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Archive for January, 2010

A few trends in Magic that are starting to look like they will take competitive player’s wallets by the balls. 

Admittedly, it has been a while since I’ve been into Magic. Distance from the “local” scene is the main reason for this, but fiscal responsibility is also a part of it. However, there is no way I could keep my eyes from wandering over to the usual sites. I’m not sure I like what I’ve been seeing.

The first thing I noticed was that the cards were hot; really hot. The second thing I noticed was Starcity Games was already open for the pre-sale of singles as they spoiled instead of waiting until after the pre-release event.  

Hot cards with the official price speculation wagon already in full swing? I call that sweet and sour.

When players see new cards, they often see them through rose-colored glasses. It is easy to see how a new high-powered creature or spell will be kick-ass in a vacuum. Prices go up because people expect a card to do great things. Just look at Sarkhan Vol. He was selling for nearly $30 before Shards was even released. It didn’t matter that there were zero competitive decks capable of playing him, or with any reason to, all that mattered was that he had a lot of potential and people went really, really nuts over him. So, the price went up, up, up.

Prices never goes down during the pre-sale period either; they only go up, driven by consumer demand which is, in turn, driven by speculation. During pre-sale, all there is is speculation. 

Add actually good cards to this mix. The enemy fetch lands of Zendikar are a good example of this. Few of them ever had the chance to sit in the $15 range; people knew they would be good and gobbled them up. The more cards pre-ordered, the higher the price went. Supply and demand. 

Don’t forget, people will buy up a good-looking card if the price starts to skyrocket. No sense in being left in the dark. You wouldn’t want to miss out on another Baneslayer Angel.  

That damn thing was over $20 when it first hit pre-sale, and that was after the pre-release. Now it is damn near $60 (if you can find em’). Imagine if it was pre-sold the moment it was spoiled.

Which brings me to the other disturbing trend I see; mythic rares slowly becoming  tournament staples. Maybe Baneslayer Angel was a fluke, but I’ve seen some other Mythics start creeping into the everyday tournament scene. Lotus Cobra, is one of them. However, it is this new crop that really worries me.

If you haven’t already, meet Admonition Angel, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Abyssal Persecutor and Dragonmaster Outcast.

Yes, I might be looking at these new mythics through the same rose colored glasses I mentioned earlier, but almost all of them have quite a bit of potential, and in decks already seeing play.

Ad-Angel is something like Parallax Wave, which I recall saw quite a bit of play during its day. While it can’t just exile permanents willy-nilly as the wave, the wave also didn’t have a 6/6 flying body. The wave would also go away on its own eventually; the Angel won’t. 

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is probably the most powerful thing in blue since Cryptic Command. He is Unsummon and Brainstorm on a stick, with a little scry 1 on the side you can use against your opponent too, if you so desire. I don’t even know what to call his last ability; a complete hosing? He’ll see play. Lots of it.

Abyssal Persecutor is stupid. Abyssal Persecutor made me write this post. I will devote a lot of time for him later. He might be better than Juzam Djinn, one of most famous black beatsticks of all time. If you think the persecutor’s “drawback” isn’t worth his power, you’re doing it wrong.

Dragonmaster Outcast might be a bit too conditional, but well see. The ability to create a 5/5 flying dragon token every turn is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a 1/1. He has to be answered, and for his cost, drawing removal isn’t too bad. If he lives past 6 lands, however, he’ll be devastating.

Again, for all I know, these cards might sit in your binder and gather dust. However, at the current, prices, they’ll gather dust to the tun of…..

$19.99 Abyssal Persecutor
$12.49 Admonition Angel
$24.99 Jace, The Mind Sculptor
$7.49 Dragonmaster Outcast

$259.84  for a playset of each, without shipping.

That is just 4 cards out of the entire set. I’m guessing the prices will get higher too, before Worldwake is released.

Pre-pre-sales + speculation + actually good mythics (and rares) = empty wallet.

Okay, okay. Not everybody is going to buy these cards, and not everybody who does will  buy a whole playset. Not everybody is going to pay these prices. However, the price of cards seems to be going up substantially with the power level, or at least with the perceived power level.

Is this evidence that mythic rares are slowly moving from the flavor of cool to the taste of defeat, pushing the envelop for becoming tournament staples? Is Baneslayer Angel and $50 per card for a core deck component soon to be the norm? Maybe, maybe not. One thing is for certain though, the more pressing question is whether to pay $19 or more a pop for a card that hasn’t even seen play yet.   

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