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 #222 – How to Get Murdered by a Craigslist Seller

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It’s a dangerous world out there. People set up all sorts of shady scams to rob or murder people who are attracted to Craigslist deals. You might think we’d offer you advice on how not to get murdered by people like that, but we totally don’t. I’m just realizing that we spent a good portion of this episode encouraging you to put yourself in statistically the most dangerous situation you’ll be in during a given week but without offering any help. So, uh, don’t get murdered. Especially since we relaunched our Patreon.

 

 

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I Like Liking What I Like

Last week I tried something radical and new and talked about cards I liked out of the new set and no one fired me. It turns out my guess is as good as yours when it comes to cards I’m not sure about and you’re not paying me to hear guesses that are as good as yours. Actually, you’re not paying me at all. This website is paying me. And it’s not like you’re directly paying the website because this is free to read. So you’re not even paying me indirectly. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not accountable to you in any way. I’m FREE! I can cast of these shackles and live totally uninhibited! Rules are for losers! Clothes are for slaves! ANARCHY!

You read this column because, hopefully, I think of things you don’t think of, either because I spent more time thinking about it and you used that time better by having a social life or working an actual job or because I have insight into a format you aren’t interested in but still want to profit from. Insight comes to us in a lot of different ways, including input from readers, input from people who have tested cards I haven’t had a chance to test and from my own testing. Accordingly, playing some cards has changed my opinion on some of the stuff in this set and my updated opinion comes just in time for the cards to be available for purchase after the prerelease and the prices to have been updated accordingly. I like some of what I like, don’t like some of what I liked, like some of what I didn’t like and don’t like some of what I didn’t like. Those are the only positions I can think of. I should be able to find a few examples of each of those.

Cards I used to like but now extra like

I thought I liked this card a lot and I was surprised to learn I like this a lot more after playing with it. This looks weak for Limited at first but it’s actually just nuts. This puts you behind curve, I guess, but if you can’t play behind curve to ensure you never run out of gas or draw too many land then I guess your deck is too good to ever lose. This overperformed in Limited but it’s also just stupid in EDH. You have to play it in decks with green which is fine because having the Scry in a green deck means you can improve your draws. Besides, green decks already have a ton of extra mana so you’re just going to draw a ton of cards with this. Green is already the best color in EDH and now it got a card that honestly white needed a lot more. The rich get richer with this card which is fine with me. At $1, this is going to be a cheap pickup in the short term but in the longer term, this is a $5ish card unless it’s reprinted. It could even grow from there. I realize it could take a minute because this is a non-mythic not only from the post-mythic era but in a new era of bulk rares I’m defining as the post-Masterpiece era. Masterpieces make boxes attractive and that means bulk rares are going to be crushed into powder and will take longer to materialize. If you’re still too impatient, consider the foils, which are currently about $7. This strikes me as a $20 foil if this card ends up in a lot of decks, which it might do. This might not end up a staple for the format, but there are plenty of decks that could use the draw-smoothing this gives you. You’re going to draw a lot more quality for your green mana with the scry, also. $7 foils seem pretty good to me, and the non-foil copies seem like they have upside. I’d trade any card that’s $5 because of Standard that will be $0.10 a week after rotation for a pile of these. I would use this to shore up trades off by $1. I would go after foils of this, but you might have some time (watch to see if this takes off; it shouldn’t but it could). Playing with this, I see this is better than I thought, and I liked this card quite a bit.

People are calling for this to be banned already, which is funny. What’s also funny was the EDH rules committee’s announcement concerning the ban list, specifically –

Some folks have talked about a preemptive banning of Paradox Engine, but we won’t do that. Every card – even Griselbrand – gets to be legal for at least a little while, as we prefer to look at actual play in casual settings over theory. I’ll note that the last time we saw this much speculation about a preemptive ban was Shaman of Forgotten Ways, and that card turned out just fine.

Paraphrased, that’s “A lot of you are very vocal which is great, but you’re also dipshits, which is not great, so why not leave the bannings to us because as much as you insist you know better than us because your little kitchen table group unbanned black Braids and banned Cultivate, we actually know what we’re doing and most of your suggestions are terrible.

I don’t think Paradox Engine is going to be banned. It has more upside than Prophet of Kruphix but takes a lot of work to get going and if you don’t do anything, it doesn’t do anything, unlike Prophet. It doesn’t give your spells flash or untap your lands, two things that Prophet did that made it so degenerate. Is Paradox Engine the best EDH card in the set? I think it might be. Is it bannable? Doubt it. Scoop these up with confidence, but with the price going down by $1 since the weekend, I would wait a minute. I don’t see Standard spiking this like it did with Panharmonicon, so this could get very affordable, even as a mythic, and I want to pick them up, then. I would say peak supply is when this will be the most affordable, so as long as someone doesn’t put up results with this in the mean time, I say we wait. At $7 and $24 for the foil, this has clearly been identified as an EDH card. Considering Panharmonicon is an $11 foil, I might wait on foil Engine, too. I know that Engine is a mythic, but I also know it used to be more than $11 so I’d say let’s wait on engine. Mythic or not, I think the price will get lower.

Cards I used to like but now don’t like so much

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I used to like this card. Then I played with it.

I thought I would be OK with it only triggering once, only on your turn, and only if you made something happen. I was not OK with those things. I didn’t think this would be exactly Lurking Predators, but this isn’t Lurking Predators the same way Call of the Wild isn’t Survival of the Fittest. Oh, and one of my readers told me this is going to be jammed in one of the Planeswalker decks, further limiting its potential. I liked the look of this card, but similar to how Bestiary plays much better in practice, this so much worse. I said to trade for these and sit on them so hopefully no one bought in for cash, but I have really soured on this card. Whiffing on it happens, failing to trigger it happens and it doesn’t punish your opponents for playing a ton of spells. Free permanents off the top is great, but this underwhelmed me.

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I was in Walmart looking for Atraxa decks (This used to be more of a thing – I found plenty of Mind Seize decks in Walmart weeks after the sets came out) and noticed that the promo in those store repacks that have a draft set plus a foil rare was Thalia’s Lancers. I don’t know if this is going to impact the set foil, prerelease foil or non-foil the most, but I do know that a very good card that can fetch things like Paradox Engine has been dealt another blow. Sometimes Wizards likes the same cards I do and makes them promos. I expect a promo Leovold, just in time for that price to go down anyway, but I didn’t expect this. It makes me like it a lot less as a spec moving forward, unless you snag the promos for cheap. They’re like $10 a playset on eBay right now, though, so I’m not sure how much cheaper we expect them to get or how high they can go after such a low vote of confidence from the market. This feels bad considering how hyped I was for this card, but let’s not pretend circumstances don’t change later. This kind of thing happens, and if you hadn’t noticed we’re getting additional supply we didn’t anticipate, I’m glad I pointed it out.

Cards I didn’t like but now maybe not like less so

I feel like I may have underestimated this card. Last week, I feel like I made a good case for even the foil versions of the unexciting, mono-colored commanders from Kaladesh still not moving much and me not being excited a ton. This isn’t quite Rashmi, but it’s also not quite whatever that mono green thing that makes tokens that’s so durdly I keep having to look its name up but don’t even care enough to do that this time, you know the one I mean. The old broad. Anyway, I don’t know why I glossed over this card because this is basically a Kressh, the Bloodbraided that can go in Golgari decks and in Golgari decks, this is dumb. You can trigger this a ton with Grave Pact effects and your kill spells. You can play my favorite C16 card, Curtain’s Call, and get two counters on this. This card is dumb and it’s $1. Yahenni still isn’t my favorite Aetherborn (Gonti 4 LYFE) but this is still a fine card and I liked it a lot less initially than I do now. I think this being a $12 foil that I whiffed on tells me I probably misjudged it by evaluating it in the context of what the Kaladesh mono-colored commanders did. I don’t think this will be a $12 foil when it’s been enough time since the prerelease weekend as it has been now since Kaladesh (does that sentence make sense to you? It does to me) but people are clearly somewhat interested. This isn’t Baral or Sram but I liked those and was wrong about this one. I’d keep an eye on it, and $12 for the foil might look appealing in a year or two when this is $20 in foil. That’s a maybe, not a definitely, but I think these can go down then go back up and probably higher than they are now, so try to snag foils near the floor.

I don’t know what this will do financially, but there are a ton of ways to untap artifacts, especially artifact creatures, and I think this is super. Is this Archivist or Azami? It’s hard to tell, but I think being able to draw a ton of cards when you have Clock of Omens, Unwinding Clock, Paradox Engine, etc. and still draw when you have Intruder Alarm and Mind Over Matter if you pick the right artifact is underrated and while this might end up a bulk rare, this did a lot of work at the prerelease. I expected it to do work at the prerelease, but I didn’t expect to look at it for EDH. I’m not saying buy these, but I am saying this overperformed and it’s worth looking at. Only 8 decks are running this on EDHREC, 5 of them Breya, but considering 130 decks are running Quicksmith Genius (although looting for no mana without tapping the creature is pretty good in Daretti), this could get some love, soon.

Cards I no liked and now I still no like

I agree with everything people who like this card are saying about this card. It’s fetchable with Trinket Mage, it’s stupid in Vintage, it was great at the prerelease with Scrap Trawler. I get it. I just don’t know if the limited amount of play it’s liable to get in EDH due to it not interacting with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed the way Triskelion does. This does have other interactions, though. I’m agnostic to what Vintage could do to the price of foils. I could speculate on that but I have no confidence in the conclusion I’d come to. I don’t know whether Modern wants this, I’m suspecting not. I feel the same way about Standard. A lot of people are pumped about this card and I am not among them. I understand everything people are saying in support of this card, but I don’t find any of it super compelling, with respect to non-foil copies, anyway. I’m prepared to be wrong, here and if you think I am, the foils are like $2 more than the non-foils. I think $6 is really high for this unless Standard does something with it.

There you have it. I think there are some actionables here, especially if you like Walking Ballista and think that a 1.2x multiplier is probably not correct, meaning either the non-foil or the foil price will correct soon. I recommend playing with cards before you pay cash on anything, or talk to people who have played with them. Sometimes cards work out much differently in practice than they do in theory and your opinion on cards my change quite a bit. I’m disappointed not to like Aid From the Cowl anymore, but I’d be more disappointed if I spent $200 on a bunch of copies. I’m building a few decks out of new cards from Conspiracy, C16 and Kaladesh block and the more testing I do, the more I’ll discover that might not be obvious at first glance over the set. Remember, this is EDH finance and we have a LONG time to get ahead of price increases. Until next time!

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Now Usually I Don’t Do This

Now usually I don’t do this, but, uh, I’ma go ahead and break y’all off with a little remix of the previews.

Things I don’t like

I don’t like having to talk about things I don’t want to talk about. If you’re a buyer in MTG Finance, you don’t have to have an opinion on every card. You basically only ever have to have an opinion on one card, if it’s the right card. If you saw them spoil Tarmogoyf and said “This could be the first Standard card to break the $30 mark” and bought all of them for basically $1 the first week the card was available, you likely made a mint. People would have patted you on the back for being so prescient. No one would have said “Yeah, you made thousands on Goyf, but you totally whiffed on telling us to buy Coalition Relic and when you said Magus of the Vineyard ‘seemed OK’ I bought a bunch and lost my ass.” No one wants to talk about every card if they don’t have strong feelings about it. That’s why this week I’m going to talk about the cards I have strong feelings about. If you want to figure out what the rest of the set is going to do financially, ask someone who has a strong opinion. Based on what I think is going to happen from EDH demand (and other formats where it’s applicable) I have some opinions on current prices. I almost never recommend preordering (hence the title) but there are cards to watch and cards to buy in my opinion and since this is my article, you’re going to get my opinion until you stop reading. That’s how this works.

More things I don’t like are mono-colored Legendary creatures. The colors an EDH general put you in are just as important as the effect of the general (in general) and how good Sram is at drawing cards pales a bit when you realize you have to build him mono-White unless you relegate him to the 99 of your other decks. Look back at prices from Kaladesh. We’re seeing what people want already.

The bad multi-colored generals are basically at the same price as the good mono-colored ones. Meanwhile the trash mono-colored one (Oviya) is an outlier, as is the very good multi-colored one (Rashmi, whose foil price is 3-4 times the other commanders and whose non-foil price is higher than all of the other non-foils prices also). Foils don’t tell the entire story, however they are the first prices to be sensitive to demand increases because of their lower supply. For non-mythics in the post-mythic era, it takes a lot of demand to move the needle. Masterpieces are crushing everything so much that the in-demand mythic Rashmi is worth basically the same as a less-in-demand-but-still-in-demand card like Pia Nalaar despite the one being mythic and one being non-mythic. Of course a mythic foil will be worth more than a non-mythic foil, but $13ish shows that the demand from EDH players has started already. Pia and Padeem have abilities EDH players want, but the mono-colored nature of Padeem all but relegates him to the 99 whereas Pia and Rashmi can play both roles. Gonti is basically a best-case scenario for a mono-colored commander since he is the second best Legendary creature in the set, is in a good color and wasn’t a buy-a-box promo or whatever. I think we can predict a few things about what we’ll see with the cycle of mono-color Legends in Aether Revolt.

This dude is $5.50 and at that price, it’s the strongest performer. I would say this is probably a better card than Gonti and certainly has people pretty hyped. I don’t want to pay $5 for this considering non-foil Rashmi is $1, however. Foils of this could be in the $10 range if tryhards follow through and end up as hyped about this card as they say they are. What is propping Baral up at this point is his potential for inclusion in Standard. Do we know whether that will happen? Did Reflector Mage’s banning make blue decks better or worse? Look, I wouldn’t ask Pat Chapin to accurately predict what is going to come from Standard post-new set and post-bannings so you’re crazy if you ask me whether this will see Standard play. Stranger things have happened. I do know that this would have to see a TON of Standard play to justify a $5 buy-in for non-foils.

Count all of the mythics under $5. Proceed with caution.

Personally, I think Sram is either the best or second-best Legendary creature in this set. Given its availability at $1.75 on TCGPlayer today, I’m not confident about any of the legendary creatures pre-selling for more than it. I don’t think Hope of Ghirapur’s durdly casual appeal will be enough to justify paying $2 for it. What I don’t like about pre-sale prices above bulk is that they make it difficult to get cheap foils from people. Kaladesh has showed that 3 months on, the best card (Baral? Sram?) are worth about $3.50 as a non-mythic. Baral could be worth $5 or more, but no one is trading you the foil version for $5 at the prerelease if the non-foil is going for that.

Stay away from the other stuff. I think Yahenni is underrated, but the foil is already at $5.50 and that’s probably about right for now. We’ll check back in a year, I guess, but Kaladesh is 3 months ahead and can probably give us a bit of a glimpse into trajectories that hopefully we can apply to Aether Revolt. The sets rotate out at the same time, but EDH doesn’t rotate and the demand is unaffected by such things. Rotation gives us a chance to get cards at their floor, though, and we’ll want to watch some of these cards then, if Standard doesn’t pump their prices, that is.

Things I like

This is a $4 pre-order, which kind of blows if you ask me. The $15 foil seems a little high, but the card has a lot of potential. This reminds me a LOT of Expropriate in terms of its appeal, mythic status, color, pre-sale price and a lot of other factors. Expropriate is in a set whose supply makes it quite inappropriate to try to compare prices, however. Trajectory, though, is a good corollary. At peak supply, I want to look at this card. I hope the foils come down, not because $15 is wrong but because it’s right and I want to pick them up for less than that. Do I think this foil hits the $30 that foil Expropriate hit? Nah. I’ll wait. Keep an eye on this sucker.

Aid From the Cowl is Aether Revolt’s From Beyond. You know how I won’t shut up about From Beyond? Well, sometimes they make a functional reprint (and maybe a slightly better version) of a card that a lot of people in a lot of formats are using that’s worth like $5 after a bunch of reprintings. Maybe this new card is harder to reprint. Maybe the only reason the prices aren’t the same is because the card is very recent and there are hundreds of copies in every retail outlet. It will take a year or two for demand to soak up those copies. In the mean time, you can take your time socking away a ton of copies at your own pace and suddenly From Beyond is like $8 and everyone but you and me is surprised. Aid From the Cowl is this set’s Zendikar Resurgent. This reminds me of Lurking Predators. It casts free Permanents. It will take a minute for this card to go up, but if you make sure you get every copy in every binder over the next few years, you’re going to just make money. Trade away Aetherspire Harvester for 4 copies of this and you’ll end up looking like a genius when Harvester is worth 1/4 as much and Aid is worth 4 times as much. You need a retail out on this, though, since if this quadruples (which it might not) the buylist probably only doubles and then shipping costs eat a lot of your bottom line. Read this. There is a reason I recommend grabbing these in trade and not paying shipping. This will hold value and grow while a lot of the rest of the set will not. If this looks risky to you, stay away. There are plenty of cards that are going to go up faster and aren’t from Masterpiece-containing sets. However, foils of this are $5 which means EDH is very aware that this is nuts. That or dealers think EDH is aware that this is nuts. Either way, I have confidence in this card.

I like this card a lot more than most people, but at peak supply, these will be dirt cheap. I like this as a long-term pickup, especially for people who don’t like foils. Watch this. Trophy Mage is spicy and gets a lot of combo pieces.

At $75 for the masterpiece, $23 for the set foil and $8 for the non-foil, it’s safe to say this card has been identified. I am not sure there are many ways to take advantage of this in Standard, so the price is almost certainly too high given the Masterpieces in the set. This is Panharmonicon levels of good and unless someone jams this in Standard, this will tail off until we hit peak supply. Not much we can do about the foil price since it’s a snap pick-up for players at its current price and I don’t see it getting high enough in the meantime that we’ll wish we’d paid $23 for finance reasons. Not with a $75 Masterpiece, anyway. If those prices move together, though, it’s worth revisiting. However, I think this will go down and we’ll want to revisit at peak supply.

Bulk rare with an $8 foil? I’m listening! If Aid From the Cowl doesn’t end up this set’s From Beyond, this sure will. This may be an early front-runner for this set’s Dictate of Erebos, although Dictate was also predicated on being a nearly identical printing of a $15 card. This isn’t as obvious as all that but it’s certainly powerful and the high foil price indicates someone has a lot of faith in this bulk rare. I think this is good enough to maintain some value moving forward, especially used in concert with cards like Abundance, Mayael, Aid From the Cowl, Lurking Predators and myriad other “I get a random card from the top but not actually that random” cards. This is a steal at bulk status and I want to trade for these all day.

This card has me very excited. This is a value engine and will likely be the centerpiece of some comboes that ruin some lives moving forward. $1.50 on the non-foil is probably good for now, but dealers don’t seem that bullish on this being played in EDH since the foils are only $3. I think $3 for foils of this is probably incorrect. If it gets any cheaper, I’m all-in. As it is, $3 for foils makes me think it could get cheaper since pre-sale foil prices are usually too high given the total lack of competition from other vendors and the uncertainty surrounding getting your hands on enough to fill orders. There is a foil in the set whose current price makes me want to buy, though.

Before I tell you that card, I want to show you a few other graphs.

I’m sure you can guess which card I’m going to point out.

Boom. This gets you any number of rats or apostles out of your deck and it’s currently $1.50 in foil on TCG Player. I’m not bullish about the non-foils until they hit true bulk, and possibly even not then, but this is a steal at $1.50. The apostles are pretty cheap themselves meaning the deck is doable in foil and if the foil is super cheap, why not just get the foil version if you have to pay $1 or whatever for shipping regardless? It’s also worth noting that using Secret Salvage on Hedron Alignment means you can handle exiling a copy and finding your other copies in one card. That’s pretty good if you ask me.

Which cards do you think are worth discussing at their current price? Did I miss something that’s obvious to you because you’re so smart? Leave it in the comments section. Until next week!

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Brainstorm Brewery #220 – New Year’s Revolt

 

We missed last week and it may have only been half Corbin’s fault.  Its a new year and the cast is back with the best financial information and spoiler coverage.   Babies are absent from the cast, but their impact on the past year is discussed.   It’s Brainstorm Brewery.

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