Going Infinite – Financial Notes From The Invitational

Reid Duke’s Pox deck really turned heads at the Invitational. What kind of cards in the deck does Jonathan Medina think is worth looking at?

“Hey Wescoe, how are you doing in the tournament?”

“Still playing. I have a question for you.”

“Ok, shoot.”

“How much are Nether Spirits, right now?”

“I dunno, I’ll look it up.” I pulled out my iPhone and started to navigate to SCGMobile.

Getting Got

Typically, traders (like Wescoe) will ask other traders about pricing to get a second opinion. It’s tough even for people who do this day-in and day-out to know every price, especially if you’ve been off the grid for any amount of time. I had been off the grid for the two weeks preceding the Invitational, and I got nailed on a couple of foil Japanese Phantasmal Images. The last time I checked, foil Japanese Images were selling for $90 to $100, so when my friend Ryan hit me with a price of $60 each, I snap kept. It turns out that StarCityGames.com has them at $69.99. This may seem like he gave me a discount, but since we were trading at “cash” prices, my cards were significantly lower than StarCityGames.com retail. I should have used my phone-a-friend on this one, but I got lazy, and Ryan got me; props to him for catching me off my game. He made up for it by helping me with price checks during the weekend. Anyway, back to Wescoe and the Nether Spirit adventure.

“2.99, why?”

Craig looked around and then took a seat next to me, “Well, Reid Duke is doing really well in Legacy, and he has them in his deck. Typically when an old rare like that does well it shoots up in price.”

“I agree. What’s the play? Should we buy SCG out? How many were in the deck?”

The last question is key in determining whether we should make a buy. If it was a four-of, then there’s a chance that it could be a nice buy. If there’s fewer than four then the card probably won’t do much.

“I need to talk to Reid to see how many are in his deck.”

I was already checking other sites for quantity and prices, “Okay, I’ll check the prices while you check with Reid.”

Craig wandered off while I fiddled with my phone. Later I found out that there were only two in the deck. Craig and I decided not to buy them aggressively, but the exchange made me curious about Reid’s deck. Feast your eyes on this beast!

This deck is full of cards that are ripe for a price increase, particularly Nether Void and The Abyss (in the sideboard). Legends cards have a habit of getting crazy expensive (See: Moat, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale). This typically happens if the card shows up in the “best deck” for a short period of time. Another characteristic of cards like Moat and Tabernacle is that their post-spike prices are typically higher than an average Magic card’s; this keeps the speculator from buying them in massive numbers. Let’s look at the examples of Moat and Tabernacle; then we’ll compare their charts with Nether Void and The Abyss.

Note: These charts were taken from http://blacklotusproject.com/. They use Magic Online Trading League data (which is basically eBay data) to get the price points.


Before Moat spiked it was about $53; now it’s between $190 and $215. Once a card like this rises in price, it typically doesn’t return to its pre-spike price. This is due to the way that players respond to cards in older formats. A majority of Eternal players keep a collection of “play stock.” Which is a binder with cards that they plan to play at some point in the future. The thought process behind this is rooted in the fact that the Legacy metagame is cyclical, and if Moat was good once, then it will be good again (probably not in a world full of people delving for secrets but maybe some day). Players don’t want to sell these types of cards because they have faith that they will become popular again, and they don’t want to have to rebuy them at the future high price. This mindset keeps the supply low and the price high.


The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Another example of the phenomenon that I detailed above is Tabernacle. This card spiked when 43 Lands with Intuition made a splash on the tournament scene. 43 Lands has since fallen out of flavor, but Tabernacle remains high in price. You’ll also notice that Tabernacle, like Moat, had a “high” pre-spike price ($92).


The Abyss and Nether Void

You can see that these two cards are starting to spike. I remember when both of these cards could be found for around $60 or less; now they’re both trending up, and it’s not surprising that StarCityGames.com is sold out of NM copies of both of these cards at $99 and $79 respectively. Once these find a place in the Legacy metagame, you can expect them to behave like Moat and Tabernacle. Keep an eye on these.

nether void

More Winners

There are three other cards in this deck that you should take notice of: Cursed Scroll, Liliana of the Veil, and Sinkhole.

Cursed Scroll $5.99 – This is one of the primary win conditions of Reid’s deck, and it’s a hard-to-find Tempest rare. This card is popular with cube builders, but after its performance this weekend I expect that Eternal players will be looking for these. If you can still get these in the $5 range, then I recommend picking them up.

Liliana of the Veil $34.99 – I’m very interested to see where the price of this card goes. It was a four-of in Reid’s Legacy deck at the Invitational, and it was also a four-of in Reid’s winning Modern Jund deck from the Magic Online Championships (MOCS) (Read more here). I expect this card to heat up in January during Modern Pro Tour Qualifier (PTQ) season.

Sinkhole $39.99 – This was also a four-of in Reid’s deck. There’s a sect of people out there who love blowing up other people’s lands. If there’s a competitive deck in Legacy that allows you to play four of these, then you better believe that this sect of people is going to come running. There are two things to note about this card: One, it’s a common; this should keep the price from getting much higher than it is now. Two, the judge foil is significantly cheaper than the non-foil set version. I can see the judge foil rising to meet the set version price as demand for these rises.

More on Legacy

Reid Duke deck was by far the most financially exciting Legacy deck to come out of the Invitational, but the Invitational did serve to reinforce some current strategies that we should be paying attention to. The word at the tournament tables was that Reanimator was out in force (this is partially due to the release of Graveborn), and combating the strategy was key to getting out of Legacy rounds alive. Beyond the typical cards like Surgical Extraction, Bojuka Bog, and graveyard hate artifacts, there are two cards that interest me from a financial perspective, Karakas and Scavenging Ooze.

Karakas $59.99 – This is the Swiss army knife of Legacy lands. It has uses against Reanimator, Emrakul, and it even re-buys your Vendilion Cliques (or Geist of Saint Traft – yeah, that’s pretty sweet right?). The fact that you can tutor for it with Knight of the Reliquary makes it even more appealing, and you should also note that Karakas is also a Legends card. I don’t expect this to do much pricewise in the near future.

Scavenging Ooze $19.99 – This can only be found in the Commander pre-constructed decks. I don’t know the distribution numbers for these decks, but judging from the price of this card (and Flusterstorm), I can only assume that there are less of these on the market than a normal rare. I expect the demand for these to increase, but since there is no limit on the Commander product, the supply should continue to satisfy the demand enough to maintain or lower its price.

A Little Bit on Standard

There wasn’t much innovation in the Standard format over the Invitational weekend. Adam Prosak had a pretty interesting Illusions list, but the changes that he made were not really financially relevant. The same is true about the other small innovations to the existing archetypes (e.g. Pristine Talisman in Control and the white splash in Kessig Wolf Run Ramp). It’s hard to quantify what impact the Invitational will have on the finance landscape, but if I had to pick two winners from the weekend, it would be: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Geist of Saint Traft.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite $14.99 – This card has been on the steady rise since its release. In Standard, it sees play in many different strategies, ranging from control to the latest iteration of Wolf Run Ramp. It’s also a mainstay in Legacy Reanimator and Dredge. I doubt that there’s any more money to be made here, but there was a time when these were selling / trading for as low as $3 each. It’s important to look for cross-format staples when a new set comes out and when a new metagame is forming. When this card was released, its applications in Dredge were obvious, but that wasn’t enough to drive the price up. This card should have been re-examined once Moorland Haunt and Inkmoth Nexus started to become players in Standard. Keep this in mind for Dark Ascension.

Geist of Saint Traft $17.99 – I’ve been pretty hard on this card since it was released, but now I’m starting to warm up to it. Geist has found a home in many Standard strategies, including Illusions, which is arguably the best deck. I’ve been playing this in Legacy Bant Blade, and it has performed well. I really like the interaction that it has with Karakas. You can swing, and then after creating the token, you can bounce it to keep it safe from dying to a blocker. You can also bounce it and remove it to Force of Will in a pinch (This can also be done with Vendilion Clique). I expect this card to see more play in Legacy as well as Modern as the format matures. It’s still too early to tell if this is going to settle into an Eternal format, but this is definitely on the watch list.

Standard Uncommons

Before I take off for the week, I want to give you a list of uncommons that you should be picking up. These uncommons move well for me, and you can typically pick them up at $1 or less.

Beast Within $2.49

Gut Shot $1.99

Timely Reinforcements $1.99

Ghost Quarter $.99 /$3.99

If you get the chance to trade for any of these or get them thrown in on a trade, you should do it. These trade well at StarCityGames.com prices, and you can often sell these for the same price that you trade them for. That’s all I have for this week, thanks for reading!