Unlocked Pro Trader: X Amount of Words

Did you read my article last week? Congratulations. If you liked that article and you end up liking this one, say something in the comments section. That helps me steer which direction to take the series. Whether you love me or hate me, write something*. OK, enough of that, let’s remind everyone what we’re doing.

Like a month and a half ago I had a simple idea – look at all of the Top 100 played cards in EDH per EDHREC data and then put their cheapest price and cheapest foil price into a spreadsheet and calculate the foil multiplier. I wanted to see if there were any trends we could use to predict future prices of similar cards or see if there were any cards that were mispriced. We found a lot more than I expected. Last week I realized I left Vindicate off the list and that sent me down a rabbit hole so deep that I didn’t even get finished with what I discovered before I had to pinch it off and pick it up this week. Go read last week’s article if you want a refresher – I just did.

We flagged 14 cards that had a foil multiplier between 1.0 (We already looked into the cards with multipliers below 1.0) and 2.0, 2.0 being an arbitrary value we decided was a minimum acceptable foil multiplier. If it’s below 2.0 something’s wrong and if it’s above 1.0 but below 2.0, maybe something very specific was wrong. We got through a bunch of them but there are still a few cards I flagged in light blue to go over this week. Did you take a look at the spreadsheet between then and now to see if you got any impressions from the rest of the flagged cards? If not, it’s OK because we can go over them together, now.

The Cards

I saw distinct “groups” of cards but since there were a few cards that fit in multiple “groups” I decided to just tackle the list from the top and talk about each card individually.

Cyclonic Rift

Foil Multiplier – 1.8

This card very much is suffering from “reprinted a lot” flu. It’s been printed twice in foil and three times in non-foil and its growth was pretty good before this. The odds of this getting printed in foil again seem pretty low, but I’m not sure the demand for foil copies of this card, despite its status as a staple, can soak all of the demand. That said, this flirted with $30 before, Modern Masters 2017 didn’t give us that many copies and I don’t know that they’ll put this in a future Masters set. I’m saying don’t buy because there are better targets, not because this is a bad one. I think it has a lot going for it but I think other cards we flagged have even more.

Path to Exile

Foil Multiplier – 1.3

With a foil in every pack, Masters sets tend to put out a ton of foils and this is 3 times as true for uncommons as it is for rares. I’m not saying don’t touch this, I’m merely pointing out this is super reprintable. It’s also basically been printed in foil as much as it has in non-foil with the duel deck, Archenemy and Commander printings being somewhat offset by the Gateway and FNM promos. This card gets a lot of printings. I have no opinion about its future price growth based on this data, I’m merely explaining that something with so many foil printings is bound to have a low multiplier. People have an embarrassment of choices when it comes to which foil version they like meaning the demand is spread out over multiple printings. This also gets played outside of EDH a ton, obviously, but that just means it’s easy to reprint.

Utter End

Foil Multiplier – 1.3

This hasn’t had time to catch its breath but I’m not sure how reprintable this is. The 1.3 multiplier is for the set foil which has tumbled and it’s likely that a lot of this is due to a card that came out at the same time and is much more desirable.

Khans was pretty recent in the grand scheme of things so there are likely hella set foil copies running around but the Gameday promo is just about at its bottom also. I don’t know if it’s squeamishness about a future foil reprinting, but this art is never getting used again (I think it looks like a cutscene from Shandalar but no one but me cares about that, I guess) and I think a generic Masters 25 or something foil doesn’t do much to this price of this. Utter End and/or Anguished Unmaking likely make their way into a Commander precon or two in the next five years but this seems unmesswithable. Both the set foil and promo seem safe but the Gameday promo seems really good to me. Two foils printed right on top of each other competing for demand explains the low multiplier (the multiplier calculated for the price of the Gameday promo is 3.8) and I think we may stumbled upon a good buy, here.

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Foil Multiplier – 1.3

I haven’t checked, but I feel like I remember that Venser the Sojourner and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion both also got flagged (I’ll confirm when I get to them) and the duel deck printings behave like a non-foil rather than a foil due to relative abundance. If you calculate the foil multiplier using the duel deck printing as the base, the M13 foil is 3.5 and Conflux is 3.1. Those aren’t great, but they’re healthy and they’re healthy in a situation where there is a really cheap foil floating around. I’ve seen sites where the duel deck version is cheaper than the Conflux non-foil and that tells you a lot about what duel deck printings do to Planeswalkers. Honestly, as someone who can’t keep Planeswalkers in my case, I like buying and selling them cheap. You sell one foil Russian Jace a lifetime if you’re lucky but you sell 3 Garruk Wildspeakers a week. I don’t see a real opportunity here besides the normal “look at that slow, incremental growth” that cards that aren’t great specs exhibit. Will you lose money socking your money away in this? Eh. Depends on the rate of inflation, and that’s not something you should have to consider. I’ll pass.

Venser the Sojourner

Foil Multiplier – 1.1

I wanted to be kind of lazy and say “everything I said about Nicol Bolas applies here” but it kind of doesn’t. Look at the steady growth in the set foil price. That is very promising. Again, using the duel deck printing as the base, we have a multiplier of 2.3 which is better. The price of the non-foil versus the duel deck promo are so negligible that it comes down to art preference basically, but the set foil is growing nicely. Compare the slope of this graph to the non-foil.

This looks pretty healthy, honestly. I think I like this card despite the high buy-in.  Even the duel deck printing is OK – it’s disappearing from online and while it flirted with $20 at one point, it’s gettable around $10. Still, is this getting a reprint anytime soon? Certainly not the duel deck art. It’s worth a look. I think the growth curve looks far less anemic than does Bolas and I think despite these being in the same “class” when it comes to explaining why the multiplier is below 2.0, they’re pretty different and that has a lot to do with Venser being 2 colors rather than 3 and having a very relevant EDH-based effect rather than just being vaguely powerful like Bolas.

Phyrexian Metamorph

Foil Multiplier – 1.5

Here’s another card with a very healthy looking growth curve whose data was “spoiled” by a cheap, abundant promo. Set foils tend to do even better when there’s a ubiquitous promo, especially in cases where the price of the promo behaves more like the foil than the non-foil. Adjusting our expectations with the promo as the base price, we have a multiplier of 1.78, which honestly isn’t much better. It seems like the multipliers are low because the prices aren’t really diverging – they seem to be growing at roughly the same pace for all three versions – promo, non-foil and set foil. Demand has spoken. I’m worried about this being in Masters 25 and by the time that’s fully spoiled this may have gone up another few bucks, so it’s risky but this is also one of the best blue cards in EDH and that’s saying a lot considering how good blue is.

Maelstrom Nexus

This may have suffered from a small number of data points. The price for a near mint foil most places is closer to $40 than $30 which would put the multiplier around 2.0. This is, in a lot of ways, the most EDH card on the list because it’s so narrow, so powerful, so unplayable in Legacy, etc and is going so nuts price-wise. Someone is selling a busted copy on TCG Player for cheap, it’s sold out like everywhere else and that means this was flagged by accident. This has a healthy multiplier and shouldn’t be on our list. I’m glad we looked, though, because then we got to look at the graphs for the foil. Here’s the non-foil below.

We got two new 5-color Commanders in the form of The Ur-Dragon and Ramos and that could be a contributing factor. Basically both prices are way up so I expect a bit of a divergence when demand really catches up to supply like it’s about to. Maybe the seller with his foil listed on TCG Player at $60 isn’t such a lunatic.

Xenagos the Reveler

Foil Multplier – 1.7

Part of the problem here could be the prices converging as the non-foil tanks and so does the foil. No one seems to care about this card in non-EDH formats which puts less pressure on the foil price since EDH players chase the cheapest copy more than players of most formats. It makes sense – if you play legacy, you got your foil Brainstorms for $30 each in 2005 and kept them because of course you did. With EDH, they pump out cards that create new archetypes every set. Some people want to foil staples and this technically qualifies as a staple (I’ve never seen anyone use it) so maybe people should want to foil this, but the graph is gross-looking. The graph of the non-foil honestly isn’t much better.

I’m not sure why the price is falling off – it could be it was used in other formats and lost favor, flooding the EDH market with more copies than it wanted despite this appearing in 15% of eligible decks. It’s possible demand will buoy this and it’s at its floor for sure (flo’ for sho’?) so maybe the getting’s good now? I don’t know because I don’t really have strong feelings about this card other than that it seems great in some decks but not exactly a red-green staple. It can fart out a ton of mana, though, or a ton of creatures and that’s cool. I honestly can’t explain the low multiplier other than that we’re getting deluged with copies from Modern. If you have a hypothesis, hit me in the comments.

Gilded Lotus

Foil Multiplier – 1.1

Gilded Lotus is a special case – I believe it’s the only card on the list above a 1.0 that has been printed more times in foil than in non-foil (2 set printings with both and an FTV printing). This is also basically 95% likely to be in Masters 25 (I made that number up – I would have said it was a shoo-in for Iconic Masters) and that makes me nervous. However, I don’t think even the (ugly) FTV foil can keep this multiplier down. It’s interesting to see the effect of more foil than non-foil printings especially since even if you calculate the multiplier within the printings (for example, M13 non-foil goes for $12 on TCG Player and the foil goes for $15.50) you get similar results. I think this has real potential and as worried as I am about a reprinting, I probably shouldn’t be. This may just be a great opportunity. This is another EDH-specific card and EDH players tend to nab the cheapest copy (which isn’t the FTV foil, actually) so that is why we see what I assume is a non-foil price that’s high rather than a foil price that’s low. I think there’s opportunity here and barring a Masters set, this is tough to print in foil again. That said, this is a snap inclusion in a Commander’s Arsenal, something I hope they do again, though how much that affects prices, I can’t say.

I think we covered quite a bit today and identified quite a few juicy targets. I’ll have to figure something out for next week, but I’m grateful that the mere exercise of plotting some prices gave us so much to think about. If you have any ideas, hit me up in the comments. Thanks for reading, nerds. Until next time!
















*This was the point in the paragraph where I decided to abandon the bit I was planning where I’d reference a bunch of song titles from that Blue October album “foiled” since we’re talking about the list of foil prices again. I got, what, 2 in? 3 if I don’t change the title from “X amount of words” to something else. Are people going to get Blue October references? It got too hard – how am I going to subtly slip “I drilled a wire through my cheek” or “She’s my ride home” or “The sound of pulling heaven down” into a paragraph? It was a stupid bit and I’m glad I abandoned it.

3 thoughts on “Unlocked Pro Trader: X Amount of Words”

  1. I think a preview series of M25 may be warranted soon – what could be likely to be reprinted etc. What do we know about the set so far – does any of that inform what we think may be included? Given all that – all the conversations lately has been about what to buy – perhaps the focus around the corner should be on what to get out of soon.

  2. IIRc commander’s arsenal was a one-time product; they weren’t initially sure whether a Commander line would be popular (which sure sounds silly today), so they made one and waited to see. It was a huge hit so they knew they wanted to make a Commander product yearly, but didn’t have time to get one ready for 2012, so they cobbled together CMDA instead.

    So that’s why there is no C12 and also why CMDA is unlikely to be repeated.

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