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The Island of Lost Toys

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I have talked before about the perils of rotation and what the effects can do to your collection’s value. This week, I want to focus on a small window in the coming weeks in which I would normally be looking to sell—but not this time around. This year, I have been keeping a particularly close eye on rotating cards and their plummeting prices to watch for post-rotation opportunities, such as with Terminus. While keeping my eye trained on the folding Innistrad and M13 market, I noticed that a number of cards that have died off in popularity over the past few months suddenly have new roles in the current metagame and may have a chance to shine again, even if only for a short time.

Before I go any further, I should mention that this article is intended for those willing to take a little risk and have easy outlets or large player bases to move cards to. If you sit on most of these cards too long, you will probably come out worse for the wear.

Champion of the Parish
I have talked a lot about Champion of the Parish over the past few weeks, and for good reason. As these approach rotation, we have watched the once-steady $5-or-more rare drop all the way down to $3 on most retail sites and as low as $6 per set at auction. With the murmurs of W/B Humans and other aggro builds using the Champion, it would not surprise me to see a small spike in the short term. Unlike many of the cards in this article, I feel Champion is a fine pick-up anyway in trade, as he is among the best Humans ever printed, and as a readily supported tribe of modern Magic, it would not surprise me to see a Human build in Modern someday down the road. I can easily see this card doing well in the first few StarCityGames Opens or Invitational and people flocking to play the last of this format before the Pro Tour Qualifier season changes. I can see Champion going down slightly during rotation, but if they do, just hold them for a few months, and you will easily recoup your investment and hopefully turn a profit.

Stromkirk Noble is another tribal card that has reached near-bulk status. Given Vampires’ popularity among casual players, I can see this guy bouncing back quickly even with no play, but as I expect a number of decks to be jamming Burning Earth, this guy is probably due for some play alongside. Stromkirk can easily hit $5 again with no help in the matter of a year, but if he does see play and spikes before rotation, I would not expect much of a drop after. Getting in now seems like one of the smarter plays whether you are looking for the short-term gains or the long-term investments.

Thundermaw Hellkite
Now that I have covered some of the safer picks, let me move on to some of the more risky players. Thundermaw Hellkite may seem to be a strange pick-up at the $20 he currently is retail, but if you do some shopping around, you will see most auction sites regularly sell around $10. I don’t know if $10 is the right number, but given his playability in Modern, I expect him to at least hold that $10 for the rest of his life. If he sees any midrange play over the coming weeks, we may see the auction sites begin to pick up, and if that happens, he will probably remain at $20 retail even through rotation, therefore cementing his price for the next Modern season. If you think you may want a set down the road anyway, Thundermaw has probably bottomed out, making this the time to snag them.

Nearly the same argument that was made for Thundermaw can be made for Huntmaster of the Fells, who has dipped even lower over the past few weeks. Retail for these can be found between $8 and $10, and auction sites have sold them as low as $6 over the past week. I feel confident this card has nowhere to go but up in the long term. As for the short term, I believe we are seeing the ground floor currently, but if R/G is overshadowed in the coming Invitational, it may dip a little lower. The flip side to that argument is that if R/G shines, as many of the players I know believe it will, we may see a premature spike in Huntmaster that never really dips back down. I would happily trade for these now, but I may hold off on buying them until I start seeing some results.

Restoration Angel
One of the cards I am advocating for the most as a strong pickup is something that just recently hit my radar, as the price slashed in half over the past few weeks. Restoration Angel will be one of the most versatile ways for white to change the course of a game. With all of the utility Angel possesses, we will continue to see flash blockers and abuse of enters-the-battlefield abilities for years to come. The current retail price is hovering around $10, and though that seems a little high to me still to want to get in, I do expect a short-term jump as midrange looks to continue to abuse Thragtusk and Huntmaster to combat the rise of aggro decks. Angel will probably continue to drop, if only briefly, but I believe she has one more small spike in her before rotation. I would trade them at $10, but I would hold off unless you are looking to pick up a set for Modern, and even then, you may be best to wait a month or two. Angel can be found as low as $5 on auction sites, but if aggro overshadows her, we may see a dip below $5. This one is certainly risky, but it does have the built-in padding of being Eternal-playable already, meaning she does have a relatively stable ground floor that we are approaching, and she is unlikely to be reprinted, giving her ample opportunity to prove her worth over the next year or two as she climbs back above $10.

It is important to note that if you are targeting them in trade in anticipation of a long-term hold, you should be seeking the set copies, as they seem to be between thirty and fifty percent lower in price at the retail level, while auction sites have them much closer in value. With short-term flips like this, you are usually looking for the cheapest version, as people who are forced to pick them up for the coming PTQs will want whatever they can find for a price that will hurt their wallets the least.

I feel that my last pick of this week is probably among the safest plays you can be making right now on both a long- and short-term plan. Craterhoof Behemoth has not seen a price this low in a number of months, and even with the coming rotation, there is no reason this Commander and casual staple should be $6 retail and as low as $3 on auction sites. To give you perspective, Etched Monstrosity is $3 on these same auction sites, though he can be found for half that on retail sites; look for a future article in which I talk about casual cards such as the Monstrosity that have this same discrepancy. Behemoth is poised for a jump before rotation, as a number of decks I have seen brewed in the past few weeks abuse this guy to no end—and not just from the grave.

Craterhoof Behemoth
Elfball currently has the ability to present a very quick clock with Behemoth, and with the addition of Garruk, Caller of Beasts, this threat is even more dangerous than before. Garruk allows you to go off as early as turn four or five presenting, at times, well over 20 damage. On top of that, your Garruk lives to see another day if left undisturbed, and the deck is surprisingly resilient to midrange, as you can just as easily race out an army of Beasts, Elves, Angels, and Wolves to 20 the opponent in no time. The card advantage Garruk can net you means you’re likely to seal the deal quickly, with one of the main ways being through Craterhoof Behemoth. No matter how these decks do it, it’s a great time to get in on Behemoth, but if recent testing—yes, I have been actually playing a ton of Magic—indicates anything, it is that we are going to see a surge of Mr. Toad coming across the red zone soon.

As always, thank you for reading, and check in next week for more up-to-date financial information. A shout out to Raymond Perez, for helping me test and spawning the idea for this article, and to Andy Schmidt, for calling Craterhoof Mr. Toad—I can’t look at that card the same anymore. I hope to have some news from the coming weekend as we see this format come to fruition.

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand


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