Unlocked Pro Trader: Check. The. Rec.

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It happened! Some wacky Japanese magazine article confirmed the colors and tribal affiliations of the Commander 2017 decks.

The internet responded by going kittycat 2.0. That was to be expected, but not admired or replicated. Make no mistake, buying anything right now is a mistake outside of a few reprint-proof cards but that’s not what I see happening. It’s a feeding frenzy out there and the people who get blown out by reprints will lose and probably learn nothing but the real losers are EDH players who will pay more for bad cards in the future. EDH players who can’t navigate the finance markets and financiers who don’t understand EDH? Sounds like a bad time for everyone involved.

It’s not all bleak and hopeless, though, because there is money to be made and more importantly, savvy EDH players can avoid a blowout by knowing when to buy at the right time. Luckily, knowing when to buy is the easy part of MTG Finance (I still feel like I don’t know when to sell cards and I’ve been at this for like 6 years) and that’s what I want to talk about today.

I have seen a lot of posts on places like the MTG Finance subreddit and Twitter just lousy with people guessing. They’re guessing. What are they guessing about? Well, they want to try and figure out which Wizards they should buy to sell to EDH players who are going to buy the Grixis Wizards deck and try to build Wizard tribal. Why are they guessing? That’s a good question. Literally why guess when you already know what people are playing in Wizard decks?

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I’m not suggesting we use EDHREC to find a bunch of Wizards cards and buy them before we see a full decklist, I think that’s moronic. Besides, that’s level one thinking and we need to be thinking a few levels above that if we’re going to avoid the goat rodeo of a bunch of dumbdumbs buying foil Riptide Directors and selling them to each other for the next two weeks. You want to avoid chasing your tail? Come along with me and let’s think a few levels above whether you want to buy Patron Wizard or Ertai. Let’s make some money.

First Stop – Azami

Azami, Lady of Scrolls is not a very popular commander on EDHREC, probably because it’s boring and linear to play “Draw my whole deck then win with Lab Maniac.dec” and as a result, we have a sample size of 736 decks, which isn’t enormous.

Azami suffers from being mono-blue which means there are two other colors in the Grixis Wizards deck that aren’t represented here but since we’re not trying to pick out Wizards to buy that may or may not be reprinted but rather look at the kinds of things Wizards players are doing to win and what they need to do that, I’m not worried about it.

Azami decks mostly seem to win by decking, which is boring. I don’t know how inclined Grixis Wizards builders will be to win the same way, but it’s worth talking about what that shows us regardless.

Laboratory Maniac

I’ve been about this card for a while and its growth chart should show you why. I think a non-zero number of new Wizards decks will include the Lab Man and it seems fairly obvious that new upside gives us new chances for this to continue its growth. Also, cards that say “You win the game” don’t tend to make it into pre-constructed decks, forcing me to peg the reprint risk of this card pretty low. I have thought this was going to go up anyway and new attention from Wizard builders won’t suck. I’m paying cash on these at this point.

Mind Over Matter

This may be the best Azami enabler card ever printed but it’s also super narrow, relegated almost entirely to Azami decks. It’s on the Reserved List but is that enough to balance out how narrow it is? If Wizards is the best deck in Commander 2017 and that translates into it being the most built deck like Atraxa is and that translates to people winning with Azami and using other Wizards with tap abilities so much that they jam a spell with 4 blue pips into a Grixis-colored deck (or just buy the deck for the blue Wizards and throw the rest out), then I guess this card gets there. However, that’s a lot of ifs. Right now there are about 750 Azami decks versus 3,300 Atraxa decks, so a 5-fold spike in popularity does big things for a Reserved List card like Mind Over Matter if the conditions are exactly right. But is anything guaranteed? And if we don’t feel all that confident about a card like this, which is basically uniquely poised to benefit from Wizards being built a ton in the months to come, what DOES have upside?

Maybe we need to look at another Wizards build to see what people are playing in EDH since Azami is mono-blue and not that popular.

Luckily, EDHREC has a new feature that I can show you. No, this is not a commercial for EDHREC. I actually hope you don’t use EDHREC as financiers. It reduces the chances of one of you getting good enough at this to write your own competing article series. In an ideal Universe, I have a small number of readers and they and I laugh and laugh at the people blindly fumbling around buying foil Sage of Fables and Stonybrook Bannerets. But since I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you how to do some basic research, let’s just get on with it.

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The new feature basically replaces the advanced filters and instead presupposes that we can predict what you wanted to search for.

Check out the “themes” dropdown in the top bar. Click on it to open the dropdown menu. A list will pop up and you will click “more tribes” to bring up a screen with all of the tribes listed and then you’ll click on Wizards. It will take you to this screen, should that explanation have proven too complicated.  You will see the Wizard tribal commanders arranged by popularity as well as the cards played in those decks, arranged in the same way. If 75% of the creatures in a deck are the same tribe, we consider it tribal, which we (Don did all the work, let’s be honest, I literally wasn’t even consulted on this so I’m going to stop saying “we”) think is a fair way to determine someone’s intention to build a tribal deck. Before, there were some pretty complicated steps using the advanced filters which have been eliminated and appear more as pages than reports. That’s better for everyone, especially if all we want to do is see how many Wizard tribal decks there are and how they’re being built.

There are a lot more commanders for these decks than I had anticipated, but the common cards seem to be mostly the same. You play card, counters and then do some commander-specific stuff like kill them with Niv-Mizzet and Curiosity or Azami and Lab Maniac. Boring. But winning isn’t boring and that seems like a pretty good way to win a lot, so maybe they’re on to something.

I expected Wizards to be one of the least popular tribal decks given how few Azami decks there were but actually only six tribes were more popular. Let’s ignore the fact that two of the six are Dragons and Vampires, decks we have known about for longer but which haven’t ignited the same dumbdumb fever as Cats and Wizards seem to have and let’s focus on how popularish Wizards are as a tribe and how new cards in these colors can make the other existing decks better. I can’t say exactly how because we haven’t seen a single card from the Wizards deck. What else do we like the look of based on what people are playing right now? What does the Wizards page tell us?

Where’s Riptide Laboratory?

You look at the top 21 lands played in all Wizards decks and Riptide Laboratory is not among them. It’s in about 3,600 decks, spread out among various Wizards, but cards like Minamo and Nykthos show up on the report. The report isn’t perfect, so don’t let it be your be-all, end-all, but it’s still useful. Riptide Lab seems like a pretty obvious Wizards inclusion and could be in the deck so a lot of people are targeting foils and I’m not about gambling that people who build a Wizards deck because of a precon but who don’t have the deck already are going to foil the deck. I don’t like Riptide Lab as a spec not knowing whether it’s getting reprinted so mentioning its exclusion is more of a “watch out, this report could miss some stuff” than a “oh noes muh spex” sort of a comment. I would wager both that Riptide Laboratory is reprinted in the Wizards deck and also that you’re going to end up selling the foils to other speculators. They’re mostly gone anyway and there’s so much money elsewhere, why chase it?

This report is literally just blue cards 

While other colors are represented in the commanders for Wizards tribal decks, the common theme is blue and that means most of the cards that overlap (or all in this case) are blue. The other decks are just different flavors of the same core kind of deck and since no one is trying to get there with Wizard beatdown (except the guy who I profiled last week on Gathering Magic, I guess) most of the cards will overlap a lot. This tells us what people are building now but can’t really help us predict what they will be doing when they have new cards.

That said, there are a few cards I like that are general Wizards-adjacent cards that will likely be useful no matter what Commander 2017 gives us.

Training Grounds

File this under “If this isn’t reprinted, you know what to do” because at $12, this is teetering right on the precipice of unreprintability. If it’s not reprinted, Wizards decks could easily start jamming this and then this is $20. The harder this gets to reprint, the more ridiculous its price will be. This ability is so niche that it’s hard to jam in a set where there will be a Limited format, so this seems pretty safe and dangerous to me. If this isn’t in Commander 2017, this needs a look right away.

Leyline of Anticipation

The return of Core Sets makes this card a little tough to judge. Will this get a reprint in a Core Set? Iconic Masters? Where’s the best place to reprint this? I don’t know, but I do know that this is growing steadily and it’s not going to be something we can include in a Commander deck pretty soon. I think this is worth keeping an eye on, although Core Sets coming back makes me a little nervous. I am watching this card but I am not necessarily going all in.

Overburden

This is a bit of a weird one, but this card has plateaued a bit lately and I think that if there is a Wizards deck that returns creatures to your opponents’ hands like I imagine there will be, Overburden is a card that’s going to pull their pants down a little bit. If I have to write about this card on Gathering Magic to make people play it, I will, but they shouldn’t need much coaxing, this card is ridiculous.

I still think you wait and see a full list because inevitably there will be cards among the brand new ones they’re including that enable new archetypes and make old cards better in the new context. Instead of buying based on the word “Wizards” we’ll have a ton more information in a few weeks, so let’s not jump the gun. Let everyone else buy foil Diviner’s Wands. When we’re ready to start buying, I’ll let you know. Until next time!

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