Redundancy

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I’m going to take a bit of a break from speculating about Commander 2016 this week

It’s occurring to me that I didn’t write about Commander 2016 last week, either. We’re off to a pretty bad start, here. It’s not that I didn’t go back and read last week’s article again, it’s just that I guess I just assumed I was going to cover Commander 2016 every week until we got some stupid spoilers and then cover it every week after that until I had a compelling reason to do something else. Last week I talked about a single card and how it could conceivably drive a ton of prices up because there was suddenly a flickerable way to tutor for them and it could be hilarious. Stoneforge Mystic, Stonehewer Giant and now Thalia’s Lancers can all get jammed in a deck with Restoration Angel and Eldrazi Displacer and that kind of power and advantage is what kids these days are calling “bae” and “in fleek”. You know what else is totally YOLO? Redundancy.

I actually really like the idea of peppering my articles with garbage clipart from now on
I actually really like the idea of peppering my articles with garbage clip art from now on

If you live in the UK, you probably don’t like the term “redundancy” because for some reason the UK refers to being laid off from your job as “being made redundant” which is a goofy euphemism. The US isn’t like that. “It’s not that we have too many people to fill a limited number of positions and we need to clear up a few redundancies, it’s that we’re shipping all of your jobs to Mexico and all of you are going to be left to fend for yourselves, now. Maybe if we hated your faces less this wouldn’t have been necessary.” I could go on and on about goofy stuff people in the UK say that makes no sense despite them being able to say “We invented this language so we get to decide what’s goofy or not” but I think we need to move on.

Make no mistake, we’re talking about multiple cards that fill the same role in a deck, usually by having identical effects. If a card is good enough for a deck, why would a carbon copy of that card that’s the same in everything but the name not be good enough? It would, especially if that effect is what your win condition or advantage engine hinges on. Are redundant cards always the same price? No, not at all and there are a number of different reasons for that, all of which are too obvious to bother listing as section headings. Honestly, they’re too obvious to bother with a bullet point list, either. They’ll probably just come up. If you can’t make a list right now of the reasons different cards are different prices, your Mommy and Daddy are going to be very upset that you’re using their computer, but I’m impressed at your reading comprehension level for a toddler.  I won’t waste your time or insult your intelligence by listing them out, we’ve got ground to cover.

Do you get it? CLASSIC
Do you get it? CLASSIC

“Why is looking at redundancy important?”

That’s a really stupid question that I’m going to pretend you asked by using quotation marks. I’ve long said in this series that buying reactively is basically dead and the only way to make out is to be ahead of price trends. Way ahead. You want to buy in at the floor by buying in when no one else knows it’s the floor. That’s how we make money in MTG Finance after all. That and arbitrage. OK, we make our money in MTG Finance by buying in at the floor when no one else knows it’s the floor and arbitrage. And collection flipping. Right, we make our money in MTG Finance by buying in at the floor when no one else knows it’s the floor and arbitrage and collection flipping. Also, fencing expensive collections that you’re almost certain are stolen And that’s all the ways we make money in MTG Finance.

How do we use analysis of redundancy to make sure we’re buying in at the floor?

You really ask a lot of dumb questions, you know that? I was literally just getting to that. If you had waited like half a second I would have just gotten to it and it would have looked like I knew what I was talking about. But, no, you had to go an pretend you’re doing some sort of Socratic method thing and guiding me toward the perfect article. Knock it off.

It isn’t about following price trends of older cards so much as it is just sort of knowing two things about the redundant cards in EDH as a format when it pertains to MTG Finance.

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  1. Redundant cards will be played as much as the identical versions where reasonable financially and will be played still an unreasonable amount when unreasonable financially.
  2. It sometimes takes a really long time for the new card’s price to catch up which can make us doubt our picks and sell out early like cowardly people who want to nail a spec but not make any money on it.

Point 1

I am going to be brief on point 1 because I think sometimes the lengths that players will go to for redundancy is ridiculous. The problem is that if the supply is sufficiently-low, a very reasonable amount of demand from unreasonable people who will pay unreasonable prices puts an unreasonable amount of upward pressure on cards with an unreasonably low supply if they are a reasonable facsimile of card they’re already playing. I use MTG Finance to pay bills and I prefer to sell pimp cards rather than put them in my deck to show off so I’m going to show you an example of a card I do play and then a card I don’t play.

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I play this in my Riku deck.

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I wanted more of the effect so I opted for this.

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Not this.

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And certainly not this.

Portals 2 and 3 (Get on it, Valve) printed a lot of redundant cards that had slightly different names but the same effects, meaning that people could play two copies of a card, one that was reasonable in price and one that was not reasonable. Do you really want a second Armageddon badly enough to pay $300 for it? Someone clearly is.

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There are a few P3K cards worth a lot because the unique way they are worded (usually vis-a-vis horsemanship) makes them break Legacy like how Rolling Earthquake hits fliers or Riding the Dilu Horse makes a creature unblockable. The rest of the expensive P3K cards are Eternal staples or EDH staples, and the EDH staples are either commanders or cards like Ravages of War or Three Visits.

Point 2

I’ve covered how long we have in previous articles. I could comb through all of my past like 10 articles to find the one I mean, or I could just recreate the section as best as I can remember it. Ironically, doing it over again seems like less work, so I’m going to go that route. It can also serve as an example of a redundant card. You may start to see a lot of the cards I’ve really nailed because of how obvious they were as specs and realize, as I’m realizing now, that the easiest picks in EDH finance are basically functional reprints of older cards. They’ll be cheaper at first because of the higher supply, now, but that won’t last. Here’s a card that’s a great example of both a pick based on redundancy and a spec that we had like a million years to move in on.

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Look at how long this card was cheap. This brought the price of Grave Pact down a smidgen but it mostly just brought itself up and I’m not entirely certain where it’s going to stop. If you bought these as bulk rares, you’ll be happy getting out at $5, I’m certain. It took long enough for a few people who heard me call it basically when it was printed to tell me I was an idiot, and they were happy to send me this graph.

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“Nice spec, idiot.”

You have to remember to be patient because there were approximately one megashitton (1X10^100) more copies of Dictate of Erebos than there were of Grave Pact. And yet… It’s approaching $5. Why? Because people who are already running Grave Pact are going to just slot Dictate of Erebos into the same deck. Some people might use Dictate as a budget replacement and the demonstration of a willingness to print and potentially reprint a functional reprint (that sentence got awkward quickly, didn’t it?) of an older card eroded some of the confidence in that card as a monolithic staple in that color for that effect.

It’s worth noting that Dictate of Erebos costs more mana but has two distinct advantages over Grave Pact – it has flash so it can be used as a surprise and can just wipe a board through an Aura Shards or something and it only costs BB instead of BBB. The easier mana requirement makes it way less awkward in a three-color deck and it’s possible a number of people took their Pacts out and replaced them. As much as Dictate is a redundant Grave Pact a lot of the time, sometimes it’s a little better. That means more for the price of Grave Pact than it does for Dictate, though. A better reprint will tend to shove the price of the new one up way more than it shoves the price of the old one down. And what about when the card is mostly the same but is a little worse than the older card? That’s what we’ll see almost as often.

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Primal Vigor did even less to the price of Doubling Season than did Modern Masters and even though Primal Vigor isn’t nearly as good as Doubling Season, it’s still good enough to get played in most of the same decks so Vigor was all upside. It more than doubled from its floor and it isn’t done growing. Sure, this card helps your opponents out and doesn’t interact with Planeswalkers in quite the ridiculous way that Doubling Season does, but this does a lot of the same things in a lot of the same decks. It’s not as expensive, but if you bought in at $4, you’re OK that it’s not $40, you’re just happy it isn’t $3 so you’re probably thrilled that it’s $10. Sell out now and be happy or wait and be happier. Either way, I endured over a year of sub-$5 pricing on this card which was plenty of time to foster a little doubt and think about how I could re-invest the money if I cut my losses and sold my copies to a buylist for $2 each. Primal Vigor is a very bad Doubling Season, but apparently not bad enough not to get thrown right into the deck along with it.

“Make Me Some Money”

Right, talking about cards after they go up isn’t very useful for anything other than getting a bunch of Twitter followers, so let’s try and look at a few cards from recent years that could be nearing their floor and see if any of them are likely to get jammed into decks. I am like 100 words away from my  cap so we’re going long this week. Screw it. Let’s make some picks.

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The whole Dictate cycle is  good example frankly. They are all flashy (heh) versions of previous cards and the decks that play them can spare room for redundant copies provided the effect is good enough.

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Obviously this is nowhere near as good as Time Warp, but some decks might enjoy casting this for cheaper, although getting it back with cards like Eternal Witness is out of the question. Generally, cards that say “Take an extra turn” get there, even terrible ones.

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Exhibit A
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Exhibit B
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Exhibit C
Xzibit pimped my deck
Xzibit pimped my deck

Surely someday someone will value a card that can cost as little as 2 mana and which will definitely give you an extra turn over a card that will maybe do it but you can keep recurring it for more chances to maybe get an extra turn.  Trespass is future $5.  Besides, Part the Waterveil came after and it already hit the $5 we predicted. It will happen for Trespass.

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Exzipit 4

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What is the ceiling on this card? We can compare it to Awakening Zone, a card it is better than despite costing one more mana. After all, it makes powered creatures and it has an additional mode. With multiple printings, it’s not unreasonable to compare the current price of Awakening Zone to this, is it?

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Do you think it’s unreasonable for From Beyond to hit $5? I sure don’t.

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This is currently double its all-time low but it’s also probably not at its all-time high. I know because there is another card that costs more money and probably would have grown at an even faster rate than this card if not for a reprinting.

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Maybe Zuaport won’t hit $6. But maybe it will hit $3, and if you can still buy these for $0.50, merely sextupling up seems OK to me.

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The duel deck printing hurts this card a lot, but maybe if we see which card we should be comparing it to, we might get some perspective about a ceiling we can at least look at and then try to scale down on the basis of there being more copies of the new card.

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This was still like $6 and growing before some Modern deck went like 6-0 with 3 byes with this deck and a bunch of people bought out the internet, making this basically $8 now. I think if Ghostway can be $8, Interlude can be $3 in a year or two. The duel deck copies don’t help, but if all Interlude does is replace Ghostway in a few decks, it has upside. But why not play both?

That’s enough food for thought for now, I think. Always be on the lookout for cards that are suspiciously like cards that are already played in EDH. The closer they are, the closer their prices are bound to be, especially if the new card is better, which helps mitigate the fact that newer cards have larger print runs and are more readily available than old cards that have been scattered to the four winds.

Did I miss anything? Do you have a suggestion for next week’s article? Did you stop reading at exactly 2000 words and miss all of my picks? Join me next week for more insanity.

 

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4 thoughts on “Redundancy”

  1. Just a side note, the wording on Zulaport Cutthroat is different from Blood Artist. Zulaport Cutthroat says “Another creature YOU control” Blood Artist says “Another creature”. I unfortunately realized this after I traded my Blood Artists on Pucatrade thinking I would replace Cutthroats with Blood Artists.

    1. Yeah but cutthroat also says each opponent compared to blood artist’s target player. If you’re running 1 you should most likely be running both because your deck should be able to abuse them.

  2. Good article. I am constantly learning new things of which to be mindful from you and the other writers here.

    I love eerie interlude but was mistaken in the format for which I expected growth. You hit the nail on the head with it being a casual all star.

  3. Korlas, Standard is a bit streamlined at the moment and there isn’t much combo innovation at big events despite there not being counter magic prevalent in the format. Example: 4 color rites took a few events by storm (not sure what happened to it). My point is I think after CoCo leaves Standard there will be room for a powerful and unique card like Eerie interlude to shine. I actually think it is criminally underplayed now in all these white decks. Any deck that wants Eldrazi Displacer’s ability should also want Eerie Interlude. Regardless, I have been stockpiling Eerie Interlude foils for months. As Jason said, look at the price of Ghostway…no way I don’t make money on $3 FOIL Interludes.

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