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

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Article I Would Have Written Last Week



Look, had I known what the full spoiler was going to look like, I would have written this article last week. I spent all week – Brainstorm Brewery, here, Gathering Magic, talking about how people might be inclined to play more Animar decks if they could get a cheap Imperial Recruiter in Masters 25. It’s not necessary in Animar but since it’s very good, you could see an uptick. It was a correlation without necessarily causation argument which isn’t the strongest but we’re just making associations here, right? More often than not, those correlations lead us to money. This week is no different, except my correlation argument went and strengthened itself.

So this is a thing. I guess I could have predicted this if I had really thought about it, and maybe I kind of did but now we have confirmation that Animar itself is getting a reprint, we don’t have to guess how many Animar decks are going to get built on the strength of an Imperial Recruiter reprint. We can guess how many Animar decks are going to get built on the strength of an Animar reprint and that number is much, much larger. Animar was pretty expensive before and it had some expensive cards from the deck get reprinted. What’s bound to go up as Animar decks get played more? How do we get ahead of the coming wave and make sure we have enough boats to… benefit from the wave…

I’m getting sick of the boats metaphor. I never hear anyone reference it but me and I was honestly just keeping it going to see how long I could do it.

Let’s get on with talking about money and not about boats, shall we?


Money, Soul of Everything Around Me

Animar is a pretty specific deck which can be good and bad. It’s sort of bad in that it’s sort of boring and predictable to play but it’s good for us in that it’s boring and predictable to build. I think people are going to take advantage of the price of Animar plummeting, personally and I see it getting built, especially now that people can get Animar in foil.


For reference, there are 775 Captain Sisay decks currently registered on EDHREC and 2,700 or so Oloro decks, so that puts Animar in roughly the 60th percentile for deck adoption based on current numbers. Again, the absolute numbers matter less than the proportions so try and not look at a number like 1,714 and say “that’s too low to bother with” if you don’t have a reference based on popular commanders. Without a compelling reason to build Oloro coming soon and a bunch of cheaper copies (Cheaper than even the $15 Card Kingdom wants for a preorder) coming and with foils available for the first time, I think Animar is going to approach Oloro’s numbers. That is good news for Animar staples. Staples such as…

Cloudstone Curio

This is basically an EDH staple at this point, you’d think, but if you check the synergy score with Animar, it’s almost 40% meaning there is a high degree of correlation. Cloudstone’s fate is less tied to the fate of the format as a whole than a card like Sol Ring but if we’re predicting Animar is going to get played more, cards that are shoo-ins for decks like that are good cards to discuss. I don’t know if I like the invention at around $45 since the art is sort of meh. However, Curio is a combo enabler in a lot of formats and has been a solid card for many years. I don’t know if it’s reprintable but with core sets coming up, there is real risk. I think if this had a run on it and went from $10 to $20 you get in and out. Curio is just too good in Animar decks and it basically makes any two creatures get Animar huge enough that you can Eldrazi them to death. This is a must-play for idealized versions of the deck making it a must-buy for us. Also, stock online is low making any amount of buying activity immediately noticeable and very impactful.

Birthing Pod

Being banned in Modern is pretty good for mitigating its reprint risk, I’d say. With it being hard to reprint and with people already having dug through online and rooted out all of the event decks it’s in, I think the copies we have are the copies we have which means future demand is all upside. This is good enough in the deck that I think this has upside based on increases in Animar decks being built and with supply not going anywhere, new demand is all the price should need. Don’t expect demand to be back-filled by copies coming out of the woodwork, either. You’re getting these from dealers.

Promo Rattleclaw Mystic

I don’t think the demand from Animar will be great enough to drive regular Rattleclaw up and I think the set foil isn’t splashy enough but  I do think people will target the promo foil and I think we could see an opportunity to make some money. Unfortunately, the card is a bit narrow and basically goes only in Animar decks right now, but if they’re being built, I could see the upside bringing this card for a bit of a ride even if the other printings aren’t touched. This may be wishful thinking but Morph creatures are great in Animar, they’ll probably be good in something else in the next few years and Rattleclaw is one of the best Morph creatures we have. I don’t have the kind of confidence in this I do in Curio just because there are 3 choices under $3 for this one and the foils of Curio are ridiculous and these are a very recent card but I do think people will want these and you should make some money. I mean, before fees, you’ll definitely make money. Before fees.

Foil Ancestral Statue

This is a pretty textbook case of an “Animar only” card but the foil is doing some pretty encouraging things in a world where Animar was like $50. This is a goofy pick and it goes against a lot of the things we normally say when we play it safe, but the graph seems to show some signs of life. I don’t hate this.

Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger

This is probably the finisher in the Animar deck with the most upside. It’s starting to tick up a bit and while that means we could have gotten it for a buck or two cheaper, realistically, it represents the start of a climb that wasn’t even predicated on the reprinting of Animar. With Animar on the upswing, Eldrazi like this one will be along for the ride and I think this is the one I’m most excited about. You can check the price graphs of the others (cross reference with the list of Eldrazi played in Animar that you can find on EDHREC) and feel free to list any you like in the comments of this article, but I’m fairly certain this is the juiciest.

I am absolutely building Animar once prices tank and I welcome you all to join me. You add some artifact shenanigans, some enchantments like Sunbird’s Invocation and Zendikar Resurgent and you Eldrazi them to death or morph a bunch. It’s going to be pretty rad. Again, let me know if you think any Eldrazi are sexier than Battle for Ulamog or leave other questions and concerns. I read your comments, so leave them. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery #279 Masters 25


A very sleepy brew crew, Corbin (@Chosler88), Jason (@jasonEalt ) and DJ (@Rose0fThorns), crack open an episode that is guaranteed to have more EV than a Masters 25 pack. Seriously even this cast isn’t as bad as Tree of Redemption. (ugh) The crew discusses all the information that you need to know heading into Masters 25 and what to expect from the reprints.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Priced Back In

Hello, nerds,

Today we are partially through the Masters 25 spoilers and while that’s not super duper financially relevant for us for the most part unless you’re holding a bunch of copies of cards and are sad (R.I.P. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben spec) to watch your money catch fire, we’re months away from me writing my “These cards are at their floor, but now” article like the one I wrote last week that no one commented on but a lot of people read. The google analytics say it was one of my most popular articles of 2018 and the lack of comments say that it was perfect and you couldn’t find a single fault with it. I knew it; I knocked it out of the park.

Let’s knock it out of the park this week by trying something new and useful. Our original method for this series was to look at new printings of cards that might make other cards also in the decks go up and buy those other cards. The new card may hit, it may not but if it enabled archetypes, its own financial upside was irrelevant. EDH isn’t enough demand to make Admiral Beckett Brass worth money but you better believe a bunch of stupid pirates are pricey. We haven’t really applied that principle to reprints. That isn’t we never tried it before today. However, I think Masters 25 is giving us a reason to look at more cards than a normal Masters set.

Priced Out

Some cards are just too expensive to even consider. Proxies have always been a thing (for poors) in EDH but for some reason, there are some cards that people never even consider inside the realm of possibility. Price has a lot to do with it – they never see anyone use the card so they don’t even know it exists or maybe the group would get salty about a guy with a $40 unsleeved deck having a Mana Crypt in the deck. Some cards are just priced out of people’s decks and most of the time they include a budget alternative or just eschew the card entirely. If the card suddenly becomes not only attainable, but easily attainable, the dynamic changes and entire new deckbuilding avenues open up. I think there are a few cards people are currently “Priced out” of and I think that will change. The cards in those decks will have some upside going forward depending on the degree of correlation and I think that is where we make the money. Let’s think about what to buy, shall we?


Imperial Recruiter

How low can this go? I could see this tanking as low as $30 or so before it stops its slide to oblivion and that’s very good for a small number of EDH player that will soon be a much larger number. Recruiter of the Guard has been a huge hit in EDH and the decks that can run both are now super stoked and the decks that don’t have White can have a chance to do their own recruiter shenanigans. This majorly impacts a few decks.

The numbers here are less important than the ratios. Roughly a number of Animar and Alesha decks are affected and roughly half that number of a bunch of decks ranging from Marath which would love to tutor for a combo piece to Krenko which obviously would love a second copy of Kiki-Jiki in the deck can benefit from affordable Recruiters. I’ll post a few highlights from Animar and Alesha.

Shaman of Forgotten Ways

How low can this go? I doubt it goes much lower, basically ever. The dealers are starting to pay more and more and I think this card’s reprint risk is much lower than most people probably do. Even though it ended up being fine and people are really dumb, this was still something everyone expected to be banned in EDH. While it’s not banworthy it’s still very potent and I have replaced the Black Lotus-esque Somberwald Sage with this in a lot of decks because of the win condition. That’s a lie – I run both and I cut something like Brainstorm, but still, if I had to pick one or the other, I’d go with this.


The foil keeps flirting with $20 and with the low supply of foils, this just needs a little nudge over the cliff. I think this is an excellent target for Imperial Recruiter, helping you get from 3 mana to 5 and possibly yanking a win condition out of your deck. I’m bullish as bullish can be about this in both foil and non-foil and I think if Recruiter doesn’t do it, a year falling off of the calendar will.

Master of Cruelties

Probably due for a reprint soon (If you’re reading this Friday and you’re like “WTF this is in Masters 25!” just know that you’re in my future and I don’t know that yet), this casual favorite keep climbing straight to the stars. It does a lot of work in Alesha and putting it into play tapped and attacking is pretty sneaky. This straight murders people (well, no, the other creatures murder them) and it’s tutorable with Imperial Recruiter, which is what we want to happen, right?

While we’re on the subject, I want to point out that I find the rate of growth of the foil pretty surprising. Usually casual cards don’t have a very healthy foil growth rate but if you compare about 5 or 10 data points you pretty quickly figure out that this is maintaining a bare minimum 2x multiplier and it’s nothing special. This is far from a staple but I can’t see building Alesha without it. I’m bearish on foils and bullish on non-foils which, since the foils are at a bare minimum multiplier, could mean the foils have upside anyway.

Harsh Mentor

So there’s a lot of Amonkhet out there. That’s OK – I’ll wait. Meanwhile this card is in 1,500 decks on EDHREC and could be in a lot more if Alesha gets built more. This card is honestly better than people are giving it credit for and I think as people register more decks, the numbers will reflect a reality that they aren’t currently. It’s either that or only 175 people are running The Immortal Sun in EDH. Go check its page out. I think Mentor has more upside than we know and I like it.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking

This is in a lot of decks and even in quite a few as the commander. Also, the prerelease price on Card Kingdom is a third of what current retail is so that’s quite a reduction. I also think $18 is a little high for a non-mythic but its relevance in formats outside of EDH should bolster its price a bit. Regardless, we’re talking about a 2/3 reduction in price which can take it from “$55, are you insane?” to “Yeah, I’ll pay $15 or whatever” at peak supply. I bet this can flirt with $10 or less.

I don’t know how many Azusa decks will get built as a result of her reprinting but we can peek quickly at cards that would be affected.

Woodfall Primus

Woodfall Primus is pretty stable after its reprinting and has recovered a lot of its value. It’s holding pretty nicely in the original printing but the Modern Masters copies are a little more affordable. That said, Modern Masters didn’t give us that many copies and it’s been 5 years. Check out this graph.

You see what I see? It’s subtle, so I will zoom in on it.

That’s an arbitrage opportunity. That was a dealer going out of stock, seeing that retail wasn’t far off of what he was willing to pay and saying “screw it” and buying some copies. That affected the retail price since they clearly bought retail and the buy price went right back down because that one lunatic dropped their price since they got what they wanted at retail. That was recently. I think supply is getting low and that means the price is about to move. I realize the lines are diverging again, but how long until someone else runs out of stock of a very good EDH card and takes a look at how low supply is? I bet the dealer and retail prices re-converge and I bet it happens soon. Correlating that with the impending release of affordable copies of Azusa doesn’t seem that far-fetched. I feel very strongly about Woodfall Primus at current retail and I don’t care who knows it. I mean, I would prefer Pro Traders found out first, but after that, I don’t care.

Defense of the Heart

That stupid spike throws off the graph and makes it tough to read, but the price has been basically $10 basically forever. I think people think this is on the Reserved List, which isn’t a terrible assumption. It is not. Ring of Gix and Second Chance are, but not this card. This gets played in 4,337 decks on EDHREC and at $10, it’s a good deal for as old as it is. We’ll see if James Chilcott gets mad at me for mentioning this to you nerds – he asked me about this card last week and I didn’t think anything of it until I came across it in the Azusa lists and realized that it’s not actually on the Reserved List. Do I expect a reprint? Eh, maybe not. It’s not really on anyone’s radar and they’re not nimble enough to get a reprint out before anyone who bought in at $10 got out at $30. Unless, you know, it’s in Masters 25 and you know that but I don’t.

That’s what I got. We will know the full spoiler next week and that will give me some sort of idea about what to write about. That said, we found some very strong picks in this one and regardless of whether the lower price makes these archetypes take off, these cards are going up in price. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Low Tide

I keep harping on the same concepts in this series and that’s because some methods are tried and true and until something changes substantially, they’re what make me money and I love to pass those ideas on to my readers. I’ll go over this one again because I think it bears repeating so everyone from the long-term reader to the first-time reader knows what I’m talking about. Namely, I want to talk about graph shapes; the U and the reverse-J.


If a card is reprinted and its price never recovers, you’ll see a really sad graph shape. It peaks then declines to a valley and it’s so depressing that I am not even going to try and find an example and post it here. It’s like the stuff in the gore subreddit – no one really wants to see that. Instead, let’s talk about a happier scenario – a price declines after a reprint but Mr. Organic Demand comes along and says “Turn that frown upside down” and you’re on the maglev bullet train to money town, baby, where the money grows on money trees and you can pay someone to harvest the money with all of the money you’re making. That looks like this.

So if you saw the rebound coming and bought in at the floor, you’re feeling good. The rebound was predictable if you look at EDH demand at all and understand which cards are likely to rebound based on the amalgam of all of their factors such as how many decks the card is in, when it was first printed, the likelihood of another reprinting coming along and pantsing it, etc. However, as a financier, telling you that Crypt Ghast must be a good card because it was $3 then it was $1 then it was $3 again is pretty useless information unless I think it will got to $8, which I don’t since it was never $8 when the supply was lower and the demand was the same. U-shaped graphs are neat but they can’t make us much money since the price has already recovered. You want the first half of that U shape. You want what I call the reverse-J shape, because our language doesn’t have a letter that looks like the first half of a U.

I use this graphic every time but it illustrates how much money can be made if the card recovers to its pre-dip price. So why do I bring all of this up? And what does the title of the article refer to?


I’m So Glad I Pretended You Asked

A long time ago when I started writing about EDH finance full-time, I thought about how to make money on EDH cards and I decided that when new cards were printed, trying to guess their price was less relevant than looking at the archetypes they were likely to enable and speculating on those older cards. Supply would be lower, upside would be higher since the demand wouldn’t be as easily back-filled with copies at the same price making it spike quickly before anyone could react and every card in the deck would go up – theoretically, a rising tide would lift all boats. Well, today we’re all about Low Tide – the first half of the U. We’re going reverse-J hunting and there is a set that came out recently that is going to be just lousy with those sexy shapes. I think the cards in a certain set are at their floor and we’re going to look at EDH demand to see how likely a recovery is and how much money I think you can make if you buy now. Forget dinosaurs and pirates, let’s think about Benjamins.

Iconic Recovery

Iconic Masters reprinted a ton of sexy EDH cards and I think a lot of them are going to recover. How do we determine the likelihood of recovery? I’m not going to address every factor, but I will do three things.

  • I arbitrarily picked Crypt Ghast because that recovered nicely. I’m going to see how many decks on EDHREC have Crypt Ghast in them and then I am going to compare that number to the number of decks the cards in Iconic Masters are in. If it sounds really simple, it’s because it is. Also, almost no one does this sort of analysis so maybe just thank me for doing it for you even though it’s easy and also reminding you to do it because that’s the actual hard part.
  • I am going to look at how many times the card has been reprinted and which set it was in initially. If it’s older than Crypt Ghast, I’ll say something vague about how the set print runs were smaller back then.
  • I’m going to pretend I have some insight into what they tend to select to reprint and gauge how likely I think a second reprinting to be. Most people are very bad at this. I include myself in that group. We go with our guts a lot – I certainly didn’t see a second Black Market reprinting coming and I all but applauded the first one. If this were obvious to anyone, speculating would be a lot less risky and everyone would do it.

So with Crypt Ghast as a nice comparison, let’s look at some Iconic Masters cards. For reference,

16,672 is a number. We’ll remember that later.

Austere Command

So this is in fewer decks than Crypt Ghast, but not too many fewer. I don’t think it’s significant. It’s in the Top 50 White cards on EDHREC so if you’re playing White, chances are you will use this. It’s at what I would call its floor. Look at the price graph for Iconic Masters.

Dealers don’t seem to think it’s going to get any cheaper. If it gets any cheaper or if dealers raise their buy price any more, you’re going to be able to arbitrage the stupid things. Why do that when you can just wait for the price to double, which is what I think it will do? That question mark was for the “why do that” part of the sentence, I am not questioning whether I think it will double, I do. That wasn’t, like, a Ron Burgundy question mark. We’re getting off track – Buy Austere Commands, nerds.

Austere Command has one more reprinting than Crypt Ghast but Lorwyn and Commander (1? Do we call it Commander 1? Just Commander? The first one, whatever we call that) had pretty low print runs compared to RTR and Commander 2014. Remember I said this paragraph would be vague? I meant it. I don’t see a reason why Austere Command won’t completely recover, which means we’re at the bottom of that reverse J. You could wait any longer but look at the Iconic Masters graph again. Dealers aren’t waiting. Why would you?

Consecrated Sphinx

We should make like an epileptic in an office supply store and pick up staples all day. This card is in lots of decks and the dealer buy price is converging with the sale price. We’re at peak supply for Inconic Masters and the copies are as cheap as they are going to get. Whether you think the price will fully recover (I don’t see why not) or not, if you want copies, buy them now because they will only get more expensive. If you think it’s a slam dunk to buy at $15 or lower a card that has demonstrated it can be $35, you might want to do that. This didn’t get a ton of new supply being printed at Mythic in Iconic Masters and this is a little more than the price of a booster pack right now. I think this is a good pickup.

Dealers aren’t as keen on the non-foil copies of the Iconic Masters version, but you saw the price convergence for the Mirrodin Besieged copies. Sphinx is like $10 for IM right now. If it hits $8 and you bought in at $10, buy the same amount again. Congrats, you bought in at $9. If it hits $7, buy in more. If it hits $6, I will buy a playset, blend it into a smoothie and drink it. It won’t hit $6, not anywhere it’s currently $10. TCG Player low is already $13, snapple any cheap eBay auctions you can and thank me later. This is a $20+ card in a year.

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger 

This is in half as many decks as Crypt Ghast. Here I am talking about how it’s going to recover as much or nearly as much. Why am I saying that? Don’t I forsee the demand as being half as much as that of Crypt Ghast? Why do I forsee recovery? The answer to that is in a euphemism Wizards of the Coast loves to use and how it’s not always a euphemism.

They don’t bring prices down, they “increase availability” which usually means “bring prices down” but not always. Reprints introduce more copies of a card into the market. That has the effect of lowering prices, generally, since you’re disrupting one half of the supply/demand dichotomy and therefore affecting the other. However, in the case of a card like Vorniclex that was a $30 mythic from a set you can’t buy anymore, people were priced out. People could break off $5 for a Crypt Ghast but $30 for Vorinclex was out of a lot of price ranges. A $13 Vorinclex? Now you’re talking. People who simply didn’t have access before have access now and I think that creates new demand. When a card goes below a certain price threshold, it becomes more available to people and they buy. I think Vorinclex’s price can recover even if it takes longer because when it’s cheap, it stops not being an option for some people. This is almost the same as Sphinx in every way except for number of decks it’s in so I expect it to recover less than Sphinx but I expect it to be in more decks than it used to be in a year. This is a bit more of a casual card than Sphinx so people being priced out is an actual factor. I think this could recover 75-80% of its pre-reprint value in a year or two. If that’s too long to wait, don’t worry because I have other targets.

Rune-Scarred Demon

I don’t feel like I need to say too much about this. It’s practically a bulk rare and this is a card that once flirted with $8. This won’t be $8 again but it’s at its absolute floor and the demand profile is the same as Crypt Ghast, it’s at the same price point, it’s a card that appeals to both casual and competitive EDH players and it’s not super likely to be re-reprinted in the next year or two. I think you can wait and see if this is in Masters 25 before you buy in, but I think you break off $200 or so and you’ll be very happy with how this performs. I could be missing something, but what? This is pretty Crypt Ghasty and unlike Crypt Ghast, this was reprinted in a set with $10 booster packs, not a popular Commander deck series.

I didn’t mean to do one card of each color so far but since I was going to do 5 cards, let’s pick a red one and wrap it up.

Sheoldred, Whispering One

Red sucks in EDH

I didn’t do a red card because they’re all either not in very many decks, almost exclusively used outside of EDH or they’re Kiki-Jiki and liable to get reprinted 3 more times. I’m giving you a good pick instead of arbitrarily completing a cycle I didn’t even know could be a cycle until I was 80% of the way through it. You’re welcome.

And you’re welcome for me reminding you to buy a card that has demonstrated the ability to flirt with $30 for like $10. This hits $20 again and you’ll be all “Wow, when did this get expensive again?” except you won’t because you’re reading this article so you won’t be surprised but other people will. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Anyway, Sheoldred will recover and it’s at its floor now, so fill a shopping cart with them and windmill slam that “check out” button. You’re welcome.

This turned into a long article. If I were a lesser writer I would have given 3 picks instead of 5 but I am not a lesser writer. I am a man who finds you reverse-J-shaped graphs. You’re swell for reading, thanks for doing that. Until next time!

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