One Way or another

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There was a time that I used to take bets on cards getting banned. 

And then Hogaak happened, where Wizards first decided to ban an auxiliary card in a format’s new and overwhelming deck, and I lost money because I didn’t think that they would just let it go.

After that, they DID ban Hogaak, causing me to lose money again because I figured they’d made it clear that the old cards were the problem, not the new one that could still be opened.

Now I’m wiser. I don’t have any idea at all what’s going to happen on Monday. Will Oko, Thief of Crowns be dethroned? Will there be collateral damage?

What I do know is, there’s plans to be made in either scenario. 

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expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Revisitation

Readers,

When a commander from years back starts making moves, it’s important to look at why. Why do I bring this up?

Image result for are you serious? I just told you that zoolander

…A commander from years back started making moves. It’s not always clear whether the new decks registered are new decks or if they showed back up in the system because new cards made people update their lists, but it is worth it to look at what the new decks look like. New cards that make people update their lists could potentially illuminate new cards that weren’t in the deck before and help us predict two price increases for the price of one. A few new decks registered is a blip, but enough to make it to the front page? That’s significant, and we like to look at things that are significant.

The Deck

Can you tell from the picture? I could be talking about either Edgar Markov or Muldrotha, but today I want to talk about Edgar because it’s less of a “goodstuff” deck and more of a “these specific cards are clearly for this specific deck” and the effect of just that one commander will be more pronounced. Will it be enough to drive prices? Well, that’s what we’re here to determine.

The Impetus

These new cards from the Brawl decks and Throne of Eldraine were good enough to make people head to Archidekt or Deckstats and update their lists. It’s possible it also led to the creation of some new decks, but, either way, it’s worth discussing. Any of these cards alone probably warrant an update and considering Edgar is the 3rd most-built commander of the last 2 years, even a small percentage of people updating leads to a noticeable blip on the radar. So the real question becomes, is this merely an update or do any of these cards change the way the deck plays?

The Way The Deck Plays

Not all of you play or even fully understand EDH and that’s fine. It’s my job to pay attention to that stuff, after all. I have you covered for the most part, but EDHREC does some work for you, too.

You may have seen me mention the filters in the top left by the card portrait on that card’s page. Those filters have titles that are in and of themselves informative. Don’t know how Edgar is built? Let’s check the filters.

That’s a ton of info. Vampire Tribal, Lifegain, Aristocrats (provided you know what that means), sacrifice, +1/+1 counters and Madness are all very self-explanatory.

The cards that are in the “new cards” list all deserve an individual look, so let’s do that.

Duh. This card is basically the new Sol Ring, this is getting added to most decks. This isn’t going to tell us anything.

This isn’t just getting added to the madness builds, and it makes sense. Anje is a 3-drop Vampire that draws cards. You rummage but you still see new cards. Is it changing the way people build? It might. To see if there are cards paired with it that could impact the non-Madness lists, let’s look at Anje’s page as a non-Commander deck inclusion and see if anything pops up there that could also translate because if one cards gets added, the others are likely to as well.

The high synergy cards are cards that get played alongside Anje in non-Anje decks. The Doomed Necromancer is basically the only interesting card here and it’s likely played in non-Edgar decks that include Anje.

Look through this whole page if you want, there don’t appear to be any cards that are in a Vampire deck that get better when you can discard at will and there don’t appear to be any cards that get better when you can discard at will that would be good in a vampire deck. This is a dead end but it’s only our first card so let’s stay positive.

Idol just seems vaguely good. Edgar makes mad tokens and this can draw a card for you, which is actually pretty insane on a 2 mana artifact. Edgar may be the best deck for idol, and that’s something we can check.

Nooottttt even close. While it’s obvious Ghired is going to be number 1 because Idol was in the same precon and the “precon effect” stipulates that cards that are in a precon tend to stay in if they’re marginally good enough because people tend to subtract from precons and not build up from 0. They get the precon, take “bad” cards out and add cards based on the number of slots they have left. However, Idol is overperforming in Alela decks. Remember, this list is sorted by the percentage of decks that could use Idol and do and since Idol is an artifact, any deck could use it. Therefore decks that are built more are statistically going to be higher on the list unless the card is under-represented. A lower percentage of Edgar decks are running it than other, less-built commanders which means it’s underachieving slightly. It’s still very good in the deck but not all Edgar players like cards like this since Edgar is more of a casual commander and, say, Kykar and Sai aren’t.

I think, though, that the decks running Idol are worth looking at. In this list, you have Alela which is #3 this week, Edgar which is #7, Kykar which is #14, and Atla Palani which was top 5 for its first 3 weeks.

Idol is not really at its highest point right now, but it is in the top 10 cards in Commander 2019 in terms of value. How about in terms of adoption? Well, EDHREC has a page for that, too.

Idol is 43rd, in 3% of eligible decks, wedged between Sanctum of Eternity and Wall of Stolen Identity, 2 cards I’m positive you’re not familiar with.

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I think the facts that Idol is a token card that keeps your hand full, Alela just got printed and the Naya deck wasn’t very interesting and was likely underbought all point to Idol having some long-term upside. At its current price of under $3, this seems like a good pickup. There are a lot of copies but any future deck that makes tokens will want this and it’s very unlikely it’s ever reprinted. One thing to remember – we’re sorting by percentage, here, and Idol is eligible for basically every deck ever built but it only works in decks that produce tokens and even then it has a higher deck inclusion percentage than Anje Falkenrath does. If you go by sheer number of inclusions, a metric that also matters, only 5 cards in the set are played more – Dockside Extortionist (duh), Ohran Frostfang, K’rrik, Sanctum of Eternity and Bone Miser. I think Idol is a $5 card fairly easily. I don’t know if a mere double-up is good enough finance-wise, but if you trade with people, this is solid. $5 may not even be the ceiling – this draws cards in non-Green decks.

Similarly, this draws cards and in aggressive decks that can dump their hand, this is basically an Underworld Connections that you can tap for mana. I don’t see a lot of reasons not to play any of the castles in basically any EDH deck and the Green one can get pretty absurd. Not much to say here- this doesn’t activate any other cards.

This is an interesting inclusion. Not a lot of people seem to be aware of this card or how it works in go-wide strategies and if people are already adding a mana rock in the form of Arcane Signet, it may be hard to find room for this. The fact that people are doing it in enough numbers to show up is telling. It may be difficult to figure out if this is overachieving in Edgar decks. However, in the set in general, Arcane Signet is in 10 times as many decks as Banner but it’s only in 3 times as many Edgar decks, which seems to imply Banner is overincluded in Edgar decks about 3 times the average. With Edgar being the third-most-built deck of the past 2 years, that’s a lot of copies relative to other cards.

Do I like the foils at $0.50? Not per se. There are a lot of copies out there.

So besides Idol, which I am very bullish on, what else from Edgar decks could go up?

Captivamp is basically at its floor from when it was first reprinted in the precon. The thing about this card is that 60 card casual players love it and they buy 4 at a time. I don’t think this is ever $12 again but I also don’t think $4.50 is correct or that it gets reprinted again.

If you don’t like the shape of that graph, take a look at the price of the foil with Channel Fireball prices in orange instead of Card Kingdom in Pink.

The foil is barely more than the non-foil because it was in a dirt-cheap precon from that era to give players the vampires they needed to play with the ones from Zendikar. I don’t typically like casual foils, but Channel Fireball has the price at basically its historical peak. However slightly, the buy price is also increasing.

This graph only tells half of the story. ABU is sold out at $9. CFB is sold out at $6.50. Troll has one at $11. Miniature Market has one at $7. I don’t know if it’s Modern or Pioneer or what doing this, but this card is disappearing online.

Take a look at Elenda the Dusk Rose while you’re at it – no one has that under $8 and Card Kingdom is currently charging $12.

That does it for me this week. I think even though people updating old lists doesn’t always translate to new copies of everything selling, we used the method to find cards we might not have found otherwise. Most people didn’t even know what Idol did but I think that was a gem and I wouldn’t have noticed Drana starting to dry up if we hadn’t drilled down here. You can develop your own methodology for checking EDHREC as long as you check it often. It updates daily and since the answers aren’t spoon-fed to you, you’re operating with knowledge not everyone has because you figured it out. Thanks for reading – until next time!

The Watchtower 11/11/19 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

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.


Wizards has unveiled a lot of products and tried many different gambits over the years. Many, even most, have been successful. Some of the duel deck-esque products were met with lukewarm reception, like the Signature Spellbook series, and other product lines that I’m sure I don’t remember. One or two have been overall unpopular — Avacyn’s Helvault comes to mind. Where did Mystery Boosters land? They were more popular than web services crashing while attempting to sell mythic editions, so there’s that. But overall, the Magic community seems to be decidedly unimpressed. As is often the case with a hyped unknown, people’s imaginations designed much more exciting products that the Mystery Boosters couldn’t hope to rival. When it became apparent that this seemed to be “cards Wizards owns” in boosters, without foils or a Masterpiece-style treatment as the odd payoff, public opinion soured quickly. To boot, while the gimmick of the playtest cards is absolutely amusing, they’re effectively silver-bordered cards, which while fun in their natural environment, have ultra-short shelf lives beyond their draft environment. (Check out prices on foil Conspiracies and draft-matter creatures from the same set.) We found out today that the LGS versions of the boosters drop 121 foils that didn’t appear in the convention packs, and we don’t know what those cards are, since they’re not the same cards as the 1,694 we’ve already seen. Will those be something special, or just normal foils of a handful of cool cards? We’ll find out in March, it seems.

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  ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.


Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2013. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


Mystery Solved!

Normally I’d be all over the Mythic Championship, held at MagicFest+ Richmond, which included a Hall of Fame induction and some more changes to the Players Tour…and I can’t keep it going. Why is high-level Magic so confusing?

My true interest, though, has been these damn Mystery boosters. I can’t remember the last time a set was completely unknown until packs started getting opened, and that’s an experience I love. I dive right into other peoples’ Cubes, and the only thing I want to know is if it’s got Power in it. Fresh Magic experiences are to be savored, and Mystery didn’t disappoint.

We are going to get the official card list on Monday, but there’s already some things we know and some things worth acting on…

First of all, the only new cards revealed so far (subject to change come Monday) are the Playtest cards. These are printed cards made to look like Wizards’ own internal playtest cards, which are stickers slapped onto older cards. (A friend of mine who designs games once said that the greatest thing Magic ever did was put millions of free cards into the hands of would-be game designers, and now the circle is closed!)

The Playtest cards are super neat and do some really interesting things. They are all marked as “Not for Tournament Play” and I imagine that individual Commander groups are going to decide for themselves if they are going to allow someone to play a Sliver Eldrazi, or the dying-to-be-broken How To Keep An Izzet Mage Busy.

Financially, the Playtest cards are going to struggle to be expensive. Every MagicFest is going to have Mystery events and this will be a thing until they run out of packs sometime next year. There might be one or two that are expensive because of niche appeal or the meme value (e.g. Dr. Richard Garfield, PhD.) but these sorts of things, even if rare, aren’t automatically expensive. I stocked up on foil Cogwork Librarian back when Conspiracy first came out, and over five years, that card hasn’t budged. The Conspiracies from CN2 are the same way. Hard to use and incredibly powerful, the niche wasn’t there and they aren’t expensive.

If you want to collect the Playtest cards for fun, do so. Magic is really catering to those who like different things, and there’s been a run of stuff worth collecting for the fun even if the long-term value might not be amazing: the JPN alternate walkers, the Showcase frames in Throne of Eldraine, and now these. I don’t anticipate the full set of Playtest cards being a super-chase item though.

More relevant financially is that the set is otherwise 100% reprints, and it’s not the Pioneer Masters people predicted/hoped for. It’s a Chaos Draft + Future Sight environment, one where the packs are seeded for color but not rarity. Here’s Gavin Verhey on Twitter: “Each pack has 2 C/U of each color, 1 Multi C/U, 1 artifact/land C/U, 1 playtest card, 1 M15 forward R/M and one pre-M15 card in its original frame.” Theoretically, a pack could have 13 uncommons. Or 13 commons. In browsing streams and Twitter, I saw that the pre-M15 card was occasionally a rare, so double-rare or double-mythic packs were possible too.

Notably, no foils. That’s a big ouch for the people who paid $75 to be part of the first event.

We were told this morning by Mark Rosewater on Tumblr that the game store version of Mystery will not have these playtest cards. Most likely, that’s a foil slot opening up but we will see.

Now, the reprints. They are keeping the original set symbol but these are reprinted cards, and are marked as such by a planeswalker symbol in the lower left. These cards were reprinted direct from the old card files, so the old copyright date and original printed text are on the cards. Odd aesthetic choice, but what the heck.

Thanks to the efforts of people participating in the Discord channels (and really, you ought to be a participant) we’ve identified 15 mythics and 62 rares, as of Monday morning, as well as some reprints in the common/uncommon slot that are notably expensive.

Given that these packs are going to be opened at MagicFests for the next year or so, plus the amounts of Mystery packs going to local stores, I’d expect that all of these prices take a small hit. Keeping the original look, including original set symbol, but adding the planeswalker symbol is probably equivalent to a new card with a new set symbol.

A couple of cards you ought to know about:

Bloom Tender ($50 nonfoil/$300 foil)

Eventide was a small set, and was the last set before Magic’s rebirth in 2009 with Magic 2010 and Zendikar. Stock was never high on this card, and every time it wasn’t reprinted, the price ticked up more. I’m glad we are finally getting more copies of this on the market. It’s not the most broken mana generator, but it’s capable of some disgusting jumps in mana. 

I would expect the originals to lose maybe $10 or $15, before stabilizing. The new ones are going to end up in the $15 range once the initial feeding frenzy ends.

Mana Crypt ($190/$250/$400 Invention)

Let’s take a moment and toast a card that has gone from $50 a bare eighteen months ago to $150 now:

Then let’s reflect on what a new influx of supply means. Is Mana Crypt going to be $50 again? Probably not. EMA was pretty heavily opened by drafters and collectors alike, and we’ll see if Mystery gets the same level of attention. Is it a $75 card? Maybe $100 fresh from a pack? I’m not sure where it ends up but I do know that when the Mystery packs are no longer being opened, I’ll want to pick up a few of these for the inevitable rise. The only worry about this card would be a Commander banning, likely on the same day that Sol Ring gets hit. (So, basically never.)

There’s a lot more to come, but I’m already over my word count and the full list is coming. Maybe we won’t get foils after all? Let’s find out Monday!

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING FINANCE ARTICLES AND COMMUNITY

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