Brainstorm Brewery #252: Corbin’s Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

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Josh Lee Kwai returns to discuss Commander 2017 and push DJ to the #2 guest spot.   The cast discusses the make-up of the new decks and which cards might grow in value.   Corbin gives a rundown of modern, and the crew covers breaking bulk and pick of the week with their guest.

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Douglas Johnson is and will forever be merely a guest.

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PROTRADER: Commander 2017 Singles

I am in love with this round of decks. Sweet, swooning, head-over-heels-and-then-around-again love. I know I’m going to buy at least one deck, and if you wanted to try them all I wouldn’t blame you.

We know the decklists and the values, and frankly, there’s nothing in the decks that compels an immediate buy. Right now, Kess, Dissident Mage is the most valuable card of them all, with Teferi’s Protection goosing the value of the Vampire deck as a close second. Mirari’s Wake is the most expensive card in the Cat deck, a not-that-surprising inclusion given that it’s GW.

Today I want to look at where some of these prices are headed. Right now, we are a week away from getting the decks in hand, and it’s time to look at what singles look spicy.

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expensive cards

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

 

Cliff is swinging the pendulum back towards Commander, given the new and exciting cards they keep printing for the format, but any new format or odd way to play will always get his attention. Read his articles every Friday here or hit him up on Twitter @WordOfCommander.

Delving Deeper: Getting into Older Formats Part 1

Do you remember when you first started playing Magic? I know I do. It was at a friend’s house I watched for a few minutes as they played Standard against each other and then they asked me to take a seat and try myself. I was handed a deck with Stoneforge Mystic, Batterskull, and Jace, the Mindsculptor in it. I was instantly hooked and here I am today, writing articles and totally immersed in all forms of Magic: the Gathering.

Despite the highly competitive nature of the decks, Standard was the format I was introduced in. I would wager that with the number of events as well as the Pro Tour featuring it primarily, most player’s first forays into Magic also involve Standard. However, Standard just makes up one portion of the competitive scene of this vast game. There are dozens of fan-made and casual formats that exist. If you look around the world and on Magic Online you will find a plethora of competitive formats to dabble into.

“Alright, cool. I have been playing Magic at FNM and locally with friends for about a year now. I always hear about other formats like ‘Modern’ and ‘Legacy.’ I want to check that out, and learn more about other ways to enjoy this awesome game. Let’s check out some decks…”

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Ok, so by this point many players are immediately turned off at this thought. Spending _____ on a card game sounds ridiculous right? Well to those who are just looking to Magic as the most casual of a hobby, I agree, the prices of these decks are astronomical and should rightfully push some away.

The price of top tier decks in formats like Vintage, Legacy, and even Modern are staggering! It isn’t easy for most folks to just jump right in and build a top tier deck on the fly. Forget about it if you change decks or want to build a gauntlet. I will never sugar-coat the financial struggle there is to getting involved in Magic’s older formats. Playing this game competitively is extremely expensive and I don’t want to underplay that.

So then what is the point of writing this? I am here to tell you that it is possible to accomplish this and show you how to do it. In this two-part article series, first, I will give general advice on picking out the right path to take. I will ask key questions that every player must ask themselves before undertaking this journey. The second article will discuss specifics on how to acquire expensive cards and help you reach the end goal. The advice I give here may not be for everyone, as each person’s situation and experiences are unique, but I will do my best to give the best advice regardless.

Before embarking on this quest, you must first ask yourself a few questions. These are general questions that will act as the knowledge used to form your action plan.

  1. What do I want to get out of Magic?

Another way to look at this question is what do you want Magic to be for you? If you want to play older formats but do so more casually then you are in luck. The internet is going to be your best resource for discovering new strategies and fun combos that can be built on a budget. Legacy, Modern, and Commander aren’t as daunting when you can use budget card choices, after all.

However, many players want to play competitively. Whether they plan to play in weekly/monthly events at their local LGS or travel to a Grand Prix or large event, if the goal is winning, things certainly get more expensive.

There are hundreds of high-level Standard events happening across the country every weekend. If you want to win at those events, you will need $200-$300 to purchase one of the Tier 1 Standard decks. There is a plethora of coverage and articles all over the internet to read and observe to elevate your Standard game. Keep up to date, study tournament results, and practice. That’s about all there is to Standard.

So what happens when you want to do the same with Modern? If we look at recent top performing decks, while there may be some variance in prices, most decks are going to cost from $700-$1500. That is a LOT of money to shell out and a significant step up from the price of a Standard deck.

Once you’ve determined the degree to which you want to play Magic, the next logical step becomes…

  1. What deck should I play?

Everyone’s budget is different, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just assume that the average person can purchase one top tier modern deck (even if not all at once) and that replacing/changing decks often is not feasible. Under this fair assumption, selecting the right deck is crucial. Choosing a sub-optimal deck that doesn’t successfully align with your answer to question #1 can spell disaster for a player working on a limited budget. Usually it will mean reselling your cards to a store, where you will at best recover 50% of your investment or selling online which can be risky and time consuming. Neither option here is desirable, so choosing your deck correctly the first time is important.

A common pitfall I see many players fall into involves purchasing/trading for a deck that they will outgrow. Let’s pick on Legacy for this example. When I see players who are interested in Legacy, if their goal is to be competitive and to win events, I will do my best to steer them away from introductory or tier 2 decks. Decks like Burn, Dredge, Merfolk, and Eldrazi are all capable of winning games, but they lack the long-term staying and winning power of top performing decks in Legacy. In other words, there are significantly more instances of other decks winning matches and events than these decks winning.

Again, I would like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with these types of decks. They are just not decks I would recommend to players who answered question #1 with anything along the lines of “wanting to win events” or “playing top tier decks to improve as a player.”

Many players choose to play decks like Burn or Dredge in Legacy due to monetary concern. Other decks play Dual lands and various expensive staples. So naturally it follows that decks without Wasteland, Force of Will, and Dual lands seem like an excellent budget alternative. Don’t be fooled, though. Lower power decks in Legacy ARE alternatives, just not tournament winning alternatives for those who wish to win the most matches. In part 2 of this article series I will go over the best ways to invest and pick up cards to build your way into more expensive formats like Legacy and Vintage.

So, to reiterate my point, if you are looking to enter an older format competitively (where winning is the primary goal), you should aim to purchase/trade for a top tier deck. This may involve acquiring dual lands or other expensive format staples that you would have otherwise wished you could have avoided. Do not buy into a deck just because it is an excellent entry-level deck for the format, as you will likely outgrow it and lose money on turning around and selling it.

To sum up this article (which will be two parts total):

  1. Ask yourself what you want out of Magic.
  2. Pick what deck you should play.
  3. If you want to be competitive, do not settle for something less.
  4. Don’t buy into a “budget” or introductory deck to a format.

These questions and my advice may seem somewhat intangible, but stick with me for the next article where I put it all to practical use.

Dabbling into older MTG formats is more of a journey than a case of instant gratification. If you can afford the top tier deck you want just like that, excellent. You are luckier than most. If you don’t need a top tier deck to have fun with and enjoy the format, that is also excellent. Your wallet will thank you. One of the most beautiful parts about Magic is that it has so many ways to involve and include individuals of various backgrounds. No matter what type of player you are, or the extent of your budget, there is a format in Magic for you. Go out there and experience it!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast. 
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Your Kess is as Good as Mine

We have EDHREC data, finally!

People are building their decks, they’re putting them online to be scraped and they’re being scraped.

 

Having that sweet, sweet data means I don’t have to pull an article topic out of my ass this week and it also means that we’re going to make. Every. Money. Immediately.

The Wizards cards all seem like they are doing nutty things, as predicted. Inalla, Archmage Ritualist is causing people to take a long, hard look at Wanderwine Prophets, for example.

This was honestly the largest pic of this card I could find that didn’t look like it was photographed with the Camera from a Game Boy Color. If I had a dollar for every pixel on the picture on MythicSpoiler.com I’d have enough money to sleeve my copy of Inalla when I get it. Hopefully you can read that Eminence ability and hopefully you can figure out that copying Wanderwine Prophets means you always have a Merfolk to sac because the token Champions the original Merfolk, blah blah blah. Taking infinite turns is always a good thing. What’s Wanderwine Prophets look like right now?

There are still copies under $1 but I don’t expect them to last long. You’re basically not getting it on the ground floor at this point unless you’re reading Twitter early in the day or this article the minute it’s published. Should you chase this? If you buy at $3 or $5 it will still be fine when the card hits $10, right?

Let’s see if we can remember whether there was another blue creature that gave you infinite turns with a new Commander and look at the price trajectory of that card.

Remember us? The neato interaction between Ezuri and Sage was enough for the price of Sage of Hours to skyrocket from $2 to $3, a price it didn’t manage to maintain. Soooooo go to town and buy those Wanderwine Prophets so you have a combo that’s more confusing and worse than this one since you have to manage to deal them damage with a creature for it to work. I’m going to stay pat, frankly. I’m sure everyone will make Prophets a $30 card just to make me look like an idiot. This is a time when Stone Calendar is $25 so I guess what do I know about MTG Finance? I guess nothing. Buy those Martyr’s Cry while they’re hot, I guess. Is Inalla a a better commander than Ezuri? Yes, probably. But the combo is worse and there is still a non-zero chance Prophets gets blown out by a reprinting in Monkeys versus Merfolk or whichever deck is coming out soon. Donald Trump is President, I saw Zima at a grocery store the other day and Sigil Tracer is a $4 card, now. Nothing has to make sense anymore. Go buy Wanderwine Prophets, I guess.

Kess is the card I wanted to talk about today and with limited EDHREC data, I’m not able to really talk about which cards are in a high percentage of decks played. However, if they’re registering at all, that means there is at least a degree of synergy between Kess and that card which makes it worth mentioning. Early adopters aren’t usually super wrong about cards and even if they are, the cards they register are seen by people who build decks subsequently which means they are more likely to get included than cards that are just in a vacuum and take some work for someone to find. That’s not right or wrong, it’s just how it is in the internet age. Let’s look at what Kess players are registering so far and see if anything emerges as a good target.

River Kelpie

Here’s a card that’s growing in price by quite a bit lately. This isn’t that great a reprint target, frankly given its limited applicability (As opposed to Limited applicability. Good luck finding enough people who want to pay $60 a person to draft Shadowmoor) and set-specific keyword ability. You can reprint Persist cards, but Persist cards that are only good if you have Flashback spells? Good luck. Despite clunky ability synergy, this card is a shoo-in in Kess decks and I expect the new attention it gets to put a little more pressure on the price. Remember, it doesn’t need to go up THAT much for you to make some money. It can stay around $3 and if you snag all the $ copies that are out there, loose, you can make money trading them out at $3 or outing them at retail. If the price doesn’t move but the new attention causes the copies below market price to dry up, we still did fine. That’s not a great finance plan but it’s a worst case scenario I can live with. I expect Kelpie to get a bump and I don’t expect a reprint. If you agree with both of those things, be a buddy and snag those last 3 copies on Troll and Toad.

Gamble

No Gamble, no future, I always say (I never say that). Gamble is a card that is perfect for Kess decks. Sometimes you want to play this with an empty hand, making it an Emtomb for spells, but even if you discard the “wrong” card with a full grip, you can usually end up having it be a spell you can play. Getting another crack at your Gamble and tutoring for a spell you can play once or twice means Kess decks and Gamble go together like anime wall scrolls and virginity. When there are more data points to sift through, I actually see the synergy percentage increasing. Most decks that run Gamble are decks that use it as a “better than nothing” tutor because they’re mostly red, but the card is insanely good in a Kess deck and people are going to very quickly figure that out. At its current price, it’s a little above its floor but since Eternal Masters didn’t give us that many copies in the grand scheme of things, the price drop was largely predicated on a very modest demand for the very limited number of Saga copies being satiated very easily. Its current price can’t satisfy increased demand and I think now’s a great time to buy what could easily end up $10 or $12 very soon. This card’s exactly what I was hoping to find when I started probing these lists.

Beacon of Unrest

Beacon has been pretty stable for the last few months and I think while Commander 2016 gave us a lot of copies, what black EDH doesn’t want to run it? EDHREC has it listed in nearly 7,000 decks currently and at a little over a buck, this seems like a great candidate for “Going way up in price as people start to pay attention to it”. The best part about Beacons is if they get countered, discarded, pitched to gamble, pitched to… Sickening Shoal? Look, if they end up in the yard, you can play them with Kess then shuffle them back into the deck since Kess isn’t true flashback but rather says if the card would go to the graveyard, exile it, which means the replacement effect on the Beacon precedes that. I’m not a judge but I’m pretty sure that’s how that works. If not, ummm, at least Beacon lets you get a free shuffle, so that’s cool. Check the comments section where some nerd will confirm how Beacons work with Kess.

This card is basically at its floor. Commander 2017 coming out means it’s time to celebrate the one year anniversary of this latest Beacon reprinting and I want to celebrate by snagging the sexy new copies with the foil dot and the good art. I bet all that purple looks great in foil. This gets reprinted in a lot of supplementary product but it recovered before and it will recover again.

The Locust God Stuff

Kess is great because I like the ability, it could impact Legacy or Vintage (could, I didn’t originate that thought, so if you’re planning to write “ZOMG LURN HOW TO PLAY VINTIGE” instead use that energy to cram impulses like that deep down until you unleash them on the umpire at your kid’s Tee Ball game like the rest of us) and because it makes you able to play your Locust God deck with a new commander and black cards. You won’t port the whole deck over and I still recommend building and playing a The Locust God deck with wheels and everything separately, but a lot of the same cards including the Locust God itself go nicely in Kess. Let those Tolarian Winds blow – you just doubled your hand size. Don’t give your opponents the benefit of a wheel so keep those Puzzle Boxes in their… larger box? What do you store a Puzzle Box in? What do I look like, pinhead? Keep them in whatever you keep them in because you don’t want them wheeling, just you. As long as they aren’t removing your yard from the game, a wheel means you have access to a grip full of new hotness plus you can play spells from the grave with flashback like a boss.

I think there’s enough money to be made here. I might even talk about Innala next week- who knows? I don’t! A lot can happen between now and then, so in the mean time, read my tweets, listen to my podcasts and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Until next time!

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