A Few Quick Hits

Spoilers have been posted from Aether Revolt and boy are they revolting. The power level of the entire set seems to be slightly pushed – something we’ve seen of the second set quite a bit lately. It’s as if they crammed all of their favorite cards from the last two sets in three set blocks that were planned before, concentrating the power level to double the normal level. There is a lot of sweet sweetness in this set and I decided rather than going super in depth on a card this week, I’d look at a few cards that I think could move the needle on some older cards where there’s some money to be made. This is a great set so far and with the masterpieces, it should be pretty cheap. I don’t like cheap cards as specs because it’s cheap due to a ton of supply. What I do like is how these cards are bound to be the centerpieces of decks that all of a sudden have some new life breathed into them and forgotten cards suddenly become unforgotted. There’s quite a bit so far and I will probably do the second half of the set next week.

Dark Intimations

With three printings and a $10 price tag, it’s been established that Nicol Bolas does a lot of work. It has pretty impressive played metrics on EDHREC and I think Dark Intimations gives it some upside.

The price graph looks pretty encouraging. Despite the reprintings, this card was $20 at one point. I don’t know how much the duel deck printing hurt things, apart from the M13 foil which is still a little cheaper than the duel deck foil and the Conflux foil. With Atraxa being the main Planeswalker deck right now and Bolas being excluded from that deck because it has red mana, the bulk of the play has to be taken up by other decks. However, Marchesa, Nekusar and Progenitus decks are running this already and Dark Intimations makes Bolas a little better, which may be all that’s needed for a card that has held a very decent price for the number of printings it’s had for a while and which could just be waiting for a little push. I like Bolas at its current price and this could help set the ball rolling.

Mechanized Production

This card perked up a lot of ears when it was spoiled. Metaphorically, I mean. People saw the cards in their eyeholes and likely their ears had nothing to do with it. Don’t be so literal. The point is, a card that says “You win the game” is a card that people will want. Casuals as well as EDH players are going to look for a way to do this, and possibly an easy way to do it. I have a few suggestions.

Clue tokens are an excellent thing to copy. Foils of Journal are probably the cheapest they will ever be and have a low enough supply that they have a chance of going up if people decide to try and win with clue tokens copied with Mechanized Production. The good thing is decks like Riku are already good for winning with clue tokens to get to the 20 artifacts to win with Hellkite Tyrant, a card a lot of us already made a lot of money off of. Riclue decks let us jam Tireless Tracker, Trail of Evidence (another cheap foil) Ongoing Investigation (another cheap foil) and only require us to go through one upkeep phase with a clue copied which lets us get enough clues to win before our opponents get suspicious. Keep some countermagic up and it’s fairly easy to win. Tamiyo’s Journal is a pretty solid card in its own right, reminiscent of cards like Ring of Three Wishes that some decks which lack access to a ton of card draw and black mana for Demonic Tutor et al have been known to run.

Want to cut your clock in half?

This is sort of an ugly graph given how expensive the card is, but it doesn’t look like this card is slowing down anytime soon. It’s almost passed the (unofficial) threshold of $20-$25 that means the card is basically unreprintable in a Commander sealed product (Phyrexian Altar is another famous example of this) so this could be a $40 card if it gets a bump. What could give it a bump? This, for starters.

Breya is one of the fastest-growing decks and if a card is getting traction in it, expect the price to follow suit. Daretti decks two years ago did a nice job of buoying the price and the amount of time elapsed since printing coupled with increasing demand means people trying to copy a basic land with Mechanized Production could use Mycosynth Lattice to make those dreams come true fairly trivially. I’m sure Darksteel Forge will be in the mix as well.

This would have been a great buy under $5. Lots of printings can slow its growth and even temporarily reverse it, but this card, as reprintable as it still is, is a moneymaker. Make it make money for you. Breya is already giving it a bit of a bump if you check the December-January range on all 3 printings. Even if Mechanized Production doesn’t contribute appreciably, this is still a Breya card that hasn’t gone off yet. Lattice has a higher buy-in point but both of these cards are dope and they’re never going to stop printing artifacts-matter cards for EDH.

Sram, Senior Edificer

Sram could be just what white and Boros decks needed. Card draw was very hard to come by in those colors and this rewards white and Boros players for doing things they were going to do anyway, like play equipment and auras because all those colors know how to do is put creatures in the red zone. The good news is that Sram could boost a deck outside of EDH and give a few of the cards a lot of us have copies of already a boost.

Whether it’s correct or not, people are likely to take a look at that durdly Modern Cheerios deck that runs Puresteel and a bunch of 0-drop artifacts and Puresteel and kills people with Grapeshot or suits up a Paladin with a ton of Bone Saws or however this durdle pile limps over the finish line. I remember back when this was a Mortarpod deck, I don’t even think it was an infinite combo, I think Craig Wescoe just wanted to kill people with white creatures in a way he never had before and decided to build around Paladin. With 4 copies of Sram in the deck, it will be even easier to draw your whole deck with a bunch of 0-drop artifacts since Sram is a backup for your Paladin. I think the deck gets a second look and every new person who adopts the deck or even toys with the idea sucks 4 Paladins out of the market.

To that end, I don’t hate this card. We’ve established that Modern Masters isn’t providing enough supply to satiate real demand and the precipitous collapse of this card’s price is almsot certainly due to the house of cards predicated on an overestimation of demand imploding. I think this could have potential, though, because this will be a second spike (provided people decide to jram Sram) for Mantle and that means a lot of loose copies that attenuated the price’s ascension will be accounted for. Mantle is key in the deck because you use it to keep playing more Paladins as you draw them as long as you have at least one Paladin out to let you equip it for free. Sram doesn’t do that, but it draws cards, including more Paladins and it draws Mox Opals also and that means you can do things. 0-cost artifacts that have non-nothing effects are always going to have some demand and with the price being bottomed out and new copies unlikely to fill in lower price points, if Sram makes this goofy deck get there, this card almost certainly gets there along with it.

It won’t just be Modern cards that get there, though.

Foils of this were bought speculatively by several people who were banking on Kaladesh being lousy with equipment. Instead of Kaladesh’s artifacts being worn by creatures, the artifacts wear the creatures, forcing them to crew giant vehicles rather than carrying swords and shields. The move made some sense at the time, although I did not agree that Sigarda’s Aid was a good pick-up based on Standard. I ended up being right and I think the price of Sigarda’s Aid is returning to where it should be. The foil is declining because it is returning to where it should be but the multiplier on it is pretty reasonable. I think Sigarda’s Aid is a good EDH card moving forward but it’s too recent for EDH to be enough to soak up the supply. Not materializing in Standard doomed this to bulk rare status with the possibility to rise later (We haven’t really seen fully what EDH can do for cards that never materialized in Standard and came in packs of very recent sets in the post-masterpiece era). I think foils will go below where they are now but go back up if Sram does nothing at all for it. I think it could dip less and climb more if Sram does. Not acting now carries some risk, therefore. I still think you wait for the price to rebound before you buy, even if that means not buying in at the floor. The overage you pay is your tax for not being ballsy, but smart investments are the best to make and certainty is worth the price.

Paradox Engine

This card probably could have gotten its own article instead of being Sramjammed into the end of a broader piece but people seemed utterly repulsed by the idea of Scrap Trawler getting its own article so I guess I am giving the people what they want. This particular artifact looks both better and worse than Prophet of Kruphix and I think it can be both. It does less for you when you do no work than Prophet did but this has a higher upside once you put the work in. You didn’t need to do anything to go nuts with Prophet and take every turn, but this can go infinite with a Buyback spell, for example.

Oh hai secind spaik.

Mizzix was spoiled and people decided to buy out Reiterate, which was easy because it’s a Time Spiral rare and there aren’t as many of those floating around as you’d think. Mizzix never really materialized as the dominant commander from C15, this card wasn’t the shoo-in predicted at the time (though a 57% adoption rate per EDHREC isn’t miserable, just not a staple) and the price fell to roughly twice its pre-spike price. I hope you didn’t pay $20 for this. I also think now is the time to take another look. This plus Paradox Engine is game-winning. Basically any buyback spell is, but this and Wurmcalling are basically the two rares worth it. You stand to make more money from this than you do Wurmcalling or Capsize or Whispers of the Muse (though the foil Whispers of the Muse is basically nowhere online except eBay and I don’t hate it at like $7 or so).

Lotus really needs a reprint and if it doesn’t get it soon, it could jump over that $20-$25 threshold I theorized about earlier and then it’s basically impossible to put it in a Commander precon. I think it might get one next year and sure hope it does. For most decks, Thran Dynamo is just as good as Gilded Lotus but in others, you need colored mana to keep going off with your combo with Engine which necessitates this. You could try and go off with cards like Commander’s Sphere but this seems so much better and you probably can’t have just one artifact source of mana. Engine won’t untap your land, meaning you’re stuck using non-land sources. It’s not hard, but it puts a lot of pressure on your better sources like this one. I brewed about Paradox Engine in a Kydele/Thraisos deck on Gathering Magic and it should be up Thursday if you want to check for cards I think would get brewed alongside Engine in that deck. I’ll be back next week with the rest of Aether Revolt and a more in-depth writeup of this card. I am basically out of room at this point. I regret not giving Paradox Engine its own article and I think what I’ll do next week is just continue where this one left off. Until next week!