I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from Magic recently, both from playing competitively and from watching market trends. How foolish I was, distracted largely by the wonderful 2004 iteration of World of Warcraft that has occupied the majority of my time for the last month and a half. This ends today. Magic is awesome, and it’s particularly awesome right now. Before we move on from WoW Classic, check your Auction House for Winterfall Firewater. I’ve been snapping these bad boys up for 50 silver a pop, and once more people are raiding on your server, they should be worth a decent amount more. I’ve farmed a ton of Winterfall Furbolgs and can say confidently that they’re not super easy to farm. Now, onto the card game!
My Tournament Weekend
Let’s start with the competitive side of Magic before delving into Finance. I played the following Four-Color Snowheeli Blade list:
I spent way too much time playing WoW and not very much time testing. I was really invested in hitting level 60 and not very invested in performing well in this tournament. I played two MTGO leagues to test. I 1-4’d with Neobrand and 2-3’d with this deck. Since 2 is better than 1, I played this deck. I also 3-2’d with Storm earlier in the week, but that deck scares me and I figured I’d misplay less with this deck. Whether or not that was true is unclear, as I managed to misplay many times with this deck anyway. The primary difficulty of this deck is just sequencing. Do you play out your A-Teferi, Time Raveler now, or your Saheeli Rai, or do you hold up your Stoneforge Mystic activation, or do you hold up hardcast Force of Negation? Or Ice-Fang Coatl?
This deck is really clumped on decisions for the Turn 3 mark and I did not have nearly enough experience to make those correctly. It’s certainly a powerful deck, but I didn’t feel like I was particularly favored against the format’s current mainstays. Urza, Lord High Artificer decks felt deceptively easy when playing against them online, but I’d only played against the new combo variants with Jeskai Ascendancy and/or Paradoxical Outcome. The variants that can Whir of Invention for Ensnaring Bridge or Pithing Needle proved to be much more difficult. The deck was a ton of fun, but I’m not passionate enough about it to champion the archetype, and that’s what it really needs right now.
I dropped half-way through day 1, but the bonfire was already lit.
The Fire to Improve
I was going to put the work in and play a good deck, hopefully the best deck, whatever it takes. From the matches I’d played, and from my conversations with players, I’d determined the likely best choice for this would be Amulet Titan. I’m also good friends with a lot of the best Amulet pilots, so I have a wealth of resources to pull from to learn the deck. I approached Will Pulliam to get his decklist so I can buy the cards for it. I catch him just as he’s finishing his match, and he informs me that he’s currently 7-0.
It may not mean too much, but it felt like this was a sign that I’d chosen the correct deck. He happily shipped me his list, and through a combination of helpful Twitterers and Magic vendors, I acquired the 43 cards I needed from the deck for about $250 total. This process also revealed something magical to me: cards in the Amulet Titan deck are likely underpriced right now. These two graphs are very telling:
A lot of vendors had not noticed just how far these cards have dropped recently. One vendor had Azusa, Lost but Seeking available for $40 per. Another had the same card from the same set in the same condition for $20 per. Yet another had them for $30. Amulet of Vigor had a similarly wild price spread across vendors, albeit none asking quite so high as $40. Is $40 that unreasonable for Azusa though? She was nearly that high earlier this year, before the Summer Gaak Attack. With Amulet Titan back on top of the Modern metagame, I expect these and other staples of the deck such as Primeval Titan and Summoner's Pact to see some serious gains.
One powerful Magic card from this deck bridges us over to Throne of Eldraine’s massive impact on the market: Once Upon a Time. Be sure to check out last week’s iteration of the QS Cast to witness me underestimate this card’s potential. OUAT is the real deal folks. My misguided thoughts were limited to thinking of the card in terms of Mono-Green Tron and Neobrand. Two copies of Mono-Green Tron made the top 16 of SCG Indi, and one of them played 3 copies while the other played zero.
It’s just too easy to brick in a deck that is not reliant on its creatures in the early game and only plays 17-19 lands. In Neobrand, it’s a buck-wild “Allosaurus Rider or bust”, which is likely an improvement to the deck, but not a particularly impressive one. OUAT is busted in Amulet Titan though. It also seems to be performing quite well in Jund Death's Shadow, Devoted Devastation, and GW Eldrazi decks. When you have numerous good creatures that you want to hit at any point in the game, OUAT becomes very powerful.
Any queasiness I had from paying $13 a copy at Indi was quickly dispelled after playing with the card in Amulet Titan. Shortly after I completed this article, the decklists for Mythic Championship V were posted. Once Upon a Time is the most played card, with 169 copies across 68 decklists. It may spike before this article is even published, and I will discuss the Mythic Championship in more detail in next week's article.
A Powerhouse Set
Once Upon a Time is merely one of a wide swath of powerful cards impacting Modern already. The following cards are also already proving themselves in Magic’s most widely-played eternal format: Oko, Thief of Crowns, Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft, The Royal Scions, Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp, Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Drown in the Loch, Charming Prince, Castle Garenbrig, Wishclaw Talisman, Mystic Sanctuary, Grumgully, the Generous, Mystical Dispute, Witching Well, Merchant of the Vale // Haggle, Gingerbrute, All That Glitters, and Into the Story. I think that’s everything for week one.
That is just so, so many eternally playable Magic cards in one set. And yet, prices for this set are relatively flat and stagnant across the board. Normally, this would be unheard of. This fall set is clearly powerful, but there’s a large, dark cloud blanketing the skies of MTGFinance: The banned and restricted list update announcement was moved forward to October 21st.
Magic players know this can only mean there is a change that needs to occur sooner rather than later, and only one archetype fits the bill: the Field of the Dead/Golos, Tireless Pilgrim decks in Standard. The Magic community at large believes that Field will get the axe, but will anything else go with it? It wouldn’t shock me if Wizards took out A-Teferi, Time Raveler as well, effectively unbanning Instants in Standard. I think Modern is unlikely to be touched, particularly after the wonderfully diverse metagame we saw in Indianapolis last weekend. Urza-related cards are likely safe for now, so if you need them, please help yourself by buying them before Monday while there is still apprehension about a possible ban.
As for Standard, little is safe. Oko, Thief of Crowns is very unlikely to get banned and is powerful enough to remain a mainstay of the format. Murderous Rider // Swift End will definitely start seeing play if Black is at all playable. A-Fires of Invention could become the basis for the best deck in Standard, depending on how things shake out. The only easy buy here is Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp, as it’s nearly certain to continue seeing play in Standard and is available for a mere dollar currently. I personally think the showcase version of this card is really cool, and they’re still cheaply available in both foil and nonfoil. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if $20 for a set of foils winds up seeming ridiculously cheap in a month.
It's also possible that low singles prices may be ahead for Eldraine, as this set seems to be a victim of the "Dominaria Effect", in which a set has many powerful cards competing for the value of the booster box price. Be wary that if the diversity of value stays this wide, it could mean lower prices for all but Oko, Thief of Crowns.
Part 2 Comes Next Week
We’re just brushing the surface of Throne of Eldraine’s complexity here. There’s a bunch of money to be made if you can predict what deck is going to wind up on top of the post-ban Standard metagame. Right now may also be your last chance to get ahead of the Modern bull market! Join me next week for Part 2 of this article, where I will break down Throne of Eldraine Collector’s Boosters and how the numerous new premium variants of Standard cards fit into the current MTGFinance world. We'll also go over the financial implications of Mythic Championship V. Thanks for reading, tweet at me if you have any questions about buys/sells leading up to the ban.
See you all at #SCGATL and the #SCGINVI!