Category Archives: Jason Alt

Steady

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I saw a price update on Twitter that got me thinking.

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I thought it was a good point. Not only is the growth on Burgeoning stupid good, it was stupid predictable. Even if The Gitrog Monster hadn’t come out and put a new focus on land shenanigans (Burgeoning works just as well against Gitrog and Mina and Denn decks as it does in them – probably better) it was already trending up likely due to how good it is and the fact that people think it’s on the Reserved List (it actually isn’t). Burgeoning is just looking good and that’s all there is to it.

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This is what we want to see. Buylist price is growing right along with retail price, there aren’t really sharp spikes that can’t be explained by restocking of inventories, the growth is over a long time period and seems to be predicated on supply and demand. This is the picture of real, sustainable growth. Best of all, there is no real reprint pressure because so many more cards are higher priority, although I don’t expect Burgeoning to hang out at $12 for long. This is headed to $15 and beyond, babies.

There are some cards that go up because of events – those are the boats lifted by the rising water levels I’m always talking about. Sage of Hours is a perfect example of this.

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Whatever happened at that red arrow? Ezuri? Ezuri. How stupid a card that puts a ton of +1/+1 counters on a creature paired with a creature that removes those same counters to take extra turns can be got people moving and the non-foil price spiked as well as the foil price. The return to a price somewhere between the pre- and post-spike prices shows this was influenced by outside factors besides mere demand at the time. The buying was predicated on the promise of increased future demand, demand that puts the price at double what it used to be. Not too shabby. Ezuri ended up being built a lot less than decks like Meren but this is still a win for us. I’m saying us because I said “Hey, buy Sage of Hours” in an article and none of you wrote a comment to say “This card isn’t going to go up in price, you idiot” or “I remember that article you wrote calling us neckbeards and I still want you to know I hate you” or “I’m the real Jason Alt and this impostor is tricking you with terrible ideas in this article series and also can you call the police because the impostor Jason has locked me in a basement with my phone and I can get onto the comments section of MTG Price articles but I can’t make outgoing phone calls to let the police know I’m locked up although maybe cancel that because this basement has a PS4 which I don’t have at home and it also doesn’t have a crying infant so I’m just going to chill here for a bit” although that last one sounds like something the real Jason Alt would say. In any case, no one disagreed with me so that means I’m giving you all credit for calling it. Hooray. We won. This was a good call because we saw the increased demand coming and had a nice big window to buy our copies. You want to hear why I think that is? It’s hilarious to me.

Brief Aside, Where I Pontificate

OK, we’re veering off topic but I just picked this thread and I don’t want to lose it.

OK, so spoiler season for Commander 2015 started in September of 2015, in November we called the Sage price increase and that is  a long time in between because the price didn’t start to increase until 10 days after my article was published, giving readers a seriously big window. You had an even bigger window if you thought about it as soon as Ezuri was spoiled. I don’t remember when, exactly, but we found out what Ezuri did in late October or early November. Why wasn’t it until mid-Novemeber that Sage of Hours’ price started to move? I have a theory and you’re going to love this.

EDH players didn’t buy the cards they needed for their Ezuri decks until they bought the Ezuri precon and cracked it open.

Seriously, think about it. Why else wouldn’t the prices move until after the decks were released (November 13th) if players knew they’d want Sage weeks earlier? Can you imagine having two weeks to prepare financially for something you know is coming? Well, once a year Commander sealed product is going to give us a gift and EDH players, bless their (our?) hearts, are going to wait until they have their precons before they start acquiring their singles, hopefully from my readers on TCG Player and Pucatrade.

End Aside. I Hope You Liked It.

Again, that’s a hypothesis of mine, but data seems to mostly bear it out. If someone wants to disprove it with a bunch of graph data, feel free, but the EDH mindset informed that hypothesis as much as the pricing data did. I’m thankful we get such long periods of time to wait for things to happen.

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7 months is a really long time for something you are certain is going to happen to eventually happen. It’s actually enough time to doubt yourself, which I started to do. OK, not really, but that would have been reasonable. I don’t doubt my specs, I stare at the price graphs and yell “WHAT IS TAKING YOU SO LONG?!?!?!” because I believe in myself because I’m always right it’s just reality that is sometimes wrong.

7 months allows you to take your time and get your cards by trading rather than buying a bunch of copies on TCG Player, which can sometimes trigger the market if people notice supply is lowering or average price is increasing. Dealers can update their prices and then you’re stuck paying much closer to the spike price or competing with others for copies. We want other people to do their buying at the new price, not the old one. This is our spec, so let’s make some money.

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Isn’t this the main appeal to speculating on EDH cards? Instead of being glued to coverage, waiting for something to spike and hoping you beat everyone else to the copies, the store doesn’t cancel your order and you can out the copies when you do get them before the price goes right back down, you can pick up stuff at a leisurely pace. You know how long I’ve been accumulating copies of Dictate of Erebos? Like 2 years. If you read this series, you have been, too because it’s so obvious a pick-up that there is literally no way not to make money, especially when copies were nearish bulk.

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$0.50 into $3? Almost a year of being bottomed out in price? Sometimes it’s super easy, and you can take your time and snag copies via any method you want. Is something going to happen soon to make Dictate go down in price a ton? That’s pretty doubtful. What we have is a low risk, high reward spec with inevitability. You won’t get that as often with Modern and you will never get it with Standard.

Cutting out the risk of reprint makes some cards seem even better.

We looked at a lot of Reserved List cards that EDH could push up and a lot of them went up a few weeks later but all of them were predicated on the Eldrazi deck in Legacy more than they were EDH. Still, it was pretty easy to predict and hopefully my readers got any cards they needed before they went nuts. One card I did forget to include in that piece was Winding Canyons.

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Still available under $8, this hasn’t moved a ton, but this could see a bump in the new land-aware meta as well as a post-Prophet of Kruphix meta which requires us to find new ways to cheat at Magic. People buying Seedborn Muse (a lot of people, because they thought a little bit but not a lot) forget that the part of Prophet of Kruphix that is cheating is the part that gives your creatures super haste by letting you play them on any turn. Any turn means more when there are 6 players than when there are 2. This is an example of a card that will go up. How could it not?

It’s on the Reserved List

That means we’re not getting more copies. The number of copies we have is the number of copies we have. Weatherlight is on the tail end of the Reserved List, but it’s still old as hell meaning there aren’t a ton of copies. Current demand won’t hold as more players are added and we adapt to the new reality, current supply is all there is and this is a desirable effect, stapled to a land with no color identity.

Its Effect is Unique

While not unique in the game, this is the only colorless land that does it. People are perfectly willing to play Alchemists’ Refuge (And why not play the best color combination in EDH, really? ) but any deck can play Canyons and that’s another reason it gets a look.

EDH is Growing

Any time we have a growing player base fighting for finite copies, we have a recipe for growth.

How long will it take Canyons to go up? Hard to say. Why not buy in a ton? Well, there isn’t movement on the price now and we had to wait 7 months for Primal Vigor to go up and that was a sure thing. How long do you want $8 a copy tied up in Canyons? What I do recommend is trading for them, putting them in decks for the time being and selling them when you’re happy with where they’re at.

All of this set us up for what I want to discuss next week, which is a way to identify EDH specs based on their being budget alternatives to more expensive cards that are so good people stop using them as alternatives and just jam both copies. I’m excited about it, so get excited yourself. Until next week.

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Let the Community Surprise You

I didn’t think much of the new Odric when I saw him. In fact, last week, in probably the best article anyone has ever written about EDH Finance, I said the following about him.

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That was mostly about how unexcited I was to build around him compared to a card like The Gitrog Monster. Odric is cool and all, but the other Odric just seems way better. Here’s the problem with that logic – the new Odric is NEW. And new is exciting. You can absolutely capitalize on excitement and I’ll tell you how.

Why am I bringing up Odric at all? Well, it’s pretty simple. While the Gitrog Monster is clearly the most exciting card for EDH in all of Shadows over Innistrad, it’s not the only card. People want to build other decks. Based on what I read leading up to the release by basically everyone, the second-most-exciting creature in the set to build around was the new Avacyn. It’s a mythic angel, lets you play red, flips to blow stuff up, makes stuff indestructible and it’s named Avacyn. Those are all super compelling reasons to want to build around her. You will imagine my surprise when EDHREC published their power rankings and the punditry was silenced by raw data.

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This list is abridged – the full list can be found in this reddit post.

As a brief aside, I’ll explain how the list is weighted. It’s based on percentage of decks submitted as a snapshot. The numerator is the number of decks submitted with a specific commander and the denominator is the total number of decks submitted to the database over the time period as a snapshot. That means Prossh is 1% of the total decks submitted to EDHREC ever and The Gitrog Monster is 20% of the decks submitted over the 130 decks submitted in April. While this isn’t accurate in terms of showing the most popular decks of all time, it is not that sort of ranking. Those other decks are there merely as context to show relative popularity of decks submitted in April. It’s a power ranking, after all. It shows Meren getting pushed out of the number one spot but still shows how popular Meren has been for context. For more context, they also showed  the unweighted, all-time popularity rankings which shows the number of decks for that commander over the total number of decks submitted. Meren didn’t crack the Top 20 all-time (but I can’t imagine it won’t).

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So in addition to showing that new cards are topping the power rankings meaning that they experienced the biggest surge, Meren beating out Olivia and Sigarda shows a little context for the surge in popularity for new Commanders relative to older ones people are still excited about. That was to be expected – Sigarda is an angel, but it’s not a very exciting one compared to her older sister. Odric didn’t initially seem that exciting compared to is older brother but the community showed that they were as willing to build an Odric deck as they were Avacyn, at least this early into April. I don’t expect that to stay the same, but as long as people are more excited about Odric than we’d anticipated, it’s worth looking at the cards they are going to want.

Were we wrong in our analysis of how unexciting Odric was during our set review? I don’t think so because even if Odric were 20% of the decks submitted in April, there still wouldn’t be much money to be made pre-ordering him. Non-mythic cards from a 1-of format don’t really move the needle too much when they’re in a set that sells a ton of copies. Ayli is 7th on the power ranking list and look at her price.

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The price fluctuated a bit, but dealers didn’t change their buying behavior and they’re as bearish on buying this now as I am. It’s a $7 foil and rightly so, but Odric wasn’t going to make you any money buying just him so telling people not to be excited at presale time seemed correct. There wasn’t money to be made on Odric – he’s no stapler.

I will say I underestimated his utility as a rock, however. Throw Odric into the pool of EDH cards and you’re going to make a ton of ripples. Is there money in them thar waves? Let’s take a look at what those people who are just excited to build with him as they are to build with Avacyn are using.

The Fairly Odd…ric…father. They can’t all be gems.

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This is the guy. He’s a Concerted Effort with feet. Is that a thing people like in EDH? You tell me.

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Eh. Kinda. Enchantments from Ravnica that get a lot of EDH play are worth actual money. Privileged Position is worth four times as much as Concerted Effort and Perilous Forays, an uncommon, is worth a fourth as much. This price indicates a minimal but statistically-significant level of inclusion. EDHREC gives it a 39% synergy rating with Odric, a card that was just printed, indicating most of its play is recent and even with the card appearing in 44% of the new Odric decks, it’s only in 1.4% of white decks. You can see why I didn’t think having a Concerted Effort with feet was as exciting as a flying murder machine like Avacyn or a 6/6 creature with Deathtouch like The Gitrog Monster (I am planning on building around its huge body and deatchtouch by building Gitrog Votron. No, I’m really not, but can we talk for a second about how stupid it is to give a huge creature deathtouch? It was marginally acceptable on Grave Titan because they had to give him something but it is silly at this point) but the community surprised me by being more excited about this card than I am.

The great thing about EDH is that it moves prices predictably and more slowly than Standard which gives us time to position ourselves in front of coming waves. Cards used in Odric are going to sell slowly, trade well and generally just tick up reliably if he keeps being built at the rate he is. We’ve looked at Concerted Effort already, so why not look at it again and call it the first card on our list?

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Activity has been pretty flat lately and with a new event (a deck where 44% of the new builders are including a redundant copy of their Commander) and the reprint risk being low, I think there is upside. Dealers aren’t adjusting their buying yet so the copies in stores are going to be lower than they would on a card whose popularity was well anticipated so buying behavior could shock the price a little bit. I don’t like the card, personally, but with obvious synergy with a popular commander and a $2.50 buy-in (and I guess a ceiling at $13 like Privileged Position, which would be predicated on much, much more play than it’s ever likely to see) there is a non-zero amount of money to be made here. I’d try to snag these cheap and out them for $5 in trade soon-ish. I still get these shipped to me in bulk rares.

The cards that are best with a creature like this are creatures with multiple abilities. You’re going to be able to grant your team a lot of abilities with fewer creatures in play by doubling or tripling up on the abilities on any given creature. There are some pretty saucy cards that pair with Odric in this manner.

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Giving 3 solid abilities to your other creatures and being not-too-shabby on its own, Baneslayer seems like a fairly obvious inclusion. Baneslayer has been flat lately, and the FTV printing didn’t help any. Baneslayer is always going to be a good card, a casual favorite and something for angel collectors to covet. I think we’re done seeing reprints of Baneslayer for a while, unless Commander 2016 or ’17 gives us a commander that pairs well with angels, in which case this would be a good inclusion as that deck’s Wurmcoil. We have seen a lot of reprints in the $10-$15 range in those products, but only when they are slam dunk inclusions. This seems pretty safe to me and I think there is upside either based on an Odric bump or just time marching on.

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If it weren’t for Modern Masters 2015, this would likely be much higher. Formats that play more than one copy of this card still like it and the extra interest from other formats like Legacy (Death and Taxes, mostly) just gives this more upside. I hope this is done getting reprinted because this could see $4 or $5 again and I want to have a pile when it does. Have creatures that grant double strike are going to be very useful in an Odric deck, and this is basically the only white double-striker worth any money as the rest are big, durdly white uncommons. Those other cards are nothing to sneeze as because most of them also grant flying, but there isn’t a ton of money to be made there unless you’re buying bulk and picking them out to buylist for for a dime. For the record, I don’t hate buying bulk and buylisting dimes.

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With great numbers of abilities comes great responsibility. Or something. Look, this card has approximately all of the abilities. The issue? It also has approximately all of the printings. Angels are pretty good with Odric because they tend to be both white and laden with cool abilities and Akroma here is no exception. This is going to load up your team with a ton of relevant abilities and I think there is upside for Akroma if they can see their way clear to stop reprinting her. I feel like a bunch of duel deck anthologies copies are about to hit the market since it’s becoming increasingly efficient for speculators to crack those open since they contain an Ancestral Vision. That means more copies of Akroma could hit the market as people dump the rest of the cards in those decks since they broke even on a few cards and the rest are gravy. I don’t like this as a result, so I think this card is a long-term hold that will keep getting pushed to longer and longer terms. There isn’t even upside for the older versions because EDH players in general want the cheapest copy, not the prettiest.

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Currently this has an even higher synergy rating with Odric than Concerted Effort does. This grants two useful abilities, is super good in other decks and does it all for 3 mana. I feel like the reprint risk is medium to high but in the medium term, this absolutely has upside. All this does is climb.

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This pick is ballsy. Reprinted in both Commander 2014 and Commander 2015, this could have been a $5 card by now. Commander 2016 could easily see another printing which would disappoint me. I’m inclined to say the reprint risk is very high since they did it in back-to-back sets, but maybe they feel like they have printed this enough. I don’t know what the play is here, but this is certainly a good card in the deck.

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Fetching equipment is useful in decks like this. Grabbing one of any number of equipment that grant multiple abilities is saucy in this deck. Open the Armory is too prevalent out there for us to make money on right now (You can get these for free just by picking up draft chaff people leave on tables) but Steelshaper’s Gift is still plugging along. This demonstrated an ability to hit $7, but that was predicated on the banning of Stoneforge Mystic in Modern and the mistaken idea that this was a suitable replacement. That first spike concentrated copies in the hands of dealers, though, making it less likely that increased demand will be flattened out by copies coming out of the woodwork. Second spikes always end up being steeper. Odric isn’t enough to spike this card, but increased demand is going to lead to increased price for all of those reasons. I don’t hate this as a buy and it’s unlikely to get reprinted if they’re going to print cards like Open the Armory that are just better (although more expensive mana-wise).

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I am over my word count mandate, but I will briefly say this is never going down in price barring a reprint, which isn’t all that likely outside of Commander supplemental product, something we’ll be able to predict once we know what the color combinations for Commander 2016 are and what the generals are likely to do. I like this a lot.

There are quite a few more saucy cards and I think you get the idea by now. Check out the entire Odric page on EDHREC for more ideas. Check the synergy rating and pricing trends. For this article I avoided cards that are only good because it’s a mono-white deck like Caged Sun and Nykthos, cards that are color staples rather than Odric staples like Land Tax and Swords to Plowshares and are too cheap and prevalent to experience upside like Aven Sunstriker and Sungrace Pegasus. There are cards that will see a bump if Odric is built as aggressively in the coming months as he was the last week. I didn’t predict that happening at all, but luckily we are in a position to let the community surprise us. Until next week!

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The Mother of All Boats

I got away from it a bit but this series used to be one where I’d point out upcoming Legendary creatures, their associated archetypes and cards bound to get used in those archetypal decks that have upside once people started building those decks. It was fun to write those pieces. It was also when we were getting spoilers of cool Commanders all the time. I had to write different articles to bridge the gaps between those cool spoilers and honestly, I didn’t see anything out of Shadows that made me super excited.

Don’t get me wrong, Olivia is going to be a real clock in some format, I’m sure, but there’s no reason I want her over Olivia Voldaren.

People seem excited about Avacyn but I don’t know if relying on blinking your commander in a deck that can’t have blue in it is wise and I’m not sure 3 damage matters a ton against every deck, although some decks you’re going to kill a million kobolds and take them to Fecundity town.

People are excited about Arlin Kord and by that I mean non-EDH players are excited about Arlin Kord.

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Odric isn’t mythic for a reason. He’s a great inclusion but I can’t imagine building around a Concerted Effort with feet when the other Odric CHEATS AT MAGIC.

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Sigarda is a slightly better Angelic Overseer that makes you play green whether you want to or not. About time we got another Angelic Overseer. That’s in 0.012% of all eligible decks on EDHREC after all and is worth more than you might think.

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This card is aging like a fine milk.

That basically only leaves us one Legendary creature worth giving a hot fart about. Fortunately for those who were looking forward to an article full of sicko picks, that one creature is worth ALL OF THE FARTS, irrespective of the temperature of those farts… annnnnd now I made myself sad with my gross metaphor.

This card is a monster. Literally.

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LOOK AT THIS FRAWG.

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LOOK AT IT

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IT HAS DEATHTOUCH BUT EATS DUDES ANYWAY.

If you’re not hyped for this card, I’m sorry you snorted too many marijuanas and damaged the part of your brain that the rest of us use to experience joy. It’s called the Ventral Tegmental Area, but you wouldn’t know that because you’re too busy not being happy that they made a Legendary creature that makes up for how lackluster the rest of the Legendary creatures are AND the fact that there is no RG werewolf in the set (all signs point toward one named Ulrich being in the next set) AND the fact that delirium as a mechanic meant I was subjected to a bunch of halfwits posting all over Facebook that “OMG TRAGOMOYF CUD B N THIS SET GUISE” and that’s on you. If you make a comment about how the Ventral Tegmental Area is only one of the parts of the brain responsible for a complex emotion like joy, I will not read it and I will sign your e-mail address up for Gary Johnson e-mail updates because someone did that to me and it’s literally impossible to get your name taken off of that list. Don’t do it, nerd.

Talk About the BOOOAAATS

I’m getting to it, damn.

So’s as I was sayin’, Gitrog Monster is basically the only Legend from the set that people can really agree on. I’m sure some good writers whose opinion I respect are going to make a decent case for Avacyn or whatever, but everyone and their Magic-playing DAD be talkin’ ’bout that Gitmonster life. People are excited and when people are excited, prices move.

But it’s not just the excitment, which is palpable, that I think The Gitrog Monster has going for it in the “make prices go crazy” department. I think it’s also the linearity the deck at least implies. I am sure there are a ton of ways to build the deck. I brewed with it for Gathering Magic this week and thought it would be hilarious to run a bunch of effects that turn your lands into 2/2 creatures. You could run some reanimation stuff to dredge a Craterhoof into your yard then go full Nature’s Revolt with like 20 lands that are all 20+ power if you’re into winning the game that way. You could make infinite black mana with Skirge Familiar and Dakmor Salvage and Exsanguinate their faces. How you win is sort of up to you, but how you get there is less open to interpretation and that means we’re going to see some opportunity to make some money. There are some major things about to go down.

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What are the odds that everyone waits around to see if this is reprinted in Eternal Masters? It’s at least possible that this won’t be. It’s at least possible that people who want to go to Gitrog town (and what a town it is; an arm for every mouth hole) who have the $60+ bones to shell out are going to be impatient and are going to just make this card $100 soon. Every Gitrog monster basically needs Crucible. You can get by without one, but that’s basically admitting to the world that you’re a peasant, not that you’re a savvy deckbuilder who found a workaround. You didn’t find a workaround, you’re a poor. Embrace it, and sell plasma or whatever poors do and get yourself a Crucible.

Or don’t, probably. I don’t like buying into a lot of uncertainty. If this is in Eternal Masters it probably stalls the growth for quite a while, especially if it’s in at non-mythic rare. If it is in at mythic or it’s not reprinted, the price won’t go down much if at all (or in the case of not reprinted, Hypnotoad should spike it)  but if it’s in at regular rare, you can lose a lot of money here. This is an important card but the future is murky and I’m not parking money here. I think you watch spoilers carefully, though, because the second Crucible is ruled out, the price goes up instantly.

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This guy on the other hand has had two reprintings and neither one of them was all that successful at keeping the price down. This card is a proven winner and with its reprint risk being super low and its playability in Gitrog decks super high, it’s fairly obvious this price has nowhere to go but up. At $10 there are a lot worse places to park your money. I like this as a pickup quite a bit since it’s pretty easy money, although with hella copies out there it’s hard to say how much upside there is. We’re certain to see movement but maybe your $10 is better spent elsewhere if you want to really rake in off of a hit. This is low risk but the reward is correspondingly low and the impact will be cushioned by the duel decks copies. Those duel decks, while we’re talking about it, look really, really good if Life hits $15. If you can still get them for $20, Izzet vs Golgari has Jarad, Niv-Mizzet, Brainstorm, Fire//Ice, Isochron Scepter, Prophetic Bolt, Sphinx-Bone Wand, Dakmor Salvage, Eternal Witness, Golgari Grave Troll, a couple of Purefy and Izzet and Golgari Signets that look better than the Ravnica versions. I see Japanese copies of the duel deck on eBay for $23 right now, and if Dakmor Salvage and Life go up from The Gitrog Monster, you’re shipping the rest of those good for pure profit. I bought a few Target stores completely out of them a while back and have been sitting on them ever since but with English copies already going for $30, I may just take my 50% profit (more because I used someone’s employee discount to save 10% – it’s good to know people) and get out.

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This card has been printed as often as Life from the Loam and at a lower rarity so there is a lot of push needed to get these going, but reports are already coming in that buylist prices are up on these. I think it will take a heap of copies moving to trigger TCG Player, but as soon as someone buys it out, every amateur financier is going to buy out the rest of the loose copies on the net. The “Oh, Gitrog did this” analysis after the fact even if what really happened was someone just spending a few hundred bucks will get everyone else to buy. I don’t like this effect of sites like reddit but we can’t pretend it doesn’t happen so it pays to be prepared. I think this card is going to move.

On a related note, if you go after foils, there is more potential upside and foils negate the influence of the duel deck printings, although the foils from Modern Masters hurt the upside of the Future Sight foils a bit. Still food for thought.

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Another must-run card, this is flat and has nowhere to go but up. I am sure there are a lot of copies on TCG Player since this was in 3 of the decks but this is a penny stock that is likely to move and I would be remiss if I mentioned Dakmor Salvage and not this. If there were foils of this available, I’d be about it. But there aren’t. Let’s move on to another important card of which there are no foils.

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There is real potential money here. First of all, this can fuel infinite combos with the deck, draw you cards, get you mana and generally make all of your filthy Golgari dreams come true. Gitrog players know this card is bananas in the deck and they’re chirping about it all over reddit and twitter. The crazy thing is, it’s drawing so much attention that people running other combo decks are starting to take a look. Any additional attention from other decks is going to have a huge effect on price. This is on the Reserved List so it’s never getting reprinted, it’s from Mirage block so there aren’t really many copies and it’s bound to get played a lot in the near future. I’ve seen nearly identical cards to this one spike on flimsier premises. We saw one this week.

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Mirage block? Check. Reserved List? Check. Rare? Check. Only EDH play? Check. Someone mentioned this could potentially hose Eldrazi decks in Legacy and that was all it took for the finance followers to strip the internet of every loose copy. I don’t know if Squandered Resources will hit $20 as fast just because we don’t have the Legacy crowd making dumb buys, but people got really smug with me when I pointed out that Hall of Gemstones is in like 0 decks on EDHREC. They saw it mentioned on MTG Salvation, you guys. It’s a real card.

OK, Squandered Resources is a card, too, and it’s nearly identical to Hall of Gemstones in every way. It’s also going to get played a ton in a deck that I’m fairly certain will be the most-built deck of the month as soon as it’s out. Unlike Meren which had competition from all the other Commander 2015 commanders and Ayli which had competition from Tazri, Gitrog is all alone. It’s the only card anyone seems to give a rip about in terms of EDH commanders which means the decklists will be everywhere. I think Squandered Resources is a no-brainer and unlike Crucible, we can see essentially exactly where it’s headed.

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This is on its way up, already. Imagine where it’s headed after Gitrog enters all of our lives. I think there’s upside on this card and it’s something EDH was already aware of. To the extent that this happened.

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We got an expedition. Could Gitrog reverse this expedition’s slow decline? I don’t know. There is a set foil at only $70 which is way more pimp than this expedition which is, like, Michael Shannon ugly. It’s so bad. It’s like road rash ugly. It’s so bad that if my daughter drew this I wouldn’t put it on the refrigerator. You remember those books, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Remember that art? This is worse than that. Spend the extra coin and buy the set foil if you’re going to trifle with this ballbag of an expedition. Seriously. This art is uglier than if Steve Buscemi fell asleep on someone’s leg at a party and that person was wearing corduroy pants and Steve woke up and noticed he had lines on his face and thought “wow, this looks really bad” right before someone splashed acid on his face because they thought Boardwalk Empire was real. Wasn’t Michael Shannon on Boardwalk Empire, too? And a dude with half his face blown off by a sniper? That’s an ugly show. When Michael K Williams is the best-looking person on your show, your show is messed up. It’s still better than this art.

I wrote like 200 extra words I’m not getting paid for because I hate this art so much. Some person worked really hard on this art and they probably did exactly what the art director who hired them told them to do. I don’t even care. Everyone responsible for this expedition utterly, UTTERLY failed in every way. I’m not one for recommending you stay away from an expedition but, stay away from this.

This one is running long but it’s my article and I’ll run long if I want. Few more cards.

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Look at this graph shape and inevitable inclusion in the deck, etc. Man, I’m starting to regret not being more conservative with my word count earlier. This is a good card and you should buy it if you want to. Or not, I don’t care. But this goes in the deck.

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I call this card every few months and I’m always right. Eventually people are going to stop letting me pretend I can be right with a pick more than once. This goes in the deck, but it’s going up regardless. The only difference is the slope of the graph. I still like this at $3. Spend $45 and you’ll be glad you did.

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This could hit $1!!!!!!!!!11one

I’m over my word count. Let’s call it an article right here.

Edit – So this happened

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I think he makes a good point. Realms probably has more upside than a mere double up since it’s going in Gitrog decks because it does a lot of what you want. I was going to mention a new card like Fork in the Road just for being a cantripy Farseek so why not Realms Uncharted?

I think what Travis did was point to a bit of subconcious bias on my part. Realms is a card a lot of us have wanted to get there forever and it has resisted any pressure so far. It just won’t go up. Azusa couldn’t do it, Mina and Denn couldn’t do it, Boborygmos couldn’t do it. It’s almost like I gave up on Realms Uncharted. It wouldn’t pull itself up by its bootstraps so I decided it will never be worth money. I think Realms Uncharted probably has more upside than Restore, a card I am relatively bullish on. Foils are a 10x multiplier, and at a $5 buy-in, you can make real money if the non-foil hits a few bucks and we maintain the multiplier, which is reasonable.

I should like Realms more, and I think you should, too. Don’t let a card’s past behavior make you resist re-evaluating it in light of new developments, since that’s literally what we do in this column.

 

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Good’s Not Good Enough

It’s pretty easy to assess cards in terms of EDH when you read the spoilers. It’s even easier to think you’re assessing cards in terms of EDH if you don’t know anything about EDH because you look at a card you don’t see an application for in the formats you know and say “EDH card. Nailed it” and then go eat at Quizno’s or whatever dumb people do when they’re done being dumb. I mean, Jared Fogle breaking out of prison and murdering everyone who testified against him and then saying Hearthstone was better than Magic and the Detroit Red Wings were a great hockey team wouldn’t be enough to get me to eat at Quizno’s. How hard is it to not burn a sandwich? Potbelly doesn’t burn their sandwiches. They put them on the same little oven conveyor belt you do and they don’t come out smelling like an Emergency Room trash can full of finger parts on the Fourth of July (or whatever fireworks exploding holiday you celebrate in your country). Get your act together, Quizno’s. Card assessment in terms of strength in EDH is easy, assessment with respect to decks it can go in is easy. You know what’s hard? Judging if being good and powerful is going to be enough.

Good Enough For What?

That’s a good point to have me clarify, device I’m using to answer my own softball questions by pretending a third party asked them.

What do we mean by good enough? Put simply, we mean good enough to be worth money in a term. Whether that is the long-term or the short-term, assessing whether a card is going to be good enough to buy at some point for a price with the expectation that we’re going to be able to sell it for more later is what we’re after. I want to look at some historically “good enough” cards and the reasons why similar cards are not and see if we can’t predict what we should do about a few of the spoiled cards from Shadows Over Innistrad.

Some cards are obviously good.

feveredvisions

This card is very good in a Nekusar deck. You’re going to get an extra card and you’re going to Lightning Bolt your opponents because your opponents’ hands are going to be full because when you’re a Nekusar player, your one job is to make their hand be full of cards and to hurt them. That’s two jobs. Your two jobs are to keep their hands full of cards and hurt them. And keep the board clear of threat. Three jobs. My point is this is stupid good in Nekusar.

Why wouldn’t this card be a no-brainer buy-in? Nekusar has done a pretty good job of demonstrating it can spike cards.

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100% of the reason this went from $2 to $12 briefly before settling around 4 times its initial price is Nekusar. Forced Fruition forces your opponent to do what your whole deck wants them to do and it does it very efficiently. Forced Fruition is the perfect example of a card that’s good despite being sort of narrow( only good in one deck, really) and good enough to be an auto-include and therefore have upside.

Is Fevered Visions going to experience the same upside effect from Nekusar? I don’t think so and I think there are several reasons why.

It’s Too Narrow

Ideally we like to see cards go in a lot of different decks. If a card is a format staple, we can see a clear path to upside because there are so many different decks that need it. Even if every Nekusar player in the world bought a copy of Fevered Visions, they would still only need one copy because who has multiple Nekusar decks? Players need a million copies of Sol Ring but really only one of this and that’s if they’re even playing Nekusar, a super boring and linear commander that makes everyone hate you. As good as the card is in this deck, not many other decks are that excited.

It’s Too New

If you compare the number of copies of Forced Fruition to the likely number of copies of Fevered Visions out there, you’re going to notice that Lorwyn cards are pretty rare comparatively. Lorwyn was the set that basically started a new trend of a ton of new players joining at a huge rate because of Planeswalkers and Lorywn cards are more rare than you’d think. Not to mention everyone assumes Lorywn came out like 5 years ago but it was more like 10. 10 years is a long time. Fevered Visions is going to be all over because Shadows is going to sell a ton of boosters. Not as many as anything from new Zendikar with its expeditions and eldrazi, but maybe more with all of its zombies and angels. It’s hard to say. What we can say is narrow EDH non-mythic rares are going to end up bulk with a bajillion copies out there.

It Might Not Be As Good As You Think

People are already talking about how they might not want this in their Nekusar pile. I think they’re wrong, but people are going to accuse me of being super biassed toward this card because it was the Brainstorm Brewery preview card and we were happy to not only have a preview card but to have a rare. The card is good in Nekusar and it’s a Howling Mine with upside so I don’t think you want to not play this. Still, if people aren’t 100% convinced this is an auto-include in the one deck it seems tailor-made to go into, you got problems. Personally, I think those people who are saying nay don’t have a Nekusar deck, but this card isn’t good enough to convince them they need to make one.

So I have basically made up my mind about Fevered Visions, but what about some of the other cards in the set? Could they end up having a different fate? What should we look at to determine that?

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Mayael’s Aria is a pretty good example of a card that’s good enough. The growth is slow and steady and while it looks like it was made to be jammed in a Mayael deck with Mosswort Troll and other fatty fat fats, it can go in quite a few decks. It’s a rare from Alara Reborn, a set which had mythic rares and yet it’s $6. It seems like a shoo-in for Mayael decks, right? Well, so does Meglonoth.

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So why is one card $6 and the other card is a tenth of that? It’s fairly obvious when you think about it, but let’s humor me because it’s my article and run down the criteria I outlined earlier.

It Might Be Too Narrow

Aria gets played in a lot of decks and 35% of Mayael decks run it. 35% of Aria decks (Per EDHREC, a metric I’ve written extensively about why I think it’s fair to use ) also run Megnoloth. The difference in the Synergy Rating is also pretty negligible – 25% for Meglonoth versus 21% for Aria. Still, when you look at the decks that run it, Meglonoth is mostly relegated to decks that are Naya colored whereas Aria is run in decks like Progenitus where it’s a KO. I like cards that say “Win the game” and you can make room for Aria in a lot more decks than you can a big clunky creature, even one with sicko abilities like Meglonoth.

Most of the other creatures from this block that are shoo-ins in Mayael are reprinted in the various Commander sealed products so we don’t have a ton of other cards to compare it to, but I think we  can establish Meglonoth may suffer from being a little narrow.

It Might Be Too New

I don’t know that this is the case with Meglonoth. It’s certainly newer than Lorwyn and while the Alara block broke sales records at the time, it’s not making anyon’e jaw drop when you see the sales numbers compared to other sets, even to original Zendikar. I don’t think it’s too new but it’s new enough that it looks like merit is making Aria’s price diverge from Meglonoth’s.

It Might Not Be Good Enough

It’s funny to look at this point because while Meglonoth gets played in the same percentage of Mayael decks as Aria does per EDHREC, it’s clearly not the same power level. I think there is some overlap with the “how narrow is it?” point here that can explain the price discrepency. Meglonoth is good enough for Mayael but it’s not good enough to go in decks where it’s less obvious. I feel the same way about Fevered Visions. It’s certainly good enough for Nekusar but is it good enough for Mizzix? Jori En? Narset? That’s less clear, and I think the fact that the answer to this question is most likely “I doubt it” means that we have limited upside for Visions and I’m personally staying away. I realize I am supposed to get people hyped about the set by getting them hyped about this card so I will say I think Visions is good enough to make me go into the pile of like 25 Nekusars I have lying around and build the stupid deck. I just wish I hadn’t sold all of my copies of Wheel and Deal and Forced Fruition into the hype.

Looking at the Rest of the Set

There are some other cards to look at using these criteria to see if how stupidly obvious they are for one deck will translate to monetary success given the other factors we’ve identified. I’m all about teaching people to fish and I’m gratified to see my readers citing things like EDHREC stats when they do their own analysis. Let’s look at a few cards and see if we can’t figure out if they’re good enough to buy.

seasonspast

Narrow?

Certainly not. A lot of big green decks want this.

Good Enough?

Seems powerful. It reminds me of some other big green mythics that do dumb stuff like this.

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This is going to be a little too new to make a real price impact, but I expect it will get somewhere eventually. It reminds me of some of these other big mana spells and if Seasons Past manages to dodge a reprinting in Commander sealed product, it should creep up to $5ish in a few years and maybe beyond. I think it’s as good as The Great Aurora, so that means they are a good price corollary and all of the other factors we’re controlling for seem to be the same so I’m calling this a “don’t buy”.

thegitrogmonster

This card is stupid.

Narrow?

I think this can be its own commander but also do a ton of work in other decks.

Good Enough?

I really think so. This is an $8 preorder, however, so is it that good? Do we have anything to compare it to – a mythic that is good as a Commander as well as in the 99 from a comparable set that is the same power level?

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This is about as close as I could get. Now, since the analogy breaks down a bit because Gitrog goes in more 99s than Omnath and Gitrog has potential to impact Standard while we’ve seen Omnath hasn’t, what we have here is a worst-case scenario. So what we have to do is ask ourselves the question – is Gitrog good enough for Standard? It’s obviously bugnutty in EDH, but so is Omnath and we’ve shown that Omnath is a great investment if you only want to keep 25% of your initial buy-in. Is Omnath good enough for Standard? No, it isn’t and its price has suffered. Is The Gitrog Monster good enough for Standard? That’s up to you to decide. Whatever you decide, that will be all you need to know when you ask yourself whether to wait or pre-order. For my money, I think the answer is probably no, as stupid good as The Gitrog Monster is. It’s good. I just don’t think it’s the kind of good that’s good enough. And that’s a callback to the name of the article. Roll credits.

 

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