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Seven Dragons to Watch


Official previews for Dragons of Tarkir start on Monday, so big firebreathing monsters are going to be the talk of the multiverse over the next few weeks. According to Maro, Dragons are the most popular creature type in all of Magic and it's not particularly close. It seems likely that Dragons of Tarkir will, at very least, be a casual hit, as all the kitchen table players of the world start frantically searching Gatherer for cards that work well with their shiny new Dragons of Tarkir dragons. Obviously we can't talk about the new dragons quite yet (make sure to tune into MTGGoldfish next week for spoiler coverage), however, we can talk about some old cards could benefit from the printings of some flashy new dragons. In fact, over the past few weeks we have already seen some low-supply dragons being gobbled up in preparation for Dragons of Tarkir, with some even quadrupling in price. 

Scion of the Ur-Dragon

Cards like Scion of the Ur-Dragon and Zirilan of the Claw are clearly focused on the casual crowd — a hugely powerful and influential part of the Magic market that is easy to forget when a financier becomes too consumed with Top 8's and Pro Tours. Both have powerful, dragon-centric abilities while also having the all-important Dragon creature-type themselves. While it is unlikely that a Modern player would show up to a tournament with a five-color dragons list, a whacky brew full of dragons is certainly not out of place on the kitchen table (or in EDH) and it wouldn't be a surprise to see such a list show up at FNM. These casual settings have traditionally been the home of dragons; however a lack of competitive play doesn't stop these cards from being financial juggernauts. Dragons are simply so beloved that they don't need tournament success or camera time to maintain a respectable value.

Dragons of Tarkir is going to have a lot of dragons. These new dragons are going to push casual players into building decks around their favorite new mythic (or rare) dragon. Since casual players also love tribal themes, some number of these players are going to be looking for old dragons and cards that work well in their new dragon deck. As a result, it's worth doing a bit of research to get ahead of the curve and try to determine what cards these players might be buying. Of course we are not going to be just shooting in the dark; we will also be talking about spreads, multipliers, supply, and reprintings along the way. In the end, the goal is to have a list of the cards that could benefit from the dragon theme of Dragons of Tarkir. Let's begin.

Seven Dragons to Watch

Bladewing the Risen

Supply: Medium. Around 200 total vendors for all versions on TCGPlayer. In stock (generally between 1 and 4 copies) at other major vendors. 

Printings: Scourge, Commander, From the Vault: Dragons. 

Spread: Negative for Scourge, Zero for Commander. 

Foil Multiplier: x4.75. 

Odds of Reprinting (in next year): Slim apart from yet another Commander reprinting (although one-printing dragons would seem to be further up in the reprint queue). Flavor would be strange in Khans block. 

Discussion: Bladewing the Risen has two relatively unique and dragon-centric abilities which makes the card a near auto-include for a casual dragon deck. It synergizes well with other dragons like Knollspine Dragon and Dragon Mage, not to mention reanimation spells like Fearsome Awakening which allows you to resurrect two dragons for the price of one. Being red is an important part of being a successful casual dragon — so many dragons throughout the history of Magic are either mono-red or red / x. It is basically impossible to build a tribal dragon deck without access to the color. This means the red-black mana cost of Bladewing the Risen is another up-vote, especially compared to something like Ojutai, Soul of Winter which pretty much necessitates a four (or five) color dragons build.

On the other hand, the relatively high supply makes big movement unlikely. However, a demand increase from dragon-hype over the next few months could drive up prices. Plus, everything else aside, you just can't be a negative spread.

Dragon Mage

 

Supply: Low on TCGPlayer (18 vendors). In stock with most, but not all, major vendors in small numbers.  

Printings: Scourge.

Spread: 32.1 percent. 

Foil Multiplier: x4.

Odds of Reprinting (in next year): Slim for the same reasons as Bladewing the Risen, although the fact that Dragon Mage only has one printing might increase the chances ever so slightly.

Discussion: Wheel of Fortune is a popular card. Dragons are a popular creature type. So when we stick them together we should have a casual slam dunk right? Admittedly not every deck wants to Wheel of Fortune every turn (and even fewer want a seven-mana Wheel for Fortune), but remember we are talking about casual where things like mana efficiency take a back seat to raw coolness. I bet Dragon Mage can do some pretty cool things in the right deck.

The good news on Dragon Mage is that supply is relatively low so it wouldn't take that much demand for current stock to be bought up. The downside is that the spread is modest, and while 32 percent is fine, it doesn't really scream "buy me now, a price increase is imminent" either. Taken as a whole, it does seem that Dragon Mage is worth tracking even if buying now may be premature. 

Dromar the Banisher

 

Supply: Low on TCGPlayer (21 vendors). Very small quantities available from most other vendors, with the exception of ABU, which has 16 available (while also being the cheapest vendor).  

Printings: Invasion.

Spread: 25 percent.

Foil Multiplier: x3.9.

Odds of Reprinting (in next year): Somewhat high, but I have no idea where. All the other members of Dromar, the Banisher's cycle have been reprinted in various supplemental product, so it seems likely that the Esper dragon will follow suit once the opportunity presents itself.

Discussion: First off, isn't it strange that Dromar, the Banisher has not been reprinted yet? The other Invasion dragons were reprinted years ago but Dromar continues to dodge supplemental products and reprinting opportunities like some sort of dragon Damnation. Due to its one printing, solid spread, and low supply (apart from the ABU outlier), if casual players start picking up copies Dromar, the Banisher it could quickly head towards $10. There simply isn't that much Invasion in circulation. 

The downside is Esper isn't really a dragon-centric color combination, so if you want to build with Dromar, the Banisher you are either teaming him with such classics Phantasmal Dragon and Exalted Dragon, or heading the five-color route (if you decide to go with the later, let me know, because I've got something you might want). The other problem with Dromar, the Banisher is that he doesn't see much play in Commander (likely because there are better options for Esper commanders), so we are relying exclusively on the kitchen table casuals to drive demand. While this market is large, it's also fickle, so $10 Dromar, the Banishers are far from given.

Hellkite Charger

 

Supply: High for Zendikar printings (160ish TCGPlayer vendors, in stock at other major vendors), low for Archenemy printings.

Printings: Zendikar and Archenemy.

Spread: 36 percent. 

Foil Multiplier: x1.3 (but this is deceiving since Hellkite Charger was an intro pack foil).

Odds of Reprinting (in next year): Medium? I honestly have no idea. Anything named "Hellkite" is apt to be reprinted in just about any set imaginable — except Khans block, where all dragons are named with the sole intention of making me look foolish when I try to talk about them on the podcast.

Discussion: The numbers aren't too exciting, but there are two reasons Hellkite Charger bears mention. First, it says "take an extra combat phase" and it seems like every card with this phrase, all the way down to the lowly Seize the Day, have spiked recently. Second — and more importantly — vendors (almost across the board) have been increasing their buy prices over the past couple weeks. ChannelFireball is paying twice as much today as they were on Valentines Day, CCG House is x5 where they were a week ago, and Strikezone's buy price has tripled. This is a pretty clear sign that there is some amount of demand for the card. ChannelFireball is already selling for $2, up from $1 in November, so it seems likely that other vendors, some of whom are still selling the hasty 5/5 for $1, will up their sell prices to catch up. With the card having applications beyond dragon-tribal decks, the price seems likely to continue to climb until it gets another reprinting.

Moltensteel Dragon

 

Supply: High. Lots of copies on TCGPlayer and from other vendors.  

Printings: New Phyrexia. 

Spread: Negative.

Foil Multiplier: x3.9.

Odds of Reprinting (in next year): Medium. I'm of the opinion that any Phyrexian mana card that needs reprinting will be in Modern Masters 2015 because they are not coming back to Standard any time soon (they are just too big a violation of the color wheel). This said, a good question is, does Moltensteel Dragon need reprinting? It doesn't see competitive play anywhere, it doesn't have a unique ability, and it's not really a popular casual card (the whole "life as a resource" problem). If it does show up in Modern Masters 2015, it almost has to be an uncommon, which means it will be worthless — cracking a Moltensteel Dragon as your rare in a $10 pack has to be close to the ultimate feel bad Magic experience. 

Discussion: So you're probably wondering why I'm bothering to write about a card that neither competitive nor casual players care about. The answer is it has some crazy numbers. First, you can buy copies for as low as $0.24 shipped, while some vendors will gladly pay you $0.44 in store credit for your copies. StarcityGames is sold out, and CardKingdom currently has their copies listed for $1.29. It was only a few months ago that none of the major vendors even bothered to list Moltensteel Dragon on their buylists. Now pretty much all of them do at double, triple, or even quadruple bulk rare rates. 

I'm not going to claim that I understand exactly what is going on with Moltensteel Dragon, but what I will tell you is buying a card for $0.24 and buylisting it for $0.44 is free money.

Niv-Mizzet Dracogenius

 

Supply: High everywhere. 

Printings: Return to Ravnica.

Spread: 24 percent.

Foil Multiplier: x5.

Odds of Reprinting (in next year): Low. Casual mythics generally take a couple years (at least) post-rotation to be reprinted, so I wouldn't worry about Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius quite yet. 

Discussion: Not much to say about this one. If Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius has no text except for "dragon" and "mythic," it would still end up being worth $3. Every mythic dragon ends up being worth at least this much within a couple years of rotation. Even apart from it's mythicness and creature-type, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius is a semi-iconic character in recent lore and has a somewhat unique ability. Buylist prices have been increasing since rotation, and while it often takes casual cards a bit of time to see meaningful increases post-rotation, Dragons of Tarkir has potential to speed up the clock on Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius. Plus, take a peak at these price charts from other recent mythic dragons.

 

The price charts above so some of the biggest post-rotation gainers, but even a forgettable dragon like Scourge of Valkas has nearly doubled in price over the last nine months and Furyborn Hellkite is a $3 card. In fact, both of these dragons (which I had honestly forgotten about before researching this article) currently buylist for more than Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius sells for. Unless there is some unforeseen reprinting, it's hard for me to imagine the Izzet dragon being worth less that $3 or $4 a year or two from now.

Dragon Broodmother

 

Supply: Very low. A handful of NM vendors on TCGPlayer. Most major vendors currently sold out. 

Printings: 1.5 - Alara Reborn, Prerelease Promo.

Spread: 25 percent. 

Multiplier: Irrelevant due to foil promo printings and those silly "all foil" Shards of Alara block packs. If you want a pack foil, you can get it for basically the same price as a non-foil. 

Odds of Reprinting (in the next year): Medium. It could be in Modern Masters 2015, but that seems like a wasted mythic slot with so many Modern playables (which Dragon Broodmother is not) needing a reprint, although it could be moved down to rare. Having the Devour mechanic limits the possibilities to either a return of the keyword or supplemental products.

Discussion: Reprint concerns aside, Dragon Broodmother has some really solid  numbers suggesting it could be a good pickup. A 25 percent spread for a casual-only card is very solid. Seeing supply gradually decrease (SCG had five copies in stock a week ago but are currently they are sold out) is another good sign. While there are still a few copies available in the $12 range, CardKingdom restocked at $16.99, and most TCGPlayer vendors are between $15 and $16. It seems likely that $15 or more will be the new price point for the Alara Reborn mythic.

At the same time, you're not going to make any money buying in at $13 and selling for $16. For Dragon Broodmother to really be a worthwhile investment, you have to be hoping a $20+ price tag soon, and I'm not sure this is likely. I'm afraid Dragon Broodmother my be a good example of what Travis Allen writes about in one of my favorite mtgfinance articles: having a spec increase in price (even drastically) isn't always enough to guarantee a profit.

Conclusion

That's all for today. If you were hoping for the last installment of my collection buying series, don't worry, it's still coming. But it might not be until after Dragons of Tarkir spoiler season. As always, leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments. Oh, and if you are looking for some Crucible of the Spirit Dragons to complete your five-color dragons list, make sure to let me know.


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