Category Archives: ProTrader

MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 89 (Oct 12th/17)

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MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: Oct 12th, 2017

Segment 1: Top Card Spikes of the Week

Charmed Griffin

Charmed Griffin (MM, Foil Uncommon)
Start: $.75
Finish: $5.00
Gain: +$4.25 (+567%)

Quicksilver Fountain (MRD, Rare)
Start: $1.00
Finish: $5.00
Gain: +$4.00 (+400%)

Longtusk Cub (KLD, Foil Uncommon)
Start: $2.25
Finish: $7.50
Gain: +5.25 (+233%)

Hunting Grounds (CMA, Foil Rare)
Start: $9.00
Finish: $25.00
Gain: +16.00 (+178%)

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Fiery Justice (MM, Rare)
Start: $3.00
Finish: $7.00
Gain: +$4.00 (+133%)

Aether Flash (7th, Foil Rare)
Start: $6.00
Finish: $13.00
Gain: +$7.00 (+117%)

Memory Jar (URL, Foil Rare)
Start: $185.00
Finish: $400.00
Gain: +$215.00 (+116%)

Search for Azcanta (IXL, Rare)
Start: $7.00
Finish: $15.00
Gain: +$8.00 (+114%)

Nicol Bolas (LEG, Rare)
Start: $27.00
Finish: $55.00
Gain: +$28.00 (+104%)

Vraska’s Contempt (CON, Foil Rare)
Start: $5.00
Finish: $10.00
Gain: +$5.00 (+100%)

Segment 2: Picks of the Week

James’ Picks:

Thought-Knot Seer

  1. Thought-Knot Seer (OGW, Rare)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $7.00 to $20.00 (+13.00/185%) 6-18+ months)

2. Sigarda’s Aid (EMN, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $3.50 to $10.00 (+6.50/+185%, 12-18+ months)

3. Aetherflux Reservoir (KLD, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $5.00 to $15.00 (+10.00/+200%, 6-12+ months)

Travis Picks:

Assemble the Legion

Duskwatch Recruiter

  1. Assemble the Legion (GTC, Rare)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 9: $6.00 to $15.00 (+9.00/+150%, 6-12+ months)

2. Phyrexian Metamorph (NPH, Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $9.00 to $20.00 (+11.00/+122%, 0-12+ months)

Disclosure: Travis and James may own, or intend to own, speculative copies of the above cards.

Segment 3: Metagame Week in Review

The Standard meta at the World Championships was the topic of the week, as the crew reviewed the continual narrowing of the meta into Red, Energy and UBx Control strategies.

Segment 4: Topic of the Week

Travis and James took a deep dive on the state of Magic: The Gathering branding and how it might impact the future of the game.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Exploring New Avenues

Nerds,

It’s been a week since I dropped some knowledge on you and I’m happy I don’t have to talk about stupid tribal decks and how much people are playing them in EDH because I get to talk about stupid tribal decks and how much people will be playing them outside of EDH. Isn’t that fun? I am honestly looking forward to taking a break from trying to find value in decks predicated on Ixalan Legends because so many of them include cards that are specific to that tribe that were printed in Ixalan which means there are really limited opportunities. EDH finance isn’t easy mode because we spend a ton of time looking at which stupid pirates will go up by a dollar over the next two years because of people build pirate EDH decks, we want commanders like The Gitrog Monster to come along and make a bunch of old cards with low supplies and high upsides go off. Gishnath (or whomever) the dinosaur Legend doesn’t really do much of that – it’s all Ixalan dinosaurs, generic tribal cards like Urza’s Incubator and Coat of Arms and a bunch of lunatics who thought they were going to make a killing buying out foil Deathmist Raptor.

What is more fun is getting to buy cards that hit rock bottom after a reprint and go right back up because they are great cards and demand will soon soak up supply. It’s even better when people overestimate supply based on an initial flood of redemptions and buylist sales and we can really make bank. Remember how I like to talk about U-shaped and reverse-J-shaped graphs? You don’t? How is that possible, I literally talked about that like two weeks ago. The article was above reproach and I can tell that because there are no comments and that only happens when people read it and no one thinks “I’m way smarter than this guy” like what happens most weeks.

I think we have an opportunity to watch a few cards crater and then rebound more quickly than most people will anticipate. Furthermore, I think these cards crept up very sneakily and they have the capacity to creep up sneakily again. A lot of players don’t know what these cards cost now and in two years, they won’t know that the prices went up, then down then up again, they’ll just say “Wow, when did THIS get expensive?” not knowing that there are a lot of answers to that question. Not to dump on those people – they’re the best. They buy our cards on TCG Player. They trade us Standard expensive cards for EDH staples with so little regard for monetary value that how much money you make on the trade depends entirely on your conscience. They buy instant collections in your LGS because they need bulk rares and basic lands and a box to carry their Thallids deck in.  Hyper competitve players will miss these price movements, too, but only because they can only focus on the 50 cards that are expensive in Modern and Legacy and the 20 cards that are expensive in Standard that month.

Being able to see the price depression and subsequent rebound coming a mile away means we’re the ones buying at the valleys and selling at the peaks. We’re not making the price go up, ironically the people buying at the peak and complaining about speculators are the ones who do that, but we are benefiting, and why shouldn’t we? We paid attention to the price of the card every week for two years, after all. So before we mentally spend the millions we’re going to make off of savvy investments, let’s look at the impetus for prices changing.

 

Shut Up And Take Their Money

Settlers of Catan Explorers of Ixalan offers casual players the chance to pay $65 to not have to cobble together their own goofy homebrew Magic variant that someone came up with on the /r/magictcg subreddit that uses Dominion cards, the Ticket to Ride gameboard and the rules insert from Machi Koro to make a game of what is essentially a bad form of Planechase take 5 1/2 hours like casual people like. Instead, they can play some goofy Magic variant cooked up by whatever Hasbro executive is in charge of overseeing Magic development because his uncle on the Hasbro board is grooming him to take over as head of Angry Birds merchandising as soon as his therapist assures him that his hooker-choking days are behind him. This is likely to be a pretty annoying form of casual, bad EDH that snobs like me have no interest in, but what it’s also going to do is provide a pretty reasonable way to get copies of cards into the hands of people.

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This is going to reprint some key cards, but with MSRP so high on these sets, prices shouldn’t take a giant dump right away. Casual players aren’t inclined to buy these and immediately ship the good cards and dealers aren’t necessarily inclined to slice into $65 product that they likely paid $35+ for just to cannibalize a few singles. If it’s not super cost effective to pop these sets and the kind of people who likely buy these for retail don’t sell the singles off right away, prices may not crater unless their old price was a lie predicated on low supply and overestimated demand. I intend to look individually at each card reprinted in this set that has been announced so far and see if we think the value of the cards therein is likely to tank or stay mostly the same based on the $65 price tag and mainly casual appeal. If we do think prices will go down, I’ll try and guess at which ones will recover the best and which to target. This is not what I normally do in this column but is “what I normally do in this column” even really a thing anymore?

What Will This Set Do?

Suddenly we have a new product that, if repeated, can be a new avenue to reprint these cards that seemed “reprint-proof” just a few months ago. Planechase, Archenemy and now this; could we get a product like this every year?

Either this sells well and they repeat it in which case we have another mine to dodge when it comes to Commander-based price spikes or they don’t repeat this. In either case, I think buying foils is one way to mitigate reprint risk but there are so few available copies and even fewer move quickly that I’m not advocating that. Buying foils is great for one or two people but the majority of people get left out so I don’t tend to advocate something like that in an article series that, according to google analytics, has a wider audience than one or two people. My Mom, six Russian bots and both of my google accounts (Jason Alt and Ricardo Dangersword) read every article so I’m at least reaching those people. So while foils are safe, reminding people to buy foils seems pretty pointless.

We had some time between Commander 2017 hype and the announcement of this set but the problem is that next year, it won’t be as obvious what to buy for non-EDH players like it was this year. We knew there would be tribal decks so we knew that if at least one deck had red cards in it, Shared Animosity was a good buy if it wasn’t reprinted. A lot of people didn’t even wait for confirmation that the card wasn’t in one of the decks before they bought in. Next year, the cards won’t be obvious which means the prices will move based on real, organic demand. That’s just starting to happen in earnest now, so if we have the same print schedule, there won’t be much time for growth between cards from Commander 2018 materializing as good buys and the reprint potential in “Settlers of Dominaria” or whatever.

Let’s look at the specific cards.

Shared Animosity

Currently the most expensive card spoiled so far, if this maintains its current value due to the set not being worth cracking but doesn’t see a race to the bottom in terms of dealers getting out of copies of the deck, this pays for more than the deck it’s in. Experiencing a recent double-up that we predicted in this series (anyone who paid attention saw this coming but don’t you pay me to pay attention so you don’t have to?) this card is very good in tribal decks. Our prediction that it would go up if it wasn’t reprinted in Commander 2017 was true but short-lived. People made a lot of money getting in early and getting out before Explorers was announced, but neither of those will be a thing next year.

Should Explorers depress the price, this card goes back up. I could see this hitting $5 if the set sells well and maybe a bit more if it doesn’t. The supply likely to be introduced by people buying Explorers is likely to be offset just about equivalently by the increased demand from people building more tribal decks. They seem to be focusing on the tribes from the Standard sets being used outside of just those sets and this year they even tied it in to the Commander release to an extent, introducing white Vampires in Commander 2017 before they did so in Ixalan. It’s an estimate, but I expect new demand to be enough to offset new supply enough to get Animosity back up to the $10 or so it was before Commander 2017 came along. If this hits $3 or $4, I’m a buyer. I still like these up to like $8 in trade because these move briskly, especially if they only get up to like $10. With more tribal focus likely in the future, this seems like the card with the most upside out of all of Explorers, but maybe not the most applicability cross-format.

Aggravated Assault

While I don’t think this has quite the upside of Shared Animosity and this benefited a lot from having pretty low supply due to being from an older set when cards like Narset made this an allstar, EDH seems to be focusing a bit more on combat. This was a great card to reprint, and it’s pretty likely that like 18 months ago when I was saying this needed a reprint, Wizards was planning to jam this in Explorers. I think it’s possible that other Masterpieces are good harbingers of future reprints in sets like Explorers if they continue and that’s a topic we can delve into another day. I think this likely goes very cheap, bottoming out around the same price as Shared Animosity if the set sells well and maybe a bit more if it doesn’t. If this hits like $2 or $3, I’m interested. I think $10 is a pretty reasonable place for this to end up, but $8 wouldn’t surprise me as a worst case scenario. There is a ton of demand – Aggravated Assault is in nearly twice as many EDH decks on EDHREC as is Shared Animosity. I think this could end up above Shared Animosity since cross-format applicability juiced Animosity’s price a bit in the past and got copies concentrated in the hands of dealers sooner. If this ended up the most expensive card in Explorers in a year, I wouldn’t be surprised. I like this a lot when it bottoms out.

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Time Warp

This can’t quite maintain $20 owing to multiple reprintings. However, while this reprinting is going to bring the price down, I think Time Warp (Nearly 6,000 decks on EDHREC) seems to be the most played card and with Modern applicability and the possibility that someone will make a YouTube video about a deck with Time Walk effects and spike everything from this to Part the Waterveil again (could that be what happened in 2016 to make this $25, a price it couldn’t maintain?) this also could end up the most expensive card in Explorers when the dust settles. Gettable around $14 right now, this likely tanks as much as anything else. I think it’s safe to call this $8-$10 in a year from now and I think barring more reprints, it can flirt with $20 again. I really don’t know how much Explorers of Ixalan will hit the market, so I could be giving the reprint too much credit, but I think this will be a brief window where players can get a Time Warp without paying more than $10 and they’ll want to. I bet this is the pace card that establishes the rate of price recovery for the rest of the cards to try and imitate.

Beacon of Immortality

Beacon of Unrest went down to $2. Beacon of Unrest is in four times as many decks as Beacon of Immortality. Commander 2016 likely sells way more decks than Explorers of Ixalan. Will it sell four times as much? This could end up really cratering in price the way Beacon of Unrest did, and while the demand seems less than for Beacon of Unrest, the fact that lifegain is something people are excited about means that maybe the current demand being a fourth of that of Unrest is less important than crossing some invisible threshold. Maybe recovery is a yes/no question rather than a “how much?” question. I think this has the goods to hit such a threshold if it exists. Does this end up $0.50 extrapolated from the price of Beacon of Unrest? Maybe. But I think we will see this recover to at least the $2-$3 Beacon of Unrest is a year later.

Quicksilver Amulet

The price of this card is kind of all over the place. Big Dargons caused people to buy these and some retailers sold out repeatedly and ratcheted their price up to about $15 at one point but other retailers don’t seem to be moving them at the old price. It doesn’t seem worth it to snap those $10 copies so they just sit there. I think this is also going to be an EDH allstar and with the big Dargon and Dinosaur decks of the past year likely to be at least a portion of what we see printed in the future, expect this to recover to at least $5. I like these if they bottom out around $1.

Regisaur Alpha

I don’t care about this card. This isn’t an EDH card outside of the Gishath deck and Standard either will or won’t make this a real card. It reminds me of Bloodbraid Elf a little bit but then I reread it and remember it doesn’t have haste, only the token and then I get sad. I don’t know what’s going to happen in Standard and I’m staying out of it. Plenty of people are willing to stick their neck out and talk about that format.

Adaptive Automaton

I feel like the price isn’t done going up on this because I feel like it was just getting started. It was an obvious card and while a lot of sites are sold out, I feel like no one has restocked at a new price and that means TCG Player basically establishes the price itself. It’s not selling out at $7-$8. With the same demand in a year and way more copies, this likely can hit $5 so bear that in mind when you decide if it’s gotten cheap enough to buy. This will always be a decent lord but everyone seems so enamored with Metallic Mimic right now that this is almost an afterthought. This is good for us – Automaton is quietly in 30% more decks than Mimic due to a combination of having just been around longer and therefore registered in more decks even if people later took Automaton out. That’s kind of a problem with EDHREC numbers but considering we’re looking at ratios rather than integers, I think it’s fair to say Automaton has more demand at leave it at that.  I think this is always a $5 card no matter how many times it’s reprinted provided it gets 12 months to recover in between. I think this could tank less than other cards and I think it might grow sooner, but if this does crater at like $1 or below, make like a single mother in the detergent aisle on supermarket sweep and shove these in your shopping cart.

Threads of Disloyalty

A modicum of play in the sideboard of a deck that basically no longer exists in a format that basically no one is excited about got this to flirt with $40. Look at the slope of the price graph when the card was forced to deal with reality. Do you imagine the slope will be less steep now that we have the same demand and more supply? Stay away from these. This is not an EDH card, anyway, what do I care?

I think these are the relevant cards. Everything else spoiled is a bulk rare basically already (Vanquisher’s Banner might have had a chance to do something but got nipped in the bud). Next week we should have something else to talk about and we’ll do that. Until next week!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Dino-Might

Readers,

I am really sick of talking about tribal decks. I want to talk about something that isn’t tribal and I’ve been doing that on Gathering Magic where I can. Since they decided to integrate Commander 2017 with Ixalan (which is neat, don’t get me wrong) they have mostly tribal commanders in Ixalan as well as the tribal commanders in Commander 2017. Most decks being built now are tribal. I want to talk about Marvin Feins or whoever and I’d like to talk about Tishana (as boring to build as I imagine Tishana is going to be) and it doesn’t matter because I have to talk about where I think the money is. I can’t ignore data because that’s irresponsible. So as much as I would like it if Tishana were likely to matter, I’ll save that for my Gathering Magic article next week (which you should absolutely read, by the way. If you find this article valuable, that is. It’s free to read, they can justify paying me if people read it and I talk about EDH cards which it turns out I’ve established are relevant) and focus on a deck I don’t even want to talk about a little bit but which was built 3x as much as Tishana.

Tribes Ruin Everything

I don’t pretend to understand EDH better than basically everyone who plays Magic and I’m certainly not inclined to pontificate that I can figure it out faster than that group of people known as “everyone.” I was worried that I would miss the boat entirely by waiting to get build data from EDHREC on the Commander 2017 commanders. It turns out everything worked like normal this time – we had a wave of people buying specs as soon as they knew the decks were tribal and most of those specs were bad. We had another wave of people buying when they knew what the tribes were, and most of those specs were bad. The prices on those cards are likely ruined forever, but organic demand didn’t drive them and you’re likely going to get stuck with your copies unless you bought a very small amount, in which case you didn’t really speculate. If you predict a card going from $2 to $20 and you bought 10 copies, you weren’t confident or ballsy and you didn’t get rewarded. If you predict 10 cards going from $2 to $20 and you bought 0 copies, you’re me, but that’s another story.

The third wave after the first two “Uh, I think I can figure out that a tribal Wizard deck is going to play Patron Wizard, EDH isn’t that tough to figure out, guy” speculators, we had the “normal” wave of cards going up based on people figuring out what people were actually doing. It took me a long time staring at Mairsil to figure out anything I wanted to put a cage counter on but the internet figured it out eventually, I wrote an article about Mairsil stuff like a month after Commander 2017 came out and those cards are popping off, a few a week. It’s 2015 again! So while the tribal decks make people think they knew what they’re doing get super confident, we can still do our normal thing.

 

 

Hateflayer popped this week, but it had been growing steadily recently and as we predicted, Mairsil gave it a lot of upside. Let’s compare a card like Patron Wizard which is at $20 instead of the $3 Hateflayer is currently selling for.

So we have 4 decks that were running it before and 94 new Inalla decks (it’s OK in Inalla, don’t get me wrong) jamming it. Do we think the spike to $20 was justified? Do we think it hangs out there? I’ll leave that for the bro finance crowd who thought it was super obvious to buy every Wizard despite none of the older Wizards really playing all that well with Mairsil or Kess at all. The decks were called tribal but 2/3 of the marquee commanders and like all of the other random commanders like Taigam(s) don’t care about tribes, really and certainly not in the way everyone who bought in the first two waves “knew” it would matter. $20 Patron Wizard is a joke but if you are one of the few people who need it for Inalla, the joke’s on you.

The stuff in the Mairsil deck that no one predicted when the card was first announced but going up later when we had pricing data leads me to believe that even though tribal stuff is “obvious” to some who think being able to make simple, superficial observations means that all of this is easy, we’ll still be able to make money by seeing what players are actually playing, buying before supply dries up and selling into the increased demand like always. Tribal decks screwed up a lot but they didn’t screw up everything.

Stupid Tribe of the Day

I don’t want to talk about dinosaurs but I sort of have to. Gishath isn’t a card that is particularly exciting to me but it’s getting built kind of a lot this week.

Anything that gets over the Atraxa hump is worth discussing. I predict I have to dig down a little bit to (I want to let you know that at this point in the sentence I conceived of and immediately abandoned an idea where I’d make a bunch of puns about an archaeological excavation for dinosaur specs and how they are like dinosaur bones. I don’t want you to think I’m the kind of guy who can’t resist a dumb metaphor but I also don’t want you to think I’m not smart enough to figure out there was an opportunity there). Gishath is made up almost entirely of terrible, bulk rare dinosaurs and uncommons plus the same tribal stuff that is going to go up a little but do you want to be paying $20 for a card that’s going to hit $23? With this many Gishath decks being built, there is going to be money to be made and it’s going to take some work to find it but we’ll do it.

Xenagos, God of Revels

An amount of reprint risk that I would classify as “moderate” has a lot of people spooked. Could this be in some duel deck? Maybe Inconic Masters? Basically, people are worried about this going in Commander 2018 and if it’s not, I think this is a real opportunity. This is doing an odd Shepard Tone thing with the price graph but I really think we’re at a tipping point. I don’t like to buy deep into specs that I advocate because I don’t want to be accused (more) of trying to pump and dump cards. It never feels good even when it’s ridiculous. I won’t say who but he knows who he is, accused me of trying to pump and dump Tropical Island because I said it would correct to be more than Bayou since it was less than Bayou at the time. So I guess if being ethical gets you nowhere, I might as well throw a couple hundo at Xenagos and see where it Xena…goes….from there? I probably won’t, but I should.

Real talk, there are only 139 listings on TCG Player right now, this goes in every Gishath deck plus it’s nutty in other decks plus it’s a decent commander in its own right. You can find these for like $7 online. Why isn’t this more money? Because the demand is organic and that doesn’t set off any alarms. You’re flirting with some (moderate) reprint risk (reprinting Iroas in a Commander set spooked people) but you’re also looking at some real upside. This is the second best Theros era God and it can break the $10 mark easily and from there, they sky’s the limit.

Selvala’s Stampede

This card isn’t Expropriate, but it’s a beating. With Conspiracy 2 being such a wildly unpopular set, it’s tough to get the packs moving. What’s driving sales? Leovold, a card banned in EDH? Packs that contain cards that can only be used in drafts? People drafting it? With boxes selling on eBay for basically dealer cost, Conspiracy 2 cards are on the way up. Unless they’re reprinted, something that’s doubtful in the case of a lot of the cards, demand is going to begin soaking supply. Selvala’s Stampede has a lot going for it and it’s particularly good in the Gishath deck. Some Legacy demand would sure be nice but since that’s not going to happen, we’re going to have to rely on scarcity, which is fine because scarcity is giving Conspiracy 2 cards all it’s got. 6 mana is super doable in EDH, it’s especially doable in a dino deck with a high mana curve that requires a ton of ramp and it’s asymmetrical. At $2 this card is pretty bananas, and with Leovold not as in-demand, expect the value from the set to go somewhere if the boxes are to maintain even dealer cost.

Congregation at Dawn

The second spikes are always the tastiest and while demand petered out after the first brush with greatness, new demand is coming for this card. Gishath is a “the top of your library matters” card and this stacks the deck for you, making sure you hit what you need. Triple Worldly Tutor seems pretty good to me for under a buck and we’ve seen this flirt with $5 absent organic demand. With more copies likely concentrated in the hands of the dealers and unable to mitigate a second spike, this card could climb to around $3-$5 and stay there. It’s a gamble so I think your best bet is to do what I do and buy collections and yank these out of “bulk” all the time. Foils are already $5 and those are even less reprintable and as lazy as that is intellectually, it’s a safer place to park money. Do I think enough people are going to foil their dinosaur deck that this is going to make more than one person money? Not really. Foils are great for someone to think of it and make some money selling the few copies they’re going to sell on TCG Player but they’re not great calls to give advice to thousands of readers. Maybe you can all fight each other for the few  copies left on TCG Player. You can count on reddit to make a “ZOMG BYEOUT!!!1” post when the stock gets low, you can count on a few lunatics to buy a foil card that’s useful in EDH (somewhat) and you can count on me taking credit for nailing another spec weeks early in my oddly prescient article series that no one reads.

1509 total decks is nothing to sneeze at. I thought maybe Dinosaurs might be a better deck than most to try and foil out since a lot of the dinosaurs are dirt cheap even in foil, but then you’re trifling with foil Urza’s Incubator, Mirari’s Wake, Cavern of Souls, etc and you’re stuck with a lot of cards from Commander 2017 that can’t be foil but you really want to be. In general, I don’t think people want foils of bad cards as much as people who sell one or two copies of that card a year claim.

Tribal Stuff

Herald’s Horn keeps going up and Path of Ancestry doesn’t. I’m not sure what to make of that. Horn presold for like $2 and is now like $6, Path presold for $3 and is now like $3. Sure, Path is in twice as many precon decks, but you want to know something interesting?

It’s twice as popular. I’m not saying those two effects should cancel each other out, and with Horn being buried in the terrible cat deck, supply isn’t quite at a 2:1 ratio in the world. Both cards are good but the price only moving on one of them is a little puzzling. Horn isn’t 3 times as good as Path and Path’s price isn’t commensurate with its popularity. All I know is that both cards are great and the fact that there is pent-up demand for them for tribal decks that aren’t being built from the precon means there will always be net demand. Who’s opening a precon, building a deck out of it and cutting either or both of these? In the case of Horn, you’re maybe building a Mirri or (the cat blacksmith, not interested in taking the time to look up his stupid cat name this close to the end of the article) deck and maybe you don’t need Horn, but I bet you don’t cut Path. These cards are going to be good forever and they’re awkward to reprint unless the Commander set has a tribal theme (even just within the one deck, doesn’t have to be set-wide).

Next week I’m not sure what I’ll have to talk about, but hopefully more people build Tishana and it will be interesting. I’d love to force my agenda on this conversation but we really have to go where the money is and this week there were 3 times as many Gishath decks. Next week, a lot could change. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Obviously Bad is Still Obvious

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

I’ve been really overthinking things, I think.

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

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

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

It’s Not 2014 Anymore

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

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

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

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

Buy Everything

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

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

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

You know what caption goes here

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

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

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

I Mean, Or Don’t

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

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

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

K.

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

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

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

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

Thalia’s Lancers

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

Myojin of Cleansing Fire

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

Myojin of Life’s Web

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

Every Pirate

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

 

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

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