good Magic portfolio is going to include some number of fetches and shocks but it may be a good time to specifically target these cards in trades when you can. I know I am...

I get the feeling that the TCG price will start creeping up closer to the SCG price. Obviously, the SCG price is high as heck right now, but they tend to be pretty on point about where card prices are trending.

It is also worth noting that Windswept Heath is way lower than the other fetches because it was in a duel deck. However, as time goes on the extra copies will factor less into the overall price. Heath is one of the best fetch lands right now and I think it has the most room to grow.

Tragic Arrogance


The risk factor on Tragic Arrogance is simply that it has never been worth anything!

I don't really understand why this card is a bulk rare. It sees a ton of play across several different decks. Basically any white deck that plays Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and midrange creatures is going to play this card out of the sideboard.

It is a fixture, two- to three-of card in every G/W Tokens deck. So how is a three-of from Magic Origins in the best, most popular deck in Standard $0.50? I literally don't understand the pricing of this card. Perhaps it is just the card that people don't want to pay money for.

This card also seems like it could be interesting for Commander. It is pretty sweet that it punishes the "all-artifact" decks really hard. It's not Cataclysm, but then again, what is?

Safe-ish Specs

These are the specs that I feel really strongly about. These are the kind of cards where I use my store credit to pick up copies every chance I can!

Eldrazi Displacer


I think Displacer is a done deal. First of all the card is insane. Second of all the card is all over the place in both Standard and Modern. It is safe to say the card will continue to see lots of play across multiple formats. Also, I have a strong belief that the Mono-White Eldrazi deck featuring this card is actually the best version of the Eldrazi deck in Modern. There are also rouge Vial Displacer decks.

Anyways, the card sees play in Standard. B/W Control, B/W Eldrazi, R/W Eldrazi, and even some builds of Collected Company.

In Modern, the card is an absolute all-star in the Eldrazi and Taxes deck. The deck has moved from the "maybe a deck" category to "yeah, it's real." Every cube and tons of Commander decks are going to play this card because it is both A) cool and B) unique.

For $3, this card is great as a short- and long-term spec.

Burning-Tree Emissary


There are still cheap copies of this card floating around on TCG Player, but likely not for long. The SCG price is up to $2.5 and I could easily see the TCG price getting up over even that. The Reckless Bushwhacker deck is very good and real and Emissary is just such a cool and unique card.

Also, I don't know why, but hybrid cards always seem to be more expensive. It is like a tax on hybrids. Why is Wheel of Sun and Moon going for a zillion dollars? Perhaps there is some sort of cachet the hybrid mechanic has with casual players.

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit


The price tag on this card has 0% to do with Standard where it sees absolutely no play. It is a two-of in the best deck in Modern. When trading I try to pick up every single copy of this card I possibly can at whatever the TCG Player price is, and tuck it away forever.

If the card starts seeing any play in Standard at all it will likely go up significantly. In truth, I don't think this card is bad in the White Weenie deck.

Orzhov Pontiff


Pontiff is another card whose lower price tag is puzzling. The card surged to something like $25 when it was in Modern Birthing Pod and dropped down to $5 when Pod got banned. Now Abzan Company is the best deck in the format, Pontiff is a key part, and the price hasn't rebounded. Why?

I can tell you firsthand this isn't exactly an easy card to track down. I needed a second copy for my Company deck and all four local game stores were sold out. I had to trade for one off of a player. He valued it at $5 or whatever it was on TCG at the time---but I would have paid like $20 in trade because I needed it so badly. It just feels like a more expensive and hard-to-find card than the price would indicate.

Scavenging Ooze


I've been betting on Ooze forever and it has only made modest gains, but I think we are very close to a surge. I can feel it in the air.

First of all, the card is absurdly good in Modern. Second of all, it is the best card in the Jund deck against Abzan, which is the best deck in the format. The card is also the best card in the Jund deck against Living End which is a difficult matchup.

So, let me lay this out there: Scavenging Ooze is a perfectly maindeckable card for Jund that is the best possible card against both Abzan and Living End, which are two of the best decks in the format and bad matchups for Jund...

Yeah, looks like we are going to be cutting some Goyfs for Oozes... Ooze is great. Real Oozes, not those eyesore promo ones that have been suppressing the price of the card for the past two years.

~

You can't win if you don't take risks. Some prospects are riskier than others.

I think the "Summer lull" is going to be less "lully" than usual and MTG finance will be in full swing year-round now. With that in mind, good cards are good and find their way to the top of the price guide.

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