Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater

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Go read my article from last week if you haven’t already. I’ll wait.

Also, what manner of lunatic are you? I realize that we’re getting new readers all the time, I guess, but what are the odds that the very first article of mine you’d ever read is the second part of a two-parter unless you’re wearing your underpants on your head right now. If you read it last week and could use a refresher, I linked it above. I couldn’t make it easier for you. Actually, yes I could – I’m linking it again so you don’t even have to move your mouse up. I’m assuming you read by dragging your cursor along so you know which word to read next. I mean, not YOU, you’re cool. But someone reading this. Probably.

Why is it so important to re-familiarize yourself with the piece from last week? Well, it wasn’t the cleanest of breaks, frankly. Sometimes when I do a multi-part series, I have a plan going in. Maybe an outline written on paper, telling me which points to make in which sections. Maybe colored tabs for organization. Other times I start writing and eventually I figure out the topic I want to write about only sometimes I run out of space and I hit my word count without necessarily making all of the points I wanted to make. I talked about having two theses last week and I feel like I covered the first thesis pretty well. Pretty well. I don’t think that anymore, though. The benefit of reading your comments and tweets and the intervening week has made me realize I have basically two choices at this point.

What happnened was I discussed my first thesis – people will build new 4-color decks. That’s a good thesis. Come on, I can say that. That’s no like an ego thing – that’s a legitimately good thesis because like all good theses, it’s built upon a very obvious point. Of course people will do that. The second thesis, if you couldn’t guess, is that people will use the sweet new 4-color goodies and build 5-color decks. The second thesis was likely to take an entire article because I wanted to talk about all of the ways people were going to cheat stuff into play with five-color decks. Are you starting to see the problem?

I left a bunch of stuff out of the last article. Some of that was for obvious reasons – it wasn’t appropriate for the first thesis but was for the second. Why write about Fist of Suns last week when it can’t go in a four-color deck? Also, I plan to write about Fist of Suns later so when I do, act surprised. Seriously. I’ll know if you don’t. What, are you too good for a little whimsy in your life? If I can act surprised after getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the new Star Wars movie and overhearing some dude in a nacho cheese-stained homemade Jedi robe talking about how Han Solo “HAD TO be the one who got killed” and then go back to my seat to watch the rest of the movie with a pretty huge plot twist spoiled for me, you can act surprised when I talk about Fist of Suns later. And if I just spoiled Star Wars for you, that movie came out 6 months ago, what were you waiting for? For George Lucas to release a special edition where Han shoots at Kylo Ren first? Act surprised when you see the movie you were clearly dying to see because that’s how it happened to me.

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So basically I feel like I needed an article-and-a-half for the first thesis and like, half an article for the second one.  Basically, how about we just mention the second thesis and then just talk about all of the cards I think could have upside, including stuff that could go in a five-color deck first and then just gradually listing stuff that could easily have gone in last week’s article if I’d had room? Just kidding, I’m going to do it anyway because this is my article.

Thesis the Second – Fist of Suns

People are going to use good four-color spells and creatures and mana fixing and they’re going to build five-color decks with them. And why not? They can mix and match the new decks and use any card from any of them. Now, could they have done that before, like when Commander 2014 came out? Could they have added a Scrap Mastery and a Containment Priest and a Cyclonic Rift and a Song of the Dryads and a  the black deck was terrible? Sure, but when there is an actual impetus to do something like I feel like Commander 2016 is going to present, people will do it to a much larger extent and that’s important going forward. I think with new mana fixing possible, new spells that are going to be powerful because how else do you justify making them so hard to cast and as many as 15 new four-color legendary creatures, any one of whom could pair very nicely with a commander like Child of Alara or Progenitus, we’re bound to see new 5-color decks in a big way. There are a lot of cards that specifically pair with 5-color decks but not 4-color ones.

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Remember this card? No, not from earlier in the article, I mean from 2014. Remember Travis Woo put this in a terrible deck and then someone on coverage said “OMG SOMEWUN IZ 5-0 with teh best deck everz” despite that person having 3 byes and then every dipshit PTQ grinder bought a playset and then those same people complained about how speculators are ruining Magic when the price went up? Remember that? This card is good enough to cheat Emrakul into play in Modern, it’s good enough to cheat… well, not Emrakul, but something either big or hard to cast in EDH out. If you’re playing 5 colors and you have anything big or hard to cast, this is your guy.

Since we had an initial spike, the copies are concentrated in the hands of dealers. We always talk about how second spikes are harder. If this gets any additional play, people are going to have to buy at retail because their LGS and friends’ binders are stripped because this card flirted with $20 briefly. Always pay extra attention to cards that spiked once already. Extra attention is going to drive his up sharply.

Fist pairs nicely with this other card.

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This card doesn’t cheat per se but I did run a playset of these back in the day in a mono-black deck that ran four copies of Last Stand. That was a fun deck. I found that deck and its 4 copies of Crystal Quarry and four copies of Cabal Coffers in an old deckbox at my parents’ house not too long ago. Finance genius.

This card is pretty flat so I feel like more 5-color decks could give it a boost. At the very least it’s worth knowing about. I feel like this gets reprinted if they do a 5-color EDH deck, but we’ll know about that before we know what’s in it, giving us time to sell if we need to. I like this as a pickup.

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This is a nice, steady gainer and has real upside long-term. The reprint prospects are fairly limited and that is perhaps the best thing this has going for it. Cascade is a very good way to cheat, especially with a passive trigger that will let you benefit from every spell you play. Notice it says “Each Turn” meaning you can really get a lot of advantage the more players are at the table. This is a high buy-in but this could easily be a $20 card with a little more adoption and this is likely to get just that.

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This is a little easier to reprint than Maelstrom Nexus but, don’t worry, they didn’t do it in FTV Angels. This has upside from being an Angel and from being a sweet 5-color deck card that lets you cheat your ass off when you hit them with it. This would be more expensive if it were legendary, but we can’t always get what we want. This has plateaued so it’s unlikely to move in the next 12 months without some help, but I feel like this only needs a little nudge to get moving. If you think you’re going to build 5 colors, you want this.

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I feel like this is the first half of a U-shaped graph that will cause some people to say in a few years “When was that ever $1?” Well, it’s $1 right now and it’s likely to be more, later. This card is good in multiple formats and when it’s gone from Standard, I think it has some upside. It’s certainly very good in decks that are four or five colors and that’s kind of the point of the article. Get these as throw-ins to shore up trades and make a big stack in a box, forget about them and then be glad later. Turn a pile of other bulk rares that won’t go up later into these on PucaTrade. Burn a big pile of them. All are legitimate strategies.

Do you see what I mean about there not really being enough 5-color-specific cards to really necessitate its own article? I can go back over the stuff that works in either four or five-color decks that I missed and which bears discussing.

Thesis the Third – There Are Cards I Missed Last Week

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Every now and then I get a little bit worried that the price is going down. Every now and then I get a little bit tired of losing to this in EDH games. Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of this card’s years have gone by. Every now and then I get a little bit terrified when I look at this card’s declining price.  I think it will turn around. There’s nothing I can do – I like Defense of the Heart.

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Someone (And in under 5 minutes I could get on twitter and scroll back a few days and check but I’m not super inclined, sorry, whoever!) asked about this card on Twitter. I think it’s really cheap for what it does, but I also think that if you’re going to devote a whole card to this effect, it should do more. How many multicolored cards have that much colorless in them that this feels like cheating? It certainly helps us ramp a bit, or buys us one free trip out of the Command Zone, I guess. Four-color decks could use this, theoretically, but five color decks could have all along and aren’t. I never thought this would be cheaper than cards like Tsabo’s Web or Teferi’s Response (Sold out on SCG) but that’s the world we live in.

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It’s goofy to see this card on the decline. This was considered a staple at the advent of EDH and its popularity is seriously waning. I think there’s decent risk of a reprint in Commander 2016 but I think more people focusing on multicolored decks that have hard-to-cast creatures should give this a second look. This reminds me of Duplicant in that its usage has really waned compared with how ubiquitous it was at the beginning of EDH as a format, and the recent Duplicant reprinting shows that WotC may be printing based on an outdated paradigm (Duplicant shows up in only 3,000 decks on EDHREC despite being colorless removal and a body) which means they could reprint Arch in a precon. I’m calling this high reprint risk, but so few people seem to care that I doubt the price spikes if they announce the lists and it’s not in it. Risk seems moderate but with a lower upside, moderate may be too much for me. It’s certainly very good, though, so its decline is a bit puzzling. 5 new 4-color decks could be the paradigm shift this needs.

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Legacy was big on this plus Conflux for a hot minute. Remember what I said about watching for a second spike? This could certainly get a second spike based on how good it is in multicolored decks and cheating in those decks. It’s underplayed in EDH but I feel like stupider cards from the same era having hit $20 with basically way less justification. A little nudge makes this $20 practically overnight. It’s a highish buy-in but the spread is so low that it makes me think dealers are waiting for something to happen here, too. In fact, outside of when it was spiking, the spread has never been lower. Watch this card for sure.

Are there more cards? Certainly. If we don’t start to get spoilers soon, I may have to dig a little deeper but then we risk hitting cards that see even less play and therefore have even less potential upside. I have a decent amount of confidence in a lot of these cards unless I said otherwise so these were the ones I deemed worth exploring. Got any other ideas? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. I may even remember your name (sorry again) if you do. Until next week, where I’ll be discussing a different thing or maybe not or maybe we’ll have previews. Give me something. A conspiracy spoiler, something from a duel deck, anything. I’m getting antsy in my pantsy. On that note, I bid you all a fond farewell.

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11 thoughts on “Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater”

  1. Jason,
    Another superb article on key picks as we head toward the next Commander product.
    A question for you, if you don’t mind:
    What are your thoughts going forward on foils of Narset, Enlightened Master? She’s the 6th most popular commander on EDHREC and sitting around, or below, $5 with tight supply on SCG and elsewhere.
    It stands to reason that her price chart would be similar to that of Bruna, Light of Alabaster in the long term, that being the closest parallel that I can think of; these are highly synergistic cards that are at the helm of baby’s-first-combo-deck.
    Thoughts?

    1. I like foil Narset but I have long said that commanders don’t make the great pickups everyone assumes they will. Staples are much better pickups because they have more exposure to upside. Only a new Narset deck will sell a Narset whereas any new multicolored deck will sell a Chromatic Lantern. Bruna is an angel and comparing an angel to a non-angel is almost never a fair comparison

      1. Thank you for your input, I appreciate it.
        I’m with you on Bring to Light and stockpiled them at the same time that I bought into Dark Petition around a dollar. So far the latter has paid off well and I cleared out many copies at GP Toronto for six dollars. Hoping that we see the same sort of return going forward. 🙂

  2. In a manly, heterosexual, slap my thigh kind of way I love you Jason. I just cleared Europe out of a number of these cards in foil. I think you hit it out of the park suggesting people will put 5 color decks together with the mana fixing that they put out in the four color decks.

    Couple of cheapies to add to the list – foil Darksteel Ingots from Darksteel (uncommon) was $1 on MKM. Left a few there for someone else at a slightly higher pick up. And General Tazri foils – would have passed on these but a 5 color General who is good in the 99, Mythic foil from a small set also at $1 I couldn’t say no to. Some of these left on MKM also.

  3. Great 2nd part Jason, i do love a good 5 colour deck. These cards look to be good pick ups so i am keeping my eyes peeled.
    Im also feeling antsy for spoilers… I need to get my brewing imagination fired.

  4. Jason,
    I believe you are right on the money with many of your 4/5-color picks. I worked on putting together two 5-color casual decks – one with dragons and one with angels. The dragons deck is a work of art if I do say so myself, with Dragon Arch and Prophet of Kruphix rounding out a full assortment of Dragonlords, Ugin, both versions of Bolas and Sarkhan Unbroken. The angels deck works well when it works, but fails terribly when it doesn’t. Maelstrom Archangel, is a 4-of in the deck, with most of the other Legendary multi-colored angels and Prophet of Kruphix again. My mana bases rely heavily on (all 4-of) Ancient Ziggurats, Pillar of the Paruns and Reflecting Pools. I have run Chromanticore in both the decks with varying levels of success. What do you see happening with Chromanticore if/when 5-color decks begin seeing more play?
    I also read about Maelstrom Wanderer in another article, and am looking at picking up a few of those from Eternal Masters with the price being a bit lower than the older copies.
    Keep up the very entertaining yet informative writing!!

  5. “what are the odds that the very first article of mine you’d ever read is the second part of a two-parter”

    count me in this exclusive group!

  6. This article is not wrong. It’s good information to have. However, I don’t think you went quite far enough.

    You can literally search the Gatherer for cards that allow you to put things directly into play, and make a laundry list of cards that have the potential to explode in value as soon as they print cards worth putting into play with them.

    So, for example: Lure of Prey and Dramatic Entrance in Green have potential if there is a game-ending green creature around. Prey has less upside because it is only legal in a format where you can play Natural Order. Entrance is a Modern card waiting for a better class of Progenitus to make it shine.

    Another example: Riptide Shapeshifter. In EDH, this lets you instantly tutor for any card with a unique creature type in your deck and resolve it.

    More examples: Call of the Wild, Impromptu Raid, Zoologist. These guys all plop the top of your deck onto the battlefield and become amazing if we there are powerful ways to control your topdeck ever printed. I can’t imagine they’d use “Put a card from your hand on top of your deck” as a fundamental set mechanic because of how un-fun it is, but you could easily imagine a card here or there having such an additional cost. As it is, they’re a trifle too expensive to combo with stuff like Sylvan Tutor, but stay tuned.

    1. I looked at all of those, but ultimately only wrote about ones I think have upside. I could have mentioned more I didn’t think had upside, but that would have taken a lot of my word count. I can do a part 3, but I’d rather move on, you know?

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