All posts by Jason Alt

Jason is the hardest working MTG Finance writer in the business. With a column appearing on Gathering Magic in addition to MTG Price, he is also a member of the Brainstorm Brewery finance podcast and a writer and administrator for Brainstorm Brewery's content website. Follow him on twitter @JasonEAlt

Pro Trader Kitty Cats 2018

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Hey guys. It’s National emoji day and if I knew how to make emojis I’d do a bunch of them right here. If I knew how to make the gray boxes that made it look like I tried to do a bunch of emojis and failed, I would do that, too. I sort of wish I knew how to do the kittycat emoki, though, because as soon as they announced the four themes for Commander 2018 decks, the internet found its kittycats for the year 2018, and that kittycat’s name is “Enchantress.”

What’s A “Good” Spike?

I think there are two major classifications of spikes – let’s call them simply “good” and “bad” so you know how you’re supposed to feel about them. A “bad” spike is one that feels forced – it’s a bunch of dudes on Reddit all getting together to buy Catacomb Dragon because it’s on the Reserved List. The justification for it is always ex post facto as if they thought about how to make the case for it after they bought it. You’ll notice them calling it an “EDH staple” and if you mention EDHREC, there’s always an excuse; EDHREC doesn’t get competitive EDH data, no one uses the site anymore (what does that even mean?), it’s good in their deck so that means it’s a staple. If the person making the case for the card seems allergic to data and has two anecdotes for every data point you come up with, stay away. “Forced” or “bad” spikes have a familiar graph shape.

A precipitous climb followed by a meteoric descent. Usually the price ends up somewhere between where it started and where it peaked, but lately these dumb spikes haven’t panned out very well and the card goes back down to where it started – usually because the people behind the buyouts are used to being able to buy out TCG Player and letting everyone else think they’re geniuses for buying out Cardshark.

So what characterizes a “good” spike? I think that a good one has two major components.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The First Wave

M19 has been added to EDHREC and it doesn’t really surprise me that much. I thought there might be some more Vaevictis Asmadi decks than there are but while that is going to happen over the next few weeks, it also feels like favorites have been chosen and historically, the way things pan out the first week or two is how they end up long-term. The top 3 EDL cards are spread out and while they’re ten or twenty decks apart, it also feels like they’re orders of magnitude apart, too.

Arcades is coming in at basically twice as many as Nicol Bolas and Vaevictis. As much as I love Vaevictis, I’m really surprised we’re seeing nearly as many registered decks as Nicol Bolas, who I expected to be a clear #2. That’s good news for Vaevictis, who is a fun commander and who I expect to be less popular than the linear and boring Arcades who has the clear benefit of being so obvious that it makes people with no imagination feel like geniuses because they figured out you should put a bunch of walls in the wall deck.

I think I’ll do a bit of a hybrid piece today because while I plan to mostly talk about Vaevictis and the opportunities in that deck, there are a non-zero number of Arcades cards that may have been missed that are just starting to emerge now that we have more data to sift through, so let’s start with the Arcades cards that you may have a chance at and move on.

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Sunscape Familiar

This has crossover pauper appeal and supplies are drying up. I won’t say anything crazy like that a Planeshift common has a similar supply to a Dominaria rare because I don’t know the stats on that. What I do know is that there is a lot of demand for this card, supplies are dwindling online and this is a card that wasn’t originally targeted by team obvious. I am not a fan of the hand-waving that seems to accompany saying “just get foils” as if that’s some sort of panacea for every factor of supply and demand surrounding a card that you have no way of knowing but let’s at least look at foils so we can say we did a thorough job, here.

And there you have it. $5 in future bucks and under $2 on TCG Player for the time being, probably because the foils at $1.77 are damaged and also because the $2 minimum on TCG Player tends to strand cards there because the minimum for an order is $2. This will be $10 on Card Kingdom and there will still be a torn copy on TCG Player for $1.77 and half the scrapers programmed a few years ago will call this a $2 card. Let people think this is cheap, I guess.

Reveillark

This card may be dead due to its repeated reprintings, most recently in the mass-produced Commander decks. The demand for this card is going to increase with its ubiquity (if people are smart, anyway, which they demonstrably are not) in Arcades decks which could give it a boost. Commander 2016 stuff has been around long enough that a lot of it’s popping, even high-supply stuff that had multiple reprintings.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This is a $10 card waiting to happen. Supplies are drying a bit and this isn’t just in Arcades decks, although the emblem wins you the game in Arcades decks unless you get supernaturally unlucky. You should be able to draw a card or two for every wall you play for free which will let you draw your whole deck, lands and all. It’s a boring-ass Lab Maniac win but, whatever, people like that. I think if you literally only make one move based on my articles this year, buying a ton of copies of Tamiyo as close to $4 as you can find them is bound to pay big dividends. Make sure to buy a one year Pro Trader subscription when these hit $11. Don’t quote me on that. But these look positively poised. This is the 27th-most-played multicolored card (All 10 signets are in the top 25) card on EDHREC and no other gold Planeswalker sees more play. I will write about this every month just so I can look back in two years and see how it’s a dollar or two more every time I talked about it.

Vaevictis Time, Finally

Let’s talk about the stuff that our new Dargon overlord is going to give us.

It That Betrays

This card was made for Vaevictis decks. The power from this card doesn’t come from casting it so it’s the perfect Eldrazi to cheat into play with Vaevictis’ ability. After that, your opponents being forced to sac something whenever Vaevictis attacks just puts a ton of gas into play on your side of the battlefield. These are currently cheap because of a printing in a duel deck but the new demand for this and the historical demand for Eldrazi will combine to buoy this price pretty easily. If you can get these under $4, do that. This has shown a willingness to flirt with $20 in the past so there’s no reason to think a Duel Deck printing can keep this under $10. Other decks that cheat big creatures into play like Mayael and Jhoira can benefit from this card as well. This is a solid buy at TCG Low, especially since Card Kingdom is selling these at $5.50 pretty swiftly.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

I don’t think the Commander Anthology printing had a ton to do with anything and I think if Vaevictis gets more popular, Mazirek has serious upside. A fine commander in its own right, inclusion in a popular new deck only bodes well. I don’t know how high this can get but it’s flirted with $6 in the past and if TCG Player truly has $2 copies, that seems like a pretty safe bet.

Aggravated Assault

The Explorers of Ixalan game gave us a lot of new copies of this card but demand has shown that it’s willing to increase at a much faster rate than supply, barring another reprint. This is a card that’s not liable to get cheaper than it is right now and considering how important it is in decks like this one, I think it’s a fine time to pick these up, knowing you’re secure in your investment in a card that will be good as long as attacking with creatures is good.

Lurking Predators

I’m 100% positive I said (if not in one of these articles, then on the podcast or in a tweet) to buy these when they bottomed out right around a few months after Commander 2016 coming out when these hit $2. I hope you did. If not, I think it’s about halfway to where it’s going so there is still time to make some money. This is a great card and if you’re stacking the top of your deck like you need to be with Vaevictis, then you’re going to benefit from them giving you free creatures.

Selvala’s Stampede

If you’re manipulating the top of your deck a lot, your opponents are likely to choose the option that lets you play from your hand, which you’ll need, because you’re liable to draw some fatties and this is a great way to play them easily. This card is perfect for decks with a ton of big creatures and it’s also just a green card that should be in more decks. It’s from Conspiracy 2 and supply is basically dried up since no one wants to buy booster boxes where there are useless cards so this is just going to go up. Dealers don’t seem excited by this but I am. This is a solid card and considering Rishkar’s Expertise is going up, too, I’m excited for the future of this card which is a more fair Tooth and Nail.

I think there’s a lot to mull over here. Next week I’ll take a look at any of the half dozen new deck archetypes that are springing up, probably the new Nicol Bolas. In the mean time, keep watching EDHREC for emerging archetypes, or popularity orders swapping. If you spent 5 minutes reading this article I’d recommend also spending 5 minutes a day on EDHREC poking around. I find it just as good an investment of my time as the time I spend poking around on MTG Stocks or the Magic subreddits. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The M19 Cards That Matter (To Me)

I think we’re going to keep it simple this week. I don’t typically do set reviews because I like to wait until the dust settles but this week I don’t really have a topic I am burning to talk about and I figured it’s worth just talking about the stuff in M19 that I expect to impact EDH and therefore be financially relevant for readers like you who are, I hope, adherents of my system. Adherents to? People who use my method. Here’s what I think matters and why.

Nicol Bolas

Nicol Bolas is easily the best Nicol Bolas ever. Easy to cast, makes an immediate impact and flips into a really brutal planeswalker. I think that not only will we see new Nicol Bolas decks pop up on the basis of this card, we’ll see people dust off their old Nicol Bolas decks. This is better at the helm than any other Nicol Bolas ever because it’s easy to rebuy with commander tax whereas an 8 mana Bolas really isn’t, especially in Grixis colors, which historically don’t ramp well.

EDHREC Page for Nicol Bolas

I think the increased popularity of Nicol Bolas decks, probably with new Bolas at the helm and Legends Bolas relegated to the 99, will put some non-zero amount of pressure on Bolas staples. There are some cards that have some upside already and this will only push them over the edge.

This card really grew. I’ve been watching it and I think this could get to $8 pretty easily within a year if it’s not reprinted, which would be pretty tricky. Torment is used in a lot of decks ranging from Kess to Scarab God to Gitrog Monster so upside from Bolas isn’t the only thing buoying this card but it certainly won’t hurt. Check out the page for other Bolas staples you think have some upside since I’m not doing a deep dive on Bolas per se.

Crucible of Worlds

That nearly 12,000 decks figure it a lot more meaningful when you consider that  it was an $80 card at one point.

If buylist gets to like $11 or $12 on these I am going to get real aggressive and go in on these. It will be a long time before they’re $80 again, if ever, but they won’t be $20 for long. This is an example of “discovered demand” which is a term I’m inventing. The mere act of reprinting a card that was priced out of the realm of possibility for people creates more demand because it’s now affordable enough to put into decks, now. This will help the price recover faster since the demand is now higher. Add to that how aggressive I will be about snatching these up because this is a $40 card in a year and you have a recipe for a great financial opportunity when supply peaks.

The one knock against this card is that it’s not a huge power player in anything recent.

That said, it wouldn’t take much for a new card to be printed that put lands in the yard. I think Tatyova decks could make great use of Crucible a lot more than they are – if you’re enabling yourself to play 4 extra lands in a turn, which is better; playing a few basics or playing a Strip Mine out of your yard 5 times? I rest my case. Crucible is playable in a lot of formats and I don’t think its price is mostly predicated on scarcity. Real demand exists and new demand is about to be created. Underestimate this card at your peril.

Arcades, The Strategist

This card already got its own entire article but I think it’s worth mentioning that there are already decklists out there if you know where to look. They aren’t aggregated yet which will help a lot, but you can get a jump on paying attention, although I covered everything I think matters until we get more data. I expect this to be the number one M19 deck built for a while if not forever and whether or not you like it, that’s probably the case. I think M19 has better choices but I learned long ago what I think affects prices less than what everyone thinks.

Omniscience

This isn’t in quite as many decks as Crucible, because it’s not an artifact for one, but I think it has as much Legacy demand and I think discovered demand could be a factor here as well. I expect prices to recover as people who weren’t enfranchised before can get a cheap copy in a trade or bust one in a pack, something that wasn’t possible before.

Chromium, The Mutable

I think this is sneakily one of the best cards in the set. I listened to the EDHRECast so you don’t have to (but you should) and they seemed a little baffled by this card. I’m not baffled at all – this is going to murder people very quickly and easily. The 6 power you lose transmuting Chromium into an unstoppable murder machine will be mitigated by stuff like Battle Mastery and Swords. You’re going to 1-hit KO people with this card and they won’t be able to stop you. Zur may be a “better” deck but that perception is waning a bit. I still like that Zur can grab Necropotence but if you’re trying to go Voltron, this is legit. I am not sure what to put in the deck, but I’ll do a deep dive on it if the data supports that necessity.

Chaos Wand

Chaos Wand can cast every instant and sorcery in their deck with Paradox Engine and a few mana rocks. I am going to do that in every deck I currently have that runs Paradox Engine.

It’s been a minute since we looked at Engine and this is as good a time as any.

It’s been months since I said that this was a pretty good buy at $10 because the only way you lose is if this is banned (it wasn’t) it got reprinted (I can’t imagine it will be soon) or it gets cheaper for some reason (its price doubled). I don’t know if I like this as a buy at $20 as much as I did at $10 and this hasn’t rotated out of Standard yet so I’m going to watch to see if it dips at all then, but my gut tells me this is a $25-$30 card in a year and I don’t think it is fair enough to jam in an EDH precon, the right flavor for a Core Set or broken enough to ban. This is powerful but it’s also fragile, expensive and depends on a board of mana rocks to do anything. I think it’s absurdly good but I don’t think it’s bannable since its power comes from synergy. I still like buyback spells with Engine a lot and using Reiterate to untap all of your mana rocks and double the spells you’re getting yourself until you can find your Chaos Wand seems fun. I don’t think Chaos Wand’s price will matter but if someone plays Wand with Engine on Game Knights or something, a lot of stuff will pop off. If you’re not watching Game Knights, you should if you care about being 24 hours ahead of a run on stuff like Shadowborn Apostle and you may even want to become a Patron to be 48 hours ahead.

Goblin Trashmaster

This card is absolutely insane in EDH. Lords are good, but usually Lords are like “All elves get +1/+1 and Snow-Covered Wasteswalk.” Turning a pile of Krenko tokens into murdering their entire board is insane. If this were Legendary, it would be bannable. Artifacts are incredibly important in this format. True, basically only Krenko decks will run this and maybe a few others, but this is going to be really tough to beat. Let’s look at some decks I bet it impacts.

Since I’m in a teaching mood, I’ll share my thought process for how I’ll go about finding which decks this likely goes in.

Krenko is obvious because it is the goblin token producer extraordinaire but there have to be other commanders that this card pairs well with. I’ll look at Krenko first.

Not the most popular commander and not the least. But hang on. this menu makes me think of something. If Krenko isn’t the commander, it might still be useful in the 99 of any goblin deck. If I view as a card, it will tell me which other commanders would use Krenko.

And just like that, we have 8 examples of decks that run Krenko. It doesn’t mean Trashmaster will get played in all of these decks, but I think there is a good case for correlation. Any deck with Trashmaster will want Krenko even if it’s not the other way around. Wort seems like an excellent home for Trashmaster and it only took a few seconds playing with EDHREC to find a bunch of potential homes for Trashmaster. It’s a good resource and I don’t get paid for pageviews so I don’t care if you use the site or not but you should.

Liliana’s Contract

With the resurgence in popularity of Shadowborn Apostle decks because of Game Knights and the resurgence in ripple decks in general with the printing of Rat Colony, I think the ripple infrastructure deserves another look. It’s probably about to really pop and if a win condition like this makes Apostle (because you tutor for demons) more attractive than Rat Colony, people could build both decks (probably not) or build the older Shadowborn Apostle build which has upside if there are older cards in it. Although the ship has probably sailed. Here is the graph of Thrumming Stone from the article I wrote in April.

Here’s the graph today.

Hope you got your copies in April.

This splits the “ripple” vote a bit since demons don’t synergize with the rats at all, but Shadowborn Apostle builds will want this card and that’s good enough for some extra demand if people don’t have the deck built yet. A $23 stone isn’t a huge impediment to a deck with 40 copies of a $4 apostle but maybe a $45 stone would be. I still don’t hate it at its post-first-spike price but I really hope you listened back in April.

 

Anyway, I’ll dive deeper on individual cards and their implications when I have a little data to back it up with, probably next week. In the mean time, go into the prerelease thinking about which cards in M19 could spawn decks, what go in those decks and prioritize cards like Scapeshift, Omniscience and Crucible that will be good forever over stuff like Resplendent Angel that may or may not be good ever and are super hyped right now. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery #296 Give Her the Dirty Santa (M19 review)

 

Corbin (@Chosler88) , DJ (@Rose0fThorns) and Jason (@jasonEalt) sit down to do the M19 Set Review in record time.

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