All posts by Jason Alt

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

Pro Trader: The Still-Shifting Landscape

Readers!

Last week I wrote about how the landscape has shifted a bit and as people actually got Baldur’s Gate cards in their hands, and I feel like I should admit that the landscape continues to shift and every article is merely a snapshot into a fluid situation, further compacted by the fact that Dominaria United previews will start any day, now. Fortunately, we still have some time to figure out some cards that have some velocity because they’re in decks that aren’t tearing up the charts but are still getting built quite a bit. Let’s look at the lesser known decks in Baldur’s Gate (I don’t remember the name of the set, go with it).

The obvious ones are still doing really well, but what about the ones that are not obvious are are not doing as well? Not exactly the dregs, but certainly not the decks ending up in the top-built decks from the last week. Compare Raggadragga’s 716 decks to some of the others.

The 347 Kadira decks aren’t exactly pulling the same weight, are they? That said, they are still pulling weight and we have ignored them for a few weeks. Let’s not do that anymore, shall we?

All precon cards. We talked about this last week – A ton of the high synergy cards are directly from the precon and I don’t know what to do about that. We could filter them out but then you’re getting some fairly low synergy scores and you might as well just look at top cards, which are likely Orzhov staples.

There aren’t enough Party-based decks in the world not to make Coveted Prize a perennial stinker, and going down below the “Top Cards” cutoff seems… fraught I guess is the word. Still, we should soldier on and see if we can find anything here.

This could take a minute, but every time I swing with this and activate it, someone asks “wait, does it really tutor when it swings?” Yes, this card is slept-on because Kaldheim is slept-on. This card, however, has solid fundamentals imo.

I don’t love looking at the raw number of inclusions as a substitute for analysis, but if this card is in this many decks and no one told the price, it’s a matter of time until this butts up against reality and becomes the price it’s supposed to be. Yeah, they’re printing everything into Bolivian right now but that doesn’t mean even the supply we got can keep up with this demand. A new card making this obsolete seems more likely than a reprint. Unfortunately, it seems more likely than a lot of things.

You can basically copy everything I said about Varragoth and apply it here. In fact,

This could take a minute, but every time I swing with [another creature] and activate it, someone asks “wait, does it really tutor when it swings?” and I say “no, you’re thinking of Varragoth.” Yes, this card is slept-on because Kaldheim is slept-on. This card, however, has solid fundamentals imo.

I don’t love looking at the raw number of inclusions as a substitute for analysis, but if this card is in this many decks and no one told the price, it’s a matter of time until this butts up against reality and becomes the price it’s supposed to be. Yeah, they’re printing everything into Bolivian right now but that doesn’t mean even the supply we got can keep up with this demand. A new card making this obsolete seems more likely than a reprint. Unfortunately, it seems more likely than a lot of things

Despite the enormous handicap of coming from Wisconsin and working in de lumberyard dere, this guy manages to craft some chaos wherever he goes. I can dig it. How much chaos?

Cards that aren’t included in the precon! What the WHAT?

I think this is likely to be a much more expensive foil soon. The set has been out a year and boxes are pretty expensive on this already. I’m confident we will see a lot of growth on this barring a reprint in foil.

We are currently at this point in the graph, if that makes this any clearer. I like foil Nightblade a LOT.

This is quite possibly the ugliest premium version I’ve ever seen.

And the foils are about to be dirt cheap.

That said,

Barring a reprint, this goes to $10. That said, a reprint seems kind of likely and there is no foil or premium version that can insulate this card from the shock of said reprint. This has the juice to hit $10, I just don’t know how much time we have. If you’re squeamish, put your dollahs elswur.

Well hot damn.

$10 on CK was the floor on these and CK is already asking $15. It’s not unreasonable to assume this can hit $20. A lot of Jumpstart was opened because the first print run was small, the prices were nuts and excitement was high. Then boxes came out and people bought then at $80 feverishly because they were so laden with value. Then the market realized a ton of singles were in it and supply was basically infinite and prices bottomed out. We’re for sure in an upswing, though, and this is on its way to, and I’m speculating, $20ish. Plan accordingly.

That does it for me this week. Next week we’ll dive even deeper unless another set has come out by then. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Shifting Landscape

Readers!

I titled this article “The Shifting Landscape” because the landscape is shifting. I will not be taking further questions at this time.

Baldur’s Gate still hasn’t settled and some of the top commanders in the set are shaking out a bit differently. Let’s take a look at the leaderboard this week.

Captain value has absolutely rocketed up the charts and it’s worth taking a look at, but you’re going to be disappointed. A growing trend has started to emerge lately, and I attribute it in part to how little time we have to brew and tune decks before we’re encouraged to ditch them and move on to the next thing. I’m convinced every Captain N’ghathrod deck is just the precon sprinkled with 25% of an Umbris deck that didn’t get finished since a set came out every few weeks since then and there never seemed to be time to finish. What makes me think people are using largely unmodified precons?

Every single High Synergy card,

and every top card are in the precon. 28/28 on the key cards in the deck being shipped with it. The precons are getting more and more tuned and less and less broad, and the more tuned they get, the more they’re forced to reprint very specific cards that will never leave the deck and the less people are adding singles from other sets. It’s not every deck that’s like that, certainly, but the small window between sets is clearly having an impact on builders and it’s being reflected in the data no matter whether it’s a measure of cards appearing a lot in this one deck and nowhere else or a measure of cards just showing up in this deck a ton. Yeah, I’m not surprised people are playing Thought Vessel and Lightning Greaves, but every single card here is in the precon.

Accordingly, we have to scroll down pretty far to find anything, bad news when we’ve proved in this column that the deck’s ranking in the set and top commanders of the week list can predict whether the deck has the velocity to launch all but the lowest-stock of specs. I think there is a non-trivial amount here, and I’ll find it, but I’m not thrilled about it.

You can say that Card Kingdom prices aren’t real, but this card is sold out on Card Kingdom at $5 a copy and CSI still has some for $2.50.

Is this card bad? Is the price real? Is CK a reliable metric? I will answer any and all questions by silently pointing to the part of your computer screen where I showed with data that you could arbitrage this card to CK’s buylist by paying retail at Coolstuff if you were so inclined. If you do, please use EDHREC’s clipboard feature to upload your want list to one of the affiliated sites so I don’t have to get a day job.

It’s my job to know what’s going on here but I will be real honest, I do not. There are copies on other sites, but TCG Player seems to be experiencing a run on this and that’s really interesting. Don’t expect this to be $10, but don’t expect it to stay under $5 if it’s not reprinted pronto.

So what about a deck where we’re bound to have a bunch of old cards? Will we see a ton of precon cards or what?

Looks like there’s something here after all. Let’s dig in.

You have got to love the shapes of both of these graphs. These are cards that are ready to move. The set is a year old but 90 products have come out since then and people have moved on hard from Commander Legends one. It’s time to pay more than $3 for a better Boundless Realms. This card rules.

No idea what’s taking this card so long when it already spiked to $5 but I continue to not understand this graph shape. What I do know is that this card is quite good and it’s very cheap but has also demonstrated the ability to hit $5 for a bit. I’m into these under a buck.

This card keeps threatening to mean business – I wish anyone took it seriously. Personally, if these are scoopable for half of their peak price right now, I don’t know what any of us is waiting for.

This wasn’t as deep a dive into the set as maybe you would have liked, but I covered two new commanders with radically different spec outlooks and I think they contrast each other in a way that’s instructive. I hope you agree and I hope you’ll tell me about it in the comments or on Discord. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Stand And Deliver

Readers!

Ever have one of those days in school where you’re pretty sure the teacher was either hung over or just at the end of their rope? Instead of doing an actual lesson, they put a movie on the little TV on the wheeled cart and you got to do homework for another class or blow the day off? For me, the movie was always the 1988 biography Stand and Deliver starring Edward James Olmos and Lou Diamond Phillips. It worked for every class. Math class? Great, they’re studying for the calculus AP test. Spanish class? You get to learn new words like pendejo. English class? Keep your voice down, my head hurts.

I’m not going to put a movie on the TV and fall asleep here, but I will admit that I lack the sort of mental energy it would take to thematically link these picks. I’m literally just going to give you 5 picks with various justifications for them and call it a day. Is that lazy? I mean, only from a presentation standpoint. I get the distinct feeling that a lot of you would be perfectly happy being passed a bar napkin with the names of 5 cards scrawled on them in eyeliner pencil or whatever my wife had in her purse and you regard the article portion of my article the way I regard someone in a food recipe article telling me long, meandering tale about their Meemaw growing up in a log cabin when I just want to know what temperature to preheat my oven to for lamb. If that’s you, enjoy, it’s blowoff day. Kick you feet up, turn down your screen britghtness so your teacher can’t see you browse twitter (follow me @jasonealt) and enjoy the dulcet tones of Edward James Olmos trying to reach these kids. We’re going to take a negative (my lack of ideas) and multiply it by another negative (my lack of effort for thematics or structure) and turn it into something positive, something I know Jaime Escalante would love. You better stand up, because I’m about to deliver.

Suppression Field basically shuts off treasure tokens and infinite loops that require some sort of activated ability making this card actually just very good against degenerate plays but barely noticeable by people playing EDH as it’s intended to be played – slow and clunky. Shutting off the Food Chain deck and letting the guy just play a Dinosaur every turn and dome people is a very good way to play Magic the Gathering and I think this card should get played more.

Good news, its price has been going up as treasure tokens become evergreen. Suppression Field has one printing and a small number of copies because Ravnica was a long time ago. This is a low-risk pickup and this also costs about a buck less than Perilous Forays, currently.

Hey Jason, what’s the red dot by the TCG Player price? Glad I pretended you asked! When TCG Player has a sale, there will be a dot by the price to indicate cards are on sale on the TCG Player website, or there’s a kickback. You can even hover over the dot to see what the sale is about.

It’s a small change but it’s the kind of thing that can happen because I’m dedicated to making the EDHREC user experience a good one, so if you have suggestions, I’m a great person to run them by. Hit me up in the Pro Trader Discord or on Twitter.

The prices for very good, obvious EA cards are a lot more than their less-good counterparts. That means as the prices diverge, having bought in when the prices were very close is better and better. If the EA was already 2x the regular version, it would be too late, imo, and I wouldn’t say anything, but the EA and regular versions are pretty close and this is already a $5+ card on Card Kingdom and like half that on TCG Player with a slight premium for EA. Look, this mills people and a lot of decks are coming out that want to take cards out of their yards so you don’t need a mill focus. This card is good, it’s not a $3 card and this has already demonstrated it can flirt with $6 on Card Kingdom. I am bullish on these in a big way, and the EA will have an easier time shrugging off an EDH deck reprint, something I’m not even sure this could get given how bad getting domed for half of your deck feels to a new player.

Jon Irenicus gives them your creatures. That’s funny.

Reaper has been going up for a bit, but you see what the printing of a card like this can contribute to. If there are any other cards you’d like to gift, they’re worth taking a look at. I think this is a best case scenario, but there aren’t a ton of pre-modern cards like Reaper to choose from.

Jon Irenicus is not unplayed, being the 7th-most-built commander in the set out of

nice, 69 commanders. That said, I don’t love a card that’s a quarter hoping for a deck built a third as much as the most popular commander will spike it. Master of the Feast was getting there on its own, and with CSI and TCG asking a full buck less than CK and CK showing it growing 5 fold over the last 15 months, I think this could hit $5 organically, and inclusion in a deck that wants to give it away doesn’t hurt at all. I have a Blim deck I love, but Blim isn’t the deck I want to use to give away creatures, so this card being created makes me think they know giving away stuff is cool and it should happen more. If there is another deck that likes to give away cooked grenades (and goads them, which is super cool), then I expect that to use a lot of the same cards as Jon. Notably, Beamtown Bullies, a deck people haven’t even sleeved yet but which is already obsolete, uses Master but also other creatures like Eater of Days which you don’t want in a Jon Irenicus deck. Any card that goes in both decks is doubly blessed, and future iterations of this ability are less likely to play nice with something like Eater of Days which is bad in decks that force you to cast the creature before you can give it away. Stick with cards that are in both Beamtown and Jon, imo, and you’ll be ready for the inevitable future deck that makes Lord of the Pit go up 50 cents.

Guildgates McFadden over here is a Gates deck that needn’t be 5 colors, which is cool and also maybe not cool? What I like is that a bunch of lands-matters cards are sorting themselves by how well they get non-basics and that bodes well for future very competitive decks as well as super casual ones.

This is 30% cheaper on TCG Player and is basically at an all-time low on CK. As the buylist price starts to recover, pay attention. I like the EA version for reasons I discussed earlier, but there’s no reason not to like the regular border.

Even if you don’t like this card or its price, I really like the graph indicating this card has basically bottomed out and is beginning to climb.

This card is kind of boring because every High Synergy card untaps him and they’re all cheap and always will be (none of the stuff that people were using with Vannifar works that well here, which would have been nice data for someone who use Vannifar as a cautionary tale), but there is a card I think has a good corollary.

The ceiling for these seems to be $4 and while it didn’t maintain that for long, it did hit it. The reason I bring it up?

It untaps, making it the perfect card for this deck. I think the deck looks like a fun way to cheat big stuff into play, but in a way more fun way than Vannifar. In a lot of ways, though, it’s the same deck, so however you feel about that should be how you feel about specs for this one.

That does it for me. Lights on, wake up from your nap, put away your phones and head to your next class. I hope you learned something and I hope you like it better when I do a good job constructing the article around the specs because I know I do. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: When Obvious Fails

Readers!

This week I was hoping for some really spicy data, and we got it, but we’re going to talk about how to resort to less spicy data when the kind of spicy you get isn’t the kind of spicy you want. Like, imagine you go to a restaurant and order their hottest curry and they come out of the back like “We’re out of ghost peppers” and they pepper spray you instead. I think that tracks as an analogy and I will not be taking questions.

I think I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t first show you the data that frustrated me a bit, and it’s the data I was always going to show you at the top of the article, which is worse in a lot of ways. I decided to sort EDHREC by most popular decks this week and didn’t see precisely what I expected. Was it like a shot of capsaicin to the eyeballs? Not quite, it was more like finding a ghost pepper in your mild salsa – the surprise is what gets your the most.

I was prepared for a few of the Baldur’s Gate commanders to make an appearance but I was not quite prepared for Miirym to come out of nowhere. Look, I get that it’s ridiculous to see a Dungeons and Dragons set and be surprised that Dragons are popular. It’s just that, well… why would you ever build Miirym? Or, as everyone else in the community says, why not?

“Riku of 2 Reflections as long as the thing being reflected is a non-token Dragon” is tearing it up! So naturally, this is the first place I want to look to see if we can identify anything.

Either I am getting bad at this or there is just nothing here. Any Dragon here is high synergy because it’s not played in a ton of other Dragon decks, most likely. Did you manage to get Utvara Hellkite cheap when it was first reprinted? I hope so, I hate to pay $15 now. With so many reprints every year, it really doesn’t feel safe to buy into any Dragons for Dragons’ sake. I would have to look elswhere.

If Miiryn shot up in a week, what’s less surgey and more sustainable? I had to know. My search took me back to EDHREC because of course it did, that’s the site I use, I have been very clear on that this whole time.

This, however, I can work with. If Miirym is kind of boring and linear, maybe some of these others can spice things up.

Myrkul, Lord of Skeleton Dollars is a pretty straightforward deck and honestly so narrow that it’s not much more interesting than Miirym but I managed to root around and come away with some gems.

I would have loved to have caught this earlier since it’s up almost 40% on CK but we’re still below the bottom on CK on TCG Player so if you’re upset you have to pay $14 on CK instead of $10, just pay $10. I don’t hate the regular border below $7.50 either, honestly. This is a good card, they’re not going to stop making Golgari graveyard stuff and Ikoria has been out for long enough that this is going to trend right back up. $30? Maybe not, but you’ll certainly be glad you paid $9.75.

I slept on these EA cards a little bit. Champion has already demonstrated that it can hit $10 on CK and paying less on TCG Player seems like a good thing. I wish I’d called this earlier, but since it was flat for 18 months and I got distracted by a new set every 2 weeks, I missed it.

What do you do when you see a radical price discrepancy like this? My first impulse is to make sure all 3 prices are correct, so I checked them all out. Coolstuff is indeed not sold out at basically TCG’s numbers but all other versions are sold out and CK is indeed charging 50% more than the other two sites for this card. CK sells a LOT of EDH cards, so barring the revelation that a pro-Union saboteur changed the price on CK’s site, I’d say there is indication that this card could hit $20 and you’ll be glad you paid $12 if it does.

Tasha, of Hideous Laughter fame, is an eligible commander, which is always worth doing if only for the novelty. Let’s see how people are building it, shall we?

From a spec standpoint this seems a bit meh, but from a “Wow, these are literally all cards I jam in lots of decks” standpoint, this is my DECK. Also, this card is too cheap and I think it’s because I’ve never been invited to play on Game Knights to wreck people with it.

This card is fully very good and I don’t know why no one cares. Don’t spec on this card, by the way, a card tripling in price isn’t that impressive when it is going from 33 cents to a buck.

Really?

Wow, OK.

This is a truly unhinged set of High Synergy cards, which is what we should see, honestly. This isn’t designed to weed out format staples, it’s designed to find the cards only weirdos building Elminster would think to use. One card that caught my eye was this.

Don’t let the silver ink fool you, there are fewer copies of Future Sight Uncommons than there are of New Capenna mythics. This is a very rare card and it’s worth more than I bet anyone thinks. Should I talk about it 2 years after the price doubled? I should if I think this could hit $5, and I do.

I know I’m back on this again, but Elminster isn’t the only deck that wants this and the Mystery Booster copies aren’t adding as much supply as you think. Check bulk rares in stores, I guess. This is a suspicious card, any card that costs 16 mana in a game where you can deal damage equal to CMC is suspicious. Elminster isn’t the best deck for Draco which leads me to believe a better one could be printed whenever and I want to be ready.

Next week will be more of the same followed by a week of New Dominaria spoilers followed by my resignation from having to keep track of 62 new legendary creatures literally 4 weeks after they released 37 new Legendary creatures. Won’t you join me for some of that? Until next time!