The Watchtower 11/23/20 – How Uncommon is an EA Common if an Uncommon Could Be Common?

We’re only a few days past the official release of Commander Legends, and already we’re seeing some crazy numbers from these Collector Boosters. Turns out that the Extended Art cards (which can only be found in the Collector Boosters remember) are a lot less common than you might think, especially when it comes to the Common and Uncommon slots. I can already tell I’m going to be sick of typing ‘common’ and ‘uncommon’ in a few minutes.

It looks like there isn’t a difference in terms of print run between EA commons and uncommons in these Collector Boosters, so the rarity difference doesn’t actually mean anything there. Thanks to some maths run by James at MTGPrice on the collector boosters, we have some pretty solid estimates of how many copies of each card exist in the world…and it’s less than you might think.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

The Strength of First-Run Foils

When a card gets reprinted, it will lose value. That’s one of the bedrock principles of Magic finance, and probably isn’t news to you.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and some of them may be surprising to you.

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expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Thrashing the Scorch

I publicly judge Magic cards on their ability to drive prices. If they can start cheap and get more expensive later, and if my expertise allows me to see that before other people, cool, I guess. But if they drive a bunch of other prices, even better. Publicly, that’s what I’m all about. Silently and internally, I judge Magic cards by how stupid their names are. Cards like Vorel of the Hull Clade sound like someone put a bunch of words through google translate. Is a hull a thing? Yeah, and so is a clade. Do those words in that order sound like Ra’s al Ghul got his Babel machine working and pointed it right at WotC headquarters? Also yes.

Here’s another name that sounds like complete word salad.

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash

This is not fun to say and I don’t know why they name Magic cards like this. Is the card fun in all the ways that count? Yes, and now it’s time to count those ways.

It is not important that you be able to see exactly what is going on in this picture. In fact, let’s focus a bit more.

Here are the top 3 decks this week. Yes, there are more Araumi decks than Yurlok. I think the financial opportunities are a lot like the tide – dead. I think there is more unexplored territory in the Yurlok deck and I’m going to focus on it. You’re free to scour Araumi yourself but I think there is more set to pop that hasn’t yet in Yurlok and it’s my article so get off my back already and let me do my job, rhetorical device I’ve employed to explain why I’m skipping the #2 deck.

Torbran and Obosh spent the last year doing for this card already but in case you didn’t find out that these were cash money, they’re probably not done going up. I would have preferred that we had a blank slate coming in and we could pluck these out of bulk boxes but with so much of 2020 having been spent indoors, it’s possible any LGS with un-inventoried boxes has these for like a quarter. I think this can hit $7 but I wouldn’t pay more than $4. Find these in your bulk, I know you have a bunch, we all do.

We used to have more time on bulk rares like this. This has largely been discovered by the finance community and the fact that this was $4 yesterday and is $8 today shows that we can’t wait like we used to be able to. I think these are findable and I also think they won’t maintain $10 or above because it’s only good in this deck, but smoke ’em if you got ’em.

I included Overabundance to sort of contrast with this next card a bit. Someone who doesn’t play EDH but understands the finance game will see a card like Overabundance, realize it was practically made to go into Yurlok decks and buy a bunch. That person doesn’t need EDHREC data to do that. But EDHREC doesn’t make the news, it reports the news, and nearly as many people are putting Tectonic Instability in their decks as are putting Overabundance.

However, Overabundance is a card that’s obvious to people who don’t play EDH and Tec Instability is a card that people who are building the deck will eventually figure out when they sit down and start to try and come up with 100 cards to play. I’m not saying any one card is better than another, but one of them is a cheaper buy-in right now and still has copies lying around despite the cards having nearly identical demand profiles.

I guess what I am saying is don’t get discouraged by missing the boat on cards like Overabundance when less obvious cards that are basically an identical spec are still left on the table. This is why I wait for EDHREC data rather than trying to guess what people are going to play the second a card is spoiled. Why fight everyone for cards that are going to peak then drop when you can fight no one for a slow gainer and sell at its peak?

Yurlok is here to finish what Kydele started and I’m about it. Sword and Umbral Mantle as both in play here because they generate infinite mana in other people’s mana pools if you have something like Heartstone and that’s hilarious. Even if you pay 1 mana to deal 3 damage over and over, it’s still a really solid pairing. Any 2-card combo where one of the cards is your commander is strong.

Mantle is already halfway through shaking off that Mystery Booster printing – what a beast of a card. This is solid with Yurlok and will be in like 80% of the Yurlok decks built, which could be a lot.

Good thing Yurlok deals the damage and it doesn’t count as mana burn. Just when you thought you were safe to let your opponent resolve Eladamri’s Vineyard with feet.

Speaking of which…

Maybe a bit too late for this one, but it’s good to know it’s a thing. Luckily CK’s buylist is climbing along with retail in case you want to get out quickly and easily and leave CK to try and offload the copies you got back in 1997.

In case you were thinking, “This is playable now AND on the Reserved List? How much could it possibly fall if the deck doesn’t catch on? It’s not like they’re printing more copies of this” I present to you the following

That plummet accounts for about $4.35 of its peak of $5, or about 87% of the card’s “Well it’s on the Reserve [sic] List” perceived value. Just saying. Not saying it hits $0.65 again, I’m saying I’m staying away. If I thought it was a good idea to invest in RL garbage that might go up because of a deck, I’d advocate better cards than this. Could this be the deck that does it? Maybe, but if so, it’s already back up to $5 so no sense lamenting that you don’t get the chance to go hunt for greater fools, there’s money to be made elsewhere.

That does it for me this week. There are probably more cards you can pick up and I would keep going if they let me, but it’s time to call it an article. Thanks for reading me for all these years. Join me next week where we’ll find even more stuff the Overabundance-buyers missed. Until next time!

The Watchtower 11/16/20 – Looking The Other Way

Today I wanted to talk about something that is quite difficult for some people to do (myself included), and that’s looking the other way when most people are focused on the newest release in Magic. The release of Commander Legends is just around the corner (this Friday in fact), but whilst everyone else is looking at the shiny new cards, I’m going to be looking back at some older cards that I think are undervalued.

With the rate that sets are being released now, the hype cycle moves on much more quickly than it used to, meaning that even relatively recently released cards can get forgotten about more easily, only to pop back up in a year or so and make you go “hang on, when did this get expensive?”. Those are some of the cards I’ve got in store for you this week, so let’s have a look, shall we?

Hagra Mauling (FEA)

Price today: $2
Possible price: $10

$2 to $10? Come on David, that’s an outrageous call for such a recently printed card! Ok, but…is it though? I think that we’re all familiar with how good these MDFCs are by now, both as combo pieces and as solid value cards in more ‘normal’ decks. It’s mostly the mythic ones being played, and their price tag reflects that (although I think that most of them are still decent pickups, as I doubt they’ll see another print for a little while) – but some of the rare and uncommon ones are great too, both in EDH and competitive formats.

In Modern and Pioneer (heck, and Legacy too) we’ve seen the ‘Oops All Spells’ deck doing pretty well in a few different iterations since these MDFCs were released in Zendikar Rising. I’m happy to see that they’re good, but not good or dominant enough to warrant any bans – I think that Wizards really nailed it with these MDFCs and got them at just the right kind of power level. Anyway, all of these ‘Oops All Spells’ decks play 4 of each of the mythic MDFCs, and past that the next card of choice is almost always Hagra Mauling, and generally as a four-of. It’s seeing a decent amount of play in Standard as well, which bodes well for it being a potential tool for non-combo Pioneer (and maybe Modern) decks down the line.

You can pick these foil extended arts up for around $2 on TCGPlayer at the moment, which honestly seems way too low. Although there’s very little paper play at the moment, for a card that’s seeing a decent amount of competitive play as well as being in a reasonable number of EDH decks (840, not huge but certainly not insignificant for a new card), I would’ve expected this to be closer to $5. Once paper play returns, quite a number of players are going to need these for their decks, and I would not be surprised to see them going for FEAs when they’re not-so-expensive. As well as that, these MDFCs are the poster-child for open-ended synergy, which means that they’re only going to get better as we get more cards to play with them. Give it a year and I think you’ll be happy to have a stack of these.

Cyclonic Rift (Double Masters)

Price today: $15
Possible price: $30

Cyclonic Rift. An absolute super-staple in EDH, included in almost 90k decks on EDHREC – that’s nearly 40% of all blue decks. The most recent reprint given to us was in Double Masters, where we got a fancy box topper version of the card as well – but I want to focus on the regular copies here. Time and time again we’ve seen this card bounce back from reprints like…uhh, something really bouncy I guess? I don’t know, insert your own analogy here […]. If you’re building a blue EDH deck, there’s a very high chance this card is going in it, and so there are always going to be players needing to buy copies of the card.

Cyclonic Rift was way up close to $40 before we got the reprint in Double Masters, which has now brought the price back down to around $15. The important thing here is that it didn’t catch another printing in Commander Legends, which had been something speculated on as a possibility. Without anywhere else to put another printing of this card for a little while going forwards then, I think that will mean we see upwards pressure on all versions of Rift until it gets a fresh print.

People are still building EDH decks even without much paper play happening, but as I said last week there will be extra downwards pressure on card prices as we enter the holiday season. That makes now a good time to pick up cards that you want to be selling next summer, and I think that this should be one of them. I do really like the borderless foils at $35 as well here, although there are a couple of walls of those on TCGPlayer that need to be eaten away at before the price moves too much.

Nyx Lotus (FEA)

Price today: $20
Possible price: $50

Nyx Lotus is a powerful EDH card in the right deck, those namely being mono-coloured ones that can get a decent number of devotion pips into play. It’s actually the 6th most popular inclusion from Theros Beyond Death, and at 8500 decks it’s definitely making its mark on the format. It has the potential to produce a buttload of mana very quickly (which is probably why it enters play tapped), and it’s very easy to go infinite with something like Filigree Sages.

Although it’s kind of relegated to mono-colour (and sometimes two colour) decks, it’s still a great mana rock in those shells, and the FEA versions are starting to get a little thin on the ground. There are a couple of copies left below $20 on TCGPlayer but with only 31 total listings and most of those being single copies, these are definitely draining out. I expect to see this post up over $30 within a few months, and I doubt we’ll be seeing a FEA versions any time soon so I don’t doubt it’ll just keep going up over the next year or two, with $40-50 being easily possible in that timeframe.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.