Category Archives: Jason Alt

Building an EDH Deck: A Finance Exercise

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You either play EDH or you don’t.

“Wow, Jason, that’s profound. Way to identify the only two types of people on the planet with respect to EDH” –You

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Look, I made a Venn diagram

Look, I was making a point before I was so rudely interrupted. Yes, I realize most of the people on the planet don’t play EDH and some of you do. But I meant that with respect to just my readers. Some of you play EDH, some of you don’t.

For those of you who don’t but are still interested in the financial opportunities, thanks for reading. I realize it’s literally torture to read a finance article that concerns cards from a format you don’t play, and you’re sticking with it because of my animal magnetism (and because I occasionally make jokes at Corbin Hosler’s and Douglas Johnson’s expense. Trust me, Doug deserves it).

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Whether or not you actually play EDH, you can get a sense of which cards are poised to do something and which cards are in higher demand than others. High demand cards can be moved for closer to retail and fringier cards are better to buylist, so sorting your cards on this basis can help you figure out which cards to ship on PucaTrade or TCGplayer and which to just ship to buylists. And although  trading tends to suck, I still make a ton of money trading for Standard cards that EDH players don’t care about and for EDH cards that Standard players don’t care about.

You know how we keep saying “value is subjective?” That’s not just a way we rationalize ripping someone off in a trade (not something I advocate, and karma has a way of catching up with people who do this)—it is also a reminder that when you are trading a pile of cards someone considers very useful for a pile they consider useless, they are more likely to be generous and skew the trade in your favor a bit yet end up way happier with the trade than you are. Trading straight across isn’t a losing proposition when your $3 Standard rare will be a dime in a year and the $3 EDH staple will be $5 in a year. Hell, even if the $3 EDH card is $3 in a year, you made $2.90 on the trade.

Have you ever built an EDH deck? Some of you have, some of you haven’t. I don’t mean just physically sleeving up a deck, but making a decklist that ends up as a working 100-card pile? I want to advocate going through some of the motions of building a deck as a mental exercise to familiarize yourself with some EDH staples and EDH deckbuilding resources. It forces you to stay on top of prices, see cards you may have “glossed over” in a new light and make you remember to watch their price changes, and in general, interface more with EDH people who give you all the information you need to make good finance calls without even knowing it. You don’t need to be EDH Jesus to make good financial calls. I’m going to go through my deckbuilding process and tell you every step I take and every discovery I make. Let’s build a deck and see what we figure out.

Make Like Bob Vila and Build a Deck

I have talked about some of these cards and resources in the past, but I don’t care because I’m actually going to build the list we come up with at the end of this process, because I bought the Daxos the Returned precon and found a Serra’s Sanctum in a collection I bought.

(There was also a Tolarian Academy in that collection. Guess which card is worth more money. Surprised? This is what EDH does to card prices sometimes. If Tolarian Academy were legal in EDH, you’d really see the effect. In fact, that would be a great lesson: Sanctum, Academy, Cradle.  You could see how EDH relevance stacks up against EDH-plus-Legacy or EDH-plus-Vintage. As it is, Sanctum is a $50 card waiting to happen and I’m glad I pulled one in a collection. I tend to try to avoid buying cards I advocate, and I strongly advocate Sanctum.)

Let’s build a Daxos deck that makes the most of Sanctum. But if we’re not sure where to start, what do we do?

Tapped Out

Tapped Out is a website where decks are listed, debated, analyzed, and scrutinized. I keep meaning to post my decks there to see what people think, but I’m scared of their criticism busy restoring old cars and chopping down trees and a third man thing.

I like the site a lot because it gives you a lot of data at your fingertips. The graphical representation of color balance, mana ratios, and other at-a-glance info is good, but there are other, hidden metrics that not many financiers are aware of, because why would you go that deep on an EDH website when MTGPrice tells you so much info on its home page? Well, there’s a good reason. I have covered this before, but I want to be sure people know this and that is the “demand” page as I call it. Clicking on a card in a deck list will take you to a screen with info for that card. Further down the page is a box with some tabs.

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If you look at the “trade” tab or click on it, you can see who is offering the card for trade and who needs it and you can contact those users privately. This is a good place to find trades and you can potentially finagle them to be in your favor value-wise. Remember, these are players looking to play, not value hounds, so you can potentially get rid of downward-trending cards and pick up upward-trending ones. It’s worth playing with.

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It’s also worth noting that despite its high appeal, eight times as many people have spare copies of this card than want them. It’s readily abundant. Despite Dictate of Erebos seeming like a slam-dunk of a card considering it can be found for under a dollar and it does the same thing as a $10 Grave Pact, it is going to take a while because copies are everywhere and lots of players have lots of extras.  If you poke around long enough, you can find cards that have pent-up demand: more people who want them than people who have them.

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It took me literally five seconds to try a few links in the exact same decklist and find that Greater Auramancy has pent-up demand. Do you think its current price will hold if it’s an auto-include in Daxos, people are building Daxos, it hasn’t been reprinted, and more people on Tapped Out want it than are willing to part with it? Maybe you can contact the people who have it and see what they want, thereby picking up a powerful, popular card for cardboard rather than cash. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, just how to make some value or pay $13 for a card that’s $20 or more next week that you want for your deck. I’m negotiating to trade for my copy since I want one in my deck.

Tapped Out can also give you a big list of other decks with the same Commander in the bottom right of the page. I like Tapped Out a lot, and whenever I’m brewing a new Commander deck, I like to see what people building the deck already came up with.

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The suggestions people make are also very good, and a lot of the time, you can click on the link to the suggested card’s page and learn a lot about the card. Did you know about Koskun Falls? Not a lot of people do. It’s worth researching.

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Ultimately, Daxos decks haven’t made it jump and neither did the printing of King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but it is still an interesting card and worth knowing about. Homelands has exactly one worthwhile card in it, so there are loose falls everywhere, but you won’t suffer from having one in your binder to swap for a bulk rare from a recent set you think has potential. The card could have easily been something worth watching like another card from the list.

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This card is way more interesting. Click around on some of the cards you may not be familiar with in the lists built by people who already built the deck you’re looking to “build” (theoretical or otherwise) and you may find some interesting cards. Contamination does a lot of work in Daxos and other annoying decks. It’s a nonbo with Sanctum and getting white mana in general, so I’m not sold on it for this list, but if other Daxos players are toying with it, it’s worth knowing about.

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Tapped Out is great for seeing complete decklists and seeing the cards in context of a deck, but it is really time-consuming to try and see which cards are used in common in a lot of the decks. Tapped Out doesn’t do that analysis for us. Fortunately, there is a site that does.

EDHREC FTW

Check out the EDHREC page for Daxos. It’s the data miner mother lode. There are a lot of obvious inclusions in the deck because the cards came bundled with Daxos, so for the time being, almost all Daxos lists online will contain Karmic Justice, Black Market. and Grasp of Fate. That’s not to say we can’t learn a lot from EDHREC even this early in the game. Really navigate the page just with your scroll bar for now.

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Hover over the numbers under the card and it will tell you what they are. I’ll also explain. The first number is straightforward: 94 percent of the decks in the database with Daxos the Returned as their commander run this card. Simple. The third number tells you the same information, but also how many decks there are total, which is useful to know. The middle number may be confusing—finance websites have trained us to see that as a trend number—maybe 50 percent more decks run Phyrexian Arena than last week because they all just busted one in a precon?

That number is actually called the “synergy rating.” Per the website: “How often this card is played in Daxos the Returned decks, vs. other black+white decks. A positive percentage means the card is played more often in comparison to other decks, negative percentage means it’s played less frequently than usual. A number near zero means it’s mostly likely a staple for those colors.”

This is great info, as it tells us whether a staple and shoo-in for a deck like Daxos the Returned is just good for the deck or is good for the colors. Cards with high percentages might not be the best investments, because they may be somewhat fringe-playable in the format as a whole. However, a high percentage means the popularity of the commander can be what drives the price, meaning the commander gaining popularity will be a factor in the price, especially when there is low supply, like on older cards. Daxos can’t drive Dictate of Erebos by itself, but maybe it can shove up a card like Heliod which has a 53-percent synergy rating and is a mythic that just rotated out of Standard. Heliod also spits out enchantments, which is perfect for a deck with Serra’s Sanctum.

EDHREC has a lot of useful features. You can see the cards used in the decks where Daxos is in the 99 rather than the Commander. You can see the decks where combinations of cards are used by clicking the advanced filter at the top next to recent decks.

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You can also get some help if you’re not too familiar with EDH by using the manabase crafter, which is a lot of help in identifying cards you might not know and which may be EDH staples you weren’t aware were cards you should pick, stock, or maybe speculate on. Not every card you see for the first time is a hidden gem, but you’re going to get a greater understanding of a format that can move prices profoundly and is not to be overlooked if you want to make money slinging cardboard.

Really peruse the site carefully. It’s chock full of features, and even if you don’t plan to ever sleeve the deck you “brew,” you are still going to want to know the most common cards in the deck. That’s what other people are using, which means they need them, which means they will need to buy them. The release of the five precons this month is a significant event for prices and that’s putting it mildly. Don’t miss being ahead of the curve.

Eating Pumpkins

I am going to cheat a little, because I already brewed my decklist so we can basically skip to the end if we want. That’s not to say I didn’t check both of the sites I mentioned when I brewed this deck, because I absolutely did that. I plan to build the deck, I plan to use some of the alternative methods for card acquisition I talked about in this piece, and ultimately, I have my eye on a few cards that I think could move based on what we learned on Tapped Out and EDHREC.

Are you going to build your own deck? Ezuri, Claw of Progress? Animar, Soul of Elements? Gisela, Blade of Goldnight? Whatever you decide to think about how to build, going through the motions of researching the deck is going to show you a lot of cards you should be paying attention to just as a matter of course. As far as theoretical exercises go, one that shows you a lot of data and leaves you with a decklist you could build if you wanted is pretty useful if you ask me. Until next time!

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You Sunk My Battleship

I talk a lot about rising tides lifting boats, but we cannot ignore what has just happened. Commander 2015 is out, and while the new cards’ prices are obviously in flux, starting at arbitrary preorder numbers guessed at by individuals and stores like Star City Games (and not always good guesses as the $1 they wanted for Blade of Selves can attest) and being buffeted by the waves of supply and demand until the stormy seas  calm down and the prices find their equilibrium, wherever that may be.

It doesn’t do us a ton of good right now to even talk about new singles, because the most efficient way to get the cards is still to crack precons, something I recommend. It’s roughly $120ish to get a full set of the 5 decks, which is basically a buy-four-get-one-free deal at MSRP, and it’s worth it for all of the deckbuilding stock, if that’s what you’re into.

Forget Deckbuilding, Where’s the Money?

If you aren’t into that and are more interested in investing, I’m going to advise we stay away from new cards for a while. The one real good buy-in opportunity for preorder cards was the $1 Blade, and when I saw on Saturday that was its  price, I wrote my weekly article a few days early. By the time it was published Tuesday, a day earlier than normal, the price had quintupled. I think that ship has sailed, but there is opportunity to buy cheaply if we know where to look.

Remember how I keep harping on Wurmcoil Engine? There’s a very good reason for that. We can learn quite a bit from Wurmcoil Engine about the future of singles prices, and the past Commander sets are going to be an excellent guide. Let’s spend some time looking at the prices of cards that are down, but not down for the count.

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Can you tell when Commander 2014 was announced? That’s when prices started to really tail off. What’s interesting about this graph isn’t just that it recovered, but you can actually see the exact day the sets were released. Can you guess where November 7 is? That’s right.

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So the set came out and the price immediately stopped falling. Dealers lost confidence entirely, taking their buylist price lower and lower, but the retail price of Wurmcoil stopped declining. Now, this is likely due to people not buying any copies of old Wurmcoil because they can get a new one for $30 along with the Dualcaster Mage that Wizards was so confident would be the new Snapcaster that they made a judge foil out of it and a ton of other great cards. The red deck was stacked, and while speculators were all-in on the white deck to get Containment Priest and throw the other 99 cards in the trash, the red one was mostly bought by players because Daretti is a cheater of a commander.

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But even though people stopped buying the old Wurmcoil as much because they could get the new one, look at the price of the new one. This graph starts on November 12, a few short days after the set hit. Despite supply hitting a new high, demand hit a new high as well and an MSRP of $30 for the entire deck wasn’t enough to keep Wurmcoil under $20.

There are other cards like this that saw a reprint and whose prices rebounded nicely. Looking at a few older examples can help us pick out some cards that are going to tick back up, albeit slower than Wurmcoil (which is a bit of an anomaly but which also demonstrates the power EDH has to influence prices).

A Lesson in Tools

A useful thing to know how to do on MTGPrice is to search for cards by set. At the top of the main, non-blog page, there are a few tabs, one of which is “Browse sets” which brings up a page where the sets are listed chronologically with the newest set on top. You can sort the cards in each set by price and see which cards are surprisingly expensive.

When Commander first debuted, Scavenging Ooze was the slam-dunk of the set, retailing for around $50. Currently, twenty cards in Commander are more expensive than the now-heavily reprinted Scavenging Ooze (and good for Wizards for reprinting it so it could be played in Modern), and only twelve of those cards were new in that set. Eight reprints surged or maintained while Ooze plummeted. Of those eight reprints, three of them surged or were propped up by Modern. That leaves five cards with enough EDH playability to have made them good investments. Was there any money to be made buying at the right time? What time was that?

MTG Price’s data on Commander sets starts in 2013, but we can still learn a bit about how time has a way of making initial investments look good a few years down the road.

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While Wizards hasn’t reprinted this card since, it has taken some of the pressure off with cards like Dictate of Erebos and Butcher of Malakir, a card the company will never stop printing every three months. Buying  even two years after the set was released, you would have made money on Grave Pact, turning a $5 initial buy-in into an opportunity to sell at retail for $15.  Grave Pact is never not going to be good in EDH, but I invested in Dictate of Erebos instead—and barring a reprint, I’m looking forward to that card hitting the $5 mark before I sell my hundreds of copies all purchased at bulk rare price.

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Some of this growth could be due to Modern, but this is a planeswalker and it’s hard to keep an original-five planeswalker down. Despite ten different versions of the guy floating around out there, all are worth roughly the same $8 right now.  I like almost any non-Tibalt planeswalker at around $4, and Daretti’s price is making me salivate.

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It’s hard to keep a good Wrath down, and this may be the best EDH Wrath ever with modes that you can play around or be entirely unaffected by. The price is flat now, but you could have turned $4 into $10 just by recognizing this card was perhaps the best white Wrath effect in EDH. Not bad.

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And these don’t even give the creature hexproof!

Commander 2013 has a few attractive targets, but even this far back, we haven’t quite seen how things are going to play out for a lot of them. Commander 2013 was bought to such an extent that there are only three cards that retail for over $5 in the whole set, new cards and reprints combined.

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It seems like they’re printing new chase utility lands rather than reprinting, so we may be safe from Homeward Path reprints for a while, giving the price a chance to grow a bit. It’s demonstrated the ability to hit $6 and I think it can again and more. The card is very good, and while Commander 2013 pushed out way more copies than the original Commander set, Homeward Path is in the Naya deck, easily the worst-selling of the five. If it doesn’t get reprinted, this is likely an $8 to $10 card in two years. However, I’m not buying in too heavily at $4.

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Utility uncommons can turn into powder if they get reprinted, but Deceiver Exarch surged due to a Modern-predicated buyout. You could have gotten these for practically nothing for a whole year and a half and ridden the wave. Are there any good Modern cards hiding in other Commander sets? Yep! And a recent printing in Commander 2015 is going to crush their prices, giving you a very good buy-in opportunity. We’ll be on the lookout for cards that have a place in EDH but are also Modern staples. I can think of one in particular.

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This card is going to shrug off a lot of reprints. Will this ever settle under $5? I don’t think so. EDH players rarely take decks apart, so every time they build a new deck with green in it, they’re going to want another copy of this. Modern players rediscover this card every once in a while and buy them by the playset. Commander 2015 just reprinted it and threatens to smash the price a bit, but if we ever see the days of $3 Eternal Witness again, it’s a snap buy. Can this card see $7 again? I am actually fairly confident that it can. The reprint risk is high, but I think how far you buy below $6 is all guaranteed profit when it pops back up to its previous high.

Not all cards can shrug off repeated reprints, however. Some are starting to show signs of fatigue.

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Back-to-back reprintings in Commander 2014 and Commander 2015 have probably cooked this goose completely. It doesn’t help that Solemn was in Built from Scratch, the same deck as Wurmcoil Engine, meaning the deck needed no help from a card like Sad Robot to bring up the value.

I expect the Ezuri deck, where it’s reprinted this time, to be a little different. With a lot of the value spread over $5 cards, it’s a totally different situation. That could be enough to prop the value up a bit, but I don’t see potential. I imagine Solemn will be in Commander 2016, as well. I don’t think they need to do these every year, but the cards that are only appropriate to be reprinted in one of the decks, or not at all, stand to gain a lot from people building new decks. Remember, Commander doesn’t need to grow that much as a format, it just needs to not shrink—because every new deck is a new excuse to build a bunch of decks.

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It’s clear this wasn’t price growth as much as price correction. The blue Commander 2014 precon was garbage: hot, greasy garbage. The white precon got Containment Priest and the blue one got Dulcet Sirens. The price fell way too far predicated on the reprinting being the pin in its price’s balloon that would keep it from surging out of control. Here’s the problem: it’s in a terrible deck and the card is just too good. Any card that is too good for the bad deck it’s in could see a price correction like this saw. Rift isn’t done going up, either, and should settle a little below its pre-drop price of $6 to $7. If you bought these at $1, you’re feeling good right now, especially since the RTR versions never dipped below $2. Next week, I’ll be trying to find cards analogous to this and a few others from this piece.

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Did anyone not see this coming? Yet how aggressively was anyone really buying at $2? And why not? This is a stupid elf that makes other stupid elves. It’s perhaps the best elf lord ever printed. Did we not expect it to double in a year’s time and climb higher if it’s not printed again? There are insanely popular tribes out there and their staples shrug off reprints because it’s s fun to have multiple elf decks. My Ezuri elf deck and my Nath elf deck aren’t going to have the same color sleeves so I can switch a bunch of cards between them. I’m going to buy another Imperious Perfect because I’m not a poor. Everyone else will, too, and the increased supply is going to create increased demand.

What happens isn’t always easy to predict, though.

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Sometimes the card doesn’t correct like you expect it to. There are a few things going on here, and the first is that it was reprinted in another deck so that’s going to curb its price growth potential quite a bit. The second hiccup is that the new “tuck” rule means this card isn’t quite the “suck it, nerd, your commander is gone forever” card that it used to be. But what people lamenting the fact that you can’t short a card are forgetting is that this is still practically the only way to remove a troublesome permanent in mono-red, and mono-red is really fun in EDH sometimes. I mean, it’s the worst color and it isn’t mitigated by other colors, but you can still do some fun and annoying stuff and if you want your commander to be Daretti or Godo or Kiki-Jiki or whomever, you’re going to have to have a way to remove permanents that isn’t Nevinyrral’s Disk. This is that. I expected this to go up already, so I’m a little puzzled. The Commander 2014 version is a whole dollar cheaper, probably because Wurmcoil is picking up so much slack that the rest of the cards in that deck are practically chaff, which is odd because almost every card in the red deck is better than almost every card in the blue one. Sometimes it’s not a meritocracy out there, folks.

What’s Happening Next Time?

I am looking forward to coming back hard next week and giving you my picks for cards that are soon to reverse the dip they took after their reprintings.  There is opportunity—just look at how much money you could have made buying Cyclonic Rift, Austere Command, Exarch, or a few dozen other real “growers.” Fortunately, the growers aren’t always show-ers, and if we can root them out, we could have as much as a year to get the copies we want before the prices start to soar.

Check in with me next week and we’ll take a look at some of my picks. As always, leave it in the comments and let’s make some money.

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The Rising Tide’s First Wave

Readers,

You knew I was going to address the Commander 2015 spoilers. With a lot of spoilers condensed into a few weeks, I’m going to have to basically address every card I can each week, since there is a lot to go over in a short time.

I’m potentially going to mention cards I’ve mentioned before in previous articles, but unlike previous articles, which highlighted archetypes that could emerge, these predictions are predicated on actual spoiled cards and there’s likely to be a lot more pressure on the cards due to the impending printing of new stuff.

I am going to talk exclusively about the five legendary creatures spoiled today, because all of them have the potential to launch new archetypes or replace older cards within their particular archetypes, and I think they will have the most profound effect on prices. This will be less in-depth  than the other articles about these color combinations, but while those were speculative based on the abilities typically given to cards in those combinations, this is predicated on the actual, spoiled cards. There’s a lot to go over, so let’s get down to it.

Daxos the Returned

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Potentially the best card spoiled so far with experience counters, this guy can get out of control very quickly. I have talked about enchantment-based decks before, with creatures like Heliod at the helm, but this guy is perfect. Are there cards we’re going to want to jam in a deck with Daxos as the commander?

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This seems like a shoo-in. Before, I discussed how good this was with a commander like Heliod, and while that meant this was likely to experience some growth eventually, I think Daxos as a commander is going to put pressure on this card right away. Every time you make another enchantment creature with Daxos’s ability, this taps for more mana. That alone is stupid. Using a ton of mana to pump out more tokens means you get out of control quickly. Black and white are great colors for enchantments as it is, and Theros block gave us a ton of exciting permanents that are enchantments in addition to their other types. Spear of Heliod is a great way to give yourself an experience counter then buff the creatures you throw out with Daxos.

Serra’s Sanctum itself is just dumb. While it doesn’t get the love in Legacy that Gaea’s Cradle does, this is just as good in some EDH decks and everything that made Cradle seem like a solid investment applies here. This card is on the Reserved List, and unlike Gaea’s Cradle which had extra copies due to the premium printing, all we have are regular Sanctums. This is a $30 card that could easily hit $50 and is never going to be bad in EDH or get reprinted. This seems like a no-brainer to me. The odds of this being in the Commander 2015 precon are zero percent.

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This is just going to shrug off reprints for days. With five printings and a nearly $10 price tag, this is an EDH staple. This s a very, very good card and it is very good in a deck like Daxos. Drawing cards is never bad, losing a life isn’t too arduous in a 40-life format, and playing this to give yourself an experience counter feels great to me. I don’t think this will go down a ton for very long if it is in the Daxos deck because it’s so ubiquitous in EDH, the price is trending upward, and we could see the Wurmcoil effect we saw with the mono-red deck from last time repeated here. I would call the odds this is in the precon less than 25 percent, and I don’t even think the reprinting would be that bad. If it is reprinted and the price tanks, buy these at its price floor. It absolutely will recover.

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This is very expensive and is only getting expensiver. If you’re not inclined to shell out $15 for a card with growth this flat, just remember this is going to get a boost from people building around Daxos. If this isn’t in the deck, and I don’t think it will be, the price has upward pressure. A reprinting would be brutal, but I think it’s a less than 35-percent chance. I would buy any copies I want for personal use now before the price goes up with  65-percent confidence. There is no pressure to reprint this for Modern, and it’s pretty expensive to jam in the precon. A card that soaks up that much of the value should really make the deck win, and this doesn’t help the precon beat other precons. If you buy one for your deck, buy two and put one in a box.

Also watch: Debtors’ Knell, Necropotence, Painful Quandary, Humility, Black Market, Land Tax.

Mizzix of the Izmagnus

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This card is basically what I imagined it would be, although it has an interesting caveat that I hadn’t anticipated. I knew just straight, “When you cast an instant or sorcery, get an experience counter,” would be too good and they got around that nicely by forcing you to play bigger and bigger spells to keep getting the cost reduction. Luckily, there are some great spells for that in Izzet.

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At $1.50 in foil, this is great in the deck but not super relevant financially. Still, I like how this plays with the new commander. You won’t lose money if it’s reprinted in the deck, and if you buy the foils you won’t gain a ton of money necessarily, either. Dealers aren’t super jazzed about this card—yet.

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At $9.50, this foil has upside from new decks and no downside from a potential reprinting. I don’t like the non-foils at $1.50 due to reprint risk and limited upside.

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This foil is pretty saucy under $3 also. There is real upside here and it won’t be reprinted in foil.

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This guy is to Storm as Animar is to morph decks and Mind’s Desire is going to get bugnutty. At $12.50, the foils are a bit pricey and the non-foils at $1 suffer from a lack of upside and a somewhat decent reprint risk, but this card is going to go in a lot of the new Mizzix decks. Is Mizzix better than Melek is for storm? Hard to say. But X spells in general are going to be insane.

Also watch: Inexorable Tide, Blue Sun’s Zenith, Flash of Insight, Omniscience, Contagion Engine, Prosperity.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

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It seems unlikely that the Golgari card that gives you experience counters will be better than this, but you never know. What I do know is that this card is stupid, especially with creatures that have persist plus sacrifice outlets. Two persist creatures and a sac outlet gets dumb, quickly. This card is dumb.

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You might want to build a Ghave deck just so you can put Mazirek in it and start cheating at Magic.

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Modern Masters made this card stop being $15. Mazirek could make it $15 again, but not this year. Still, this isn’t a $4 card anymore.

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Prossh and the printing of Dictate of Erebos brought this staple down from its all-time high of $14, but it could get up there again.

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This personal Fecundity is pretty good, but I don’t think it is at its bottom yet, nor do I think the non-foil can be pushed much.

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This personal Fecundity is a $6 foil and I think this deck gives it upside, and the fact that it’s uncommon means the non-foil is irrelevant.

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Skullbriar could get some upside as a deck as well as Ghave. Mazirek will be a fine commander but it can also bolster some older decks people may have forgotten about.

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Greater Good is unlikely to be in the deck, but a sacrifice outlet is essential, and this is one of the best ones you can buy. This price has been flat for a while, but it has demonstrated the ability to be more than it is now. Renewed interest in sacrificing things will shine a new light on this.

Watch also: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Dictate of Erebos, Miren, the Moaning Well.

Kaseto, Orochi Archmage

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I’m not super jazzed about this, as Ezuri is much better, but since this is in the deck, we’re likely to see snakes happen, so let’s look at any snakes that get better with this guy at the helm since EDH players love to build tribal.

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The Duel Deck printing pulled this card’s pants down. I’m not sure I think the upside from the potential snake tribal deck makes me want to pay $12.50 for the foil, but the risk of reprint there is lower. This is a snake I want to make unblockable or leave on defense with the ability to pump up at will.

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This is under $3 in foil and is absolutely going places. The non-foil could be in the deck but I like the foils.

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This card was going places already. You’re not buying in at the floor, but with a combination of new landfall cards and this card’s inherent unfairness with fetch lands, a new crop of which is in the hands of players and a new cycle of which is legal in Modern, this particular snake is gas.

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At under $3 in foil and close to bulk for a mythic, I don’t leave a single one of these in a binder if I can avoid it. This is a snake that makes smaller snakes. Seems fine.

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This gets a lot better when your commander can make it unblockable, and it’s cheap even in foil. If snake tribal is a thing, this is in the deck.

Also watch: Nature’s Will, Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant, Coat of Arms.

Ezuri, Claw of Progress

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Wow. I was hoping the Simic experience counter guy wouldn’t suck and this doesn’t. At all. It’s irresponsibly good. This makes too many cards good to even list.

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Can you get to five experience counters on Ezuri? What if you’re proliferating? I’d guess $5 for a foil Sage of Hours is going to seem very reasonable in a week.

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Hnnnnnnng. This is a bit of a nonbo if you’re trying to put more counters on your commander, but just be good at Magic and don’t sequence your cards terribly, and all of a sudden you can start dumping counters on Biomancer every turn and every creature you play is nuts.

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How good is this with Ezuri? Ugh. So good, that’s how.

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Yo, dawg, I hear you like triggers, so I made your triggers trigger your triggers. Imagine all the experience counters you will get playing this then something like Coiling Oracle. This is stupid. It’s stupid how much better Ezuri is than every other card they’ve spoiled.

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This is cheating. This is just absolute cheating. Mycoloth shrugged off a reprint and is headed for the stratosphere as it is and I can’t imagine a ridiculous commander like Ezuri doesn’t put a ton of upward pressure on this already decent price. This card is insane with Ezuri. I’m brewing a deck just by making a list of insane cards.

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I don’t know how much money you make buying this promo at $1, I just wanted to point out how insane this card is in an Ezuri deck. Jesus.

Also watch: Every hydra, Gilder Bairn, Doubling Season, Hardened Scales, Primal Vigor, Intruder AlarmCloudstone Curio, Inexorable Tide, Contagion Engine, Thrummingbird, basically every Simic card.

Why doesn’t this card say “non-token” so you can’t get 100 experience counters with a single Avenger of Zendikar? Why?

We’re seeing some pretty good cards and there are a lot of older cards identified here that I’m very confident about the upside on. A lot of decks are about to be built, and the cards in those decks that didn’t get reprinted have a lot of upside in their futures. Look what Nekusar did to wheel effects to see what kind of upside we’re talking about for the best cards in these decks. EDH is a serious price driver, and we’re about to see a lot of building going on.

I’m not super happy about getting EDH sealed product every year since it feels like too much to keep up with, but as long as I write for MTGPrice, I’m going to be on top of it and do the analysis so you don’t have to.

We’re going to get some new spoilers as the days go on, so check out MTGPrice for coverage and my weekly article series. Until next week!

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The Boros Karloff Halloween Special

Screw boat puns.

This could have been a series where each individual article was a separate, autonomous entity, referable to the whole by way of hyperlinks but also each its own standalone concept piece. “Up your butt with that,” I said, “I want to put a bunch of stupid puns in the title so everyone knows the pieces relate to my overall series where I talk about how a rising tide will lift all boats.”

I don’t live my life by your rules, man. I don’t do what’s “popular” or “convenient” or what “makes sense.” I march to the tune of my own disc jockey, and I’m about to get all Skrillex up in this bitch with part five of a five-part series that the longer it goes on I’ve gotten less and less enthusiastic about relating to the rest of the articles I write about EDH finance . Have you hung in there the whole time? Did you read the other four parts? I feel like they were instructive and (I think) entertaining and worth reading. Feel free to catch up real fast or you’re going to wonder why I keep talking about Wurmcoil Engine.

Part 1 – Orzhoz

Part 2 – Golgari

Part 3 – Simic

Part 4 – Izzet

Here we are, folks. We’re at part five of five. The money shot. La fin du chemin. The culmination of my hard work and your even harder work tolerating my flippant writing style, heavy-handed metaphors, verbosity, and insistence I know the future. Don’t pretend you didn’t love every second of it, nerds. Will I do any better a job predicting what’s bound to happen this time around? I think I might. After all, we have four weeks’ experience writing this series, and we have a secret weapon. We have a spoiler.

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What does this tell us? Well, it tells us a lot. We used the fact that the rest of the decks would likely (and not even definitely!) get experience counter shenanigans to write some of the articles, do you think I won’t predicate a great deal of my predictions this time around on the fact that we know a card the deck will be built around? Don’t count on it. This is happening. First, let’s ignore this card to the extent that we should look at the trusty Magic wiki article we have thus far used to look at the unique color-pie attributes of the various enemy-color combinations.

Combat

What does that even mean?

Combat? Boros specializes in combat? Okay, well, I guess I could see that. We have cards like Insurrection and Master Warcraft. Cards like Ghostway and Legion’s Initiative, cards like Assault Strobe and Righteousness. This lame, generic descriptor becomes even less silly when you think about the fact that Boros’s new flagship commander is basically a big, dumb combat animal. We want him to attack and block, and he does both. Play big, dumb creatures to help him out and he gets even bigger, combating even more better. Sorry, I’m just so thrown by the no-help description of “combat” that I’m lapsing from typing like I’m Boros into typing like I’m Gruul.  “Gruul do smash good, so am Boros. Boros am Gruul smash friend. Trump 2016.”

What can we see being included that’s worth actual money and could help with… err… combat? I mentioned Master Warcraft, and while it’s my favorite Boros card for EDH that no one sees coming, it’s also a quarter right now, so it’s not worth caring about. Either it goes up to 50 cents over the next decade or it stays true bulk with a reprint. I feel the same way about Boros Battleshaper, a bulk rare that’s a shoo-in in the deck if I’m on the design team, as it triggers your commander and confuses combat. It’s the perfect card for this deck. It’s also a bulk rare. What can we actually make money from?

Remember EDHREC? This time, I looked at the cards used in a Narset deck for cards that could help us in combat, since Narset is doing that very well right now. Here’s what I found.

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This seems like a pretty good Wurmcoil candidate. Is it too unfair to be able to serve with a 6/6 double-striker ad nauseum or is this what EDH was designed for? This card is expensive because Narset is such a good Commander and a reprint could erase some feelbads. Other variants are possible as well.

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Look how Boros-y this card is. It’s even both colors. I wouldn’t hate this $6 monster getting its wings clipped a bit.

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Could this Narset-benefactor see a reprint or will its keyword ability be too confusing for an EDH crowd, keeping it out of the deck? Relentless Assault is easier to grok and has also been printed 133 times, making it not financially-relevant. I feel like Savage Beating is in the same category—does it get a reprint for flavor or does it get a miss because of the keyword ability? I feel like there will be exactly one card in this vein in the deck, and if you’re holding one that’s more than $3, it may be time to dump and pick up later, or replace with the cheaper version printed in the deck that you subsidized the purchase of by dumping Aggravated Assault at its current peak. Then again, if it isn’t reprinted, the Boros commander likely gives the card upside, meaning $11 isn’t the immediate ceiling. If you have sellers you trust to ship and quick reflexes, try to arbitrage a few bucks here at low risk, but I’m not doing any of that noise.

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Again, while there isn’t much precedent for a reprint like this, we did see Planechase‘s Baleful Strix in a subsequent Commander deck. This card doesn’t only trigger the commander, it also rules combat. I don’t know how likely this reprint is, especially with a keyword ability seen in only one other set, but I’m mentioning it because all of the other Boros creatures that deal with combat, like Angelic Arbiter and Blazing Archon, are dirt cheap. Even Silent Arbiter got a pansting in the same set that gave us Scourge of the Throne. So much Boros stuff dealing with combat is dirt cheap. Are we getting Orim’s Chant? Doubtful. Are we getting Master Warcraft? I’d bet money on it.

Weenies

Ugh. I realize Boros is very good at this, but the deck’s commander is almost set up as the exact opposite of how a weenie strategy wants to work. You don’t want to play weenies and Jor Kadeen and go wide, you want to play Gisela and Steel Hellkite to buff your general and go Voltron. I could talk about weenies stuff here, but we know that almost certainly makes no sense. The deck will be big, fat creatures for the most part, some buffs to make combat tricky, and maybe some equipment and auras.

Cards More Likely Than Weenies

I think it’s worth talking about cards I expect in the deck rather than stuff like Assemble the Legion and Shrine of Loyal Legions which, while good, don’t jive with the commander at all.

First up, let’s discuss some possible angels, since Wizards had a lot of chances to reprint angels recently and surprised people with some of the choices made.

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This card wasn’t reprinted in FTV Angels, and many think that was an oversight. While Aurelia would have been a fine inclusion in FTV Angels, this could be a chance for a reprint in the Wurmcoil slot to redeem Wizards for ignoring this card and its two angel sisters. Then again, is Wizards likely to print a card from a pseudo-cycle by itself? Exclusion from FTV Angels didn’t affect this card’s price, and with no pressure on it, you don’t stand to gain anything if it’s not reprinted, so a reprint is all downside if you’re holding. Is this too good with a double striker? Maybe.

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Based on the need to reprint Elesh Norn and the inclusion of a cycle of dragons in Modern Masters 2013, I predicted the praetors cycle would be in Modern Masters 2015. I was one-fifth correct with that prediction, which sucked, but it was based on sound logic and I feel good about the thought process. This card interacts well with the commander and isn’t as unfair as a card like Vorinclex, so it might be a good inclusion.

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This guy would be a good card in the Wurmcoil slot, along with maybe a card like Steelshaper’s Gift. This card isn’t as good in EDH as it is in Legacy, although equipping Batterskull to your commander, even with no experience counters, is likely very hard to stop for the other decks. I thought about Sword of War and Peace, but why include one sword and not the corresponding one in each deck? That makes no sense outside of Boros with no way to tutor in other colors. Would this have been too much in last year’s mono-white deck that also had Containment Priest, and does it make more sense, now? Sunforger was just reprinted, Jitte isn’t getting reprinted, Swords are a cycle and tough to reprint. This might make the deck ridiculous, but I don’t think that the Boros deck is getting a Legacy-caliber card.

Follow my logic here: last time, the two Legacy-tier cards were Containment Priest (slam dunk) and Dualcaster Mage (swing and a miss). Since there isn’t much good stuff to reprint in the Izzet deck, I expect the Izzet one to get a Legacy-caliber new card. I doubt all five decks will be equally stacked, since there is no precedent for that, so one or two other decks are likely to get a good, new card. I doubt both decks with red in them would get the Legacy card, so Izzet’s likelihood, in my mind,  diminishes Boros’s chances.

If we’re not trying to find a Wurmcoil-tier card,  we may be able to build a decent amount of value to make the deck attractive by getting there piecemeal.

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Here’s an equipment that’s more reasonable than Batterskull (a card I don’t think Wizards would jam in the Boros deck, necessarily) and could be cheaper and more plentiful than it is now for the good of the format.

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The “against” column includes the awkwardness of either printing half of a cycle or a tenth of it and its previous reprinting in Planechase. The “for” column mostly consists of “triggers commander” and “wouldn’t it be great?” I feel this could go either way.

But How About That Wurmcoil Candidate?

There are a lot of cards I didn’t even mention because they’re too inexpensive to matter, even though they’re super likely reprints (Boros Battleshaper, Foundry Champion, Angelic Skirmisher, Master Warcraft, Agrus Kos).

There were a lot of cards I didn’t mention because their mana costs made them awkward with the commander (Angel of Jubilation, Serra Ascendant [this card is also one that Wizards doesn’t like to acknowledge is only good because of EDH’s rules], Firemane Avenger, Grand Abolisher, Hero of Bladehold, Iroas, God of Victory).

Will there be a Wurmcoil-tier card in this mess? It’s possible. I can make a few guesses, though I don’t have a ton of confidence in any of them.

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This could go in any deck and should get reprinted eventually, but last set would have been better than this one, so I don’t really think it’s all that likely.

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I’m actually reasonably confident about this one.

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This actually does work in the deck, and since you’ve already lost 75 percent of your money if you bought at its peak, why not lose some more?

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Who doesn’t want discount fatties? This is on my EDH reprint wishlist, and it’s a bit flat for now, but I feel like it could go up soon. Not being on the Reserved List like its powerhouse counterparts like Covetous Dragon and Carnival Of Souls, this card is a serious tribal workhorse and could stand to be dusted off.

Final Thoughts

That basically concludes this series. While I’m not expecting all or even most of these fantasies to come true, I think it’s important to think about how the future will pan out as far as Commander 2015 is concerned. This is a good chance to give us new cards, reprint some old favorites, and get people playing EDH. We have had one or two decks fly off of the shelves every time, leaving the other decks to sell out more slowly. As spoilers come in, we may be able to figure out which one that may be this year, but I feel like each deck will have merit this time, and I plan to buy a personal copy of all five like always to tear into them and start building.

Feel free to point out anything I missed or argue for something I did include in the comments section. While I’m sad to be concluding this miniseries, I am looking forward to using next week to start brewing with spoiled cards and figuring out what could be on the rise in the future. Until then!

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