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

Hidden Demand

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I sold my Gaea’s Cradle for $50.

I don’t list this among my biggest MTG Finance regrets or talk about it often, and the thing was pretty beat up. Besides, $50 was a good price for it back when I sold it. This was during a period where I was having a hard time justifying all of the money I had tied up in a Legacy Maverick deck (that should tell you the year) that had as many German cards in it as I could find. I didn’t want my deck to be foil so I figured German was a good way to make the deck look sexy. I was most of the way done when I sold the whole thing and one of the last English cards, a jacked up Gaea’s Cradle, wasn’t a card I cared about.

A few years later, I got into EDH. I feel like I could really use that Cradle now. Lots of decks I run could use a Cradle and I could build a few I’m holding off on building, also. I come across Cradles, occasionally but I always quick flip them, never letting myself divert that much money from my business to my personal collection just so I can make my Prossh deck a teensy bit better. If Cradle were $20, though? I’d probably buy 10 of them. Even though I won’t spend $200 on one card (let’s pretend I wouldn’t pay buylist), I’ll spend $200 on 10 cards. I realize that Magic player Jason is a poor but that’s because player Jason would have to either embezzle money from financier Jason’s business or divert money from Dad Jason’s kid’s college fund. Fortunately, she’s a year old and still doesn’t know her own name, so it’s possible that college fund could become discretionary spending in no time.

I don’t think my experience is uncommon. Could I break off two hundo and throw it at some cardboard? Sure, but I’m loath to do that, especially for a bulk rare format like EDH. For $200 I could basically build an entire new deck, and a good one. I don’t think this is uncommon for EDH players, especially those who don’t come across as many copies of cards as I do, aren’t able to pay buylist prices as often as I am and aren’t cash money dolla billionaires like me. If you have a life outside of Magic like I don’t, you may just not even consider certain cards because while they’re great, they’re probably not necessary.

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I think this is important because I think it means people can treat cards like Gaea’s Cradle like Dre and forget about them. When you neglect a card for so long that you forget about it, you’re unlikely to remember to include it in the lists you draft, even if you never intend to build those decks. Those cards end up underrepresented on sites like EDHREC and Tappedout and suddenly you have an underestimation of the demand of a card. I think there are cards that are in higher demand than some of our metrics indicate and that this could lead to them recovering faster from reprints. I think that’s worth knowing.

Some of these will be predicated on me guessing that they’re in Modern Masters 2017, but I feel like I have pretty strong justification for thinking this and I’ll support my conclusions. I also realize this is a lot of writing with no pictures, so I am going to type “hidden demand” into google and see what comes up.

Fascinating.

So before I launch into which cards I think have demand that is understated and which could recover faster than other cards, let’s look at a few cards haven’t been spoiled but which I think will be in the set.

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Adam Prosak wrote a sweet article where he talks about design (and also spoils Damnation, which was all appreciated) and there is a relevant section that got me thinking a lot about what I expect to be in the set.

We have seen some of those archetypes shape up. Blink got Restoration Angel, Deadey Navigator and Snapcater Mage so far, Control has gotten Damnation, Temporal Mastery and Inquisition of Kozilek and both got Venser. Similarly the Populate decks have Seance and Thragtusk, the token decks have Goblin Assault and I think there is a creature that could go in either one of those decks. Based on them wanting a ton of small tokens and a way to make them bigger, I’m predicting the following.

Hoofy is a big card that wins games, but with that hefty pricetag, it’s tough for players to justify jamming him. Honestly, this is a contributing factor to the price of a card like Triumph of the Hordes. Wizards has also tried to give us cards like Decimator of the Provinces which is a poor facsimile for the Behoimoth but which will do in a pinch. Players jamming cheaper alternatives to the best card for the slot will cast aside their budget beaters once Craterhoof becomes affordable. There are players basically playing placeholders for this card without even knowing it. And if a player who didn’t have the money to break off to take themselves to hoof town can suddenly afford it, they might just jam both. The point is, the numbers for this card in terms of recent inclusion in decks belie the high price and I think that indicates pent-up demand.

Tarmogoyf is a bad example of a card to use as an example of what happens to prices from a Modern Masters set when there is a lot of demand because dealers manipulated what happened with Goyf by being able to buy a significant percentage of the Goyfs opened in Modern Masters total by being at GP Las Vegas twice when there was a huge Modern Masters event (something that’s not happening this year). I don’t see Goyf being in the set but Goyf did show us that pent-up demand can sometimes overwhelm supply. We saw the same thing with cards that weren’t bought quite as aggressively as was Goyf, and those graphic trends will likely be repeated with cards like Craterhoof.

Archmage (transiently, but still) actually exceeded its original price after its Modern Masters printing. I don’t expect that will happen with Craterhoof, necessarily, but I think it’s good to demonstrate that cards with a lot of demand (Archmage’s came from Modern) can rebound prices more than we’d expect.

An important caveat

By all accounts, dealers are getting WAY MORE of this product than they did of Modern Masters 1 or 2. Is this in part to the fact that they’ve foolishly opted not to have a big, kickass Modern Masters tourney at GP Vegas which is a few months away? Possibly. But given how many stores there are and how many boxes they’re able to order, I’m willing to be that we’re seeing a huge growth in the print allotment due to the tentative Modern Masters printing and the slightly braver Modern Masters 2 printing not pulling a Chronicles with the game.  Either way, there are likely to be more packs of this set opened at your LGS. Recovery of cards, especially non-mythics will be tougher than before. We’re unlikely to see prices go up after this printing the way they did in the past. On the other side of the coin, it’s unlikely it will be as difficult for rares to recover from a printing in this set than, say, a set like Khans of Tarkir.

There are other cards in the set that I expect have some understated demand, and if they dip a lot, like I expect them to, I expect you’ll be competing for cheap copies with a lot of players who were excited to be able to get them cheap enough to play with.

Damnation has to have been the #1 card requested by the EDH community, which is sort of funny to me. I’d much, much rather have cheap copies of Phyrexian Altar, a card that really needed a Commander 2015 printing and didn’t get it. However, EDH players have been clamoring for this card forever. It’s just not reasonable to pay $70+ for a $5 card that happens to be a different mana color. Damnation is a card that EDH players are happy to jam in their decks in a world where price is no object but it’s so expensive money-wise that they’re going with alternatives that are expensive mana-wise. While it’s obvious that Toxic Deluge can mostly get the job done and Decree of Pain is much better, people just want to pay 4 and wipe the board. Competitive players tend to gravitate to lower-mana-cost spells as well because their games are usually tighter. This is good news because if casual players buy the copies under $30, competitive players are more likely than casual players to continue to buy copies at a higher price, ensuring the recovery goes more smoothly than people are imagining. Make no mistake, the floor is going to drop out from under this card. However, I think people are counting on it not to recover, and I’m not so sure that’s the case. Don’t count this card out because there’s hidden demand that is going to make itself known very soon.

I’m not speculating here, we know this card is in the set, but we are speculating about the percent of the demand that is from EDH and the percent that was predicated on it doing well in one deck that no one plays anymore in Modern one time. Its inclusion numbers on EDHREC look very healthy and it’s a component of a lot of devastating cheaty decks like Roon and Brago as well as some of the spikier decks like the new Teferi Chain Veil shenanigans. However, when it spiked as much as it did, and not predicated on its EDH demand at all, price memory kept the price high and it priced a lot of EDH players out of the market. There are plenty of people who would play this card if it were cheaper who are staying away. Cheaper copies would encourage them to buy in. I also think this card is being propped up by scarcity more than people are aware so we may see these two effects – artificial high from a Modern-based buyout and price memory combining with some unexpected demand from players who can’t justify playing $20 for a Remanderang with feet. This card is a little healthier than we might think.

I think as more and more cards are spoiled, we should keep an eye on cards that were very expensive and are about to not be. In particular, cards that are from the pre-mythic era that aren’t getting a rarity shift to mythic. I think there’s more value in determining which cards we want to target at their price floor. For example, I expect Voice of Resurgence to be in the set but I’m not as excited about buying those at their price floor as I would Craterhoof. I’ve made a lot of money on Craterhoof, twice and if I can do it again, I’ll be living the dream. We’ll have some more to discuss next week as reprintings make entire decks buildable that might not have been buildable before and we’ll have a lot more targets to discuss. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery 227: Some Fish, a Flower, and some Salt

 

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.

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.

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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).

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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Jason E Alt – E-mail – TwitterFacebookMTGPrice

Douglas Johnson is and will forever be merely a guest

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