Unlocked Pro Trader: It Don’t Look Right


This week I was going to write about the specs that I think are likely to go up in price as a result of the Lord of the Rings 20 years too late to strike while the Mount Doom is hot edition giving us a true Saga Commander in Bomb Tombadil. Cliff scooped me by writing that exact article a day earlier and that means that we at least have a consensus as a writing team. We didn’t discuss this beforehand, if we had, I wouldn’t have to pivot to another idea at the 11th hour.

I’m not complaining, I was looking for inspiration and found some quickly- some of the prices don’t look right. Whenever I come across a price that looks wrong, I investigate and about a third of the time it makes me think about something I hadn’t been keeping my eye on. Other times it’s nothing. I’ll talk about what to look for and also pretend this is more art than science so you keep taking my advice. Job security an all that. Speaking of job security, did I tell you I never learned how to segue?

This card is literally the first card I looked at when I opened EDHREC today. That’s phenomenal luck for a guy who had to audible to a new topic – can you see what looks wrong to me? Apart from the 3rd price being MTGO, that is. Left is Card Kingdom, right is TCG Player. That’s right, the price is higher on TCG Player than on CK. That’s unusual, and we should verify that the cards got scraped correctly. Sometimes the price is lower because they sold out and the scraper hits an art card or an oversized Planeswalker card or something. Sometimes the price is lower because CK hasn’t noticed the card is going gangbusters on TCG Player and no one bothered to scoop up the copies on CK. How many copies are we talking, anyway?

When it says “8 available” it means “8 minimum.” Card Kingdom has it set up so the Jasons Alt of the world don’t buy 300 copies and then tell them “You can hang onto those and just give me whatever you’ll be paying on your buylist next week.” How many EX copies, though?

You know that it’s actually 1 copy. Any number under 8 you know is probably their stock unless they have some unsorted yet. The cheapest copies have not sold yet, and they might even be cheaper than TCG Player. So far the opposite of what I expected is happening – and a trip to TCG Player might untangle this snarl a bit.

So not only is the real price above $4, it’s selling at that price.

The cheapest copy is actually $5.19 for a non-foil and $4.47 for a foil, because Collector Boosters have no pity or remorse and they fart more curly foils onto the market than the market needs or wants. The foil may be tanking but the non-foil price is going up. It’s above $4 and it’s going up.

Brainstorm Brewery listeners will be familiar with DJ referencing something he calls the “Direct Premium” and I think that may be the case here with the big partition between Zoopiez and TOA. I don’t know who Zoopiez is, but we all know TOA and they’re direct sellers. If a seller can get $6 for a card on direct, they will and the “last sold” price can sometimes confound the market price calculation. $6 copies selling on direct while $4 copies languish in stores with few sales and a good reason for that is the cart optimizer. The optimizer doesn’t always favor stores with the best price, it usually favors the largest inventories. That’s why you can get $1 more for a card because they have already paid shipping once and the optimizer will keep your copy in the cart for $6 rather than send the buyer a $5 card with $1 shipping because the $6 card with $1 shipping is calculated as $6 not $7 by the optimizer provided you have shipping set up to not charge $1 on each additional item. Another reason is that sellers are reluctant to list cards under $4 because after the flat payment and fees, you made less than buylist on a $3-$5 card.

Do I think that this card will continue to go up in price? I do.

Of the 28 non-reprint cards in the Brothers” War Commander decks, Workshop is played the most by a good 20% margin. It can go in any color deck, making it versatile enough to not immediately be ruled out as a potential staple, and it synergizes with weird, unfair lands that 12 year old me loved because they produced a ton of mana and 38 year old me loves because they still produce a ton of mana and they stopped making new Cloudposts because they were broken. It’s the most played card in precons that are all done getting opened because Brothers’ War was 9 sets ago (look it up) and it’s cheaper on CK than on TCG Player. One of those prices is about to change and my money is that the $4 will change to a $6 or a $7 soon, so get them at $4 why don’t you?

Also, don’t ask why the borderless version is cheaper, that makes no sense to me, unless you could only get the borderless one in collector boosters in which case it does make sense and I should just take out this paragraph where I figure out something obvious and act like it’s new information. Don’t let me forget to come back and delete this.

There is a good reason I always check when a card costs less on Card Kingdom – the scrapers on EDHREC are good but only as good as the API they access. I don’t have a problem with CK or their API at all, I am just saying that sometimes something was misreported and you can catch it with a quick spot check.

Well well well, what have we here?

And there you have it. The cheapest copy actually available is $8.49 for the non-foil, regular bordered version. If this sold out on CK at $8 but is going for more on TCG, I can’t imagine that CK is going to restock the borderless version for $8.

Also, TCG’s price was a little inflated at $8.89, but perhaps not for long.

The foils under $10 are gone, and the price is a bit all over the place, but it looks like nothing is even getting listed under $7 anymore whereas a few days ago you could snag one for $6.60. It looks like this isn’t actually cheaper on CK, but it did cause us to look at a card that might be making a move. It’s a mythic, after all.

A mythic that refuses to go below $7 no matter how much product is opened. Not that anyone is opening product from 10 sets ago (they released a new set since I wrote that previous paragraph).

It’s worth looking at cards like this, too, where the TCG Price is cheaper but, like, WAY cheaper. The thing about CK is that they can charge what they charge because people know and trust them and they have a great buylist where you can purchase cards with credit and like it or not, CK is the go-to shop for a lot of EDH Players. If CK is getting away with charging $18 for this card that may or may not be good, I’ve had no time to test it.

Great googily moogily, CK believes in this card the way The Darkness Believed in a thing called love. Is TCG Player really selling this for like half price?

CK may know EDH but TCG Player knows when a graph looks like this, it’s not time to buy, yet. I don’t know if the $20 on CK is correct, it might very well not be and they might very well lower the price soon. However, I have no confidence in this card as a spec. It’s likely not nearly as useful as people predicted it would be and the price tailing off on TCG as sellers race to the bottom coincides with there not being all that much you can do with this card. It seems like a bad card, it’s ranked 11th/28 in the set, which is a 40% which is a failing grade. I think TCG Player, a site that has multiple sellers competing with each other and where the price the card sells for is still falling, has it right here. Sometimes the cheap copies are a buy if the card’s $18 (or $20!) on CK is justified. In this case, seems not.

I hope it was informative to get a view into how I look at cards and evaluate them as specs. I didn’t give you my normal 5 specs this week, but if you’re feeling froggy, why not look at the other 25 cards we didn’t talk about from Brother’s War precons and see if any of the other prices seem off. A few are under $1 and I wouldn’t bother with those – any card less than the cost of shipping isn’t going to give you accurate price comparison data. That does it for me, nerds. Thank you so much for reading my stuff. Until next time!