One of the most epic games of Magic in recent history was played at the SCG Open in Edison New Jersey. It was Alix Hatfield who was running aHigh Tide combo deck versus Eli Kassis who was running a G/W/B Rock deck. The games were nail biters. I always root for
the underdog, so after the fist couple of Hymns to Tourach from Eli, I was on Team Alix. With a little bit of luck and a metric ton of stone-cold
mastery, Alix pulled it out against all odds. After watching the deck’s resilience and its power, I hit the scene to see if I could get some Candelabra
It was as if I were walking into the streets of LA during a riot. The “buy it now” auctions were being snapped up, and people were asking for
outrageous numbers for their copies of the card. I was still on the fence about whether I really wanted to invest in this card or not. There are always
the same questions when a card breaks.
How high can this card go?
How long will it keep its price?
What’s the demand level?
What’s the exit strategy?
It took me about an hour to evaluate the situation. I decided to trade hard for the Candelabras. I knew that I wanted a set to play with, and I wanted
to have a couple of extra to profit on. My mode of operation with Legacy cards is to build a collection. This is different from my mode of operation
with Standard cards. If someone needs a Standard card out of my collection, I’m happy to ship it unless it’s played in Legacy. The reason I do this is
because Standard cards have a long way to fall before their price fully settles.Â
Legacy Price Modifiers
Legacy cards are already cycled out of Standard and Extended, so their prices are less fragile. Legacy card prices are affected by three things; there
are exceptions, but let’s focus on what is typical, not weird.
1) The overall rise in Legacy’s popularity — Legacy is rising in popularity; this is a fact in the market right now. The StarCityGames.com Opens
are motivating the masses to get their Forces of Will and dual lands. Tournament attendance is up, and we’ve seen record-breaking attendance at the
Opens and at Legacy GPs. This is even spilling over onto Magic Online, where Legacy staples are going through the roof. This is why building a Legacy
collection is such a solid move right now.
2) Banning and unbanning — Every card that has become unbanned has spiked in price and most of them have found homes in competitive decks.
There’s also a flip side; cards that get banned see a decrease in price. Like everything in life, these facts about banning / unbanning are not black
and white. For example, if you picked up Survival of the Fittest at GP Columbus last year, then you would’ve paid about $21. Soon after Columbus, the
card dominated the format and spiked in price. If you bought them during the spike, then you would’ve paid more than $40.
If you look at the completed auctions on eBay right now, Survival of the Fittest is about $18 to $20. What this means is that if you had Survivals
pre-Columbus, when Survival got banned, you would have only lost $12 dollars on a playset. If you picked the Survivals up in the midst of the hype,
then you lost $12 plus whatever you paid above the $84 for the playset. Let’s say you got them at $35 each ($140 for the set) on the way up, then you
would have lost $68 on the playset. I bring this up because a banning doesn’t always mean a true decrease in card value if you maintain a Legacy
collection; in this case, the banning only cost you $3 per card.
Another thing to consider here is the possibility of something in the High Tide deck getting banned. I’m not gathering my pitchforks and calling for a
banning, but as a dealer, I always have to be keenly aware of these things. If something gets banned, then this will naturally affect the price of the
key cards in the deck, with Candelabra being one of them. It’s important to keep in touch with the metagame, and if the deck starts dominating, then
you should start thinking about shipping your copies of the deck staples. Of course, I’ll still be here to guide you through that time if it comes.
3) A breakout deck — This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, key cards typically spike in price. Most of the time, “new” decks are really
just old Legacy decks with new technology. A good example of this is Next Level Threshold, which is just Canadian Threshold that has evolved into
something “new”; even Canadian Threshold is an innovation on U/G Threshold from back in the day. The new “High Tide” deck is much like the old High
Tide deck with the addition of the newly unbanned Time Spiral. The Legacy metagame is cyclic. Which means that what was good last week will be good
again in a year or maybe six months. This is part of the reason that card values maintain so well in Legacy.
Candelabra of Tawnos: To Acquire or Not To Acquire
With all this is mind; this is why I maintain a collection of Legacy cards and not Standard cards. My goal is to have every card that I would need to
build any Legacy deck in my collection. Since this is my goal, I wanted to get four Candelabra of Tawnos and four Time Spirals. The only question was,
“Is it a good idea to get these now (the day after the coverage) or should I wait?” Let’s look at the questions from the beginning of the article in
the context of Candelabra of Tawnos.
How high can this card go?
The answer to this question was the deciding factor for me. The only comparable card to Candelabra in Antiquities is Mishra’s Workshop. They’re both
the same rarity and have never been reprinted. Workshop is the cornerstone of a key archetype in Vintage. Legacy is more popular than Vintage, and
Candelabra goes in two Legacy decks; one deck is the more established High Tide deck, and the other deck is the 12-Post Eldrazi deck that is still in development but has been
putting up good results on Magic Online. If the demand for Candelabra of Tawnos exceeds the demand for Mishra’s Workshop, then it’s reasonable to think
that Candelabra can reach Workshop prices. Which can range between $250-350 each. We already saw Candelabra hit
$200 on eBay
How long will it keep its price?
We don’t know. It will be based on how well Candelabra decks perform in the SCG Opens and in Providence at the GP. I know that for now (pre-Memphis
results), the price is going to hoover between $150 and $200. This is partially due to a concept that I call “Price Memory.”
I have a theory about cards and their prices. Each card has a “memory” of what its price has been, and this can affect the price negatively and
positively. Good examples of this are overhyped planeswalkers; even after they start selling for less, the general public still has a certain price
burned into their mind. It takes time for the true price to disseminate and for the “Price Memory” to be “reset.” Oftentimes, if you propose a trade
based on this “Price Memory” without talking numbers, typically your trade partner will take it. This is also true for cards like Ranger of Eos, which
has been a $3 card for so long that if it ever goes up again, then you can still pick them up for $3 until the memory is reset.
Because traumatic pricing events forge these memories, I can expect Candelabra to have a “Price Memory” of at least $200 for the foreseeable future. If
a Candelabra deck doesn’t win in Memphis, that’s not going to prompt all the people who just dropped $200 a piece on these to ship ’em. This fact makes
it a safer investment because the people who have the Candelabra are going to try to “force” $200 plus and preserve the “Price Memory” to protect their
What’s the level of demand?
The level of demand is still small. People are waiting to see if these types of decks dominate the metagame. If they do, then the demand will start to
rise quickly, and its price will trump the price of Mishra’s Workshop. Because the level of demand is small, this makes the investment risky; if the
feces hits the oscillating device, it’s going to be hard to move the Candelabra quickly.
What’s the exit strategy?
It’s very important to define this before you start picking up a bunch of cards. You need to know what you’re going to do if you have to get out. My
exit strategy for Candelabra is to sell the extra ones at $150 once I see the price start to fall. This means that I have to make sure to only pay $150
each on average. I don’t mind paying $175 for one if I can get one for $125 as well.
At the end of the frenzy, I ended up with a little over two playsets of Candelabra of Tawnos. They cost me anywhere from $100 to $200 each. I’ll be
keeping an eye on things and keep you up to date on where this is trending. I’m hoping for an upward trend, but as I said above, no one knows where it
will go. I’m happy to have my playset, and I have a solid exit strategy, so I’m comfortable in my position. If you’re still wondering about buying
Candelabra, here are my recommendations for you.
If you need a Candlestick to play with (get your mind out of the gutter), then $150 is a fine price; to pay anything above $150 is taking a risk, and
you could lose money. If you want to invest in Candlesticks, then you’ll need to jump in a DeLorean and do some time traveling or find some that you
can pick up for $125 or less. This is going to be tough, since SCG is buying them for $150. For those of you who are ballin’ on a budget, let me give
you a few good pick-ups that don’t cost $100 plus dollars.
Koth of the Hammer
— A non-Jace deck won in Edison last weekend, and it had a
four-pack of Koth maindeck. It’s true that this deck can be the victim of some of the nastiest color-hosing in the game. I’m looking at you, Kor
Firewalker, but it’s still a reasonable choice for competition. People want to play decks without Jace because Jace is expensive. I know a lot of
Standard players who are shipping their Jaces now, before they get hit with rotation tax.
— This is a hard-to-find Tempest rare. Since the success of the Time Spiral deck, the card is seeing a small bump. Watching Alix Hatfield cast this at
his opponent’s end step to bury him in card advantage makes me wonder if this could be a reasonable card to play in other blue decks in the format.
Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong with picking these up at their current $3-4 price tag.
Show and Tell
— This has been combined with Doomsday strategies and Natural Order strategies. It’s really proven itself as viable in the Legacy metagame, and I
expect to see more Show and Tell decks in the near future. Once one of these decks wins a tournament or two, the card is going to see a nice price
That’s all I have for this week. Thanks for reading!