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 227: Some Fish, a Flower, and some Salt

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This week we have a Corbin excited by his favorite deck, a Doug excited by his biggest purchase, and a Jason made salty by the normal range of daily occurrences.    This week the nonsense takes over the first part of the cast.   Learn which cards to buy, which TNMT arcade game was the best, which deceased television personality holds the key to Corbin’s heart, and how Douglas turns your draft chaff into thousand dollar magic cards.   Join us nerds.

  • You can bother our guest  Douglas Johnson for pictures of his Black Lotus at (@Rose0fthorns)
  • There were modern things last weekend
  • Breaking Bulk covers the rise of commons in a looked over fall set
  • Pick of the Week
  • Support our Patreon! DO IT. You know this cast makes you more than $1 a week
  • Need to contact us? Hit up BrainstormBrew@gmail.com

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Emergence

Some cards are late bloomers and that’s fine. With Modern Masters spoilers about to start I am still trying to glean anything I can from Commander 2016. I know, right? SO last year. Still, there’s gold in them thar hills and while all of the big, obvious nuggets have been dug out by the prospectors, there’s still a lot of dust to be panned out of the river. If that sounds too time consuming, don’t worry, because in the midst of panning, I noticed a trend that is akin to finding… like a map? To a new gold mine no one noticed? No, that’s not quite right. Maybe I was panning and discovered a new vein? Look, people weren’t playing Tymna the Weaver as much before but they are playing it a lot now and somehow that fits into the whole gold rush metaphor I was making before. There’s an apt comparison in there somewhere but I’ll be damned if I’m going prospecting for it. I’d rather talk about all the money we’re about to make.

Blink and you’ll miss the amount Tymna was built this month. Occupying the last spot of decks built this month, and only because of one strong week, Tymna wasn’t even on the list a few weeks ago. This means all of the hype is recent, many weeks after the precon containing Tymna came out.

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While Tymna was buried underneath old commanders like Animar and Brago for monthly totals, Tymna is right up there with the new commanders for the week in sixth place (Breya and Atraxa aren’t pictured but the go without saying) and Tymna is starting to get built as much as the very popular Yidris. What does Tymna have to offer that can compare to sexy, new decks like Vial Smasher and Yidris? How did Tymna manage to eclipse Kydele this week? It’s true that EDHREC skews casual a bit, but it’s been a very good model and we’ve made a lot of money using it to predict things.

Late surges like this are usually predicated on some sort of event, but Aether Revolt doesn’t hold many clues. The new cards section for Tymna brings up more questions than it answers but it does have a few breadcrumbs to follow, which is better than nothing.

One of them isn’t in Tymna’s color identity which means a lot of the new decks are being built with either Iqra Shiddiqi or Reyhan or Kydele or Thraisos as the partner, otherwise a green card wouldn’t show up, although it’s only in 15% of the decks (1 in 7) so it’s not clear that there is much of a consensus here. Felidar Guardian doesn’t really seem to synergize with Tymna all that well. If you’re up to it, using advanced filters you can see which decks are running these two cards (Tymna and Guardian) and see what other cards they run to see how, if at all, they synergize (it likely has something to do with the commander partnered with Tymna) but only 1 in 8 new Tymna decks are jamming Guardian. Both of these cards seem to be trying to squeeze value out of cards like Eternal Witness and both seem to play nice with Ravos.

I ran the report, which you can view here and got a lot of blue cards but also some combo cards like Boomweaver Giant, Pattern of Rebirth and Saffi. This lets me know that since a large percentage of the decks running Tymna and Guardian are built very differently than the typical decks you get when you search for just Tymna, you might feel forced to conclude the surge is predicated on a new way to build the deck. However, realistically, even though Boomweaver and Saffi and Pattern have a 60% adoption rate, we’re basically talking about 5 decks and 3 people building a certain way just isn’t enough data to establish a trend. I’ll keep an eye out for this new way to build Tymna (or people wedging Tymna in Karador, which is kind of what this looks like) but for now, let’s look at the real nuts and bolts cards that have a high correlation with Tymna as a commander.

One brief post script before we close this chapter – the report I generated for Tymna plus Renegade Rallier is available at this link and also looks like Karador fare. If you’ve never used the advanced filters, all I did was click “Advanced filters” and type in the name of the card I wanted cross-referenced with Tymna (I did this from Tymna’s page – that is important to note).

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This has gone up a buck since I last mentioned it and what’s more, the buy price is starting to move. This managed to avoid being flashy enough back in the day to end up on the Reserved List but it’s still an old card that has a very unique and powerful effect and is part of a few combos. If this card suddenly went to $10, no one would be all that surprised. I think with a push, this could be a $10 card and you’ll end up glad you had a bunch. I think you try and get these out of binders and if anyone will sell them to you for the buylist price of $3.50ish, you jump at it. This is a staple in Saffi and Karador decks and as we mentioned above these decks, Saffi especially, just got Renegade Rallier. I think this card is going to get a lot more attention soon.

History shows that there was a good time to pick this up and if we didn’t, we’re overpaying, now. I feel like I’ve talked about this card before and probably will again. This is a creature that can be a sac outlet, tutor, body and even your commander all in one card. That’s potent. You’re overpaying a little for a Diabolic Tutor but being able to repeatably cast it from the command zone more than offsets that if you want this as your commander. This is also easier to loop than most tutors since it’s a creature. I like this less than I like it under 2 bucks but if you didn’t buy a ton, get on board now. With a sub-4x multiplier, I don’t hate foils, either. I packed one at the prerelease and couldn’t bring myself to sell it. What have I become? I play Magic with Magic cards. I know, I’m doing it wrong. Let’s move on.

This rotated out of Standard in September 2016 and didn’t really tank like I thought it might. It’s climbed since then meaning we really missed the boat on this card. Standard never really took advantage of this meaning EDH was free to dictate its price, and in a world where Venser’s Journal was surprisingly expensive, it’s no surprise that this card that does a bunch of EDH stuff is going up. I don’t think this is ever coming down, the name on it (Alhammarret) means this doesn’t get printed in a regular set but is relegated to supplementary product. Low reprint risk, high upside and a powerful effect is a nice cocktail. This card has only just begun to climb and now’s as good a time as any to buy in.

Hear me out.

This is in what could be a dead cat bounce or it could be people realizing that a card banned in Modern is not very likely to get reprinted and we could be at peak supply. A card with this many useful modes, a relevant trial affiliation (2 of them) play in Legacy and with EDH applicability shouldn’t be $3. There is a very small spread on this card meaning dealers aren’t as wary as you might think. Oh, and if this gets unbanned in Modern (it won’t, ever, but if it does) you’ll look like a genius. This is paired with Tymna a lot by virtue of people seeming to pair it a lot with green (I think Ikra Shidiqi is a good pair since it helps you gain even more life) but I also think Kydele is a decent pairing with a card that draws you three cards, though you have a very small window to use the mana. (The Kydele and Tymna report isn’t all that exciting, it turns out.)

Shaman is basically just a good card that is going to go up in price barring a lot of things that seem unlikely and which goes up a LOT if something equally unlikely happens. I like those odds, frankly. The scenario where you win huge is equal to the scenario where you lose a little and you’re almost guaranteed to gain a bit. Plus, it’s always good to have these in binders. The Eternal Masters printing hurt and seems really odd in retrospect but this card should recover. It’s Deathrite Shaman.

So this has been lowkey creeping up in price since it was released. It’s in the Saskia deck which has a lot of big, durdle cards that likely don’t recover in price from their reprinting, forcing this to soak up some of the value of the deck. It isn’t an ideal time to buy in, now, but this is very good in a deck where you draw cards based on your ability to deal them combat damage, meaning you have to serve with stuff. I like cards like Ohran Viper with this, making them just let you hit them and letting you draw lots of cards. A few of these cards we seem to have missed the best buying opportunity on, but it’s better to buy late than never and recognizing trends is a lot of what we do.

This seems to be recovering from its latest (though unfortunately, probably not its last) reprinting. You gain some life with Tymna decks, so why not ping them with life loss since you’re gong to lose life paying it to draw cards? Why not weaponize your lifelink? Why not run both halves of this stupid “I’m so smrt at Majic” combo?

Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to check the same things regularly. I checked the price of Stonehoof Chieftain early but not often. That resulted in me having to pay more, now. If I hadn’t checked the trends on most played commanders often, we might have missed Tymna coming into the spotlight and slept on a bunch of decent opportunities. Check and recheck everything you can think of. It’s sometimes tough to stay on top of these trends, especially with some algorithms that can check for you. The problem is I feel like they don’t warn you until it’s too late and there is no substitute for doing a little legwork yourself.

While you’re at it, play around with the advanced filters on EDHREC a little bit. You can get a lot of information about how certain builds are constructed, and even if those specific builds are only 20% of Tymna decks, a card played in all of them is in 20% of Tymna decks but is also in 100% of the decks that the people who build that way care about. Any interest on an older card like Pattern of Rebirth gives it the nudge it needs to get going for real.

That does it for me next week. I’m sure we’ll have some Modern Masters 2017 cards to discuss in the mean time, so stay tuned. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery #226 – Emo Song Lyrics or Archenemy Schemes?

All shall crumble before our dark realms of majesty is either an album with heavy makeup and hair product, or a sweet multiplayer card. Join us as the cast goes further off the rails than normal into a deep discussion about long forgotten oversized cards.  Also, there is a new best standard deck that is not Mardu vehicles.   Find out which cast member had to block a thousand fake twitter followers.   Also we make you some money, get excited for Brainstormbrewery.

  • Something something guest something Douglas Johnson   (@Rose0fthorns)
  • Breaking Bulk is first in DJs heart and first on the cast
  • Standard green black everything is discussed
  • Pick of the Week
  • Superbowl commercial discussion as a nice finisher
  • Support our Patreon! DO IT. You know this cast makes you more than $1 a week
  • Need to contact us? Hit up BrainstormBrew@gmail.com
  • The contact information for Corbin below is still wrong because he did not send an update

Contact Us!

Brainstorm BreweryWebsite – E-mail – TwitterFacebookRSSiTunesStitcher

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Douglas Johnson is and will forever be merely a guest

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The 10 Most Expensive EDH Staples

I would apologize for the clickbait title but it clearly worked, didn’t it? You clicked after all and now you’re reading the article. Besides, is there any clickbait title that can rival the irresistability of the phrase “Written by Jason Alt”? I maintain that, no, there is not. The reason for the title and for the departure from my typical format is that I was pitched this idea from management and I liked it enough to write it. I don’t know if we’re going to uncover any hidden gems here, but I do feel like there is value in looking at an albeit subjective list of must-have EDH cards that are getting up there in price (or which are already there, in a few cases).

To determine what I feel are considered “must-have” cards, I’m using a combination of EDHREC analytics and personal experience. I’m trying to make this as objective as possible but there maybe choices you don’t agree with or which you feel have been omitted in error. Feel free to make the case for your picks in the comments.

Some interesting things happened when I tried two different approaches and tried to reconcile them. The first thing I did was search for all of the most expensive cards that see EDH play at all and look at the number of decks they were played in (per EDHREC). EDHREC isn’t a perfect model for adoption but I use it because it’s as good a model as we have, it’s comprehensive and it’s a collection of lists from people who are registering both decks they have and decks they’d like to have. It seems like there would be danger in using a model like that because anyone can just register a $4,000 deck they’ll never afford and never build on TappedOut like a lunatic and if enough people do that, it will throw off the model. However, it’s not like those cards are expensive because a lot of people are pretending they’re in decks they’re not in – the cards are expensive because they’re old, rare and/or people are buying them and playing with them. You might expect the “money is no object!” fake deck crowd to juice the stats on expensive Legends, Arabian Nights and Antiquities cards but the opposite is happening. Players who can’t afford to drop $150 on a Forcefield don’t even seem to be aware it exists, or at least they aren’t making a decklist that EDHREC scrapes that claims they run Forcefield – its $150 price tag might make it a good candidate for this article but it’s in fewer than 250 decks.

Going the other way and looking at cards that were in a ton of decks yielded equally disappointing but less surprising results. Obviously we’re not paying Mana Drain money for Sol Ring because it’s been printed more times than basic Mountain at this point. The trick is finding cards that tick both boxes – they’re expensive but they also get played in a decent number of decks.

First, a few notable cards excluded from the list.

At a whopping 17,563 inclusions, this was included in a ton of decks. However, it was excluded because while it was the most expensive card in more than 10,000 decks, it pales in comparison price-wise to the other cards in the list. It’s surely a must-play card but it’s hardly the most expensive and thus didn’t make the cut.

This is a card with a lot of potential and with no reprint last year when it would have done a lot of good, the card surged, gaining 50% of its value in a year. This isn’t in enough decks to crack the list, but it’s in quite a few and it’s going to be expensive enough to be a contender, soon. I really liked this as a pickup around $20 when it wasn’t reprinted in Commander 2015 but I think there is still money to be made here, given their apparent reluctance to give this a reprint. This didn’t make the list but bore mentioning.

Included in about 20,000 decks, this is the definition of “must-play” but with so many cards worth much more in the $100+ range, I had to cut cards worth less than $40. If I balanced the list to favor inclusion rather than price, this likely would have made the cut.

Without further equivocation, here is the list.

#10 – Mana Drain

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At 2,873 inclusions, this is the lowest-played card on the list and basically established the cut-off for “must-play” cards. If you look at inclusion, you have cards like Sol Ring in 88,000 decks and see a big drop-off right after with cards like Demonic Tutor, Counterspell, Brainstorm, Rhystic Study, Sylvan Library, Swords to Plowshares and Solemn Simulacrum all hovering between 40,000 and 10,000 inclusions. After that there is an even bigger drop-off and if you insist the cards in this list be worth at least $20, you have to include some cards that aren’t in quite as many decks. I think the amount Mana Drain gets played is adequate for our purposes and the price justifies its inclusion, here.

#9 Wheel of Fortune

at 4,581 inclusions, and likely growing the more people build Nekusar and Yidris decks, this is an old card with a lot of printings but a lot of demand that has soaked up all of the copies under $50 in most places. Wheel effects are strong and this is the alpha wheel, the one that got us all started.  This is a Reserved List card with a lot of applications and it’s only going to get less and less affordable as more people play EDH and build decks.

#8 Survival of the Fittest

At 3,635 inclusions, this card is no slouch and has a lot of utility in a lot of decks. Legacy gave this price a lot of help and its Reserved List status helped keep the price high as well as its applicability in EDH. A Legacy unbanning would do ridiculous things to this price, but it’s pretty good right where it is, frankly. This card is going to hold its value quite well and is a mainstay in toolbox decks.

#7 Grim Monolith

In 3,719 decks and counting, this is an allstar in decks that are greedy and want artifact mana early and don’t care about the consequences later. This is a mana rock that doesn’t deal you any damage (not that we care that much about a point or two of pain in a 40 life format, making Mana Vault much better) and while older formats give the price a boost, EDH still loves to use this card and it shows.

#6 Cavern of Souls

7,984 people jam this tribal favorite in EDH and that has helped the price ascend. If we’re very lucky, we’ll see a Modern Masters 2017 reprinting of this card to get a few more copies into the sweaty mitts of a few more tribal players (Legacy players can fend for themselves). This card might even get jammed more if it were more affordable. I still remember being laughed at for buying these at retail when Avacyn Restored came out because I thought Legacy and EDH could push them to $50. In general, if you bet on tribal cards, you get the last laugh often.

#5 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

At 4,967 copies, this exceeded my expectations for how much play it would see in EDH. People love the idea of having a card like this in play and straight decking someone out of the game or just smoothing out every draw with the option of bouncing a troublesome creature. Even the Brainstorm function is useful, putting lots of counters on Lorescale Coatl or making Thought Reflection really good. Jace is this expensive with a Modern banning, so imagine what an unbanning could do to his price. The result is likely that it prices Jace out of a lot of EDH decks, which would be too bad.

#4 – Force of Will

There sure are a lot of blue cards on this list. 4,696 players agree with the assessment that blue is one of the best or the best color in EDH by jamming this clunky, 5 mana spell that is card disadvantage. At least the art is cool, I guess. In all seriousness, some decks can’t sit back and watch their opponent play a turn 3 Kozilek and they have to have something to say about it because that’s what blue players do. This card is one of the most iconic Magic cards ever and it’s not going to go away. Be prepared to be blown out by this card that, despite its high price, is still an EDH windmill auto-include for a lot of people.

#3 Mana Crypt

I can’t say I consider this card 100% necessary, but 8,896 deck builders disagree, opting to jam this in their list. And why not? This is better than Sol Ring on turn 1 and competitive players are all about good turn 1 plays and they’re also fine spending the money to win. You can’t say they aren’t real EDH players and if they’re voting with their wallets to play with this card, we should pay attention. Eternal Masters and Masterpieces  got more copies in more players’ hands and that is a good thing. If we see this printed some more, I think the price can withstand the extra supply because the demand is quite high. There’s a reason this was so close to the top spot.

#2 Doubling Season

This used to be a bulk rare, as hard as that is to believe. EDH is the bulk rare format and the only problem with that is that players don’t tend to let things stay a bulk rare if they really want them. This is perhaps the card that best encapsulates what EDH is all about. It’s expensive, powerful, a good build-around and it was a stupid green bulk rare before this format came along. Casual players took notice before EDH was even official and the price began to creep up. This shook off a Modern Masters reprinting and really got nutty when Atraxa came along and captured the imagination of every EDH player on earth, though I’d argue if you build Atraxa you probably didn’t have much of one to begin with. This is good in nearly every deck that runs green because it’s bound to help you do something you’re doing twice as well. This card IS EDH as far as I’m concerned.

#1 Gaea’s Cradle

I was hesitant to rank the cards but even when I didn’t want to, I knew I wanted this card to be #1. This is pure EDH – rewarding you for filling up the board. While this is useful in Legacy to the extent that its largest price increase was predicated on the Legend rule change (and justified cum eo by its Reserved List status) this is still an EDH staple and gets jammed in lots of decks that go wide. It creates a feedback loop with cards that let you pay mana to put out creature tokens and casual players and competitive players alike have sworn by this card for over a decade.

I’m looking forward to all the comments on reddit saying “This lst iz trash he didnt even enclude ne white cardz this site sucks anywayz” and some more constructive comments in the comments section below. I really wrestled with these rankings and even with the 10 cards I included. How do you really objectively decide something like that? Do you weight it in favor or how expensive they are or how much they’re played? Is it fair to leave off cards in 10 times as many decks as some on this list just because they’re under $20? It’s hard to know. I’m happy with how this turned out and I got a few surprises looking through all of the data. I hope you found this valuable and if not, I’ll be back to my old tricks next week. We might even have some Modern Masters spoilers to look at. Until next time!

 

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