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Hold ‘Em & Fold ‘Em #4

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Hold ‘Em & Fold ‘Em Article Series Focus

  1. Cards that you should hold on to or pick up for tournaments if you need them before they rise in price. These cards are either seeing increased play in one or more formats, the supply is drying up, or they’re pretty far from the next reprint.

  2. Cards that you should consider selling or trading away. Their prices are pretty much at the ceiling owing to inflation from speculation, reprint inevitability in the near future, a lull in tournament play, or some combination of these.

Many people often mention the "summer lull" when it comes to MTG finance. But Warren Buffett once said that as an investor, “It’s wise to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” I think greedy is a strong word here, but it gets the point across of making profitable investment decisions.

This year has been a perfect example of how to turn the MTG finance summer lull in your favor. For example, I’ve highlighted some key cards from M19 in my previous articles like Sai, Master Thopterist, Thorn Lieutenant, and Supreme Phantom. And don’t forget about the upcoming Pro Tour 25th Anniversary from August 3-5 that I’ve also mentioned. This will bring us even more data we can use to make some wise decisions on cards to pick up cheap and cards to get rid of before they tank in value. So be sure check back regularly to stay abreast of what’s happening before the market shifts. I suggest bookmarking or adding my articles to your feed.

In my last article, I tried something new: tapping into the readership for feedback on whether certain cards are ‘holds’ or ‘folds’. So for this article, I’ll be putting that feedback into action. In addition to that, I’m including a new section called Updates to reflect on cards mentioned in previous articles to help you see where we are with regards to any recent market shifts rather than wait to do a monthly, quarterly, or yearly review.

Hold ‘Em

Defense Grid - Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions


Yes, $65 is a lot for a Magic card. But this version will probably never get any cheaper. If you take a look closely at the graph, you’ll see that the foil and market foil prices have almost come to a meeting point. And from here on out, the market foil price will be the standard and continue to rise.

Kindly take a look at this list again.


Defense Grid is the only card that’s under $100 aside from Steel Overseer, Pithing Needle, Trinisphere, and Hangarback Walker that sees play in multiple competitive formats. It sees play in Modern’s Ironworks Combo by Sebastian Pozzo and Legacy’s Sneak & Show by Timothy Candee. These are two of the most powerful decks in their respective formats.

[deck title=Modern: Ironworks Combo]
[Creatures]
2 Myr Retriever
4 Scrap Trawler
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
4 Ancient Stirrings
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
3 Chromatic Sphere
3 Engineered Explosives
4 Chromatic Star
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Terrarion
4 Mox Opal
4 Mind Stone
4 Ichor Wellspring
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
2 Aether Hub
2 Forest
3 Buried Ruin
3 Inventors' Fair
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Defense Grid
1 Pyroclasm
1 Galvanic Blast
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Ghirapur Aether Grid
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Beast Within
3 Guttural Response
4 Nature's Claim
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

[deck title=Legacy: Sneak and Show]
[Creatures]
4 Griselbrand
4 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
1 Flusterstorm
2 Spell Pierce
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
3 Preordain
4 Show and Tell
4 Ponder
2 Omniscience
4 Sneak Attack
4 Lotus Petal
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
1 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
3 Volcanic Island
3 Ancient Tomb
3 City of Traitors
3 Island
4 Scalding Tarn
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
2 Pyroclasm
2 Abrade
2 Blood Moon
3 Arcane Artisan
4 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Defense Grid
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Hangarback Walker - Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions


This probably has even more potential to grow compared to Defense Grid since it sees play in multiples in different decks across Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. Most notably, it’s showing up as a four-of in each of these new Modern decks: Bridgevine by KOZOUKUN and Hardened Modular by VELHOVENTURA.

[deck title=Modern: Bridgevine]
[Creatures]
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Gravecrawler
4 Hangarback Walker
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Stitcher's Supplier
4 Vengevine
4 Viscera Seer
4 Walking Ballista
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
2 Collective Brutality
4 Faithless Looting
1 Grisly Salvage
4 Bridge from Below
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Collective Brutality
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Darkblast
4 Destructive Revelry
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Lightning Axe
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

[deck title=Modern: Hardened Modular]
[Creatures]
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Hangarback Walker
2 Sparring Construct
4 Steel Overseer
4 Walking Ballista
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
4 Ancient Stirrings
1 Apostle's Blessing
1 Evolutionary Leap
4 Hardened Scales
4 Mox Opal
2 Throne of Geth
2 Welding Jar
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
2 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
8 Forest
1 Horizon Canopy
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Pendelhaven
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Damping Sphere
2 Dismember
1 Evolutionary Leap
1 Gut Shot
4 Nature's Claim
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Shapers' Sanctuary
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Steel Leaf Champion - Game Day Promos


Mono-Green Aggro by Brendan Hicks is one of the better decks in Standard right now and will most likely be around after rotation in the fall. And Steel Leaf Champion will probably always be a four-of alongside Llanowar Elves. There were
three in the top eight of SCG’s Indianapolis’s Standard Classic last weekend.

[deck title=Standard: Mono-Green Aggro]
[Creatures]
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
3 Greenbelt Rampager
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Steel Leaf Champion
4 Thorn Lieutenant
3 Thrashing Brontodon
3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
3 Rhonas the Indomitable
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
4 Blossoming Defense
3 Heart of Kiran
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
12 Forest
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Hashep Oasis
4 Woodland Cemetery
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Aethersphere Harvester
1 Greenbelt Rampager
1 Thrashing Brontodon
4 Vine Mare
2 Hour of Glory
2 Nissa, Vital Force
2 Vivien Reid
2 Duress
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The cool thing about Steel Leaf Champion is that it’s semi-secretly making its way into Elves by Bevanz in Modern as a four-of as well. And it’ll only get better as more Elves are printed. You can read a little bit more on Modern Elves from Adam Yurchick here.

[deck title=Modern: Elves]
[Creatures]
4 Dwynen's Elite
4 Elvish Archdruid
2 Elvish Champion
4 Elvish Mystic
2 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
4 Heritage Druid
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Shaman of the Pack
4 Steel Leaf Champion
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
4 Collected Company
2 Lead the Stampede
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blooming Marsh
9 Forest
4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
1 Pendelhaven
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Blossoming Defense
2 Fracturing Gust
2 Heroic Intervention
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Reclamation Sage
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Spellskite
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

And here’s a bonus side note...if you want to test this deck out, I suggest replacing four of the Forest Bears with four Overgrown Tombs. This way you can consistently cast Shaman of the Pack and Maelstrom Pulse on turn three based on Frank Karsten’s mana guide. And if you also want to cover the two Abrupt Decays, replace a fifth Forest Bear with a multicolor land like Mana Confluence or you can play a Verdant Catacombs or a cheaper fetchland like Windswept Heath so you have thirteen black sources on turn two.


Finally, I can’t reiterate enough how promos are the next buyout specs 
according to Chas Andres.

Fold ‘Em

Nimble Obstructionist - Hour of Devastation (Non-Foil & Foil)


Jeff Hoogland just made top eight of the
SCG Indianapolis Open last weekend with UR Wizards. And he drew kind of poorly on top of possibly making a mistake or two in game three against Humans. If it weren’t for that, he might’ve taken home the trophy. However, Nimble Obstructionist doesn’t really see play outside of his deck; so I’d sell into the hype. If you want to play the deck, just get or keep a non-foil playset since prerelease and pack foils are already a bit overpriced.

[deck title=Modern: UR Wizards]
[Creatures]
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Nimble Obstructionist
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Spellstutter Sprite
2 Vendilion Clique
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
2 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Mana Leak
4 Opt
3 Remand
1 Spell Snare
4 Wizard's Lightning
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
3 Island
1 Mountain
1 Flooded Strand
4 Mutavault
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Spirebluff Canal
3 Steam Vents
2 Wandering Fumarole
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Izzet Staticaster
2 Alpine Moon
2 Abrade
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Dispel
2 Magma Spray
2 Negate
1 Entrancing Melody
1 Roast
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Reader Feedback

Chandra, Torch of Defiance - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Hold]

 

Gideon of the Trials - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Hold]


Thanks to David Scott for the 
feedback on the previous article. Although these will both be rotating out of Standard in the fall, they’re both played in Eternal formats with Chandra seeing more play than Gideon because she pops up in Legacy via Mono-Red Prison by Pierre-yves Claudon.

[deck title=Legacy: Mono-Red Prison]
[Creatures]
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
1 Hazoret the Fervent
4 Magus of the Moon
2 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
4 Simian Spirit Guide
[/Creatures]
[Non-Creature Spells]
4 Blood Moon
4 Chalice of the Void
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Chrome Mox
4 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
2 Trinisphere
4 Fiery Confluence
[/Non-Creature Spells]
[Lands]
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
11 Mountain
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Abrade
4 Faerie Macabre
3 Kozilek's Return
3 Scab-Clan Berserker
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
2 Sulfur Elemental
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Many people love Terese Nielsen; and rightfully so, because the artwork on these are amazing. But I would stay away from the other three since none of them see play outside of Standard except for Nissa, Vital Force, which sees play as a one-of in Elves once in a great while.

Jace, Cunning Castaway - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Fold]

Liliana, Untouched by Death - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Fold]

Nissa, Vital Force - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Fold]

Sarkhan, Fireblood - M19 (Foil) [Hold]

  
Thanks to Rajib Ali for 
the question about Sarkhan, Fireblood. If you visit the link, you’ll see that I replied to Rajib on July 26 and suggested to pick up foils under $25 if possible. Now the floor for foils is about $40 according to TCGplayer. So if you bought any then or held the ones you have...congratulations, your foil Sarkhans have increased in value by $15 in less than two weeks.

Sarkhan, Fireblood - M19 [Fold]


However, I would fold any extra non-foil copies you have and sell into the Skred Dragons hype. 
Card Kingdom is buying copies for $15 cash and $19.50 in store credit.

Updates

Engineered Explosives - Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions [Article #2: Hold]


Card Kingdom is now 
sold out of these. And copies on TCGplayer are drying up starting at $160 instead of $150 now.

Supreme Phantom - M19 (Foil) [Article #3: Hold]


Card Kingdom only has three copies at $11.99 instead of $10.99 now. And there aren’t many Prerelease or pack foils on TCG Player under $10.

Thunderbreak Regent - Game Day Promos [Article #3: Hold]


Well, there’s the spike we were looking for. Card Kingdom is 
sold out. And TCGplayer only has a handful starting at $15.

Engineered Explosives - Fifth Dawn / Modern Masters [Article #2: Hold]


I just got my $51 cash from Card Kingdom, but I think I might’ve goofed on this one. The cheapest one available on TCGplayer is $90. Wow! This is probably another good sign that the Inventions version is about to pop. I would still try to upgrade any Fifth Dawn or Modern Masters versions you have to Inventions as soon as possible. These are going to tank as soon as a reprint spoiler happens, but the Inventions version will just keep going up.

Thunderbreak Regent - Game Day Promos [Article #3: Fold]


Here’s a bit of that counterintuitiveness we saw in the 
previous article. Use the spike to sell into the Skred Dragons hype if you don’t plan on playing the deck or play Thunderbreak Regent if it’s ever reprinted in Standard.

Alright, I hope you’ve enjoyed me putting the reader feedback into action and the updates on holds and folds in previous articles. Don’t forget to post your hold and fold questions in the comments below to keep the train going.

Summary

Hold ‘Em

-Defense Grid - Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions
-Hangarback Walker - Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions
-Steel Leaf Champion - Game Day Promos

Fold ‘Em

-Nimble Obstructionist - Hour of Devastation (Non-Foil & Foil)

Reader Feedback

-Chandra, Torch of Defiance - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Hold]
-Gideon of the Trials - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Hold]
-Jace, Cunning Castaway - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Fold]
-Lilian, Untouched by Death - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Fold]
-Nissa, Vital Force - Media Promos: SDCC 2018 [Fold]
-Sarkhan, Fireblood - M19 (Foil) [Hold]
-Sarkhan, Fireblood - M19 [Fold]

Updates

-Engineered Explosives - Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions [Article #2: Hold]
-Supreme Phantom - M19 (Foil) [Article #3: Hold]
-Thunderbreak Regent - Game Day Promos [Article #3: Hold]
-Engineered Explosives - Fifth Dawn / Modern Masters [Article #2: Fold]
-Thunderbreak Regent - Game Day Promos [Article #3: Fold]

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Agree? Disagree? Why? You can also connect with me on Twitter at @edwardeng. I’m also open to suggestions on how to make this series more valuable. Hit me up.

Have fun,
Eddie

2 thoughts on “Hold ‘Em & Fold ‘Em #4

  1. I really like Steel Leaf Champion. With the 8% ebucks recently, I stocked up on 12 copies. Post-rotation, once red loses several weapons, it’s possible the aggro landscape could instead shift to green. The great thing is the card is strong on its own and isn’t necessarily elf-tribal dependent. It also pairs well with Sarkhan’s Unsealing — a great low-cost spec imo if you don’t mind splashing red.

    “Sarkhan, Fireblood” was a nice spec I agreed with. Its success piggybacks off what I said earlier with red losing weapons post-rotation. If red survives, it will be on the backs of dragons. I think dragons also appeal to the Timmy gamers. I’m still high on Verix Bladewing; a mythic dragon for under $1.75.

    1. Hey David,

      Nice job on Steel Leaf Champion! Looking forward to if this actually pays off for you (and me) or not. Time will tell!

      I’m not sure about Sarkhan, Fireblood in Standard yet. Dragons might be too slow. But it is a three-mana Planeswalker that has some pretty strong abilities. The best part about it is that it’s already shown playability in Eternal formats which is why I think foils are a hold.

      I think non-foil and foil versions of Verix are a hold right now too. Ty Thomason from article #3 (https://www.quietspeculation.com/2018/07/hold-em-fold-em-3/) actually asked me about this before. I’ll probably highlight Verix in my next article. Keep on the lookout for that later this week!

      Thanks,
      Eddie

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