Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: Dragon My Feet


As usual, I am letting what is actually getting built dictate what I talk about which is why I haven’t talked about cats in a while and why I talked about Edgar Markov last week despite not really wanting to. Edgar Markov is popular this week, though. It’s the most popular deck built on sites scraped by EDHREC, more popular than the second and third (new) most popular decks combined. That said, there isn’t much money to be made from Edgar Markov decks, I don’t think. Someone asked on Twitter about Necropolis Regent and that is a card I didn’t but probably should have talked about last week. I don’t want people to think I don’t read their comments so let’s take a look at it before I launch into this week’s article.


Regent was priming for a jump last week and I missed it. I think BBB is tough for a vampire deck, but I also advocated Vampire Nocturnus which is BBB and has a larger supply than Regent. Regent is in about half of the new Edgar decks being built and since it’s the most popular commander of the week, supply is going to continue to dry up. I found some very cheap (sub $2) copies online but for the most part, the major retailers are seeing copies disappear. It would have been nice to have warned you a week ago, but Pro Traders can scoop those cheap copies before this is a $10 card. Credit to Steven Kestner for noticing I neglected to mention this sauce monster. If I’d checked the graph I would have likely noticed that this was going in a very positive direction but I don’t always check the graph of every single card on EDHREC. Maybe I should start.

I mean, you’re allowed to, too. I’m not saying I’m not good at this, I think I have a good track record, especially since I switched over to EDH finance full-time. I will say that there are cards I’m going to miss just out of neglect. Telling you not to buy a card is one thing, but seeming not to endorse a card by omission could mean I deemed the card unworthy of discussion or it could just mean I missed it. You can use the tools I use, too, so make sure and follow up on hunches you have. I’m teaching you all to fish with this column, after all.

Let’s apply the same, (apparently flawed) process that we used last week to a new deck and see if we can’t tease out a few cards that are on their way to getting there.


While Edgar Markov continues to top the charts, The Ur-Dragon. With as many decks built this week as Atraxa, a perennial juggernaut, Ur-Dragon’s numbers seem robust enough to give it a second look, although I feel that just looking at old Scion of the Ur-Dragon builds was enough to mostly predict what was going to happen. Ur-Dragon doesn’t seem better than Scion in absolute terms and that leads me to believe the bulk of new people building the deck are people who didn’t have a Scion deck before and are therefore going to be popping and modifying the precon deck. This was something I dismissed earlier when Scion was first spoiled (what feels like a year ago) but which could actually bear some fruit. I only need to find four or five buying opportunities, really, to make you all some money and with decks getting built 100 cards at a time, there should be quite a bit to discuss. Let’s try and avoid discussing anything in the precon, which limits us a bit but if we look at Scion decks as well, we can see which staples didn’t get reprinted and therefore what the precon buyers may upgrade to later.

EDHREC is currently working on a filter that will remove cards that are in precons from the results which will be a big help for undertakings like this. Until then, let’s brute force our way through this.

Dragonlord Silumgar

I think the price trends on this are promising. This isn’t Dromoka money and never will be, but it will be more than it is now. I think these Dragonlords are like the gods of their set in that there will be a tendency for some to collect them as a set and the playable ones will have quite a bit of upside and potentially pull up the less playable ones. Since Kolaghan is useless in EDH, this is basically a cycle of 4 (or 9 if you count the non-Dragonlord versions of these dragons) for EDH consideration. Silumgar is good in a deck like this and even fine at the helm of (I read somewhere they’re female) her own deck so I think while Dromoka popped first, that just meant we have more time to see Silumgar’s spike coming.

Dragonlord Atarka


While we’re on the subject, Atarka’s graph is showing a lot of the same tendencies as Silumgar’s, but the increase is a little smoother and therefore hasn’t tripped anyone’s “If the price goes up by more than 9%, highlight the price in green” algorithms. Silumgar was on interests pages but this wasn’t and it’s likely got the same or better upside and its graph looks almost identical. The crazy thing is, if you’re playing a 5-color Dragon deck, Silumgar’s ability scales way better for 40 life multiplayer but Atarka seems to have equal upside based on historical data (which was predicated on a different format so it’s misleading). I don’t think Atarka is near as good as Silumgar but since this can go in decks like Xenagos and Mayael, I think the extra demand could be more relevant than playability*. Atarka is in over 3,000 decks on EDHREC and Silumgar is in fewer than 2,500. The numbers aren’t as important as the ratio – Atarka is in 20% more decks and all things being equal, should have 20% more upside if those trends continue. I don’t think that as many Mayael decks will get built in the next few months as, say, Scarab God which prefers Silumgar, but I think all that does is equalize these cards. If you like Silumgar, you should feel the exact same way about Atarka.

*As an aside, I want to address something I addressed in the comments a few weeks ago on the Mairsil article. People were asking why I advocated Morphling as the pickup when Aetherling seemingly had better abilities. It doesn’t matter. People aren’t picking the best ‘ling of the bunch, they’re playing all of them. When there is the potential for redundancy, most EDH players will go for it if the effect matters. You don’t see a disparity between the three ‘lings, they all are in roughly the same number of decks. That means Morphling has more upside because supply is lower and demand is the same. I think playability matters in terms of “this is playable” or “this is unplayable” but I think “this is a better card than that one” doesn’t always matter in EDH so watch out you don’t logic yourself out of a good spec by assuming playability matters more than supply.

Hellkite Tyrant

You know how I like those reverse-J-shaped graphs? Tyrant is at a historic low but is beginning to tail up and I think there is an opportunity to make some money. It’s a card that does very powerful things in EDH, stealing their stuff and winning the game (it’s happened a non-zero number of times, including once to me) sometimes, so it’s a very EDH card. The spiking of the foils was easy to predict and the recovery of the non-foils is similar. I like this card a lot right now. Even after a reprinting, the price hasn’t gone down all that much. This seems ripe.

Utvara Hellkite

Another card starting its “beginning of the U-shaped graph” plunge, I like these at their bottom. I am not sure what the bottom will be, but with a printing in the precon, this is likely to tank a lot. Everyone building a Dragon deck this year likely uses the copy from the precon meaning new demand will have to emerge. That said, there were always dragon decks being built before. We run a real risk with reprints like this that mostly go in the deck they’re printed in as opposed to a reprint like Crypt Ghast, so I’m cautioning you not to treat this card like most reprinted staples – it’s not like them. However, this is a real card, it’s a bulk mythic that ascended to a high of $8 before being reprinted and it’s a card that likely doesn’t get reprinted again for a good long time. If this craters at like $1, I think you go for it.

There are a few cards I think will be specific to Ur-Dragon decks because you will be more focused on attacking and less-so on the selection criteria for a deck like Scion. Creatures played in Ur-Dragon decks that don’t appear in Scion decks feel more aggressive.

Thudermaw Hellkite

Gettable at around $5, this has demonstrated an ability to be $10-$15ish with some demand and $40 with lots of demand. This also got really cheap before Lingering Souls being everywhere spiked it. This is an aggressive creature and it makes sure your fliers get in there, which means you draw hella cards with your Commander and get free perms. I think this has some upside although the recent price behavior has been weird with the price fluctuating a lot and currently being on a downswing. It’s possible that it was bought out and spiked temporarily due to speculation about its inclusion in a Dargons deck but I think there is real demand for this card. At 18% total inclusion, it’s far from a staple, but there is a medium between “This is $35 now!” and “Just kidding, this is $5 now.”

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Ok, hear me out.

I wasn’t going to mention this before because this belongs in the special “Scion doesn’t want this but Ur-Dragon does” section because this card is very aggro-oriented. Would you play this card in EDH?

You might in Ur-Dragon because it has haste, it grants haste and it’s a Dragon, 3 things you want. The other ability seems to make it useless in EDH, but it’s sort of gravy and just because you ask for no gravy doesn’t mean that the rest of your dry, gravy-less meal isn’t perfectly – NO! I can’t do this. Just get the gravy. Learn to like the gravy. Who doesn’t want gravy? My metaphor has fallen apart entirely, much like your bland, gravy-less meal is going to fall apart when you’re drinking a half gallon of that garbage Riesling with the kangaroo on the bottle that your Mother-in-law buys in bulk at Costco just so you can choke down forkfulls of dessicated stuffing with no lubricant because otherwise you sound like a cat with a hairball and then you get on twitter drunk and start retweeting a bunch of gamergate people and lose your job and for what? Just play the stupid haste Dragon.  It even has haste itself, unlike that new Dinosaur I thought I liked until I realized it wasn’t Bloodbraid Elf because it only gives other dinosaurs haste.

The Dragonlords are all in a pretty good spot and if the worst one has upside based on being in 30% of the new Ur-Dragon lists then you probably want to be about all of them. Dromoka set the absolute best case scenario bar high, but there’s no reason that the others can’t approach it. I think if there’s anything I learned today it’s that I should look at more graphs more often. If you learned anything today, I’m not surprised.

Join me next week where our topic will be a different one. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: It’s Time to D-D-D-D-Duel!

I don’t play Duel Commander and I don’t think it matters.

OK, Good night, everyone! We’ll see you next week!

Ok, apparently I’m being told that I have to write an entire article this week and if my hypothesis is that Duel EDH doesn’t matter for prices, I need to prove it. Great. That sounds sort of tedious. It’s much easier to prove that something does something than that it doesn’t do something, right? Basically the only way I can do that is to look for something it should be doing if we at all understand what it would be doing if it were doing something and then look to see if that thing’s not being done and if it’s not being done then the thing that should have been doing it clearly didn’t do it because nothing’s doing it in which case that thing isn’t capable of doing the thing we thought it could do. Still with me? Crap. I really thought you’d read that and give up and go read a different article. I’m really going to have to delve into this, aren’t I? OK, fine. I welcome the challenge.

Does It Do Anything?

Remember earlier when I said “look for something it should be doing if we at all understand what it would be doing if it were doing something and then look to see if that thing’s not being done and if it’s not being done then the thing that should have been doing it clearly didn’t do it because nothing’s doing it in which case that thing isn’t capable of doing the thing we thought it could do”? An example of that would be to try and isolate cards that aren’t played in Legacy or multiplayer EDH and then see if the prices are where they would be if that format could affect prices. The only other option is to try and look at a card that’s played in just multiplayer EDH and compare it to a card that’s played in 1v1 plus multiplayer and see if the card played in both formats is higher in price than can be explained by another factor.

The reason I wanted to talk about Duel EDH at all is because I saw that Edgar Markov was pretty popular this week on EDHREC.

Of the 5 decks more popular than Adgar Markov this week, 4 of them are in the Top 5 decks ever and all of them are in the Top 7. Edgar is pretty popular this week despite the Dragons and Wizards seeming so much sexier. You see why I like to wait until there is data to start trying to figure out which cards are going to go up? It’s almost like there’s a method to what I’m up to. If you predicted Edgar Markov would be the most popular commander a few weeks after the set came out, congratulations. Also, I don’t believe you. Also, prove to me you’re right more often than you’re wrong and aren’t just some lunatic who makes ridiculous pronouncements on reddit and who makes a snide “I told you so” post the 1% of the time you’re right. What’s that, you predicted there would be a cat deck based solely on the inclusion of Wasitora in the Dargon deck? Your powers of deduction are Sherlockesque to be sure! You should be looking for D.B. Cooper. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, I’m calling you a liar.

Keep Reading, Liar

Maybe some of you did predict that a pretty durdly, expensive Vampire would be tearing it up, I know I didn’t. What we did know was that the creatures with Eminence (all of which were put in the front of their respective boxes. Eminence in front? Sounds like a put-on) would be annoying to play against because you can’t interact with them at all, which is why we all hate Oloro and want him to stop making the person who keeps track of life totals have to keep track of so many life total changes and why don’t you be scribe, Greg? You’re the one gaining two stupid life a turn and continuously wrathing the board so we can’t even kill each other. Oh, Austere Command into Fumigate. Real cool, Greg. You can write down your own lifegain from Fumigate, Greg. I’m going home.

Edgar Markov is making his mark on EDHREC but he’s also being touted at the best 1v1 commander from all of Commander 2017 so it’s worth looking at what that entails and whether it matters. I don’t think it matters, and I am going to have to prove that.

Look Mom, No ‘Rec

In order to even look at this wacky format that I’m not sure is a factor but am keeping a somewhat open mind about, I can’t really use EDHREC. That’s scraping sites that are basically exclusive to Multiplayer EDH players and in the cases where they’re not strictly Multiplayer decks, there’s no real way to separate the 1v1 data from the Multiplayer data that I can see and that makes the site sort of worthless for this one particular instance. While I’m on the subject, I was accused after last week of being a shill for EDHREC. Ummm, what? A shill is someone who is paid by an entity to act as an enthusiastic customer to drum up excitement for those goods or services and all I did was tell people about new features that I was excited about brought to you by a company that pays me money and holy $^#& I’m an actual shill. In my defense, I was advocating using EDHREC for EDH price research long before my enthusiasm for the site landed me a job so at best I’m a reverse shill. You know who isn’t paying me? MTG Top 8. Not yet, anyway.

MTG Top 8 is a repository for competitive decks and that means if there are 1v1 tournaments, they’ll have the lists, especially for MODO events. These reports will be pretty useful for us and the page for Markov decks may not be populated with that much data, but there is a feature on this site that I like.

You see it?

Compare decks? How useful can one site be? When you generate that report it gives you a list of all of the cards in all of the decks with a column for each deck and a green check mark by the cards that are in all of the decks. Knowing what’s a consensus “staple” (I’m using ironic quotes because our sample size is comically small here).

We’re getting a consensus with Markov decks and from a financial standpoint, it’s pretty disappointing. First of all, you can basically eliminate the lands because while there was some consensus there, it looked like a Legacy deck landbase. Off-color fetches like Polluted Delta abound and there were ABU duals in the decks. It’s simultaneously useless to say “Badlands is a pretty good pickup, guise” since every dual spiked recently and also, 1v1 EHD isn’t a reason to pick up ABU duals. Legacy and Modern have so much demand for a card like Mutavault that even if every 1v1 deck ran Mutavault, there would be no way to separate the 1v1 signal from the “ubiquitous in any format that can support tribal” noise. There is nothing we can glean from looking at lands.

Similarly, the spells are pretty useless. As an EDH player coming from a 40 life format, seeing spells like Rift Bolt and Searing Spear makes me roll my eyes. Those are fine spells in this wacky 100 card Legacy format, but they don’t scale well when you’re trying to kill Jin-Gitaxis or Vorinclex and the 2 mana that Searing Spear costs could be a Go For The Throat. There is nothing interesting in the spells and I checked every one.

That basically leaves us with creatures. There was some consensus on some of the creatures but even that was a little disappointing. The format really emphasizes a low mana curve for an aggro deck like this, meaning Gifted Aetherborn, Bold Impaler, Heir of Falkenrath and Olivia’s Bloodsworn make the deck whereas EDH staples like Necropolis Regent and Mephidross Vampire are nowhere to be found. There is basically no overlap between EDH and 1v1 except for a small handful of cards like Olivia(s), Guul Draz Assassin and Bloodghast.


I’m not really able to conclude that this format doesn’t affect prices of EDH cards but it doesn’t even really use EDH cards. What I can say is that Edgar Markov, a very popular Multiplayer and 1v1 commander is like $4 on Tcg Player and Inalla is like $1.25. Is any of this predictable? I’m not so sure it is, but Vial Smasher randomly spiked a lot in like February based on 1v1 before it was banned. I think 1v1 cards are such a small percentage of EDH cards as a whole that you can pay attention to the format if you want to, and with MTG Top 8 data so quick and easy to parse for the most point, you won’t spend too much time on it, but I’m not going to really cover it here unless something seems pretty compelling. I think when spikey players grab ahold of a card there is a tendency for them to create larger waves and make a more profound change in prices based on their buying behavior and it’s probably not necessarily predicated on demand 100%.  Remember, EDH demand made Food Chain a $7 card for years – it spiked to $40 because it was in a Legacy deck and even then it was 2 years after it first spiked based on the printing of Misthollow Griffin because that deck finally got a Top 8 at something. Food Chain wasn’t a $7 card, probably, but it wasn’t EDH that made it the price it is today, no matter how much ex post facto justification people want to throw at it. Spikey formats put a lot of eyeballs on a card even if it’s a format that frankly I don’t see a ton of people playing. Markov could be the next Vial Smasher and with the $28 or whatever people are charging for Teferi’s Protection, there isn’t much pressure on any card that isn’t that card to go up in value from the Vamps deck meaning some of the other stuff in there has some upside.

What About Edgar in Multiplayer?

I’m glad I pretended you asked that. While I didn’t see any ripe targets after scrutinizing all of the 1v1 decks (Feel free to check my work and see if you think I missed something) I got to work on Edgar’s EDHREC page and found a few things you might like.

Bloodsworn Steward

This seems pretty juicy to me. Not all partner decks want this effect but the ones that do are almost all red or will have red somewhere in the partnership. Bruse Tarl especially was born to marry with this card. The fact that we can snag a $34.99 MSRP Vampires deck with a $28 Teferi’s Protection in it means there is a lot of depression in the prices of the rest of the deck considering the rest of it basically has to be $7 total and there is a $3 land in it for starters. This might even see play in 1v1, but I don’t think that matters as much as the fact that this is brutal paired with Bruse and whomever else is paired with Bruse in some sort of 3-way pairing.  Check out Exhibit A.

There will be no Exhibit B. The prosecution rests. BIATCH. While the graphical behavior of this card isn’t the healthiest-looking, it still shows cards of this nature have some upside in a pairing-based world. I expect growth from our 4/4 for 4 beatstick.

Mephidross Vampire

What’s that? A sicko combo piece is getting new upside based on it being in a relevant tribe? Check out the blue line representing buylist pricing – dealers are paying attention to this card and raising their buy prices. As buy price and retail price begin to converge, that means a price correction is inbound and you want to be Holden like Caulfield when that happens. This has demonstrated an ability to be $10, which means there aren’t likely to be a ton of these mispriced in boxes and binders and a run on supply means there are fewer cheap copies to soak demand which usually means an increase in both buylist and retail. A price correction seems likely inbound.

Vampire Nocturnus

With cards like this, sometimes the 60 card casual demand which can soak up four copies at a time is enough to mitigate the fact that this has two printings (albeit at mythic) and a $5 promo version (actually 2, one non-foil) running around. This card is pretty absurd, although a little awkward to cast in a 3-color deck. Still, it’s hard to justify excluding this and dealers are clearly increasing their buy price which means a sell price increase isn’t far behind. Buy these from Card Kingdom, put them in a box for two months then send them back to the buylist for $5 profit a copy, that would be my guess. Or just offer to let them hang onto the cards and send you a check for $200. They usually don’t go for that, but you can try. Mention how much in postage it will save both parties.

Finally, I would keep an eye on Exquisite Blood. Vampire decks love the effect and with Sanguine Bond completely getting its pants pulled down this month with two reprintings in rapid succession, it’s never been easier to get half of the combo. You know when McDonald’s gives people a million Park Place tabs on their fries but only gives out a few Boardwalks to make sure that people never win but all of them think they can win? I think barring a reprint (in what? 25 years of Magic?), Exquisite Blood is $25 and Sanguine Bond is $0.25. Get in and get out, I think.

I think that although I’m unconvinced that 1v1 has a non-hype effect on cards, I think it’s easy enough to keep an eye on it that I’ll bother with it from now on and maybe you should, too. It beats being surprised when something becomes the next Vial Smasher, especially if it’s something terrible like Arabho. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Back to Basics

Man, “Back to Basics” would have been a sweet title for an article where I talked about lands, wouldn’t it? Maybe a bunch of the many lands and spells that search for basic lands in EDH, perhaps? Or maybe a focus on Back to Basics, Blood Moon and other land-lock enchantments like it to highlight the fact that Mana Vortex and Land Equilibrium are both spiking. Instead, I am wasting this title on an article about how last week’s tirade (I give all of you enough credit to notice how sarcastic it was) led to a lot of feedback from readers on Twitter, Facebook, Discord and in the comments section of the piece itself telling me to stick with my formula. That was gratifying. I sometimes worry that I do a disservice by pointing out that potential cards are terrible because people seem to have no trouble selling the terrible cards in the the hype surrounding events in EDH. I’m not going to tell you not to buy cards anymore, but I will continue to suggest cards I think have upside based on the same analysis and logic I have been using.

Commander 2017 Is Unique

Not everyone plays EDH or understands it and years ago when the format wasn’t as popular or understood as it is now, this article was breaking off a lot of great advice for people. I still think the advice is very good, but in 2017 specifically, I think this article felt less necessary. Commander 2017 gave us tribes and people who don’t understand EDH can at least grok that you want to buy tribal stuff. The average armchair speculator doesn’t need to read analysis to tell them to buy kittycats before the kittycat deck comes out. The average armchair speculator isn’t necessarily going to identify Squandered Resources as a card with upside when The Gitrog Monster gets printed, though, and that’s why I think the method I’ve developed over the past few years is still very valuable to readers and I plan to stick with it.

Things aren’t going to be as obvious moving forward. While it was obvious to people to buy cats for the cat deck (they were about 20% right, also, which is impressive for a crowd of complete lunatics with no discernible strategy) it isn’t quite as obvious what to buy for the Wizards decks now that we’ve actually seen the cards. How’s that stack of Patron Wizard look now that we have one deck where you copy the activated abilities of creatures and artifacts, one deck where you have a Mega Snapcaster and one deck where you can temporarily make a copy of a Wizard? Maybe it still looks good because you want to live the dream of having a huge pile of Wizards on the board and you can use Inalla to kill them and keep Patron Wizard up to counter the deluge of board wipes that are coming. But for the most part, we’re going to have to start looking at what the decks actually play. Patron Wizard isn’t in Kess or Mairsil decks and since those are the majority of decks being built from the Commander 2017 precon, it makes sense to see what’s going to sell on merit rather than hype in the coming months. In some ways, 2017 isn’t so different since we’re doing what we did last year – looking at what people actually build and buying before those cards go up, something we have weeks or even months to do safely. There were a lot of distractions but when the dust clears, if you have any money left, you can buy cards that are being granted upside by how the new decks are actually being built.

What We Would Have Done Anyway

So let’s pretend this year wasn’t ridiculous, a bunch of Reserved List cards didn’t spike because the people on the YouTube or a podcast told us to buy them, cards didn’t go up slightly based on leaked cards that indicated that Planeswalkers would be Legendary and then spike again later by a lot based on the exact same information and that everyone didn’t become an EDH deckbuilding expert based on learning that there would be a cat deck. Let’s look instead at what people are actually jamming in Mairsil, the Pretender.

I wish I could jam like 100 references to The Pretenders songs in this article, but I did that bit yesterday in my Gathering Magic article. This is a serious times article full of serious finance picks. Go elsewhere if you want tomfoolery and shenanigans.

Here are my totally serious financial picks based on Mairsil, a card I realize I might as well post here in case some of you don’t know what it does.

To make this card good, we want to maximize the number of times he enters the battlefield, maximize the number of effects we get, mitigate the “only once each turn” requirement and try to double any and all triggers. This is standard EDH stuff for a lot of it. There are two different ways to build Mairsil in my opinion and the way the deck builds are diverging shows that other people agree.

Shilling Time, Unwillingly Mine*

It’s shill o’clock now because I’m going to teach you about a new feature on EDHREC because it is going to be very helpful at deciphering the different card choices and the predominance of each. You may not want to target cards for an artifact-based combo build if you know it’s only 20% of total Mairsil builds and we finally have an algorithm to help us determine that. This is stuff you want to know, trust me.

First, access the page for a commander and make sure you’re displaying “view as commander” rather than “view as card”

Once you’re on the correct screen (I mean, I linked it but I’m trying to teach you nerds to fish so I’m trying to anticipate any mistakes that might throw you off so you know how to fix them without having to ask) scroll or glance over to the right.

The “theme selection” menu is new and it does some of the analytical work that can be very difficult otherwise. If it’s clear that certain builds are emerging, you can separate just the cards from those builds specifically. If you click on of those links, it takes you to a new page. Clicking “Artifact” takes you to a brand new page. Open both the general Mairsil page and also open the “artifact build” page and compare how the top and signature cards are different. Some of those artifact-based cards got buried because there was too much noise and not enough signal, but if you begin to isolate the cards that are specific to that build, a deck takes shape a lot better. This is more useful as a builder than as a financier, but it’s not entirely useless as a financier because Artifact combo-based builds (you generate infinite mana with Basalt Monolith and Staff of Domination after you use Quicksilver Elemental to give Mairsil the ability to have all of the activated abilities of itself to circumvent the “once per turn” clause of his own ability) are still a minority and therefore are less likely to spike card values than the basic, meat-and-potatoes “card advantage from lots of abilities” build. Also, any cards in common between both builds have as much upside as all Mairsil decks so you can invest like you did before when you just assumed that was the case for any card listed on the page ( we assumed that because we had to and now we don’t, so that’s better).

That said, I’m not going to isolate any particular build since the Artifact builds are currently so much in the minority that their signal gets lost in the noise already and any overlap cards won’t be missed. I think overlap cards are the most important, so let’s look at those in particular.

Quicksilver Elemental

This is pretty key in Mairsil builds because it allows you to circumvent the “only once per turn” clause on using abilities of cards with Cage counters on them. You give Mairsil all of the abilities he himself has and then he can use them with impunity. This doesn’t have much appeal outside of Mairsil decks but this will be in nearly every competent Mairsil build and I expect that to be a lot of decks. If the conventional wisdom is true that there are so many new EDH players that every foil Yomiji and White Sun’s Zenith is going to get snapped up, surely there are enough new EDH players to push a 14-year-old, pre-mythic rare above bulk. This is going to get played more than Patron Wizard and is just about as old. But, hey, this is going up based on what EDH players are actually playing and not what people who don’t play EDH think EDH players are going to play, so don’t expect this to hit the $18 Patron Wizard is at. I still think you scoop these at bulk, and do it soon since supply is beginning to quietly disappear. I bet this is $5 in a month or two, if not more. It’s actually good and actually super necessary.

Chainer, Dementia Master

I think other than Quicksilver Elemental, Shauku, Endbringer is the best thing to copy with Mairsil, but Shauku already went from 50 pennies to 50 dimes this week so that ship has already sailed and transformed into a treasure map or whatever stupid crap ships do these days. Chainer, though, is no slouch and you want your Mairsil to have this ability for sure. If something happens to Mairsil, you keep the Nightmares, which is pretty amazing. This is old enough that I think the increased use and the fact that Chainer is a pretty solid general in his own right that there is upside here. This has demonstrated an ability to flirt with the idea of $5 and a second spike could make that price stick, making people glad they bought in at $1.


This is a Reserved List card that must have gotten missed. If this goes up, I can’t wait for a bunch of tweets about how RL cards are going up for no reason despite this likely to go up due to being good in a deck that is good and also being pretty near a historic low. It’s trending back up anyway and I think of the three “lings” this is the only one I like. Aetherling and Torchling have lower buy-ins but I think there is too much supply for the demand from Mairsil to soak. This, meanwhile, is a reasonably-priced, playable, iconic Reserved List card. Iconic Masters wants to print this so bad and can’t. I think buy this and stay away from the cheaper ones that look like better targets and probably aren’t.

Wait, I said I wasn’t going to talk people out of cards so I don’t look dumb later when they get bought out anyway. Umm, OK. Here’s my new paragraph.

Jeepers! Morphling sure is expensive!!!1 That’s why you should buy Aetherling instead! It’s the same card almost but way cheaper! Buy foils because foils can’t get reprinted or something. Plus it’s good in Atraxa decks.

Tree of Perdition

This is about to rotate which means it could go down. Since rotation (September 28th) comes sooner than “Mairsil pushes playable cards up” (months from now) I would say to wait and see how much this falls at rotation, if at all. It’s a casual favorite and is pretty unfair as far as cards go so I expect this to regain value. Mairsil alone won’t be enough to push this back up if it falls at rotation, but casual appeal, its relative rarity, the fact that 60 card casual soaks up more than one copy and similar factors make this a good candidate for maintaining value and climbing over time. This isn’t quite a “dectuple overnight” like Shauku, but this was a good stand-in card for me to talk about rotation and you can use our logic here to apply to any card from Mairsil about to rotate, provided it’s a good casual card and at mythic. $3-$5 means this has room to fall but it has room to grow, also.

That does it for me. I think Mairsil is a great commander, good decks will be built with it and I think EDHREC’s commitment to continuing to make the data easier to parse will be a big help to us in the future. If you’re sick of hearing about EDHREC, include in the comments where you go to get EDH data and let us know how you analyze that data – if there are alternatives, it would be good to know that. Until then, keep selling into hype and buying into organic growth. I’m proud of you nerds. See you next week.





*if you can’t fill your article with The Pretenders references, at least reference Echo and the Bunnymen to make people born after 1990 feel cool if they get it

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Obviously Bad is Still Obvious

I don’t know what “Shotgun bullets” are but this came up when I googled “Obviously Bad”

I’ve been really overthinking things, I think.

When I assess new cards and their impact on the format, there are a lot of factors I take into consideration.

  1. How many decks currently run cards like this?
  2. Does this create a new archetype?
  3. Does this prop up an existing archetype?
  4. If it creates a new archetype, how much do we expect that to get played?
  5. If it supports an existing archetype, do we expect the new support to make more people play the existing archetype?
  6. If so, how much? Do we expect it to see enough new play to expose the cards played in that deck to upside?
  7. Is there enough demand in the format to expose in-print, non-mythics to upside?
  8. Could this get played in multiple different commanders’ decks and would the combined influence be enough to push the prices up?

There is a lot of thought that goes into each and every pick. Sometimes I’m wrong because a lot of factors have to come together for a pick to pan out.  If we misjudge demand, misjudge how a deck will get built (Remember all of those Clerics we bought when Ayli was spoiled? People say they want a Cleric lord, but when they get one, they leave us all high and dry. Never again!) or misjudge how much room we have in an existing deck for new cards, we can end up losing out. But we’re taking risks when we speculate on Magic cards, right? This is supposed to be hard and if it were easy to hit on 100% of our specs, everyone would be doing it!

It’s Not 2014 Anymore

The sad truth is that really, you CAN hit on 100% of your specs these days. If someone says the name of a card on their YouTube video, there’s a run on it. The card disappears. It seems to matter less to people whether a card is good or not because you’re not always necessarily selling to players, you’re selling into a feeding frenzy that starts when someone realizes “Oh man, you know what would go great in a kitty cat deck? White Sun’s Zenith! I mean, I assume, I haven’t actually seen any cards from the cat deck so I don’t know if there are any cards that grant a power and toughness bonus to cats (there is exactly 1, it’s a reprint and it costs 7 mana)” and ends when you sell all of the White Sun’s Zeniths I told you not to buy and call me an idiot on Twitter.

There are 4 foil copies of White Sun’s Zenith left on TCG Player, so obviously someone made some money. Even if they aren’t selling at $12 (they aren’t) there are few enough that whoever wants a foil copy basically has to pay $12 (unless they buy the SP copy from Star City for $3.50). What choice do they have? TCG Player is the site that determines the price of a card, and when all 3 copies under $50 sell, what other choice do we have for determining what the new price is? I’m not even really sure who I’m upset at here, because I bet some doofus pays $12 for Cape Fear’s LP copy before someone buys SCG’s copy for $3.50.  You want to know what else is great?

Zenith got reprinted because of course it did and the people who gambled on it before the lists were announced with the “Well, it can’t go down from bulk, what do I have to lose?” attitude I had in 2010 when I was terrible at this are holding the bag right now (they’re holding something else, really, but I’m trying to maintain a modicum of decorum right now). 1st level thinking is “I bet kitty cat card is good with kitty cats!” and 1st level thinking leaves you with cards you can’t move for $0.34. Second level thinking tells you “I bet kitty cat card is good in kitty cat deck AND foils can’t be reprinted, and if you bought foils, I’m sure you think I’m an idiot for calling you intellectually lazy because is it lazy two play 2 dimensional chess and buy foils that can’t get blown out by a reprint? IS IT?

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m getting worn out. I’m telling people not to buy bad cards and I’m putting a ton of work into figuring out whether a card is actually bad. Despite being in the cat deck, White Sun’s Zenith doesn’t really play well with the rest of the deck, except for Mirri, and the deck as is doesn’t really give you any bonuses to cats. You have to do a complete overhaul to make White Sun’s Zenith worth it, which is fine. Oh, also, you have to be a complete lunatic to buy a kitty cat precon and then build it a token build that isn’t supported by like 95 cards in the precon you bought and also start foiling it out. Do people buy EDH foils? Sure, obviously, or the foil multiplier would be like 1x but if you want to buy and sell more than like 4 copies of a card, you need to have enough demand to take those copies off of your hands and you can’t rely on a lot of doofuses to come along and buy you out at $8 so they can try and list them at $12 (at least historically, you couldn’t, I’m not so sure that’s not a legit tactic anymore). So either you buy 4 foil White Sun’s Zenith for like a buck each and then turn around and sell them for $6 later and you make $14 after fees, or you weren’t really right. I know it’s not easy to nail a spec. I only buy in deeply if I have a very, very good feeling about a spec (I’m talking Dictate of Erebos at $0.50 good feeling) and I buy in deep enough that I don’t waste it if I was right. If I had $14 for every time I nailed a spec, I’d have to start speccing on Yu Gi Oh, too or I wouldn’t be able to make my car payment every month. So all of that made me call people who bought mediocre cards with high reprint risk in foil to eliminate the reprint risk “lazy” because I don’t think you’re telling anyone anything useful if you’re advocating making $14. After all, I’m the tortured genius over here playing 3D chess. You know why I don’t care about that anymore? There’s no money in 3D chess.

Buy Everything

It barely matters at this point. There are so many greater fools ready to snatch up your cards, and so many people ready to build EDH decks that even if a combo is bad and only 2% of players will be bad enough to include it, that’s still thousands of people, way more than enough to soak up the supply.

Remember when I said bad interactions wouldn’t matter so don’t buy terrible cards part of terrible combos?

Here’s the TCG data for Bounty Hunter, a card that combines with the worst commander (Mathas) from the worst deck (the Vampires deck) to form a two card combination that could best be described as “the tap ability on Avatar of Woe.” Is that combo good? Of course not. Am I wrong for telling people not to buy Bounty Hunter because it was part of a terrible combo and it wouldn’t matter since no one wants to play bad cards part of bad combos? I guess so!

You know what caption goes here

So I’m not going to tell you not to buy bad cards from bad combos. The price goes up because there are enough actors in the market now that everything that gets breathed on will go up. You probably won’t have any trouble selling foil Turntimber Rangers in a week to the thousands of people lined up to build Turntimber combo in EDH and Modern because everyone knows EDH players love to foil their decks out. Buy as many foil Ranger as you can, you know why?

I straight jacked this image from /u/magictheblathering on reddit. Do I owe him money or something?

Wow, infinite wolves. Is it good? I don’t know! Who cares? I said Wanderwine Prophets was a bad combo, or at least it wasn’t any better than Sage of Hours plus Ezuri and people lined up 5 deep to tell me I was wrong. No one who isn’t holding onto a bunch of bad cards from a bad combo is ever going to thank me for steering them away from danger, so why pee on people’s parades? If I’m right, no one cares and if I’m wrong, everyone brings it up two years later in an unrelated debate. Even though Conspiracy and Xenograft have been around for literal years and no one ever built this combo with those cards, I have a good feeling about this combo’s ability to make Turntimber Ranger’s price go through the roof, because Magic players weren’t playing 2D chess in 2011 and didn’t know a good thing when they saw Xenograft get printed (In the same Standard format as Turntimber Ranger) but they’re way smarter now. Buy the foily Rangers.

I Mean, Or Don’t

This brings us to the main topic of discussion this week, how to handle the stuff that’s inevitably going to be affected by the Planeswalkers becoming Legendary permanents. I’ve been a real pessimist since the start of Commander 2017 spoiler season.

Months ago, a bunch of Ixalan cards leaked and people have been speculating that the Planeswalker rules change would be retroactive to older Planeswalkers and months ago speculators bought cards like Captain Sisay and Empress Galina. This happened months ago. We were in Vegas for the GP when this happened. You’ll have to pardon my surprise when all of those cards came into focus again and players started talking about all of this like it was new, and the cards all went up again, based on the exact same information.

I’ve seen cards go up again based on the same thing happening again, but I’m not used to seeing it happen again based on the same information months later. I was taken aback. Naturally the internet exploded with people talking about this stuff like it was new.


Captain Sisay is already at the helm of her own deck that people have been playing for like a decade in EDH and now players are already talking about slotting her into Atraxa. Doesn’t this make you want to build Sisay? Before you could grab Gaea’s Cradle or Genesis with Sisay’s ability, but now you can grab AJANI, MENTOR OF HEROES. I mean, if I’m actually being fair, you can grab Karn which is non-trivial, especially if you can use Cradle to play it right away, but for the most part, Sisay just got access to a bunch of bad planeswalkers and 4 good ones and Sisay is likely relegated to the 99 of Atraxa rather than her own deck which gained limited upside. But I’m not making judgments about whether things are good anymore, so here are some cards that everyone else thinks are good and therefore are going to sell out and if I say they’re bad cards that won’t get played in bad decks, I’ll be proven wrong, doubly so if I don’t think the foils are a good place to stash money. It’s perfectly reasonable for a person with a $4,000 foil Atraxa deck to play Yomiji, Who Bars the Way because EDH players don’t care about playing the best cards in their decks, only the most expensive versions.

Is this card getting played in Sisay and Atraxa decks? I really tend to doubt it, but it scarcely matters because all of the $5 foils are gone 24 hours after the announcement (which came months after people already knew this information but didn’t really act on it).

Saffron Olive called this card a “Sol Ring for Planeswalkers” on Twitter today, 24 hours after I called it “A situational Temple of the False God,” Jim Casale called it “Worse than the Ancient Tomb I’m already not playing” and I did a Twitter poll where 2/3 of respondants said they wouldn’t play this in anything other than Reki, the History of Kamigawa because why would you want a land that sometimes lets you pay 2 life for 2 colorless but can’t tap for 1 colorless in a 4 color Atraxa deck? I screwed up. While I was too busy wasting a whole day figuring out that this card was bad and even the Reki players in my EDHREC Slack group wouldn’t play this card, everyone was scooping these for a buck and listing them for $12 on eBay. If you listened to me, you missed out on the chance to make money on just a real piece of dog$%&* of a bulk rare that people who don’t play any EDH are excited about. It’s a Sol Ring for Planeswalkers, guys. I steered you wrong.

Is there anything that hasn’t popped that could go up, still? Probably.

Thalia’s Lancers

The promo foil of this hurts the foil’s upside, slightly, but you can now use this to tutor for Planeswalkers, something you couldn’t do before. I liked this card when it couldn’t do that so I can’t pretend I don’t like it now just because the non-foil has a 0% chance of going up.

Myojin of Cleansing Fire

If people build more Sisay decks like they swear they’re going to, this is a shoo-in inclusion in those decks. It’s not a Planeswalker which means being able to use Sisay to get this isn’t new, but couple the new Sisay decks that are going to be built with the face that there is a card called Kindred Boon that can put Divinity counters on permanents and you have two chances for this card to go up. I’m not saying this card is good, I’m saying it’s like a $6 foil right now and it probably goes up if I tell you not to buy it.

Myojin of Life’s Web

Ditto on foils of this card, which were already on their way up. $13ish is a high buy-in price but this had upside before and has even more now if people build Sisay.

Every Pirate

With the spoiling of a new Grixis Pirate Lord, every Ramirez DiPetro and Skeleton Ship deck gets access to red cards, something I’m not sure it wants or needs but is getting. Every pirate card is popping off right now, so if there is a card with the creature type pirate, but it. Kukemasa Pirates, Rishadan Brigand, Mistform Ultimus – buy them.


I honestly need your feedback. Do you want me to keep trying to figure out of cards or combos are bad? Do you want me to do what I had been doing for years and being cautious and waiting to see if something had legs before advocating it? Or do you want me to be fast so you can buy the obvious specs everyone else is going to buy before they’re all gone? Maybe you don’t need help with obvious, but it’s clear I’m not doing anyone any favors by spending all day determining a card is bad and won’t get played only for it to sell out anyway. Tell me what you want from me and from this series in the comments section.

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