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
I have some good news for buyers and bad news for sellers regarding Battlebond. Some of the cards are about to tumble pretty hard in value. A lot of them will recover but the cards whose high price is more predicated on scarcity and not playability are going to lose some value. With a small portion of the set spoiled, I’m going to go through a few cards and try to put them into different classifications to help you evaluate what to do with cards as they’re spoiled, help you figure out what to buylist immediately so you don’t take a bath (though it’s probably too late for some stuff) and help you figure out what recovers and therefore you can probably hold. We can also look at good times to buy into reprinted cards to catch the full benefit of that U-shaped graph.
Battlebond looks nuts so far with a ton of cards that are not only good in Battlebond but, unlike Conspiracy’s draft-specific cards that are useless outside of a few lunatics’ cubes, they’re useful in EDH which means packs of Battlebond won’t be hot garbage the way packs of Conspiracy are. We’re not likely to see cards on the level of Expropriate and Leovold but I expect a lot of value to be in the set and more spread out. Let’s take a look at the classes of reprints.
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Last week I wrote a boring article and you hated it and this week I’m going to do the rest of the boring work I did last week that is three times as boring for me to do as it is for you to read it and you’re going to be upset that I made you read something boring even though, like I said, it’s three times worse for me and I’m complaining less about it than you are. I’m not saying I’m better than you are or anything. I am, but I’m not saying that. Anyway, if you forgot about last week’s piece because it was so horrendously boring that you blocked it from your memory, go read it here and refresh that memory. I’m going to very abruptly pick up where that piece left off. I’m serious.
You Were Warned
Built From Scratch
Currently – $24
In a Year? – $30
I think Wurmcoil is headed up and this reprinting won’t do much for the price but could get some more $25 Wurmcoils in some more people’s hands. This card is up $10 over this time a year ago and even if the Anthology reprinting attenuates some of the growth (nothing’s impossible) then we’ll still see some gains over the next year. If these dip at all, I’d trade for them. Turn a bunch of cards that will be flat or go down for something I think has upside. It has little to do with what the Anthology will or won’t do and everything to do with how the card looked already.
The retail price is back tied at a historic high but the buylist price has never been higher. Dealer confidence continues to climb despite the announced reprinting. I would say trade anything you can for Wurmcoil if anyone is coming off of them when Anthology II comes out. I mean, that is if you feel you have to do anything. I’m likely trying to buy these for cost with my LGS hookup and put them on TCG Player but I’m out if I have to pay MSRP. Wurmcoil looks healthy, that’s my point, and it’s probably the impetus for the inclusion in the Anthology.
Currently – $10
In a Year? – $12
Again, undeterred by the reprinting, this card is on an upswing and it’s a beautiful-looking graph to behold for someone like me who bought a load of these for $1 each when New Phyrexia first came out.
The stuff in the Devour for Power (The Mimeoplasm) deck that’s over $5 is goofy and predicated on low supply, but this Daretti deck has a few heavy hitters that the market will never get enough of no matter how many $150 specialty collections WotC jams them in. Caged Sun is an EDH staple (16th-most-played artifact in over 26,000 decks) and it’s going to take a more serious reprint to throw this growth train off its tracks. I’m liking the Daretti deck because it has two more EDH staples.
Currently – $8
In a year? – $10
Woah. I have to admit I didn’t see this coming. It’s not EDH per se doing this so I’m not sure what the deal is but all of them started climbing last summer with the order of prices being about what you’d expect with the spellslinger colors, Red and Blue, being the most expensive. I don’t know how much more these can climb but I also know the Tempest supply of these was pretty minuscule. This is going to add an equally-paltry supply and I think the pronounced demand that has this price growing this precipitously won’t be cowed by this minor reprinting.
Currently – $5.50
In a Year? – $7
Can’t stop, won’t stop. Printing in Commanders 2014, 2015 and 2016, this Tower of power is a rocket headed straight to the moon. I’m not saying it will always shrug off reprints the way Eternal Witness or other EDH staples do, but Tower is the 31st-most-played land in all of EDHdom and I think that’s a pretty strong pedigree. More decks need Tower than contain Tower which means most EDH precons opened leave the Tower in them because it’s a deck and a deck needs Tower. Loose Towers will only pop up if they end up in a core set, which is possible, or to the extent that someone buys a precon deck and shreds it for singles, which is thing I do but not on the scale necessary to bring the price down.
Wade Into Battle
These decks are pretty good at MSRP right now because they’re like $90 in singles and that owes a lot to Urza’s Incubator going right back up on the basis of a Tribal EDH set following after the printing of Incubator and Blade of Selves being in this deck and not one of the “better” ones and every Legacy burn player wanting 4 copies of Fiery Confluence. I am making the decision not to buylist the remaining copies I have, preferring to take my chances with TCG Player. If I thought we were about to get pantsed, my advice would be different.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Currently – $5 (barely)
In a year? – $5
Gisela is going through some hard times. I think she may recover, especially if she doesn’t get re-reprinted for a minute, but it doesn’t look like anyone is inclined to let up on her. It’s currently in the midst of a price downswing, down $0.50 over the last few months which is about 10% of her total value and therefore pretty significant. If this bottoms out more, I’m a buyer, but even though Anthology won’t be what does it, this is currently radioactive.
Currently – $27
In a Year? – $35-$40 (barring another reprint)
Confluence is up 100% over the last 12 months and that’s even with people buying all of the formerly-worthless Wade into Battle decks left over on shelves an busting them for the $100 worth of singles inside. Anthology won’t get enough copies into enough hands and anyone who wants one needs four. I think this continues to grow barring a more serious reprinting than a Commander Anthology. Where, though?
Blade of Selves
Currently – $11
In a year? – $15
This card is dumb and it should never have gotten as cheap as it did. I bought a few copies a little while before it stopped going down but not enough. The deck it was in was the “bad” one (it’s the best one financially, now). I don’t think the reprint is going to do much (dealer confidence seems wounded for this card in particular, which could mean they don’t see it at $15 again) and I think this continues to grow. Helm of the Host has people fetching more equipment and I think throwing this on a Godo is hilarious. Even if this doesn’t go up much, I don’t think this is ever getting cheaper. Myriad makes this tough to reprint and this is a solid piece of equipment so take advantage of what appears to be a temporary glut in supply and load up if you can shave a few bucks off the $11 asking.
Currently – $18
In a Year – $18 or less
Here’s a hot take – I think this card is overpriced. With tribal fever mostly over, I don’t know how much pent-up demand there is. I think the retail price goes down as people realize this basically only goes in Tribal decks where it’s an OK card. A tribal EDH set naturally spiked these but a lot were bought by team “Waiting in the Weeds” who thought they were geniuses for buying Tribal cards when a Tribal set came out. Yes, people are still going to use a mediocre card like this in their Tribal decks. People are playing Belbe’s Portal ffs. I just don’t think you rely on bad players making bad decisions to drive your financial decisions. Bad people aren’t valuable for a reason – it’s not that their decisions are bad, it’s that their decisions are unpredictable. If bad players always did the bad thing, you could predict it. My hot take is leave this alone.
Currently – $8.50
In a Year? – $10 barring a reprint
This card makes me nervous. Lands are a little easier to reprint and they SMASHED the price of Ash Barrens. I’m not holding these – they rose too fast and I think they are about to learn the lesson of Icarus.
Currently – $30
In a Year? – $40
This needs a proper reprinting and this isn’t going to do it. This is the #1 deck for people who fundamentally lack imagination but think they have the most imagination. “You can build this infect, planeswalkers, beefy creatures – the possibilities are endless” – a guy who listed, exhaustively, all of the possibilities. The sheer idiotic power level of the deck combined with the masterful ego stroke to unimaginative Magic players is the perfect storm and this deck is hard to get under $100. Funny enough, it’s easy to grab Wade into Battle for $45 online (or it was) and have $120 in cards but you can barely find Breed Lethality for under $100 to get its $100 worth of cards. Atraxa herself is doing most of the heavy lifting here, too, since there aren’t too many other cards worth above $5.
Reyhan, Last of the Abzan
Currently – $10 (lol wut)
In a year? – $15
Admit it. You had no idea how much this card was worth. This would be $3 if it were in the Saskia deck but instead this is in the Atraxa deck and, suffering from the precon effect where people see it and think it’s just good enough not to take out, people are not taking this card out of the deck like they should and selling it like they should. As a result, a $5 card approaches $15 just because this is the only way to get it. I don’t see what can stop the growth of this card. It has 700 decks built around it on EDHREC but it’s also in 35% of the registered Atraxa lists meaning there is a ton of demand because people just won’t take the card out of the deck. This is worth Deepglow Skate money because, ironically, it has more demand than Deepglow Skate, a sentence that would have made me laugh 2 years ago. A lot can change in 2 years.
Currently – $8.50
In a Year? $12
I wasn’t sure what this would do until I saw two things.
Thing the first –
Those lines are about to intersect in what I call “this kiss of arbitrage” which is a beautiful thing.
Thing the second –
If Reyhan suffered from the precon effect, this card INVENTED it. 72% is a big number. If you want a Deepglow Skate, you’re either paying $12 while you still can or you’re paying $165 for the Commander Anthology. If Breed Lethality is going for $100 on eBay, for $65 you get the 3 other decks, essentially. That’s starting to look pretty juicy, even at MSRP. I think the price corrects upward, and dealers think so, too because even with the reprints incoming they’re still hurtling their buy price toward current retail with reckless abandon. If dealers are voting a certain way, at leas pay attention.
Currently – $5
In a Year? – $3or less
I don’t like this graph or this stupid card. Sure, Jodah has come along and made everyone fall in love with 5-color again, and my tendency to want to jam Paradox Engine into every deck should make me love this card but I DON’T. I think WotC correctly identified Prismatic Geoscope as the judge foil EDH players wanted. I think this probably tanks more.
This is where I make some grand pronouncement and wrap up the themes I started in the first article about how boring all of this is, but I think they picked better targets for the Anthology this year. If every card falls by a buck, you’re better off with decks that have a small number of cards way over $10 than a deck with 100 $1 cards. I think Wurmcoil, Atraxa and other huge cards won’t be perturbed much and I think if you can get these sets under MSRP, either by having a hookup or by using eBay coupons, you might want to do it considering the Atraxa deck itself is hard to get under $100 and has $120 worth of cards in it and so does Wade Into Battle ($100 for Built from Scratch and $120 for Devour for Power, but that one isn’t as juicy). The singles should move, you can sell those spindown life counter things and you can use the box to house a talking mouse like in those Mouse and the Motorcyle books I acknowledge I read but don’t remember anything about except there was one where the kid was going to die if he didn’t get an aspirin for some reason and the mouse found a dirty aspirin under like a desk or something and I can’t think of lower stakes for the climax of a book but that’s me. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you. Anyway, I’ll write another one of these next week and we’ll talk about something else. Until next time!
They’re doing a thing and that thing is going to do a thing.
If that makes you think I’m not excited about this thing, you’re right. It’s not for me and you’re not going to want to buy the thing. You are literally just going to wait and then get some free money because you knew what to do before it happened. That’s boring. Speculation is sexy and that’s what people want. They want you to see Helm of the Host and tell them to buy Combat Celebrant. They want you to assume that the post-Dominaria landscape will be slower and tell you that if you buy Search For Azcanta, you’ll make $3 per copy or just pull “I think Craterhoof Behemoth will go from $5 to $20” out of my ass the way I used to. None of that here, this week. This isn’t a sexy article fully of sexy speculation and what the hell, a pic of some sideboob. This isn’t me telling you which Reserved List card has like 10 copies left online and you can buy them and make the FOMO nutjobs take to reddit and complain about how the Reserved List is worse than Apartheid because they have to pay $8 for copies of Reparations. Go watch a YouTube video if you want advice like that. This is a boring article.
You know what’s boring? 90% of the money I make with Magic cards.
Get Ready To Snooze
I buy stuff for buylist prices locally, purchase collections and pick bulk. I put together instant collections, sell singles at a retail location and online and 5% of the time, I drop money on a speculation. The rest, I grind out boring, easy dollars by being willing to turn my time into money by doing boring work at home in my underwear while the television teaches my daughter to speak in a British accent (damn you, Peppa Pig).
This article isn’t about that, though, it’s about the other 5%. It’s the 5% where I do a thing methodically and collect free money. Opportunities don’t come up frequently, but when they do, it’s a good idea to pay attention. A thing is about to happen and when it does, we’ll scoop free money. Put on a pot of coffee, this is about to get straight coma-inducing.
The Boring Thing
They’re doing another Commander Anthology. It’s not a thing I want to buy at MSRP but it will likely make you like $20 after fees if you manage to have an out for the spindown life counters and the box. DJ Johnson loves to do shenanigans like that, especially since he can get the sets for cheaper due to an affiliation with a store. If you can’t, try combining eBay discounts and coupons and buying on a day where you get $15 off every $100. It’s free money. I personally think buying these is more boring than even I am willing to go, but there’s money in it and DJ likes it, so watch for a Brainstorm Brewery Brain Bite on Youtube about it from him if you want. I’m going to talk about the easier free money – the kind you make by letting everyone else buy the Anthology.
4 decks are being reprinted – Devour for Power (Starring The Mimeoplasm), Built From Scratch (Starring Daretti, Scrap Savant), Wade Into Battle (Starring Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas) and Breed Lethality (Starring Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice, because of course).
What I’m going to do today is look at how much cards go down based on Commander Anthology reprintings and how much we can expect to recoup by buying at the bottom and when that is. There should be money to be made. Let’s look at the last time.
The First Boring Time They Did The Boring Thing
Put on a pot of coffee, this isn’t the first time they did this which will make the results even more predictable. Last time they reprinted Kaalia, Derevi, Freyalise and Meren. Results were… mixed.
You can probably guess right around where Kaalia was announced and where she was reprinted. Unfortunately for Kaalia, this second reprinting (Commander’s Arsenal being the first) was the nail in her coffin and a year later, she’s still tanking. Dealer price is about to congregate with the retail price, which means a price update is coming and we could see the floor but the amount that the price fell doesn’t seem to match the amount it did fall. However, the value doesn’t need to be in this deck at all as it’s part of a 4-deck package and while Kaalia is holding steady at about $20, nothing else in the Kaalia deck recovered. Swiftfoot Boots and Sol Ring are the basically most valuable cards in the deck as cards like Manacharged Dragon and Angel of Despair tanked. One of the decks could be completely obliterated by this Commander Anthology and that’s not boring to know. The one bright spot in the deck was this.
This held relatively steady because there wasn’t much of an impetus for it to tank a ton. We should avoid trying to buy cards whose only printings are a Commander deck from 2011 and a $165 set. It’s good to know that Stranglehold didn’t tank enough to buy in so we can avoid a similar card from the Mimeoplasm deck if one exists.
Worse news for Derevi, I’m afraid.
Kaalia was at least worth $20 because she is a popular Commander, but Derevi is down to around $1. Try and guess the most expensive card in the deck. Bet you can’t.
The price went UP when it came out in Commander Anthology because, I guess, people assumed it would be good with the Wizards decks they assumed they would be building with Commander 2017. Instead, we barely saw any attenuation in the growth of this card that I got in bulk when the Derevi deck first came out. Odd news for the next-most-expensive card.
It doesn’t seem like the reprint really slowed this card down, much. A year on and the card has never been worth more, which is odd to say the least. We knew that the Commander Anthology wouldn’t give us too many copies of the cards and a card that was already in 3 Commander 2013 decks just didn’t get enough copies to touch demand; Mutation is in 7,400 decks compared to just 4,400 for Stranglehold. While Commander 2013 was the first and last time this card was printed, it was in 3 times as many decks and that means there are a LOT of copies out there.
Everything else in Evasive Maneuvers is fairly well smashed, even Bane of Progress and Roon.
Not surprisingly, an Elf deck picks up a lot of the slack.
Freyalise herself is holding at $10, down from a peak of merely $13. The real impetus for the reprinting was all of the $5 elves. Ezuri, Renegade Leader halved from $8 and its subsequent reprinting will seal its fate. There are buys I might look at. After all, Commander Anthology was a mere year ago so if there is no action to take right away we might chill for a year on Commander Anthology 2 and focus on what could rebound from the first one, still.
This fluctuates a bit but it’s near its historical bottom and it’s useful in Muldrotha and Tatyova which could be the upside it needs.
This set’s Stranglehold, Song of the Dryads, lost some value but seems to have mostly pulled out of its slide. Tcg Low is significantly lower than the other retail sites and the increasing buylist price tells me a correction might be incoming.
Finally, we have Plunder the Graves.
This is what happens when a small number of Merens are available online and every few weeks, the only copy we can find is the $1 oversized copy that CCG House has mislabeled in their system (or that we scraped erroneously – it’s a toss-up) so this data tells us nothing. Meren has been between $11 and $8 basically forever and the Anthology really didn’t change that.
Eldrazi Monument never really got above $10 so its drop to $8 wasn’t very signifnicant. Eternal Witness is one of the most expensive cards in the deck and no amount of reprints can really do much to attenuate that price. Though it adds up to about $75 retail, the contents of this 100 card deck are mostly worthless. Only 14 of the cards are worth more than $1, only 9 are worth more than $2. The value is spread out so the effect of the reprinting is spread out nice and wide. We’re not seeing that with this next batch of decks and we could get some things we’re not ready for.
What Was Once Boring is Boring Again
We’re seeing something quite similar with the value distribution in the sets about to be reprinted, and it’s going to be pretty boring. I don’t know if there is really much money to be made unless you can get the sets cheap and flip them. Let’s look at the numbers for the stuff that hasn’t been reprinted yet.
Remember, above we saw cards under like $2 never recovering and all of the stuff at or around $10 dropping to like $8 and a year later only starting to tick back up. $20 Kaalia fell off and hasn’t recovered but could. The only really interesting targets appear to be the $20 and up cards because I don’t know what they’ll do.
Devour for Power is worth about $50 more than Plunder the Graves, right off the bat and a lot of that value is in $5-$10 cards. If we only see modest reductions in the value of the cards, which I expect, some of it may recover. If the $3 cards don’t recover, the $7 only drop like a buck and recover if they’re in-demand like Thousand-Year Elixir or Eternal Witness and the $20 cards like Kaalia tank by about $5 and haven’t recovered in a year, you have to ask yourself – what’s going to happen with Commander Anthology 2? Here are my thoughts on every card above $5 from the 4 decks getting reprinted.
Devour for Power
Currently – $7
In a year? – $8
This reminds me of Titania. The Mimeoplasm is a decent commander and while it’s likely getting replaced by Muldrotha, it’s getting slotted into the 99 more often than it’s being replaced and sold on eBay. Muldrotha decks making it obsolete may actually be good for The Mimeoplasm.
Skullbriar, the Walking Grave
Currently – $7
In a year? – $5
Skullbriar likely dips and doesn’t recover that quickly. He’s a boring commander and he’s not good in anything else the way The Mimeoplasm is.
Currently – $5
In a Year? – $3
Stay away. This is in like 400 decks and while it may be a casual card, I think its price is predicated on scarcity rather than demand and loose copies will hurt the price. I don’t know if this will recover in two years.
Currently – $6.50 – $9 depending on the site
In a Year? – $6 – $8
This is in 3 times as many decks as Riddlekeeper and reminds me a lot of Stranglehold. Remember that graph? It didn’t fluctuate much. The only question is what will happen with a deck like this that has Riddlekeeper and Sewer Nemesis both which remind me of Stranglehold? Can they both hold value? I think they might and I think the Daretti deck could be why.
Damia, Sage of Stone
Currently – $10
In a Year? – $8
I don’t see this dropping much more than the other $10 cards this old. This is being replaced by Muldrotha and getting thrown away more so the price may go down if there is any new supply at all just because demand is also decreasing.
Currently – $6.50
In a Year – $8-$9
This goes up because it’s down due to Iconic Masters reprinting and it won’t likely be affected much by the Commander Anthology.
Currently – $15
In a Year? – $13
I think any additional supply will be a nice breather for the price but in two years it will go back up. If this drops by fewer than $2 I won’t be surprised. I don’t think there is money to be made on many of these cards since the prices don’t get that depressed.
That is all I have time for this week. Next week we’ll look at the other 3 decks and talk about if there is any money to be made here at all. Prices fell a lot less than I had expected last time so I don’t know, but we can still look ahead and we can certainly discuss strategies of how to maximize value by trading the right way with these cards. This is boring, but it won’t be if we find anything. Until next time!