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

The Mother of All Boats

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I got away from it a bit but this series used to be one where I’d point out upcoming Legendary creatures, their associated archetypes and cards bound to get used in those archetypal decks that have upside once people started building those decks. It was fun to write those pieces. It was also when we were getting spoilers of cool Commanders all the time. I had to write different articles to bridge the gaps between those cool spoilers and honestly, I didn’t see anything out of Shadows that made me super excited.

Don’t get me wrong, Olivia is going to be a real clock in some format, I’m sure, but there’s no reason I want her over Olivia Voldaren.

People seem excited about Avacyn but I don’t know if relying on blinking your commander in a deck that can’t have blue in it is wise and I’m not sure 3 damage matters a ton against every deck, although some decks you’re going to kill a million kobolds and take them to Fecundity town.

People are excited about Arlin Kord and by that I mean non-EDH players are excited about Arlin Kord.

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Odric isn’t mythic for a reason. He’s a great inclusion but I can’t imagine building around a Concerted Effort with feet when the other Odric CHEATS AT MAGIC.

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Sigarda is a slightly better Angelic Overseer that makes you play green whether you want to or not. About time we got another Angelic Overseer. That’s in 0.012% of all eligible decks on EDHREC after all and is worth more than you might think.

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This card is aging like a fine milk.

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That basically only leaves us one Legendary creature worth giving a hot fart about. Fortunately for those who were looking forward to an article full of sicko picks, that one creature is worth ALL OF THE FARTS, irrespective of the temperature of those farts… annnnnd now I made myself sad with my gross metaphor.

This card is a monster. Literally.

thegitrogmonster

LOOK AT THIS FRAWG.

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LOOK AT IT

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IT HAS DEATHTOUCH BUT EATS DUDES ANYWAY.

If you’re not hyped for this card, I’m sorry you snorted too many marijuanas and damaged the part of your brain that the rest of us use to experience joy. It’s called the Ventral Tegmental Area, but you wouldn’t know that because you’re too busy not being happy that they made a Legendary creature that makes up for how lackluster the rest of the Legendary creatures are AND the fact that there is no RG werewolf in the set (all signs point toward one named Ulrich being in the next set) AND the fact that delirium as a mechanic meant I was subjected to a bunch of halfwits posting all over Facebook that “OMG TRAGOMOYF CUD B N THIS SET GUISE” and that’s on you. If you make a comment about how the Ventral Tegmental Area is only one of the parts of the brain responsible for a complex emotion like joy, I will not read it and I will sign your e-mail address up for Gary Johnson e-mail updates because someone did that to me and it’s literally impossible to get your name taken off of that list. Don’t do it, nerd.

Talk About the BOOOAAATS

I’m getting to it, damn.

So’s as I was sayin’, Gitrog Monster is basically the only Legend from the set that people can really agree on. I’m sure some good writers whose opinion I respect are going to make a decent case for Avacyn or whatever, but everyone and their Magic-playing DAD be talkin’ ’bout that Gitmonster life. People are excited and when people are excited, prices move.

But it’s not just the excitment, which is palpable, that I think The Gitrog Monster has going for it in the “make prices go crazy” department. I think it’s also the linearity the deck at least implies. I am sure there are a ton of ways to build the deck. I brewed with it for Gathering Magic this week and thought it would be hilarious to run a bunch of effects that turn your lands into 2/2 creatures. You could run some reanimation stuff to dredge a Craterhoof into your yard then go full Nature’s Revolt with like 20 lands that are all 20+ power if you’re into winning the game that way. You could make infinite black mana with Skirge Familiar and Dakmor Salvage and Exsanguinate their faces. How you win is sort of up to you, but how you get there is less open to interpretation and that means we’re going to see some opportunity to make some money. There are some major things about to go down.

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What are the odds that everyone waits around to see if this is reprinted in Eternal Masters? It’s at least possible that this won’t be. It’s at least possible that people who want to go to Gitrog town (and what a town it is; an arm for every mouth hole) who have the $60+ bones to shell out are going to be impatient and are going to just make this card $100 soon. Every Gitrog monster basically needs Crucible. You can get by without one, but that’s basically admitting to the world that you’re a peasant, not that you’re a savvy deckbuilder who found a workaround. You didn’t find a workaround, you’re a poor. Embrace it, and sell plasma or whatever poors do and get yourself a Crucible.

Or don’t, probably. I don’t like buying into a lot of uncertainty. If this is in Eternal Masters it probably stalls the growth for quite a while, especially if it’s in at non-mythic rare. If it is in at mythic or it’s not reprinted, the price won’t go down much if at all (or in the case of not reprinted, Hypnotoad should spike it)  but if it’s in at regular rare, you can lose a lot of money here. This is an important card but the future is murky and I’m not parking money here. I think you watch spoilers carefully, though, because the second Crucible is ruled out, the price goes up instantly.

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This guy on the other hand has had two reprintings and neither one of them was all that successful at keeping the price down. This card is a proven winner and with its reprint risk being super low and its playability in Gitrog decks super high, it’s fairly obvious this price has nowhere to go but up. At $10 there are a lot worse places to park your money. I like this as a pickup quite a bit since it’s pretty easy money, although with hella copies out there it’s hard to say how much upside there is. We’re certain to see movement but maybe your $10 is better spent elsewhere if you want to really rake in off of a hit. This is low risk but the reward is correspondingly low and the impact will be cushioned by the duel decks copies. Those duel decks, while we’re talking about it, look really, really good if Life hits $15. If you can still get them for $20, Izzet vs Golgari has Jarad, Niv-Mizzet, Brainstorm, Fire//Ice, Isochron Scepter, Prophetic Bolt, Sphinx-Bone Wand, Dakmor Salvage, Eternal Witness, Golgari Grave Troll, a couple of Purefy and Izzet and Golgari Signets that look better than the Ravnica versions. I see Japanese copies of the duel deck on eBay for $23 right now, and if Dakmor Salvage and Life go up from The Gitrog Monster, you’re shipping the rest of those good for pure profit. I bought a few Target stores completely out of them a while back and have been sitting on them ever since but with English copies already going for $30, I may just take my 50% profit (more because I used someone’s employee discount to save 10% – it’s good to know people) and get out.

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This card has been printed as often as Life from the Loam and at a lower rarity so there is a lot of push needed to get these going, but reports are already coming in that buylist prices are up on these. I think it will take a heap of copies moving to trigger TCG Player, but as soon as someone buys it out, every amateur financier is going to buy out the rest of the loose copies on the net. The “Oh, Gitrog did this” analysis after the fact even if what really happened was someone just spending a few hundred bucks will get everyone else to buy. I don’t like this effect of sites like reddit but we can’t pretend it doesn’t happen so it pays to be prepared. I think this card is going to move.

On a related note, if you go after foils, there is more potential upside and foils negate the influence of the duel deck printings, although the foils from Modern Masters hurt the upside of the Future Sight foils a bit. Still food for thought.

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Another must-run card, this is flat and has nowhere to go but up. I am sure there are a lot of copies on TCG Player since this was in 3 of the decks but this is a penny stock that is likely to move and I would be remiss if I mentioned Dakmor Salvage and not this. If there were foils of this available, I’d be about it. But there aren’t. Let’s move on to another important card of which there are no foils.

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There is real potential money here. First of all, this can fuel infinite combos with the deck, draw you cards, get you mana and generally make all of your filthy Golgari dreams come true. Gitrog players know this card is bananas in the deck and they’re chirping about it all over reddit and twitter. The crazy thing is, it’s drawing so much attention that people running other combo decks are starting to take a look. Any additional attention from other decks is going to have a huge effect on price. This is on the Reserved List so it’s never getting reprinted, it’s from Mirage block so there aren’t really many copies and it’s bound to get played a lot in the near future. I’ve seen nearly identical cards to this one spike on flimsier premises. We saw one this week.

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Mirage block? Check. Reserved List? Check. Rare? Check. Only EDH play? Check. Someone mentioned this could potentially hose Eldrazi decks in Legacy and that was all it took for the finance followers to strip the internet of every loose copy. I don’t know if Squandered Resources will hit $20 as fast just because we don’t have the Legacy crowd making dumb buys, but people got really smug with me when I pointed out that Hall of Gemstones is in like 0 decks on EDHREC. They saw it mentioned on MTG Salvation, you guys. It’s a real card.

OK, Squandered Resources is a card, too, and it’s nearly identical to Hall of Gemstones in every way. It’s also going to get played a ton in a deck that I’m fairly certain will be the most-built deck of the month as soon as it’s out. Unlike Meren which had competition from all the other Commander 2015 commanders and Ayli which had competition from Tazri, Gitrog is all alone. It’s the only card anyone seems to give a rip about in terms of EDH commanders which means the decklists will be everywhere. I think Squandered Resources is a no-brainer and unlike Crucible, we can see essentially exactly where it’s headed.

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This is on its way up, already. Imagine where it’s headed after Gitrog enters all of our lives. I think there’s upside on this card and it’s something EDH was already aware of. To the extent that this happened.

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We got an expedition. Could Gitrog reverse this expedition’s slow decline? I don’t know. There is a set foil at only $70 which is way more pimp than this expedition which is, like, Michael Shannon ugly. It’s so bad. It’s like road rash ugly. It’s so bad that if my daughter drew this I wouldn’t put it on the refrigerator. You remember those books, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Remember that art? This is worse than that. Spend the extra coin and buy the set foil if you’re going to trifle with this ballbag of an expedition. Seriously. This art is uglier than if Steve Buscemi fell asleep on someone’s leg at a party and that person was wearing corduroy pants and Steve woke up and noticed he had lines on his face and thought “wow, this looks really bad” right before someone splashed acid on his face because they thought Boardwalk Empire was real. Wasn’t Michael Shannon on Boardwalk Empire, too? And a dude with half his face blown off by a sniper? That’s an ugly show. When Michael K Williams is the best-looking person on your show, your show is messed up. It’s still better than this art.

I wrote like 200 extra words I’m not getting paid for because I hate this art so much. Some person worked really hard on this art and they probably did exactly what the art director who hired them told them to do. I don’t even care. Everyone responsible for this expedition utterly, UTTERLY failed in every way. I’m not one for recommending you stay away from an expedition but, stay away from this.

This one is running long but it’s my article and I’ll run long if I want. Few more cards.

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Look at this graph shape and inevitable inclusion in the deck, etc. Man, I’m starting to regret not being more conservative with my word count earlier. This is a good card and you should buy it if you want to. Or not, I don’t care. But this goes in the deck.

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I call this card every few months and I’m always right. Eventually people are going to stop letting me pretend I can be right with a pick more than once. This goes in the deck, but it’s going up regardless. The only difference is the slope of the graph. I still like this at $3. Spend $45 and you’ll be glad you did.

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This could hit $1!!!!!!!!!11one

I’m over my word count. Let’s call it an article right here.

Edit – So this happened

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I think he makes a good point. Realms probably has more upside than a mere double up since it’s going in Gitrog decks because it does a lot of what you want. I was going to mention a new card like Fork in the Road just for being a cantripy Farseek so why not Realms Uncharted?

I think what Travis did was point to a bit of subconcious bias on my part. Realms is a card a lot of us have wanted to get there forever and it has resisted any pressure so far. It just won’t go up. Azusa couldn’t do it, Mina and Denn couldn’t do it, Boborygmos couldn’t do it. It’s almost like I gave up on Realms Uncharted. It wouldn’t pull itself up by its bootstraps so I decided it will never be worth money. I think Realms Uncharted probably has more upside than Restore, a card I am relatively bullish on. Foils are a 10x multiplier, and at a $5 buy-in, you can make real money if the non-foil hits a few bucks and we maintain the multiplier, which is reasonable.

I should like Realms more, and I think you should, too. Don’t let a card’s past behavior make you resist re-evaluating it in light of new developments, since that’s literally what we do in this column.

 

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Good’s Not Good Enough

It’s pretty easy to assess cards in terms of EDH when you read the spoilers. It’s even easier to think you’re assessing cards in terms of EDH if you don’t know anything about EDH because you look at a card you don’t see an application for in the formats you know and say “EDH card. Nailed it” and then go eat at Quizno’s or whatever dumb people do when they’re done being dumb. I mean, Jared Fogle breaking out of prison and murdering everyone who testified against him and then saying Hearthstone was better than Magic and the Detroit Red Wings were a great hockey team wouldn’t be enough to get me to eat at Quizno’s. How hard is it to not burn a sandwich? Potbelly doesn’t burn their sandwiches. They put them on the same little oven conveyor belt you do and they don’t come out smelling like an Emergency Room trash can full of finger parts on the Fourth of July (or whatever fireworks exploding holiday you celebrate in your country). Get your act together, Quizno’s. Card assessment in terms of strength in EDH is easy, assessment with respect to decks it can go in is easy. You know what’s hard? Judging if being good and powerful is going to be enough.

Good Enough For What?

That’s a good point to have me clarify, device I’m using to answer my own softball questions by pretending a third party asked them.

What do we mean by good enough? Put simply, we mean good enough to be worth money in a term. Whether that is the long-term or the short-term, assessing whether a card is going to be good enough to buy at some point for a price with the expectation that we’re going to be able to sell it for more later is what we’re after. I want to look at some historically “good enough” cards and the reasons why similar cards are not and see if we can’t predict what we should do about a few of the spoiled cards from Shadows Over Innistrad.

Some cards are obviously good.

feveredvisions

This card is very good in a Nekusar deck. You’re going to get an extra card and you’re going to Lightning Bolt your opponents because your opponents’ hands are going to be full because when you’re a Nekusar player, your one job is to make their hand be full of cards and to hurt them. That’s two jobs. Your two jobs are to keep their hands full of cards and hurt them. And keep the board clear of threat. Three jobs. My point is this is stupid good in Nekusar.

Why wouldn’t this card be a no-brainer buy-in? Nekusar has done a pretty good job of demonstrating it can spike cards.

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100% of the reason this went from $2 to $12 briefly before settling around 4 times its initial price is Nekusar. Forced Fruition forces your opponent to do what your whole deck wants them to do and it does it very efficiently. Forced Fruition is the perfect example of a card that’s good despite being sort of narrow( only good in one deck, really) and good enough to be an auto-include and therefore have upside.

Is Fevered Visions going to experience the same upside effect from Nekusar? I don’t think so and I think there are several reasons why.

It’s Too Narrow

Ideally we like to see cards go in a lot of different decks. If a card is a format staple, we can see a clear path to upside because there are so many different decks that need it. Even if every Nekusar player in the world bought a copy of Fevered Visions, they would still only need one copy because who has multiple Nekusar decks? Players need a million copies of Sol Ring but really only one of this and that’s if they’re even playing Nekusar, a super boring and linear commander that makes everyone hate you. As good as the card is in this deck, not many other decks are that excited.

It’s Too New

If you compare the number of copies of Forced Fruition to the likely number of copies of Fevered Visions out there, you’re going to notice that Lorwyn cards are pretty rare comparatively. Lorwyn was the set that basically started a new trend of a ton of new players joining at a huge rate because of Planeswalkers and Lorywn cards are more rare than you’d think. Not to mention everyone assumes Lorywn came out like 5 years ago but it was more like 10. 10 years is a long time. Fevered Visions is going to be all over because Shadows is going to sell a ton of boosters. Not as many as anything from new Zendikar with its expeditions and eldrazi, but maybe more with all of its zombies and angels. It’s hard to say. What we can say is narrow EDH non-mythic rares are going to end up bulk with a bajillion copies out there.

It Might Not Be As Good As You Think

People are already talking about how they might not want this in their Nekusar pile. I think they’re wrong, but people are going to accuse me of being super biassed toward this card because it was the Brainstorm Brewery preview card and we were happy to not only have a preview card but to have a rare. The card is good in Nekusar and it’s a Howling Mine with upside so I don’t think you want to not play this. Still, if people aren’t 100% convinced this is an auto-include in the one deck it seems tailor-made to go into, you got problems. Personally, I think those people who are saying nay don’t have a Nekusar deck, but this card isn’t good enough to convince them they need to make one.

So I have basically made up my mind about Fevered Visions, but what about some of the other cards in the set? Could they end up having a different fate? What should we look at to determine that?

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Mayael’s Aria is a pretty good example of a card that’s good enough. The growth is slow and steady and while it looks like it was made to be jammed in a Mayael deck with Mosswort Troll and other fatty fat fats, it can go in quite a few decks. It’s a rare from Alara Reborn, a set which had mythic rares and yet it’s $6. It seems like a shoo-in for Mayael decks, right? Well, so does Meglonoth.

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So why is one card $6 and the other card is a tenth of that? It’s fairly obvious when you think about it, but let’s humor me because it’s my article and run down the criteria I outlined earlier.

It Might Be Too Narrow

Aria gets played in a lot of decks and 35% of Mayael decks run it. 35% of Aria decks (Per EDHREC, a metric I’ve written extensively about why I think it’s fair to use ) also run Megnoloth. The difference in the Synergy Rating is also pretty negligible – 25% for Meglonoth versus 21% for Aria. Still, when you look at the decks that run it, Meglonoth is mostly relegated to decks that are Naya colored whereas Aria is run in decks like Progenitus where it’s a KO. I like cards that say “Win the game” and you can make room for Aria in a lot more decks than you can a big clunky creature, even one with sicko abilities like Meglonoth.

Most of the other creatures from this block that are shoo-ins in Mayael are reprinted in the various Commander sealed products so we don’t have a ton of other cards to compare it to, but I think we  can establish Meglonoth may suffer from being a little narrow.

It Might Be Too New

I don’t know that this is the case with Meglonoth. It’s certainly newer than Lorwyn and while the Alara block broke sales records at the time, it’s not making anyon’e jaw drop when you see the sales numbers compared to other sets, even to original Zendikar. I don’t think it’s too new but it’s new enough that it looks like merit is making Aria’s price diverge from Meglonoth’s.

It Might Not Be Good Enough

It’s funny to look at this point because while Meglonoth gets played in the same percentage of Mayael decks as Aria does per EDHREC, it’s clearly not the same power level. I think there is some overlap with the “how narrow is it?” point here that can explain the price discrepency. Meglonoth is good enough for Mayael but it’s not good enough to go in decks where it’s less obvious. I feel the same way about Fevered Visions. It’s certainly good enough for Nekusar but is it good enough for Mizzix? Jori En? Narset? That’s less clear, and I think the fact that the answer to this question is most likely “I doubt it” means that we have limited upside for Visions and I’m personally staying away. I realize I am supposed to get people hyped about the set by getting them hyped about this card so I will say I think Visions is good enough to make me go into the pile of like 25 Nekusars I have lying around and build the stupid deck. I just wish I hadn’t sold all of my copies of Wheel and Deal and Forced Fruition into the hype.

Looking at the Rest of the Set

There are some other cards to look at using these criteria to see if how stupidly obvious they are for one deck will translate to monetary success given the other factors we’ve identified. I’m all about teaching people to fish and I’m gratified to see my readers citing things like EDHREC stats when they do their own analysis. Let’s look at a few cards and see if we can’t figure out if they’re good enough to buy.

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Narrow?

Certainly not. A lot of big green decks want this.

Good Enough?

Seems powerful. It reminds me of some other big green mythics that do dumb stuff like this.

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This is going to be a little too new to make a real price impact, but I expect it will get somewhere eventually. It reminds me of some of these other big mana spells and if Seasons Past manages to dodge a reprinting in Commander sealed product, it should creep up to $5ish in a few years and maybe beyond. I think it’s as good as The Great Aurora, so that means they are a good price corollary and all of the other factors we’re controlling for seem to be the same so I’m calling this a “don’t buy”.

thegitrogmonster

This card is stupid.

Narrow?

I think this can be its own commander but also do a ton of work in other decks.

Good Enough?

I really think so. This is an $8 preorder, however, so is it that good? Do we have anything to compare it to – a mythic that is good as a Commander as well as in the 99 from a comparable set that is the same power level?

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This is about as close as I could get. Now, since the analogy breaks down a bit because Gitrog goes in more 99s than Omnath and Gitrog has potential to impact Standard while we’ve seen Omnath hasn’t, what we have here is a worst-case scenario. So what we have to do is ask ourselves the question – is Gitrog good enough for Standard? It’s obviously bugnutty in EDH, but so is Omnath and we’ve shown that Omnath is a great investment if you only want to keep 25% of your initial buy-in. Is Omnath good enough for Standard? No, it isn’t and its price has suffered. Is The Gitrog Monster good enough for Standard? That’s up to you to decide. Whatever you decide, that will be all you need to know when you ask yourself whether to wait or pre-order. For my money, I think the answer is probably no, as stupid good as The Gitrog Monster is. It’s good. I just don’t think it’s the kind of good that’s good enough. And that’s a callback to the name of the article. Roll credits.

 

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Brainstorm Brewery #186 – We’re a Real Podcast Now

 

Marcel is gone but he is not forgotten in this bite-sized episode where the remaining team digs into the mailbag. Announcements are made, help is requested, e-mails are read, things of the week are picked. Just listen.

 

  • Brainstorm Brewery is getting a Shadows preview card!
  • Tune in next week for an early episode
  • Mailbag!
  • Pick of the Week!
  • Hit us up to help with episode 200
  • 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

 

Contact Us!

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Flavor Town

Let me start out by saying that I’m very uncomfortable with how much Guy Fieri with a normal haircut looks like me. 10 years ago, looking anything like him was not a crime, but he’s so legitimately awful that he’s basically ruined even looking like him a little bit. He’s also made it so I say things like “Flavor Town” whenever I think of the word “flavor” because he ruins basically everything he touches. Seriously this guy is the worst.
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You know what isn’t the worst? Casual Magic players. When I say “casual” I’m not talking about EDH – not really. EDH can be casual but a lot of EDH players would take exception to being lumped into that group and rightfully so. There are EDH players that are just as competitive as the spikes in any other format. In the Competitive EDH subreddit just today I saw a guy unironically offer a primer on his “budget” Boros deck. What’s “budget” to them? $200 or less. “I want to play this fun format and do it on a budget but I’ll switch over to Yu Gi Oh before I play a budget deck that doesn’t get a Turn 1 Mana Crypt at least 14% of the time! I’m on a budget, not a savage.”

It gets so much more casual than EDH players. Some finance advice I used to give back when trading wasn’t entirely killed by every jackass installing a cellphone app that makes every trade take an extra 10 minute while they type every card in then try to get an internet signal in a gigantic convention center thinking they can’t be sharked when they can totally still be sharked, was to find casual players where they live. Smaller LGS locations in your area. Community Colleges. Their home kitchen tables. Actually, that last one is a little tough. You can just knock on every door in town hoping to find a game in progress but your odds off success are going to be really low. I used to have a Craigslist ad looking for casual Magic players but after one too many unsolicited dicktures, I took the ad down. The point is, once you find casual players, you should trade with them because it’s literally the best.

I Feel Like This Will Get You On a Tangent, but Why Trade With Casuals?

Because the stuff they value is unlike anything other groups value, the way they value it is unlike any way other groups value it and they’re always happy with every trade. You could pull a casual player’s pants down for $50 on a trade and they will do a cartwheel for joy and you will feel bad for ripping them off and you’ll feel even worse for not being as happy as they are. Don’t rip people off. It’s not worth it and you don’t even need to do it. If a casual player is happy to trade you a Verdant Catacombs for a Ludevic’s Test Subject, why not give him a Verdant Catacombs worth of weird octopus crap? It’s clogging up your binder and you’ll make his entire day.

Now this is not to say all casual players are durdles or don’t trade cards by monetary value or that they’re easy marks or anything derogatory. The simple truth is that people who play Magic casually have more fun that you ever will because the things you have been conditioned to think are important don’t matter to them for the most part. Their octopus and sea monster deck only has to be good enough to beat their friend’s Thallid deck roughly 50% of the time.

There are people out there who don’t quite understand why everyone acts like Tarmogoyf is such a good card. Find that guy. Spend time with that guy. He will teach you how to enjoy building decks and playing for no prizes. He’ll teach you to enjoy this children’s card game that you have ruined for yourself by treating it like a commodities market, you cynical, money-hungry fun-hater.

Casual players by different cards and they buy the same cards differently when compared with an EDH player. I’m not saying that they buy differently because they bust hella packs at Walmart trying to get a card instead of paying a quarter as much money and just buying the card on TCG Player although that does happen. I’m not saying they say “I went to BOTH card stores in town and neither one had it. Now what am I supposed to do?” although that does happen. I just mean they tend to buy playsets of cards and that means cards with casual appeal can spike four times quicker than a card with equivalent EDH appeal only. That’s fairly obvious, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of every once in a while because while it seems trivial that people buying cards four at a time can spike a card four times faster, we don’t always stop to consider which cards can shoot up in price on this principle. We should. When you consider how easy these things are to see coming sometimes, we really, really should.

What do Casual Players Like?

First of all, casual players like slow cards. Until EDH became a thing and insane mana ramping plus people leaving each other alone for 5+ turns became a thing, casual players were the only ones playing slow enough game for big, huge durdly creatures to hit the battlefield. You’re going to die to 4 tokens and a Hellrider on turn 5 with that Palladia Mors still in hand at FNM but at home on the kitchen table, he’ll live long enough to get suited up with all 4 of your Armadillo Cloaks before you decide to attack someone with him.

Again, casual players aren’t all durdles but that isn’t to say they don’t like durdle cards. I mean, we as EDH players like durdle cards, too so let’s not pretend we can pass value judgments. If it weren’t for EDH and casual, only like 100 Magic cards would be worth money and the rest would be junk. It’s not Modern players making Glimpse the Unthinkable do this.

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Which brings me to the next thing casual players love – Mill.

Mill’s not great in EDH. Liiiiiiike at all. I have seen some pretty funny Phenax mill decks with cards like Eater of the Dead but for the most part, you don’t want your opponent starting out at 92 life, I don’t care if your damage spells do 10. Mill cards are expensive, though. Really expensive. Before Modern Masters, Mind Funeral was actual dollars. Why is that? Well, it’s not EDH players doing it and it’s not competitive players doing it. Who does that leave? Lots of unsleeved copies of Glimpse the Unthinkable are getting pulled off of a topdeck and getting pointed at 73 card decks. Milling is fun but it’s not very often all that competitive. Playing Magic for fun like we should all be doing but refuse to means you get to play fun cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable and even if you’re a casual player that doesn’t mean you’re a poor. They get a few bucks together and they buy Glimps the Unthinkable and it does the Unthinkable. It ends up worth more money than Glare of Subdual and Concerted Effort and Doubling Season and all of the cards that EDH players think are so much better. EDH can do a lot of things, but it can’t make this card nuts. But casual can.

Finally, casual players love tribal stuff. EDH players do, too, but a casual player won’t let a little thing like “There’s no Legendary creature that buffs these guys” stop them from building the deck. Casual players didn’t wait for General Tazri to come out to build an ally deck. Oh you best believe they had an ally deck.

How does knowing this help us get ahead of spikes? Well sometimes playability is only half the battle. Sometimes cards go up strictly based on their flavor. Yes, I waited 1300 words to get to my thesis. Chill, you had an enjoyable journey so far.

I Has a Flavor

Two players see the same card. We’ll call the first player “player C” because he’s a competitive player. Player C looks at this card and he’s blown away by its playability.

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“Holy zombie balls,” says player C, “this card is busted. You can recur him for as cheap as Gravecrawler without the requirement to have other zombies in play. And you can bring back other zombies, too? This is amazing. I want this in a dredge shell, or maybe paired with Goblin Bombardment in something. This is going to be $20+ easy.” Player C is understandably very excited by this card and he saw everything he wanted to see.

Another player is casual so let’s call him “player C” because he’s a casual player. Player C says “Do you see the background of this card? It’s clearly a few minutes after the art from Endless Ranks of the Dead! The zombies are all climbing into the church and this one is leading the way! How cool is that, closing the loop on this years later? Did they plan it, or did they revisit the old art when they got the new assignment?” Player C is very excited because the art from another card is represented on this one. Something curious happens.

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The price of a card that isn’t Standard legal starts to climb and it’s in no small part due to people being reminded that it’s a card because a new card has its art on it. It may be a bit of an oversimplification to say the art connection is the sole impetus for the increase but it’s a factor. EDH zombie decks aren’t getting much so far from the spoilers we’ve seen so there’s no real reason EDH players are going to run out and  buy a ton of copies of this. Yet the price jumped and it hit a historical high and this card isn’t done growing yet. I think Army of the Damned showed how devastating a reprint can be for a card like this, but I think the reprint risk is lower here and even though EDH players aren’t going to make Endless Ranks climb, casual players are not done spiking this.

So how do we get ahead of what’s going to go up? It’s fairly simple. You already know what casual players like because there is a casual player in the heart of us all. Vampires are in this set, so any older relevant vampires are worth a look. Do we have a vampire lord? We do?

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And it’s at a historic low? Will the non-foil versions be held down by the price of the foil media inserts? Maybe. But casual cards tend to not follow traditional rules and usually whichever copy is chepest sells best. Am I investing a ton of money into Nocturnus? No, I tend to speculate on EDH cards. But this isn’t exactly a tough spike to predict, is it? New Vampires means old ones get a look. Old ones like this other one, also.

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Casual players like good cards, guys. That’s what we need to remember. Captivating Vampire is a good card. Vampire Nocturnus is a good card. No one is really playing those cards because they don’t have much of a home in EDH, Standard, Modern, Legacy or Vintage. Even though I listed basically all of the formats, casual isn’t a format, it’s a lifestyle. This lifestyle is all about spiking Captivating Vampire up to $10 while everyone was distracted debating what a second Modern Masters printing was going to do to the price of Tarmogoyf.

Look at spirits. Vampires. Werewolves. Zombies. Chances are there are a few cards with upside. While I don’t think EDH is a primary driver here and I cautioned against throwing too much money at Mayor of Avabruck last week because we can’t really quantify how popular werewolves are going to be using tools like EDHREC, there are cards that historically go into casual decks and it would be silly if we ignored casual as a format just because it isn’t one.

Keep your eyes peeled for cards like Immerwolf and Drogskol Captain moving forward. If you made money on Drogskol Captain in 2011, thank Jon Finkel. If you make money on it in 2016, thank a casual player. They’re the only ones who even get on the bus to Flavortown anymore.

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