As many of you know, I’m the content manager at EDHREC.com. I am in charge of hiring writers, making sure they meet their deadlines, assigning articles topics, managing social media, etc. It’s a good thing, too because if I hadn’t been reviewing article drafts there this week, I might have missed the latest trend.
If you’ve never used EDHREC, I rec it to everyone as a resource not only for EDH deck building but also for mtg finance. It is a huge database full of decks submitted to sites like Tapped Out that keeps track of cards being played in any given deck and reports how those decks are composed. The most popular decks are tracked and categorized by popularity and that’s important because the most popular decks tend to have profound effects on prices. Atraxa was instrumental in moving the price of Doubling Season, a card that was already pretty expensive. Breya has moved the price on cards ranging from Nim Deathmantle to Krak Clan Ironworks to every card with “Darksteel” in its name. Normally we try to talk about cards that are affected by new printings or price spikes because I don’t like buying cards after they go up. With that in mind, I want to discuss a trend I noticed this week.
EDHREC tracks commanders by popularity and graphs them based on how many times people looked them up. For commanders that have been popular forever, the graph is always very high. Here’s the graph for Atraxa.
As you can see, Atraxa is #1 or close to it almost every day since it was printed. Less popular commanders don’t have as good a day as Atraxa does every day. Here’s a mid-tier commander like Jolrael.
As you can see, how much Jolrael is looked up varies widely by day and it could be a dozens of views that make up the dramatic swings between being ranked in the 600s and 400s. There are a lot of eyeballs on a lot of decks. So what do we do when we notice a card getting popular very quickly? I noticed a card trend very sharply upward this week.
This is the graph of a card that has rocketed in popularity over the last few weeks. It’s so popular, in fact that it knocked Atraxa out of the #1 spot, which was no easy feat. The card, of course (You saw the picture I used for the article after all, there’s no point in pretending we don’t both know the card this is) is Chandler. Some of you might have to look it up, so I’ll save you the trouble.
I had heard some rumblings about this card in EDH forums online but didn’t expect this kind of a spike in popularity. A friend brought a copy of his Chandler deck to the shop for EDH night and I got to see the deck work first-hand and I finally get the hype. Built in response to decks like Breya and Arcum Daggson, Chandler decks control the board with cards like Liquimetal Coating to keep their regular creatures in line and Umbral Mantle to get multiple Chandler activations in a turn cycle. The deck was too slow and inconsistent, though, until very recently. The printing of one card we’re all very familiar with was the last piece the deck needed. You know the card I’m talking about.
Paradox Engine turned a relatively inconsistent deck into a murder machine, untapping Chandler for multiple activations a turn and keeping the board clear of troublesome artifact creatures. Over the course of a few hours, my friend’s Chandler deck demolished Arcum, Daretti, Zedruu and even my Maelstrom Wanderer deck as well as a turned Karador deck. Eventually we asked him to play a different deck so someone else had a chance of winning.
As with all cards we write about in this series, I don’t see much of a point in trying to buy copies of Chandler. While we were drafting Modern Masters and Aether Revolt and talking about the best time to buy Scalding Tarn, Chandler has quietly disappeared from the internet.
Paying $20 to get a copy of this from TCG Player seems ridiculous at this point. You missed the boat and that’s OK. However, there are a few key cards in the deck that I have to imagine are going to go up based on people wanting to brew Chandler.
Doesn’t this guy just look like he smells like he owns a lot of ferrets? Despite dressing like he’s at a leather party after an Alice Cooper concert, Joven is a key component in the Chandler deck, keeping them off of non-creature artifacts as well. There are plenty of targets for Joven and he benefits from the same Paradox Engine and Umbral Mantle er… engine. The deck is built to take advantage of a very similar card in Chandler and Joven does serious work in the deck. The price hasn’t really budged on Joven, yet so there’s real buying opportunity here. With people buying Homelands boxes trying to avoid having to shell out $20 for Chandler, the supply of loose copies of Joven is drying up. This is also very unlikely to get reprinted because even if they do a judge foil for Chandler to bring the price down, it’s unlikely they’d do the same for Joven. The sky is basically the limit on this.
Speaking of Homelands boxes, I think we missed the boat on those, too.
The recent price spike of Merchant Scroll combined with relative scarcity of old, sealed product and the recent increase in interest in Chandler has basically dried up a lot of the affordable Homelands boxes. If your LGS has a few loose packs, go ahead and try your luck, but stay away from boxes. It’s too late to get these affordably.
Braid of Fire
This is the mana engine that really powers the deck. Giving you a ton of red mana to power the activations as well as use Umbral Mantle and Staff of Domination getting counters on Braid of Fire is your #1 goal. Use Gamble and other tutors to dig for this as quickly as possible because the sooner it’s online, the sooner you can start going off.
This is already spiking a bit but I think there’s a lot more money to be made on this. Despite being uncommon, I think this has a pretty high ceiling given the price we’ve seen on other highly-played uncommons from Mirrodin. Think Isochron Scepter, for example. Unlike Scepter, I think this is not very likely to get reprinted, making it a safer place to park some money. Use Whispersilk Cloak and Rogue’s Passage to make sure you connect with Ogre. I run Fireshrieker and Grappling Hook so I get multiple triggers per hit. There’s no wrong way to hit them with Rustmouth Ogre, just do it early and often.
Everyone knows to use Liquimetal Coating to turn your non-artifact creatures into artifact creatures so that Chandler can obliterate them, but not many people knew about this hidden gem. Toymaker turns their non-creature artifacts into real boys, Pinnochio-style. I guess Gepetto-style, really. Unless Pinnochio was making dolls come to life, too, in some sort of marionette-based Skynet self-awareness scenario. There has to be a way to make a Portmanteau of “Skynet” and “Marionette” that’s funny but I can’t figure it out. What I can figure out is that Toymaker is not likely to be reprinted soon, foils are a very healthy 3x multiplier (which could grow) and this is a key component of the most popular deck on EDHREC. You do the math.
I think this may be a bad spec since it’s been printed three times (Antiquities, Chronicles, 5th) but if this does start to take off, Antiquities is where you want your money parked. You can use it in a pinch to make your own creatures bigger to screw with their combat math or just make theirs eligible for being murdered by Chandler. Could this card BE any more flexible?
I think there are quite a few possible targets that I didn’t get to in this piece. Feel free to peruse the Chandler commander page for more ideas.
That does it for me this week. If there’s any possible spec target you think I missed, leave it for me in the comments section and we’ll discuss it there. Until next week!