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

Brainstorm Brewery #304 Penance & Price Checks

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Corbin’s (@CHosler88) feet are finally being held to the fire by Jason (@jasonEalt), DJ (@Rose0fThorns), and patron Dave Wasser for Chipgate. The crew even brought in special guest Josh Lee Kwai (@JoshLeeKwai) of Game Knights and Command Zone to witness this special occasion. The crew also help to get you ready for rotation with things to pick up and sell.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Everything Old is New Again

Greetings!

I know in this series we like to use data in the weeks that it begins to trickle in to try and predict the future. It’s been working out pretty well for us and it makes us look particularly prescient when someone says “Did you realize Squandered Resources was  $25?” and you show them a big stack of them, or at least the Legacy duals you bought with the profits of your 10,000% gains. It doesn’t always work out like that, obviously. Sometimes this is way harder and the tea leaves are way tougher to read. Sometimes, though, stuff is way easier because sometimes we get a new commander for an entire deck archetype that already exists.

Why Would a Deck People Already Have Built Help Us?

It’s worth addressing this point because if I don’t, it threatens to fundamentally undermine the entire thesis of this piece (which, I guess, is “lol, look how easy it’s going to be to figure out all these cards that are going to pop by looking at what popped the last time this deck was a thing”). Are people going to run out and buy a bunch of cards when the thrust of the deck isn’t really all that new? Is someone who bought the cards for the deck going to buy new copies if they like this new commander better, or will they just change their old deck up a few cards, jam the new commander, put the old one in the 99 and call it a day?

I think there are a few things going on here. Obviously, yes, if someone is going to dust off an old deck with a new commander, they already have most of what they need and they aren’t likely to need to buy all new copies. The more similar the deck is (and we’re discussing very similar stuff today) the less likely it is that they need anything at all but that’s not that bad a thing for us, actually. If they sold the cards, they need to buy them again. If they didn’t sell the cards, they took them out of circulation.

When Nekusar decks first hit, they launched a ton of cards from the $0.50 range to the $5-$10 range by virtue of being the first deck to really incorporate them. I made a ton of money off of cards like Teferi’s Puzzle Box due to Nekusar decks and other cards like Forced Fruition, Windfall and Tolarian Winds became interesting. You could find $1 copies of Forced Fruition in dollar boxes, shops that didn’t update their prices often, trade binders, shoe boxes – what I call “the woodwork.” Copies aren’t coming out of the woodwork anymore meaning anyone who comes along and wants to build the deck is fighting for copies with the people who already have them. So while at first, we may think that the decks existing already means there isn’t as much demand for the cards as before, I think we’ll see more second spikes. The first spikes ferreted the copies out of the woodwork and now everyone who wants a Puzzle Box for a new deck can’t get one from a dollar bin – their only recourse is to pay retail. When everyone has to pay retail and buy from a small number of sources with finite copies rather than myriad sources all over, price go up quickly.

What New Card Is Doing Old Things?

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Niv-Mizzet looks pretty similar to older Niv Mizzets but he also seems to be the most popular. He’s a bit of a combination of the Old Niv-Mizzet Curiosity decks and Nekusar. The spellslinger clause is interesting because it helps mete out even more damage when you do what I assume you want to do, which is cast wheels and recycle your deck. Here’s what I am looking at based on the following EDHREC pages.

Nekusar

The Locust God

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Niv-Mizzet, The Firemind

Arjun. The Shifting Flame

Puzzle Box is the queen of all kittycats here and while the overall price trend is up and up, I have had a few opportunities to buy cheaper copies of these when the demand seemed to have died down a bit. Nekusar into Leovold (briefly) into The Locust God into the new Niv-Mizzet, though, has given us a lot of chances to make money here and I think this new Niv-Mizzet is another chance.

Arjun seems like a low-risk buy-in with some decent upside. Mindmoil effects in general are good right now because rather than deck yourself you’re just shuffling your cards back in so you can tutor for them (except not Mystical or Personal, I guess) or just draw into them again rather than throw them in the bin so you can keep the pain going longer. Arjun is good as the commander of a deck and also as an inclusion and Psychic Corrosion may be a good inclusion for it but with Niv-Mizzet, we want to just keep pinging them a ton. There are hundreds of $1.50 copies on TCG Player to slog through but once that happens, I think this could get there and at least getting these when you’re $1 off in a trade and socking a few away for when we’re another year removed from the Mizzix deck’s printing and we hit a tipping point on Arjun, I think you won’t be disappointed. It may take a few more Niv-Mizzets to push this but I am patient.

 Moileyboi on the other hand has demonstrated a willingness to flirt with $7 on the basis of other factors and this second spike which could be incoming is likely to stick. This is a Ravnica rare and while its inclusion in 1984 decks hardly makes it a staple, it’s in over half of the registered Arjun decks and it’s a good bet that if either card catches on they both will. This is going to dome people for significant damage with a Niv-Mizzet deck and also find you the Curiosity or whatever you need to win the game on the spot. This deck isn’t fun but that hasn’t stopped it, ever.

Magus really took a bath when a Masters 25 printing cut it down from $12 to $2, which really nerfed all the RW precons I bought because I could flip them for basically double. Magus has demonstrated it can be $12 with the huge supply from a Commander deck and while there were a lot more copies injected from Masters 25, that’s still a $10 booster pack set that isn’t being opened anymore and Magus likely claws its way back up. It’s a good idea to buy Masters set stuff at its floor anyway so I think this would make sense even if they hadn’t printed another juicy commander for it.

What is taking meltyboi so long to pop? It may not be super apparent from the graph, but do you see that little region of daylight below the blue line in the middle there? That’s an arbitrage opportunity – for a brief period of time, buylist was actually above retail. The price went up after so the dealers were clearly right. This is a rare I still get for a dime when I buy bulk rares from people, which is a surprise. I think a second spike on this goes to $5 but I don’t know if Niv-Mizzet does it. Still, this is hard to reprint given its metalcraft ability and while it feels like the 8th, uncecessary wheel in the deck, it’s actually pretty savage if you get the metalcraft boost and you plan to wheel some more. You even get to draw another card when you play this off of Niv-Mizzet.

In conclusion, I think while Niv-Mizzet is sort of boring like the other one where you just slapped a Curiosity on him and won , I still expect there to be building around him and if there is, a lot of stuff that is in low supply goes to no supply. I think there are a bunch of kittycats that you buy before people get wise and sell on the basis of hype and if a sexier-looking commander gets spoiled next week, you best believe I’ll talk about it. Until then, keep buying cards, keep asking me questions and see if you can help me buy all of the Mindmoils on TCG Player. That’s a big domino and if it falls, so do a lot of other sites. I think if you scrutinize the pages of the commanders I linked, you may find a few more cards that pair nicely with the new Niv-Mizzet. If not, I’ll be back next week, probably with an article called “Everything Old is New Again Again.” Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Into The Ocean Part 2: October Bluegaloo

Did you read my article last week?

I realize it’s probably a good idea to make the articles evergreen so that someone can come along and read them and have them be relevant at any time but this week I’m literally predicting the future and if I’m right, seeing price increase predictions after they happen is useless and if I’m wrong, I don’t want someone coming around after the fact and pointing that out. I want to count my hits and ignore my misses like everyone else.

So, yeah, I’m going to link last week’s article and since this is part 2, you should really read it if you haven’t already so I don’t have to re-explain what I’m doing and can just jump into picks. I mean, leap- it’s going to be abrup

Lord Windgrace

Lord Windgrace is the most popular deck this week as people seem to have shaken off their initial disappointment at how bad the precon is and have moved on to how good the one card is. There are opportunities for foil buys here for sure.

Splendid Reclamation

$6 is way too cheap for this for a ton of reasons. First of all, and I hate to list this as a factor because I think saying this leads to really intellectually lazy thinking, but it’s insulated from some reprint risk given that it’s much tougher to reprint foils and EDH cards tend to end up in the precon decks where only the new commanders are foil. The fact that this is $3 on Card Kingdom means that people have identified it as an EDH card. However, typically when a card is identified as an EDH card, the multiplier is higher than 2x.

For perspective, while this is bumped out of the Top 100 Green cards, it’s the #1 most-played Green Sorcery not in the Top 100. This is in more decks than Natural Order, Primal Command and Primal Surge. 2x means either the foil is too cheap or the non-foil is too expensive and one of those numbers will equilibrate barring a reprint. If you think it’s unlikely that a card in more decks than Primal Surge is going to go down in price barring a reprint, maybe scoop those last 2 $6 copies off of Card Kingdom and wait for it to hit $10, $12 or even $15 in the next year. Seems like free money to me.

Ramunap Excavator

At $4.49, Card Kingdom wants the exact same amount for the non-foil as they do for the Gameday Promo. That points to a lot of supply and they list 8 for sale with potentially more in stock. Prices are dead even for all 3 version on TCG Player. Clearly there is a lot of supply. Do we expect a price divergence based on what we have seen with other cards that got a Gameday promo? Kiora’s follower is worth $0.50 more as a set foil. Promo Ghalta is worth $2 less than the set foil but the set foil is only $2 more than the non-foil. It seems like we have to go back a bit further. The set foil Wurmcoil Engine is worth twice the promo, a promo which is barely worth more than any non-foil copy of Wurmcoil despite multiple printings. Promo foils are pretty confusing. What I do know is that set foils are the most desirable and at $8, set foil Ramunap Excavator without the prerelease stamp is leading the pack but with the same art, I think $7 for the prerelease stamped Excavator is a good buy. Again, we have a 2x multiplier and while we expect that to diverge, we’re not seeing that even with a card that shrugged off multiple printings like Wurmcoil Engine. Curious. While foils are usually very desirable because when a 2x multiplier grows to 4x or so at the same time the base price doubles, you end up with an 8 fold increase in the difference between the prices which means it was four times as smart to buy the foil. The Gameday promo seems to confound that somewhat. I think Excavator will continue to be a player in EDH and likely gets a reprint in the next 5 years but I am not such a huge fan of anything but the set foil – leave the promos alone.

Horn of Greed

Conspiracy 2 is basically at peak supply and with boxes not moving at cost on eBay, it would take something like Leovold getting unbanned to move these. Meanwhile we have a pi x multiplier on a card that goes in every lands-matter deck built including Tatyova and whatever ends up coming out of Guilds of Ravnica with a bunch of Golgari junk filling our yards and letting us do powerful stuff with Crucible of Worlds. This seems like it has upside to me. $6ish is a high buy-in but I like this card a lot.

Yuriko

Obviously this isn’t as good as Ninja of Deep Hours but the thing about Ninja of Deep Hours is that while Mistbalde Shinobi should be in every deck Ninja of Deep Hours is in when it comes to EDH, outside of EDH, Ninja of Deep Hours is better. 5 times better if the price difference is to be believed. I think Mistblade Shinobi is as good in Yuriko decks and besides, you need every ninja you can get.  Mistblade has some room to go up whereas I am not excited about a $16 buy-in for Ninja of Deep Hours. If Yuriko continues to be a big deal, expect big things here.

Invisible Stalker

It’s funny to me that Invisible Stalker’s Hexproof may give it protection from reprints. Hexproof is a pretty annoying ability and I think they will use it very sparingly going forward in sets that will be played Limited and since we already returned to Innistrad and aren’t likely to again for 3 or 4 more years, I think outside of a core set, this is really safe and inside a core set, I don’t know if this get printed. I think we’re looking at a pretty decent insulation from reprinting and a card that enables Yuriko in a big way. Not much to say here other than that I think there is upside and not a lot of reprint risk.

I will caution you by saying this is a bit more narrow than most of the picks I am advocating last week and this week. This belongs in every Yuriko deck but it’s only in 2,758 decks as of today. That puts it way at the bottom of the Top 50 Blue creatures, wedged between Perplexing Chimera and Roil Elemental. I think there is upside but I like this less than, for example, my call of $2 Arcane Denial from last week.

Stolen Identity

There has been a bit more emphasis on tokens that are copies of creatures lately and this not only works well with Yuriko (you don’t have to copy the ciphered creature, you can copy anything) it also slots well into Brudiclad dekcs. It’s a card people know about, it’s nearly impossible to reprint in foil and people know about it already.

That’s more decks than Invisible Stalker and it has a 1.5x multiplier, which was a value we flagged last time we plotted all of the most popular EDH cards and tagged them with their multiplier. Not only is this in a lot of decks, but most of them are older.

I think the appeal only goes up from here. Older commander are the primary reason this is about to crest 5k decks and with a ton of new reasons to make copies of creatures  that are tokens, this card’s future is so bright it has to wear shades. At nearly the same price as the non-foil, this seems good to me.

Key to the City

There are approximately a million of these foils lying around but at $1, the risk couldn’t be lower and hitting people with creatures, drawing cards and having a discard outlet all in one card is very appealing. Look, I clearly don’t know much about foils, but I like stuff like Stolen Identity and Key to the City that surprised me by how much past demand it had because I estimated the balance of its demand to be more recent. If its price is predicated on past demand, ample though it may be, future demand is about to run smack into it and shake things up. That’s what we want.

That does it for me. If you want me to not do a part 3 next week, let me know now otherwise I’m inclined to. I had fun doing this and having to think about foils is forcing me to get better as a financier. My method takes it easy on my brain sometimes since everyone else is providing concrete numbers so I don’t have to rely on conjecture, so adding a new dimension to my game to keep me honed is important.

Disagree with me? Agree with me? Leave some comments, nerds. Thanks for reading and if you want me to write about something specific next week, speak in the comments or forever be sad about it. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery #302 Should Have Been A Patron

 

Corbin (@Chosler88), Jason (@jasonEalt) and DJ (@Rose0fThorns) sit down to discuss all of the counterfeit drama and crack open your emails and answer them.

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