Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Get Out

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Last week I decided to delve a bit into what I thought was going to get reprinted in Masters 25 or at least felt risky to me. Some stuff feels sort of difficult to reprint and other stuff feels like it needs it.

I am holding like 100 Master of the Pearl Trident because I was busy thinking about other things when the duel deck was announced. I didn’t think they’d print anything I wanted to pick up so I figured the duel deck wasn’t really relevant and they never print cards as expensive as Goblin Guide so I didn’t give it much thought. But even though I was safe on getting wrecked for $15 a copy on Goblin Guide (That Masters printing worked wonders) I didn’t think about getting wrecked for like $4.50 a copy on Master. I was still cooking that spec and I ate it. Now, those copies are all gravy since I sold enough to break even and then enough to get that break even amount again, but still it would have been nice to get $8 a copy someday or at least get out for buylist before the buylist tanked. Even buylisting would have felt bad because that’s a panic move and people only panic because they weren’t thinking ahead, so let’s think ahead and not eat it again.

I think we can all agree that if you have Rishadan Port, dump them now. Once Port is confirmed not in Masters 25 (should that happen) the price will go up a lot so be ready for that, but I don’t like the idea of holding them right now at all.

This guy didn’t sell his ports in time

We looked at a few cards last week that seemed like reasonable cards to dump because they were likely to be in at mythic rarity. There will likely be 15 mythics and 53 non-mythic rares so there is quite a bit of guessing to do but I think it’s worth doing this work so we don’t caught with our pants down.

I was going to do this by like, color or something but I think it’s better to just list some cards I think could use a reprint and have a decent shot at being in Masters 25.

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I am going to have to make some assumptions just to give myself some space to work with but I am at least going to tell you my thought process. I really hope we can engage in the comments section of this one if you think I made some unfair assumptions.

Let’s look at some more cards I think you should get out of.

Assumptions on Assumptions

This is my guessin’ face

I made an assumption last week and that is that this is a good place to reprint Rishadan Port. I think that’s a good assumption to make, personally. I also think that Port is very unlikely to end up reprinted at non-Mythic rare. That means Port is mythic which means that there will probably be 2 mythics of each color and a 3rd cycle of mythics spread between land, gold and artifacts. That’s quite an assumption but it’s based in logic. They try to keep the color balance… err, balanced because this set it meant to be drafted and also, why would you not?

In Iconic Masters, there were 3 mythics per color for a total of 5. In Modern Masters 2017, there were 2 mythics per color, plus Cavern of Souls, plus 3 good gold mythics and one bad one. Port would handcuff them to doing this split. I think we can reasonably try and guess what the other mythics outside of the colors could be. I’ll tell you the 4 cards I think will be in the cycle with Port.

Phyrexian Altar

I know I have been banging this drum for a long time, saying it basically demanded a reprint in a Commander set when it was $18 but this is the last really good shot at reprinting this. Phyrexian Altar seems a little underwhelming in Limited, and people will likely bristle at getting a “junk” mythic like they do with Channel (which ends up being very good in Iconic Masters Limited, but it’s a bit of a booby prize given its current price). If there is a small amount of support across the colors, though, this can fit into most builds. Tokens, graveyard stuff, threaten effects – this does it all. Masters 25 seems like a bit of an awkward place to jam this, but where if not here? If Altar isn’t in Masters 25, even at its current ridiculous price, this might be a card we get into just because it’s probably safe for a while, though its growth potential may be limited due to it being out of a lot of players’ budgets at this point. I could see this in M25 and I’m starting to sweat the more it goes up and calls attention to itself.

Last week we said we could see some sort of Sliver card, Legion or Hivelord, in one of the spots. I think that’s possible but I won’t count it as one of my 4 picks for today.

You better not

Gilded Lotus 

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This at non-mythic rare would be pretty disastrous for the price and a printing at mythic might feel bad to people. We need cards close to Port in value and while it’s possible a bunch of the cards in colors will hold up a lot of value, this could tank in the short term. This is about to be eclipsed in price by Chromatic Lantern again so it’s possible the FTV printing capped the growth potential but I still think this is a good inclusion in the set. If this is in at non-Mythic, get every single copy you  can get your hands on since this should recover given its relative ubiquity in EDH and the fact that it has “lotus” in its name.

Rings of Brighthearth

Like a lot of the cards on this list, it will take some finagling to make this worth it in Limited, which is the drawback of looking at EDH cards. However, once I started delving into Legacy and Modern, most of those cards were in Modern or Iconic Masters or they’re expensive because they’re on the Reserved List. They’re running out of new stuff that needs a reprint which forces us to look in the $30 range. The set is liable to have a Mana Drain or Aether Vial-esque card or 4 and it’s also liable to have a lot of Bonfire of the Damned-priced cards. Bonfire was like $10 when it was announced in Modern Masters 2017 at mythic, so it’s reasonable that some of our mythics are “only” $20 or $30. Rings is out of control and while it’s awkward to just jam it in a Limited set without giving it a ton of enablers, it’s also awkward to put a $30 card in a $39 Commander deck. Where else can this get a reprint?

Ugin, The Spirit Dragon

Karn has gotten the reprint treatment, but Ugin, despite holding pretty steady, stuck out to me as a card they might want to try and use to sell packs. If Masters 25 doesn’t have any Mana Drain equivalents, a pile of cards around $30 each at Mythic seems fine. That sells $10 boosters that also have a foil in them and the set is liable to have some really spicy cards at non-mythic rare. Ugin seems like as good a candidate as anything else and Planeswalkers got some extra relevance in EDH recently which only makes their stock go up. Could we see Sisay get another reprint (She was in an FTV, remember? It’s OK if you don’t – it was sort of terrible).

I didn’t really find any good candidates in the Land slot except for maybe one, which I’ll talk about then I have one more point to make before we wrap up.

Celestial Colonnade

This is tricky to reprint. In order to justify reprinting Horizon Canopy, the only card from that stupid cycle anyone even wanted, they reprinted the whole cycle. Do we jam a $40 Colonnade in at non-Mythic and get handcuffed to reprinting Stirring Wildwood a 40th time making it cost as much as a bulk common? Do we just do 5 lands from no cycle, some of which may tap for mana of two different colors and one of which taps for colorless? I think if we get this, we get the whole cycle which might be OK. That is, the cycle of 5. The cycle of 10 would ruin the EV of the entire set – I’m not trying to pay $10 for a booster and open a Wandering Fumarole.

TFW your foil common is worth more than your rare

Colonnade is a card that needs a reprinting but might not get it in Masters 25 based on the rules of Masters sets I’m extrapolating from what they have done in the past. We could see a “cycle” of lands that tap for allied colors, though – some sort of land that turns on Kird Ape rather than Raging Ravine, for example which does something that helps us build the set for Limited but doesn’t fill out a “true” cycle.

Speaking of cycles, the last card I want to mention as a candidate for Masters 25 would necessitate a cycle most likely.

Dragonlords

Is it too soon to give this cycle a reprint? It could be, but it might not necessarily be. Two-color combinations are tricky in a Masters set since it all but compels them to have 10 different cards to fill out every combination, taking huge chunks out of your design space. One card isn’t a big deal (like Colonnade) but it is when it requires 5, sometimes 10 spots to be designated to fill out the rest of the cycle to keep the colors balanced.

Before you head to the comments to say “They won’t print this many EDH cards” I would like you to take a look at the top 50 cards in Legacy and Modern and tell me what you think needs a reprinting. There are a lot of random stupid cards like Drop of Honey that randomly go through the roof but without the ability to reprint cards on the Reserved List (I don’t care if you don’t like the Reserved List, save it) they are stuck targeting cards in the more recent years. We’ll continue to see cards like Academy Rector pop and not have any remedy from Masters sets. What they can control, however, they should. Cards like Staff of Domination, Gauntlet of Power and Coalition Relic probably cost more than they need to.

Anyway, that’s it for me this week. Take to the comments and tell me why I’m wrong about the cards I think could be in Masters 25 and if you have suggestions for cards for me to analyze, let me know. We’ll try and get the 10 colored mythics next week if we don’t have anything spicy from Rivals to talk about. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Be Fearful When Others Aren’t Paying Attention

Masters 25 is coming up and that means that nothing is safe. I mean, within reason. Like, RL cards are safe and actual garbage is safe. But you’re holding some non-RL non-garbage and one of my readers said they wanted me to talk about what to worry about and ooooooooo boy do I know a thing or two about worrying about stuff.

I don’t like not knowing what’s up. I’d really like to know what exactly is in Masters 25 so I know what to get out of but there are some fundamental things I don’t know and that’s causing me to doubt everything I do know. Let’s make lists and calm ourselves down before we plunge into it.

Actually, before I launch into it, I want to share a reddit thread I found looking up info on Masters 25 because it’s like “perfect 5/7” meme guy visited a magic sub. It’s a quick read, but it’s worth it for “I do now know what rhetorical means thanks to trapperjustin and his dictionary” which will be funnier later. Read it real fast to cleanse your palate because this article could be sort of depressing if you’re holding a ton of card stock like I am.

What Do We Know?

  • Masters 25 will have 249 cards, just like the other Masters sets.
  • The 3 letter code is, I’m not making this up, A25. Not M25, A 25. You know, A, as in mAsters.
  • If North America isn’t a smoldering crater by then, it comes out in March.
  • All cards from Magic’s 25 year history that aren’t silver-bordered or on the Reserved List are eligible
  • The set is designed to be drafted
  • Each pack will contain a foil
  • Packs come in English, Chinese and Japanese

I think that’s basically all of the relevant information.

What Do We Not Know?

  • Are there going to be the same number of rares and mythics as in Iconic Masters?
  • Is this another 8th Edition? 8th was bad.
  • Can they do a good job with this many Masters sets all on top of each other needing to be balanced for both finance, which they can’t even acknowledge and also Limited like they sometimes do?
  • Will they reprint something that was recently reprinted in a Commander set or Masters Set or ftv?

I’m going to make some assumptions because I have to and if they’re wrong, we’ll probably be OK. If we sell something that doesn’t get reprinted, we probably have a chance to buy it back. If we don’t sell something that is, we lose some value. Let’s look at what could be in M25 that would blow us out as EDH players.

What I Assume

I assume there will be 15 mythics and 2 or 3 of them will be bad, but “Iconic.” I assume there will be 53 rares and I assume a lot of them will be good and there could be a bunch of crap like “Autumn Willow” but we also expected that in Iconic Masters and Iconic Masters turned out to be a set with a ton of decent Mythics plus Channel. The non-mythic rares are even better and the rarity down-shift on a lot of cards was welcome. I think M25 could be good. I also still think Iconic Masters is good but the Ev is currently trash. I also thought Conspiracy 2 was good so don’t listen to me, I guess. Anyway, stop not listening to me and resume listening to me because I want to talk about cards I think might be reprinted.

I’m assuming the 15 mythics will be distributed like they are in Modern Masters 2017. Iconic Masters had 3 mythics of each color and I don’t know that Masters 25 won’t want gold, artifact or land mythics. If this list feels very EDH-centric, that’s because it mostly is and because other people have mostly already identified the Legacy and Modern cards that are likely to be in but we’ve seen that these sets have a lot of EDH goodies in them and I want to identify those since who else will do it if I don’t? That said, can you think of a Land card that could be in at mythic that isn’t already in a Masters set or on the Reserved List? I can only think of one.

Rishadan Port

That is a lot of fear in the price, even though buylist is starting to recover a bit. I think Port is just about guarandamnteed to be in Masters 25. If it’s not, where will it be reprinted? This is probably in at Mythic and that probably won’t help it much.

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AHHHHHHH! This card fell right off of a cliff. Port’s likely headed for a similar fate, so don’t let your copies ride that roller coaster into Bolivian.

If we have gold or artifact Mythic rares in M25, can you think of any that are obvious?

Crucible of Worlds

This could be in at Mythic. It will see a decline in price but it won’t be as profound as it would if they threw this in at non-mythic rare. It almost feels like they can’t do that to anything worth more than $50 currently because that would really be painful. They’re doing this to increase supply no gut price, so Crucible feels like a pretty reasonable inclusion. This price takes a real hit if it’s in M25 (sorry, A25) and I think you maybe get out of these while you can.

Phyrexian Altar

Here’s a card I’ve been saying for a while they need to reprint and they keep not. It’s too late for a Commander precon at this point and since it’s dodged a ton of Masters sets, this is basically its only chance. They’ll likely have something from Invasion block and this is one of the cards that’s pretty reasonable to reprint at mythic. If this gets shifted to rare, even better because it will crater, I’ll scoop a lot of copies and it will do a good job recovering. I’ll sell a lot more of these for cheap and it may pull an Urza’s Incubator and recover faster than anyone expects. If you have one of these, I’d look at offloading.

While we’re talking about this, it has a 1.4 foil mutliplier. Read into that what you will, but I take that to mean this is a very EDH card and that explains why there isn’t enough demand in the foil to match the demand of people who just want the cheapest copy and are having a harder and harder time getting one. This is something I sure hope is in Masters 25.

Cabal Coffers

I’m jumping around a bit because Coffers is worth discussing. If this is in at rare, that’s amazing, but I think it’s non-trivially possible that this ends up in the set at Mythic. It’s awkward to put this in at all because do you make it part of a cycle? With what other lands? Does this count as a black card? Limited has to be built with this in mind. Do you add a swamp theme for black and include Mutilate and Nantuko Shade and Corrupt? That would be pretty good, I think, but how do you balance Limited around that? This almost feels too expensive not to be in at Mythic but either way, I think this card has to see a printing soon and this is a good venue for it.

We might as well look at gold stuff that could be Mythic while we’re at it.

Aura Shards

This won’t be Mythic in Masters 25 but only because boosters are $10. This could be in the Mirari’s Wake slot of any Conspiracy-type set and could be at rare in Masters 25 so be ready for that. This feels very reprintable and I’m very nervous having these in stock. I’m selling them briskly, though, so it hardly matters. This card is nuts and I think a reprint is incoming. This probably can’t be a Mythic in a $10 a pack set but I bet it’s in there somewhere.

Sliver Legion

This could be a Mythic but if you jam this in, a huge portion of the set is basically decided. I’m waiting for them to reprint this at some point and there are a lot of slivers throughout Magic’s history but I can’t imagine designing a set for Limited with this in it. The Slivers can go across every color equally, but they don’t play well with any other strategy. Slivers were in an M-set, though so maybe all bets are off.

I think we’re off to a good start. There are a ton of cards that could occupy the 53 rare spots and I’ll be covering the ones I think are EDH relevant over the next few weeks. I think this was a good chunk of what I expect to be in, though and it’s worth thinking about moving out of some stuff. Until next week!

 

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Unlocked Pro Trader: X Amount of Words

Did you read my article last week? Congratulations. If you liked that article and you end up liking this one, say something in the comments section. That helps me steer which direction to take the series. Whether you love me or hate me, write something*. OK, enough of that, let’s remind everyone what we’re doing.

Like a month and a half ago I had a simple idea – look at all of the Top 100 played cards in EDH per EDHREC data and then put their cheapest price and cheapest foil price into a spreadsheet and calculate the foil multiplier. I wanted to see if there were any trends we could use to predict future prices of similar cards or see if there were any cards that were mispriced. We found a lot more than I expected. Last week I realized I left Vindicate off the list and that sent me down a rabbit hole so deep that I didn’t even get finished with what I discovered before I had to pinch it off and pick it up this week. Go read last week’s article if you want a refresher – I just did.

We flagged 14 cards that had a foil multiplier between 1.0 (We already looked into the cards with multipliers below 1.0) and 2.0, 2.0 being an arbitrary value we decided was a minimum acceptable foil multiplier. If it’s below 2.0 something’s wrong and if it’s above 1.0 but below 2.0, maybe something very specific was wrong. We got through a bunch of them but there are still a few cards I flagged in light blue to go over this week. Did you take a look at the spreadsheet between then and now to see if you got any impressions from the rest of the flagged cards? If not, it’s OK because we can go over them together, now.

The Cards

I saw distinct “groups” of cards but since there were a few cards that fit in multiple “groups” I decided to just tackle the list from the top and talk about each card individually.

Cyclonic Rift

Foil Multiplier – 1.8

This card very much is suffering from “reprinted a lot” flu. It’s been printed twice in foil and three times in non-foil and its growth was pretty good before this. The odds of this getting printed in foil again seem pretty low, but I’m not sure the demand for foil copies of this card, despite its status as a staple, can soak all of the demand. That said, this flirted with $30 before, Modern Masters 2017 didn’t give us that many copies and I don’t know that they’ll put this in a future Masters set. I’m saying don’t buy because there are better targets, not because this is a bad one. I think it has a lot going for it but I think other cards we flagged have even more.

Path to Exile

Foil Multiplier – 1.3

With a foil in every pack, Masters sets tend to put out a ton of foils and this is 3 times as true for uncommons as it is for rares. I’m not saying don’t touch this, I’m merely pointing out this is super reprintable. It’s also basically been printed in foil as much as it has in non-foil with the duel deck, Archenemy and Commander printings being somewhat offset by the Gateway and FNM promos. This card gets a lot of printings. I have no opinion about its future price growth based on this data, I’m merely explaining that something with so many foil printings is bound to have a low multiplier. People have an embarrassment of choices when it comes to which foil version they like meaning the demand is spread out over multiple printings. This also gets played outside of EDH a ton, obviously, but that just means it’s easy to reprint.

Utter End

Foil Multiplier – 1.3

This hasn’t had time to catch its breath but I’m not sure how reprintable this is. The 1.3 multiplier is for the set foil which has tumbled and it’s likely that a lot of this is due to a card that came out at the same time and is much more desirable.

Khans was pretty recent in the grand scheme of things so there are likely hella set foil copies running around but the Gameday promo is just about at its bottom also. I don’t know if it’s squeamishness about a future foil reprinting, but this art is never getting used again (I think it looks like a cutscene from Shandalar but no one but me cares about that, I guess) and I think a generic Masters 25 or something foil doesn’t do much to this price of this. Utter End and/or Anguished Unmaking likely make their way into a Commander precon or two in the next five years but this seems unmesswithable. Both the set foil and promo seem safe but the Gameday promo seems really good to me. Two foils printed right on top of each other competing for demand explains the low multiplier (the multiplier calculated for the price of the Gameday promo is 3.8) and I think we may stumbled upon a good buy, here.

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Foil Multiplier – 1.3

I haven’t checked, but I feel like I remember that Venser the Sojourner and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion both also got flagged (I’ll confirm when I get to them) and the duel deck printings behave like a non-foil rather than a foil due to relative abundance. If you calculate the foil multiplier using the duel deck printing as the base, the M13 foil is 3.5 and Conflux is 3.1. Those aren’t great, but they’re healthy and they’re healthy in a situation where there is a really cheap foil floating around. I’ve seen sites where the duel deck version is cheaper than the Conflux non-foil and that tells you a lot about what duel deck printings do to Planeswalkers. Honestly, as someone who can’t keep Planeswalkers in my case, I like buying and selling them cheap. You sell one foil Russian Jace a lifetime if you’re lucky but you sell 3 Garruk Wildspeakers a week. I don’t see a real opportunity here besides the normal “look at that slow, incremental growth” that cards that aren’t great specs exhibit. Will you lose money socking your money away in this? Eh. Depends on the rate of inflation, and that’s not something you should have to consider. I’ll pass.

Venser the Sojourner

Foil Multiplier – 1.1

I wanted to be kind of lazy and say “everything I said about Nicol Bolas applies here” but it kind of doesn’t. Look at the steady growth in the set foil price. That is very promising. Again, using the duel deck printing as the base, we have a multiplier of 2.3 which is better. The price of the non-foil versus the duel deck promo are so negligible that it comes down to art preference basically, but the set foil is growing nicely. Compare the slope of this graph to the non-foil.

This looks pretty healthy, honestly. I think I like this card despite the high buy-in.  Even the duel deck printing is OK – it’s disappearing from online and while it flirted with $20 at one point, it’s gettable around $10. Still, is this getting a reprint anytime soon? Certainly not the duel deck art. It’s worth a look. I think the growth curve looks far less anemic than does Bolas and I think despite these being in the same “class” when it comes to explaining why the multiplier is below 2.0, they’re pretty different and that has a lot to do with Venser being 2 colors rather than 3 and having a very relevant EDH-based effect rather than just being vaguely powerful like Bolas.

Phyrexian Metamorph

Foil Multiplier – 1.5

Here’s another card with a very healthy looking growth curve whose data was “spoiled” by a cheap, abundant promo. Set foils tend to do even better when there’s a ubiquitous promo, especially in cases where the price of the promo behaves more like the foil than the non-foil. Adjusting our expectations with the promo as the base price, we have a multiplier of 1.78, which honestly isn’t much better. It seems like the multipliers are low because the prices aren’t really diverging – they seem to be growing at roughly the same pace for all three versions – promo, non-foil and set foil. Demand has spoken. I’m worried about this being in Masters 25 and by the time that’s fully spoiled this may have gone up another few bucks, so it’s risky but this is also one of the best blue cards in EDH and that’s saying a lot considering how good blue is.

Maelstrom Nexus

This may have suffered from a small number of data points. The price for a near mint foil most places is closer to $40 than $30 which would put the multiplier around 2.0. This is, in a lot of ways, the most EDH card on the list because it’s so narrow, so powerful, so unplayable in Legacy, etc and is going so nuts price-wise. Someone is selling a busted copy on TCG Player for cheap, it’s sold out like everywhere else and that means this was flagged by accident. This has a healthy multiplier and shouldn’t be on our list. I’m glad we looked, though, because then we got to look at the graphs for the foil. Here’s the non-foil below.

We got two new 5-color Commanders in the form of The Ur-Dragon and Ramos and that could be a contributing factor. Basically both prices are way up so I expect a bit of a divergence when demand really catches up to supply like it’s about to. Maybe the seller with his foil listed on TCG Player at $60 isn’t such a lunatic.

Xenagos the Reveler

Foil Multplier – 1.7

Part of the problem here could be the prices converging as the non-foil tanks and so does the foil. No one seems to care about this card in non-EDH formats which puts less pressure on the foil price since EDH players chase the cheapest copy more than players of most formats. It makes sense – if you play legacy, you got your foil Brainstorms for $30 each in 2005 and kept them because of course you did. With EDH, they pump out cards that create new archetypes every set. Some people want to foil staples and this technically qualifies as a staple (I’ve never seen anyone use it) so maybe people should want to foil this, but the graph is gross-looking. The graph of the non-foil honestly isn’t much better.

I’m not sure why the price is falling off – it could be it was used in other formats and lost favor, flooding the EDH market with more copies than it wanted despite this appearing in 15% of eligible decks. It’s possible demand will buoy this and it’s at its floor for sure (flo’ for sho’?) so maybe the getting’s good now? I don’t know because I don’t really have strong feelings about this card other than that it seems great in some decks but not exactly a red-green staple. It can fart out a ton of mana, though, or a ton of creatures and that’s cool. I honestly can’t explain the low multiplier other than that we’re getting deluged with copies from Modern. If you have a hypothesis, hit me in the comments.

Gilded Lotus

Foil Multiplier – 1.1

Gilded Lotus is a special case – I believe it’s the only card on the list above a 1.0 that has been printed more times in foil than in non-foil (2 set printings with both and an FTV printing). This is also basically 95% likely to be in Masters 25 (I made that number up – I would have said it was a shoo-in for Iconic Masters) and that makes me nervous. However, I don’t think even the (ugly) FTV foil can keep this multiplier down. It’s interesting to see the effect of more foil than non-foil printings especially since even if you calculate the multiplier within the printings (for example, M13 non-foil goes for $12 on TCG Player and the foil goes for $15.50) you get similar results. I think this has real potential and as worried as I am about a reprinting, I probably shouldn’t be. This may just be a great opportunity. This is another EDH-specific card and EDH players tend to nab the cheapest copy (which isn’t the FTV foil, actually) so that is why we see what I assume is a non-foil price that’s high rather than a foil price that’s low. I think there’s opportunity here and barring a Masters set, this is tough to print in foil again. That said, this is a snap inclusion in a Commander’s Arsenal, something I hope they do again, though how much that affects prices, I can’t say.

I think we covered quite a bit today and identified quite a few juicy targets. I’ll have to figure something out for next week, but I’m grateful that the mere exercise of plotting some prices gave us so much to think about. If you have any ideas, hit me up in the comments. Thanks for reading, nerds. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This was the point in the paragraph where I decided to abandon the bit I was planning where I’d reference a bunch of song titles from that Blue October album “foiled” since we’re talking about the list of foil prices again. I got, what, 2 in? 3 if I don’t change the title from “X amount of words” to something else. Are people going to get Blue October references? It got too hard – how am I going to subtly slip “I drilled a wire through my cheek” or “She’s my ride home” or “The sound of pulling heaven down” into a paragraph? It was a stupid bit and I’m glad I abandoned it.

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Unlocked Pro Trader – Puttin’ on the Foil

Let me just say that if you haven’t seen Slapshot, stop being terrible at life and correct that. If you have to stop this article right now and go watch it because otherwise you’ll forget, I’ll wait. I may or may not reference the movie a lot in this article so if you’ve seen it, prepare to catch a bunch of references. You know, unless I don’t do it.

I wanted to talk more about foil copies of the Top 100 EDH cards today because I think there is some still some value to be gleaned here so let’s take a look. The link is here. Also, I was missing a card and had to figure out what it was. I always do this, I miss some mundane detail! Wait, that’s Office Space, not Slapshot. What are the good Slapshot quotes? I don’t know, something about the team moving to Florida. Wait, I got a reference for this. “I ask him who own da mistake and leave card off of list.” “And what did he say?” “Ownsuh, OWNSUH!” I’m a guy who ownsuh his mistakes so let’s figure out what I forgot.

It’s a good thing I checked, actually.

 

Sweet Vindication

But not for me. I made a mistake and left a card off the list (A reader found it – nice save). I have been doing EDH decklists for so long, I probably saw the list was at 99 and said “Plus the commander makes 100) and called it a day. The card I left off the list?

This guy.

Vindicate isn’t quite the monster it used to be. Eternal Masters was designed to curtail the prices of certain cards that seemed overly expensive just due to scarcity and a few attempts at things like judge foils didn’t really curtail the price as much as they’d hoped. Eternal Masters seemed to knock it down a peg or two, making the cheapest non-foil available around $7.50. Here’s the really curious thing.

The same Card Kingdom that will part with a non-foil copy for $7.50 only wants $10 for the foil, pegging the multiplier at a mere 1.3. Is there a magic number it should be at?

On Magic Numbers

When a set is brand new, I go to the LGS for the prerelease. I don’t go to as many events as I used to – when Return to Ravnica was released, Bushard and I went to 6 prerelease events in a single weekend, which was an angry gauntlet by the end because after building that many sealed pools, you start to always make the finals and have to play the whole thing. Very little sleep, bad food, Magic all day and night – I couldn’t do it at my current age. I’d die. Now I go to one or two, which is too bad because trading at prereleases is the best. People look up prices but those prices are all about to change so if you’re getting out of stuff that’s going to plummet at peak supply and get into stable stuff like EDH staples, you’re going to get maximum trade value. Your trade partner is happy because they shipped old cards they don’t care about for new, shiny stuff and everyone wins for once. The best part about foils at these events is the foil prices are basically not known so everyone has to guess. What does everyone guess? “Uhhh, I don’t know… double?” Double seems about right. Most foils are twice the price of the non-foil at first so if you can grab foil EDH cards for a mere 2x at the prerelease, you do it.

Double isn’t always correct, but for EDH cards that get a lot of play, a multiplier below 2x is suspicious. Is it always going to be at least 2x if nothing is wrong? Not necessarily, but just flagging the cards that are below 2x (but above 1x which I already flagged because those are already worth having a separate conversation about which we did have) means we take a look at them and see why they are the price they are. Maybe they’re due for some divergent or even convergent growth.

Flagged

Having flagged the cards between 1.0 and 2.0, I have 14 cards to examine and see if there is an explanation for the price or whether I think there is room for growth (divergent or convergent) and therefore a correction is imminent meaning there is financial opportunity. The first one I’ll look at accidentally inspired this article. Like, I had no idea I was going to write about cards between 1 and 2x until I made that joke about finding the 100th card on the spreadsheet. With this spreadsheet, I just writing and the article develops around my findings. I know you don’t need to know about my process, but that’s got to be worth noting, right?

Vindicate

We caught this basically at a little above its floor. It looks like the reason there is a small multiplier is that the foil is about to grow in price.

The graph of the non-foil is showing similar signs of life. It could be that the growth about to begin will be convergent. However, with a 1.3 multiplier, the foil is probably a better investment given how close they are in price. If the multiplier holds, you’ll make more money. It won’t go any lower than 1.3x in my view since its growth will be predicated on it being an all-star in EDH and getting a modicum of play in Legacy. I think these cards like grow divergently due to the increased scarcity of the EMA foils (the cheapest foils – there are judge foils out there, but, still, this is a chance to get a $10 foil). $10 for a foil Vindicate seems reasonable and since the price difference is negligible and both prices look poised to increase, I think there is a play to be made here.

It’s possible that later in the article we’ll figure out that a 1.3 multiplier on a card that already has judge foil printings and got reprinted in EMA is a big red flag. That does describe a lot of the 14 cards we flagged, now that I think about it. What else was in EMA that may or may not have had a judge foil printing?

Wrath of God, Mystical Tutor, Sylvan Library and Vampiric Tutor are all EMA cards, all had foil printings (but only Wrath of God had foils in a real set before EMA) and all have a foil multiplier below 2.0.  I think this says less about some “curse” the cards have if they’re in this category and more about the relative undesirability of the EMA foils for people inclined to play foil copies of the card. EDH players want the cheapest copy, usually and Legacy players want the sexiest. As EMA copies dry up, the cheapest Vindicate is starting to approach the cheapest foil, which should move the price of the foils just on principle. The smaller the multiplier, the more attractive the foils are as they become a “why not pay $1 more” thing rather than a luxury thing. Legacy players don’t want the cheapest foil available – at least not yet. I think all of these cards – Vindicate, Mystical Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Sylvan Library and Wrath of God all could have similar upside to Vindicate and we should look at their graphs.

We started here because I expected this to be the outlier. It has so many foil printings and with better art. There’s no reason to play this card when the player rewards foil is like $16. This could go up but I don’t want it at $10.

Dealers are starting to notice this card. The buy price is beginning to converge with the retail price. I think this card is a buy. The only other foil is the same art from Commander’s Arsenal and Sylvan has some cross-format applicability that should swipe some of the foil copies EDH players wanted for themselves. This is plateauing on top of the buy price beginning to recover – I don’t think it gets much more healthy-looking than this. I am REALLY glad I decided to flag these cards and take a look at them individually, wow.

This is a little different. When you’re talking about a $45 card, that 1.y multiplier starts to look a little different. This is almost a $90 card most places. I think if you’re going to shell out $90 for a foil, you shell out for the Judge foil. Also, I just realized the Judge foil is cheaper than the EMA foil (did NOT see that coming) and that was the one I used for the calculation. I don’t know why the EMA foil is $90 and the judge foil with the better art is cheaper, but that’s how it is. Let’s look at the judge foil to see how that looks.

It took a bit of a tumble. Apparently people prefer the EMA printing, which looks like garbage to me, but I’m one vote. So far we aren’t learning much categorically about these cards other than that we need to look at their graphs, but when we do, we usually see what’s what. I think the future of the judge foil is imperiled and with the future of the EMA foil being so bright the card has to wear shades, maybe this card was mis-flagged. While the ratio of EMA to Judge foil is 1.7:1 the ratio of EMA to EMA foil is 2:1. Still not great but it wasn’t what we were hoping to find.

This is about what I expected. Since the other foil is a garbage, curly FTV foil, the EMA foil is going to be more attractive. It’s the opposite of what I expected with Vampiric but it’s the same result. I like the future of the EMA foil, personally. There isn’t a ton more to say about it other than that I think the graph shape looks pretty healthy and this card is headed for some growth.

In fact, it seems like the foil is actually lagging a bit behind the non-foil. It’s what we expected – Mystical Tutor is banned in Legacy and that means that it’s likely that EDH demand is driving prices which means the cheapest copy (non-foil) will move first and if the multiplier holds, there is more growth potential in the foil. But this card has grown so much, it’s no longer even the cheapest non-foil.

As expected, the Mirage version took a bit of a tumble when the reprinting happened and is only now beginning to recover. Some people like the art with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch on it so that could explain the precipitous growth there. I think all Mystical Tutors have upside – they’re basically all a buy for me, even the white-bordered one.

I think this could recover as well. It’s the overall cheapest copy which means EDH players who just want the cheapest one irrespective of art or border or shininess will target this one. I think it has upside.

Even the FTV foil is starting to show signs of life. It took the same tumble as the others at the EMA printing but if you want a foil of the art with the tutor on it and not the purple alien hand holding a Baldur’s Gate mana potion, this is your best bet. I hate EMA foiling but with the price graphs all showing signs of imminent recovery, you basically can’t go wrong.

I expected to get deeper into the list but we had a lot to talk about today. I like when I start digging in as I write and find so much I have to postpone the rest of the article for a second part. That’s fine – next week we’ll be back to discuss the 9 other cards I flagged in light blue on the spreadsheet. Check it out and see if you find anything with those cards – I suspect you will find some similarities between some of the cards. Until next week!

 

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