Category Archives: Jason Alt

Redundancy

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I’m going to take a bit of a break from speculating about Commander 2016 this week

It’s occurring to me that I didn’t write about Commander 2016 last week, either. We’re off to a pretty bad start, here. It’s not that I didn’t go back and read last week’s article again, it’s just that I guess I just assumed I was going to cover Commander 2016 every week until we got some stupid spoilers and then cover it every week after that until I had a compelling reason to do something else. Last week I talked about a single card and how it could conceivably drive a ton of prices up because there was suddenly a flickerable way to tutor for them and it could be hilarious. Stoneforge Mystic, Stonehewer Giant and now Thalia’s Lancers can all get jammed in a deck with Restoration Angel and Eldrazi Displacer and that kind of power and advantage is what kids these days are calling “bae” and “in fleek”. You know what else is totally YOLO? Redundancy.

I actually really like the idea of peppering my articles with garbage clipart from now on
I actually really like the idea of peppering my articles with garbage clip art from now on

If you live in the UK, you probably don’t like the term “redundancy” because for some reason the UK refers to being laid off from your job as “being made redundant” which is a goofy euphemism. The US isn’t like that. “It’s not that we have too many people to fill a limited number of positions and we need to clear up a few redundancies, it’s that we’re shipping all of your jobs to Mexico and all of you are going to be left to fend for yourselves, now. Maybe if we hated your faces less this wouldn’t have been necessary.” I could go on and on about goofy stuff people in the UK say that makes no sense despite them being able to say “We invented this language so we get to decide what’s goofy or not” but I think we need to move on.

Make no mistake, we’re talking about multiple cards that fill the same role in a deck, usually by having identical effects. If a card is good enough for a deck, why would a carbon copy of that card that’s the same in everything but the name not be good enough? It would, especially if that effect is what your win condition or advantage engine hinges on. Are redundant cards always the same price? No, not at all and there are a number of different reasons for that, all of which are too obvious to bother listing as section headings. Honestly, they’re too obvious to bother with a bullet point list, either. They’ll probably just come up. If you can’t make a list right now of the reasons different cards are different prices, your Mommy and Daddy are going to be very upset that you’re using their computer, but I’m impressed at your reading comprehension level for a toddler.  I won’t waste your time or insult your intelligence by listing them out, we’ve got ground to cover.

Do you get it? CLASSIC
Do you get it? CLASSIC

“Why is looking at redundancy important?”

That’s a really stupid question that I’m going to pretend you asked by using quotation marks. I’ve long said in this series that buying reactively is basically dead and the only way to make out is to be ahead of price trends. Way ahead. You want to buy in at the floor by buying in when no one else knows it’s the floor. That’s how we make money in MTG Finance after all. That and arbitrage. OK, we make our money in MTG Finance by buying in at the floor when no one else knows it’s the floor and arbitrage. And collection flipping. Right, we make our money in MTG Finance by buying in at the floor when no one else knows it’s the floor and arbitrage and collection flipping. Also, fencing expensive collections that you’re almost certain are stolen And that’s all the ways we make money in MTG Finance.

How do we use analysis of redundancy to make sure we’re buying in at the floor?

You really ask a lot of dumb questions, you know that? I was literally just getting to that. If you had waited like half a second I would have just gotten to it and it would have looked like I knew what I was talking about. But, no, you had to go an pretend you’re doing some sort of Socratic method thing and guiding me toward the perfect article. Knock it off.

It isn’t about following price trends of older cards so much as it is just sort of knowing two things about the redundant cards in EDH as a format when it pertains to MTG Finance.

  1. Redundant cards will be played as much as the identical versions where reasonable financially and will be played still an unreasonable amount when unreasonable financially.
  2. It sometimes takes a really long time for the new card’s price to catch up which can make us doubt our picks and sell out early like cowardly people who want to nail a spec but not make any money on it.

Point 1

I am going to be brief on point 1 because I think sometimes the lengths that players will go to for redundancy is ridiculous. The problem is that if the supply is sufficiently-low, a very reasonable amount of demand from unreasonable people who will pay unreasonable prices puts an unreasonable amount of upward pressure on cards with an unreasonably low supply if they are a reasonable facsimile of card they’re already playing. I use MTG Finance to pay bills and I prefer to sell pimp cards rather than put them in my deck to show off so I’m going to show you an example of a card I do play and then a card I don’t play.

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I play this in my Riku deck.

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I wanted more of the effect so I opted for this.

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Not this.

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And certainly not this.

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Portals 2 and 3 (Get on it, Valve) printed a lot of redundant cards that had slightly different names but the same effects, meaning that people could play two copies of a card, one that was reasonable in price and one that was not reasonable. Do you really want a second Armageddon badly enough to pay $300 for it? Someone clearly is.

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There are a few P3K cards worth a lot because the unique way they are worded (usually vis-a-vis horsemanship) makes them break Legacy like how Rolling Earthquake hits fliers or Riding the Dilu Horse makes a creature unblockable. The rest of the expensive P3K cards are Eternal staples or EDH staples, and the EDH staples are either commanders or cards like Ravages of War or Three Visits.

Point 2

I’ve covered how long we have in previous articles. I could comb through all of my past like 10 articles to find the one I mean, or I could just recreate the section as best as I can remember it. Ironically, doing it over again seems like less work, so I’m going to go that route. It can also serve as an example of a redundant card. You may start to see a lot of the cards I’ve really nailed because of how obvious they were as specs and realize, as I’m realizing now, that the easiest picks in EDH finance are basically functional reprints of older cards. They’ll be cheaper at first because of the higher supply, now, but that won’t last. Here’s a card that’s a great example of both a pick based on redundancy and a spec that we had like a million years to move in on.

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Look at how long this card was cheap. This brought the price of Grave Pact down a smidgen but it mostly just brought itself up and I’m not entirely certain where it’s going to stop. If you bought these as bulk rares, you’ll be happy getting out at $5, I’m certain. It took long enough for a few people who heard me call it basically when it was printed to tell me I was an idiot, and they were happy to send me this graph.

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“Nice spec, idiot.”

You have to remember to be patient because there were approximately one megashitton (1X10^100) more copies of Dictate of Erebos than there were of Grave Pact. And yet… It’s approaching $5. Why? Because people who are already running Grave Pact are going to just slot Dictate of Erebos into the same deck. Some people might use Dictate as a budget replacement and the demonstration of a willingness to print and potentially reprint a functional reprint (that sentence got awkward quickly, didn’t it?) of an older card eroded some of the confidence in that card as a monolithic staple in that color for that effect.

It’s worth noting that Dictate of Erebos costs more mana but has two distinct advantages over Grave Pact – it has flash so it can be used as a surprise and can just wipe a board through an Aura Shards or something and it only costs BB instead of BBB. The easier mana requirement makes it way less awkward in a three-color deck and it’s possible a number of people took their Pacts out and replaced them. As much as Dictate is a redundant Grave Pact a lot of the time, sometimes it’s a little better. That means more for the price of Grave Pact than it does for Dictate, though. A better reprint will tend to shove the price of the new one up way more than it shoves the price of the old one down. And what about when the card is mostly the same but is a little worse than the older card? That’s what we’ll see almost as often.

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Primal Vigor did even less to the price of Doubling Season than did Modern Masters and even though Primal Vigor isn’t nearly as good as Doubling Season, it’s still good enough to get played in most of the same decks so Vigor was all upside. It more than doubled from its floor and it isn’t done growing. Sure, this card helps your opponents out and doesn’t interact with Planeswalkers in quite the ridiculous way that Doubling Season does, but this does a lot of the same things in a lot of the same decks. It’s not as expensive, but if you bought in at $4, you’re OK that it’s not $40, you’re just happy it isn’t $3 so you’re probably thrilled that it’s $10. Sell out now and be happy or wait and be happier. Either way, I endured over a year of sub-$5 pricing on this card which was plenty of time to foster a little doubt and think about how I could re-invest the money if I cut my losses and sold my copies to a buylist for $2 each. Primal Vigor is a very bad Doubling Season, but apparently not bad enough not to get thrown right into the deck along with it.

“Make Me Some Money”

Right, talking about cards after they go up isn’t very useful for anything other than getting a bunch of Twitter followers, so let’s try and look at a few cards from recent years that could be nearing their floor and see if any of them are likely to get jammed into decks. I am like 100 words away from my  cap so we’re going long this week. Screw it. Let’s make some picks.

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The whole Dictate cycle is  good example frankly. They are all flashy (heh) versions of previous cards and the decks that play them can spare room for redundant copies provided the effect is good enough.

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Obviously this is nowhere near as good as Time Warp, but some decks might enjoy casting this for cheaper, although getting it back with cards like Eternal Witness is out of the question. Generally, cards that say “Take an extra turn” get there, even terrible ones.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit B
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Exhibit C
Xzibit pimped my deck
Xzibit pimped my deck

Surely someday someone will value a card that can cost as little as 2 mana and which will definitely give you an extra turn over a card that will maybe do it but you can keep recurring it for more chances to maybe get an extra turn.  Trespass is future $5.  Besides, Part the Waterveil came after and it already hit the $5 we predicted. It will happen for Trespass.

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Exzipit 4

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What is the ceiling on this card? We can compare it to Awakening Zone, a card it is better than despite costing one more mana. After all, it makes powered creatures and it has an additional mode. With multiple printings, it’s not unreasonable to compare the current price of Awakening Zone to this, is it?

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Do you think it’s unreasonable for From Beyond to hit $5? I sure don’t.

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This is currently double its all-time low but it’s also probably not at its all-time high. I know because there is another card that costs more money and probably would have grown at an even faster rate than this card if not for a reprinting.

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Maybe Zuaport won’t hit $6. But maybe it will hit $3, and if you can still buy these for $0.50, merely sextupling up seems OK to me.

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The duel deck printing hurts this card a lot, but maybe if we see which card we should be comparing it to, we might get some perspective about a ceiling we can at least look at and then try to scale down on the basis of there being more copies of the new card.

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This was still like $6 and growing before some Modern deck went like 6-0 with 3 byes with this deck and a bunch of people bought out the internet, making this basically $8 now. I think if Ghostway can be $8, Interlude can be $3 in a year or two. The duel deck copies don’t help, but if all Interlude does is replace Ghostway in a few decks, it has upside. But why not play both?

That’s enough food for thought for now, I think. Always be on the lookout for cards that are suspiciously like cards that are already played in EDH. The closer they are, the closer their prices are bound to be, especially if the new card is better, which helps mitigate the fact that newer cards have larger print runs and are more readily available than old cards that have been scattered to the four winds.

Did I miss anything? Do you have a suggestion for next week’s article? Did you stop reading at exactly 2000 words and miss all of my picks? Join me next week for more insanity.

 

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The Game Done Changed

Today on the next episode of “Can one Magic card change EDH completely?” we have another white card. That’s odd. I feel like we get a lot of white cards in this game lately.

Past winners have included:

starfieldofnyx

White card

eldrazidisplacer

White card

bladeofselves

I mean, Stoneforge Mystic is a white card

thegitrogmonster

C-C-C-C-C-Combo breaker!

thaliaslancers

Annnnnd white’s back.

This card is stupid and it’s going to make a huge impact on EDH (I’m calling it a bit early to say “biggest impact of the set” but it’s hard to imagine a bigger impact from another card) and the number of cards that just got a whole lot better is huge.

The Actual Scope

Unlike cards that are very good in very specific decks like how good Fevered Visions seemed, but basically just in a small number of decks, mainly Nekusar, this has broad appeal. Instead of being a card that goes into 90%+ of all Captain Sissay decks and nothing else, this could see that sort of coverage in the specific decks it seems tailored for but has wider-reaching implications. Captain Sissay likely jams this card. And why not? It does what you want, it’s in the right colors, the body isn’t irrelevant. But unlike a card that’s perfectly-tailored to one deck but little else, I think Lancers can grab so many different cards that it’s going to get a look in a lot of different shells and give a lot of different cards upside. Legendary stuff just got a whole lot better, and not just creatures.

The Decks

Sisay

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This deck obviously has the most targets, making Lancers a sicko toolbox card in the deck. If people play Sisay a bit more, it could see some upside. It’s mostly plateaued, owing a lot of its lack of growth to the injection of copies with the FTV printing. $23 isn’t even close to the all-time high for the foil, but it could climb again since the FTV foils are about as visually appealing as that Billy Squier “Rock Me Tonight” music video.

Do an impression of your future record sales!
Do an impression of your future record sales!

More than just the commander could see a bump from new relevance vis-a-vis being more fetchable.

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This card hasn’t quite recovered from its Commander’s Aresenal printing and the CA printing shown above shows how the new price doesn’t know what to do with itself. With new relevance on Legendary stuff in white, this could be the bump it needs to approach the $50 people want for the non-foil copy. Legacy isn’t going to do it, so EDH needs to pick up the slack. This card can’t be as cheap as it is forever and there isn’t much impetus for a reprint so this feels safe. This is a good card to just have because Legendary creatures will always be good in EDH. I mean, duh.

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These two cards are good together and Reki is already taking off. If people play more Sisay because of Lancers, they’ll play more Reki, one imagines. Look at Azusa for the ceiling on a Kamigawa green Legendary creature, and I guess look at Dosan the Falling Leaf for an example of a card which currently see as much play as this could, soon. This could be an easy quadruple-up.

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Did you know this was almost $2? Well, it is. It seems like it’s not done growing. This is practically a planeswalker and if it’s easy to tutor for, why not play it? Stashing dead Legends back in the deck to be tutored for seems OK to me.

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This seems tied to Sisay directly more than most cards, but this IS growing, unlikely to be reprinted and solid. It’s a very, very EDH card and if it gets played more, its price should go up.

Ra-Ra-Rasputin, Magic’s Greatest Love Machine

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Eldrazi Displacer didn’t make this $30 Legend bump as much as it could have but it’s being built more. I used Rasputin for the heading but it could easily be Roon or Brago. I basically think it’s vital to talk about the interaction between Lancers and another white card.

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Bliggedy-BLAM. This was made to pair with Lancers. Sure, Mistmeadow Witch and Deadeye Navigator pair just as well (well, maybe not JUST as well) with Lancers but Displacer doesn’t require you to be in blue at all. Displacer and Lancers are a great team and I expect white decks to use this pairing to great effect. Decks with access to blue get more flicker redundancy so I expect the decks that can run blue to do so, but if you can run Lancers, you can run Displacer, something I can’t say for the other flicker creatures.

Rasputin is bound to start moving, but I have a feeling his price spiking on principle back in 2013 just because a lot of Legends did means it will take a minute for demand to push the price at all. Still, it’s a Legend, it combos well with flicker effects, which are popular and it’s never getting reprinted. Rasputin is worth what he’s going for now, but it could be a minute before he’s worth more than that.

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I bought in at $0.50 and basically misplaced a big stack of these. It made me happy to find them in a box of shame with cards like Nivmagus Elemental. This card didn’t get banned and that sent it price up when the uncertainty surrounding its status was cleared up. Just like Consecrated Sphinx, mentioning this card when they talked about why Prophet of Kruphix was getting banned emboldened people. This likely isn’t done growing. This card is dope and does dope shit.

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This is the kind of growth you want to see following a reprint. This card is too good not to have in your deckbuilding box and if you don’t have one, better buy one, soon. It’s at a historic (post-Standard) high and doesn’t seem to want to slow down. If you’re running blue and flicker stuff, you want this.

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This graph shape is a little discouraging, but I think this is bound to climb a bit more. It’s certainly unfair with flicker creatures and can lock people out of playing spells and can also get big enough to rule the unfriendly skies. This flirted with $5 a few years ago and it didn’t stick, but I think that could be the new reality for this card in a bit and new flicker cards certainly can’t hurt.

Mangara

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This card couldn’t possibly have more going for it. I think the new Brisela deck can be built very easily on the shell of an existing Mangara flicker deck. Not only will this see more EDH play with Lancers and Brisela running around, this is a second spike, has potential upside from people playing Death and Taxes and D&T variants in Legacy since Eternal Masters has made some of those cards a little cheaper and new flicker cards make this card even better. I think Mangara has a ton of upside and has already established that it can be an $8 card.

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Another potential D&T inclusion, it’s actually insane how well this card has recovered from 4 printings. It’s like Wall of Omens. I think if this gets printed again and dips at all, it likely recovers. Mostly, though, just be aware of this card so you don’t accidentally bulk it out.

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This has a high degree of affinity with Mangara decks because the same untap and flicker shenanigans that can help you stack multiple triggers of Mangara destruction can also turn this into a murder machine. Lots of printings have hurt the upside, but more Mangara in EDH means more of this and it’s worth watching.

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I like second spikes a lot and the shape of this graph is giving me really positive vibes. I think something is going to happen, here.

What Else?

Well, I covered a few of the decks that have cards in them that could incidentally spike if Lancers makes those decks get played  bit more, but I think I want to finish the article just by mentioning some Legendary stuff that you can grab with Lancers that gets a lot better with a convenient (and flickerable) tutor.

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This recovered from its reprinting and then some! This card is super popular and Lancers probably don’t make a blip in its price, but knowing you can fetch this with something other than Tolaria West and Expedition Map means Esper artifact decks have another tool in their arsenal.

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EDH gold, unlikely to get another reprinting, now easy to tutor for with a decent creature. I think Memorial is going to be more than it is now this time next year. This is a safe place to stash value and a good card to play with.

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When this card is $12, we’re going to look at this part of the graph and marvel that it was $5 for an entire year. You still have some time on this card, but this card is dumb, it doubles two important resources and it’s an artifact. Lots of stuff that tutors for Legendary creatures leaves this out.

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Somehow EDH made this an $8 foil but it hasn’t been able to do anything for the non-foil price despite it coming from a set where most of the boosters contained metaphorical herpes back in the day. Packs of this set are way more appealing, now, but this set was under-opened. I channel Arashi more than I cast it and this is worth playing. It’s got some work to do to unseat Silklash Spider, but it could happen.

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Who saw this coming? I didn’t and I played EDH back when this was $5 and I used to talk about how unfair it was. $20? OK, then. I don’t think this is done growing. This is aching for a reprint – let’s hope one is forthcoming.

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We’re not doing anything to this price, but Lancers fetch half of the combo, whether it’s the one with Thespian’s Stage or the one with Vampire Hexmage.

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More people than are playing this should play it. Oh well. When I win the game with this, people didn’t see it coming, so that’s cool. I like having the creature that fetches it able to turn this into an overrun if it’s the biggest creature I have, and in a deck where I run Assemble the Legion, sometimes it is.

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There are worse things to go grab

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Again, we’re not doing anything to this price, but it’s nice to know you can grab a Cradle. That fact may add more upside to the price of Lancers than Cradle.

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Someone is making this card $8. Maybe those people will play it more now that there is one more way to grab it out of the deck, and it come with  better body to staple it to than a 1/2 Kor.

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This costs a lot to activate, but it solves problems and the price can only go up. I mean, look at the chasm between retail and what dealers will touch it at. Ugly.

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How good is this equipped to a four-color Legendary creature? We’re about to find out, I guess.

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This may be one of the best cards to go and get. It’s not Maze of Ith, but it’s close and it’s in your colors.

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I don’t want to do this anymore and I’m only on “K”

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Do all of these even need a justification? Probably not, right?

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I could probably put just about anything here and my editor won’t even notice

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Taxation is theft

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9/11 was an inside job

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I want you all to know I contemplated going back and changing the first letter of every paragraph to spell “And his name is Jon Cena” but I didn’t because I’m lazy and you’re not worth it.

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From a piece of Laura’s secret diary, Cooper discovers that he and Laura shared the same dream; Catherine tricks Ben into signing away the mill; Andy and Tremayne – the potential fathers of Lucy’s baby – confront each other; James leaves town; and Laura’s killer is unmasked.

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When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

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Anyone else watching Preacher on AMC? What are they even doing? It’s like they never even read the comic books. I mean, The Walking Dead is diverging from the comics a lot which makes things exciting for the people who have read the books because we can still be surprised by the show, but, come on. It’s like the team making Preacher wants to hurt us for reading the source material. I may give up on it. No, I’ll give it a season. One season to turn it around, but that’s it.

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I can probably start my closing paragraph in here so I don’t have to write it at the end and you can be done reading this article when you see the last card.

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Cards like Serra’s Sanctum make me very excited about Lancers. There are a ton of good cards we can grab and while we could tutor for them before with other cards, this exciting creature is easier to flicker and rebuy than those other cards, making it the ideal way to go grab them.

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That about does it for me this week.

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If there is anything you think I missed or which you want to discuss, leave it in the comments section below.

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I’ll be back next week with more value.

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Until then, stay safe and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Until next time!

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Part 2; Or, How I’m Ruining EDH For Everyone

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I’m pretty sure this wasn’t me. I’m pretty sure this spiked during Eldrazi Winter when every other card that was ever mentioned in the same card as Eldrazi spiked all gangbusters and people bought everything they could without waiting for decks to put up results. I’ll gladly take credit for this if you made a bunch of money, I guess. OK hang on. Did you buy these at $2 like I suggested when I said these could be like $5 in a few years based on slow, incremental demand from casual and EDH players? Did you sell these at $10? Did you stack mad scrilla and then go to a strip club and make it rain? Did you foil out your Vintage deck based on how much money you made from this card? If so, this was totally me. My articles make cards go from $2 to $10. You should read all of my articles and donate 10% of what you made to the Brainstorm Brewery Patreon.

Did you lose money on Path because you didn’t take my advice when these were $2, pay attention when people played these in Eldrazi decks on MODO and only notice it went up when it was $10 and you bought then not thinking they could go back down to like $4? Are you mad at me? Well, in that case, my articles can’t spike cards out of nowhere, don’t be ridiculous. What? You don’t believe me? OK, let’s get rich.

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This is played in decks like Trostani and it’s seen Modern play. Also, some dude burned a big stack of these and then later offered someone like $10 grand in bitcoins to play 4 Seance at a Pro Tour (“It’s pretty obvious it’s you, Jason” – some dipshit on reddit) before disappearing back into the aether. With some unhinged pyromaniac torching copies to reduce overall supply and trying to make this card a thing (it’s stupid with cards like Mulldrifter, yo) this will be $10 in no time. After all, it was in one of my articles. When this hits $10 a copy, I’m selling all of mine, taking my thousands of dollars and quitting writing to focus on manipulating the real stock market.

I’m pretty sure I can warn people about cards that are going to go up on their own, but I’m also pretty sure I can’t make stuff go up for no reason. I’m not Travis Woo.

What was I even talking about last week? Oh yeah, wedges.

Wedge-05
I downloaded this picture for last week’s article but I don’t remember why

Let’s talk about the other three Nephilim, or two if I don’t get to all three, or one if I decide to write like 1,500 words about Dune Brood Nephilim. Whatever. They have spoiled like 2 cards from Eldritch Moon, it’s not like spoiler season for Commander 2016 is breathing down our necks. I mean, maybe. Maybe they’ll just dump all the cards in one day. That would suck. Look, I’m going to tackle the remaining Nephilim and by extension their wedges the same as I did last week and I’m going to just write until I feel like I’m done writing. Deal? Excellent. Did you read my piece from last week? My Descendants’ Path remarks might make more sense if you did. If not, here it is in all of its resplendent glory.  Feast your eyeholes on that, you lucky so-and-so.

Let’s hit it.

Dune-Brood

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This one is pretty good but no one seems to be all that interested in doing thangs with this guy. If you look up decks posted by people who lunatic playgroups allow them to run Nephilim as commanders, no one is really jamming Dune-Brood. You know why they should? It’s missing a color and that color isn’t green. This has green in it. That means you can just double all of the tokens all of the time. Speaking of which-

Brief Aside

This card makes Sand creature tokens. Hazezon Tamar makes Sand Warrior tokens. I’m willing to be that if Dune-Brood is in the… Jund deck running Lingering Souls-colored deck, there will be a Sand creature token in it. Hazezon Tamar makes Sand Warriors which are slightly different, but I’d be willing to bet that since they’re both 1/1 creatures, if the one from the Commander 2016 precon looks  cool, Hazezon Tamar players might want them and the small amount of them means a lot are needed to satisfy just one player. I could be wrong, but I am led to believe this could be the case.

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I’m not hoarding 50 of these to go in my Prossh deck.

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I AM sitting on 50 of these to use in my Prossh deck. Hey, these spiked in late 2013. I wonder if that’s significant.

End Aside

Dune-Brood makes tokens, wants you to have lands in play and wants to deal combat damage to a player to make it all happen. Blue is really useful for that last one, but we have cards like Rogues’ Passage and Whispersilk Cloak. Making the most of our token army is the important part.

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If the rest of the deck is concerned with making tokens the way Dune-Brood Nephilim is, there is a non-zero chance this gets a reprint. This is approaching $10 and that’s pretty crazy. I scooped these when they were near bulk and I’m pretty proud of my foresight. I don’t think I even played EDH back then. People thought these might be buoyed by Selesnya in Standard and when that didn’t really happen, I had no trouble snagging these from people. These will get additional upside from a token deck if they’re not reprinted. I mean, Doubling Season, too, but that’s so expensive you won’t make much money and the buy-in is pretty high.

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This is pretty reprintable, but I could see this card shrugging off a reprint in a Commander product and approaching $10 again within a year or three. I feel like this could hit $20 in a world where Doubling Season is approaching $50 despite a Modern Masters printing. I used to think I liked this card at $4 but not really at $10 and now I’m starting to think I don’t hate it at $10. It’s very fair compared with Doubling Season and doesn’t scale with Planeswalkers the same, but it’s also in a format where you can run both in most of the decks so the comparison almost doesn’t matter.

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This will never be $20 again, but maybe it could be more than it is now. The Duel Deck printing hurts its upside, but this is a stupid finisher in an aggro token deck, and this deck most certainly is that since you trigger the Nephilim by hitting them.

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Barring a reprint, this is a $10 card someday and right now I get these as throw-ins on trades. The graph indicates both that player demand is up and that dealer confidence is low. I expect the buylist in 6 months to a year to be what retail is now.

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This is such sicko tech. Maybe a little too sicko since this is pretty obscure. Still, how easy will it be to hit them with your Nephilim and all your tokens when you can give them all protection from four colors? I think this is the most perfect card for these new decks and meanwhile, last summer dealers thought paying an entire dime on a bulk rare was too generous. This has upside, but maybe not enough unless a lot more people start reading my articles on Gathering Magic.

I feel like all of my picks are either too obvious or too obscure. I’m not sure how much there is for me to help you with that you couldn’t find on your own/ would matter for this card. Let’s move on to the next Nephilim. The Nextilim if you will.

Ink-Treader

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This is the most fun one, for suresies. Sure, the reanimator one is cool, but this is the one that lets you do all kind of nasty stuff like Lightning Helix every creature on the board, draw your deck with Crimson Wisps or just kick a Rite of Replication until everyone decides they want to shuffle up and play another game and just let you win. There are so many stupid interactions with this card that I imagine the real commander will be Riku-esque but with white so that’s awesome. I bet you’re going to just cast all of the spells and sometimes benefit from targeting Ink-Trader and probably Zada when you’re not just doubling, reflecting or boosting spells. This deck will be insane if it’s anything like this nephilim. If we’re going to benefit from this nephilim and creatures like it, there are a lot of cards with upside. Like, a lot.

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This is obscure, but in a world where a spell that targets one creature targets all creatures, this gains control of all creatures. That seems fairly strong. At $2 as a Weatherlight rare, this has upside for sure.

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You choose targets when you cast which means this will copy for every creature on the board, even if you lose the first flip. This is already moving in the right direction, and a nudge is all this will take to double or triple in a shorter term that it’s already slated to. This is a solid pick provided it interacts with a few creatures in the deck and kills people spectacularly with Nephilim out.

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Of all of the threaten effects, this one scales the best with the Nephilim trigger and is a $0.70 foil. I’m not excited about any of the rest, really. This is a better Insurrection, a card you should run on top of this. All red decks should run it, frankly.

I would google Ink-Treader Nephilim decks to see if anything pops out at you. I looked at a lot of lists and it’s more cheap cards like Cerulean Wisps than it is good gems like Debt of Loyalty, but the deck looks like fun and if the commander in the Commander 2016 deck functions at all like the Nephilim does, it will be the most fun deck of the five and you’ll make some money on cards that are auto-includes.

Because I have to, not because I want to –

Witch-Maw

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Pros 

  • One more way for Primal Vigor to hit
  • Encourages you to build Voltron, which can be fun
  • Makes cantrips more useful
  • The new commander they design could have a prowess-like ability or prowess itself

Cons

  • Prowess without red feels lame
  • This is boring and removal undoes a lot of work
  • We might not get a Legendary Voltron card in the deck
  • This is boring

Other than those reservations, if the deck ends up being a sort of prowess-type deck, there are cards with upside for sure.

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Despite multiple printings, this card is still a $3 foil with upside. Conspiracy 2 could give us another printing, but I think this card gets played in an all-in deck like this one and you should consider it.

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This price is trending in the right direction. How much of a case do you want me to try and make for this card? It says on it what we all want cards in a deck where were place +1/+1 counters to say – “If one or more +1/+1 counters would be placed on a creature you control, twice that many +1/+1 counters are placed on it instead.”  That’s another Doubling Season, bruh. Put this in your deckhole.

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I talk a lot about how second spikes tend to spike harder and faster than the first time around. This only needs a little nudge, Modern could give us that nudge which we’d be fine with so we’re in a position to benefit from additional upside exposure and this does work in this deck. Voidslime will, too, but this seems juicier to me for some reason.

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This is never going to be cheaper. It will be more expensive in the future but it will never be cheaper than it is right now. This seems fairly obvious. Dealers have a lot of these after the spike, but these should still be in binders. Grab these. This isn’t predicated on Witch-Maw as much as it is reality in general.

I don’t think there is a ton more to say, here.

Obviously when we know more, we can make some more targeted calls, but I think a lot of these picks were cards that had upside already and a little nudge is all they’ll need to get there. Cards predicated specifically on the Nephilim should wait until we see what they do with the new commanders. As always, we’re just speculating somewhat baselessly, but if we use a logical approach and identify some cards early, we can buy while everyone else is scrambling to figure out what to play with the new cards. It’s about being proactive, not reactive, and that’s why we’re talking about these interactions before the set comes out, not after.

That’s all for this week. Buy Seance.

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Whatchu’ Be Knowing ‘Bout a Wedge?

Speculation is sometimes indistinguishable from guessing. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen so we try to make educated guesses based on data and go from there and it usually pays dividends. Other times, we get a hot tip and have enough time to act before everyone else and we get paid out. Other times, we think we’re on to something and end up writing a bunch of articles about the two-color decks in Commander 2016 because we take what MaRo says a little too seriously sometimes. What are the alternatives? Buying re-actively? That doesn’t work in our favor. When someone else makes a card spike or we are behind the curve and some new event changes prices, all we do by buying at that point is enrich someone else and run the risk of holding copies we can’t move.

Since we’re never going to benefit by buying re-actively (seriously, stay away from spikes like this) we need to buy pro-actively. For reference, this is not a $5 card. This already spiked once when they first released Laboratory Maniac. It’s been 5 years since then. The card has gone back down and hasn’t done dick since, yet the internet is full of people saying “ZOMG IT COMBOZ WITH LABRATORY MANNIAC” and buying copies. Since this is a second spike, it’s going to be harder than the first time but ultimately, unless this is predicated on a leaked card from Commander 2016 that only certain people got a sneak peak at, this isn’t going to do anything. Yes, it is good in Zedruu. It was just as good in Zedruu last week when it was a dollar. Stop being a goddamn sheep.

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So since it’s easy to identify cards that are a bad buy because you’d be buying re-actively and not pro-actively, what are some cards we should look at while we still have time?

I am going to take a second crack at the whole “What does the color wheel tell us about what could be in Commander 2016?”

This Time Will Be Different

Look, I was super wrong about Commander 2016 being two-color decks and that’s hilarious. A few people said “Why are you doing this so early?” and I always responded “It’s never too early” and I guess I was right because it looks like those articles helped you get a jump on Commander 2017.  Now that we know that Commander 2016 is going to be four-color decks, what can the wiki articles tell us?

There isn’t one. Uh oh.

How do we figure out what these four-color wedges even do? It’s almost easier to talk about what they don’t do because they’re basically everything but missing one color. So maybe the WUBR wedge is good at everything except mana ramp, fat creatures and regrowth effects? That’s stupid and unhelpful.

Could we try and combine a bunch of the Shards of Alara or Khans of Tarkir wedges? Again, I don’t think so. Is the WUBR wedge really good at artifacts, powering creatures with instants, attacking with warriors, etc? There has to be a way we can glean something. Without any guidance from the color wheel or previous wedges and with the whole “eliminate one color and remove the things it does well” prospect being almost as unhelpful as saying “the new cards can do anything.” I’m not about that life, so I’m going to suggest something pretty unorthodox. I’m going to look at the one four-color wiki we do have.

This one right here.

“You’re Insane”

Maybe? But maybe, just maybe, we’ll hit on something that looks strong, actionable and makes logical sense. After all, the people designing this set probably felt as clueless and overwhelmed when they first started trying to construct this set, right? They had just as little to go on as we do, and while they had a lot of smart people at WotC to bounce their ideas off of, including the people who initially designed the game and made the color wheel what it is today, I think we can take a crack at it. Besides, the color wheel basically was what it was when they first printed Nephilim, right? Granted, both sets of three-color wedges came after Ravnica, but I think that didn’t change that much. I think looking at each Nephilim and its abilities should tell us something. 

Yore-Tiller

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We’re not off to a good start. Like, at all.

I kind of tend to doubt the new commander will be exactly like this. But what can we glean that can teach us what it might be like? Putting stuff into play feels white and black, giving it haste feels red, what does blue have to do with any of this? The only thing about this that feels blue is paying four mana for a 2/2 creature.

Still, a lot of people seem to think the Nephilim will be in the deck, so the deck will likely be set up to benefit from having it in there, otherwise what’s the point?

So I looked at like a dozen decks that use this card (house rules) as their commander and basically all they agree on is Ashen Rider and Snapcaster Mage, 50% of which I agree with. If you’re going to play blue, play Snapcaster at all times, clearly. Buying him back gives you additional value, but getting him back with Yore-Tiller feels underwhelming since he’s so small. I like other cards with that effect. Here are some cards that could get a second look specifically in a deck that does things like Yore-Tiller is doing and is set up to benefit from having Yore-Tiller in the deck.

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This has decent reprint risk and will never be above bulk if it’s reprinted, but if it isn’t, I think we have a winner. I like Diluvian Primordial, also, but milling people with this guy could be killer. No one wants to try and cast this beast of card because it would be pretty tough to try, but if we’re reanimating him, suddenly he looks manageable. He could be Diluvian Primordial number 2 in a deck that doesn’t like to summon stuff.

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This card is sure taking its time, huh? Goody, more time for me to trade for these. I’m not going hard because of the reprint risk, but I think this is a great card and I like it a lot in EDH and it would be killer in a reanimator deck.

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You want a big, fat yard? Since there aren’t as many reanimator decks that use blue compared to other color combinations, this is a relatively-overlooked card, used more often to mill you out so you can win with Laboratory Maniac. Still, if you have blue in your reanimator deck, like I expect the WUBR deck to be (at least as a subtheme) this is a good enabler. At mythic it has a little more upside than rares in Innistrad played the same amount and if this gets a nudge, we could see the price go up to remind us that it’s been 5 years since Innistrad was out. That’s a long time for a mythic that has seen play in combo decks.

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This little guy sure is creeping up, isn’t he? Don’t expect that to stop. I think this has relatively-low reprint risk coupled with a strong ability coupled with some potential upside from a Yore-Tiller type of deck. I think this is a pretty strong card, and at a $3-$5 buy-in, it’s going to be pretty hard to get soaked on this one. I think you just watch this creep up and sweat a reprint a bit, but not too much. This is a low priority reprint in terms of price and there aren’t too many things that they will do that will want this ability in the deck with it. I think you can wait to make sure this isn’t in the deck and then move in, but it pays to pay attention to this card.

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So apparently this effect is basically mono-black and the other colors in Yore-Tiller are along for the ride? I think this has decent reprint risk in a world where it’s not on the reserved list, which means that people might stumble across it when trying to tune their precon and be forced to buy this since it can’t be reprinted which could give it upside. The card is basically stagnant right now, and with white and blue letting you blink the the creature and therefore keep it, you could get quite a bit of value from something. Corpse Dance a Snapcaster, blink it, keep it. Cast a ton of spells, find a way to kill Snapcaster or target something else. I like this card and being on the RL means it’s only going to climb if it gets more play. It’s severely underplayed now, appearing in just 312 decks on EDHREC, but it’s not currently played in decks that are equipped to blink the creature and keep it, and this unique color combination is a game-changer for this particular card.

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Maybe not. But maybe. Saccing the creatures isn’t much of an impediment if you can keep getting them back, and getting multiple attacks with Yore-Tiller can give you enough dudes to keep swinging for a long time. This is an old bulk rare that is about to get a second look, provided it doesn’t also get a second printing.

Glint-Eye Nephilim

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I think it’s more obvious what kind of deck could be built with this combination. If you’re looking at “on-hit” triggers, it makes sense that we could be dealing with giving creatures unblockability, shadow, etc. UB and UG have both done this sort of thing and perhaps and enchantment could grant all of your creatures the same ability Glint-Eye has or something crazy like that. If that sounds too good, remember it would likely cost UBRG, so maybe it wouldn’t be too good after all.

Not only is it easier to see how they would construct a deck that vibed with what this card is up to, it’s pretty easy to see which cards would be good with that deck and aren’t super likely to be in the precon.

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Cards like this make me wish I’d given a crap about EDH earlier. This is going to keep going up until they reprint it. I used to get these in bulk, but those days are long gone. This is EDH gold and players know it.

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Even if this isn’t the exact card we want, we’re on to something, here.

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I don’t know if this card is quite the one we’re looking for, but here’s hoping this gets reprinted in something soon. This card is too expensive for what it is. Planechase stuff sure is pricey sometimes!

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This is a card that does a lot of work in a deck like this. Skipped over for a reprint in the Golgari Commander 2015 deck, I don’t know if it’s more likely to be in the Commander 2016 decks. This probably just goes up another few bucks when it’s not reprinted for at least another year. Although, Conspiracy is an OK place to jam this, so it might get a printing this year after all. Still, if the UBRG deck is anything like the Nephilim it’s colored like, this card will do work.

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This is a card that does a lot of work if we’re trying to load up on unblockable dudes and hit them. The FTV foil is terrible but the printing brought the Portal, Three Kingdoms version down to like 13 bucks.

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I can explain this card being under $5 by pointing out this was in a Planechase deck. I can’t explain the foil only being $6. That makes no sense to me. The multiplier shouldn’t be below 2x on a card this good in EDH. If you’re hitting them unblockably with big creatures, this is dumb. Its price is the only thing more dumb. Sure, you’ll want a ton of swords like Vengeance, Body and Mind and War and Peace, but, come on. Quietus Spike is so good in EDH. Here’s hoping the prevalence of lifegain coupled with the new trend toward sneaky combat makes this quietus spike in price.

I should have said up front this would be a two-parter. These almost always are when we need to cover 5 different wedges. Join me next week and use the comment section to express your gratitude for me not turning this into a five-parter, something I feel I would have been justified in doing. Until next time!

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