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Trade Routes – Understanding Trends and the Financial Value of Scars

I want to begin by making a bold statement. Every single card in this set is going down in value from the initial prices listed. This seems to me to be the consistent expectation of every financial writer on the net right now. That isn’t to say that there are not good cards in this set, but rather this set will flood the market with new singles for the next nine months. Today, I am going to briefly discuss trading trends before I give my financial review of this set.

This past weekend was the Scars of Mirrodin pre-release, and for many players the first opportunity to really experience the power of artifacts, poison and proliferate. However, for this guy, I spent all of Saturday trading. Last week I announced my Mountain of Power challenge and boy, did I get a jump on this project. Just to review, I plan to trade a NM Beta Mountain up to a full set of Power Nine. That’s right, a full set. For those who don’t know what that means, I am going to turn a $3 basic land into the mythical Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Sapphire, Mox Ruby, and Timetwister.

I started my trading at a TCGPlayer 1k Qualifier. I began by trading for an Earthquake, Destructive Force and Gatekeeper of Malakir. However, those cards quickly turned themselves into others and after the prerelease, I went home with over 800 rares and 300+ foils. I will be posting each trade on a blog soon, so stay tuned to CFB for updates on that. Special thanks go out to Matt for getting me started.

The reason I bring up my trading is that I met Linden from Mananation.com this weekend and we started chatting about the project and how I was conducting trades. Although I have mentioned it before, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know trending values. What’s unique about Standard is that next week when Scars becomes legal, we lost a full block and a core set. Conflux, Shards, Alara Reborn and M10 are all leaving us. This means no more Bloodbraid Elf (don’t cheer), Maelstrom Pulse, Path to Exile, Oblivion Ring, Noble Hierarch, and Knight of the Reliquary. We are losing trilands, solid uncommons and quite a few good commons. With all this rotating out, the values will drop across the board. This should certainly be taken into account when conducting trades. However, with these cards rotating, new cards are entering and they have interesting interactions with current cards.

For example, Stoneforge Mystic, Steel Overseer and Lodestone Golem have all begun to climb. To maximize your efficiency in trades, knowing the current values of these cards are important. When I began my mountain of power trading spree, I started looking at these cards at their current value, the highest being Stoneforge at $2.50. However, we all know that it is climbing and I expect it to be about a 7 card. So I would pick them up at about $2.50 and trade them away to people who also expected them to raise in value.

So before everyone jumps on me for “ripping” people off, think about it like this. Unlike trading a Sorin Markov for an Underground Sea, this type of trading focuses on picking up the cards from people who were sticklers on value. When checking channelfireball.com each person saw its current value and was willing to trade it at that. However, when people were perusing the trade binder, they would almost instantly pull the cards that were rising in value. With the cards pulled, we would then discuss current value versus projected value. Most people were reasonable and would value the card close to the projected value. This is where a lot of my profit was made.

Other cards like Destructive Force were key in growing this binder. The current value at the time of the trades was about $1.50. However, many believe that with new Standard expected to be a bit slower and ramp a bit better, we will see this card rise in value. Personally, I miss Wildfire control and I am hoping to see a resurgence. But this card was consistently speculated by my trading partners as a card that will rise to $5-$6 in the next month. So in a similar fashion to Stoneforge Mystic; I moved a lot of these this past week.

In the end, trading on trends and being proactive with your trade binder is going to help you grow your collection quickly. Be smart, check out rumor sites and listen to the pro players like LSV or Conley Woods in what they are expecting to happen in the format. Doing so will give you a leg up on where cards are going to go value wise and give you a distinct advantage when trying to get the cards you need with the least amount of financial commitment possible.

Scars of Mirrodin: A partial set review.

First, the facts:
249 cards in the set.
101 Commons
60 Uncommons
53 Rares
15 Mythics
20 Basic land
There are 93 colorless or non-basic land cards in the set.
Three new planeswalkers are being released.

For the purpose of this set review, I plan to give you my reactions to the Mythics, a few of the rares and any oddity that comes up. Let’s start.

Scars of Mirrodin: White

Elspeth Tirel
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Planeswalker
Cost: $45
Expected Value: $40-$45
Trend: Stable to Down (barely)
Action: Buy/Hold
Reaction: This card is pretty saucy. I equate it to a similar power level impact that the original Elspeth, Knight-Errant had on the Standard at the time. This will be interesting in token decks, White Weenie decks and as nice utility card for Naya and Bant decks. Expect this card to be highly sought after at your local release event. The only thing that will drive this card down in the next few weeks will be the quantity to hit the market and what decks perform well at States.

Indomitable Archangel
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Creature
Cost: $8
Expected Value: $5
Trend: Down
Action: Sell.
Reaction: This card is awkward. It’s not very big and it’s basically a vanilla creature for any deck that isn’t loaded with artifacts. Esper artifact decks may really enjoy this angel and expect EDH to love them to, but this card will drop. Get rid of them early.

Leonin Arbiter
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $3.50
Expected Value: $2.50
Trend: Down
Action: Hold or Sell, the disparity isn’t enough to really lose too much value.
Reaction: This card is a fairly useful rare. However, it’s only useful in decks built around control. As most players find themselves using fetchlands, Fauna Shaman, Trinket Mage and other search effects. I would expect this card to go into decks like u/w control or some form of mono-white. Although it is neat, it is still going down.

Kemba, Kha Regent
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $1
Expected Value: Bulk
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: EDH needed another white general. This card could be a sleeper if you run enough equipment. However, its ability to turn into a token generator will be explored by many early on, so get rid of them quick!

Sunblast Angel
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $2
Trend: Stable
Action: Hold
Reaction: This card has a neat effect. It’s a Royal Assassin that got it on with a Wrath of God. It may surprise people if the meta goes aggro. It has a neat synergy with Blinding Mage and Reality Spasm. I expect this card to maintain a solid value.

Tempered Steel
Rarity: Rare
Type: Enchantment
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $3
Trend: Stable
Action: Pick up
Reaction: Honor the Pure x2 for artifacts. This could be very interesting. We all know how popular Honor the Pure was when M10 first released, but I feel that this card will not see the same level of hype. The amount of artifact creatures that we are seeing will not justify using this card all the time. However, the casual crowd will mount this like a fish and expect it to be consistent in it’s value.

Scars of Mirrodin: Blue Cards

Quicksilver Gargantuan
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Creature
Cost: $2
Expected Value: Bulk Mythic
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card is expensive, and sorta bad. Maybe if this card had only one blue mana symbol, we could get excited by it. It could be interesting with Baneslayer Angel or one of the titans, but at the point in which you get this out after you already have the other in play will most likely be irrelevant. Equate this to a win-more card that is expensive and lack-uster for a mythic.

Argent Sphinx
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $1
Expected Value: $0.50 – $1, probably bulk.
Trend: Stable or Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: Look! It’s sort of like Sphinx of Jwar Isle, but it’s not as big, and it’s not as exciting as it can still be killed or forced out of the game, not making it a blocker if you need one. This may see play as a cheap option to Sphinx.. oh wait, Sphinx is $1 too.

Grand Architect
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $5
Expected Value: $5
Trend: Stable
Action: Hold
Reaction: This card is tool-boxy. I sort of like it. I think you will see it in a blue/artifact aggro deck paired with Thada Adel, Acquisitor, and other control style cards. Maybe we’ll see a resurgence of Fish style (aggro/control) decks this fall. Pick this card up, I believe it will hold its value.

Inexorable Tide
Rarity: Rare
Type: Enchantment
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $2
Trend: Stable
Action: Buy/Hold
Reaction: This might find a home in Legacy, or in Standard with decks using Steel Overseer. I like proliferate and so should you. Maybe u/g decks running lots of saucy green creatures with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood or a Training Grounds deck, either way if it isn’t used in Standard, it certainly will be sought after in EDH.

Scars of Mirrodin: Black Cards

Geth, Lord of the Vault
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Creature
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $3
Trend: Stable
Action: Hold
Reaction: Same cost as Grave Titan, but it has intimidate. It doesn’t die to Doom Blade, but is it good enough in Standard? Probably not. I expect this to see casual play and be toyed with early on. Do remember, it dies to Destructive Force, whereas the Titans do not.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Creature
Cost: $12
Expected Value: $6
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card is too expensive and effectively loses to every other big creature. He got himself a few neat tricks, but we all know that consistency trumps cute every single time. Expect him to be a fan favorite among casual players.

Memoricide
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $3
Trend: Stable
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card will be a steady sideboard card. Unlike the $20 Cranial Extraction and $5 Thought Hemorrhage while they were in Standard, this card will likely hover around $3 for the foreseeable future.

Necrotic Ooze
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $5 – 7
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: This card is interesting. Expect to see it experimented with early and to find homes in different style decks. As other writers have pointed out though, it will not be as combolicious as we hoped.

Scars of Mirrodin: Red Cards

Koth of the Hammer
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Planeswalker
Cost: $45
Expected Value: $35
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: Everyone and their mother is after this card right now. I’ve heard absurdities of this being the best planeswalker ever printed. This card is obviously not better than Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and I don’t believe it’s better than Ajani Vengeant or Elspeth 1.0 or 2.0. This card is too limited to be better than the before mentioned card. It is however, the best red planeswalker. The reason that this card is going to drop is based around how limited it actually is. This card can get nutty if you are running a mono-red deck. Expect it to find a home in midrange red control decks, but becomes vastly less powerful as you start adding colors. I would sell this card if you get one this weekend.

Tunnel Ignus
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $2
Trend: Stable
Action: Hold
Reaction: This is a cheap and effective controllish card for red. It is a house against Valakut Ramp, but it dies to Lightning Bolt. Expect to see him make sideboard of RDW and main decks of mid-range control. My hopes for Wildfire Control coming back is looking quite good.

Cerebral Eruption
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Cost: $2
Expected Value: Bulk
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: If you pair this with Liliana Vess or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, you could have some saucy interactions. However, that being said I believe this card will disappear into the bulk rare bin. Unfortunately, now that I say this, Expect Conley Woods to make some insane rogue deck featuring this card and single-handedly drive this card back to its $2 price tag…

Scars of Mirrodin: Green Cards

Liege of the Tangle
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Creature
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $5
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: Everyone is expecting this card to be terrible. However, this card gets out of control fast and with cards like Summoning Trap, you can really surprise your opponent with it. I expect this card to be a sleeper and with everyone valuing it low, pick it up early. This card is Timmy’s wet dream.

Asceticism
Rarity: Rare
Type: Enchantment
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $1
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card is interesting but if I have 5 mana, I would rather cast a threat than an enchantment. I don’t expect this card to do a whole lot.

Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $3
Trend: Stable
Action: Buy
Reaction: This card will rise. Although elves haven’t been very saucy since Lorwyn, I expect this card to be a casual favorite and be interesting in the mono-green overrun strategies. We definitely have some elves floating around still. I’d pick them up early. If I am wrong, there are always a million casual fans who will love this card.

Ezuris Brigade
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $5
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: Pair this with any of the cheap and effective artifacts, throw a sword on him and this card is sick. A 4/4 that can easily be an 8/8 with trample that costs 4. Expect Johnnies to experiment with this card.

Genesis Wave
Rarity: Rare
Type: Sorcery
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $1
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card is cute, but I don’t believe it to be format defining. It’s sort of like cascade, which we all remember the power level of. However, with a ramp deck, you could easily get a few saucy creatures out and into play, but in those same ramp style decks you will cycle through potentially useful spells. I don’t foresee this being insane, but I do expect a lot of experimentation early.

Putrefax
Rarity: Rare
Type: Creature
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $6
Trend: Up
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card is pretty solid. 5/3 trampler with haste that deals poison counters or kills creatures. I don’t know if Standard will be focusing around poison counters, but this guy will go in every single deck that has poison counters. Expect him to rise.

Scars of Mirrodin: Gold

Venser, the Sojourner
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Planeswalker
Cost: $45
Expected Value: $35
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: I really, really like this guy. However, I don’t see him getting out of control in value. He has neat interactions with any creature who has an enter the battlefield effect and he will see play in U/W control as he works well with Wall of Omens, but I also expect him to see play in mid-range control while being paired with cards like Seagate Oracle, or even to reset creatures for blockers.

Scars of Mirrodin: Artifacts

Lux Cannon
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $4
Expected Value: $6
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: This card is good. You can do interesting tricks with Voltaic Key and he can easily fit in any control deck, I’d pick this card up.

Mindslaver
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $4
Expected Value: $2
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: Without a way to return Mindslaver, this card will not be played in Standard. If so, it will be used as a finisher or a sideboard card. I expect that this card is worth watching though; we have two more sets coming out that may provide the other lock piece for this combo.

Molten-Tail Masticore
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $20
Expected Value: $7
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: Get rid of this card as quickly as possible. This creature type has seen a lot of play in decks that revolved around controlling aggro. However, you discard a card AND have to exile a CREATURE card from your GY. U/W control will not use this card. I don’t foresee this creature seeing much play, and if it does it will certainly not be a 20 card. Remember he dies to almost every good creature.

Mox Opal
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $40
Expected Value: $40
Trend: Stable, for now
Action: Sell
Reaction: I don’t foresee this card staying at $40 forever, however every format wants this card. Casual players, Vintage, Legacy, Extended and EDH alike. Get rid of them at $40 as I don’t believe it will have a major impact on Standard. Wait three months and get them for $25.

Platinum Emperion
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $5
Expected Value: $2
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: I think this card is fun. I also believed that Eternity Vessel could be really good in the right deck. Although I think this card is dropping in value, I would tell you to watch to see if this card does anything after States. Maybe Summoning Trap/control decks will use this guy?

Sword of Body and Mind
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $12.50
Expected Value: $7
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: This card doesn’t make a lot of sense. It makes creatures, which is nice. However, it mills. This forces a split in how you want to win the game. Are you milling? Which on a side note will feed graveyards with Vengevines or are you overrunning with creatures?

Wurmcoil Engine
Rarity: Mythic
Type: Artifact
Cost: $15
Expected Value: $15 – $18
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: This card is a good addition to the titans of m11. I expect this card to see play in ramp decks and in control. He’s colorless so he can fit into any color combination.

Mimic Vat
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Cost: $3
Expected Value: $2
Trend: Downish
Action: Hold
Reaction: This card will either be really good or mediocre. I expect it to be similar to [card]Brittle Effigy[/card] in impact.

Chimeric Mass
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $1.50
Trend: Down
Action: Sell
Reaction: This creature is however big you wish him to be. Could be good. He fits in any deck that you want him to go into. However, this has to be activated each turn you want to use him, which is an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time.

Contagion Engine
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Cost: $2
Expected Value: $3 – $5
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: This card has a lot of potential with proliferate and is going to be a card that casual players will chase after. Pick them up while they are cheap.

Ratchet Bomb
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Cost: $10
Expected Value: $12 – $15
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: This card will see play in multiple decks. It deals with weenie armies, kills planeswalkers and deals with stuff that is normally hard to manage. However, it’s slow and not an immediate answer. I am a bit skeptical on if it will hold a $10+ price tag for long, but only time will tell.

Steel Hellkite
Rarity: Rare
Type: Artifact
Cost: $15
Expected Value: $15 – $18
Trend: Up
Action: Buy
Reaction: It’s Pernicious Deed with wings, but better, yet more expensive. Unlike Deed, this card hits planeswalkers, although it costs six. Expect this card to hover around 3-4 as casual players will pick them up for EDH.

Overall, I feel that this set reinforces the disappointment that I have for the Standard environment. I think there are a lot of neat and interesting cards, but Wizards needs to get rid of this Mythic rare crap. We have 15 mythics in this set and only a few are exciting. With this many mythics, we will never have a rare card from this set or any other set worth more than $10. Financially, I would trade for the few cards worth anything, and sell everything else.

Until Next Time (which I will update you on my Mountain of Power trades),

Brian Grewe

Warning: Brian’s former MTGO account, Casetok, was recently hacked. Do not do business with the person with this account claiming to be Brian. Brian’s MTGO name is BrianGrewe.

Casetok (MTGO)

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