PROTRADER: What We Learned (so far!)

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So I think we need to be honest: while a lot of the attention and coverage is on the triple Grand Prix in Vegas and all the associated silliness, there’s a lot still going on, especially as this is Announcements Week!

I’m not here to remind you of what’s happened. If you have a Twitter account, if you even glance at the Magic subreddit, if you engage at all the you’ll read this and not need me to tell you the base news, but there are some things worth taking away from all the stuff that’s gone on.

I’m going to be referring to this site quite often for the next year or so: the ‘Coming Soon’ page. This is a list of what’s coming out and when, though some specific dates aren’t on there, it’s at least a month/year listing.

Financially speaking, there’s a whole lot of things to be aware of. It’ll be up to you about what action to take.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

 

Cliff is an avid kitchen table player who’s loving the Drake Haven deck in FNM. He’s been at this since late 1994 and doesn’t appreciate being called iconic, though he’s extremely likely to build a foil Unstable cube. Find him on Twitter @WordOfCommander.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: 5 Things I Learned Sorting By Color – Green

I am going to launch a bit of a sub-series here because there isn’t much to talk about this week. We don’t know much about Commander 2017 beyond the fact that we know an awful lot about one deck and nothing about the others. Everything obvious vis-a-vis Dragons has been done by everyone and the non-obvious stuff won’t pay off for months. Hour of Devastation spoilers will start in earnest soon and we’ll have some spicy EDH tech to glean from that, but for now, EDH is sort of quiet. It was with that in mind that I started screwing around on EDHREC even more and went a lot deeper.

While it’s not perfect (for example, Raging River comes up under colorless enchantments, likely due to someone outside of EDHREC’s error since the data is all scraped from elsewhere) using EDHREC reports for top cards rather than using the advanced filters (Something else I can get into if people want) or typing in the name of the card lets you eyeball something that was sort of tough to eyeball before. A while back, I was asked to write about the top 10 cards that were relevant in EDH and I did it the hard way, guessing mostly until I discovered that I could just go to a page for that. Seeing the top 100 cards in the format wasn’t super surprising, although the way the cards were ranked was. I got a lot of surprises going through the data and I enjoyed the process immensely.

I’m going to go through each color and talk about things I find surprising and which could potentially have financial consequences. I’ll probably eventually do each color and since there’s no rush on this, I’ll get to it when nothing else is going on. I think Green is going to be the sexiest one so I’m going to start with Green just so you all can pick up what I’m putting down. First of all, how do you access this by yourself?

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At the top of the page, any page, click the “cards” dropdown.

Click by color and pick the color (or lack thereof) and it takes you to the page where it first lists the Top 100 over all then breaks it down into subcategories. All of this is displayed on the one page and seeing the cards sorted by percentage inclusion is great. That’s how you do this, so let’s get into what surprised me in the green stuff and what I think might be relevant.

  1. Eternal Witness Gets Played. A Lot.

If you had asked me to guess the Top 5 Green creatures in terms of inclusion, I would have done very well. I would have said Sakura-Tribe Elder was played most and then in no particular order, the rest of the Top 5 was Acidic Slime, Birds of Paradise, Reclamation Sage and Llanowar Elves. That’s not bad for guessing based on what I see played but I whiffed on number 1. Eternal Witness is played in an astonishing 45% of the decks on EDHREC. Sakura-Tribe Elder is in 32% and the slide really begins with Acidic Slime finishing 3rd with 27%. 45% is unreal inclusion and it shows there’s a big difference between “Beast Within (28% of decks that can include green cards) can really shrug off reprints” and “Eternal Witness can really shrug off reprints. Eternal Witness really has shrugged off reprints, too. It’s been in 3 Commander deck printings, a Duel deck and Modern Masters and maintains a healthy $6 price tag. The price cycles but it never seems like it gets truly blown out.

Relative inclusion has to be a metric we pay better attention to going forward. Just saying “It’s an EDH staple” is fine but it’s sort of lazy and it really obscures the truth. Lots of Green cards are “Staples” but none of them are Eternal Witness. The second-most-played card isn’t even Eternal Witness- It’s Cultivate which is played in 38% of decks (2% more than Kodama’s Reach – go figure. Guess there’s a lot of Minamo’s Meddling in their meta) and while it’s a buck, it’s not a finance juggernaut like E Wit. This is a safe buy if it’s reprinted again.

2. EDHREC Doesn’t Appear to Show Cards Being “Priced Out”

EDHREC measure what people report they’re building and that includes a non-zero number of wishlists. Unlike tournament sites which report the cards that a player managed to track down and register in their deck, EDHREC can sometimes pick up lists that people register wishing they could afford. I think this is good to note because while that is a potential weakness, we don’t see people registering a ton of decks with ABU duals in the manabase for shits and giggles – sites like Tappedout seem more like schematics than fantasy projections. If a player registers something like Oracle of Mul Daya, they’re pretty likely to pick it up. Besides, all things being equal, any $20 card will be similarly out of reach to the people who can’t afford $20 for a card so it should be a wash. They’ll register the same number of Oracles they can’t afford and Consecrated Sphinxes they can’t afford so relative demand should still be a fair metric for determining demand from within the format. There are plenty of $20+ cards in the Top 100 and while there aren’t as many people playing Vorinclex as there are playing Birds of Paradise, that says more about the latter’s ubiquity than it does the former’s affordability. It’s very likely we’re seeing the “Top 100 Green cards, money is no object” list, or damn near it. It’s not like people are lining up to play Drop of Honey but can’t because of how expensive it is. More likely people want the less obscure stuff because they’ve seen it played, know what it can do and have a reasonable chance of obtaining it. Whether or not these are the 100 “best” cards is irrelevant because we’re trying to predict what people will buy and what they’ll buy are the cards on this list.

3. Mana Matters

Obviously mana matters, but when you isolate just the green cards from the rest of the cards, you really start to see how many deal with mana. EDH is a big mana format and mana thirst drives a lot of card inclusion. Green is put into decks because it can get dead stuff out of the graveyard and deal with artifacts and enchantments, but mostly it’s there for mana purposes. In the Top 100 Green cards, a whopping 38 of them, over a third (you knew that 38 was more than 33, I’m not sure why I felt compelled to put that, or leave it after I typed this, or leave this after I typed this) deal with mana. That seems obvious, but it helps more than you think. Everyone knew Sylvan Caryatid would be good and would help Standard. What we didn’t think about at the time was how EDH inclusion could help smooth the price crash out at rotation time given its inclusion in 7% of EDH decks. I used to run Utopia Tree – I knew full well we’d want Caryatid in our decks. That 7% inclusion is good enough to keep the price steady at about $2.50, which is way down from its ridiculous Standard-fueled peak of $15, but it never truly hit bulk. You can use that as a baseline to compare to future mana dorks. What if we get a creature that’s closer to Bloom Tender than it is to Caryatid? Basically every mana dork ever except pretty obscure ones are in the Top 100 Green cards and a lot more show up in the Top 48 creatures. Knowing this helps us a ton when they print new mana creatures. Did you see this being $3 and climbing? Maybe we should have.

4. Bad Removal is More than OK

Green is great when coupled with other colors because Green lets other colors do what they were going to do faster. But since Green is the best color in EDH, people are going to run mono-Green decks and that means you need to run goofy removal. People love Terastodon and Woodfall Primus but they even love ways to deal with creatures like Desert Twister. Green players love Desert Twister. 6 mana isn’t a problem in EDH – what else was the Green player going to do on Turn 3? Goofy removal becomes necessary for Green decks and therefore ends up in demand.

Did anyone see this happening? A really mediocre removal spell from a $35 MSRP deck that has approximately $97 worth of elves in it flirts with $10? How? Well, it may be bad, but it’s the best Green has, and sometimes you can do stupid crap like copy their creature with a Vesuva. Hey, they printed a card that’s a lot like this, didn’t they? How’s that card doing?

Wow, it’s under a buck. BRB, filling up a shopping cart full of these at under $1 because the ceiling for this is $10, right?

No, of course not. This card is Blue, and Blue doesn’t need to trifle with goofy-ass removal spells. Blue has Treachery and Blue has Cyclonic Rift. Green doesn’t have Cyclonic Rift, Green has Cyclone and Cyclone is never going to be Cyclonic Rift. Song of the Dryads is goofy but goofy is good enough and the next time Green gets some goofy removal, we need to give it a second thought, especially if it’s in supplemental product. Spells that do what Green does best are represented in the Top 100 but spells that do what Green does terribly are over-represented and we need to take note of that.

5. Fair Play is for Suckers

You win Magic games by getting ahead and one way to do that is cheat. If you aren’t inclined to cheat in a game of EDH because you’re likely with friends and there are likely no stakes, congratulations. You’ve hurdled the bare minimum requirements for being a non-scumbag. What do you want, a parade? If you have to cheat, cheat legally. Of the Top 100 Green cards, 15 of them deal with cheating things into play. The bigger the better, as evidenced by Genesis Wave surpassing Birthing Pod in price in the last few years. Granted one of them is banned in Modern and the other is ostensibly playable in a deck one guy played one time, and also Birthing Pod is still played more and its price is being pulled down by being a two-of in an event deck… where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, Genesis Wave is great and Genesis Hydra is also a good card. Maybe Genesis Hydra can go up longer term. Maybe we look at Lurking Predators and see how that recovers. Maybe Yisan finally starts to be worth money as a non-foil. As long as there is cheating going on, Green is about it because Green has expensive creatures and paying mana costs is for suckers.

Do we want me to do this for the rest of the colors? I feel like there is a lot to unpack and there are some valuable insights. What surprised you when you looked through and saw which cards were played more than others? Any surprises? Do you use data like this to try and predict future card prices? Let me know in the comments section. Hopefully next week we’ll have some spoilers to dissect. Until next time!

PROTRADER: The Watchtower 6/12/17

By: Travis Allen
@wizardbumpin


Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy. And if you enjoy playing Magic, make sure to visit https://scry.land to find PPTQs, SCG Opens, and more events on an interactive map with worldwide coverage. Find Magic near you today.


About twenty minutes after I post this article, Rosewater is posting his, titled “Metamorphosis 2.0.” It promises to be quite a shake-up, given that the last “Metamorphosis” article was the one that announced two set blocks and an eighteen month Standard rotation. I’d love to post my guess as to what we’ll see, but given that the truth will be revealed almost immediately, I’ll just end up insanely owned for no reason, so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

Whatever changes we see, I suspect none will have an immediate impact on card prices. The types of change that Rosewater is likely to discuss will have large, sweeping, structural changes on the markets for cards, rather than an immediate “oh shi-” as may occur with the change to split card rules, for instance. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear plenty of discussion on MTG Fast Finance this week and/or next about what it means for us.

There’s a ban list update tomorrow, which may or may not include Aetherworks Marvel. I’m inclined to think they’d just leave it, but they did move the date up a little, and generally they’d only move B&R dates if there’s a good reason. While I’d love for them to axe Marvel hours before a Standard GP, don’t expect any changes to be in place this weekend, even if there is a ban/unban. If there is a ban, expect a flurry of sales both on site and nationwide as a result.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Stuff Worth Keeping from BFZ and OGW

Hello and welcome back! I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with acres of picks last week, so I’m back to talk about the other rotating block, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon.

To repeat myself from last week: These are the cards that I think are good to have as they leave Standard, either for their value in Modern/Legacy, or as long-term casual holds.

I don’t think I gave you a good example last week of such a card, so let me do so now: Thespian’s Stage, in foil or nonfoil. Here’s the graph of the foil:

During Theros block, you could get the foil for under $10. Even at rotation, you could get it about $10. But now it’s double that, and nowhere to go but up. The nonfoil has gone from dollar rare to $3 casual gold, and I’m pleased with either of those graphs.

Every time the Stage dodges reprinting, it ticks up by fifty cents or a dollar. If it gets reprinted in Commander 2017, I don’t think the price will get hit much but the foil will tick upward. It’s going to take a Conspiracy/Masters set to impact the foil very much, and that seems unlikely in the next year (It’s not Iconic, after all).

Shadows over Innistrad

Traverse the Ulvenwald ($4.50 nonfoil/$14 foil): Really, we should have seen this coming. Delirium isn’t just easy in Modern, it’s the focus of Tarmogoyf. Getting the ‘Goyf as big as possible as fast as possible is why Tarfire spiked. Gotta get that Tribal type!

I think the nonfoils are going to go down a little, maybe as far as $3, but then they seem like a very solid pickup. As ever, for Modern/Legacy or casual use, I generally like the foils more than the nonfoils to hold value and to resist losing much when they are reprinted. (Yes, that’s WHEN they are reprinted. That’s my view going forward. Can’t say when, but it is going to happen.)

Archangel Avacyn ($10/$22): The poster angel for the set, a double-sided mythic, she’s going to be very hard to reprint. It’s my understanding that the double-sided require a whole sheet, and then are added, so it’s not possible to throw one two-faced card into a regular print run. The flip planeswalkers of Magic Origins were done on their own, lots of languages to a sheet, so I feel confident in thinking that Avacyn is safe from reprinting for a while.

She’s at the lowest she’s been during her time in Standard, and frankly the foils are super appealing. The foil multiplier isn’t even three yet! Let’s get in on these and just be patient. The growth will be real.

Thalia’s Lieutenant ($2.75/$6): I want this to drop further. I’d like picking these up a lot more at $1.50 or less, but this price is likely an artifact of a couple of recent Modern decks that have a Human theme. I would truly love it if the triggered ability could affect Soldiers too, but it’s still a very good card. Every set has Human creatures, and with every good creature to add to the deck, this card gets better.

Prized Amalgam ($2.25/$5.50): It’s one of the centerpiece cards for Modern Dredge, it’s an automatic four-of in the strategy, and yet it’s this cheap. Foils being $5 on eBay seem like a complete gift to your future self. It’s true that the ban of the Grave-Troll made the deck a little less appealing, but here’s what is going to happen:

  1. People pack lots of graveyard hate in Modern, making Dredge a bad choice.
  2. People move their sideboard choices to other decks, because no one is playing Dredge.
  3. Someone makes the right metagame call at the right big event and Dredge takes it all.
  4. This price goes up by at least double.

I don’t know when that process will happen, but it’s only a matter of time.

Honorable mentions at $1 or less: Fevered Visions, Descend Upon the SinfulSeasons Past, Duskwatch Recruiter, Second Harvest.

Eldritch Moon

Gisela, the Broken Blade ($8/$20) and Bruna, the Fading Light ($1/$6): I like all the foil Meld cards going forward, but this pair having a mythic member AND being part of an iconic tribe means that I love the casual potential here. Bruna is already very good in Angel decks, and I can’t imagine not making space for her sister in Commander decks.

Gisa and Geralf ($1.60/$6): The high foil multiplier here is a very good indicator that you want to have some of these going forward. This card never had a huge supply, being a small-set mythic, and Commander players are taking these out of circulation. I’d much much much rather have the foil version, because I can see this being the headliner for some future duel deck (Undead vs. Survivors or some such).

Bedlam Reveler ($1/$4.50): Another big foil multiplier indicates the foil is sought after more, either in Eternal (where it’s seen some play) or casual play, where only the most dedicated of decks play this. I’ve written about this before, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but I can see this spiking pretty hard with just one good showing.

Deploy the Gatewatch ($1/$4): So about a year ago, while I was guesting on MTG Fast Finance, James and I had a polite disagreement about this card. I thought it was trash for Standard, but an excellent long-term hold. The card has gone up about a dollar since then, but it remains a ridiculously safe pick in foil. I suspect we will get some Gatewatch-themed special issue deck at some point, but until then, snag lots of foils and just wait. You’ll thank us later.

Honorable mentions at $1 or so: Mind’s Dilation, Sigarda’s Aid, Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, Decimator of the Provinces

Cliff is impressively devoted to Magic, in a range of formats. His greatest love has been Commander, but Cube is the new hotness and it’s not as clear as it used to be. Who will steal his heart and get that rose? Tune in next week!

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