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Trade Routes – January Market Watch Review

As I discussed in my first article of the month, the last week will be dedicated to a review of the previous month and may include some minor predictions for the following month. Understanding how to value cards is important to getting the most out of your collection. One tool that every trader should have is the ability to understand the market and how cards trend in value. Last week we discussed playability vs. intrinsic value vs. convenience and that will offer us a model for review. Effectively, this article will layout the top cards for both Standard and Extended, while occasionally mentioning cards that transition into Legacy, Vintage and EDH/Commander/.

To understand the rating system, Let’s break down the model that I will be using:

Card: Name of the card
This is the English name of the card.
Type: This signifies the card type.
If it’s an Instant, Sorcery, Creature, Artifact, Land, Planeswalker or Enchantment, it’ll be labeled here.
In cases of Interrupts or Mana Source, the converted card type will be listed (Instant, Artifact, etc).
Set: Displays the name of the set that the card was originally printed in.
Intrinsic Value: Rated Very Low, Low, Medium, High, Very High
This Likert-type rating system lays out a cards natural level of intrinsic value.
Very Low – Card is virtually unplayable and with very little worth.
Low – Despite present value, the card may be very specific and may only be temporarily hot.
Medium – Card sees a moderate amount of play in different decks, maybe even in multiple formats.
High – Card sees competitive play in multiple formats and is highly sought after.
Very High – Very few cards have this ranking. Usually a format defying card (JTMS, Tarmogoyf).

Playability: Rated Low, Medium, High
Cards are rated by playability and by the fact on whether or not they are currently or recently used within a format. This rating also takes into account to see if the card is a functional reprint and/or is useable across the formats.
Low – Card isn’t the best choice for the role it plays within a deck or the card is too specific.
Medium – Card sees play in a specific format, but only moderately
High – Card sees competitive play in multiple formats and has a powerful ability.

Convenience: Rated Easily Available, Available, Moderate, Difficult to Find, Very Difficult to Find.
Depending on how hot a card is, or what set it came from, the ease of obtaining the card is rated here. This should also factor into how much you should pay for it at a dealers booth at a large event.
Easily Available – This card has seen multiple recent print runs and is very easy to find.
Available – This card is a recently printed card that is not Mythic and part of a large set (Core or First)
Moderate – This card is reasonable to find, but not readily available. Playable recent mythics fit here.
Difficult to Find – This card is most likely either a hot mythic or a staple eternal card.
Very Difficult to Find – This card probably is either Foreign, Foil or Both.

Regular Version Value: Price of an English, Non-Foil version in NM/M condition

Foil Version Value: Price of an English, Foil version in NM/M condition

Trend: Rated Up, Stable, Down
Based on current trends, this rating refers to which way the card is heading.
Up – Cards fitting this rating are heating up and should be picked up quickly
Stable – With the onset of Mythic Prints, cards that reach stable status are few and far between.
Down – Card has lost favor within a format or is leveling off from a recent spike. These cards should be sold or traded away.

Reasoning: My justification for why the card is doing what it does.

Top Standard/Type 2 Cards

genesis wave

Card: Genesis Wave
Type: Sorcery
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Very Specific
Convenience: Easily Available
Regular Version Value: $1.99
Foil Version Value: $3.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: This card was a key component of Conley’s 2nd place revamped Genesis Wave deck from the SCG: Kansas City Open. It also appeared in David William’s World’s deck and is often present in Elves. Although not a front runner for a top value card, Genesis Wave should stick around and hold it’s current value for the months to come. With Mirrodin Besieged around the bend, and the newly spoiled Green creatures, I foresee this card sticking around in the new standard.

lotus cobra

Card: Lotus Cobra
Type: Creature
Set: Zendikar
Intrinsic Value: High
Playability: High
Convenience: Available
Regular Version Value: $14.99
Foil Version Value: $29.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: Found in new versions of Valakut, Eldrazi Ramp and RUG, this card has remained pretty popular. With the lack in popularity of Pyroclasm, this card has re-established itself as a powerful ramp spell. Also, this card has seen new popularity in Vintage and a few Legacy decks.

 

frost titan 

Card: Frost Titan
Type: Creature
Set: M11
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $14.99
Foil Version Value: $29.99
Trend: Down

Reasoning: For all the Titans of M11, this card has seen the highest ups and downs. Although it found play in Genesis Wave, many deck builders have removed these guys out for other Titans and Wurms. I would probably sell or trade these now, then pick them up after the next set release as that is the time it’s bound to be the lowest.

inferno titan

Card: Inferno Titan
Type: Creature
Set: M11
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $6.99
Foil Version Value: $14.99
Trend: Stable to Up

Reasoning: Found in Valakut and RUG, this card gained popularity as the format shifted and incorporated aggro decks such as B/R Vampires, Boros, and Mono-red. Recently, this card is being experimented with in Naya builds as a way to deal with aggro based decks in Extended. This may replace [card]Sun Titan[/card] in Naya colored decks.

grave titan

Card: Grave Titan
Type: Creature
Set: M11
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $24.99
Foil Version Value: $39.99
Trend: Down

Reasoning: The standard format is recovering from World’s and after to SCG Opens, the U/B Control is no longer the most popular deck. With this turn, the card will settle again and probably find itself in a comfortable $15.00 range.

 

eldrazi monument 

Card: Eldrazi Monument
Type: Artifact
Set: Zendikar
Intrinsic Value: Medium
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $12.99
Foil Version Value: $24.99
Trend: Stable (maybe down)

Reasoning: In standard, this has seen play in Elves primarily, but also in U/G Overrun and Eldrazi Green (aggro). It’s also seeing play in some Vampire list sideboards. This card has seen play in EDH/Commander as well in almost every token deck. Holding onto them is key right now as the full spoiler for Mirrodin Besieged is at 87 and not fully unreleased. Unfortunately, by the time you read this, it may be trending down, assuming no token creators are released.

 

fauna shaman 

Card: Fauna Shaman
Type: Creature
Set: M11
Intrinsic Value: Medium
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Available
Regular Version Value: $7.99
Foil Version Value: $14.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: New creatures mean new uses for this card. With the sick new Green mythic coming out, expect this card to see some new life. Also, check out the uses in Extended and even Legacy. As cheap as they are, I would pick them up through trading if you don’t have them.

 

shape anew 

Card: Shape Anew
Type: Creature
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $0.79
Foil Version Value: $1.49
Trend: Up (temporarily)

Reasoning: So we’ve all seen Blightsteel Colossus? This card is like a nice little marriage between a vintage powerhouse (Tinker) and the ever loving Johnny staple (Polymorph). Although not a competitive combo, I expect lots of people to try and make this work. Maybe throw in a few Wurmcoil Engines, Jace, some counters and a few bounce spells and have yourself a nice little combo control deck?

 

wurmcoil engine 

Card: Wurmcoil Engine
Type: Creature
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Intrinsic Value: Medium
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $9.99
Foil Version Value: $14.99 ($8.99 for pre-release)
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: This card has been a go-to for many control decks. Easily the most splashable pseudo titan, I expect this card to continue it’s trend and stay steady for the months ahead. This card would certainly be able to compete with the other big boys (titans) in value if this was not also the pre-release card. At least Wizards gave us a pre-release card that was playable. I’ve found that picking up the pre-release cards and making straight-across trades for the non-foil versions is pretty easy and will net you a small profit.

 

ezuri, renegade leader 

Card: Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Type: Creature
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Intrinsic Value: Medium
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Available
Regular Version Value: $2.49
Foil Version Value: $3.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: Elves have established themselves as a legitimate deck and with no major downsides approaching in the new set, I expect to see them played. This tribe has been an FNM Favorite for awhile and Elves now are being actively played in Extended, Legacy and budget Vintage. This month has not changed the value of this card and I expect it to hold steady.

As extended season rolls on and the results from Atlanta are in, we find ourselves looking at what decks are currently popular. A few articles ago, I made the statement that I felt that Bitterblossom, Mutavault and Mistbind Clique were not worth investing in. For the extended portion of the watch, I will address these cards first.

Before I delve into my review, here was the Top 8 deck breakdown from Grand Prix: Atlanta.

U/G Scapeshift – Jason Ford
R/G Scapeshift – Ben Stark
U/W Control – Jody Keith
R/G Scapeshift – Christian Valenti
Faeries – Ari Lax
Faeries – John Runyon
Jund – Charles Gindy
Faeries – Owen Turtenwald

At first glance, the decks contained lots of Scapeshift, Prismatic Omen and Faerie cards. Let’s take a look at how these results have effected the values of the above mentioned cards. To refresh everyone, here were the values that I listed at the time:

Bitterblossom ($16.99)
Mutavault ($19.99)
Mistbind Clique ($3.49)

Top Extended Cards

 

bitterblossom 

Card: Bitterblossom
Type: Enchantment
Set: Morningtide
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $16.99
Foil Version Value: $29.99
Trend: Stable to Down

Reasoning: So with this card my prediction was on and off. To understand why I say this card is not worth the investment is not based on how good the card is, but strictly on value and playability. We can see in this scenario that the card was played in three of the top eight decks at Atlanta, yet it didn’t change in value. What this reinforces is the narrow scope of the card. I expect this card to hover around this value until extended season finished. Once this happens, it will fall back to $8.00 to $10.00.

 

mutavault 

Card: Mutavault
Type: Land
Set: Morningtide
Intrinsic Value: Medium to High
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate to Hard to Find
Regular Version Value: $22.99
Foil Version Value: $44.99 (Full Art Promo $149.99)
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: This card went up $3.00 after GP: Atlanta. This card is found not only in Faeries, but also Merfolk and Elves. Unfortunately, I still would recommend not picking this up unless you intend to play with it as the value is inflated due to the season. Once extended rotates, it will most likely return to it’s $14.99 price tag.

Card: Mistbind Clique
Type: Creature
Set: Lorwyn
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Low
Convenience: Available
Regular Version Value: $3.49
Foil Version Value: $5.99
Trend: Stable to Down

Reasoning: In a similar fashion to Bitterblossom, this card is pretty narrow in it’s uses. My prediction of it not going up was on for this card. I expect this card to always hover in the $2.99 to $3.49 in value. Once extended rotates, this card will still be about this value, maybe dropping $1.00 or so.

Overall, these cards hit their peak long ago. Faeries were dominant in Standard for a long time and will probably stay pretty powerful in Extended, but their cards are easily available and not very playable outside of that specific archetype. Spellstutter Sprite and Mutavault tend to see the most play (outside of non-Fae specific cards, Thoughtsieze and Cryptic Command) outside of the archetype, but even that is fairly limited.

scapeshift

Card: Scapeshift
Type: Sorcery
Set: Morningtide
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Available
Regular Version Value: $3.49
Foil Version Value: $9.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: This card is only really playable in Extended and in conjunction with Valakut. Last year, there was experimentation with limited results using Knight of the Reliquary and Steppe Lynx, but for right now, this card is only used in decks with Prismatic Omen and Valakut, Molten Pinnacle. Since January 1st, this card has raised from $1.99 to $3.49 and will probably cap at $4.99 before dropping again. I expect to see less of it in the Top 8 of the next major Extended event as every deck will be
gunning for this.

 

prismatic omen 

Card: Prismatic Omen
Type: Enchantment
Set: Shadowmoor
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $14.99
Foil Version Value: $29.99
Trend: Stable to Down

Reasoning: A key component of ramp decks, this card is pretty much only playable in the previously mentioned style deck and multi-colored EDH/Commander lists. I expect this card to drop after rotation and any plans to keep this card should keep this in mind. Until then, this deck archetype will be extremely hot and popular in every local, regional and national event.

 

flooded grove 

Card: Flooded Grove (and Other Filter Lands)
Type: Land
Set: Eventide
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $7.99
Foil Version Value: $12.99
Trend: Stable (temporarily)

Reasoning: Prior to extended season, this card (and the others) were only seeing play in multi-color EDH/Commander lists. These lands are not always the best and lead to some awkward draws. Unfortunately, with the loss of Ravnica lands in Extended, I expect these to stick around within the format as ways to fix mana. I would not keep any extra ones around and start looking to move them now before they drop post-season to $1.99 – $2.49 again.

 

knight of the reliquary 

Card: Knight of the Reliquary
Type: Creature
Set: Conflux
Intrinsic Value: Medium to High
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $8.99
Foil Version Value: $14.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: This card is definitely one of the best three drop creatures that have been printed recently. Obviously this card is a bit limited, but it’s sees play in Extended and Legacy regularly and is popular in both Naya and Mythic. I expect this card to, at a minimum, maintain this $9.00 price tag and as decks rotate in popularity, to pick up in value by a few dollars.

 

noble hierarch 

Card: Noble Hierarch
Type: Creature
Set: Conflux
Intrinsic Value: Medium to High
Playability: High
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $11.99
Foil Version Value: $24.99
Trend: Stable

Reasoning: In a similar line to Knight of the Reliquary, this card is pretty much played in any deck that runs both G/W or G/W/U. It also sees competitive play in Legacy, Vintage and Extended. Currently bouncing between both Mythic and Naya, this card is here to stay. I expect this to pick up if Naya or Mythic continue to pick up in popularity over the next month and a half.

 

gaddock teeg 

Card: Gaddock Teeg
Type: Creature
Set: Lorwyn
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Medium
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $2.49
Foil Version Value: $4.99
Trend: Up

Reasoning: For anyone watching GGSLive this weekend, I am sure you heard Brian Kibler talking about Gaddock Teeg in his G/W list. If you think about the logistics here, it shuts down two very powerful cards (Cryptic Command and Scapeshift), paired with Qasali Pridemage (for Prismatic Omen and Bitterblossom), this card is pretty techy. Don’t expect this card to blow up overnight, but pick them up now before they hit $5.00.

 

realm razer 

Card: Realm Razer
Type: Creature
Set: Shards of Alara
Intrinsic Value: Low
Playability: Low
Convenience: Moderate
Regular Version Value: $0.25
Foil Version Value: $0.49
Trend: Up

Reasoning: This card attacks the current meta quite well. It wrecks Scapeshift decks, control and any other deck that relies on a very diverse mana base. Yes, this card dies to every single piece of removal and that is one of the reasons that it will not be super hot, but a few of these guys made it late into rounds 13, 14 and 15 in Atlanta.

Overall, this month was exciting as it contained both SCG: Kansas City and SCG: San Jose in addition to Grand Prix: Atlanta. Next month is rapidly approaching as next week we have a pre-release, the week after is release day with GP: Denver two weeks following. Unfortunately with as much limited play coming up, constructed price values will be in a holding pattern. Stay tuned next week as I review Mirrodin Besieged.

Until Next Time,

Brian Grewe
MTGO: briangrewe

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