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: Why Wait?


I’m doing a very good job of presenting EDH finance to people who are either antipathetic or even hostile to EDH as a format. I’m probably the best at it, and that could be because basically no one else is bothering. Whatever the case is, I’ve noticed that my accuracy rate on specs went way up when I started focusing on EDH finance a lot more because EDH is predictable. Sure, you still get the same event-based and printing-based spikes that you get with other formats, but you also get the “This is obviously going to be $5 in 2 years” stuff that other formats don’t necessarily promise. Buying stuff as bulk rares that are going to be $5 in a few years is the easiest way to make money at this and since those cards are usually obvious, why park your money anywhere else? And when I say “This bulk rare will be $5 in 2 years” I really mean stuff like that happens.

$2 isn’t exactly bulk, but it isn’t exactly the $6 it is, now. Should we sell out if we got these for cheap when they were $2? I would snap take that triple up, especially since we’ve seen that there are people out there who will spoil an entire tribal deck at a time. I think the $11 foils of this are much safer since there are several scenarios and the foil is better in most of them.

  • There isn’t a C17 Sliver deck and the foil grows steadily as we get farther from its print date. It’s probably just as good as the non-foil here.
  • There is a C17 sliver deck and Sliver Hive isn’t reprinted. The foil has more growth potential because it’s scarcer and people will be buying copies of both to make new sliver decks.
  • There is a C17 sliver deck and non-foil Sliver Hive is reprinted.

As good as that is to review before we get more spoilers, it’s not great advice for someone who doesn’t have any Sliver Hives. I’m not advocating running out and getting any right now (if you do, get the foils) but maybe there is something we can do if we don’t have cards going into spoiler season. We can wait. Waiting to park a portion of your money can be a great play and I’m going to talk about why.

Why Wait?


Mtg Finance is opportunism, guys. It just is. We see a price discrepancy and exploit it. Or we serve customers by providing cards they need, which is still opportunism. I think there is opportunity in waiting until the last second to see if something is going to pop based on not being reprinted. The cards that make the best targets for this kind of buying are older cards that really should be getting reprinted because if they’re not, the price is going to be out of control. Remember back when we talked about how they needed to print Phyrexian Altar in Commander 2015? Remember how they didn’t?

Not reprinting Phyrexian Altar when it was $15 signaled that at the very least we were in for another year of growth and people bought in. The new price is double what it was and it’s basically out of reach for a lot of people and those who need it are willing to pay the new price. If you bought these at $15, you probably feel pretty good. Now had this gotten reprinted, it would have tanked substantially. You would probably be breaking even right about now, having to wait for money sunk into a spec that was blown out. The good news is the card would have recovered in price, the bad news is you wouldn’t be able to count that as a win, and there are wins out there.

Here’s a card that was around the same price as Phyrexian Altar and got the reprint. It might recover, it might not, but it will be years before we know. So what can we learn from Phyrexian Altar, a $15 card that became $30 quickly when it wasn’t reprinted and Urza’s Incubator, a $15 card that became $5 very quickly when it was reprinted? Did the Incubator holders lose a coin flip and Altar buyers win it? I think the real lesson here is that you can wait until the spoilers are out, and you should. You’ll have time, maybe only a day, but you’ll have time to pounce on stuff that isn’t reprinted and I think I have a few excellent candidates.

Patriarch’s Bidding

Recognize this graph shape?

How about now?

How about now?

Patriarch’s Bidding looks exactly like those other two cards did right before their “do or die” moment with a reprinting one of them got and one of them didn’t. This year is Bidding’s do or die moment – will it be included in the most obvious place to reprint it or will WotC signal that they’re basically never interested in reprinting it? We get at least a year of growth and I plan to buy Bidding at $15 and sell as close to $30 as I can.

While we’re talking about bidding, how do I feel about the reprint odds? I actually don’t think they’re as good as everyone might think. I still advocate waiting, but I think they’re not likely to put Patriarch’s Bidding in C17. Why do I say that? After all, these decks are tribal. However, all of the decks are tribal, and if these decks are meant to be purchased at the same time and played against each other, Bidding is pretty terrible if everyone has tribal decks. I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. I read a Bennie Smith article awhile back and thinking about the Altar/Incubator graph shape reminded me that he has similar feelings about bidding.


Bennie thinks these “obvious” tribal cards are unlikely to be reprinted due to how symmetrical they are. Tribal cards likely to be included are ones that help your deck more than they help the other decks – think Urza’s Incubator over Patriarch’s Bidding, Belbe’s Portal over Coat of Arms, Sliver Hive over Peer Pressure.


The fact that Bidding isn’t an obvious slam dunk in C17 the way you may have thought at first means that C17 exclusion isn’t necessarily a signal that it will never be in a Commander set. However, you do get at least a year of growth and with the card likely to double in that period and grow pretty slowly or go back down a bit like Altar did, either way you’re looking to get in at $15 and get out at $30 within a year. While I think it’s unlikely that Bidding gets a reprint, I also think you can afford to wait until its inclusion or exclusion is confirmed. If you notice, there was a bit of a lag in Altar’s price spike and I think we’ll get a similar grace period this time. On the other side of the coin, I want to talk about a similar card that may be a little more likely to get reprinted than Bidding due to its asymmetry and inclusion in a lot of sliver decks, slivers being a tribe I expect to be one of the four.

Mana Echoes

This is a card that may get jammed in the Sliver deck, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? This is an article about how we’re waiting, so if it isn’t reprinted, it’s a good idea to think about jumping on a bunch of copies of this stupid, unfair card for cheaters. This really gets out of hand, and generating all that mana is very good in a deck where you can use colorless mana to make sliver tokens. This goes infinite with Sliver Queen, a card that will not be the commander of the C17 deck (Reserved List for the win), but which maybe should be once you buy it and reconfigure stuff. Mana Echoes is not good with any other sliver commander, especially – it can help you search with Legion, I guess, but with Queen you get to go infinite. Does that mean that since Queen can’t be in the deck Mana Echoes is a safe reprint or does it mean there isn’t much point in putting it in without Queen? Here’s something to ponder – it’s the Mana Echoes EDHREC page, of course!

Mana Echoes is in way more Sliver Overlord decks than Sliver Queen decks, which means that although it’s more disgusting in Queen decks, it isn’t necessarily only in Queen decks and could get a reprint.

Now, if Mana Echoes doesn’t get a reprint, you can bet that the price is going up based on 4 new tribal decks, all of which I’m assuming will be 5 color until I hear otherwise, wanting to add mana to their mana pool when they play a creature. Mana Echoes could end up not in the sliver deck but still be in C17.  We don’t know that much for sure at this point but we know that much. I say watch spoilers and when Echoes is ruled out, pizzounce.

Shared Animosity

One more before I put a bow on this article. I don’t have anything insightful to say about the likelihood of a reprinting of this card the way I did about the others, but I will say that while this is played in fewer EDH decks than Mana Echoes, this does get a non-zero amount of play in other formats, which could give it more chances to spike on top of the bump it will get from C17 exclusion.

I have to imagine that’s enough value. I wouldn’t buy specs when we can wait and throw a ton of money at some of these cards that are going to pull a Phyrexian Altar for sure as soon as they’re ruled out. Wait for confirmation, buy copies, sell in a year and make it rain. This is a very easy double up and when you’re talking about $15 a card, shipping and fees hit you way less than doubling up on 100 copies of a $2 card so you’re keeping more of your profits. Next week I’m sure I’ll be inspired to write another amazing piece, but until then, read my other stuff for more EDH insight. Until then!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Here There Be Dargons

What a week it’s been. Fortunately for David Leavitt, someone else came along and grabbed the mantle of “Person the Magic Community is most mad at” which is probably too little too late considering even my local morning zoo radio program DJs (I don’t listen to the fart noises that pass for local radio, but a buddy with less taste does and he told me about it) was talking about his joke (which barely qualifies as a joke, not because it was offensive but because it was lazy) leaving the Magic community to focus on who we don’t like this week. And we don’t like the person who leaked pictures of the Dragons from the Commander 2017 dragon deck. At all.

I wanted to post the silly post he tried to make on twitter about how he isn’t responsible for the leaks, he just had a friend give him the pictures to share. The whole thing is really funny to me on top of how annoyed I am that some human parasite leaked a bunch of card images early and forced us to talk about them. Pasting your Instagram name on the leaks seems like a bad way to escape Wizards’ inevitable wrath coming down on you and is hilarious. Saying you’re not responsible for the leaks while being 100% responsible for the leaks is hilarious. Changing your Instagram name to “Turn 1 Thoughtseize” when there is already a Magic podcast with that name and pissing them off on top of everything else is hilarious. As much as this dude sucks for leaking the cards, at least he had the common decency to turn the entire affair into a gigantic comedy of errors for my amusement. It’s put me in such a good mood that I’m writing my article for next week super early so you can get in on this giant gamble we’re all going to be in on. Let’s look at what was leaked and what will matter.


The Ur-Dragon

This is a mythic that really feels mythic. That’s not necessarily saying it feels good, it just feels mythic. Learning nothing from how annoying Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is to play against, Wizards has come out with another creature that affects the board from the Command Zone. Let me assure you that “one or more Dragons you control attack” is correct grammatically and the fact that it isn’t “attacks” does not prove this is fake.

I’m not sure if this card is going to spike anything on its own. The fact that it’s the commander of a 5 color dragon deck likely makes a lot of stuff go up but I don’t want to recommend a bunch of cards that are likely to be reprinted so I’m going to stick to stuff I think is very safe.

What is very safe? First up, I would say stuff from Commander 2016. I expect Chromatic Lantern to be safe, which means it seems very, very likely to me that Coalition Relic is in these decks. Stay away from that, but if we get a full spoiler and still no relic, that’s a signal that they never intend to reprint that card again ever because they don’t know what they’re doing. Crystalline Crawler and Conquerer’s Flail would be great targets if they both hadn’t gone up already. There is a card from C16 that I do like, though.


Prismatic Geoscope

This is a “worse” Gilded Lotus that can sometimes tap for 5 mana which makes it very good. I like things that are very good in 5 color decks and this is it. I can’t imagine this stays below $5 over the next week or two. It was already a card I had my eye on and with a 5 color deck being spoiled, mana fixing will be at a premium and this has such a low likelihood of being reprinted this soon that I am all over this card, whose price is trending down and therefore seems like a great bargain. Yes, coming into play tapped sucks. But tapping for 5 mana does not suck and this is going to tap for 5 a lot. It’s going to tap for 2 a lot, also, but the kind of person who builds a tribal Dargon deck isn’t thinking about that.

You know what a person who builds Ur-Dargon IS thinking about?

Zirilian of the Claw

You know what’s safer than safe? Cards on the Reserved List, that’s what. This card is safe on the Reserved List, nestled between Yare and Zuberi Golden Feather. The buylist price for this never quite got as excited as the pretend retail price did in January of 2015 when someone bought a copy of this off of TCG Player and everyone pretended the entire internet was out of stock. If terrible dragons like Kolaghan getting printed can spike this card, imagine what the second spike is going to look like on the back of an actual dragon deck being printed without this card inside it. This is a no-brainer. Sell this to people with no brains. I don’t think any of this good will is going to extend to Hivis of the Scale, which is too bad, since stealing dragons seems very spicy in the wake of them printing new dragons. Zirilian isn’t getting play in Scion decks right now, though, so get out quickly.

Edit – Or not. This is basically gone from the internet. I told you it was a no-brainer. Don’t chase this spec, let everyone else deal with trying to offload copies.

There isn’t a whole lot else that’s really spicy that I don’t think has a decent shot of being in the deck. Urza’s Incubator seems like it’s on the table, Dragon Arch seems like a shoo-in, etc. I am tending to avoid obvious tribal stuff. Not every good card is a dargon, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami

Yes, that’s right, THE O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, from all of those Kamigawa block flavor texts and novels.

This seems really underwhelming. It’s not always easy to hit them with a creature and if you do, the reward should be better than “Maybe destroy a permanent” but that might just be me. I’m not excited about putting this at the helm of its own deck. I’m sure you will get to summon this a lot more often than Ur-Dragon, but I just don’t like this card much. It’s not going to make anything that the 5-color dragon deck just existing won’t spike already so I’m not going to waste too much more ink on this card.

Wasitora, Nekoru Queen

Finally, the Jund-colored Cat Dragon that makes Cat Dragon tokens we’ve all been begging for.

I could see this getting its own deck built around it, actually. I don’t know how popular it would be, but this is very aggressive. Things that double your attack phases or the number of tokens you produce will get played, but I don’t know how much upside they have. Saskia basically already spiked everything this would spike and I don’t know if this adds enough additional demand for any of it to go up again. This just feels a little weak for multiplayer. Only getting the token if they don’t have a creature to sac feels durdly. If you die both things every time this might feel more playable. This also has no white so you couldn’t even play any of the other cat cards basically making this card’s tribal identity as a cat worthless.

Ramos, Dragon Engine

I hate to have to post a pic with dumdum’s Instagram account slapped on it, but this is the picture we have so we’re going with it. I was joking before but this actually is THE Ramos from Mercadian Masques era lore. I don’t know if you want this as your commander as opposed to Ur-Dragon, but this is pretty sweet. With the amount of Proliferate and cards like Doubling Season running around, this could potentially get out of hand quickly. Only being able to activate his ability once a turn keeps this from getting completely bonkers, but this is a great mana battery and I expect people to build something around him. I don’t think this spikes anything that Atraxa, a commander still bound to be more popular than anything from the dragon deck a year from now, hasn’t spiked already.

Taigam, Ojutai Master

Finally, a card that isn’t 100% a dragon card. This could spawn its own deck, rebounding cards like Time Warp, which this makes uncounterable. This is the most exciting card we’ve seen for sure and this, while it references dragons, need not be played with them at all, unless you really want to jam Ojutai(s) which you probably should do because, why not?

There is no real rush on this card so I’m going to give it its own article because there are so many relevant cards based on the deck that will creep up around this. People have dargon fever today so I want to finish out by addressing the rest of the dragon stuff I think has upside.

Foil Everything

We want to buy cards that are safe from reprint and in addition to stuff on the Reserved List, foils are safe. Only the new cards are getting the foil treatment meaning even stuff we know is being reprinted can be a buy in foil, especially if it plays nicely in the decks.

Haven and Crucible of the Spirit Dragon seem like decent moves to make in foil. They will be staples of Dargon tribal decks forever and aren’t very easy at all to reprint in foil. People are going to treat the non-foils like radioactive waste now that they’re spoiled but have months to go before they’re reprinted which means some people might use the intervening time to upgrade. Cavern of Souls is already plenty expensive, but cheaper, tribal lands that pertain to Dragons seem like cheap foil pickups that are going to fly off of shelves.

Stuff From Scion Decks

We don’t have to really guess what’s going to get played in Ur-Dragon 5-color dragons because people are already playing that deck, basically. Scion of the Ur-Dragon has a very detailed EDHREC page full of the cards that are going to get played in the deck and that’s pretty good intel. We can see that cards like Crux of Fate and Quicksilver Amulet are staples in decks like this and will probably be good moves going forward (I’d avoid non-foils on Crux).

Here’s an example of a card that’s languishing a bit and could get the kick in the ass it needs to reverse course and shape up a bit. The reprint tanked the price, even on foils, but it’s unlikely this card is ever reprinted in foil. What’s out there is what’s out there. I like this pickup and this card has already demonstrated it can be $8, so its current price of $1.50 foil on Coolstuff is pretty damn tempting.

Similarly, this has been printed 3 times (Archenemy and a Duel Deck) but only once in foil. I would say there is a decent likelihood this is in the deck but not in foil. I also like foils of this card’s wimpier Khans block corollary – Dragonlord’s Servent. Foils seem safe and with the price pretty flat (although the buylist price is showing signs of life, maybe) any increase in demand is going to be reflected in the price right away.

Check the EDHREC page because there is a lot there. Sarkhan’s Triumph? Dragonstorm? Belbe’s Portal? There are a ton of cards already associated with 5-color Dragons that are ready to go when we get this deck in the fall.

Next time I will dig into what I like in a Taigam deck, but for now, enjoy this early edition brought on by the leaks. You suck, MTG Noobie and I’m glad you deleted your Twitter account between the time I started writing this article and finished it. Still, we can’t pretend the leaks didn’t happen, so let’s get out there and buy accordingly. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Gone Before You Can Blink

Last week we talked about Amonkhet cards pushing older commanders to the forefront of builders’ minds and how cards we thought had settled might be shaken up again by the new activity. Sometimes one or two new cards are enough to get people excited about an old deck and people who didn’t have a deck before or are rebuilding it can be just as powerful financially as a new deck materializing. Was Anointed Procession combined with Harsh Mentor and Canyon Slough enough of an impetus for Queen Marchesa and Alesha to jump? It seems that way. Would one new card be enough of an impetus for an older deck to go up. What if it wasn’t from the latest Conspiracy set but from even farther back? Would one card be enough to get people excited about Brago? It depends. What if that card is Ancestral Recall with 0 mana buyback?

With Brago, King Eternal, we take this $0.60 uncommon from an OK card in Limited if you get enough cartouches to Power 9, letting you draw 3 cards a turn if you play your cards right. Brago was good before, was considered Tier 1 or 1.5 in French by many people (which is such a foreign concept to most EDH players that it’s barely worth mentioning) and with people starting to play 1v1 online, he could get even more popular, which could translate into paper demand. Did I say could? I mean “almost has to” because anything that is sufficiently popular will translate into being more popular anywhere no matter how much compartmentalization there is between MODO and paper and 1v1 and multiplayer. People who lose to something will imitate it.

If Brago does get a second look, cards in the Brago deck, especially ones that get better with new Amonkhet cards and are therefore even more likely to make the cut in a new deck, are worth looking at. Here’s what I think matters.


I think it’s basically time on this card. It’s recovering from a historic low and while I don’t like to “grab a falling knife” as they say on Wall Street, I don’t want to wait too long to see how high this bounces. I think this is one of the EDHiest cards to ever ED any Hs and that’s good for this card. It made a bit of a splash in Standard for a minute, hence the high price. High price for a minute up first was good because a high buylist meant a lot of them went from packs to dealers’ hands as players traded them in to the LGS for store credit to buy more packs and such. Bulk rares have a tendency to accumulate and get forgotten in boxes but $8 cards are more easily accounted for.

There is some danger surrounding this card vis-a-vis whether or not this eats it at rotation. If you pay $2 and this becomes $0.50, that might feel bad. But even in that situation I think you are OK paying $2 and here’s why.

  1. I don’t think this gets that cheap. This is a card used in a ton of EDH decks already and that number will only grow. Players love triggers and doubling triggers is the best. Look at what EDH has made expensive that used to be a bulk rare – Parallel Lives, Doubling Season, Mana Reflection, Caged Sun. Double is good and Panharmonicon doubles stuff.
  2. I don’t think you care even if it does tank. EDH demand is robust and while it’s not quite a staple, 6200 inclusions and counting is strong and that means the card will go back up. People used to say Parallel Lives wouldn’t hit $2 because it wasn’t half as good as Doubling Season. K. This card is stupid, it’s played in as many decks as Illusionists’ Bracers and that card is $2.50 and counting. If this does dip below a buck at rotation, which I doubt, buy more. Your average cost sinks way below $2 and you profit a ton when this hits $5+.

I think it’s time to buy this card and worry about a potential price decrease later. They change the rotation policy every year so I have no idea what effect this rotation will have on the price of a card like this but I know that it’s about as cheap as it’s going to get for now. If you’re that worried, trade all of your new stuff that you’re sure is going to go down at rotation for these and that way you don’t worry about overpaying for cash. In general, I like to find targets that will retain value and trade all of my standard stuff that I can’t sell into them. If you find yourself waiting too long, you can also ship a bunch of standard jank in to dealers with a high trade-in bonus and cash out. Finally, there’s PucaTrade, which I guess people hate now but which has been useful for trading stacks of jank into Torpor Orbs for me. I haven’t messed with that site in a minute, though.

Parallax Wave

Price correction is due here for certain. I noticed that this was $5.50 on Card Kingdom and is all but sold out elsewhere. A few shops have this at $4 or so (up from the $3 it was last time I wrote about it) but have low stock. TCG Player Market Price concurs with this at around $5.50. We have a coming price correction that needs an impetus, and I think more Brago decks could be it. There isn’t enough of a discrepancy between the new price ($6+) that will be coming and the current, low-hanging fruit price on a few loose copies for there to be an arbitrage opportunities, but I still think buying ahead of an impending correction is wise. This card is played in Atraxa and the number of Atraxa decks keeps growing, not to mention the number of Brago decks that are being built this week. I like this card a ton moving forward.

Eldrazi Displacer

While we’re talking about cards that I don’t think will dip a ton at rotation and which get played enough in EDH to justify paying around $2 for them, there’s this gem. True colorless mana is a little tricky to come by but shouldn’t be too arduous in a 2-color deck. You have Temple of the False God (a card I hate), Ash Barrens, Academy Ruins, Inventor’s Fair, Mystic Gate, Rogue’s Passage and Reliquary Tower all commonly played in Brago decks, though, so you should be good for an activation or two even without your Sol Ring.

Again, I’m not worried about too much of a dip at rotation. I think this is played enough in enough different decks and formats that you’re not going to ever eat it buying in around $2. If this does end up $0.50 by some crazy fluke, don’t you want every copy of it at $0.50? Steel of the Godhead is $2, I’m OK paying $0.50 for Eldrazi Displacer, a card that, by the way, is way harder to reprint than Steel of the Godhead.

Strionic Resonator

Anyone else notice this happening? If you thought these were still cheap, well, they ain’t. They’ve been climbing for a year and while it took two years for it to finally happen, it did. I hope you snatched an armload of these for bulk back in the day. I even had Noah Bradley sign one for me.

Something else to notice is that this peaked around $5 and is down a bit. This means $5 is a safe bet for a future price and as more copies get taken out of the marketplace, it’s even safer. Every dollar you buy below $5 is basically a dollar you’re guaranteed to make in a year or maybe less. Brago decks love this card and so do a lot of other decks, so I think this is a pretty safe pickup the closer you can buy to $3 right now. This card is 2014’s Panharmonicon and look at it grow.

Everything else in Brago is either cheap or Grim Monolith. You can probably scoop up a bunch of Mystic Remora but who knows when that will pay off? (I bought a hundred of them for a nickel each but I’ve been waiting for a long time and still no payoff. At this point I might just buylist them for $0.30) You could try and make money on Restoration Angel or one of the myriad angels in the deck. You could buy every Reality Acid on TCG Player and watch everyone wonder why. The point is, if you notice something that wasn’t really exciting (Brago decks) because suddenly very exciting, see why people are excited. In this case, they’re excited about drawing 3 cards a turn on top of the cards you’ll draw with Cloudblazer and Mulldrifter.

Thanks for reading. Next week, I’m sure there will be something else I notice, if only as a result of building more stupid EDH decks even though I already have too many. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery #239: The Return of the Pridemage


Corbin is tired from PT Amonkhet and Jason hijacks the start of the cast.   The evolving standard meta and best moment in player interviews are discussed. Someone gives Doug an excuse to talk about Pokemon.  Breaking bulk covers odd tokens and old core sets.  Jason talks about which EDH decks Amonkhet cards are influencing.

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