Category Archives: ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Ghitu the Chopper

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We talk a lot in this series about “Events” and there’s no reason not to discuss the event that happened this week, regardless of whether we think it’s underwhelming or what. The event, of course, is the release of “Mind vs. Might”, a duel deck that no one really asked for but which is coming out anyway. Really, no one asks for these decks but casual players are probably buying them and they are a great avenue for reprints.

I think there are people upset by the apparent lack of value in these sets but only some people. It was telling that everyone who was complaining about the cards in the set neglected to list Coat of Arms or Beacon of Tomorrows, or both. Seems to me that if you ignore roughly $13 of value in a $20 deck, you’re naturally going to feel like it’s underwhelming. Can a 29th printing of Coat of Arms stop it from getting to $6 again? I tend to doubt it. Is Beacon of Tomorrows, a card seeing its second printing ever going to stay cheap? Doubtful. It seems like we’re creating a buy-in window on two EDH staples and all people can do is bitch. That’s fine, those of us who are paying attention are pretty happy with the opportunities this set affords us. Are we here today to talk about surface-level observations like those? No, but let’s not knock surface-level observations. Some of the best specs are ones that become obvious to a lot of other people because you want there to be demand.

It sounds silly to say this, but sometimes cards get forgotten about. People need to be reminded that cards exists sometimes, and while that’s weird, it’s actually somewhat common. The thing that makes EDH such a great format for investment, its large and growing player base, is a liability when it comes to cards that are easy to forget about. A player who starts playing Magic in 2015 and begins playing EDH right away isn’t going to know about a card like Lake of the Dead. Hell, they’re not even going to know about Grave Titan, probably. Sometimes these duel decks jog a few memories. What’s going to jog some memories in these decks?

The Might deck has a few bulk rares on top of Coat of Arms and Guttural Response and it has new art on Zo-Zu the Punisher, which is a card I tried to break in a tigger-style deck years ago. Working on that ridiculous pile is actually how I met and became friends with Ryan Bushard which I’m sure is interesting information for like 5% of you and the rest of you are the MTG Finance equivalent of a person who started playing Magic in Khans block and don’t even know who that is. This isn’t as interesting as the other deck, to me.

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The mind deck has a few bulk rares to go with Beacon of Tomorrows and there is sweet new art of The Unspeakable and Mind’s Desire (which I now want to see in foil), but the card I want to talk about is the very first one on the list – Jhoira of the Ghitu. I realize the name of the article tipped you off and the feature image probably did, too, but I buried the lede anyway because I am physically incapable of resisting the urge to screw with people. The price of Jhoira is unlikely to be a factor – what I think is of import is that I think this deck reminded people that card even exists, and I think that can be very important. In fact, I don’t just think people are being reminded Jhoira exists, I can prove it with numbers and charts and other analyst guy stuff. You know, my job.

If that’s tough to read, click on it to open it up larger, scrutinize it a bit and come back. This graph is the most popular commanders based on searches on EDHREC. It’s at the top of the “Commanders” page and if you don’t want to bother figuring out how to navigate to that, here’s the link. I didn’t add Jhoira to this graph, users did. EDHREC uses a search that doesn’t allow you to type just anything in, you need to type until it populates the actual name of a card, then you click on that name and then click the search icon to go to the page. This means all searches are for real card names and it’s trivial to log them and populate this graph. On some days in the last week, Jhoira was the 5th-most popular general people searched for on all of EDHREC. To see it pop up on a graph alongside Atraxa and Breya and Meren has to make you think something’s coming.

Jhoira used to be the go-to tryhard deck when this format was very young. A lot of people used to play EDH 1v1 locally and I knew a lot of people with Jhoira decks, suspending big threats like Blightsteel Colossus and setting a Jokulhaups or something to clear the way for them to get up in everyone’s bidness with a 1-shot robot. Everyone started to adapt and new goodies for those players to use came along. A surprising number of “Jhoira Tier 1 best deck only deck” players became “Prossh Tier 1 best deck only deck” players and Jhoira sort of fell off. Multiplayer games are a little tougher to handle with a strategy like “Kill opponent with Blightsteel after you leave them landless and destitute” but that isn’t to say Jhoira isn’t viable, she’s just no fashionable. However, a bunch of new players have joined since 2013 or so when she fell off and there’s already renewed interest. If that interest starts to translate into tangible demand, cards that aren’t used much now will get used more and cards that are used now and are also used in Jhoira will get used even more. More demand is more opportunity as you well know. So what do we think has upside in a more Jhoira-y future?

This first one comes to us from Time Spiral, a set that has several $2-3 uncommons, even after reprinting like in the case of Return to Dust. Harmonic Sliver is on a big downswing and flirted with $6 for a minute and that’s all we’re asking of this card. This has flirted with $3 before and could very easily double up again, only it should spike harder on a third spike with copies being concentrated more in the hands of dealers and stuck in decks. Demand has been relatively flat lately but so has demand for Jhoira and given the high degree of synergy between the cards, it’s not unreasonable for us to assume it’s possible they could rise together. This is an old card, there’s no real impetus to reprint it anytime soon and it works with a lot of different cards, not just Jhoira. Having multiple upkeeps is very useful and Zedruu, Oloro and even Atraxa decks are taking a look. At the very least, pull these out of bulk since you likely got them in bulk at some point, I know I do. I’d be super happy selling these for like $1.50 – $1.75 to buylists if this hits $4 or so. I’m also happy to sell these in my case for retail. Just know what your out is before you pay $1.50 on these and end up losing money after fees because you had to buylist them.

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Guess what? This card has never been reprinted. Guess what else? It never will be because it’s on the Reserved List. They were sort of bad at putting Tempest and Saga Block cards on that list and they picked some real duds. Selenia, Dark Angel can never see a reprinting but we can have Time Warp a few more times. Thanks, whoever! I’m always very quick to defend the Reserved List and this is an instance where any upward pressure on the price will probably trigger a price avalanche, but, like, an avalanche that goes upward? Maybe the avalanche is the number of copies available on TCG Player. Look, it’s going to set off a chain reaction. This card is in low supply, it’s literally old enough to drink and it’s never getting reprinted. Would this be pretty good in a Jhoira deck? Uh huh. This is one of the lowest-risk targets ever.

This is what a floor looks like. I think this could get a little bit cheaper but barring a reprint, I don’t see you getting blown out paying $5 on this. The dealer price is starting to tick up a bit so that means the spread will be lower or the price will go up. Either way, those are signs that the card is healthy at $5 and will be exploring the headspace a little. I think this is particularly good in a Jhoira deck. Once Jhoira is online and you’re churning out fatties, you have less use for the 3-5 mana cost stuff in your hand and you might as well turn them into Force of Wills (Forces of Will?). This is a great Eldrazi to resolve and paying 2 mana and waiting is a great way to resolve it. Screw ramping, start cheating. Not only that, the infrastructure of the deck is set up to cheat creatures into play with cards like Quicksilver Amulet and chucking this into play with Amulet is perhaps the funniest way to counter a spell. This plays very well in the deck and unlike some other Eldrazi which are very expensive, I think this has a lot of room to grow. It’s in a sweet spot where Standard players have forgotten about it but EDH players haven’t totally adopted it, yet. It’s better than Emrakul but it’s in the same number of Jhoira decks and costs half as much. This seems solid to me.

The duel deck printing clearly curbstomped this price, but it also revealed that a lot of its growth beyond like $10 or so we predicated on the new Eldrazi somehow making the older Eldrazi more relevant. I think this price can recover a little bit despite being in a duel deck that sold pretty well. This is still a dumb card and it’s cheating when you attack someone with it. This stuffs Meren decks if they rely on saccing things, also and that’s a nice added bonus. This price is going to recover as good as this card is, but it’s usually relegated to decks like Mayael and Jhoira. Renewed interest in Jhoira is good for this card.

This is one of the most powerful things you can cast off of Jhoira, especially if you have a bunch of other stuff suspended. This is also a little cheaper than it could be with all of the “take one extra turn” cards going up. Decks that can afford to cast this can and should and those decks that can use this to cheat and put a bunch of fatties into play and attack with them unmolested certainly should. People forgot about this card a bit. Now that they’re remembering the commander from the deck it should go in, maybe they’ll remember.

Jhoira is a good deck but people have forgotten that. There are a lot of expensive cards that people are going to need more of, too, so there is plenty of opportunity. Get ahead of the people who are building Jhoira for the first time and have the cards when the price goes up. You probably have some time before prices move but it stands to reason that they will. EDHREC can alert us to interesting activity – like a blast from the past commander suddenly tearing up the top views chart, and when it does, we should pay attention. Will this interest translate into new decks and will that translate into price increases? There’s no reason to suspect it won’t and while you can’t make money buying and selling Jhoira after the duel deck printing, that’s not really what we do here, anyway. Until next week!

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PucaPicks for 2/2/2017

I’ve turned the corner on PucaTrade, admittedly because of my experience and not because of larger factors.  Five weeks ago, I was at 20,000 points and my bounties got picked up by random people, including an Invention for a 70% bounty.

I mentioned last week what changed: I decided to give up on the hustling of Discord or forums and such, and I started sending out a trade every two days.

I’m not going to offer the same huge bounty this time, but I am willing to send out the leftover cards from my Grand Prix sells box in oder to build up points again. I like using PucaTrade for low-level speculations, many of which are worth going after today.

To be clear: If the only way trades happen is for me to send trades, then it’s a race that can never be won. The site wants a constant churn, a flow of cards in and out. At this point, it’s not effective to build a stack of points up and then just wait. I have a high number of lower-value stuff that packages well, though, and I’m happy to build back up. I’m not going to try for the super-high-value cards, but I like Puca as a way to move cards that don’t otherwise have a good outlet.

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Aether Revolt is out and getting opened and some prices are stabilizing, so let’s dive in!

Aether Revolt box – 14314 points – It’s worth mentioning that if you want to change actual dollars into Pucapoints, this is a very cost-effective method. Spending about $90 cash will get you about 1.5x that in points, and while some individual cards have a better ratio, this will happen pretty quickly and easily, and that’s before unofficial bounties come into play.

Heart of Kiran – 1538 – This is currently the most expensive card in the set, and that’s a little disheartening. This set overall is very low-value, which is actually really good for us. Cheap cards offer a lot of opportunities. This card SHOULD be very good. Two mana, 4/4 flying vigilance, is amazing. It’s got a Crew cost of 3, which makes it sort of bad in creature-based decks, but if you can afford the loyalty, it’s stunning. I can see this being good in a Planeswalker deck, alongside mass removal, but that deck hasn’t shown up…yet. I don’t like to pick up cards that are this expensive based on what could be, so for right now, this is a sell.

Walking Ballista – 1236 – We forgot that Hangarback Walker is a good card! It costs XX and can get bigger, and yet we totally forgot how good it can be. I think this is good enough and versatile enough to really shoot up in price sometime in the next 18 months, but I want to wait another couple of weeks before getting this. I’m hoping for the price to drop to about 1000 points, at the time Modern Masters 2017 comes out.

Tezzeret the Schemer – 1175 – He’s falling fast, and requires the right deck. That screams out sell him now, and that’s what I’m doing.

Herald of Anguish – 882 – I think this is a worse Demon of Dark Souls, and while it can cost less to cast, the immediate impact isn’t there. I expect to see this fall farther, and right now, I’m sending this out.

Ajani Unyielding – 838 – If you can get him in play, he’s game-breaking. He’s worthy in Commander too, and I think this is about the perfect price.

Paradox Engine – 811/1802/4949 – It’s an engine in search of a combo. Clearly it needs mana rocks/creature-based acceleration, but it’s going to be broken in some format. We saw several attempts at this when Jeskai Ascendancy was revealed, and this is copies 5-8 for the deck that wants such. I love the card, and I think the pack foil is gorgeous, but I’m just holding onto this now instead of buying or selling.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade – 651 – I’m a big, big fan of this card. It’s instantly one of the best cards in my Experiment Kraj Commander deck, turning all sorts of things into mana producers. I think that after rotation, the black-green decks will adjust and start casting Winding Constrictor into Rishkar, for a 4/5 attacker on turn three backed up by a 4/4, each of which taps for mana! I can’t deny the power, and I’m picking these up now.

Disallow – 650 – I don’t think this has legs for Standard, so I’m selling this now. I think Commander is keeping this afloat at this moment, so I’ll love getting this in a few weeks for 400 or less.

Metallic Mimic – 473 – What I love about this as a speculative card is that if a deck breaks this card, it’s going to be a four-of. It’s got to be in play early and before the broken cards land, and that deck isn’t here yet. I’m selling this until it gets to two or three hundred points.

Foil Mechanized Production – 1100 – Alternate win condition! This is several times the nonfoil price, and that screams ‘casual players love me!’ That’s a sound that I love to hear, because it tells me what I should be paying attention to. This is another card looking to be broken, and I’ve got this on my want list at this price.

Planar Bridge – 373/1266/5005 – I know this is a good Commander card. I know it’s got potential in big mana decks, and while I want it to be good, I will not be picking this up quite yet.

Spire of Industry – 364/851 – I love these foils especially. This seems like an auto-in for artifact-based decks, and it’s got excellent potential in Standard right now too. Seems like an easy pick to be 700-1000 points in six months. Both are on my want list now.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary – 144/400 – I can’t believe these foils are this cheap, and this is the easiest pick this week for me. Have you played with this? Against it? It’s going to be a top-five Commander staple before you know it, and I want all copies right now. Foils especially, but nonfoils for 100 or so points is a fantastic deal. Grab all you can, keep them in great condition, and thank me later.

Whir of Invention – 139/467 – I like getting these cheap right now. I’d love picking this up for even less, especially foils, but if you like open-ended cards, this is your cup of tea. I like getting a stack of these right now, and I am indeed trading for them.

Winding Constrictor – 108/1201 – I love everything about this card, and the foil price is not a surprise to me in any way. I spent the weekend chanting ‘Kill the snake!’ in Limited play and it’s an amazing Commander card. I wouldn’t be surprised if it made Standard waves either, or was an FNM promo sometime soon. I don’t see any prices spiking, but I like having the foils for long-term stability.

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PROTRADER: PucaPicks for 1/26/2017

So, dear readers, there’s a big deal on PucaTrade that I want to address this week: Promoted Trades.

Here’s the official link and also worth a read is the FAQ.

What’s this mean for you, the dedicated PucaTrader? What’s it mean for the future of the site?

Read on, because there’s a lot to unpack and a lot to think about.

First of all, I want to address the first thing that comes to my mind. This is an official bounty. It’s exactly what people have been doing for some time, and if you’re already offering a bounty (as I am) then this might seem silly.

However, if you are one of the surprisingly many people who’s been stiffed on bounties, then this is a really big deal.

I asked around for stories of people who have been promised bounties but they were never sent, and there’s a surprisingly large number of such people. There’s a factor at play in that there’s many times more successful bounty trades (for instance, all the ones I’ve ever sent and all the ones I’ve ever paid) who I didn’t ask for, but I thought the numbers would be much lower.

That’s the kind of experience that will turn someone off from PucaTrade, or any similar site, super quickly. Official bounties, now called promotions, offer users exactly this experience, only now it’s enforceable and official.

Before, there was no way to get the points promised, it was all on the honor system. You could reassure yourself a little by sending messages back and forth, but in the end, it was about trust and some people got burned.

PucaTrade is based on a trust system, because you have to trust that this imaginary currency is worth something. Other people will want these points, we hope. We trust that PucaTrade won’t just shut down and take our points with it. Trampling that trust is something that can ruin not just one user, but everyone who that user talks to.

It’s also worth considering how this has already taken 661k points out of the system, and this is with a relatively small number of cards available as promotions. I’m looking forward to the implementation of promotions for at least all Masterpiece-series cards, past, present, and future. Taking points out of the system is what needs to happen, because right now, Pucapoints aren’t worth much.

I am just a little worried that they are doing this so piecemeal. They aren’t implementing this for all versions of a given card, just certain ones. While that’s annoying, it does provide them a data point for comparing how many people are using this system so far.

I confess that I don’t like the fee. I get why they are doing it–they are always on the lookout for ways to remove points from the system–but it’s a fee on top of a bounty that must be paid, effectively increasing the bounty that much more. I think that PucaTrade would be better if it untethered from actual finance sites and built its own algorithm for what a card is worth. They are just too slow to adapt sometimes, and that’s problematic for me.

I also don’t like when there is a gap between a card’s value in Pucapoints and full retail. Big gaps represent a disparity in knowledge, and that smacks of trading like a shark to me. PucaTrade is giving us a graph, but like most of their data, it’s an incomplete one.

So far, we have a chart of what’s been promoted and traded the most, and their data shows that the promoted versions are trading much more briskly than their un-promotable counterparts, but that’s not really a surprise. I really wish we had data on the quantities of the promoted cards traded before and after the feature went live–that’s the thing I really want to see people doing, is trading high-value cards that they weren’t willing to trade before.

Saheeli Rai is not a shock as the most-traded promoted card. She’s spiked, so people that got her cheap are ready to unload her at a premium, but she offers a two-card infinite combo in Standard, and it’s been a while since that was a thing. Lots of people that have her plus lots who want her is going to result in a lot of trades anyway. Thought-Knot Seer, Windswept Heath, and Darkslick Shores are less than half Saheeli’s trades of 27, but are the only other ones over ten since the feature went live.

I think that promoted trades are a great idea. I don’t like the bonus fee, but if it is for a card I REALLY WANT then I don’t mind. I want more data too, but I’ll take what I can get.

I also want to add my recent experiences with PucaTrade. I’ve been carrying a balance of about 20,000 points for a few months now, and reciprocal trades in Discord didn’t really make a dent in that, and also were annoying to try and hustle for. So I stopped all that, and instead I have been sending out a small trade every 2-3 days, and I’ve gotten a rush of random sends.

I think that the sending of cards out has kept me in the ‘active traders’ setting, which has helped my visibility. I also think that my stated bounties are part of the reason why, but I’ve been at these bounties since Thanksgiving with no effect. (I was offering 20% on all, 40% on foils, and 75% on Inventions.) I’m going to revise my bounties, since I’m getting shipped an Invention Platinum Angel, and I am pretty much drained dry at the moment.

Right now, it seems like they are pushing hard to reward people who are either new (New Traders being the default on sending) and Active Traders (People who keep points flowing) while not giving a lot of benefit to those who have built up a lot of points.

It’s quite worrisome that in order to get my value in PucaTrade, I had to send out more cards. The value of my points did not change, but what changed was my visibility–a trait which has me concerned. If the only way I can get the cards I want is to send out cards, how can I ever get out of the system?

Beyond that, though, it’s the meddling and the impact that have me thinking. This is interference. It takes deliberate effort to send a regular user a card. Imagine if the default setting was to send to Gold members, and you had to choose to send to Silver or non-paying members.

I like promoted trades, to review, but I would love to hear from other people on the comments or on the forums. Can we replicate my experience? If you’re sitting on a significant amount of points, start sending a card every other day or so and let’s see if we can duplicate what happened to me.

Oh, and if you’re at GP San Jose this weekend, find me on Twitter (@wordofcommander ) and let’s play some games and make some trades!

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PROTRADER: PucaPicks for 1/19/2017

With the Prerelease behind us, prices are mostly too high but some of them are intriguingly low. I’ve got a few Aether Revolt cards on my want list already, and some I’ve sent out…

 

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