All posts by Jason Alt

Jason is the hardest working MTG Finance writer in the business. With a column appearing on Coolstufff Inc. in addition to MTG Price, he is also a member of the Brainstorm Brewery finance podcast and a writer and administrator for EDHREC's content website. Follow him on twitter @JasonEAlt

Unlocked Pro Trader: Theros Beyond Surprising



This is the part of the spoiler season is where I check EDHREC data and do a double take. I could have taken a stab at guessing how the week one deck distributions would shake out but I would have been way off. For the set, my guess would have been.

  1. Uro
  2. Athreos
  3. Kroxa
  4. Thassa
  5. Klothys

I got exactly one of those right and the others were WAY off. If you’re guessing that I had the #1 deck in my Top 5 but just not in the #1 spot, YOU’RE way off. Here’s how it shook out.

I liked Siona, but Siona at number 1 is pretty breathtaking. Uro below Kroxa, Thassa below Dalakos and Athreos below Purphoros are all pretty big surprises, which is why my accuracy rate started going up when I based my picks on what people were doing and not what I assumed they would do.

What people ARE doing is building two Siona decks for every one Uro deck, so let’s dive into Siona, shall we?


Number one with a bullet is this auto-include. This is sold out on every site but TCG Player but it still hasn’t quite crested the $3 mark there. With copies in Commander, Explorers of Ixalan and Gideon’s spellbook, it’s going to be pretty tough for this card to get over $5 but I think with a potential feeding frenzy we could get there. I think this is a little volatile, too recent and too abundant to care about and while it may feel good to snag a forgotten $1 copy or two, I think your best case scenario is a buylist double up after fees and while that’s good, that’s unlikely to be something you do with more than a dozen or so copies at most. If you can buylist 100 of these and make a buck or two a copy, you’re going to feel OK but I think the potential to be left holding the bag is too high to recommend this. Cards like this are a target, though, especially older ones.

The time period where one store runs out and restocks and another store still has copies at the old price is fascinating because you can see jumps in real time if you check often enough. This card doesn’t know if it’s $2 or $10 but I suspect even if it’s played less than we think, it’s old enough to end up wedged between the pre- and post-spike price and that’s a nice payday for the quick and the witty. I like this a lot more than S.B.F. and I think this may be the best spec of the article if you can find these. Stores that aren’t super organized will still have these in their bulk rares, so check there first.

Old Theros was a while back and a second spike on a card that has less stock than people think is primed for movement. I’m a real champion of this as a spec and there aren’t cheap copies to ferret out like there were last time so this is going to be purely controlled by the supply on TCG Player hitting a tipping point or not.


This is one of those specs that got away. I loved it, saw the price was flat forever, never said anything to anyone about it to prove I liked it, bought 0 copies on purpose and when it spiked, it seemed so obvious in hindsight. I have a tendency to second-guess myself even on specs that are super obvious and sometimes it’s just a matter of TCG Player restocking as fast as it sold out, something moderate, organic demand has a tendency to do. If there were a way to sort by cards that move briskly but don’t fluctuate in price much, I bet this would be among those. You had a chance to get in for half a buck and I bet no one recommended it and that feels pretty bad. I want to say this is done going up, but we’ve established I don’t know anything about this card.

I don’t love this as a spec. I do, however, want to point out that this was never affordable, 0 boats were missed, no one could have made more than a buck before fees here and that’s crazy. EDH cards that are this powerful don’t fly under the radar anymore. Is that partly my fault? Yeah, but we also have to address the reality we live in and the reality is that new cards aren’t usually great EDH specs. I like Siona making Rether $8 but I don’t like Siona, savez?

Crashing Drawbridge

This isn’t a spec but it’s hilarious because the deck makes infinite tokens at sorcery speed and this is the only way to win that turn in Green and White without using them to make infinite mana or gain a ton of life. When I brewed the deck for CoolStuff I was durdling by recasting Rancor and saccing the creature to Phyrexian Altar until I could kill them with Aetherflux Reservoir. This is neat.

Perhaps we should have had the “second spike” discussion last week but I was writing about something else. There’s still money to be made and all of the copies haven’t been accounted for yet.

That does it for me. This deck is being built twice as much as decks I thought would be built more and while that won’t necessarily hold (there could be an early spike due to excitement around the Shielded By Faith combo, a combo I’ll point out needs Crashing Drawbridge) it’s good to know what’s really getting built.

Until next time!

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.


Please follow and like us:

Pro Trader: Titanic Growth


We’re at my least favorite part of the preview week – where there isn’t enough data to really know any information but we can’t talk about the spoilers anymore now that the set is fully spoiled. I am going to make calls that are wrong more often than usual, but this is the time to make real money since it’s the wild west of finance. People know what they like but haven’t bought the decks yet. It’s funny that a commander not being available to buy makes people hold off on buying the rest of the deck, but if you think about it, why make two orders? They’ll buy what they need next week when they can buy the commander, too. Let’s make sure they buy the rest of the deck from us, or from a site who just raised their buylist prices. Let’s make 5 pronouncements hoping 2 are dead wrong, are right and one of them is such a slam-dunk I’m still patting myself on the back in December when I do my 2020 wrap-up article (I’m going to call it Hindsight 2020, just warning you).

I think Uro is the most exciting card in the set and so does everyone else. It’s the most expensive card in the set right now and with Modern players interested in it for unfair Primeval Titan deck scenarios, it’s likely Uro gets a look in a lot of formats. It hasn’t had much of a look in EDH yet but the data we do have at least tells me how people are building. Let’s read some tea leaves, shall we?

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.
To learn more about being a ProTrader, click here to see all the benefits.

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Please follow and like us:

Unlocked Pro Trader: Before We Know Anything


Spoiler season is reminding me a lot of this time last year, although the cards that are going nuts aren’t all EDH this time around. Last year we got a lot of data to use for scenarios like now where we have cards that are going to spike on the basis of potential interaction to compare to the two different kinds of spikes last year. I will call one kind of spike “Vannifar” and the other “Teysa” and we can look at what’s what. First, though, a few brief looks at what’s going on.

This card was spoiled, and it’s pretty good with this.

No one could figure out what happened with Hermit Druid last week-

Until we had the reason for it spoiled today.

Escape is an interesting mechanic and devotion is also back. Could a card that puts cards in the graveyard and gives you a few pips be in play? Some say yes.

We could list a whole bunch of cards that combo with Thassa’s Oracle like Tainted Pact and Demonic Consultation, but since Laboratory Maniac was legal last week, I don’t think those prices stick. Today, we’re going to talk about Vannifar, Teysa, and stickiness.

History Repeating

Last year, everyone in the finance world was going nuts for Vannifar specs. Intruder Alarm, Thornbite Staff, you name it. After all, it was a pod chain that could tear through the deck and get you all the way up to Craterhoof (my favorite is Avenger of Zendikar into Craterhoof) and get there quickly. It’s easier to deal 20 damage like that than it is 60 damage, though, and you could tell who played a lot of 60 card Magic and who played a lot of 100 card Magic. I waded into the Vannifar stuff but noted it was more cEDH players hyped for Vannifar and wasn’t sure it would be the most popular commander of the set. It wasn’t.

Nor is it close. Vannifar is currently, a year on, ranked 4th after Lavinia, a commander that BARELY does what it actually is supposed to do in EDH. It makes mana rocks worse, though, and if you want to ‘Geddon people on a casual format, cool? Still, Vannifar is underperforming a bit, so why don’t we revisit the specs from that deck a year on and compare them to the ones from Teysa?

This is what Vannifar did to Intruder Alarm then.

Even with cards that pair well with Alarm printed since, it’s down to about halfway between its pre-spike and post-spike price, which is unfortunately what happens to cards that have lowish stock and decent play in other decks. Cards that are unused by other decks have problems, too, because they got from one dollar to unsutainable numbers like $10, but this was around $10 and that’s what it is on TCG Player, now, so while you had time in the short term to make money, I prefer cards that keep their value. Something with a lot more stock may behave differently, so let’s look at something like that.

Thorny WAS looking like the poster child for “Vannifar” specs – cards that crash after the deck is less popular than we thought, but it spiked again later for an unrelated reason so it threw us off. You might assume it maintained its value if we didn’t have a graph of historical prices to note the shape of – this went down and back up.

Atla Palani, Nest Tender

Wamp wommmmmp. You know what sounds I’m making when I say that, right? Atla came along and threw off our data, but I’m sure Staff was going to end up halfway between pre- and post-spike, if not lower.

Our data can get thrown off the other way, too.

Yeah! Check out THAT decline! More like VanniFART amirite?

Commander 2019: Great Oak Guardian

Ah. I see.

Keep digging, though, and you’ll find plenty of examples. Vannifar just couldn’t maintain the level of insanity that surrounded the initial feeding frenzy because it’s built 75% less than Teysa. Last year I wrote an article called “Karlov the Magnificent” and another called “Data > Not Data” that explored Teysa specs. Did they fare better in terms of sustainability a year on? Go read the article and pick out the cards I called in it so you can verify I’m not cherry-picking.







The latter article, Data > Not Data was one where I looked at cards that had a good ratio of inclusion rate and synergy rate which meant not only was it in a lot of Teysa decks, it was MOSTLY in Teysa decks. Those are the cards that would be pushed up by Terysa, and the cheaper cards could be more sustainable that way since Teysa is built 4 times as much as Vannifar.

Here is foil Pitless Plunderer a year on.


We can draw a couple of conclusions.

  • Cards that are in a lot of decks like Dictate of Erebos and Intruder Alarm tend to settle about halfway between the pre- and post-spike price.
  • Foils of Teysa cards do better than foils of Vannifar cards.
  • Even Teysa can’t sustain bulk rares with multiple printings.
  • Sometimes you get lucky and another card comes along and re-spikes the card. That’s more likely to happen with a card with lots of axes of utility like Thornbite Staff (untapping, damage, tribal affinity) than cards that are more specific like Requiem Angel (most EDH non-token spirits are bad)
  • You have more time to buy Teysa specs and more time to sell them

I think a lot of the spikes we’re seeing right now are very Vannifar. Ballista and Heliod is more for Pioneer. Oracle of Thassa isn’t great in EDH and the cards good with it are already known and already expensive, but I’m sure people will buy Paradigm Shift and the guy who messaged me to say “Paradigm Shift is one the Reserved List, should we buy it out because it’s on the Reserved List and hope it goes up someday” and I said “No” to is going to message me calling me an idiot for not being an oracle myself. Buy Tainted Pact? Don’t really, but maybe. If Tainted Pact goes up, I’m going to claim I called it. But don’t buy it. But if it goes up, remember I said to. But I’m saying not to. Unless you do, and if you do and it goes up, tweet that I called it.

That does it for me this week. Next week we’ll try to decide if Shielded by Faith is Teysa or Vannifar. I bet you can already guess what I think.

Please follow and like us:

Pro Trader: 2020 Resolutions


It’s 2020 and you know what that means!

Actually, I’ve got nothing. For some reason, I thought 2019 was the year when WotC ruined Magic with insanely powerful cards that made everything else obsolete and ruined most formats, resulting in emergency bans that made expensive cards suddenly worthless, FNMs no one wanted to play in, etc. I had some faith that they learned about making really dangerous cards and that they learned from the Saheeli, Guardian fiasco. Surely 2020 would be different.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.
To learn more about being a ProTrader, click here to see all the benefits.

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Please follow and like us: