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Insider: Magic News This Week Surrounding Amonkhet’s Release

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This week has been a big one in Magic finance, starting with the full Amonkhet spoiler being revealed last Friday and providing a complete look at the new cards, but things have only gotten more exciting since.

Iconic Masters and HASCON

On the topic of spoilers, one came a bit early this week with the accidental leaking of details about an upcoming special release, a set called Iconic Masters. After breaking on Reddit, it was widely shared on social media. Wizards fired back on Thursday with an official announcement for Iconic Masters, which corroborated the rumors and explained exactly what was going on. A celebration of Magic’s 25th year anniversary, it will include Magic’s most iconic cards.

“The set brings an array of Angels, Sphinxes, Demons, Dragons, and Hydras alongside some of our favorite and most memorable spells over the game's entire history.”

Each of these creature types corresponds to a specific color, so I expect the set will be filled with these types of creatures, perhaps solely these types, along with the best spells in each color. At $10 a pack, the set will need to contain serious value to make it worth buying, so I expect it to be full of casual and EDH staples and some high-value eternal cards, with anything not on the reserved list up for reprint.

The set is slated to be released on November 17, 2017, ahead of the holidays. It has been theorized that the release is actually next year’s special set, and it’s begining of the trend of these releases occurring before the holidays. If true, it implies we could see the next Modern Masters release as early as November 2018.

Iconic Masters isn’t having a typical prerelease, nor even a spoiler season. It is being unveiled in a special prerelease event at HASCON, a new convention Hasbro will hold for the first time at its home in Providence, RI, kicking off the 25th anniversary celebration.

Premier Event Changes

Wizards also made an announcement this week about changes to premier play. The biggest news is the return of the Nationals tournaments, which a number of years ago were ended in favor of World Magic Cup Qualifier events. The finalists at Nationals will be invited to their country’s national team to compete at the World Magic Cup, along with the player in their country with the most Pro Points as captain. The reason given for these changes is because it is what players demanded, so it’s a positive sign for competitive play that Wizards is listening to the players.

On the other hand, they also announced changes to Pro Tour, which will be returning to a traditional top-eight bracket after a short-lived experiment with a modified bracket, stating that it did little to eliminate draws. More relevant is the announcement of payout changes at the Pro Tour, which gives more money to the winner but less to the top eight. It has garnered ire from players, including a tweet stating the absurdity of the eighth-place finisher at a Pro Tour in 2000 earning more than a player finishing eighth under the new payout.

There are also changes coming to Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers, which now has a scaling invitation system tied to attendance. A bigger change is that tournament organizers may now charge an entry fee for them, which has drawn much negative ire from players. It’s a boon in disguise for the competitive player, as it should have the effect of making tournaments a bit smaller and softer.

Speculating on Amonkhet Release

I’ve seen more discussion than usual about speculating on preorders, and the best advice I can give is to focus on finding rares that aren’t being taken seriously enough, not on the headliner mythics. There’s just not much room to gain on a card like $10 Rhonas the Indomitable, even if it does become an all-star. Don’t speculate on expensive cards, but search for the underpriced gem. Good recent examples have been Dromoka's Command and Collective Brutality. From Amonkhet, Glorybringer was under $2, and is now up to $5. The biggest winner so far has actually been Insult // Injury, which was 50 cents and is now over $2.


The new combo with Vizier of Remedies has brought about a Devoted Druid spike, which has brought about a corresponding spike of a card Devoted Druid also combos with, Quillspike. Quillspike has seen two success spikes this week, from $1 to over $3. The has been a more dramatic spike for foil copies, which have grown from $3 to over $13. Foil copies of Devoted Druid have also grown more than nonfoil copies, and are up to $30. It’s a lesson to look at foils during spikes, especially because they are a more concentrated form of value and will require handling less cardboard.


Keep an eye on Lodestone Bauble, which saw a high-profile finish in a Japanese Legacy event in the Bomberman deck with Auriok Salvagers. The strategy is suddenly competitive because of how well Auriok Salvagers works for returning Walking Ballista, and how well that card works with the infinite mana the deck can produce with Lion's Eye Diamond.


Vial Smasher the Fierce is starting to rise in price after a slow decline, perhaps because it is seeing use in competitive Legacy decks, like the one shared in a video by Andrea Mengucci on CFB this week.


Keep an eye on Cryptolith Rite. It is back in the picture for Standard consideration because of the possible return of Aristocrats-style creature decks, and for its great interaction with Harvest Season. Sam Black featured deck with this combination in his article on SCG this week and could be responsible for the deck breaking through at the Pro Tour, or at the very least highlighted its competitive potential.

--Adam

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