Posts Tagged ‘The Mind Sculptor’

The pre-release is fast approaching and the entire Scars of Mirrodin set has been spoiled. Here are a few things I’ve thought of as I prepare for the upcoming battle.  

Metalcraft artifacts count themselves.

Cards used to pay the imprint cost are exiled, not put into the graveyard.

Creatures with infect do not deal damage in the traditional sense, but they must be able to deal damage in order to confer a poison or -1-1 counter. A creature with infect cannot lower an opponent’s life total.

-1-1 Counters/effects
Creatures reduced to 0 toughness die even if they have indestructible or regenerate.

Yes please.

Only permanent or players with a counter of some kind already on them have a counter added by  the proliferate mechanic. The counter added is of the same kind already on them. You choose the permanents receiving counters.

Things to Remember

There is currently no way to remove poison counters from a player.
-1-1 counters can be removed by removing a creature from the game.
Artifact destroying spells and effects can double as creature removal in Mirrodin.
Much of the set is artifacts and artifact creatures; you may be able to choose colors based more on strong removal
Liquidmetal Coating can turn your opponents non-artifacts into artifacts too, opening them up for artifact removal
Furnace Celebration only works if you sacrifice a permanent for another effect; you cannot simply sacrifice a permanent to deal damage.
Volition Reigns can target any permanent.  
Venser is an auto-win.


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Magic players are crazy. We spend good money on pretty pieces of card board with no material value whatsoever. Lots of money. A Magic card only has value if we say it has value, and apparently that value is going up with every expansion. When I first started playing competitive Magic, I thought people paying $20 for Ravinca block shock lands was insane.

I had no idea. I don’t think anybody did.

At $20+ a pop, this guy was the most expensive standard card; until mythic rares actually became playable.

Fast-forward. We’re all paying $30, $40, $50 per card to stay competitive. What the piss?

Well, for an interesting article on card worth and the “supply and demand” theory, read this Starcity Games article by Jonathan Medina. It sheds insight using the Scars of Mirrodin planeswalkers as examples. Like Medina, I also don’t like buying cards before the set is released. I don’t like paying for hype. It is very rarely a card lives up to the hype. However, when something looks great, and is great, you’ll pay for it one way or the other. Great cards don’t go down in price. Just ask Jace, the Wallet Raper. If you pay blue, you better have him. The only way this will change is if he suddenly sucks in every format he is played in, which, at the moment, is practically every one.

Now, I’ve bitched about card prices before. Who hasn’t. Yes, they are re-do-do-diculous. Mythics are now tournament staples. I don’t care what Wizards says. Screw it. Time to deal.

Here are a few coping strategies I’ve come up with:

1. Buy what you will use.
Don’t buy cards because they are good, buy them because you will be using them. I love Koth the Hammer. He is a bad-ass and will probably be great. I probably won’t be playing his decks though. However, I will use the shit out of Venser the Sojourner.

I love having a binder full of the best stuff, but what good is your playset of Mox Diamonds if you don’t use them? If a card is just sitting in your binder, it does you no good. If you can trade it for something you will use, do it. Don’t get stuck into the “hoarder trap”; someday you  might use that card, but if you can trade if for something you need now, go for it.

3.Don’t quit your day job
Unless you are really good at it, don’t buy cards in the hopes they will someday go up in price. If you have that kind of money to “invest” in the first place, you’re probably not feeling the card-price squeeze to begin with.

4.One deck at a time
This is kind of like the first rule. Pick a deck and stay with it so you don’t have to buy cards for all orts of decks. Yes, it is fun to have options, but it can be very costly. If you want to change decks, you can always trade the cards in your current deck to build the next. It can at least take the bite out of the cost.

5. Take a break
This sounds lame, but if you absolute need a card to be competitive but cant get the copies you need, playing a different format or taking a break from the game can be a good idea.  Often the good cards will go down a bit in price after everybody has bought the copies they need and you can swoop in.

While it is true customers determine the price of Magic cards,, apparently a lot of them have money to burn or enjoy credit card bills. For the rest of us there are coping strategies.

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During the Worldwake spoiler season, I mentioned in my article, Money Mythics, that Starcity Games was selling singles as they were being spoiled.  I also talked about how this affected prices.

More like Kozilek, Butcher of Wallets. Maybe he's a good control finisher. Terrible reanimator target though.

More like Kozilek, Butcher of Wallets. Maybe he's a good control finisher. Terrible reanimator target though.

Well, now that a few Rise of the Eldrazi cards have been spoiled, most notably Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, I am starting to think I was correct . In fact, I just e-mailed Starcity Games to ask them a few questions and make my opinion known, whatever good that will do.

Just in case you didn’t know, Kozilek is selling for $30 on Starcity Games right now.

I don’t like the idea of cards being sold as spoiled for a couple of reasons. First and foremost; prices only go up. Prices for spoiled singles are usually set according to (mostly) baseless speculation, new card hype and maybe a little bit of precedent (which usually doesn’t take into account changing game environments). Sometimes a card is just damn good in a vaccuum, and that helps to inflate prices as well. Finally, when a card pre-sells as spoiled, if it has a slight chance of being a staple, people buy it up, which also causes the price to rise, which in turn, makes people think it is a hot-item, so they buy it. You can see how this loops.

Want to see proof? Look how much Abyssal Persecutor was selling for before it actually hit the shelves.  $39.99. It didn’t even get a lot of good press, Timmy  just thought it was good and bought it up like crazy. Jace, the Mind Sculptor was at $59.99 before the pre-release, and hasn’t dropped yet, despite the fact he hasn’t made a huge impact on any meta yet. Patrick Chapin likes him, so I guess that still makes him worth $240 a playset.  


It used to be just eBay sellers and some of the “other” online shops that sold singles as spoiled, but now the big guys are  doing it too, which means now you have to buy early and buy often if you want to get a card with potential at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, it was one of the reasons I didn’t buy at the other places.

The second reason I don’t like Starcity Games selling cards as spoiled is their pre-sale policy, which prohibits combining orders for pre-sale items. I guess if you want to lock in good prices on spoiled cards, you better like paying shipping for each playset you order.

Of course you could always wait until the cards are actually released like I did. By then I decided I didn’t really want Jace, the Mind Sculptor; at least not at $60 a pop for something that hasn’t proven itself yet.

Here is a copy of my letter

I was wondering if Starcity Games might consider allowing customers to consolidate multiple pre-orders now that singles are being sold as spoiled. In order to get the best prices, customers will have to buy early and buy often, which will lead to multiple shipping costs.

I am also curious; why you are selling singles as spoiled? I know the eBay market does this, but I also don’t pre-order product on e-bay because the prices are driven by mostly baseless speculation and new-card hype. I would hate to see the same at Starcity Games.

Being able to buy new product as early as possible may appeal to some, but I think it was just fine when pre-order day was after the pre-release.   

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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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