The Math of Unfinity and the Borderless Shocklands

This will not be your usual math article, because I don’t have many complex calculations to do. Wizards has given us direct numbers here, and as a result, we’ve got very good data on what will happen with the important cards from Unfinity.

So let’s get into the weeds, parse some numbers, and figure out how rare these shocklands will be.

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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.

Pro Trader: While You Slept

Readers!

Something I haven’t done in a long time is look at the data for Top 100 most-included cards on EDHREC. And why would I? The top card is Sol Ring, there are a bunch of Signets, tutors, removal spells, Rampant Growths and a few spicy creatures like Dockside Extortionist. Everyone who has played even a single game of Commander can probably name all 100 cards, right. Right? Well, what if I told you that there are a lot of cards on the list that have been printed for the first time in the last two years, some of them that I have mentioned before and some I haven’t? Do I need to sell you on this concept, really? I got your click already, you’re hooked, I just need to not blow it by losing your interest. I’d prefer you got something out of this article, so I’m going to look at the EDHREC top 100 cards of the last week and show you which cards from 2021 and 2022 are heating up and whether or not I like them as specs. It’s happening, so be prepared to be surprised by a few of these – it wouldn’t be a whole entire article without a few curveballs, otherwise I’d just list all 100 cards and call it a day. Instead, I’m digging in the content mines without a circle of protection: black lung anywhere in sight. I do it for you, readers, so let’s see what I unearthed, shall we? That was rhetorical; we shall.

#25 – Ignoble Hierarch

There will come a certain point where a rare that is unlikely to get reprinted soon given its price trajectory over the year that’s in tens of thousands of decks will officially become so cheap that it’s absurd not to buy them. Silly me, I thought that point was $5. I bought some, not a ton, but some. The showcase versions is trash, but the old border version is very good-looking. If this is like $1 or $2 and it’s in a quarter of Jund decks moving forward, which seems ow considering it was in more than a quarter of jund decks this week.

28% isn’t a ton more than %25, but $3.39 is a hell of a lot cheaper than $10 so the popularity by way of discovered demand when the card becomes too cheap not to play should help that number increase beyond 28% as people build more Jund. This is in a ton of decks, it’s cheap, it’s getting help from Modern and it’s tough to reprint. At some point the fact that Modern Horizons two was absolutely bonkers and every pack was a winner will be outweighed by the sheer demand, provided people don’t abandon EDH in droves. It’s a fun format, it’s hard to see that happening.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Expressive Value, Just For You

Last summer, we had a really interesting experience, highlighted by one of the most profitable experiences a body can have: Buying a very cheap card and then buylisting it for a lot more a short time later.

I’m talking, of course, about Expressive Iteration:

If you bought in at fifty cents in May, you had the chance to sell to a buylist at five bucks in mid-July. That’s a phenomenal return, especially given how little respect some uncommons get. So what I want to do right now is look at what uncommons are popular, both in Commander and Constructed formats, and see if there’s money to be made.

One note before we get into this: I’m going to be listing the number of decks that have a card on EDHREC. Please keep in mind that the inclusion rate isn’t a guarantee, as it’s a great dataset, but one with limitations. There’s a lot of people who upload entire preconstructed decks and then tweak those decks, giving precon numbers a boost. Also remember that not everyone bothers to upload a deck at all, which if a lot of casual players want a card, the price will move while the rate stays low.

Rumor Gatherer ($0.20 for the cheapest version, $1.30 for the most expensive, currently listed in 16,000 decks on EDHREC) – I like what this card offers: Draw a card every time you have 2+ creatures enter the battlefield, plus scry 1 for every other creature that enters and doesn’t draw you a card. That’s a whole lot of value crammed into one card, and especially if you have fun things to do on other turns that gives you a pair of tokens, like Raise the Alarm.

Iteration was not cheap for very long and this card has been out for a few months. It was included in one of the CLB decks and that’s going to keep the price of the regular nonfoil down for a while to come. However, this was a promo pack card for SNC and that’s the version you need to be looking at, because it’s just over a buck for single foil copies and slightly more in higher quantities. This many decks in this short a time is a wonderful sign.

Slip Out the Back ($1.50 to $2, 8900 decks) – One-mana ‘save your creature’ tricks are always going to be nice to have, as we’ve seen with stuff like Tamiyo’s Safekeeping. Hexproof and indestructible are very good keywords, and will get you through most of the problems in a Commander game. Getting a +1/+1 counter is probably better than two life, and phasing has no workaround. I can Massacre Girl a board away through a Safekeeping, but I’m just going to shrug when it’s phased out. This is why Teferi’s Protection is so good, too!

The foils and the nonfoils are about the same price, which means I probably want the foils. I’d rather have the shiny versions, as those aren’t put into Commander decks as the nonfoils are.

Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer ($0.10 to $1.70, 4k decks as Commander and Card) – Rocco is a Chord of Calling you can cast from the command zone. It doesn’t have convoke, nor is it an instant, but my goodness, having a toolbox commander like this is a powerful tool. He’s in as many decks as he is at the head of those decks. I don’t think we’ve had a legendary three-color with such a powerful ability, one that just requires mana to be good. We also have a version worth picking up in bricks: the gilded foil version is available for under two bucks.

I don’t think this will light up anytime soon, but I really like getting a premium treatment for such a useful card in large quantities.

Roadside Reliquary ($0.15 to $2.50, 10k decks) – Lands that give you something to do when you’re out of gas have a real appeal in Commander. Cryptic Caves is in 15k decks, and both these cards are amazing in something like Lord Windgrace, giving you card advantage coming and going. Foils are almost 20x the price of regulars here, indicating how strong the casual demand is. 

Yes, you want to be in on those foils. A reprint is nearly inevitable for a utility land like this, and I want to stay out of the fallout there. Instead, I’m okay buying these at two for $5 and being patient until they hit $10 in about 18-24 months.

Containment Construct ($0.30 to $3.50, 12500 decks) – I’m extremely tempted by the nonfoils here, and deciding what to buy is an exercise in predictions. The Construct is amazing in decks that have a way to make the discard happen regularly, like Anje Falkenrath. What I’m thinking about is that eventually, something will get printed that turns this into a mega-combo-enabler. Will it be a Commander precon that likely would include this card?

If I think the combo is some random Standard inclusion, then I want a giant stack of nonfoil copies. Thirty cents jumping to a retail of even $2.50 means I’ll make around 6x my money back. If I think it’ll be in a precon, I want the foils as protection from that extra set of copies.

Relic of Legends ($1.50 to $3, 2700 decks)

Elas Il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim ($0.20 to $2.50, 2200 decks)

Tear Asunder ($0.60 to $1.75, 624 decks)

Finally, here’s the three cards from DMU that I think have the best chance to give us huge returns. Relic is going to be a mana rock for a wide variety of decks, including things that want the commander to be tapped. Elas is just good, capable of lots of gain and lots of loss, while Tear Asunder is a straightforward exile spell.

Elas is the only one with a special version as yet, having a textured foil of his Showcase art available, so that’s where I’d want to be. For the other two, I’d feel better about having foils but it’s not quite as urgent a need. Having a stack of these cards on the cheap is going to pay off nicely in the long run. 

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.

Unlocked Pro Trader: How to Invest in Crypto

lith Rite

Readers! My attempt to game the headline analyzer algorithm are yielding some interesting results – this time I did a bit worse, 72%. I guess it’s better to make specific promises – “making 40k” than it is to tell people how to do things. Fair enough. The headline analyzer doesn’t think you want to be taught how to fish, it thinks you want fish spoonfed to you. I’m not going to do that, readers. It’s not because I respect your intelligence too much, far from it, I’m just not inclined to try and feed anyone fish with a spoon. I’m going to forkfeed these picks to you. That said, there isn’t a ton more data now than there was last week, and the EDHREC backend has gotten a little more complicated so we only have data from one deck. Let’s beat it to death and see if anything else comes rolling out of the corpse. Actually, no, I changed my mind mid-paragraph and rather than just erase that and write what I’m actually going to do, I’m going to leave all of it which will have the effect of showing you how my thought process works and also emphasize that this other thing is so important that I don’t want to risk forgetting about it. They made Necrotic Ooze a commander.

It doesn’t have the activated abilities of all creatures, but having the activated abilities of all Artifact Creatures is enough because you don’t need any creatures that aren’t artifacts.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but Phyrexian Devourer is very good with Necrotic Ooze effects and they’re going to come back into focus soon. Notice the Old Stickfingers bumps I warned about? The price has been cut in half, but since we have an even better Necrotic Ooze commander now, I figured why not just make a lot of money when this hits $30 again? Second spike, baby. Making money on this card is so much fun and I’ve done it so often I should send the Alliances design lead a gift basket. One of those edible arrangements or something. Something classy with a bunch of pineapple and shit. People love being thanked with a bunch of pineapple and honeydew melon but they don’t want to pay $45 plus delivery fees to get like 4 chocolate covered strawberries to be served to them at room temperature in front of all of their work colleagues. That’s where I’ll come in. Did I make you a bunch of money with this card in 2021? I bet I did. Is it absolutely going to happen again? Don’t answer here, that was a rhetorical question since this is an article and not a conversation. Let your chocolate covered pineapple wedges on skewers do the talking.

Second spikes feel like cheating. This bad boy snaked all the way back down to a buck fiddy, can it be $7.50 again? It will probably be more, try to have copies when that happens. I have no idea how much this mono-Black commander will get played, but it doesn’t have to get played at all, that’s the beautiful part.

Imagine this pic is accompanied by a fart noise sound effect that goes on so long it stops being funny then starts being funny again

Not great build metrics here, but the hype sure took these cards to the moon, even though they didn’t stay there very long, like people who went to the actual moon landing faked video in that California studio directed by Stanley Kubrick. Buy early and often, sell into hype always. If you miss your window, these specs will literally inevitably go up again. They’re not reprinting Phyrexian Devourer, nor are they likely to make a version of it that’s so much better that people will stop also playing Phrexian Devourer in a format that literally allows you to run 100 cards, especially given that Artifacts are not excluded from any of those decks on the basis of color identity.

Let’s see how the reprint impacted the price of Walking Ballista.

….K

Sure wish I had seen this coming 2 years ago, but it is down significantly from its peak, and the next bump goes higher. It likely takes a world event rather than a reprinting since it’s not just Triskelion that needs to go up but also Antiquities as a whole, but this is worth knowing.

Maybe Mirrodin foils are the play?

Anyway, this wasn’t even intended to be the main body of the article, but it was so interesting it got its own half an article. I like when stuff I talked about before happens again, even though I don’t remember which article I covered these cards in and it would be so painstaking to find it, it’s literally easier to repeat myself. Besides, maybe you didn’t read the last one, so enjoy the this one.

Moving on to our main topic which will be, at most, as big as this side topic and likely smaller, we have a deck with data on EDHREC, so that’s cool.

I don’t know if people like this dude or the Asstarts or however you pronounce that, but they seem to like the deck, so let’s see what goes in it.

If you’re like me, you looked at the High Synergy cards before you read the massive wall of text on this stupid wizard rectangle and right now you’re trying to mentally work backward to how this commander works looking at a bunch of weird Red Tims and suspend cards and the 5th best card in the “loyal” cycle. What in the world?

Oh, so those suspend cards just get cascaded into by any spell, basically. That’s pretty rad since you can control the exact amount of damage you deal.

Seems like this foil is always in play and with just one more impetus for it to go up and the fact that most Ravnica Allegiance foils have rolled themselves into tubes by now, the supply will only get lower.

Compare Spewer to this card that got a rarity downshift and still flirted with $2. Not bad. Alchemist is obviously a much better card, but, you know, still.

Compare this to a card I confidently paid $8 a copy for release week.

Uncommons that get played a lot can be worth money in foil, even if a deeply stupid deck is where they’re mostly played. Magic finance is fun which is why I never bothered to learn to trade stocks.

Really expected this to tank more, but I’ll take it.

I know foils are mostly trash these days, but the foil is the same price as the non-foil and that’s an opportunity for you to either bet on foil or non-foil or hedge your bets and do both and conduct some A/B testing of your own. There’s no wrong way to invest in Wizard triangles because if I admit there is a wrong way you’ll start remembering my past mistakes and holding them against me and you not doing that for a decade has allowed me to quit working in a stinky laboratory so don’t start now, I have no idea what any of the instruments are anymore and I’m too old to go to back to college.

This is a lot to think about, but I also feel like I barely scratched the surface of Abaddon (more like abadcard amirite) and you can certainly look more into what a pretty unremarkable Grixis spellslinger deck, a very old concept, it truly is if you want. Check my work, I welcome it. Ping me in the Pro Trader Discord server sometime, I’ll always respond to a DM from a Pro Trader, I love to chat, I just don’t love to follow the threads. Discord is actually a massive source of stress for me, but DMs make me happy and make my overall Discord experience a lot better, actually, so hit me up. I don’t bite, I promise. Until next time!

MAGIC: THE GATHERING FINANCE ARTICLES AND COMMUNITY