Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: Getting Intellectually Lazy


I think it can be pretty tough to predict which cards are going to go up on merit. I’ve shifted my articles to being about that solely for the past few years and it’s gone pretty well for me. I have had to work hard to get good at this but I feel like it was worth it. The problem is, my focus is on sustainability and that’s not really doing me any favors. I’ve discussed in the past how it’s intellectually lazy to target foils of cards that could get reprinted in future Commander products because you want to save yourself the extra mental steps of analyzing reprint risk. I’ve talked about how it’s lazy to target Reserved List cards for the same reason. That said, I found a pretty juicy target this week and if I’m going to be lazy and write about a Reserved List card, I might as well write about any Reserved List card I think is a good target. I’ll get it out of my system in one article.

What is the Reserved List?

You know what the Reserved List is. Everyone does. That said, I’ve found the more loud and vocal someone is in opposition to the Reserved List, the less they actually know in general, but I am done arguing about it. Buncha Sea Lions on Twitter anyhow. The only thing you really need to know is that there are some cards that are never, ever getting reprinted and that’s never going to change. It’s not. Don’t @ me. The Reserved List is never going away and I promise you don’t have a better argument than I’ve already heard. Deal with it. Instead of whining that you’ve been playing Magic for 6 months and you think Vintage looks kinda cool but you can’t play it, which is total BS, let’s focus on how we can use the Reserved List to our advantage.


What I’m NOT Advocating

I’m not advocating a targeted buyout. You won’t get that advice from an article – you’ll need to hit up YouTube if you want advice on that. Picking a card with low supply and getting a ton of money or a ton of people together to try and corner the market on something that can’t be reprinted is not something I advocate. I realize you and I are greedy speculators out here manipulating the market or whatever but I think there’s money to be made sustainably. I make 90% of the money I make in MTG Finance from flipping collections anyway, so there’s no need to sell my soul to make that 10% of my business a little better. If you advocate or participate in a targeted buyout, I hope you develop tinnitus that’s so bad you need to sleep with a fan on to drown out the noise from your tinnitus and then you’re cold all night from the fan and it makes you have bad dreams.


What I AM Advocating

Don’t wait on stuff you want, and if you notice something start to get a little bit better, buy now. Don’t panic, but take that pile of crap on your desk you’ll never use, send it to Card Kingdom, get that trade-in bonus and get copies of these Reserved List cards if you think you’ll need them. Buy extra so you have copies to play with and look like a genius when you can trade them back out after they go up. Do I think anything is getting more play now than it used to? I doooo.

How I Stumbled Upon This Card

I was at a loss for what to write about and almost settled on writing about Etali. Now, I think Etali is amazing. I think it’s stupid good and should go in every EDH deck that can reasonably ramp to it or cheat it out, no questions asked. However, I’m not super psyched to run it as my Commander. That puts you in Mono-Red and it’s difficult to ramp in Mono-Red. You have stuff like Braid of Fire but beyond that, you’re using one-shot spells like Seething Song to ramp. I wasn’t convinced, but then I remembered artifacts were a thing. THEN I remembered EDHREC had updated for the new cards and someone has probably already solved this problem. They have. All ingenious-like.

Do you see it?

Do you see it?

Do you see it?



There’s no reason not to run mostly artifacts in your Etali deck because Mono-Red sis both sort of trash in EDH but also sort of great as a support color for Artifact decks. If you’re mostly brown with a splash of red like the well-done steaks with ketchup the worst person on the planet eats, Metalworker is WORKWORKER doing all kinds of work in your deck and ramping you to Etali on like turn 3. Get some.

Down from a historic high predicated on it being unbanned in everything, there is no better time to get this card. It’s doing work in EDH, where it’s legal somehow, and it’s good in Vintage and it’s unplayed in Legacy, where it’s legal somehow.

If you think you’ll want Metalworker anytime soon, it’s demonstrated an ability to hit $50 on hype, and hype did us all a favor. It cleaned all of the sub-$30 copies out from all of the easy-to-reach places. If movement starts in again, the second spike will be harder because there will be no cheap copies to backfill demand. I think this makes a case for itself. What else do I like? I’m so glad you asked.

Lake of the Dead

Apart from a few cheap eBay copies, this is basically $30 everywhere or it’s sold out. The Gitrog Monster made this go up but it’s never going back down. This taps for a ton of mana in EDH and if your deck either doesn’t care about your dead swamps or it thrives off of them, you’re going to get a ton of use from this. I made a convincing case for this like 8 months ago or whenever the Gitrog Monster came out and since then it’s gone from $10 most places to $30 most places. I hope you bought in at the time. If not, I think the $20 copies on eBay are pretty tempting and apart from that, you’re stuck paying $30. This seems obvious, even though it just tripled.

Retribution of the Meek

A lot of stuff went up on principle a while back and while this is cooling off a bit, second spikes happen fast and supply of this card id drying up again. With EDH so often being such a dumb, durdly format and everyone building dinosaur decks, Retribution is a great choice for wide strategies than have a lot of lower-powered creatures and want to clear a bunch of big blockers out of the way or just be the only one with creatures. This is on my radar right now with all of the Dinosaur decks I see being built.

Mana Web

Either I’m running out of steam or these cards just really speak for themselves. This is a good card, it’s going to get more expensive. Buy it now if you need to.

Deranged Hermit 

The amount of overlap with EDH and casual is kind of small, but this bears mentioning because we just got new squirrel tokens with Unstable and with the foil tokens going for $7 online, SOMEONE is playing with Squirrels. This is an OG Squirrel master and it’s never getting reprinted. Take a look at Judge foils while you’re at it. They’re half the price of the $100 set foil and supply is dwindling as well.

That does it for me this week. If you have some Reserved List picks you think I should have discussed, hit me in the comments.* See you next time!













*Try to imagine what I wrote in the half a paragraph I just deleted. It involves opinions about the Reserved List and what readers can do with those opinions.

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at - it's free!


Please follow and like us:

Unlocked Pro Trader: Zacamacamacamacamacameleon

Hello, nerds,

This week I thought I would take a look at basically the only Legendary in the set I think will spawn a good deck. I could be proven wrong and the great thing about being proven wrong is that the process of proving me wrong generates a ton of data and I can use that data to predict what will go up in value and thus be right and you’ll forget all about what I said today. Are you going to be upset I said I didn’t think Azor mattered this week if in three weeks I come back and say “Everyone is building Azor, get these cards that I never could have predicted three weeks ago but which are obvious now based on EDHREC inclusion data – you have 4-6 weeks to get these cards”? Nah, you’ll thank me for the tip. So for now, my tip is “I think only Kumena and one other Legendary creature matter” and I think we’ll talk about it.

The Card That Matters

This is a dinocerberus and it was designed by an 11-year-old boy who was brought to Wizards of the Coast on “Take your kid to work day” and given printer paper and crayons. It has reach because of course it does, but no one is ever going to remember it has reach which will lead to game states where your opponent swings at you with a flier forgetting Zacama has reach and you’ll fail to blow him out because you forgot it has reach, also. Then you’ll combo off and win the game because apparently it’s cool to print Great Whale if it’s also got more abilities than Obelisk of Alara but can’t be paired with Deadeye Navigator. This dino is going to be a great combo enabler but no one really seems to have figured out how based on what I am seeing online. I think people will play this as a combo deck eventually, or at least a deck that takes advantage of his ability to untap all of your lands. I think there are cards that go up based on this assumption.


The Other Cards That Matter Because That One Matters

Regal Behemoth

Someday someone can explain to me how a Zendikar Resurgent that’s also a Phyrexian Arena can decline in price as we move farther away from its printing in a set no one bought. This card is EDH gold and I’ve been all over it since it was spoiled and I just keep buying more and more copies. I don’t understand what’s taking so long.

That said, the $5 foil with low supply looks primed to do some thangs. So why this card and why now if it didn’t get there before? What changed?

  1. Behemoth was reclassified as a dinosaur this week. They didn’t do it the first time around so people thought it might never happen but now Behemoth joins its scaled bretheren in tribal dino lists as Richard Garfield intended.
  2. Behemoth gives you a bonus when you tap lands, something that pairs nicely with a commander that untaps those lands for you.

I think this is Regal’s time to shine. Supply is low, especially on foils and people are realizing that this card is nutty in EDH, finally. Its new classification as a dinosaur and perfect pairing with the deck people will be building most or second most for at least the next three months make this perfectly poised for precipitous price proliferation. Put that in your pipe and puff it, putzes.

Speaking of Conspiracy…

We’re probably at peak printing (I can’t even stop at this point) for Conspiracy so if you think Behemoth has a shot, check out the price graph for Selvala’s Stampede. Shown above is the foil which is hovering around $11. This is a $2 card with a sometimes $12 foil so it’s clear EDH is aware of the card. How long for the multiplier to widen and the non-foil copies to finally begin disappearing? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I think this card isn’t all that reprintable and if you can pick these up in trade and sit on them, you’ll be happy someday, This is non-mythic or it would have pulled an Expropriate by now.

Their play profiles are on par and the price disparity is predicated on popularity rather than population. Neither is quite a staple but I think Stampede will, ironically, sneak up on people and go up in price when no one is watching. It’s ironic because the card depicts a stampede, which is very conspicuous. You get it? Ahhhh you get it.

Aggravated Assault

Don’t let the price graph fool you – copies of this are gettable under $5 due to the reprinting in the Explorers of Ixalan game.  That set is chock full of value and once retail outlets start fire-selling copies of a game no one wants at $70, you can get decent value with Time Warp alone fetching $10 and people being interested in buying just the game pieces on eBay so they can use their own decks. Assault is a card that is the de facto Relentless Assault effect because it’s permanent, meaning it combos with cards like Nature’s Will, Bear Umbra, Sword of Feast and Famine and a commander that untaps all of your lands. This goes up from the $4ish it is right now for sure, I just don’t know how much or how long it will take. I do know that they found another way to reprint EDH cards that were very expensive like Time Warp and Shared Animosity. Good for them.


Heartbeat of Spring

Modern could randomly remember this card and spike this to like $20 so I don’t hate having some copies of this socked away. Zacama is pretty efficient with one mana doubling effect and while Mana Flare was printed a million times, Heartbeat was in a bad set no one liked and if this spikes again, it’s a second spike that will be less mitigated by loose copies materializing. I don’t really like any mana doublers besides this and Behemoth, although there’s one more worth looking at.

Mana Reflection

How and where and how again do they reprint this at this point? This is really tricky and it’s outside the Commander set reprint window, I think. They could jam this in a deck and it would make it like $12 in the short term but I think it would make whichever deck it was in nutty unless they had a $25 card in every deck.

The foil is only twice the non-foil which means there is room to grow but it mostly means people can’t justify a durdle deck card like this at $55 which I get. I think the multiplier is shrinking a bit which could mean a correction is inbound, but I am not sure what the impetus for it would be. If the multiplier is a mere 2x for a card in 6,336 EDHREC decks, that means people aren’t too keen on spending the $55 and demand hasn’t gotten there. Supply could be quietly drying up, though, so keep an eye on this. Even if the non-foil is reprinted, a foil at a mere 2x the non-foil price is pretty inviting. I am not super keen to invest here, but I bet a bunch of people who never used this card before take a second look given how good it is in Zacama decks.

I think Zacama will play a lot of other cards that are expensive and won’t really budge like Sword of Feast and Famine, Greater Good, Exploration and Worldly Tutor. Check out the page for the deck to see what people are playing and how they build moving forward and don’t forget to use the filters to sort by different types of builds or by price to see what non-poors are willing to pay for and click on a few decklists up top to see exactly how it’s being built. Sure, it’s only nerds who post their decklists online, but nerds buy cards for retail so maybe we need to know what they’re up to.

That does it for me this week. I might delve into another dino deck next week or look at the block as a whole. Whatever I decide, I’ll get you the finance tips you pay for and some you don’t. Until next time!

Please follow and like us:

Unlocked Pro Trader: Combos You Should Know About

Welcome to the first part of my one part series entitled “Combos you should know about”; a series where I will write about combos about which you should know about and if I ever want to do it again in the future, I’ll have to call the article something else because I already said it was a one part series and now that’s canon. I’m writing about this topic because I tried like hell to find financial opportunities for a Gishath deck and couldn’t. Let’s look at why Gishath is terrible for my typical “Rising tide lifts all boats” approach to EDH deckbuilding.

The Story of Gishath

This is about the story of the card and its price, not the story of actual Gishath the Dinosaur because I feel silly even typing the phrase “Gishath the Dinosaur” and Vorthos is for nerds. The story of the card is one we should know as financiers. First, Gishath was a deck that had to play cards like Looming Altisaur and Fungusaur (yes, THAT Fungusaur – the one with the silly precursor to Enrage) to have enough creatures. Now that we have another set full of Dinosaurs, including some pretty good ones, there are more than enough creatures to field an EDH deck which basically runs about 20 creatures max on a good day.

There are two real types of cards in the Gishath deck.

Cards that are already really expensive.

And cards that never will be.

That being the case, I don’t think there is much opportunity here. I think Standard will be far more important when determining the fate of Dinosaurs than will EDH and I also think a tribe like this suffers from the cards either being too new or too generic. All of the stuff that’s not from Ixalan block that’s in a Dinosaur deck is generic tribal stuff that’s good in all tribal decks. There’s no Swarmyard or Sliver Hive that suddenly got activated by new printings, it’s just “Hey, I might want to run Descendants’ Path in this” and no $&#*, of course you want to do that. I don’t think this is going to make enough of a splash to push Path of Ancestry up in price and it’s certainly not going to cause a run on Magmasaur. What do we talk about? I talked about Kumena. Azor seems like an inclusion rather than a commander. Elenda doesn’t really want to be built around when Karlov and Oloro exist. The other Dinosaurs are mono-colored. It’s possible there is nothing else to really talk about in terms of new decks based on that set, and if that’s the case, GOOD. let people catch up. They released 49 sets this year and they all had good Legendary creatures.


What We’ll Do Instead

Instead of worrying about a new card that’s going to make archetypes happen, let’s talk about some interactions that you may want to sell into the hype surrounding and some interactions that are underrated.


This is a doofy combo. Do you want to do this? Maybe. Probably not. Be advise that Pyrohemia was a card before this and despite being reprinted in a Commander deck, it’s still going up in price. While Pestilence does the same thing with approximately a million printings, Pyrohemia is in Gishath colors and that matters a ton. This is a bad combo but being a bad combo has never stopped anyone before. Pyrohemia eventually kills the dinosaurs off so you’re going to max out on the number of copies you can make per turn, or you can just run Aether Flash and Impact Tremors to kill them. I think if this combo takes off, there are other cards to buy but I think this won’t take off. I’ll still list the cards. Whatever. People buy stuff in bad combos all the time, just not the cards that they need to buy to actually build the deck. Most of the time they’re panic buying from someone like me and I’m happy to sell to them. Speaking of which.

Keep or Sell? – Sell! Sell those Pyrohemias, and don’t forget it was printed two times so pick all of your bulk and the bulk at your LGS while you’re at it. This combo is bad and no one will build the deck.

What if they build the deck? – I think there are a few cards that go in the deck if it gets built.

Aether Flash

Impact Tremors



Subterranean Spirit

But let’s be honest, the deck probably isn’t happening and it wouldn’t be an EDH deck if it did happen.

Famished Paladin/Resplendent Mentor

This combo is less good but also less ridiculous than the above one and therefore somehow seems more plausible. Mentor at least is non-useless outside of the combo (though I guess Pyrohemia isn’t really useless and is a decent Enrage enabler for the rest of the Dinosaurs you’re likely not playing because the Enrage ones suck compared to the ones like Alpha Regisaur and Etali that you’ll actually put in the deck) despite being in a modest 136 decks on EDHREC mostly, you  guessed it, Karlov and Oloro. Being able to gain infinite life isn’t great in a “die to 21 commander damage” format and I can’t get people as excited about Test of Endurance as I am. Still, mentor is an uncommon in Shadowmoor and those are all picks, all of them, so you likely can’t find this in bulk and if you have them, you’re lucky you didn’t sell them a long time ago.

Buy or Sell? – I think you sell into hype. This combo isn’t great in EDH. I think maybe it gets there in 60 card casual, but we can’t predict what lunatics are going to do and will people who don’t read articles and discover which cards are in a set by opening boosters at Walmart and reading cards they’ve never seen before ever get on the same page enough to drive prices? I think sell while the selling’s good.

What if they build this deck?

I think there are other cards that are impacted, some of which I always talk about.

Test of Endurance

Karlov, Ghost Council

Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood

Why am I mentally brewing a deck I don’t think will exist?

Blood Sun/Bad Cards

Blood Sun is Solemnity 2.0. Remember all of those sick combos that were going to be enabled by Solemnity?

They sort of didn’t pan out. Like, at all.

You think competitive players really want a Blood Moon that shuts off like 1/3 of the lands Blood Moon shuts off? I don’t know. Meanwhile, people are buying Lotus Vale and other stuff.

I’m realizing this article sounds increasingly hostile to these combos but, come on, EDH players are out to build decks, not play cutesy two-card combos that don’t win the game. If you’re tutoring for a combo, it better be worth it. You go get Kiki-Jiki and Zealous Conscripts. No one is going to Tooth and Nail for Resplendent Mentor.

Buy or Sell? – Sell your Lotus Vales, Scorched Ruins, etc. This is not a particularly good combination, Blood Sun seems unlikely to enable cute combos so much as just be a sort of Blood Moon variant that Tron players can use to shut off Ghost Quarter and keep their lands switched on (I guess?). But hey, buy Forbidden Orchard because MTG Salvation is predictably worked into a lather about bad interactions, I guess.

Are there any good combos?


Etali, Primal Storm/Cheating

Attacking with Etali early and often is brutal. Sneak and Show Legacy players are already toying with the idea of using him with Sneak Attack because you can Brainstorm Emrakul on top and just be done with the game then and there.  Cheating this out with anything from Reanimate to Elvish Piper is going to really get there. Hell, ramp to it. EDH is a ramp format. I expect Etali to very much impact the format of EDH and with this set looking like there is nothing that stands out, SOMETHING has to be worth money and it might as well be Etali. I don’t hate preordering it and taking a risk. I haven’t felt this strongly about a card since Ishkanah and look what happened there.

Timestream Navigator/Copying

It should be easy to get City’s Blessing if you’re making a lot of copies and once you can make a copy every turn, go ahead and take every turn. People were nuts about Wanderwine Prophets but haven’t even brought up Timestream Navigator. Will it be super hard to get City’s Blessing? Play Spell Swindle if you don’t think so. Play some ramp in your deck that has Progenitor Mimic and is therefore at least Simic. This is the best combo I have seen and no one cares. I guess that’s what happens when you let Reddit decide which cards should go up in price. Kick a Rite of Replication on this and you basically can’t lose the game.

That does it for me this week. I think you sell into hype, buy ahead of real, actual decks that will be built and don’t be afraid to risk $100 preordering a $4 dragon. If that hits $20 you’ll be able to build your next deck for free. Until next time!

Please follow and like us:

Unlocked Pro Trader: Tap Happy

It’s rare that I don’t wait for an entire set to be spoiled before I start talking about how a deck is going to be built, but I’m going to talk about how a deck is going to be built because, great googily moogily.

Now, I usually don’t like to do what I’m about to do and that’s speculate with no data. I got into EDH finance because I like to make my plays based on what people have been doing for 6 months because it used to take a year for stuff to move. Life is coming at as a lot faster than it used to and I think getting ahead of some price increases is prudent the second we recognize interactions because cards are beginning to go up the second they are identified as a potential combo irrespective of whether people actually play them.

Sub 1,000 decks and holding steady at just below $10? K.

It wasn’t EDH players who got excited about Wanderwine Prophets in Inalla decks, it was speculators and that’s because Commander 2017 being tribal made it so even people who have no idea what EDH is about could speculate on EDH cards. I don’t know if a merfolk commander from Rivals of Ixalan is inclined to make a Lorwyn Merfolk hit $10 the way this did. I’m inclined to say no for a few reasons.

  1. A random creature out of rivals is less of an impetus to build a new deck than is a precon. A precon is a deck ready to be modified, a new card is a card. You need a lot of other things and that costs money and is more difficult than buying a precon.
  2. People who don’t play EDH won’t speculate on random merfolk based on this. Only I and my readers do that.
  3. We’re not talking about an infinite turn combo, something which is overrated at first if Sage of Hours is any indication.

So while realizing 1,000 growth is unlikely, we’re still likely to see some growth and that’s all we need. I think there are plenty of bulk uncommons that go up based on this new printing as well, and those are practically free to pick up right now. You have a few weeks before people even start building, so let’s try and anticipate what could matter and get ahead of the curve.


The Card

So this is a card. There are a few ways to build this deck, ranging from Voltron to Merfolk tribal and all seem pretty good. Tishana was pretty disappointing and the EDHREC metrics bear that out – there’s no good reason to play Tishana when Zegana exists.

However, I think Kumena is a card worth trifling with and I think it has the capacity to push some prices around. Let’s look at what likely goes in a majority of Kumena decks, which could be a decent amount and therefore impact prices.

The Rest of the Deck


This is my pick #1 with a bullet. It’s trending up a little bit but with the ability to tap it at will with your commander, this goes up for sure. We’ve seen the ceiling on a Lorwyn rare merfolk that gets used just in EDH at $10 and while I don’t think this will hit that just because it’s me telling you it’s good instead of someone on reddit, I think it still goes up. $7.50 isn’t out of the question, and $5 seems all but guaranteed. If you don’t think that’s spicy enough, check out the foil.

That’s a mere 2x multiplier, which is common for non-played cards. The great thing about a foil mutliplier on a non-played card is you make a ton of money when it goes to a played card. The multiplier for a played card isn’t unreasonable at 4x so if the price of the non-foil doubles as people begin to play with it, the multiplier should also double meaning you get a huge price correction. The $2 non-foil shoots up to $5 and the multiplier doubles to 4x and all of a sudden your $4 foil is $20. I’m not saying necessarily buy this card in foil, but I’m not saying necessarily don’t, either. The foils are way easier to trigger the market so if anyone buys, everyone notices and that’s the unfortunate nature of MTG Finance these days. I can’t sanction that kind of BS but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out it can happen and if we can be poised to take advantage of someone else’s buffoonery, then we’re doing it right.

Wake Thrasher

Goblins versus Merfolk hasn’t quite caught up to this guy but it will, likely pulling the price down to around $0.50 retail. I don’t know if I love that as a point of entry but I will say that Wake Thrasher is very good in a deck where you’re rewarded for tapping your Merfolk. I think the deck benefits a ton from ways to untap your Merfolk and tap them again and growing Wake Thrasher as you do it is solid. Pre-combat you grow all of your merfolk, make your commander unblockable and grow your Thrasher, making it possible to threaten multiple players with lethal damage at once. You need a big board for that, but I think blue and green can handle that if any color combination can.

The 3x multiplier on the foil and stagnant growth chart seem to indicate this a card people know is a card but which hasn’t taken off yet. I think there’s opportunity here, but less so than with  Surgespanner. Still, I showed you the foil copy and you can make up your own mind.

Grimoire Thief

Around $2 for a merfolk that does something when it becomes tapped? You’re going to do some work with this card in that deck. Also, you’re going to randomly pants someone when you counter a spell that you exiled from one player’s deck. No one expects that second ability in a 1-of format and it’s going to be hilarious when you get someone with it. This card goes in the deck for sure – it’s too obvious not to. A 4x foil multiplier tells me we could see some gains, but again, returns diminish the higher a multiplier is to begin with.

Thada Adel, Acquisitor

This doesn’t specifically interact with the commander but it almost certainly goes in the deck. If you’re playing Merfolk, you’re making their lands into Islands and therefore helping this card get even better. I think this is pretty reprintable but I’m not sure where they’d do it exactly, so maybe I’m being paranoid somewhat. I do know I like this card a ton and I put it in most of the 75% decks I brew on Gathering Magic and people have to eventually notice.

And speaking of turning their lands into Islands

This card does some serious work.


I promised there were a few bulk picks I liked, so here we are.


Also, check out my Gathering Magic article a week from this Thursday. I’m going to be brewing a deck with this card and the cards that make the cut are all probably worth looking at. There are too many to name here- Benefactor’s Draught, Thrasios, Paradox Engine, Umbral Mantle, Vitalize – a lot can go in the deck as well as the new Merfolk we’ll be spoiling the rest of the week, some of which are already spoiled and are fantastic.

Hope you enjoyed this read. Until next time!


Please follow and like us: