Tag: speculation

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Bruce Gray - May 18, 2016

MTG Standard Bargain Hunting

Casual Encounters- Bargain Hunting in Standard

treasure hunt

    Every once in awhile I like to stop and take stock of some prices of cards of this game and hunt down some of the diamonds in the rough.  What I mean is that there are a number of cards out there in any set that play really well, but yet are worth very little from a financial point of view. In short, I go bargain hunting.  Sometimes the low prices on some cards are a product of a superior version of a card being available in another set.  Sometimes the set is opened in such abundance that prices tank apart from a few mythics.  Sometimes the set is slated for rotation soon and the prices take a steep nose dive. Regardless of the reason behind these cards being worth so little, the fact remains they can offer excellent value to players looking to keep their costs down.  Today, I’ve picked out 10 cards for you to keep an eye on and to help you keep your costs down without compromising game play.

*Editor’s note: All prices are subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse.

#10- Deathbringer Regent- Dragons of Tarkir

This is an amazing pickup for anyone who plays any sort of multiplayer game.  This has a conditional wrath pasted to 5/6  flying body.  What isn’t to love?  In a multiplayer game it seems pretty straight forward to have 5 or more other creatures on the battlefield, so triggering this seems easy.  It has synergy with all the “ Dragons Matter” cards from Dragons of Tarkir including Silumgar’s Scorn, Dragonlord’s Prerogative, or Draconic Roar meaning it is just good value and plays nicely with a number of other colours.  To top it all off, this is retailing on Three Kings Loot for $0.45 making it a real bargain.  

 

#9 Endbringer- Oath of the Gatewatch

This is a ridiculous card in a multiplayer game because this can untap on EACH player’s turn meaning you can use it again and again.  The number of different abilities on this thing is pretty amazing and can just work away to grind you all sorts of small advantages.  It can block, neutralize big scary threats, draw cards, ping for damage,  and is basically always a force to be reckoned with because it is always untapped and ready to be used.  At a mere $0.71 at 3KL you can’t go wrong and every Commander deck will be wanting one of these things.

 

#8 Brutal Expulsion- Battle For Zendikar

Ok, so we didn’t get a Charm or Command cycle in BFZ, but we did get a pretty awesome card that has as much versatility as we can realistically expect in a set.  I was initially a little down on Brutal Expulsion because it really doesn’t seem to be that exciting a card, but once you cast it the only way you can use to describe it is “oh…THAT’s why that is at Rare”.  It is just a very powerful tempo play to zap something small and/or bounce something big…at instant speed.  You just can’t complain about that sort of flexibility. It checks in at a very reasonable $0.44 making it a bargain that plays like it is a much more expensive card.



#7 From Beyond- Battle for Zendikar

I’ve been big on this one for a while now.  Awakening Zone is analogous to this from Rise of the Eldrazi that is an astonishing $7.48.  However, this slightly more expensive reprint not only gets you better tokens, but it can also serve as a tutor to go and find that big, bad, Eldrazi you have packed in your deck.  The tutoring really makes this card highly desirable for singleton formats to help you go find what you need, but for some reason you can pick it up for $1.13 on Three Kings Loot. 

 

#6 Zendikar Resurgent- Oath of the Gatewatch

I had this in my pre-release for OGW and have to admit that I was tempted to cut it because it was a 7 mana card that did very little on the board. However, I was very glad I didn’t cut it because it is an absolute engine to power up a deck.  If you get to untap and have a creature or two in hand to play you can start to chain together all sorts of things.  The mana ramp is also one sided meaning that unlike a spell like Mana Flare (still a classic) you can reap the benefits while your opponents can only gnash their teeth.   And who doesn’t love a card that enables all sorts of silly huge critters.  Or maybe just a big Fireball.  Whatever.  Oh, and did I mention it is a mere $0.69.  Yeah. That’s a bargain.

# 5 Greenwarden of Murasa- Battle for Zendikar

So, Eternal Witness is a thing.  Yes at 3 mana it is a fringe playable Modern card, but if you are in to EDH you might not be interested in a three mana creature.  Maybe you want something bigger like a 5/4 for 6 that is really a double regrowth.  Sound slightly appealing?  Umm…yes please.  Any deck that can play green will be looking for this thing (and it’s even a reasonable card to include in your cube) so why not grab it now for $1.83?  I don’t have a reason either…so I’m picking up a few.

 

#4 Crush of Tentacles- Oath of the Gatewatch

Another powerful mythic that is a Blue board wipe.  Ok, so maybe you aren’t really a big fan of mass bounce, but it wipes out tokens and likely nets you mana because you will invariably spend less on this spell than your opponent will pay in order to replay those creatures.  The added bonus of the Crush is that 8/8 octopus.  In a casual game that is totally achievable and is is absolutely something to be reckoned with.  This checks in at a mere $2.53 for a Mythic from a small set and will only go up from there.

#3 Zada, Hedron Grinder- Battle for Zendikar

At $0.81 cents you can’t go wrong with this one of a kind Goblin with massive casual appeal.  I mean, really, what combat trick could you play on Zada that pumps your whole team and wrecks your opponent?  I can think of plenty of options…and they ALL make Zada look really appealing.  This is unique, too good to pass up, and super cheap to make for a great bargain.

#2 Smothering Abomination- Battle for Zendikar

Yet another heavily discounted creature that is 4/3 flier for 4 mana with upside.  I can imagine a deck with lots of tokens that uses this as an engine to power through their deck…maybe a deck packing From Beyond…and can really leverage this to great effect.  At $0.41 it is well worth a gamble and if you have a couple of these guys sitting in a box, hold on to them because I would expect that these will only go up as time marches on.

 

#1 Sire of Stagnation- Battle for Zendikar

Much like Greenwarden of Murasa, this is a very under-priced mythic that can be a huge piece to try and lock out your opponent. Plus this is templated very well for multiplayer games making it a Casual all-star.  At $1.76 this is a steal for a card that could be hugely impactful.  It hasn’t dipped in price much in the last many weeks so this is likely rock bottom, but I would fully expect that it will start to inch up soon.

Treasure-Cruise

Well, there we have 10 of the cards that I figure offer excellent value, can offer some extremely powerful abilities, and are super budget friendly right now.  I’m sure that there are plenty of other cards that could have made this list, but these are the 10 that have caught my eye recently.  What have you been eyeing out there?  Leave a comment down below or hit me up on Twitter. As always, thanks for stopping in for a visit and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.

 

Bruce Gray

@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Bruce Gray - April 1, 2016

Christmas in April

Casual Encounters – Christmas in April

 

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Eldrazi Menace = Affordable MTG?

Usually I get excited for new sets during spoiler season, but something has got me super excited. Sure, going back to Innistrad seems cool and I can’t wait to find some more sweet werewolves for a deck I built 4-years ago…but that isn’t what got me truly excited. No, I’m super excited right now for the MTG world in which we live right now. Things are sweet and I want to tell you why.

Most people are bemoaning the fact that Modern sucks right now as we are overrun by Eldrazi and silly lands like Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple. The pro tour was a bit of a train-wreck if you like to see a super diverse Top 8 because the format kind of got busted. Legacy hasn’t been far behind with the Eldrazi deck sliding over and giving everyone fits with super fast decks. I mean, any deck running an Endbringer and casting it on turn 3 tells me things are broken. The Eldrazi Winter is truly a thing and lots of players are pretty upset. These eternal formats aren’t supposed to be broken so easily…and yet thanks to Oath of the Gatewatch that is exactly what has happened.

Now, I’m not relishing the state of these formats, but I am super pleased that the MTG world has been so preoccupied with the Eldrazi and non-rotating formats that they have allowed Standard playable cards to tank in value. I don’t think I have ever seen so many excellent cards cost so little. Thanks to a focus on acquiring Modern staples and things that can port to Eternal formats, players have opened piles of OGW, (not to mention looking for the Expeditions,) and in the process helped depress the prices of OGW and BFZ. We’ll look at a few examples in a bit, but to a fringe constructed player or someone who plays casually this is music to our ears. Affordable MTG? Yes please!

A similar effect has happened with Battle for Zendikar and prices have been seriously reduced because everyone has been hunting furiously for the Expeditions and opened up tons of product. Mythics and highly sought after rare cards are affordable making rotation seem almost palatable.  C’mon, who doesn’t like having access to things like Drana or Undergrowth Champion at reasonable prices?  Right now these cards are indeed things that can be acquired without much trouble making piecing together what you want for a future deck much easier than in the past.

Similar effects are being felt in other Standard legal sets that are going through the usual pre-rotation lull before they leave Standard, but even in Dragons of Tarkir, a set that is NOT rotating out in a few short weeks, we are seeing prices drop to a point where they are reasonable. When premium, Standard playable powerhouses are falling to very reasonable prices you know something kind of cool is going on.

The one exception is Magic: Origins where prices have stayed high and continue to soar upwards.  Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy alone continues to skyrocket and is listed at close to $90 a card! However, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Liliana, Heretical Healer, and Abbot of Keral Keep are all quite expensive.  Some of the pressure on Origins  is tied to the fact that it was released mid-summer, historically a low time for sales, meaning not as much of it has been opened as some of the other sets and that is forcing the prices to be higher.  

So, what does it mean?  The combination of a focus on Eternal Formats, an over abundance of some sets on account of the “Expedition Effect”, and the Modern season with a number of GP’s has really helped to force the price of Standard cards down a lot. This is great news for budget-conscious players who play casually because you can jump in and grab a number of really powerful Mythics and Rares without putting a hole in your bank book.  Check out this list of Mythics from Battle for Zendikar Block that cost ~$3!

*Please note that the price information I am using is in Canadian dollars and is subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse. 

Crush of Tentacles 2.15
General Tazri 1.03
Inverter of Truth 1.51

 

Akoum Firebird 0.80

 

Greenwarden of Murasa 1.85

 

Omnath, Locus of Rage 2.54
Part the Waterveil 2.29
Quarantine Field 1.86
Sire of Stagnation 1.81

 

There is a whole lot of casual appeal to these cards!  And this trend seems to buck a trend even for kind of janky Mythics.  If you go and pull up a set from the last 4 years, like Gatecrash for example, you will see that the price of Mythics rarely sunk this low. Now, I know Gatecrash had no Expeditions, but in many regards it was a fine set that even had Shocklands making it fairly sought after, and was drafted as a stand alone set 3 packs at a time meaning it was opened in good quantity. Despite this,  Aurelia didn’t fall below $4 while she was in Standard.  Master Biomancer was a house and held good value! Even things like Lord of the Void seemed to hold more value.  Something wonderful is happening right now that is making BFZ block much cheaper for those of us looking to play casually or on a tight budget.  

Will it stay like this for long?  No.  I can’t imagine we’ll be able to grab these sorts of cards at this price for much longer.  Once Shadows over Innistrad starts to get spoiled everyone will start to focus back in on Standard again as players look to rebound from the new Spring rotation.  However, in the meantime we have the chance to grab a strong number of very playable cards to help settle your casual appetite and get you brewing all sorts of funky decks.

So, if you are a casual player, take advantage now while the prices are good and get the cards you’ve always wanted!  This is a pretty special time, almost like Christmas, and now is the time to jump in a get what you need.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.

 

Bruce Gray

@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Kyle A Massa Kyle A Massa - February 25, 2016

10 Bold Predictions for the Future of Magic: The Gathering

1000_Quiet_Speculation
10 Bold Predictions for the Future of Magic: The Gathering

by Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop

One of my favorite things about Magic: The Gathering players is our unwavering interest in what lies ahead. No sooner is a new set spoiled than speculation begins for the next one, and the next, and the next.

I’m right there with all you speculators. To me, there’s nothing more fun than trying to guess the theme of the next set, or which mechanics they might use, or whether we’ll see yet another version of Jace.

So, without further ado, let the Speculation begin…

scalding-tarn

1. The enemy fetch lands will make their return…but not in Shadows Over Innistrad

I hate to start with a downer, but I’m pretty certain of this one.

Why? Well, for one, let’s think of the enemy fetches from a marketing standpoint. Wizards is trying to make as much money as they can with their new products, which means they’re more likely to print cards that they know people will want to go out and buy.

Thing is, because of the success of original Innistrad, Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) already knows that the sequel will sell, regardless of what they put in there. So why would they add must-have items to an already must-have set? I think it’s much more likely that these cards will appear in a new, unfamiliar world, similar to what they did in Khans of Tarkir. That way, WoTC can be sure that players will buy the new set, even if the world is unfamiliar.

Furthermore, they’ll never allow all ten fetches to be in Standard at the same time. I mean, at that point, you’d have to think of a reason not to play five-colour good-stuff…

2. We’ve seen plenty of sequel blocks…so what about prequel blocks?

Wouldn’t you want to see the story behind Karn‘s creation of Mirrodin, or a set exploring the formation of Ravnica‘s original guilds, or the true story behind Nicol Bolas‘s summer reading projects? Enter the prequel block.

This is not totally unprecedented. Just look at Fate Reforged, which depicted Tarkir 1,200 years before the Khans, or Magic Origins, which told the stories of the core planeswalkers before they were planeswalkin’. Personally, I think a prequel block would be super fun–so long as there’s no equivalent character to Jar-Jar Binks, that is.

emrakul-gravitational-shift

3. Emrakul will return, only this time on a planeswalker card

The fact that Emrakul wouldn’t appear in the new Zendikar block was probably the worst kept secret since Oath of the Gatewatch (because of all the leaks…get it?). It seemed like every other flavor text on Battle for Zendikar cards read something like, “Hey, haven’t seen that freaky jellyfish in a while. Wonder where he is.” Also, it’s been hinted that he has the ability to travel to different planes.

We get it. He’s not on Zendikar. Which would mean he’s on another plane. Which would mean he’s a planeswalker.

Well, not so fast. Wizards has said that Emrakul isn’t actually a planeswalker. But if the dude’s walking from plane to plane, how else do you express that in-game if not with a planeswalker card?

4. Elspeth Tirel is not really dead

Was Gandalf really dead? Or Captain Barbosa? Or any character in any comic book? The only thing more fun than killing a beloved character is bringing them back in glorious fashion, which is exactly what they’re going to do with Elspeth. ‘Nuff said!

5. Someday, we’ll have a steampunk-themed set

WoTC has already played with this aesthetic a little bit with the Izzet guild of Ravnica, but I think there’s still plenty of interest among players. I mean, ever since William Gibson’s Neuromancer, this has been a popular subgenre of speculative literature. Who wouldn’t want to see a set full of cities in the clouds, airships, complex contraptions, and ridiculous goggles? If enough players are interested, they’ll make it.

6. We Will See Wedge-Colored Gods in the Sequel to Theros Block

Of all the predictions on this list, this one’s my favourite.

First of all, let’s look at this from a story standpoint. We’ve already established that gods can be made and gods can be destroyed––just ask Xenagos. So when we return to Theros, what if we find that all the previous gods have been overthrown and replaced with new gods, gods that represent not just one or two colors of magic, but three?

Come on. You know this would be awesome. They’d have something like 10 devotion in order to turn into creatures, and then another bunch of wacky abilities to go with it.

Furthermore, players love the wedge theme. Head Designer Mark Rosewater said in his podcast that a wedge set was one of the most requested sets around, which is why they made Khans of Tarkir. Plus, the original Commander set featured wedge commanders, many of which are still very popular today. This prediction might not pay off for a while, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

kamigawa-minamo

7. Speaking of returns…we’ll return to Kamigawa, and soon

The new two-block paradigm proves one thing to me: we’ll see a lot more return blocks. Heck, we’ll already have back-to-back returns this year alone. And that’s awesome––with so many amazing worlds in the backlog, why not revisit them?

But you might be wondering this: why Kamigawa? That block wasn’t quite so amazing.

I’d have to agree with you there. It was sort of a train wreck, only with ninjas, samurais, and weird anthropomorphic rat people. The cards don’t play well outside of the block, and there are so many legendary creatures that it almost ruins the whole point of legendary creatures.

However, purely from a worldbuilding standpoint, there’s a rich template there. And, just when you thought they’d abandoned that world altogether, Kaseto comes along in the new Commander product. To paraphrase the great Bill Engvall: “There’s your sign.”

8. The Commander release after next will be Four-Colored Commanders

Sigh. This is probably my least favorite prediction on the list, but also the most likely. Actually, when asked about this very subject on his blog, Mark Rosewater wrote, “the question is ‘when’ and not ‘if.'” They did enemy colors in 2015, so I’m guessing they’ll do allies for 2016, and then off to four colors.

EDH is my favorite format, so I’ve got to admit, I’m a little nervous for this one. The flavor for quad-colored cards seems exceedingly difficult to get right. Case and point: the Nephilim from Dissension. In my opinion, the Nephilim kind of capture the feel of three of their colors, but there’s always that fourth color that might as well not be there.

On the bright side, I think we’re in a golden age of Magic. Design and story have never been better than they are now, which gives me hope for this one. Let’s see what happens.

exploding borders

9. There will be some sort of bizarre planar clash set in the near future

I’m talking Lorwyn versus Zendikar, New Phyrexia versus Ravnica, Dominiaria versus Innistrad––stuff like that. War of the Worlds, Magic style.

Okay, I know it’s wacky. But this sort of thing isn’t totally unprecedented in Magic’s history, either. Time Spiral block played with older sets and planes converging. With New Phyrexia, we’ve also seen that old planes can reappear in new places.

And come on. Wouldn’t you want to see Squee take on Grimgrin? You know you would.

steamfloggerboss

10. Wizards will someday reprint Steamflogger Boss

Just to troll us.

In conclusion…

Hope you enjoyed this article! Am I  a visionary genius or simply insane? Let me know what you thought of the predictions in the comments below! And remember… always Play the Ten Drop.

By Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop
You can reach Kyle at @mindofkyleam on Twitter or through his site www.kyleamassa.com

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