Category Archives: Jason Alt

Who is Conspiracy and What does He Do?

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I was on record being pretty displeased about Eternal Masters. The set basically threatens to tank a lot of Legacy cards that players had invested a lot of money in while simultaneously making Reserved List cards like Underground Sea unattainable. It won’t make Legacy more accessible but it will drain the value out of most of the cards in Legacy players’ collections and concentrate them in a few cards they may or may not own.

Last week we went over the cards that are EDH-playable and also on the Reserved List which therefore have a lot of exposure to upside. Some of the cards we discussed have started to go up already, namely Null Rod, City of Traitors and Serra’s Sanctum. They went up a lot. Legacy saw people start to jam Eldrazi in that format which is disappointing because it goes to show that WotC learned precisely nothing from the Affinity disaster over a decade ago. Cards that aren’t needed to fight Eldrazi will go up over time because Reserved List cards just tend to do that so I basically wrote an article where every shot I called will go up eventually and some have already spiked hard, making me look like a genius. If I get any better at this, I’ll be able to call cards after they go up and still have people congratulate me. What can I say? I’m that goulah.

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No, I don’t know what the hell he meant

How goulah I am (very) aside, what do I talk about this week? It’s really hard to top an article where you got 100% of your picks correct (you know, eventually) and I don’t want to phone this one in, resting on my laurels. Maybe we should talk about a call I got super wrong. Namely, the time on Brainstorm Brewery (the podcast you should all be listening to every week) that I said Eternal Masters wasn’t really necessary because you could just do a second Conspiracy set this year and put more Legacy reprints in that set.

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Was this not a fair assumption to make? We had alternated Modern Masters -> Conspiracy -> Modern Masters for 3 years and that’s enough data points to consider a trend. The announcement of Eternal Masters seemed to preclude another Conspiracy. After all, how could they do both in the same “slot” that was reserved for the summer set? True, we’re not doing core sets anymore, but we’ll still have Eternal Masters, Conspiracy 2, an FTV, Commander 2016 and Eldritch Moon in the same 3 month period. What are we supposed to buy? Well, Wizards is banking on people thinking “not everything is for me” and only buying what they care about. This is a silly way to stack sets –  so silly that I absolutely assumed Eternal Masters was going to replace Conspiracy 2. And in a way, I think maybe it is.

What’s Conspiracy going to look like next year? We can start to look at some unsafe cards and shift our money elsewhere and we can start to look at which cards will get cheaper, enabling more people to access certain archetypes. There’s no question that cheaper Exploration helped EDH deck builders, for example, and there are a lot of ripples in the pond we can analyze from that one big splash. Let’s look at some numbers from the last Conspiracy set.

The last Conspiracy set had 210 cards and I expect a similar number of cards this time around. Of the 210 cards, 65 of them were brand new cards and 13 conspiracy cards. Of those 65 new cards, a whopping 20 of them were rare. Of the 10 mythics, 4 were new cards, all of them pretty saucy including Dack Fayden, a Vintage-playable card whose foil price is pretty bugnutty. If we can expect similar numbers for the next Conspiracy set, we’re in for some great new commanders like Selvala, Marchesa and Brago were last time around. That’s fun but not knowing exactly which new cards we’re going to get doesn’t tell us much. Instead, I want to look at what happened to the prices of the cards that were reprinted last time around to see if we can project the impact of a new Conspiracy set.

Some of the cards were reprinted last time because their prices were out of control from speculation (Edric) or were high because of a ton of EDH use (Exploration) or high because of a decent amount of use in Legacy (Stifle, Misdirection) or for weird, nostalgia purposes (Spiritmonger). Honestly, the set was weird and weird isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

How much Legacy needs to be in Conspiracy 2? They knew they were doing Eternal Masters at the same time they knew they were doing Conspiracy 2 (I have to assume since they’re coming out at the same time and it usually takes a given amount of time to make a set) so they had to know that Eternal Masters could take a lot of pressure off of the Legacy and Vintage cards they’d need to put in Conspiracy. This doesn’t tell us as much as you think because the Commander 2016 sets coming out not long after these two sets will remove some of the impetus to reprint Commander cards. What to make of all of this? Will there be more casual cards that don’t have an obvious home like Spiritmonger and Mirari’s Wake? Will we have a Conpsiracy set that’s very similar in scope and composition to the last one? Will Eternal Masters have any EDH-playables like Modern Masters did or will it focus on Legacy and Vintage staples? All of these are great questions. The only thing I do know is what happened to the cards that were reprinted last time around, so let’s look at those.

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Before I remind you when Conspiracy 1 was printed, see if you can guess by looking at the graph. I bet you can guess.

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June of 2014. The price drop was pretty profound, which surprised me a tiny bit seeing as how fugly the art on the Conspiracy copies is. Brought down from nearly $50 to its current $13ish, this was a major casualty. Somehow not on the Reserved List (they needed to make room for Zephid and Herald of Serra, I guess) they were free to reprint this card and reprint it they did. This was good for EDH players and good for people who like to sell cards and didn’t have any of these in stock. Reducing the price to a third of its former glory but giving us a foil copy in exchange which is merely twice the cost of the Saga non-foil (could that be the correct multiplier? ) this reprint was pretty bloody but ultimately pretty satisfying for people who wanted to give this a try in EDH. It’s also in Legacy Enchantress but I doubt that was as much of an impetus for the reprinting although overlap is always good for price recovery. I would put the odds of this being in Conspiracy 2 pretty low but nothing would surprise me. Being able to ramp in a 4-player free-for-all can be the difference between life and death.

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Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This is roughly the same cross-format overlap (although Summer Bloom’s nerfing makes this less applicable in Modern – but did they know that when they made this set?), does roughly the same thing and is at roughly the same price point as Exploration was. Whether they’re going to want to shift the reprint toward spells because they’re printing a lot of new creatures, I can’t say. If I were designing this set, though, I’d probably jam Azusa in there. I doubt Eternal Masters wants a Modern/EDH card like this, I doubt they want a $40 card in the Commander 2016 decks and I doubt I’m right about this being in  Conspiracy 2. Still, this feels analogous and I really wouldn’t be surprised. They’re at their peak in price but not desirability, so this slight chance of a reprint is just reason number, like, 480 to buylist these if you got in before the major jump.

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How did they see this price spike coming? It started basically when they started work on the set and this card got ridiculous before the end. A $50 sideboard card isn’t good for any format and this reprint pulled the pants off of Stifle. A reduction in demand probably had a bit to do with the decline, but this is still a very powerful card. Canadian Thresh decks which basically became RUG Delver were maindecking this card for a while because it was a stone rain against fetches and stopped all kinds of nonsense from their delver flipping to modular to their Jitte getting counters. It’s less useful now and there are a lot more copies out there. Stifle took a beating from this reprinting – you can get the (ugly) Conspiracy versions for like $3.

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This doesn’t do close to what Stile did in terms of how the card plays, and this isn’t a $50 card like Stifle pretended to be for a while, but Bribery is about the price Stifle was when they got to work on Conspiracy. This sees less Legacy play but this is very good in 4 player Limited, it’s great in EDH, it’s not as likely to get printed in Commander 2016 since they’re doing multicolored decks this time around and this card is VERY blue. $16ish isn’t super oppressive in terms of price, but if these were $5 I’d buy $30 worth for my decks and I won’t spend $30 on two of them, now. The price isn’t going down any other way and EDH will always love this card. Again, this is just the card I’d put in if I were making the set. I’m not saying hurry up and sell these if you have them, but the price isn’t going up soon but could go down. I don’t like the risk.

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This was the second reprinting this card got and it was enough. The price was cut in half. I like the original art the best but no one else seems to care as much because the Shadowmoor and Tempest versions are nearly identical in price. This might have climbed some more and seemed to have mostly recovered from the Shadowmoor reprinting. EDH demand is going to increase on this card based on the new rules changes but we’re not expecting to see a jump anytime soon. Besides, this could get another reprinting which basically doesn’t matter at this point.

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Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

This one’s ballsy

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This would likely be thrown in at mythic, but I will be very surprised if we go through Eternal Masters and Conspiracy 2 and don’t see a reprinting of Cavern. It’s a card that needs to be inexpensive and it’s just as good in casual as it is in competitive. This is a card I went after very hard for $20 when it was first printed and expected it to hit $50 and was very pleased when it finally did.

This is a card that needs a reprinting and is going to get one, soon. This is when you sell these and if you’re still holding these when it’s reprinted, you’re going to be sorry. I don’t like holding onto this hot potato and I urge you to ship.

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This was a brutal reprinting and no one ever really talked about the price trajectory here. We saw a profound drop over 6 months but it seemed relatively unperturbed initially so everyone thought this wasn’t quite the slaughter it ended up being. P Deed is around $5 which is great for EDH players and bad for people who had money tied up in P Deed. Are you good with the amount of analysis I did here?

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This is already on its way down, but it’s still a little pricey for EDH players for what it does and it could be a staple removal spell because it solves every problem. Ayli and Daxos are very popular EDH Commanders right now, and a $5 Vindicate seems good. Unmake is getting play and Vindicate being a sorcery hurts it a bit, but being able to get rid of Reliquary Tower or Serra’s Sanctum seems worth it. P Deed is an old school card that solves EDH problems and Vindicate feels like it could get that spot. The declining price of Vindicate right now is as much an impetus to sell quickly as the reprint risk, however. I’m just picking analogous cards, not trying to tell you how to manage your collection.

Conspiracy 2 is going to be a good set. It’s going to give Cube players nifty cards that affect the way players draft, which is amazing. It’s going to give us new EDH generals and staples, which we appreciate. It’s going to reduce some high-priced cards the way the first Conspiracy did. Most of all, it’s going to give my critics another thing I got wrong to point to. I’m fine with all of that

 

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Going Deep in EDH with Eternal Masters

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that Eternal Masters was announced this week. This is going to be one of the most significant MTG Finance events of 2016 so we can’t pretend we won’t be affected, can we? Legacy as we know it is going to change as staples like Force of Will and Wasteland go down in price (We know this because these cards were announced) and cards like Underground Sea go up in price. And why not? Cards that aren’t safe from reprint could easily be in the set and their prices as volatile and unknown while Reserved List cards are safe from reprint and therefore subject to price increases based on increased confidence from buyers. We’re already seeing consequences of the announcement and at the time of writing this piece, it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

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Underground Sea is STARTING at $300. Who knows what we’ll be paying in a few weeks? How could this happen? More importantly, are there decks that don’t need duals and other crazy Reserved List cards to work in Legacy?

Well, I don’t care about that last question. Let other nerds write articles about decks that don’t need Reserved List cards. We are interested in EDH cards and if the Reserved List overlaps with cards we want, we’d better get them sooner rather than later. I wrote about EDH/Eternal overlap last week and while I’d like to write about something entirely different this week, I’m not gonna. We should look at cards that overlap Legacy and EDH, but this time with respect to the Reserved List specifically because Legacy is about to change and we don’t want EDH to get left behind. Are there cards that see play in both formats that could go up? Probably. Let’s look.

The Reserved List

This is a list of cards WotC has promised it won’t reprint. It is in their legal best interest to abide by the promise and a lot of us have money tied up in cards that would be hurt financially by a breaking of this promise. Put simply, this list is a way for us to have some confidence in our investments in older cards so we can avoid another situation like Chronicles where reprints pantsed prices on a lot of cards and undermined confidence in the rest. While some cards on this list are baffling (I’m looking at you, Sorrow’s Path) what we have is a good list to base future buys off of. A lot of the cards on this list aren’t EDH-playable, but the ones that are can be relied on to go up in value, steadily due to the fact that they can’t have their value hurt by a future reprint. There isn’t a huge sense of urgency on every card, though, so the impetus of this article is to identify the cards that could go up if interest in Legacy increases the way they expect it to with the advent of Eternal Masters.

The obvious first cards to discuss are Legacy Dual Lands.

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These are all bound to go up. Force of Will will likely go down or stay the same in value but people who have Force of Will for the first time by virtue of picking up Eternal Masters packs will want to build Legacy deck(s) and they’ll need these. Not only that, speculators are already going after these, hard. Since a non-zero number of EDH players pack these, it’s worth watching. Grab the ones you need now because supplies are drying up.

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Geyser is a great way to use X colorless mana, although players tend to use Blue Sun’s Zenith more, this is a card that could see a bump. Zenith tends to  get Legacy play more as well, and three printings of this limit its upside farther.

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At $7 for its cheapest printing can attest, this card is actual money. Used in a significant number of artifact-based decks like Sharuu, this also sees play in Tezzerator Legacy decks and has been creeping up steadily for a while. It’s always been a good pick, but its reserved list status can only help its upside.

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Fringe EDH play and Fringe Legacy play combined could spell upside for a card that has held steady in price but could go up in a Tezz deck in the new Legacy, especially if someone figures out how to cut down on the number of expensive Underground Sea in the deck.

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On the other hand, this is fringe EDH and mainstream Legacy, but those fringe EDH decks better get their copies while they can.

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This is useful in decks like Zedruu and Legacy Enchantress both. At $300ish this is a high buy-in but I feel like soon $300 may seem like a bargain. I don’t know how much money there is to be made here, but I’d feel remiss if I ignored it.

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This is part of an obscure combo that hasn’t seen much play lately, but this is a card that sees play in decks like The Mimeoplasm as well. There is upside here and with this card having already demonstrated the ability to be $5 and the copies being concentrated in the hands of dealers making a second spike easier, I think this could be a winner.

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Nekusar decks as well as Hellbent decks want this little trinket which is too bad since Legacy has made this a $120 card already and threatens to take it even higher. This is a card you may want to eschew in EDH if you can since you don’t have that luxury in Legacy.

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This gets more EDH play than you might expect and its current pricetag is on the low end of historical date, which I don’t expect to hold since Eldrazi Mimic has made this a much more attractive target. Stiflenought is a real deck and with 4 more ways to make this a savage 1-drop, this has real upside. This can be $40 again and you want to be holding when it gets there.

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A long-time sideboard staple is making a splash in decks like Gaddock Teeg and other “Uh uh, you didn’t say the magic word” type decks in EDH as well. This is a card that we may see on creatures or other ways to avoid making a straight-up functional reprint that violated the Reserved List but it’s unlikely we see a card as perfect and perfectly-costed as this. This is at a historical high but that doesn’t mean it will never be higher.

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This is a card that has demonstrated an ability to be $10+ and is super good at shutting down creature strategies. Its toughness means it’s relatively easy to remove and Abrupt Decay being everywhere doesn’t help and you still have to find a way to kill them with this card out there, but don’t be discouraged. This is a solid card and EDH wants it as well as Legacy. This could be $10 again and you will be glad you paid $3. When Merfolk and other beatface decks prevail rather than decks like Sneak and Show, this is a real card and Eldrazi cards showing their head in Legacy to an extent show that people may be swinging with creatures more in the future. Keep this in mind.

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Speaking of Eldrazi in Legacy, this budget Workshops is a real mana generator and it is no slouch in EDH, either. Anything that generates this much mana is bound to turn heads and this card is creeping up on its own. Any nod it gets from Legacy will send it upward.

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Aluren itself isn’t the limiting factor in the eponymous deck, it’s Imperial Recruiter that keeps this deck that can kill people with Lobber Crew if you want (I want) from being played more. This spiked before when Recruiter was announced as a Judge printing and while a dealer or two who had advanced knowledge acted on this and bought all of the Alurens out, this play is largely acknowledged as a huge failure and brought up a a cautionary tale regarding buyouts. The good news is that failed buyout concentrated copies of Aluren in the hands of dealers meaning the price will stay higher for longer if the card spikes again. If Imperial Recruiter ends up in Eternal Masters, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t, Aluren becomes a very affordable and fun deck to play and Aluren itself with its Reserved List status will only go up, possibly back to the $30 a few people thought they were going to get a few years ago.

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When I bought a bunch of these at $10, I expected to make more money than I did. I didn’t lose money here but I wasn’t happy with how  I did. I could do better.This card could do better. This card will likely do better if Show and Tell decks persist. Sneak Attack and/or Show and Tell being printed in EM could drive popularity up and this is a great board card in those matchups as well as a nasty card for enchantment EDH decks. All in all I like this card a lot, even at its current price.

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This has always been a fine card and people wanting to jam this with Hedron Alignment in Legacy won’t make the price go down, that’s for sure. This does a lot of work in EDH and this price tag is at a historic low for the last few years. All signs pointing to this being a pretty tasty spec.

UntitledWhy did this card ever stop being $20? The deck is still fine, it lets you run out a very early Omnipotence, it makes cards like Conflux playable and it’s great in EDH. This can be $20 again and the current buy-in is pretty tasty for that contigency.

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If you want this for EDH, I think now is a good time to pick this up. Its price plateauing is predicated on Legacy demand staying the same. How long do you think that will last? This won’t be in Eternal Masters but will be in decks going forward. This is also an EDH staple and just does a ton of work. This price will be higher soon and if you buy now, you’ll be glad you did, I imagine.

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This card demonstrated the ability to hit $100 and I think it can get there again, especially since the first spike concentrated copies in the hands of dealers meaning copies won’t come out of the woodwork to bring the price down. This taps for 2 mana, and 2 true colorless mana at that. Sounds good to me.

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I wish I had been writing this column back in 2013 when they changed the Legend rule so I could have written an article about how Cradle and Mox Opal were getting better with the ability to play a second copy and sac the tapped copy giving you more mana on that turn. Legacy players got the message, then Elves took off in Legacy and even Vintage got in on the act, running Cradle in some shops builds since it’s not restricted in that format. This price isn’t going down as more people join Legacy, is it? EDH demand will keep the price high and this is a perfect crossover example.

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I told you to buy this at $30, I don’t know what more I can do. Legacy Enchantress is a deck and will continue to be a deck. Add how good this is with the new Daxos and you have a crossover card that could give Gaea’s Cradle a run for its money. I mean, no it won’t, but it could. Either way, this was a good buy at $30 and I’m not sure it’s the worst buy at $50, even. Imagine that.

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Rector? Damn near killed ‘er!

This list is, in my estimation, the cards that are EDH-playable and could be impacted by increased Legacy play. The Reserved List ensures they can’t be printed in Eternal Masters and when the cards that get played alongside them go up, we can expect to see some sweet gains.

There are other Reserved List EDH goodies but since they aren’t played in Legacy, I decided to leave them alone since there is no urgency in their price. Events are what drive prices up, and more Legacy demand is an event. It remains to be seen how many of these cards go up, but since they aren’t likely to go down, all of them should go up eventually.

That does it for me this week. Stay tuned next week where we’ll likely have some other insane event to discuss. A new format? New cards? Anything can happen with this wacky children’s card game.

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Double the Exposure, Double the Puns

Hello, readers!

You are probably wondering why you didn’t get an article out of me last week. There’s a very simple explanation for that – I didn’t write one. I fully intended to, I was even looking forward to talking about more EDH goodness and to encourage those of you who are ProTrader members to hit the forums more often. There are a lot of single card discussions being generated about Standard and Modern cards but nothing really for EDH. Are our cards not worth money? Do they not gain? Prick them, do they not bleed? Well, OK, EDH picks aren’t sentient, but they’re worth discussing and if you’re a ProTrader, hit the forums and help me get some EDH pick discussions going. If we’re good I can see about adding our own category just for EDH picks. We’re people too, dammit.

So since I had a lot to talk about last week, why didn’t I? Well, the answer is pretty simple – I was somewhat preoccupied. I write these on a Monday and last Monday at 3:11 AM my wife and I summoned our first Planeswalker. We named her Liliana, which I realize is a basic baby name at this point. “What’s wrong, Jason? Was the hospital gift shop out of ‘Khaleesi’ license plates so you audibled?” Look, in my defense, there’s a bit of a story behind it. Basically, every name my wife liked was terrible. Like… terrible. One a scale from 1-10, the names were “If you name a boy like that, they will have to remove the underwear from his asscrack surgically.” I’m kind of glad we didn’t have a boy because she likes the name “Rowan.” Not like the Magic card, that’s “Rowen,” but like this guy.

Hello, ladies
Hello, ladies

Not happening. Her picks for girl’s names weren’t much better, frankly. I mentioned Liliana and she actually liked it. It was basically the only girl’s name we can agree on. Are there a lot of nerds naming their kids after Magic Planeswalkers these days? Yes, I guess there are. But there aren’t any in my town and she’ll be the only one in her class with that name and I can live with that. Those who think I lack originality should remember they picked their kid’s name out of a book and if you make fun of my daughter’s name within her earshot, she’ll make you discard a card. My kid is the best.

Lili

Temporary disruptions to my writing schedule aside (my sleep schedule is permanently disrupted, but I was on standup comedian time anyway, so it didn’t take much) we have some stuff to discuss, so let’s, you know, do that.

Exposure

I’m a chemist by training, so I think in those terms sometimes. It isn’t always relevant to MTG Finance, but in one way I think it can be. As an EDH financier, I like to make calls that are a ways off. First of all, outside of new sets making profound things happen, most of our calls are long-term, slow-burn (what am I, Styx?) cards. For every Sage of Hours shooting up overnight because of Ezuri, we have 10 Primal Vigors, chugging away because fewer are being opened and more are being jammed in decks because Primal Vigor is very good. We could transition into a discussion about a spike versus a correction versus inevitable price increase based on supply and demand but this isn’t that kind of article. I’m even going to talk about specific cards in a minute so hold onto your hats, nerds. Thinking about how EDH cards increase in price got me thinking about the concept of upside and upside got me thinking about chemistry.

Exposure is a word I like to use in relation to upside. The more upside a card is exposed to, the more chances it has to go up. Think about it – which card is exposed to more upside, Mutavault or Sliver Hive? The cards play very differently but they also behave very differently. Mutavault was a juggernaut of a card and if it hadn’t gotten reprinted, it would have continued to climb in price. Any cool tribal card can give Mutavault (or maybe this $7 beauty)

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some upside whereas only cool new Slivers have a chance to do anything to the price of Sliver Hive. This is one way to think about how much more upside Mutavault is exposed to. The price reflects not only the disparity in utility but also in the different strategies Mutavault boosts (it doesn’t suck as a vanilla stand-in for Mishra’s Factory, either) even though in a Sliver EDH deck, Mutavault is pretty meh and Hive is pretty outstanding.

Grubbs

When I was an undergraduate, one of the last projects I worked on was Grubb’s Catalyst, a catalyst for which Robert Grubbs was awarded a Nobel Prize. Grubbs’ catalyst is special because it helps certain chemical structures undergo a process where closed ring structures like you see on the left become more “open” structures like the one on the right. I’m super oversimplifying (if you want to learn more about ROMP there are good resources out there) but the gist of it is, this catalyst can make closed ring structures which exist discretely as their own little unit open the rings which creates two bonding sites where there used to be 0. Suddenly these rings can be chained together where they previously could not. The difference in potential between a closed ring and a structure that has a huge increase in new bonding sites is gigantic and that’s why this catalyst’s discovery was worthy of a Nobel prize. More bonding sites means more exposure to potential “upside” if you really stretch the metaphor.  I think about EDH cards that have potential to affect Modern or maybe even Legacy the same way.

Let’s go back to a card I mentioned above, a card that sold out so fast that some sites are still telling our algorithm that it’s $1.

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This was growing. If you picked these up at $0.50 you’re really glad today but you were even glad last week when some sites had them at $2. A quadruple up is never a bad thing, after all. Tribal stuff in fun in EDH and casual and new, good tribal cards get printed in every block. This card was going to climb steadily and those $0.50 investors would have felt great when this hit $3 later this year.

Was Descendants’ Path a good spec? Yes, of course. Almost all tribal stuff is and we have EDH and casual to thank for that. If you bought in at $0.50 and outed them for $1.50 to a buylist you’d clear some real money after fees if you bought in deep enough. Best of all, these were very easy to trade for and I got these in bulk all the time.

What took this from a good spec to a great spec was people playing it with tribal eldrazi in Modern. All of a sudden people were flipping an Emrakul off of the top way too early because Eldrazi can cost 0 mana these days. Turn that 0-drop Mimic into a 15/15 and threaten lethal, all because of Descendants’ durdly Path. When Modern players decide to start doing the kind of unfair stuff we do in EDH, they’re going to need our cards and we’re happy to sell them to them, provided we were invested first. Modern playability exposed Path to a ton of upside and that paid dividends this weekend.

It wasn’t just tribal cards, either.

Modern Price Trends

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Hope you got your copy for your Daxos deck, because this went from about $3.50 to about $35.00 over the weekend. Multiple printings made this a real risky gainer and the fact that you have to keep it and creatures around made it a tough way to stay alive in EDH, but this was always a solid card. Would it have gone up over time as a result of EDH and casual play? Maybe, but I didn’t like the price trend of “super flat for like a decade” enough to include it in the same breath as Daxos when I wrote about Daxos a half dozen times or so between here, Gathering Magic and spoiler coverage. It is a good card (good enough that I bought multiple copies of an Urza’s Saga precon to make sure I had multiple copies for my white weenie deck back in 1998) but kind of wasn’t going anywhere – until you factor in the Pro Tour. Suddenly the card is sold out and Modern, not EDH or casual, got it there.

So what are some other EDH-tier cards that could get a second look based on things happening in Modern?

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All kinds of exposure in this article

Expose evil is an okay card in Limited but nothing special. What is relevant is an artifact token that can be used not only to draw a card, but also, as one excited redditor puts it, to build an archetype around.

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This is a bulk rare right now and with any amount of upside from turning investigation tokens into Blightsteel Colossus this could be a real card. It’s old enough that cards in this set are valuable. Personally, if a deck with 4 Polymorph and 4 Shape Anew to get Blightsteel wasn’t doing it before, this won’t make it happen in Modern. Polymorph is just better because it can get Eldrazi and make the game end a lot faster and I don’t know about this. Still, if anyone builds the deck, this bulk rare has some upside. Even though I’m not excited at the prospect of this as a spec given the clunkiness of builds like this which already exist and are already clunky, EDH and Modern both influence the future of this card rather than just EDH like for a card like Rite of Replication (I mean, for now). This is a good thought exercise to get us looking at EDH playables (My Sharuum loves Shape Anew for funsies) that are also fringe Modern playables.

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Jor Kadeen’s right-hand man here has a decently-high buyin price to be sure, but also has a lot of playability in both formats. The Puresteel deck is fun but is a known quantity although it’s a bit of a Dr Dre right now – not gone but forgotten. That is, until someone got people excited again.

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Top 8 at SCG Regionals isn’t exactly on-camera Day 2 of the PT, but it’s online and it’s exciting. While this isn’t necessarily a home run, it’s also a fringe-playable card that has upside based on two different formats. EDH seems to print new equipment and new Kor to wield them in both regular sets and supplementary product with relative regularity and Modern having a deck (though what Tier?) means it gets bought as a 4-of by people playing that deck. Again, whether or not this is a spec I’d spend money on remains to be seen, but what is clear is that this kind of thing makes cards spike hard overnight and being able to see them coming by checking fringe decks like this helps you buy ahead of time. People who buy ahead of time don’t get their orders cancelled. People who buy ahead of time have copies in hand to list at the new price when the card spikes and people are panic buying.

Broken Stuff

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We’re used to doing broken stuff in EDH. Modern is so unused to truly broken plays that  they see fit to keep Emrakul legal, a card that is no fun for EDH because of how many lives it ruins and how easy it is to get into play in EDH. A steady gainer (until the reprint absolutely pantsed it) like Eldrazi Temple is a great EDH spec until another reprint takes it down or something like this happens. Both are somewhat likely which is why MTG Finance has risks. But when Modern starts looking to do broken stuff, they’ll be coming to EDH, not standard for their goodies. We knew about Goryo’s Vengeance and we loved it, but Modern made it the price it is today. What else could be fringe playable in Modern and suddenly become as broken there as it is in EDH?

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Could this see the $5 it once was again? EDH can make this climb a bit but it’s not going to send it into the $10 range the way Modern could.

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Imagine my delight when my favorite EDH spec was mentioned as a way to deal with Eldrazi in Modern. I’ve been on this since they were a buck or two and I’ve got a pile going that will make me very happy if Modern makes this a $10 card, but I could also just wait a few years for EDH to hopefully make it hit the same mark. Either I win big by getting lucky or win as big over a longer time by being smart. Either way, looking at cross-format playability is a surefire way to make some money.

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Next time you see a card that is talked about in Standard like it has potential bottom out, think about it. EDH is going to make this card gain over time. You have a minimal investment, virtually-assured growth due to power level and all the time in the world to watch this grow. You also have a non-zero chance of something making this go insane in Modern and all of a sudden you dectuple up on every copy. EDH will make you money, Modern can make you money. Put the two together and get some real work done.

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How is Removal Like the Wu-Tang Clan?

Last week, we talked about the changes to the rules of EDH and how those changes can affect prices. A major event like a significant banning and a significant change to how the color identity rules work coupled in the same announcement gives us an embarrassment of information and led to some pretty significant price changes, as we all predicted.

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Foil Sen Triplets shot up $30 over a week ago from where it was hovering around $40 to the $70 people are trying to charge on TCGplayer now. Most of the smaller retail sites are out of copies and the excitement about how much fun this card is going to be to play seems to be responsible. This was something we predicted would happen last week and it happened very quickly.

Similarly, Seedborn Muse was roughly a $15 card last week and it’s sold out nearly everywhere online as people rush to plug the hole left in their deck by Prophet of Kruphix. Seedborn Muse is not even half as good as Prophet and its price won’t hold, but people are going to try anyway. Something like $27 to $30 seems to be the growing rate and if history is to be believed, the price should stabilize between the pre-spike price of $15 and the post-spike price of $30. $22.50 is still a lot to pay for a card that doesn’t even give your creatures flash. If Muse were that good in that spot, people would have been playing it already alongside Prophet. This was predictable as well.

Now that the dust seems to have settled and we’re thinking about which decks to build in the future and which cards we want to include in those decks, we should address something that is rarely discussed for some odd reason.

People love to talk about what they want their EDH deck to do. They make a pile of a ton of cards that can go in the deck that might accomplish the goal and set about the nearly impossible task of paring the deck down to just 99 cards plus a commander. This is a decent way to build a deck, except that it ignores something pretty fundamental that people who don’t play a ton of one-on-one EDH forget sometimes: other players exist. That is to say, they’re trying to do stuff and you should probably try and stop them from doing their thing so that when you do your thing, you win. Planning an epic Insurrection is cool unless some guy makes infinite mana with Palinchron (another card we predicted would spike, remember?) and kill you before you even get the mana to do it.

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Why trifle with other formats when EDH is so predictable?

You need to devote space in your deck to dealing with what they do, and while this isn’t a deckbuilding column (mostly because I told you how I build decks in the last paragraph even though I essentially just mocked people who build that way in the same paragraph), we should consider putting removal and cards that stuff their strategies into our decks. If everyone does that, we can make some money predicting the cards they’ll use.

Some of the stuff that is good removal is always going to be good removal and the prices of those cards are going to reflect that.

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I was expecting the price of this card to be relatively stable to help me prove my point but this does the opposite. I had to shift the axes of this graph because this was like $35 at some point. Who knows why these things happen? The point is, Legacy monkeys with this from time to time, but this is basically always going to be a solid EDH spell that green decks should run. You stop them and they can’t stop you from stopping them. Seems solid.

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It took a few Commander reprints to drag this foil kicking and screaming away from the $25 mark. Am I showing you declining cards because I don’t know how to structure an argument? No, I want to prove the point that obvious removal is sometimes going to stagnate. What we want to be thinking about is how the new strategies brought about by new cards work. We know how they work so we should be able to dismantle them.

Most of this  series has discussed new events and how to buy ahead of the people building to make those work, but we should also think about how to buy ahead of the people who are going to get sick of losing to that strategy. We knew that Eldrazi Displacer was going to push cards like Palinchron up, right? How do we beat that?

Shut It Down

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Card – Torpor Orb

What it stops – What doesn’t it stop?

Torpor Orb is a card no one really wants to play with in every EDH deck because it also neuters your own strategies sometimes. Shutting down crazy enter-the-battlefield triggers is a fairly important thing to do, though, and the card is growing accordingly. When people start doing stupid stuff they couldn’t before because they needed Deadeye Navigator and now have Eldrazi Displacer to try that nonsense in decks like Mangara of Corondor, we’re going to want to shut them down. This is great against Roon and Brago; a ton of decks rely on getting value from creatures that enter the battlefield and flashing them out. This even stops enchantments like the Aura Shards they would really like to use to blow up your Orb. How many people play with cards like Viridian Zealot? Not as many as play with Acidic Slime, I’m guessing.

I actually don’t even have to guess. EDHREC is pretty clear on how little Zealot is played: it appears 225 times in 16,945 green decks, or roughly 1.3 percent of them. Acidic Slime appears nearly three times as often. Enter-the-battlefield triggers are integral to EDH, and stuffing them is going to hurt people’s feelings. Good. They’re trying to kill you, remember?

If we expect a surge in enter-the-battlefield shenanigans with the printing of Eldrazi Displacer, we can expect an increase in the efficacy of Torpor Orb and an increase in its price. A price of $3 isn’t the best place in the world to buy in, but this is a card I have been accumulating for a while. When these were still around $1, they were on my short list of “throw-in” cards I would use to even up a trade that was $1 in their favor. This is also literally the only card on my PucaTrade want list. Orb is a nutso card and it’s from New Phyrexia which has $30 Spellskites and $5 Unwinding Clocks. Is Orb more useful than Clock? I think so, but the Prophet banning has made people scramble to find terrible cards to replace it instead of jamming a card that will trip them up.

The banning of Prophet nearly explicitly said Consecrated Sphinx was safe, but it also implied Deadeye Navigator was also looked at and they decided to keep it legal. I like Torpor Orb a ton, frankly, and its current price leaves some room for real growth, even if it’s only like $2 (otherwise known as 66 percent of its current price, which is nothing to shake your gnarly old fist at, you geezer. Face it, no one wants to listen to Sinatra and dance the jitterbug anymore. Your day is over; die with some dignity) which would pull it even with Unwinding Clock, a card that is in three percent of all eligible EDH decks. That’s more than Orb is in now, but expect that to change.

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Card – Rest in Peace

What it stops – Graveyard BS.

Believe me, you want to stop graveyard BS. According to EDHREC, graveyard BS makes up over 41 percent of all EDH BS, up from 33 percent before Wizards printed Mazirek and Meren. This has additional upside from other formats (sometimes) and at its current price, it’s not too expensive to sink a little money into. I’m not as convinced we should buy $12 foil copies for EDH, but the non-foils are growing and this is a solid “enough of your BS” card. Expect graveyard BS to be on the rise with Mazirek being the most-built commander according, again, to EDHREC.

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Also popular this week appears to be a bunch of commanders we can shut down with Torpor Orb. Handy.

With Meren decks gaining so much popularity, it’s important to have ways to shut them down. Rest in Peace does just that, preventing them from even getting experience counters—not that they could bring anything back. This also has the advantage of pairing well with Helm of Obedience, which is at a three-year low since Legacy isn’t as popular as it used to be.

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A way to shut them down and sometimes have an “oops, did I win?” combo with just one more card seems fine, and I recommend Rest in Peace even if all you do is wipe the graveyards when you cast it before it’s dealt with. A 1W spell that clears every yard is kind of like the Wu-Tang Clan, in that it ain’t nothing to @#$% wit’.

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Not everyone likes to play white, so here is another option for you. This is growing steadily and I don’t see a reason for it to stop, so why not park a few bucks in a proven winner that could see some more upside soon?

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Card – Thief of Blood

What it stops – Ezuri, but other stuff, too.

This gets my vote for “most underrated card in Commander 2015. I realize it’s technically printed as an uncommon, but that is suggested power level. There aren’t three of these in every Plunder the Graves deck—there is one. That means there are as many copies of Thief of Blood as there are Meren of Clan Nel Toth, and Meren is currently sitting at a shade under $10. Is this a $10 card? No, not really. But it sure does ruin #%$ when you cast it.

You notice how Ezuri and Animar are both pretty popular? Well this pulls those cards’ pants down. Superfriends? Super dead. Vorel of the Hull Clade? More like Vorel of the All… Dade… all of my hydras are dade. They’re dead. Dade means dead.  He kills their hydras, guys.

I lamented the terrible design of this card a few different times, because it hoses some decks and leaves other entirely unscathed, but that doesn’t really matter financially. All that matters is that this is a super good hoser card and people are not all that interested in holding onto their copies. In a year or two, this could be real money if it starts to see real play—and the popularity of decks like Ezuri and Animar should make this a card that people look to to solve their problems. If you have never resolved this against a full board, do it. It gets everything. I was pulling counters off of Vivid lands and cackling like a lunatic, nevermind the Assemble the Legion I got down to nothing. You know what is a fun thing to do with a vampire that has just gorged itself on the counters the Ezuri player was putting on his Woodfall Primus so he could sacrifice it every turn? Sacrifice it to Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and end the stupid game.

These cards are all going to be more effective against the new field than they were before Commander 2015 and Oath of the Gatewatch came out. New decks like General Tazri (hosed by Torpor Orb in a huge way), Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim (Leyline of Punishment or Everlasting Torment?) and new cards like Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer are shaking up EDH, and if you can stop them, you should, right? Who wants to lose to that crap?

New events give cards that help decks upside, but it’s also important to take a look at cards that hurt those strategies as well, especially the ones which are the most popular new decks being built. Check EDHREC every week to see what’s hot and think about what hoses those decks. Or, I guess, just keep reading my column, because I’m going to do that for you in all likelihood.

Next week I may do some more examples of hosers that I think have upside in the new EDH landscape, or maybe I’ll talk about something else. We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. As always, thanks for reading and let’s get a $#%storm started in the  comments section. Sound good?

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