I have a different article (that still would have been late, sorry) half-written because Las Vegas required a lot of post-con recovery time and I didn’t really get it. The good thing is, since my article was late, I was privvy to a card being spoiled and decided to audible into writing about it. Some of the cards are disappearing so it’s best we think about these picks, stat before it’s too late. Sometimes EDH prices move slowly and sometimes they’re obvious and obvious means people who don’t know anything about EDH are going to buy them. I bet a lot of these panic picks don’t pan out so sell as fast as possible but if you can get some of these for cheap, you almost certainly profit even if the cards do what they usually do and plateau halfway between the pre- and post-spike price.
I think there is still a little bit of time if you are a Pro Trader and get in on this stuff now and I think some of the other stuff will need a big nudge and will only get there if the deck materializes.
My “EDH Guy” Analysis
This deck is going to suck. Have you ever played a deck where you can’t really do much if your commander is dead? Well, literally 2 minutes ago, Jim had the same thought.
You are incentivized to run really bad cards and they’re only useful if your general is out. Drawing cards is cool but I draw a lot of cards with my Enchantress deck and that deck eats other decks’ dust like it’s its job. If Arcades is out, congratulations, you’re now allowed to win an EDH game the slowest and stupidest way possible, by attacking with creatures. Big, stupid creatures, most of whom have no useful abilities because they were designed to have a good casting cost to power and toughness ratio and a lot of their abilities trigger when they block.
What this deck has going for it is that it’s fast. Arcades comes down early and if he dies, it’s only 6 to resurrect him and Alpha Strike early. Unfortunately, you’re not killing anyone so you’re just going to beat fair decks. You’re going to beat basically tribal decks unless those tribes have some sort of synergy, in which case you’re boned. You do have a mostly full grip and an incredibly good rate on your creatures. a 5/5 flying dragon costs like 6 mana whereas a 0/5 flying wall costs like 2. Wall of Blossoms and Wall of Omens, normally playable cards, are doubly good. Wall of Junk and Quicksilver Wall suddenly are draw machines. The good news is that I bet this deck gets built a lot because it’s obvious and whether or not it gets played at all is irrelevant. This is splashy and where there is a splash, there are ripples and we’re all about ripples here. So let’s look at the ripples and ignore whether this deck has any long-term chops. You don’t write Emergency Articles for decks with long-term chops, anyway.
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If you weren’t at a computer last night an hour before Midnight EST, you missed a moment in Magic history. Watching eight players crack a bunch of unsearched Beta boosters was pretty dang cool, and aside from GenCon in a month or two, is unlikely to ever be repeated again. Wizards slept on the 20th anniversary, but they produced something quite cool for the 25th at least.
Of course what’s amusing about all of this is how excited the Wizards employees were, chief among them Aaron Forsythe. When they flipped Time Vault onto the table — a card that I’m assuming is unplayable in draft, or probably close to it — everyone cheered, and it was repeatedly referred to as “a big pull,” or something to that effect. Essentially that it’s one of the best cards they opened. But if it’s terrible in draft, why be excited to open it? Obviously you and I know the answer — it’s valuable. The director of R&D essentially admitting as much on camera, without using those words exactly, was probably just as fun as seeing it opened.
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I’m going to give you a semi-scorching take, that you may or may not agree with:
I think the Main Events at Grand Prix are not worth the time and cost, generally speaking.
That being said, you’ll easily be able to find me at GP Vegas this weekend, under this sign:
Oh, no, oops, that’s GP Santa Clara’s sign back in January. Nine inches square, and not terribly good at getting attention.
Vegas, on the other hand, inspired me to greatness:
Oh yeah. That’s the size of a playmat and a total beast to pack for a flight.
Why do I do all this work, though? Because I don’t like the value that we get for most events, and Cube Draft is super fun and also totally free! Let me explain…
Remeber, everyone, EV (Expected Value) is an attempt to quantify how much monetary value you get out of an event, as compared to the value you put in. The EV on a pack of Dominaria is pretty low, considering that only about 1 in 4 packs will get you a rare with $4 of retail value.
EV is not the same as fun, and I’m not trying to rain on your parade. I love some events with terrible EV, but I’m also bringing Cubes that maximize the fun for zero cost. You have a good time, doing what you like, just be aware of the costs.
The Main Event
Dear heaven above, we’re now paying $70 for a Modern Main Event and $85 for the Limited ones. If you’re telling me that I have the option of buying a box at $100 or six packs for $85, even with Dominaria being above the value of other recent sets, well, I’m under no illusions about my skill in Limited.
I am pretty good at drafting, but I’ve never liked Sealed and for me, the value isn’t there.
Allow me to paint a picture, and this applies to any GP Main Event:
It’s the end of round five. You’ve been at this for 6-7 hours already (depends on the format, but early rounds ALWAYS go to time in Sealed and in a huge event there’s always going to be drawn out games in Modern) and you’re hungry, tired, and your friends all lost twice in the first three.
You’re 3-2. If you stick it out, you MIGHT make day two, if you won your next three. You’re still alive for it, you’d feel bad if you dropped, but all there is to eat is the $15 hamburger in the lobby, whereas your pals are headed to a Vegas buffet for maybe $30-$40 a head.
I’ve been there, and that feeling sucks.
It’s not that Dominaria is a bad set, or that Modern is a bad format, but for me, I don’t want to play one deck for nine hours and have no chance to go eat, talk, relax, trade, or browse vendors.
If your skill is high enough, or you take that much joy in your deck, then by all means. Allow me to link you to a story of me at 4-1 and doing dumb things starring Owen Turtenwald. That might have been the end of non-team Main Events for me.
I’d really like to make Day 2 of a Limited GP, and yes, that means I’ll have to enter those events. I won’t get infinite chances to do so, but especially in Vegas, side events and freebies will be my jam.
The Prize Wall
If you’re a regular consumer of MTG Fast Finance, you may remember that I ranted about this topic on the show back in January. I loathe the prize wall as a method of paying off victors. I understand that the events need a currency, and booster packs are either the best thing ever or terrible EV, but the execution by ChannelFireball was terrible in January and I’m hoping for better things in Vegas and in Sacramento.
My issues with the Prize Wall are as follows:
Inconsistent Pack Pricing – Dominaria will be 10 tickets, that’s pretty straightforward and you’ve got a 22% chance of opening a card worth $3 or more. All the Standard sets should be 10 tickets per pack, but then things get wonky. At GP Toronto, for instance, Modern Masters 2013 packs were 150 tickets, but those can be had for $25 on TCG. That’s a multiplier of 15, when the price is only about six times more. I understand you’re about to get at me for worth and cost and all those things, but I simply don’t like how the prices are so hit and miss.
Timing – The prize wall is a feast for the senses on the first day and maybe the second. People are eagerly trying to save up 1500 tickets for a foil uncut sheet, or draft enough to snag a Revised dual land. Know what they aren’t doing? Using their tickets early! The people who get a lot of tickets early on have a massive advantage over the people who saved till Sunday afternoon and are now down to the dregs of what’s left. I freely admit that if CFB restocked better/faster than I’ve seen (again, I’m hopeful but realistic) then I’d have less of an issue here.
Closed Currency – I wrote a lot about PucaTrade in the heyday, and I’ve written a bunch about Cardsphere, which is just better, because Cardsphere uses actual dollars and PucaTrade used only their own currency of PucaPoints. The closed currency means that at the end of the GP, when you go home, your prize tickets are worth nothing at all. You HAVE to shop from the prize wall to get anything at all. There’s not even a way to convert it to vendor credit, though I suspect that will come, or allow vendors to trade for tickets. There’s a real market for trading tickets, even if you’re not supposed to it’s quite common.
The Side Events
First off, here’s the schedule. Let’s address the on-demand events.
Twenty bucks for a draft, a little higher than most LGS but you can do as many as you want. I prefer paying less and having less prizes, but this is not outlandish.
They’ve upped the price of Chaos Drafts to $35 and now you get to draft the packs before you draft the cards. This is godawful EV, but as I mentioned, EV is not the same as fun, and I am going to do this at least once. Note that the payout is the same as a Dominaria draft. Yuck but I love randomness! I’m so logical, except when I’m not.
If you do a Masters 25 draft for $35 you’re kind of nuts, from an EV perspective. You’ve got a 17% chance to open a rare or mythic that’s even $10, or a 6% chance to open a card that has the same retail price as the draft. Go have fun, but like myself and the Chaos Drafts, know that you’re paying a steep price for your fun.
Turbo Town Constructed has the best ratio of money to tickets that I can find. Both players pay a combined total of $10, and 40 tickets are given out. That 1:4 ratio is better than all the others, considering that the Dominaria drafts are $160 paid and 440 tickets are given, a ratio of 4:11 (Turbo Town is 4:16, for the comparison) and now we’re doing more math than I want to. If you want to grind tickets, that’s your play, and it’s got the benefit of being fast, so you can take breaks as needed without being stuck in a five-round slog.
The scheduled events are more about your enjoyment of the format in question and how many rounds you want to play of that format. The EV in terms of tickets is really not good for some of these and average for others. For instance, the RTR block throwback draft at $20 has a 4:9 ratio of tickets at max players. Even the double-up Sealed, if I presume there’s 256 players, will have $12,800 paid and 42,240 in tickets given out, which comes out to 1:3.3 as a ratio.
I think the Beta draft is a brilliant promotion and it’s something I’d never ever participate in. The chance that these are unsearched Beta packs is zero, to my mind. It’s free money for them, and Beta packs are 100% searchable. Observe this video of it being done with a Fallen Empires pack. Given the enormous prices of Beta Power and Duals, someone went through and with infinite patience, checked the cards in the packs. As a result, if there’s no Power, no duals, you just shrug and say, “That’s Beta!” and sigh because basic Island is on the rare sheet.
There’s some really great things to do at the GP which will cost you little or even turn you a profit:
Vendors – This is an excellent opportunity to gather up a bunch of cards, bring them to vendors, and turn a lot of little things into one big thing. Myself, I’m hoping to turn a stack of recent picks and hits into a dual or two, and even if you don’t like the hunt for value, you can lose hours just admiring all the super-awesome things for sale.
Artists – TWENTY-SIX different Magic artists will be present at this event, and you need to understand that they mostly weren’t paid to be there. If you get cards signed, leave about a buck per signed card at a minimum. Read Noah Bradley’s words. Be professional and courteous. Gush freely, don’t put your drinks or other stuff on their tables. Buy a print, and get it framed.
Cosplay – People are going to dress up as Magic characters, and that’s awesome. Making costumes like this is great fun for all involved. Talk to folks, spellsling with them, follow them on social media, contribute to their Patreon, etc. Do not be an asshole about what they are choosing to do or how they look. If someone wants to dress up a little or a lot, that’s a choice that increases their enjoyment, and you’ve no right to diminish that at all. Don’t ogle, don’t grab, don’t touch someone. Putting on a costume isn’t asking for anything.
Commander – If you dig competitive Commander, by all means play those games or join those events. Not my bag, but you do you. I can highly recommend gathering a pod of you and friends and adding the spice of tickets as a reward for playing, that’s a way to keep games moving at a lively pace instead of endless politics. I love playing Commander with new people, and if some have more tuned decks than mine, well, the games didn’t last long and I can move on.
Trading – As someone who does a lot of trading, and loves to hunt through binders, please, I beg you, take the stuff you won’t trade and have some way to let me know. Upside down, the last page of the binder, special sleeves, etc. Stay away from any solo trader who says the word ‘buylist’ and look askance at someone who says ‘value’.
Cube Draft – I 100% saved the best for last here. I love Cubing. I think it’s the highest form of Magic, and it’s a way to give people a new and awesome experience. I’m bringing my Busted Uncommons cube and my Silver Borders cube, both of which are fun experiences. I haven’t built an expensive cube yet, so I’m comfortable playing with strangers. If you don’t want to bring your pricey cube, I totally understand. Every Cube Draft I am part of–and I’m hoping to attract other Cubers–is free and time very well spent. Just look for me all weekend, I’m not going to be hard to find.
Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for nearly five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. He’s the official substitute teacher of MTG Fast Finance, and if you’re going to be at GP Vegas, look for the guy under the giant flashing ‘Cube Draft’ sign and he’ll have you drafting in no time!
I’m seeing no I squandered this title gag on a potential future article called “Mo Mana Mo Problems” which may also be a past article, in which case I guess I didn’t squander the gag as much as fail to repeat it. Regardless, last week I wrote an article called “No Data No Problems” and I guessed at a lot of cards that would go up as a result of some of the Legenday creatures in Battlebond. I guessed pretty well. Let’s see how much better we do this week with (some) data. I bet we do better. Do you bet we do better? Better bet we do better.
The Decks From Battlebond
The decks from Battlebond that matter appear to be contained to what we covered last week because we managed to guess the only deck that anyone seems to care about.
So it looks like Najeela is the only deck that matters so let’s take a crack at it, I guess. I’m sure people are building the Lannister Planeswalkers, Pir and Toothy and some other combinations, but Najeela is the high-impact, immediate card to address. We covered some Najeela picks last week and I think with the data we get from EDHREC, we should be able to mop up the rest.
Najeela, Now With More Data
We have a few more targets to look into now that there is data.
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Mirri is a solid pick if you ask me. Most people don’t know but the inclusion of Herald’s Horn makes the Kitty Cat deck currently the highest-valued deck. It’s also one that people aren’t super jazzed to bust as players which means the copies aren’t getting into the market as easily. You have a recipe for a card on the move and I think Mirri is a very solid place to park some money. Decent in the 99 and a good commander in her own right, Mirri is an important part of Najeela as well and could have some upside. Her Najeela inclusion stats are strong (65% of 40 decks, but 65% seems strong to me, as much as I’d like a larger sample size). I think this may be a better pick than some of the cards I mentioned last week, although I still feel very strongly about Druids’ Repository. I feel good about this one, and the price is starting to pick up, here.
The dealers are really keen on this card lately. You can buy a lot of copies since it’s an uncommon, but the ceiling on an uncommon from this block is significantly higher than that of most sets and this is a great warrior inclusion. I don’t know if you need to buy foils per se since the non-foil looks so strong.
I think the divergence of the non-foil price from the foil price shows that there is genuine, recent, strong demand for the non-foil rather than slow, inevitable growth of an older card. EDH players don’t foil decks on a large scale and the foil getting neglected shows that there is promise for this card. That said, foils tend to price correct just on principle so while I’m not a huge fan, I think you might make money just because a foil not being worth at least twice a non-foil is so psychologically unsatisfying for people that you probably just make money.
It’s a little hard to tell what’s going on here.
The last year shows some pretty good growth and it’s only getting better based on demand from new decks that have access to this based on it being in a precon and being a bulk rare people could easily grab for a while (still almost can) and it being a Warrior, which suddenly matters. I like this quite a bit and I think it has upside. I also like lower-buy-in picks sometimes and I think you can grabble a big pile of bulk rares easily.
Ezuri, Claw of Progress
This is mostly started to move and cheap copies (Card Kingdom claims this is $4.49 but it’s sold out at that price) but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out what is clearly the first big mover from the Najeela deck.
I usually go more in-depth but I am in Vegas for the GP so I will keep this brief. Ruminate on these picks and if you need any clarification, let me know in the comments section. I’ll be back next week with a brand new piece, possibly informed by what happens here in Vegas. Until next week!
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