I’mma Creep

Some cards went up because of Standard. One of them was a card I said I didn’t like. Did EDH make it go up? No. Could Standard have not made it go up? Yep. Was it easy to see coming if you had a grasp of the Standard metagame a few weeks before the pros solidified it? Yep. The point is, I feel like betting on Standard to make a card like Walking Ballista go up over the weekend seems risky. The longer I do this, the longer I like safer bets. Speculating is fun and sexy. I used to like making calls like Craterhoof Behemoth when it was a few bucks or Sphinx’s Revleation at $4, but even though those paid off, they were still risky. Risky bets are more fun when they pay off, but ever since I got into EDH finance, I’ve seen so many safe bets pay off that it’s hard to go back. But sometimes safe bets take a while to pay off. Today I want to talk about cards that didn’t spike in an afternoon but which creeped (I know that’s not a word) up without us noticing and what we can learn about cards currently at their floor.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll talk about cards that were printed in Commander 2013, 2014 and 2015, but we can certainly revisit this topic in the future. There are plenty of cards to talk about. Hopefully by looking at cards that were either new or reprinted in these sets, we can identify analogous cards just printed or reprinted in Commander 2016. Let’s take a look at what’s getting there.

In general, it’s hard to be surprised when a good wrath that draws a ton of cards goes up in price, but these were DIRT for a minute, and they got dirt cheap again about a year after they were printed. MTGPRICE graphs don’t go back far enough to get a good picture of what happened with Commander 2013 cards, but this one is worth looking at. This is a great card for EDH and it has managed to shrug off the reprinting, but it’s climbing so slowly no one has noticed that it tripled in price in an 18 month period. I got a ton of these for like nothing from people who cracked Mind Seize for Strix and True-Name Nemesis and threw the rest away. Sol Ring and Nekusar were obvious cards to glean from that pile, but I identified this card as a potential grower and forgot about it until I checked the price recently. Yowza. I am glad I have a lot of copies in a lot of decks and a lot more in a box.

The Commander 2016 analog for Decree of Pain is probably Blasphemous Act. I don’t know if it will recover as strongly from the Commander 2016 printing as it did from the Commander 2014 one since they’re basically signalling a willingness to print the card every few years, but I still think if you buy at the floor, there’s money to be made later on. I’m not as bullish about this as I am about some cards that made it a few years without a reprint, but this is the closest to Decree I could find. Not all of the analogs will bear fruit, but I am still mentioning them. I think this is a bad buy but if you trade for these, they’ll regain a lot of trade value, and if they cap out at $4, you still traded for them at $1 and you can either get out for $1.50 to $2 cash or quadruple up in trade value and either of those outcomes is dandy.

This seemed somewhat conspicuously absent from Commander 2016 given decks like Kydele and Breya. This was in the Derevi deck where it was great and it sort of crept up and crashed a few times despite never getting a reprint. This is a card I’m very confident in and while there is danger of a Commander 2017 reprint, you have a while for this to keep growing. I don’t know why it crashed in 2015, but this is a solid card and it has a good future. It can probably tells us bit about something from Commander 2016, also.

Cauldron of Souls seems like the best Commander 2016 analog for Elixir. While potentially not as useful in as many decks, this is very, very useful in the decks where it’s good. Juniper Order Ranger and other cards that can erase the -1/-1 counters are always climbing after reprints and persist cards are good with popular commanders like Marchesa. Cauldron isn’t done crashing and I don’t hate these at under $1 cash since they demonstrated that they can cap at $8 in a favorable climate. We’re going to get a ton of copies from Commander 2016 but the price is bound to recover. Isn’t it fun to talk about cards before they go up instead of after? It’s like the opposite of reddit.

I’ve been bullish on this card since before I even liked EDH. This card was under $1 when it first came out and people only cared or talked about Standard. I bought a lot of these for cash and sold probably too early, but that’s OK. What I didn’t do was buy a ton of these for $2 and I really wish I would have. The reprint pulled the rug out from under this card but it’s recovered nicely. I don’t know if we’ll find a Commander 2016 card as likely to recover this strongly, but we can try. It’s going to be a minute before they do another mono-colored EDH set so it may be tougher than you’d think to reprint this.

This isn’t a great analog for Caged Sun on Caged Sun’s merits, but I think this has the same growth potential. The only wrinkle is that this card has already established it’s much easier to reprint than is Caged Sun. While Sun lends itself to mono-colored decks, this has been in dual decks and the like. I still think this is going to recover from Commander 2016 and clearly the market does, too, because the price hasn’t gone down as low as I’d like. It’s gone down by an amount that rivals almost all of the other reprints from Commander 2016 (something almost no one seems to think is significant enough to mention) but I don’t think it’s gone down to a low enough amount to be jazzed about buying in. It could still go lower and I’m going to wait for that to happen, but I am seeing indications that its current price for Commander 2016 versions, $3 on Strike Zone, could be the floor. $3 for a card that has flirted with $20 after multiple reprintings is worth at least watching, right? HAS to be.  I don’t know if this can get cheaper than $3 but we all know it’s going to get more expensive than that. The question is how long are you willing to wait and how often will you keep checking the price?

The black deck is pretty bad. Ob Nixilis is a pretty garbage planeswalker commander and it’s worth some money just because the value has to come from somewhere. Seriously, that deck is lousy with bulk rares. Big, stupid demons, too-expensive spells. Crypt Ghast is one of the only bright spots there, but we have already discussed how that already recovered. The Blue Commander 2014 deck has a lot of cards creeping up and that inspired me to write this article. Not much is creeping up in the black deck. Bojuka Bog is higher than a lot of the rares. Growth on the better cards like Abyssal Persecutor is anemic at best. Perhaps in looking for an analog we need to look for cards in bad decks. Unfortunately, none of the Commander 2016 decks are bad. There is one that is less popular than the rest, though.

There’s a problem, there.

Stalwart Unity (Kynaois and Tiro) is JAMMED with good cards. It’s not the most popular to build around and it’s the only one left on shelves of Walmart and Target when I poke around looking for Breed Lethality decks (Don’t laugh, I found a copy at a Walmart in Pennsylvania when I was there for a funeral this weekend) so it’s going to be the least-bought deck. This puts less downward pressure on prices because no one is willing to pop the decks and get some singles into the market. Any benefit from this is spread out over a ton of cards that are reprints – Swords to Plowshares, Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, Best Within, Progenitor Mimic, Minds Aglow, Homeward Path – the pre-reprint value of the deck was like $70. It’s going to be tough to find anything that’s going to go down enough that we’ll like it as a buy.  I will sure try, though.

I sure like the growth of this card. The Commander 2016 copies being available for like $1.25 in a deck where there are plenty of cards to spread value increases over means that this card doesn’t have to bear the entire financial brunt of the deck and it can grow on its own merit. There is an issue with cards going up too fast and MSRP artificially capping how much everything can grow. Say Ghostly Prison went to $30 overnight. It won’t, but say it did. That means every other card combined can’t be more than $8 or the price of the deck has to go up and MSRP in most places (and the loose copies everywhere) means that the price of the other cards have to stay cheap because the market can’t correct that quickly. What I think is more likely to happen is that the rest of the cards take a few years to go back to where they were but also some cards people expect to go up won’t. I don’t think the lack of Legacy events bodes well for Commander 2016 copies of Swords to Plowshares, for example. I don’t think the banning of Splinter Twin is good for Ghostly Prison’s price. I don’t think Oath of Druids is going to go back up considering it was basically played in Cube and Vintage and no Cube or Vintage player wants a C16 copy of a card they could get in Korean or judge foil. What I think is that the financial growth could be soaked up by cards EDH players want to play. I think Lurking Predators won’t be held back by there being a ton of good cards in its deck because it’s not 2014 anymore and some things that were obvious then aren’t true anymore. Lurking Predators is so good that I liked Aid From the Cowl when I first saw it. Lurking Predators is so good that I didn’t get to buy Mind’s Dilation for as cheaply as I would have liked. Lurking Predators is so good that also a third thing. I feel like I don’t want to live in a world where you get blown out paying $1 for Lurking Predators.

My suspicion is that the price crashes are a result of the card selling out and dealers having the oversized copy named the same thing, tripping our price scraping algorithm. “Meren of Clan Nel Toth” from the set “Oversized” is obvious to a person but not a computer. This means Meren is selling out a lot at $8. I think it has a chance to go for even more over the next year. There is certainly a very low spread in a lot of places.

It’s hard to know what’s going to pop in Commander 2016. Vial Smasher already hit $5 and that limits how much Kydele and Thraisos can go up in the short term. Commander 2015 commander prices haven’t stabilized yet so it’s going to be a while on Commander 2016 stuff for sure. I will say Atraxa likely can’t maintain $20. I will say that the good partners are going to go up based on EDH (Vial Smasher has gone up because of dual commander and the fact that spikey players don’t wait around to buy cards the way others do. I think if I had to pick a commander that could go up, I’d say Kydele. Have you read it? If Vial Smasher can be $5 (and the rest of that Yidris deck isn’t great, which is great for Curtain’s Call, a card that has already quadrupled since I started harping on it incessantly. I think Kydele and Thraisos can soak up some value that the rest of the deck can’t help with and those are potentially good buys.

That’s it for this week. I am not sure what to talk about next week, but this seems like a well worth plumbing for now. Hit me up in the comments, nerds. Until next time!