I am so excited to introduce a new collaboration I am doing with Jake and Joel Are Magic from YouTube! Each month I will provide an installment into the “Five and Five” series where Conviction Gaming Patrons will get an early look at five new specs for the month from me plus a recap of five previously called specs to check-in on how they’re doing.
This content will first appear each month to Conviction Gaming Patrons on the Conviction Gaming website. Shortly after, it will be used as a script for a YouTube video and distributed to the Jake and Joel Patrons before being made public approximately one week later (timing to be determined, stay tuned for a communication on exact details to come).
I’m so excited for this partnership as a way to cross-promote our content. If you haven’t before, please go check out Jake and Joel by subscribing to their YouTube channel which can be found here.
Let’s get to my first installment of specs for this new series!
ONE OF FIVE
The first of five I want to discuss is Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea. The Brothers’ War has been out for five months which makes it a great time to start looking through the set for long-term picks.
Most cards from the set are reaching peak supply because the set itself isn’t being widely opened anymore, other than by vendors looking to fill their cases with singles or the occasional, continued chase for serialized cards in Collector Boosters. The latter comment about serialized cards is important to recognize for supply purposes. It means foils and Extended Art (“special”) versions of Brothers’ War cards could be in greater supply than the average set because the chase cards are causing more product to be opened. This means non-foil and foil premiums may be virtually non-existent on most BRO cards, and we see that here with Gwenna as an example: via TCG Direct, it will run you $1.29 for a pack non-foil and $1.50 for foil.
I really like pack Gwenna for $1.50 or less because of the demand it will see from Timmies in Commander. Green is indisputably the most-played color in the format, and this is a powerful mana dork with the potential to scale itself into a meaningful threat on its own. Being legendary also helps its demand profile as it can be a commander, or more importantly, a nice inclusion in decks centered around “legendary matter” strategies. Finally, we just learned we’re getting a reprint of Zacama in Commander Masters later this year (releases August 4th, 2023), and we also know we’ll be revisiting Ixalan shortly after when the September standard set drops. This means more dinosaur tribal love is on the horizon, and Gwenna’s art not only looks like they belong in the prehistoric ages, but their abilities line up with big stompy dinosaurs perfectly.
I also want to mention the foil Extended Art is in fairly low supply (only 30 listings on TCGPlayer at the time of this writing). I like these around $3.50 or less if you’re able to get a copy for that. Note: that price is doable, however the ones in this range on TCGPlayer have forced shipping associated with them. Check CardTrader as well because some copies for $3.50-4 were available when I wrote this.
Expected Hold Time: I expect pack foils and non-foils could take about 6-7 months to materialize into a $4-5 card, but I believe the Extended Art foils could get to $7-8 in a matter of 4-6 months based on their current sales rate and available supply. If you’re a player, it’s worth grabbing a copy now as a cart filler and circling back to it when you want to put it to use.
TWO OF FIVE
The second spec to reveal is Staff of Titania, another pick from The Brothers’ War.
Coincidentally, this card showed up in several pods I was a part of at MagicCon Philadelphia, and every time it outperformed tenfold from what we (the pod) anticipated. It’s an unsuspecting card when it gets played, and in fact, it causes threat-assessment to get thrown off. The reaction was often “deal with the creature” when the right move was “deal with the equipment”. If you let this survive even just a couple turns, it ramps the opponent in a meaningful way that is hard to come back from.
The amazing thing to me is the price of this card. I bought a dozen or so copies of the Extended Art foil back in November for a cool $2/ea. and they’re firing off on TCG Direct for over $10 now! However, the non-foil Extended Art hasn’t caught on with this trend yet, and can still be had for under $2.
What’s maybe more impressive is the non-foil pack version found in Set Boosters is actually more expensive ($3) than the Extended Art non-foil version (< $2). Some of this is due to drop rates, but I think it is worth noting the discrepancy in case you’re looking to save a buck when you grab your copy.
Expected Hold Time: the sales trajectory, i.e., organic demand for Staff of Titania makes this a quicker turnaround time than Gwenna. I project this to be a $5 non-foil Extended Art and $5-6 pack non-foil within three months. The Extended Art foil already sells for north of $10 on TCG Direct, and $4 for non-Direct. That difference will close in the next few weeks as the non-Direct copies get scooped up and make the EA foil more of a $5-6 card permanently. If you need a copy as a player, scoop this sooner than later because it won’t stay this cheap for long.
And if you’re curious, the 12+ month price outlook barring a reprint looks quite strong based on the demand profile I am seeing so far.
THREE OF FIVE
The third spec for this first installment of Five at Five is Descent Into Avernus.
There was a window where this was a true bulk rare from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. Since then, content creators and the community caught onto the efficiency of this card in decks that want to ramp and play fast, and the price has pushed quite a bit higher. In fact, the organic demand profile from a “units sold” standpoint is as strong as nearly any mono-red card printed in the past 12 months, and that’s single-handedly driven the pack non-foil to $2.
The good news is the Extended Art non-foil can be had for half that price ($1) still largely because CLB Collector Boosters were opened more heavily than draft/set booster products, probably because people really wanted the Borderless Elder Dragons!
I am already in for 50 copies of the EA non-foil ($0.50) and another 24 EA foils ($1) purchased a while back when peak supply for CLB was upon us (September 2022). That said, I have sold a few of each of those for as much as $4 and $8 respectively when supply on TCG Direct drained out, and I suspect it will happen again sometime in 2023, except that could become a more permanent price point for Descent Into Avernus.
If you need copies of this as a player, or want to pickup a surefire, high-demand profile penny stock, this is your card. I also like this one for minimal reprint risk in 2023 because the naming convention is tied to D&D.
Expected Hold Time: note, I believe if you’re a TCG Direct seller, the hold time may be shorter for my projections. The Extended Art non-foil projects as a $3 within 4-6 months, and I believe the foil gets back to the $6-8 range in about that same timeframe. The Gaming Company, a notorious “brick laying” vendor, already put their copies up for sale months ago, and most of their copies appear to have been sold-through at this point. If true, this bodes well for the trajectory of this card in 2023 based on its organic demand. One other important indication of the demand is CardKingdom buylist backing where they are already paying $0.90 for the EA non-foil.
FOUR OF FIVE
The fourth pick is an arbitrage opportunity for the TCG Direct sellers out there. This one is also a great chance to promote one of my favorite lesser known marketplaces called CardTrader. The pick is Felidar Guardian, a notorious “infinite” engine that the new Elesh Norn and Atraxa from Phyrexia: All Will Be One both love (Atraxa especially since it can retrigger the ETB).
This one isn’t a card to be buying for a flip within the US since it already sells consistently around $3-4 on TCG Direct. However, if you go on CardTrader, you can find plenty of Felidar Guardian still available for sub-$1. Why? I’m not sure. But any time I see a card with this type of demand profile selling for this big of a price margin between the US and EU, I’m a buyer.
I grabbed a few dozen copies for $0.80/ea. myself, and there were easily 50 more copies for sub-$1 available at the time of this writing.
Expected Hold Time: this one is really just a matter of purchasing the card and then the turnaround time from the purchase to CardTrader’s warehouse where you’ll be able to ship it state-side. In my experience, the all-in turnaround time for CardTrader is typically about 6-8 weeks from the day you purchase the card. I would expect the near-$4 price-point on TCG Direct to hold for the duration of that wait time, and even if it drops some, you have a lot of wiggle room if your entry-point is sub-$1.
FIVE OF FIVE
The fifth and final spec is Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut, a true, yet undeserving bulk rare from Phyrexia: All Will Be One that I think is being slept on by Commander players right now.
It isn’t sexy since the upside of this card is deceptive. It costs eight mana to cast, but in go-wide strategies, this is a true budget wincon. If you are reading this and like building $50 budget decks, for example, keep Graaz in mind as a way to push token strategies over the top. For years, End-Raze Forerunners commanded $1 before being reprinted into oblivion, and I believe Graaz can absolutely command the same in the future as a colorless option and legendary to boot. There’s also a “meme” element to the card that will apply some fringe demand.
The bad news for Graaz is ONE will likely be opened into oblivion given how much value there already is at mythic and rare in the set. This means supply on Graaz will be deep and it could take a while to chew through before we see any meaningful price appreciation. That said, the entry-point right now is around $0.20-$0.35 depending on the version, excluding Step-and-Compleat foils which are more like $3-4. I like this as a buylist play personally – basically buy 100 copies for $20 and sit on them for a year, then flip them to a buylist for a modest yet solid profit.
I already purchased a dozen Borderless non-foils for $0.30 and another dozen pack non-foils for $0.20/ea. figuring it’ll never be cheaper than that.
Expected Hold Time: I plan to add Graaz to my “cart filler” list and acquire more non-foils over the next few months for between $0.20 and $0.25. I will be surprised if I’m not able to flip these for $0.50-0.75 a piece to a buylist before the end of 2023.
RECAPPING FIVE PRIOR SPECS
Toralf, God of Fury was called out in a Conviction Gaming Patreon exclusive on January 20th, the day Solphim was spoiled in Phyrexia: All Will Be One. The non-foils were $2 on TCG Direct at the time of that alert, and now sell for closer to $3.50. They had a brief spike up to $6-7 before retracing on the heels of TCG Direct supply coming back online. Solphim hasn’t caught on with the community yet, but ONE has only been out for a couple of weeks, and Elesh Norn and Atraxa have taken most of the spotlight so far. CardKingdom still appears to think the same as me, boasting a $1.80 buylist for pack nonfoils. I am confident in the trajectory of Toralf, and I would continue to hold this and still target an exit around $5 later this year.
Machine God’s Effigy was called out in the Conviction Gaming Patreon on January 13th as a potential long-term spec pick from The Brothers’ War commander precons. When I first drew attention to it, the Retro Frame was $1 and the Extended Arts were $0.50-0.75 on TCG Direct. We’ve already seen some movement north of $1.50 for the Retro Frame and the EA is now $1 on Direct. This should continue increasing over time given the uniqueness of the card and just how great it is as a combo engine. The rulings and interactions of Machine God’s Effigy make it a more complex card to absorb for the community, so time will be its best ally. I’m holding this for a potential $4-5 upside later this year.
Blast-Furnace Hellkite was called out via tweet on January 7th, and at that time the card could be found for $1 in Retro Frame and sub-$1 for the Extended Art. The tweet blew up, and so did the card’s price. It now is available for $4 and $3 respectively, although it has retraced from a short-term high of $5-6 for both versions. I expect this to hover around its current price-point for a while, but the organic demand for this card (it is a dragon, after all) bodes very well long-term. If you bought when I tweeted, you have the choice of selling for a quick buck or holding for a bigger payday in the future.
Prosperous Innkeeper foils were called as a spec on January 2nd and unfortunately days after the call, The Gaming Company dropped about 600 copies on TCGPlayer. In better news, they’ve already sold through about half of those copies, and the price has risen from $1.25 when I called it to $2.50 now (on TCG Direct). The brick of 250 represents a barrier that will take some time to chew through, but this isn’t necessarily a dead spec like I thought it might be the moment I saw their listing appear. If it avoid reprint, Innkeeper could ascend to the $4-5 in foil I thought it was on pace for sometime in Q3 2023.
Eternity Vessel was a more recent card I mentioned in a quick Patreon alert on January 24th during Phyrexia: All Will Be One spoiler season. It has synergy with several cards from the set, including the namesake card, All Will Be One. I was pretty cautious when I suggested it, making mention of how it was seeing a lot of buzz on social media and Reddit, and that I could see it having a short pop from $5 to $10, but also advising not to buy many copies if you went after it. That’s still looking like the right call, and unless you are a player needing a copy, my advice stands: don’t speculate on Eternity Vessel.
That will do it for the first installment of Five at Five, a Collaboration with Jake and Joel Are Magic! I am Chris Martin, and I hope you enjoyed this new piece of content! I’ll be bringing you this content once a month, and don’t forget to go find and subscribe to Jake and Joel for the YouTube video version of this content. Please shoot me your comments and feedback either here or via Patreon or Twitter so we can ensure we are listening and improving this content series in the future!
Chris Martin is the co-founder of Conviction Gaming and co-host of the Brewin’ With Conviction podcast. He has been playing Magic since 1998 and is an avid EDH player with a knack for MTG finance.
You can reach Chris and find more of his daily MTG content by following on Twitter @ChiStyleGaming.