Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: Kitty Cats 2018


Hey guys. It’s National emoji day and if I knew how to make emojis I’d do a bunch of them right here. If I knew how to make the gray boxes that made it look like I tried to do a bunch of emojis and failed, I would do that, too. I sort of wish I knew how to do the kittycat emoki, though, because as soon as they announced the four themes for Commander 2018 decks, the internet found its kittycats for the year 2018, and that kittycat’s name is “Enchantress.”

What’s A “Good” Spike?

I think there are two major classifications of spikes – let’s call them simply “good” and “bad” so you know how you’re supposed to feel about them. A “bad” spike is one that feels forced – it’s a bunch of dudes on Reddit all getting together to buy Catacomb Dragon because it’s on the Reserved List. The justification for it is always ex post facto as if they thought about how to make the case for it after they bought it. You’ll notice them calling it an “EDH staple” and if you mention EDHREC, there’s always an excuse; EDHREC doesn’t get competitive EDH data, no one uses the site anymore (what does that even mean?), it’s good in their deck so that means it’s a staple. If the person making the case for the card seems allergic to data and has two anecdotes for every data point you come up with, stay away. “Forced” or “bad” spikes have a familiar graph shape.

A precipitous climb followed by a meteoric descent. Usually the price ends up somewhere between where it started and where it peaked, but lately these dumb spikes haven’t panned out very well and the card goes back down to where it started – usually because the people behind the buyouts are used to being able to buy out TCG Player and letting everyone else think they’re geniuses for buying out Cardshark.


So what characterizes a “good” spike? I think that a good one has two major components.

This Heading Break Is Where I’m Blocking Off The Rest Of The Article So Only Pro Traders Can Read It At First

I think the two characteristics of any good spike are sustainability and predictability. A good spike looks less like a spike and more like a plateau because the new price is agreed upon as the right price. This comes from organic demand. The card actually is an  EDH staple, spiking as the result of a new deck being viable and not the result of dickery and wishful thinking.

Notice how even though the price went down a bit, it went back up over time and the overall trend is in an upward direction? Do you think  Reparations will trend in a similar manner? Hard to say – Reserved List cards have nothing pushing their price down per se besides a race to the bottom as dealers who sell by being the lowest available price leapfrog each other trying to be the first to sell their copies of a useless card off. You didn’t have to dump your copies of The Chain Veil as soon as they spiked – you had time to try and get the best price and the card is now worth more than its initial spike price. In fact, current buylist is nearly at that amount. The sustainability of The Chain Veil is what makes it a “good” spike – Superfriends, Atraxa, the combo with Teferi and speculation that Commander 2018 will be Planeswalker-helmed decks because of one mention of the word “Planeswalker” in the Commander 2018 press release have all driven this card to where it is. Imagine that, a card that’s not even on the Reserved List going up in price! I didn’t even know we did those anymore.

The second aspect is predictability. Could we have possibly predicted that The Chain Veil would go up in price? Of course we could have – and we did.  We have mentioned that card several times over the past 4 years and every time it was more expensive than the last time we mentioned it. It was a solid albeit a niche card when it was printed but the Teferi combo and the prevalence of Atrxa Superfriends decks created the perfect environment for it to go up. Superfriends existing as a concept was enough for me to mention it was a spec and all we have to do was wait for conditions to exist for it to be indispensible in a deck everyone wanted. Atraxa gave us that. if it hadn’t been for Atraxa, The Chain Veil would be worth less than it is now but it still would be worth more than it was every time we talked about it in this column, and that’s the important thing. That’s a card that is both sustainable given its demand from a number of different decks as well as predictable given its unique and powerful effect. I like “good” spike candidates because there is no sense of urgency to dump them before people realize they shouldn’t be paying $9 for freaking Aelopile, no matter whether or not “no one is sitting on a stack of these, guise.”

We Saw The “Bad” Spikes

Commander 2018 is giving us another chance to shake our heads at Team Kittycat. Not all of their buys are as bad as Waiting in the Weeds but they are as obvious. I don’t think Serra’s Sanctum is going to go back down from over $100, for example but that’s because it’s a Reserved List card, had some Legacy and EDH demand before (I called it at $30 when the Daxos deck was printed and that didn’t do much for its price although a few people made some money). Idyllic Tutor, though, seems like a bit of a Kittycat to me. It’s in quite a few decks on EDHREC, mostly Voltron decks, but its recent interest seems as much predicated on its text box containing the word “Enchantment” than on an understanding of the format. Remember, Waiting in the Weeds was a stupid buy because it was bought out before we even knew what the decks would be like and it turns out none of the 3 commanders really benefit all that much from having a bunch of cat tokens. I’m not saying an Enchantress deck won’t benefit from a tutor, it will, I’m saying anything else we buy at this juncture is purely speculative, may look stupid later and isn’t quite the slam dunk we think it is. I mean, unless you think one of the 3 commanders in C18 is going to be “sacrifice your enchantments” themed, Femeref Enchantress is probably a bad pickup or a kittycat if you will. An “obvious” spec that doesn’t actually work with the deck is a kittycat and I think we’re about to see some more kittycats go up.

What Do We Like Instead?

I’m glad I pretended you asked.  I think there are some cards that haven’t gone up yet that could based on Commander 2018. We know it’s Bant Enchantress, so my approach for researching this was look at pages of cards rather than pages of commanders. I don’t know how much you use EDHREC, so I’m going to hold your hand a bit here if that’s OK. Since I already have Idyllic Tutor pulled up from checking how many decks it’s in, this is as good a place as any to start.

Here’s the page I’m on.

Its starts by giving us a list of Commanders and you can tell quite a bit about what kind of card Idyllic Tutor can be in EDH. Oloro decks use it, Uril decks use it and Zedruu decks use it. What are the odds Oloro decks are searching for Bear Umbra, Zedruu decks are searching for Phyrexian Arena or Uril decks are searching for Transcendence? The card is used for three different kinds of cards in those decks. Since we don’t know what any of the commanders do, it’s hard to know how we’ll use Idyllic Tutor but we can get a sense of what kinds of enchantments might be good with other Enchantments. This is where we weigh reprint risk versus power and make our decisions based on that.

Scroll down more, past the top Commanders, New Cards and Reprinted Cards. “Signature Cards” is what we want. Not all of them pair with Idyllic Tutor well (Path to Exile? What?) but they are correlated in that a deck with Idyllic Tutor is very, very likely to run them also (like Path to Exile). Idyllic Tutor has the highest synergy with Idyllic Tutor, appearing in 100% of decks that contain Idyllic Tutor (lol, I’m sure the way to fix this is so hard it’s not worth it and will break every time they invent a new kind of commander like the “pair with” ones from Battlebond which broke the site’s code for a long time) but we see Enlightened Tutor which probably won’t get reprinted and goes in the same decks. I bet Replenish isn’t reprinted and since it’s on the Reserved List it already went up – same as Academy Rector. Team obvious has already been through the list, starting as soon as they got the word about the archetypes. Sterling Grove, though, isn’t on the RL.


Sterling Grove

Reprint risk – Moderate

Power – High

Grove originally went up from a buck or two when it was announced that Theros would be enchantment-based. Grove didn’t really pan out as that good a pairing with… anything from Theros per se. It was vaguely good but Theros mostly made a lot of cards vaguely better rather than making one or two super good.

Grove is very useful in my current Bant Enchantress deck but I am trying to use data to make my evaluations rather than use anecdotes about my specific build. If this isn’t reprinted, it has a bunch of decks where it will be good. Whether you’re Voltron, Pillow fort or some weird hybrid (my deck uses Control Magic effects and the Enchantress triggers are to keep your hand full of answers), you’ll benefit from Grove and it hasn’t really moved much on the news but rather how good it is.

Scroll down to the “Enchantments” section to see the Enchantments that are used most often in decks with Idyllic Tutor.

Starfield of Nyx

Reprint risk – Moderate

Power level – High

This is another card that just shines in the deck. It’s a win condition, it nullifies some of their targeted removal (they have to deal with Greater Auramancy or Privileged Position before they can kill this and you just bring it back). I don’t know what else to say.  If this isn’t in the deck, I bet it goes up.

Copy Enchantment

Reprint Risk – Low

Power Level – High

They don’t tend to put this sort of card in the precons which could mean it’s mostly insulated from reprint risk on the basis of me not seeing them reprint cards like Sculpting Steel in the artifact deck, for example. Mirage Mirror seems more likely to be reprinted, for example. This is a narrow card and if it’s not in Commander 2018, it basically never gets reprinted. If you do buy these and it’s in the precon, just double down and buy as many copies as you can at the new price until your average cost is down to a non-embarrassing amount and then every copy will go back up. This has great growth numbers and it’s not like a Bant Enchantress deck running around will hurt that. I still think you are safe and I think even though an $8+ buy-in is high, I think the ceiling is pretty high, too. I still get these in bulk, also, so that’s a thing – people don’t know this is a card so its growth has been sneaky and secret and if that doesn’t reflect sustainability, I don’t know what does.

There are a few more pieces of higher-hanging fruit that Team Kittycat missed but I think my time next week will be better spent looking at one of the other 3 archetypes. Spoilers start Monday and that will give us a better idea of what we’re looking at. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The First Wave

M19 has been added to EDHREC and it doesn’t really surprise me that much. I thought there might be some more Vaevictis Asmadi decks than there are but while that is going to happen over the next few weeks, it also feels like favorites have been chosen and historically, the way things pan out the first week or two is how they end up long-term. The top 3 EDL cards are spread out and while they’re ten or twenty decks apart, it also feels like they’re orders of magnitude apart, too.

Arcades is coming in at basically twice as many as Nicol Bolas and Vaevictis. As much as I love Vaevictis, I’m really surprised we’re seeing nearly as many registered decks as Nicol Bolas, who I expected to be a clear #2. That’s good news for Vaevictis, who is a fun commander and who I expect to be less popular than the linear and boring Arcades who has the clear benefit of being so obvious that it makes people with no imagination feel like geniuses because they figured out you should put a bunch of walls in the wall deck.

I think I’ll do a bit of a hybrid piece today because while I plan to mostly talk about Vaevictis and the opportunities in that deck, there are a non-zero number of Arcades cards that may have been missed that are just starting to emerge now that we have more data to sift through, so let’s start with the Arcades cards that you may have a chance at and move on.

Sunscape Familiar

This has crossover pauper appeal and supplies are drying up. I won’t say anything crazy like that a Planeshift common has a similar supply to a Dominaria rare because I don’t know the stats on that. What I do know is that there is a lot of demand for this card, supplies are dwindling online and this is a card that wasn’t originally targeted by team obvious. I am not a fan of the hand-waving that seems to accompany saying “just get foils” as if that’s some sort of panacea for every factor of supply and demand surrounding a card that you have no way of knowing but let’s at least look at foils so we can say we did a thorough job, here.


And there you have it. $5 in future bucks and under $2 on TCG Player for the time being, probably because the foils at $1.77 are damaged and also because the $2 minimum on TCG Player tends to strand cards there because the minimum for an order is $2. This will be $10 on Card Kingdom and there will still be a torn copy on TCG Player for $1.77 and half the scrapers programmed a few years ago will call this a $2 card. Let people think this is cheap, I guess.


This card may be dead due to its repeated reprintings, most recently in the mass-produced Commander decks. The demand for this card is going to increase with its ubiquity (if people are smart, anyway, which they demonstrably are not) in Arcades decks which could give it a boost. Commander 2016 stuff has been around long enough that a lot of it’s popping, even high-supply stuff that had multiple reprintings.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This is a $10 card waiting to happen. Supplies are drying a bit and this isn’t just in Arcades decks, although the emblem wins you the game in Arcades decks unless you get supernaturally unlucky. You should be able to draw a card or two for every wall you play for free which will let you draw your whole deck, lands and all. It’s a boring-ass Lab Maniac win but, whatever, people like that. I think if you literally only make one move based on my articles this year, buying a ton of copies of Tamiyo as close to $4 as you can find them is bound to pay big dividends. Make sure to buy a one year Pro Trader subscription when these hit $11. Don’t quote me on that. But these look positively poised. This is the 27th-most-played multicolored card (All 10 signets are in the top 25) card on EDHREC and no other gold Planeswalker sees more play. I will write about this every month just so I can look back in two years and see how it’s a dollar or two more every time I talked about it.

Vaevictis Time, Finally

Let’s talk about the stuff that our new Dargon overlord is going to give us.

It That Betrays

This card was made for Vaevictis decks. The power from this card doesn’t come from casting it so it’s the perfect Eldrazi to cheat into play with Vaevictis’ ability. After that, your opponents being forced to sac something whenever Vaevictis attacks just puts a ton of gas into play on your side of the battlefield. These are currently cheap because of a printing in a duel deck but the new demand for this and the historical demand for Eldrazi will combine to buoy this price pretty easily. If you can get these under $4, do that. This has shown a willingness to flirt with $20 in the past so there’s no reason to think a Duel Deck printing can keep this under $10. Other decks that cheat big creatures into play like Mayael and Jhoira can benefit from this card as well. This is a solid buy at TCG Low, especially since Card Kingdom is selling these at $5.50 pretty swiftly.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

I don’t think the Commander Anthology printing had a ton to do with anything and I think if Vaevictis gets more popular, Mazirek has serious upside. A fine commander in its own right, inclusion in a popular new deck only bodes well. I don’t know how high this can get but it’s flirted with $6 in the past and if TCG Player truly has $2 copies, that seems like a pretty safe bet.

Aggravated Assault

The Explorers of Ixalan game gave us a lot of new copies of this card but demand has shown that it’s willing to increase at a much faster rate than supply, barring another reprint. This is a card that’s not liable to get cheaper than it is right now and considering how important it is in decks like this one, I think it’s a fine time to pick these up, knowing you’re secure in your investment in a card that will be good as long as attacking with creatures is good.

Lurking Predators

I’m 100% positive I said (if not in one of these articles, then on the podcast or in a tweet) to buy these when they bottomed out right around a few months after Commander 2016 coming out when these hit $2. I hope you did. If not, I think it’s about halfway to where it’s going so there is still time to make some money. This is a great card and if you’re stacking the top of your deck like you need to be with Vaevictis, then you’re going to benefit from them giving you free creatures.

Selvala’s Stampede

If you’re manipulating the top of your deck a lot, your opponents are likely to choose the option that lets you play from your hand, which you’ll need, because you’re liable to draw some fatties and this is a great way to play them easily. This card is perfect for decks with a ton of big creatures and it’s also just a green card that should be in more decks. It’s from Conspiracy 2 and supply is basically dried up since no one wants to buy booster boxes where there are useless cards so this is just going to go up. Dealers don’t seem excited by this but I am. This is a solid card and considering Rishkar’s Expertise is going up, too, I’m excited for the future of this card which is a more fair Tooth and Nail.

I think there’s a lot to mull over here. Next week I’ll take a look at any of the half dozen new deck archetypes that are springing up, probably the new Nicol Bolas. In the mean time, keep watching EDHREC for emerging archetypes, or popularity orders swapping. If you spent 5 minutes reading this article I’d recommend also spending 5 minutes a day on EDHREC poking around. I find it just as good an investment of my time as the time I spend poking around on MTG Stocks or the Magic subreddits. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The M19 Cards That Matter (To Me)

I think we’re going to keep it simple this week. I don’t typically do set reviews because I like to wait until the dust settles but this week I don’t really have a topic I am burning to talk about and I figured it’s worth just talking about the stuff in M19 that I expect to impact EDH and therefore be financially relevant for readers like you who are, I hope, adherents of my system. Adherents to? People who use my method. Here’s what I think matters and why.

Nicol Bolas

Nicol Bolas is easily the best Nicol Bolas ever. Easy to cast, makes an immediate impact and flips into a really brutal planeswalker. I think that not only will we see new Nicol Bolas decks pop up on the basis of this card, we’ll see people dust off their old Nicol Bolas decks. This is better at the helm than any other Nicol Bolas ever because it’s easy to rebuy with commander tax whereas an 8 mana Bolas really isn’t, especially in Grixis colors, which historically don’t ramp well.

EDHREC Page for Nicol Bolas

I think the increased popularity of Nicol Bolas decks, probably with new Bolas at the helm and Legends Bolas relegated to the 99, will put some non-zero amount of pressure on Bolas staples. There are some cards that have some upside already and this will only push them over the edge.

This card really grew. I’ve been watching it and I think this could get to $8 pretty easily within a year if it’s not reprinted, which would be pretty tricky. Torment is used in a lot of decks ranging from Kess to Scarab God to Gitrog Monster so upside from Bolas isn’t the only thing buoying this card but it certainly won’t hurt. Check out the page for other Bolas staples you think have some upside since I’m not doing a deep dive on Bolas per se.

Crucible of Worlds

That nearly 12,000 decks figure it a lot more meaningful when you consider that  it was an $80 card at one point.

If buylist gets to like $11 or $12 on these I am going to get real aggressive and go in on these. It will be a long time before they’re $80 again, if ever, but they won’t be $20 for long. This is an example of “discovered demand” which is a term I’m inventing. The mere act of reprinting a card that was priced out of the realm of possibility for people creates more demand because it’s now affordable enough to put into decks, now. This will help the price recover faster since the demand is now higher. Add to that how aggressive I will be about snatching these up because this is a $40 card in a year and you have a recipe for a great financial opportunity when supply peaks.

The one knock against this card is that it’s not a huge power player in anything recent.

That said, it wouldn’t take much for a new card to be printed that put lands in the yard. I think Tatyova decks could make great use of Crucible a lot more than they are – if you’re enabling yourself to play 4 extra lands in a turn, which is better; playing a few basics or playing a Strip Mine out of your yard 5 times? I rest my case. Crucible is playable in a lot of formats and I don’t think its price is mostly predicated on scarcity. Real demand exists and new demand is about to be created. Underestimate this card at your peril.

Arcades, The Strategist

This card already got its own entire article but I think it’s worth mentioning that there are already decklists out there if you know where to look. They aren’t aggregated yet which will help a lot, but you can get a jump on paying attention, although I covered everything I think matters until we get more data. I expect this to be the number one M19 deck built for a while if not forever and whether or not you like it, that’s probably the case. I think M19 has better choices but I learned long ago what I think affects prices less than what everyone thinks.


This isn’t in quite as many decks as Crucible, because it’s not an artifact for one, but I think it has as much Legacy demand and I think discovered demand could be a factor here as well. I expect prices to recover as people who weren’t enfranchised before can get a cheap copy in a trade or bust one in a pack, something that wasn’t possible before.

Chromium, The Mutable

I think this is sneakily one of the best cards in the set. I listened to the EDHRECast so you don’t have to (but you should) and they seemed a little baffled by this card. I’m not baffled at all – this is going to murder people very quickly and easily. The 6 power you lose transmuting Chromium into an unstoppable murder machine will be mitigated by stuff like Battle Mastery and Swords. You’re going to 1-hit KO people with this card and they won’t be able to stop you. Zur may be a “better” deck but that perception is waning a bit. I still like that Zur can grab Necropotence but if you’re trying to go Voltron, this is legit. I am not sure what to put in the deck, but I’ll do a deep dive on it if the data supports that necessity.

Chaos Wand

Chaos Wand can cast every instant and sorcery in their deck with Paradox Engine and a few mana rocks. I am going to do that in every deck I currently have that runs Paradox Engine.

It’s been a minute since we looked at Engine and this is as good a time as any.

It’s been months since I said that this was a pretty good buy at $10 because the only way you lose is if this is banned (it wasn’t) it got reprinted (I can’t imagine it will be soon) or it gets cheaper for some reason (its price doubled). I don’t know if I like this as a buy at $20 as much as I did at $10 and this hasn’t rotated out of Standard yet so I’m going to watch to see if it dips at all then, but my gut tells me this is a $25-$30 card in a year and I don’t think it is fair enough to jam in an EDH precon, the right flavor for a Core Set or broken enough to ban. This is powerful but it’s also fragile, expensive and depends on a board of mana rocks to do anything. I think it’s absurdly good but I don’t think it’s bannable since its power comes from synergy. I still like buyback spells with Engine a lot and using Reiterate to untap all of your mana rocks and double the spells you’re getting yourself until you can find your Chaos Wand seems fun. I don’t think Chaos Wand’s price will matter but if someone plays Wand with Engine on Game Knights or something, a lot of stuff will pop off. If you’re not watching Game Knights, you should if you care about being 24 hours ahead of a run on stuff like Shadowborn Apostle and you may even want to become a Patron to be 48 hours ahead.

Goblin Trashmaster

This card is absolutely insane in EDH. Lords are good, but usually Lords are like “All elves get +1/+1 and Snow-Covered Wasteswalk.” Turning a pile of Krenko tokens into murdering their entire board is insane. If this were Legendary, it would be bannable. Artifacts are incredibly important in this format. True, basically only Krenko decks will run this and maybe a few others, but this is going to be really tough to beat. Let’s look at some decks I bet it impacts.

Since I’m in a teaching mood, I’ll share my thought process for how I’ll go about finding which decks this likely goes in.

Krenko is obvious because it is the goblin token producer extraordinaire but there have to be other commanders that this card pairs well with. I’ll look at Krenko first.

Not the most popular commander and not the least. But hang on. this menu makes me think of something. If Krenko isn’t the commander, it might still be useful in the 99 of any goblin deck. If I view as a card, it will tell me which other commanders would use Krenko.

And just like that, we have 8 examples of decks that run Krenko. It doesn’t mean Trashmaster will get played in all of these decks, but I think there is a good case for correlation. Any deck with Trashmaster will want Krenko even if it’s not the other way around. Wort seems like an excellent home for Trashmaster and it only took a few seconds playing with EDHREC to find a bunch of potential homes for Trashmaster. It’s a good resource and I don’t get paid for pageviews so I don’t care if you use the site or not but you should.

Liliana’s Contract

With the resurgence in popularity of Shadowborn Apostle decks because of Game Knights and the resurgence in ripple decks in general with the printing of Rat Colony, I think the ripple infrastructure deserves another look. It’s probably about to really pop and if a win condition like this makes Apostle (because you tutor for demons) more attractive than Rat Colony, people could build both decks (probably not) or build the older Shadowborn Apostle build which has upside if there are older cards in it. Although the ship has probably sailed. Here is the graph of Thrumming Stone from the article I wrote in April.

Here’s the graph today.

Hope you got your copies in April.

This splits the “ripple” vote a bit since demons don’t synergize with the rats at all, but Shadowborn Apostle builds will want this card and that’s good enough for some extra demand if people don’t have the deck built yet. A $23 stone isn’t a huge impediment to a deck with 40 copies of a $4 apostle but maybe a $45 stone would be. I still don’t hate it at its post-first-spike price but I really hope you listened back in April.


Anyway, I’ll dive deeper on individual cards and their implications when I have a little data to back it up with, probably next week. In the mean time, go into the prerelease thinking about which cards in M19 could spawn decks, what go in those decks and prioritize cards like Scapeshift, Omniscience and Crucible that will be good forever over stuff like Resplendent Angel that may or may not be good ever and are super hyped right now. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: A Fundamental Lack of Excitement


Last week I may have come across as unkind to the (I’m assured) tens of thousands of people who have been clamoring for a commander for their walls tribal Commander decks and who can’t wait to build Arcades the Strategist decks. Basically every wall popped already and it’s basically too late to buy those. It will be weeks until

A) Anyone actually builds the deck

B) EDHREC has data on what they’re actually building and we see what the rest of the infrastructure of the deck looks like.

The cards that are even a hair less obvious that the kittycatastic picks like Wall of Reverence will be free to be picked up for a while. Every half-assed armchair speculator on the planet knows to pick up cards named “Wall of” when a card like Arcades is spoiled. There are really two tiers of “events” in EDH Finance. I’m going to avoid giving them a number or letter identification because last time I did that, I not only invented a tier in between them, I confused which was which week to week. Let’s avoid that. Here are the two tiers.

Tier “I don’t play any EDH and this seems like a good buy to me”

Tier “I understand EDH and this seems like a good buy to me”

The difference between these two tiers matters, a lot. Tier “I don’t play any EDH and this seems like a good buy to me” cards will always spike harder and faster. The number of people who don’t play EDH plus the number of people who do play EDH will always be larger than the number of people who play EDH because of course it will be. Therefore the larger group has more buying power and the lack of understanding of the format will cause them to buy indiscriminately and that’s not always (but is usually) easy to predict. Am I saying only dumdums who don’t play EDH bought Arcades Sabboth cards? Certainly not. I imagine the deck will be the most popular commander out of M19, which, if you checked the full spoiler for M19, is not even saying anything. I am saying I saw someone in a finance forum said something to the effect of “If Doran decks didn’t make Wall of Kelp go up, I don’t see why Arcades Sabboth decks would” and that is part of the problem.

There’s another, probably even bigger problem.

Enthusiasm is “Clumping”

Ideally, every set is an event. Every single product release (Not that the Spellbooks or anthologies could) would ideally make new deck archetypes that would make a lot of cards go up, preferably ones that had no use before. That’s the goal, anyway. In an ideal world, a new release would give builders an array of decks to choose from and individual taste would take over. People would build what they liked and everyone would make some money from people who have been sitting on cards for decades and are happy to have the price they have the cards marked to the people who buy those underpriced cards and make some money flipping them to the people who waited to the stores who take a cut of the sales.

What has happened lately is that there have been consensus “best” decks from a given set and everything else is ending up overshadowed to such an extent that the most popular deck is orders of magnitude more popular than the second most popular. You have time to figure out what the decks will play but sometimes you have to guess pretty early which of the decks will be the one that “really” matters. That can be tough sometimes (I thought I only liked Tatyova because I’m that kind of builder but Tatyova is far and away the biggest surprise from Dominaria, coming in ahead of even Slimefoot, a much touted commander) but sometimes the wisdom of the crowds can help. That is to say, the “obvious” deck that is so obvious that even people who don’t play EDH see it coming ends up the most popular. What do we do in that scenario?

The Guessing Game

I get a little… sarcastic when things are really obvious (KITTYCATS U GUISE!) and that makes some people think I don’t think there’s money to be made. That’s not the case. I think lots of people will build the stupid walls deck and I think lots more will speculate on Walls of Kelp (even though it didn’t go up at all when Doran was printed) so there’s money to be made if you’re quick. I don’t like to be quick. If I wanted to be quick, I’d watch the Pro Tour on the weekend after a new set came out and buy stuff when it was featured on camera and sell the cards that actually showed up. That’s how we used to do it right before I quit finance for non-EDH formats (would you like to know if I’m happier, richer and less stressed now? I’ll tell you anyway. The answer is yes to all) and I assume people are still at it.

Sometimes obvious is the Arabho deck no one built, but sometimes obvious is Najeela. How much better is Najeela doing than any other deck from Battlebond?

The absolute figures don’t matter, look at the proportions. Najeela is roughly as popular as the next four most popular commanders or combinations combined. Gross. we talked about the coin flip deck being dumb and obvious but Najeela seems to have struck a chord with people. If I had been forced to guess with a gun to my head what this set’s most popular commander or combination would have been a month ago, I would have said Okaun and Zndrsplt and I would have been wrong.

So what gives? Is Arcades Zndrsplt or is Arcades Najeela? Is it both? The answer to that question is so simple you’ll be mad at yourself for not thinking about it.

The Answer

The answer is, who cares?

If you don’t want to try and guess and pick winners and losers before you’re ready because the obvious cards are going to spike and the cards for the non-obvious decks could end up in so few decks that they’re only a fourth or fifth as popular and therefore will experience far lower gains, what can we do when a set comes out? My advice? Blue chips, baby! M19 has a lot of mythics and some of them could end up spawning decks (although most of the Legendary creatures in the set suck and the decks will suck, too, meaning Arcades is likely this set’s Najeela, although Nicol Bolas is pretty hot… sorry for the really long parenthetical. This is quickly going from parenthetical to paragraph. Paragraphetical) but if we don’t want to play the “order within 3 hours of the card being spoiled or every order will get cancelled) game, what can we do? My advice for a set like M19 is look at the rest of the set and think about what’s there and not there. “Think about what’s there and not there” is a confusing sentence. How do you look at something that isn’t there? I almost just wrote “look at what’s there” but I thought of a card I think has upside based on NOT being in M19 and… you know what? I think I’ll just start with that one.

The Part of the Article Most People Skip To Because It Has Graphs

This graph doesn’t really show this card dipping when… board game of Ixalan (I could easily look it up but you know what I mean and it doesn’t matter. It’s the board game, which was a great idea) came out but it did and it’s basically below where it was before it went up on the basis of Commander 2017. Tribal Lords are great and this can be a Lord for a tribe that doesn’t have a ton of support. In fact, tribes that are popular and have a lot of support tend to be the ones that end up in supplemental product which means this has a smaller reprint risk because are you going to jam this in a Zombie deck when there is Death Baron, Zombie Master and like a half dozen other Zombie Lords? Nah, player. You’re going to put this in Nephilim tribal or something goofy like that, or you’re going to put it in a core set. This wasn’t in the core set. Meanwhile tribal stuff is going to come out in every set and you have a year minimum before we get another chance, M20, to reprint this in a core set, the most likely reprint avenue for it. This is basically at its floor and M19 is giving us a bunch of tribal stuff with garbage Lords. Take the hint.

This card IS in the set.

This flirted with $100 on some sites in its history and now look at it. It’s a $25 presale on TCG Player. I think this goes lower, both by and for a little bit, and when it does, you just put your money in this. Do I buy walls cards or do I buy Nicol Bolas or Vaevictus Asmadi cards? What if you sat this one out and concentrated on a card with low supply and high demand that is printed at Mythic in a core set which is likely to sell way less than sets like Dominaria, be drafted for like 2 weeks and which is playable in more formats than just EDH? This is a slam dunk. I don’t know what percentage gains you’re going to get, but what if after fees it was a mere… 10%? Talk to someone who invests on Wall Street and tell them your worst case scenario is 10%. They’ll tell you to take out a second mortgage on your house. I’m not saying take out a second mortgage, but I AM saying you’re not going to sell that Wall of Kelp for $38 but you WILL sell Crucible for $38 in 6 months to a year.  Focus where your money will do you the most good.

Everything that was said about Crucible can basically also be said about Omniscience, currently a $10 preorder on TCG Player. Do you think this will be $30 in a year? I do not. Do I think this will be $10 in a year? Also no way. This is the 75th-most-played Blue card on EDHREC which doesn’t sound great if you don’t have some context, the context being that 74 is Teferi and 76 is Hinder, a card that used to be much better and is probably an example so I’ll tell you 77 is Peregrine Drake. This lost 2/3 of its value. Do you think it will not recover any of that? I think if this is $10 retail, it’s like $4.50 buylist and if you can buy a card that used to be $30 for $4.50, you do it because I don’t think there is a scenario where you lose. Before this was reprinted, dealers thought $24 was a reasonable buy price. Here is what I think the future of Omniscience is. Feel free to argue with my crude graph.

That shape is Omniscience flirting with $20 in about 18 months. Is that super optimistic? Sure. But if you open something like Resplendent Angel, Tezzeret or Apex of Power, you’re much better off trading into something like Omniscience and I think that’s fairly obvious.

if you don’t want the stress of picking winners and losers, having to get in and out of your spec at blinding speed or betting the same way as people who don’t know enough about EDH to properly assess which commanders will make cards go up (not a knock on them as people, just as stuff-knowers in this instance) you can always opt out. Well, not always, but in this instance, I’m opting out. The next set will be a not core set and will have some stuff that will make EDH cards go up, hopefully in a manner that is predictable but not too obvious and I’ll write a normal article. Until then. Until next time!

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