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
I don’t want to talk about the literal spirit of Commander. I don’t even really want to call it Commander, since I like calling it EDH more, but since so many people are new and don’t even remember the good old days, I will, begrudgingly, call it Commander. I’ll come clean, the title is a stupid pun because we know we’re getting a tribal Vampire and tribal Spirits deck in Breaking Dawn or whatever and we should be ready for both.
We haven’t gotten confirmation that the deck will be Blue/White that I have seen (I’m sure there’s an article on the mothership or something) but based on the last 2 decks being two color and tribal, we can infer we’re getting RB Vampires and UW Spirits. On that basis, I decided to do what I did last week and delve this time into UW Spirits decks on EDHREC to see if there are any cards we should be buying in advance. A lot of the Spirits cards are reprintable and are nichey, but they have Modern applicability, too, so it’s possible we have additional chances for growth. That said, Modern applicability makes them even more reprintable. There probably isn’t a better target than last week’s Bloodline Keeper, but we can take a look anyhow.
In case you don’t feel confident navigating the site or feel like you pay me to do stuff so I should do it for you, here is the full Spirits tribal page on EDHREC. There are some non-Azorius cards here, which we can ignore, but it doesn’t suck to know how people are building everything. Let’s get into it.
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We talk about how there are no “missed” specs, only opportunities to invest money elsewhere, and doesn’t it take a lot of experience and mental discipline to start to feel that way? When you miss the boat on a spec, it feels bad – doubly so if you wanted copies to play with as well. I won’t tell you we didn’t miss some stuff by virtue of ignoring it because it sounds like I’m making excuses for something it was too late to talk about – Wolves and Zombies going nuts. Predictably, very predictably, Wolves and Zombies got some extra attention with A Zombie precon and a Legendary Wolf creature in Innistrad: Team Jacob last week. We could do a post-mortem on what you should have bought so you know for next time, but we likely still would have under-estimated the demand based on how things shook out the last time we traveled to Innistrad. Instead, let’s look to the future and remind ourselves that way more people play EDH now than did 5 years ago and anything we get right here is bound to look even better in a few months.
It may be a bit too late for some Vampires, but not all specs are created equal. Do we expect Stromkirk Captain to be $9 just because Immerwolf went nuts? Not exactly, and any mitigating factors will be discussed here. However, we DO expect some movement, and we expect some reprints, too. So how do we get ahead of the movement and avoid the reprints? By doing what we always do – guessing.
Guessing with data, sure, but still guessing. Ultimately we may be way off-base with some of our guesses, but let’s look at some prices anyway, shall we?
Immerwolf has a very powerful effect, one printing, is the closest thing this tribe has to a Lord and is in the color of every wolf deck.
Stromkirk Captain has 2 printings, including one in a commander precon, is just another Lord in a deck with many and is in colors that aren’t always necessary to play in a Vampires deck considering there are a lot of White and White-Black Vampires in Ixalan. So do we expect this to do nothing? No, not exactly. The foils have only been printed once, can’t be in a precon and are basically gone from the internet. The foil basically went from $2 to $20 overnight, so that tells me the non-foils, preferred by actual EDH players anyway, are in play. At a $0.50 buy-in, these will buylist for a couple of bucks if not reprinted. Is the reprint risk kind of high? Yes, and that’s another reason why Captain can’t go off like Immerwolf did. Let’s look at cards with more potential.
WotC has said about 20 different times 20 different ways that they’re not putting DFCs in the precons. That means Bloodline Keeper has a basically 0% chance of a reprinting next month. This is already on a moonward trajectory, but these will be gone under $25 very soon and you’ll likely be able to get out closer to $40 than $20. This seems like a pretty sexy spec to me and $15 is just the beginning considering it got that high when the Vampire precon came out and more copies are in the hands of dealers than they were 3 years ago. All of this points to a pretty nice payday for people in a position to sell when the precon list is spoiled. Let’s be ahead of the curve instead of cursing ourselves for not predicting Gravecrawler would pop.
Foil Indulgent Aristocrat is a high buy-in at $10, but it also seems like the floor for now. Dealers seems skeptical given the high amount of daylight between retail and buylist.
Nocturnus is affordable and has been stable since the 2018 precon came out. However, it’s somewhat reprintable and while it’s obvious to people who built Vampires back in the day, it might not be obvious to new builders. I still think if you can get in under $10, and you very much can, it seems safe.
This seems like it mitigates reprint risk a bit by being kind of a weird Ixalan specific vampire. It doesn’t have a keyword ability or anything and it’s already gained a lot of value this year, so if you want to skip it, that is probably a decent call. Still, this is a card that doubles in price minimum under the right circumstances, so I would be remiss if I didn’t point out there was a chance for this.
This card is halfway between shrugging off its last reprint and flirting with $3 again. I think it gets there.
There are a few ways the deck can go. So far I’ve been looking at Edgar Markov lists for synergistic cards, but the different vamps have different high synergy cards.
I stuck with Edgar Markov because the Midnight Hunt precons were two color and they were the colors of the tribes in original Innistrad. That seems to basically rule out White vampires, but it doesn’t rule out a lifegain synergy rather than a +1/+1 counter one, so you could get ahead of the curve by correctly guessing the subtheme of the deck. You can buy specific cards when the decks are spoiled, but then you’re competing with everyone else and the whole point of thinking about this now is to avoid the rush later.
That does it for me this week, folks. Remember to go to the Vampire tribal page on EDHREC and look at the lists from every Vampire commander before you buy anything. Until next time!
Last week I talked all about panning out and looking at the format at macro scale to see that not all “best commander in the set” are created equal. I don’t think I do that enough, and a constant parade of new products made me very comfortable just writing about a new deck every week. The thing is, I found last week’s article useful because it got me thinking about things I take for granted, and things I gloss over when I focus on new stuff. The thing is, there is a class of “new” cards that we all gloss over, but which we should pay a lot of attention to because if there is anywhere to make easy, free, reliable money, it’s there. I’m referring, of course, to cards that are in the Top 100 cards in the last week but not the last 2 years meaning they are relatively new staples but still have a chance to go up in price. That’s a mouthful but hopefully they’ll… be a walletful? Because of the money you’ll make on them? That you’ll put… in your wallet? Look, they can’t al be gems, I’m here to find you some picks, not make jokes. To that end, let’s look at some cards.
Just in case it’s not intuitive, the way to find the page is head to the edhrec homepage first.
In the top left there is a series of drop-down menus. We want Cards.
Select Top Cards from the menu and it will take you to the Top Cards page. I mean, obviously, but I’m setting up the next pic, chill. You asked for this (play along, I’m pretending you need this because someone probably does).
On that page, you can select the date range. I’m going with the past week. If this was too hard to follow or if you figured I would link it for you, I’m going to link it for you. Let’s look at some cards, shall we?
Sol Ring Arcane Signet Swords to Plowshares Cultivate Counterspell Beast Within Cyclonic Rift Rakdos Signet Izzet Signet Orzhov Signet Dimir Signet Rampant Growth Path to Exile Kodama’s Reach Boros Signet Rhystic Study Chaos Warp Heroic Intervention Demonic Tutor Talisman of Creativity Azorius Signet Farseek Smothering Tithe Brainstorm Blasphemous Act Boros Charm Assassin’s Trophy Dovin’s Veto Rhythm of the Wild Eternal Witness Lightning Greaves Anguished Unmaking Talisman of Indulgence Talisman of Dominance Sakura-Tribe Elder Birds of Paradise Talisman of Hierarchy Llanowar Elves Ignoble Hierarch Despark Three Visits Swiftfoot Boots Esper Sentinel Eladamri’s Call Negate Generous Gift Swan Song Talisman of Conviction Growth Spiral Ruinous Ultimatum Vampiric Tutor Dockside Extortionist Mirari’s Wake Terminate Enlightened Tutor Fierce Guardianship Putrefy Mystical Tutor Damn Simic Signet Deathrite Shaman Elvish Mystic Mystic Remora Avacyn’s Pilgrim Reclamation Sage Noble Hierarch Elves of Deep Shadow Windfall Nature’s Lore Sylvan Library Arcane Denial Teferi’s Protection Faithless Looting Sun Titan Eerie Ultimatum Mind Stone Fyndhorn Elves Ponder Jeska’s Will Dark Ritual Gruul Signet Abrupt Decay Return of the Wildspeaker Vandalblast Deflecting Swat Mana Drain Toxic Deluge Supreme Verdict Nature’s Claim Golgari Signet Rakdos Charm Bedevil Fellwar Stone Beast Whisperer Solemn Simulacrum Mortify Feed the Swarm Worldly Tutor Preordain Commander’s Sphere
If you’re interested in seeing the list in list form, here it is, and you can also make the EDHREC site do that for you.
There are a LOT of staples on here. We can cut this list down by using our list comparison tool to cut out cards that are in both lists, meaning we’ll only get recent cards. That seems worthwhile to me, let’s do that.
There are 89 cards in both lists, which gives us 11 cards to work with which is… fewer than I thought. However, the list of 100 has a lot of cards that “feel” new and which also are less than 2 years old, meaning they ARE new. Let’s look at the 11 first.
Feed the Swarm Jeska’s Will Damn Deflecting Swat Rakdos Charm Ignoble Hierarch Bedevil Worldly Tutor Return of the Wildspeaker Esper Sentinel Three Visits
A lot of these are not new. However, some of these should pop out at you.
This seems fairly obvious. If Modern comes back in paper, a non-zero number of decks need this, it’s potentially a card if paper Legacy ever happens and it’s in a LOT of EDH decks for how new it is. It made the Top 100 cards of the week. How many Jund commanders were printed since the set came out? 0, that’s who. With the price beginning to rebound on Card Kingdom, it’s time to pull the trigger. I realize there are other targets, but this just feels like free money.
I posted this so we could talk about it. I’m not sure I love this at a $32 buy-in, but one potential wrinkle is that this is not playable outside of EDH, so while its price is somewhat controlled by a lack of cross-format appeal, it’s also kind of tough to reprint. I don’t love this at $32 because I have to imagine if this approaches $50, they’ll find a way to reprint it, but since the precon it’s in costs like $35, you might just use this as a way to get 99 free cards for now and re-evaluate later.
Bedevil got a reprinting, which was inevitable, but given that it was nearly inevitably going to be reprinted in a commander deck, let’s look at the foil.
You know I don’t love foils, but this appears to be gettable for cheaper than the non-foil peaked at, so it seems like a pretty sold pick-up to me. The foils are cheap, harder to reprint than the non-foil which just got hit, and it’s basically a format staple moving forward. Sure, it wasn’t in the 2 years ago list, but can we agree if it’s on the list of cards for the month that Prosper and friends are going to make this a buy at $6?
That’s me convinced.
I won’t lie, I didn’t imagine this card would be this popular, but Damn is showing up a LOT. It’s not done plummeting, but when it stops, I especially like the old border versions of the card. Damn is played more than I expected and I might not have noticed it was getting played enough to make the Top 100 until it reversed its price trend and started creeping back up. I’m glad I noticed now.
I thought the ship had sailed on this card when it hit $15. It’s crazy that we all had a chance to get this for under $10 and not all of us got enough copies to make bank selling now that CK thinks it’s worth almost $30. If you can get these from Europe for under $10 for English copies, it may be worth it, but also, TCG Player has these for under $20 and that may be the play. CK buylist was nearing that at one point, and it’s not like this is getting worse in EDH.
I think all of these cards are going to go up more, even the ones that are already kind of expensive, and I think it’s good practice to abandon my very specific method occasionally and get back to fundamentals. I think these are fundamentally sound picks and I stand by all of them.
That does it for me for this week, readers. Thank you for your kind attention and continued support, and if you have any questions about how to use EDHREC as it is or suggestions for how it could be, I’m oddly enough an excellent person to talk to about it. Hit me up in the comments or the MTG Price Pro Trader Discord which is pretty insane value. Until next time!
I was planning on going deeper on more of the Innistrad commanders and, honestly, this just seems like a bad set for it. The commanders are either Slogurk – just another Simic goodstuff pile that has the same lands-matter cards as the last 10 Simic commanders, or it’s incredibly narrow – curses or Werewolves or something. I fully intended to dive into Lynde, and I just didn’t see anything to care about.
A bunch of cards that are basically never going to go up, and one that did. The worst one. I don’t get it.
I’m sure this went up for non-EDH reasons or something. I don’t know – the point is, Lynde isn’t really making anyone any money. The more specialized commanders get, the more obvious the picks get to people, but since they don’t have any idea of the scale we’re talking about, they’re guessing at the demand. Will every Lynde deck run Curse of Vengeance? Maybe, but how many decks is that? Right now there are 73 in the database and they’re all basically identical. Will people still want to build Lynde in 2 months when there is a new set out? Looking at just the data from the set, it’s clear Lynde is popularish, but what does that mean?
Sure, there are more people playing EDH than there were in 2018, but there are twice as many Legendary creatures every set as there were then, too. Most commanders won’t get built. Obviously bad ones won’t get built very much at all, but even decent ones won’t, and one reason is that they’ll be made obsolete soon. I gave up on a Lands-matter commander in Simic because every few months a new version came out. Is Slogurk the best one?
OK, this is going to turn into a lecture, so here’s something to tide you over – this card hasn’t been printed all that recently, it is in both Stickfingers and Slogurk, it isn’t likely to get printed soon and it shouldn’t be under $20
Back to my rant – I’m picking on Lynde a bit, but I could easily pick on Tovolar. Tovolar is running away with the number one spot in this set, but how about for the week?
How about for the month, then?
There is a LOT going on here. What gets missed when we move from set to set so quickly is that how good something is over a longer term matters a lot, too. Sure, if you had Immerwolves you could be selling them for $3 apiece on TCG Player direct right now if that’s your model, but if you like to buy retail and flip to buylists, the easiest way to make money, you’ll need some sustained demand for the buylist price to go up. The number one deck built from a set MIGHT do that the way Prosper has, but it’s pretty clear it needs to be more than just the best deck from that set. Looking at Weekly and Monthly trends is one way to identify longer-term demand and find better buys.
Here’s something interesting I found.
Prosper is number one, blah blah blah, but look at the rest of the top 5. Galea was the second most built commander in the set, with nearly as many decks as Sefris. Let’s look at the top decks of the last 30 days again.
Sefris is there, but where is Galea? Even though Galea was more popular overall and more popular in the set, in the last 30 days, people have continued to build Sefris decks and not Galea. Of the 871 decks in the database for Sefris, we can deduce that 586, or 67% of the total, were built in the last 30 days. Only 551 Galea decks were built over the same period. It’s not nothing, but it means Sefris is creeping up. How many Top 5 decks in a set don’t even chart a month later? 540 Volo decks, 325 Tiamat decks, 236 for Xanathar… feels like we’re already losing steam. Of everything we discussed today, only one deck, Prosper, makes the Top 100 in the last 2 years. Seeing more Galea decks than Sefris decks were being built 3 weeks ago tells us some stuff but not noticing that Sefris closes the gap by about 20 decks a week tells us a lot, too, and it’s information I’m largely not accounting for like I should be. Look how many of the set-specific EDH precon commanders are on this list – Lathril AND Anowon? We looked at Lathril picks the week the deck was spoiled and that’s it, but more people are building Lathril than Kenrith during a week that Golos got banned and that’s significant.
What does this all mean, in practical terms? To me, it means that while speculating on cards that are going to be good in Slogurk is probably smart since a non-zero number of Slogurk decks are going to be built, we need to focus more on the Prospers of the world. A Prosper spec seems like it’s twice as likely to go up and stay up compared to a Sefris spec, but we haven’t revisited either, really. All of that ignores the fact that we never even gave Sefris a serious look the first time. Should we have?
No, probably not. Still, though.
Since I have basically made the case that Slogurk specs are only worth it if they’re in more decks than just Slogurk since the growth potential is limited, let’s look at cards that are in Slogurk, Stickfingers AND Tovolar, shall we?
Behold! Your specs! Good night!
OK, so we’re clearly going to have to deign to look at cards in a mere 2 decks rather than all 3, which still gives us opportunities to find some hits.
The EA copies of Yavimaya are pretty hot, and since the lowest they ever were on CK is about what they are on TCG Player now, we can pretend we didn’t miss out on 2 weeks of solid growth by not doing this sooner.
Everyone loves a good sac outlet. Well, not Tovolar, but these other decks do, so that’s cool. There will liekly be another chance to make a lot of money on this as it dips to $2, which should have been a cue to leap on the copies with alacrity, but this isn’t done going up.
When I expanded the cards I included to all of the cards from the page and not just the 99 cards in the average deck (something I did for comedic effect to show you the average decks had few cards in common), Utopia Sprawl showed up for all 3 decks. I don’t know if this is the fixing everyone acts like it is, but this is a very good card and it has a ton of utility. Anything in the future that untaps lands, any future enchantress card, any deck that needs fixing – this has 100 chances to hit $12 barring another reprint.
Of the 3 decks, Tovolar, Stickfingers and Slogurk, the one deck that didn’t include this was Tovolar, the Wolf deck. This card is busted with a big graveyard, which Slogurk and Stickyboi both give you. Feast your eyeholes on this graph.
The foil has hit $5 before, expect a second spike to be closer to $10 than $5. This is a sneaky good card, but it’s tough to reprint the foil and with no Werewolf precon forthcoming, where would they print the non-foil? I mean, this isn’t a Wolf card, but people get hung up on the tokens it makes, so maybe WotC does, too.
Is Tovolar the next Prosper? Well, no. I don’t know if we’ll get another Prosper this year, but if you want to mess around with the list comparator tool for literally 10 minutes, I bet you’ll find some hits. Here are some lists I would cross-reference.
I would check Chatterfang against Stickfingers and Lathril.
I would check Sefris against Anowon.
I would check Veyran against Vadrik.
Being the best deck in a bad set isn’t half as good as being the second best preconstructed deck in a worse set sometimes, so make sure you check the macro view and don’t miss out on the Yavimayas for the trees. Until next time!
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