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

Brainstorm Brewery #173 – Darker than Animorphs

Brainstorm Brewery #173- Darker than Animorphs

I’m going to level with you. I don’t remember anything about recording this episode. I think it was a good one. We talked about a lot of non-Magic stuff, so, you’re welcome, I guess. We discussed Animorphs at one point? I’m not entirely sure that even made the cast. We talked about the weird new Wastes card (I think). I wish I could blame substances for not remembering but I literally just have no excuse. If you want to listen to the episode and send us show notes, we’ll send you tokens or something.

 

 

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What’s Good?

If you want to pay less than $15 for a Reiterate right now, you can’t. Copies began disappearing from the internet at the beginning of the weekend, and it may be surprising to some people what the catalyst was. Those of us at MTGPrice who are familiar with EDH figured it out.

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I have been about that EDHREC life for a while, and it’s been paying dividends. Ideally, we’d like to use these tools to predict these things before they happen, but the first step toward predicting future spikes is analyzing past spikes and finding out what occurred. In this case, someone decided that Reiterate was very good and decided to buy out the internet. The card is played in enough decks and is explosive enough in decks built around the new Izzet commander, Mizzix, that they felt a new price would stick. I don’t expect the $25 I see people trying to get to stick, but I bet the new price is around $10. The card was roughly $3 to $4 before, but I frequently got them shipped to me as “bulk” rares, so I expect copies to come out of the woodwork now and the supply will far outstrip a modest demand. Still, Reiterate is really good in Mizzix as well as Chandra and Jaya and Wort and the other commanders Douglas mentioned in his tweet.

Most of those commanders aren’t new, so the only thing that is new here is the card has demonstrated how busted it is in Mizzix and someone has decided that we’ll pay five times as much for the card from now on.

Maybe they’re right. After all, there are probably a lot of cards that are busted in the new decks. Reiterate has the distinction of being oldish (Time Spiral), not having reprints, having a keyword ability (buyback) that means it’s less reprintable than a card without such an ability, and did we mention it’s super busted in Mizzix? When you don’t have to pay colorless mana for it, it’s dumb and you  can copy every spell you play. Who doesn’t want that?

Can we pick out the next reiterate? We don’t all get the benefit of a buyout like we saw here, but we can have copies of similar good cards and be ready if a buyout does happen, or the inevitable march of progress pushes cards that are used frequently in decks that people are building this month up in value. Commander 2015 came out close enough to Christmas that I expect people to get these as presents, and the effect of the new generals to be spread out a bit so we have some time to get ready. Why not use the same website that we used to justify the reiterate spike to see what else is good?

Mizzix

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There are a lot of reprints in the “top cards” for this deck. And why not? Since it’s a brand new commander, a lot of people who build the deck are going to use a lot of cards that came packaged in the same precon Mizzix came in, and a few of those cards are very good in the deck and that’s why they were such obvious reprints in the deck. Still, there might be a card or two worth watching.

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This has demonstrated the ability to hit $10 more than once in the past. It’s a two- to four-of in Legacy, and it is very good in a deck where the cards in your graveyard will have their mana cost reduced. I like this at its current price, and with retail plateauing and buylist price creeping up, movement may come sooner than later.

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All Is Dust isn’t getting cheaper. I expect it to rebound from the reprinting it got in Modern Masters 2015 this summer, and that this is the cheapest it will ever be. In two years, when this is $12, everyone is going to look at this graph and say, “Wow, when was it ever that cheap?” and not be at all surprised it went back up. Modern Tron isn’t going away and this being a zero-mana wrath in Mizzix. It’s a good target. It’s not Reiterate good, but it’s solid and at its floor.

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I think it will take more than EDH to push Spell Burst up from a quarter to a price you will be glad you bought in, but the foils look juicy, even at $5. Spell Burst is dumb in Mizzix, also.

Let’s go looking at other Commanders.

Ezuri

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We should be able to find some gems when we look at what people are playing with Ezuri. I took all of these cards from the EDHREC page for Ezuri unless I state otherwise.

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This is a no-brainer. With enough experience counters, Ezuri can dump enough counters on this that you can set up and infinite turn loop. Foils of this haven’t even moved. I realize this isn’t as old and rare as Reiterate, but it’s also dumb and cheap and stupid, and if someone else starts buying aggressively, how obvious this is with Ezuri should start an avalanche. At under $2, it should be easy to trade for every copy of this in your LGS and buy a few to fill your spec box.

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This may get a few cents cheaper, and I would wait to see what happens as more copies of the Golgari deck are opened, but this card and Ezuri go together like peas and carrots (or like exaggerated caricatures of the mildly mentally handicapped and Academy Awards). They put it in the wrong deck but you can always go back and put it in the right one. Mycoloth is always going to be nuts in EDH, but it’s especially nuts in Ezuri decks. Left unchecked, you will just make a trillion saprolings a turn, and it’s hard to lose at that point.

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Being from a recent set doesn’t help much, but being from an under-bought core set offsets that to an extent. I think this is one of the best decks for Skulker and I always thought this was just dumb in EDH. Lots of UG decks played Lorescale Coatl already, and this is just better. Wait, he triggers Ezuri and gives him experience counters when he dies or gets bolstered when Ezuri is handing out counters? Sign me up.

Kalemne

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This deck is pretty boring and a lot of the cards that are appearing in a majority of the decks and therefore triggering a high correlation rating in EDHREC are in the precon. Still, I think there are a few gems.

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This isn’t going to get cheaper and it’s actually stupid good in Kalemne. You are playing bigger creatures than average, so giving them a boost plus lifelink and first strike is going to make combat fairly miserable. Even if your opponent is chump blocking, you’re going to gain so much life they will struggle to kill you unless they just play Magister Sphinx like a dirty piece of trash.

“Nice card, Steve, real fair, no, leave it in the deck, leave it in, it’s a cool card. I mean you played Praetor’s Grasp and Bribery on me this game, so why not just make my life total ten with your stupid cheat sphinx? I know you drank one of my IPAs when I went out to get pizza, too, and speaking of pizza, I want the seven bucks you owe me for pizza, Steve, you dick. I’m playing Maelstrom Wanderer next game.”

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Sure, the reprinting hurt this guy, but he is on the rebound and it’s a good time to buy. Blade of Selves is a card we are very interested in tutoring up, and this guy does just that. He can also get Sunforger and other equipment which is handy. This is a good card and EDH decks will always want him.

Meren

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This deck is all about value, bringing creatures back from the dead over and over. Let’s see if it’s about the other kind of value, also.

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Is this card a good buy around $1?

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I dunno. You tell me.

Awakening Zone has shrugged of multiple reprintings to still be the price it is today, and with From Beyond being situationally a much better card, I can’t imagine we won’t see a similar price trajectory. I plan to jam about 100 copies in my spec box, mostly from trading, and see what happens in two years. Not as many reprints as Awakening Zone got, that’s for sure.

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If loving this card is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Can you believe it hit 50 cents? I couldn’t either, so I bought lots of them. I traded for a lot more. I used dealer trade-in bonuses to turn other cheap rares into copies of this card. If this never hits at least $4, I will be really surprised. I realize it’s a recent non-mythic, but come on, read the card. It’s more expensive than Grave Pact but also easier to cast, especially in a three-color deck like Prossh. This card is nutty in Meren and Mazirek as well as other decks it was already good in.

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This will probably not be unbanned in Modern for a while, if ever, but it’s still A+ tutelage in EDH and still has some Legacy relevance, to the extent that Legacy is relevant. Is this done falling? I hope not. I want lots and lots of these the closer if it gets to a dollar. Gimme!

Daxos

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This is going to be fun, but it’s also going to take a minute for any cards here to spike because these will all have very high correlation values for Daxos, as a lot of these cards aren’t super useful elsewhere. It will be up to Daxos to be popular and push these cards up, but I think it can do it.

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If Daxos takes off, this is a $50 card or EDH has zero influence on prices.  There is no in-between. This card just needs a nudge and its non-zero relevance in Legacy can help justify the new price to people. There are very few copies of this online, and if you can get these with a trade-in bonus rather than taking cash when you buylist to a site that has a few copies, do it.

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I expected a little bit of a dip at rotation, but as this card’s price was never really predicated on Standard, it shrugged off that chance to dip in price. This is stupid with Daxos and with Sanctum, and I talk about that a lot but that’s because it’s true. This is a $5 card in a $3 card’s body and it will figure that out. The real question is how long will it be $5? I don’t know how high this can get, and it certainly can’t ever be as much as Purphoros or Xenagos, two ridiculous EDH commanders that are at home in a lot of 99s. This card is tied to one commander in general, Daxos, and that’s a lot to ask of a single commander. Still, this card is likely to go up because of how dumb it is with a good commander, so if you can trade for these with a Standard player who forgot to dump them at rotation or something, snag them.

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This is way more playable than Heliod, replacing Greed, replacing “players can’t gain life” effects, and being a strong commander as well as 99-inclusion. The stark difference in playability is not reflected in a stark difference in price.

Yet.

I really feel EDHREC can work both ways for us. Not only can we use it as a tool to say, “Well, it’s no wonder this card spiked,” after a card goes up in price seemingly irrespective of playability in the formats that people who think they know a lot about Magic pay attention to, I think we can predict things, or at least see which card’s prices are tied to a specific general and which are format staples.

While we’re at it, this happened.

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Can you think of any additional stats that would be helpful to you? Dream something up and leave it in the comment section for me to pass along, or you can message EDHREC directly. They’re willing to develop metrics that finance people will find useful, and we’d be insane not to take them up on it. I have a few ideas of my own, but I want to see what you come up with, The site is very useful as-is, but I bet we can come up with something great.

Until next week!

Building an EDH Deck: A Finance Exercise

You either play EDH or you don’t.

“Wow, Jason, that’s profound. Way to identify the only two types of people on the planet with respect to EDH” –You

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Look, I made a Venn diagram

Look, I was making a point before I was so rudely interrupted. Yes, I realize most of the people on the planet don’t play EDH and some of you do. But I meant that with respect to just my readers. Some of you play EDH, some of you don’t.

For those of you who don’t but are still interested in the financial opportunities, thanks for reading. I realize it’s literally torture to read a finance article that concerns cards from a format you don’t play, and you’re sticking with it because of my animal magnetism (and because I occasionally make jokes at Corbin Hosler’s and Douglas Johnson’s expense. Trust me, Doug deserves it).

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Whether or not you actually play EDH, you can get a sense of which cards are poised to do something and which cards are in higher demand than others. High demand cards can be moved for closer to retail and fringier cards are better to buylist, so sorting your cards on this basis can help you figure out which cards to ship on PucaTrade or TCGplayer and which to just ship to buylists. And although  trading tends to suck, I still make a ton of money trading for Standard cards that EDH players don’t care about and for EDH cards that Standard players don’t care about.

You know how we keep saying “value is subjective?” That’s not just a way we rationalize ripping someone off in a trade (not something I advocate, and karma has a way of catching up with people who do this)—it is also a reminder that when you are trading a pile of cards someone considers very useful for a pile they consider useless, they are more likely to be generous and skew the trade in your favor a bit yet end up way happier with the trade than you are. Trading straight across isn’t a losing proposition when your $3 Standard rare will be a dime in a year and the $3 EDH staple will be $5 in a year. Hell, even if the $3 EDH card is $3 in a year, you made $2.90 on the trade.

Have you ever built an EDH deck? Some of you have, some of you haven’t. I don’t mean just physically sleeving up a deck, but making a decklist that ends up as a working 100-card pile? I want to advocate going through some of the motions of building a deck as a mental exercise to familiarize yourself with some EDH staples and EDH deckbuilding resources. It forces you to stay on top of prices, see cards you may have “glossed over” in a new light and make you remember to watch their price changes, and in general, interface more with EDH people who give you all the information you need to make good finance calls without even knowing it. You don’t need to be EDH Jesus to make good financial calls. I’m going to go through my deckbuilding process and tell you every step I take and every discovery I make. Let’s build a deck and see what we figure out.

Make Like Bob Vila and Build a Deck

I have talked about some of these cards and resources in the past, but I don’t care because I’m actually going to build the list we come up with at the end of this process, because I bought the Daxos the Returned precon and found a Serra’s Sanctum in a collection I bought.

(There was also a Tolarian Academy in that collection. Guess which card is worth more money. Surprised? This is what EDH does to card prices sometimes. If Tolarian Academy were legal in EDH, you’d really see the effect. In fact, that would be a great lesson: Sanctum, Academy, Cradle.  You could see how EDH relevance stacks up against EDH-plus-Legacy or EDH-plus-Vintage. As it is, Sanctum is a $50 card waiting to happen and I’m glad I pulled one in a collection. I tend to try to avoid buying cards I advocate, and I strongly advocate Sanctum.)

Let’s build a Daxos deck that makes the most of Sanctum. But if we’re not sure where to start, what do we do?

Tapped Out

Tapped Out is a website where decks are listed, debated, analyzed, and scrutinized. I keep meaning to post my decks there to see what people think, but I’m scared of their criticism busy restoring old cars and chopping down trees and a third man thing.

I like the site a lot because it gives you a lot of data at your fingertips. The graphical representation of color balance, mana ratios, and other at-a-glance info is good, but there are other, hidden metrics that not many financiers are aware of, because why would you go that deep on an EDH website when MTGPrice tells you so much info on its home page? Well, there’s a good reason. I have covered this before, but I want to be sure people know this and that is the “demand” page as I call it. Clicking on a card in a deck list will take you to a screen with info for that card. Further down the page is a box with some tabs.

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If you look at the “trade” tab or click on it, you can see who is offering the card for trade and who needs it and you can contact those users privately. This is a good place to find trades and you can potentially finagle them to be in your favor value-wise. Remember, these are players looking to play, not value hounds, so you can potentially get rid of downward-trending cards and pick up upward-trending ones. It’s worth playing with.

It’s also worth noting that despite its high appeal, eight times as many people have spare copies of this card than want them. It’s readily abundant. Despite Dictate of Erebos seeming like a slam-dunk of a card considering it can be found for under a dollar and it does the same thing as a $10 Grave Pact, it is going to take a while because copies are everywhere and lots of players have lots of extras.  If you poke around long enough, you can find cards that have pent-up demand: more people who want them than people who have them.

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It took me literally five seconds to try a few links in the exact same decklist and find that Greater Auramancy has pent-up demand. Do you think its current price will hold if it’s an auto-include in Daxos, people are building Daxos, it hasn’t been reprinted, and more people on Tapped Out want it than are willing to part with it? Maybe you can contact the people who have it and see what they want, thereby picking up a powerful, popular card for cardboard rather than cash. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, just how to make some value or pay $13 for a card that’s $20 or more next week that you want for your deck. I’m negotiating to trade for my copy since I want one in my deck.

Tapped Out can also give you a big list of other decks with the same Commander in the bottom right of the page. I like Tapped Out a lot, and whenever I’m brewing a new Commander deck, I like to see what people building the deck already came up with.

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The suggestions people make are also very good, and a lot of the time, you can click on the link to the suggested card’s page and learn a lot about the card. Did you know about Koskun Falls? Not a lot of people do. It’s worth researching.

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Ultimately, Daxos decks haven’t made it jump and neither did the printing of King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but it is still an interesting card and worth knowing about. Homelands has exactly one worthwhile card in it, so there are loose falls everywhere, but you won’t suffer from having one in your binder to swap for a bulk rare from a recent set you think has potential. The card could have easily been something worth watching like another card from the list.

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This card is way more interesting. Click around on some of the cards you may not be familiar with in the lists built by people who already built the deck you’re looking to “build” (theoretical or otherwise) and you may find some interesting cards. Contamination does a lot of work in Daxos and other annoying decks. It’s a nonbo with Sanctum and getting white mana in general, so I’m not sold on it for this list, but if other Daxos players are toying with it, it’s worth knowing about.

Tapped Out is great for seeing complete decklists and seeing the cards in context of a deck, but it is really time-consuming to try and see which cards are used in common in a lot of the decks. Tapped Out doesn’t do that analysis for us. Fortunately, there is a site that does.

EDHREC FTW

Check out the EDHREC page for Daxos. It’s the data miner mother lode. There are a lot of obvious inclusions in the deck because the cards came bundled with Daxos, so for the time being, almost all Daxos lists online will contain Karmic Justice, Black Market. and Grasp of Fate. That’s not to say we can’t learn a lot from EDHREC even this early in the game. Really navigate the page just with your scroll bar for now.

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Hover over the numbers under the card and it will tell you what they are. I’ll also explain. The first number is straightforward: 94 percent of the decks in the database with Daxos the Returned as their commander run this card. Simple. The third number tells you the same information, but also how many decks there are total, which is useful to know. The middle number may be confusing—finance websites have trained us to see that as a trend number—maybe 50 percent more decks run Phyrexian Arena than last week because they all just busted one in a precon?

That number is actually called the “synergy rating.” Per the website: “How often this card is played in Daxos the Returned decks, vs. other black+white decks. A positive percentage means the card is played more often in comparison to other decks, negative percentage means it’s played less frequently than usual. A number near zero means it’s mostly likely a staple for those colors.”

This is great info, as it tells us whether a staple and shoo-in for a deck like Daxos the Returned is just good for the deck or is good for the colors. Cards with high percentages might not be the best investments, because they may be somewhat fringe-playable in the format as a whole. However, a high percentage means the popularity of the commander can be what drives the price, meaning the commander gaining popularity will be a factor in the price, especially when there is low supply, like on older cards. Daxos can’t drive Dictate of Erebos by itself, but maybe it can shove up a card like Heliod which has a 53-percent synergy rating and is a mythic that just rotated out of Standard. Heliod also spits out enchantments, which is perfect for a deck with Serra’s Sanctum.

EDHREC has a lot of useful features. You can see the cards used in the decks where Daxos is in the 99 rather than the Commander. You can see the decks where combinations of cards are used by clicking the advanced filter at the top next to recent decks.

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You can also get some help if you’re not too familiar with EDH by using the manabase crafter, which is a lot of help in identifying cards you might not know and which may be EDH staples you weren’t aware were cards you should pick, stock, or maybe speculate on. Not every card you see for the first time is a hidden gem, but you’re going to get a greater understanding of a format that can move prices profoundly and is not to be overlooked if you want to make money slinging cardboard.

Really peruse the site carefully. It’s chock full of features, and even if you don’t plan to ever sleeve the deck you “brew,” you are still going to want to know the most common cards in the deck. That’s what other people are using, which means they need them, which means they will need to buy them. The release of the five precons this month is a significant event for prices and that’s putting it mildly. Don’t miss being ahead of the curve.

Eating Pumpkins

I am going to cheat a little, because I already brewed my decklist so we can basically skip to the end if we want. That’s not to say I didn’t check both of the sites I mentioned when I brewed this deck, because I absolutely did that. I plan to build the deck, I plan to use some of the alternative methods for card acquisition I talked about in this piece, and ultimately, I have my eye on a few cards that I think could move based on what we learned on Tapped Out and EDHREC.

Are you going to build your own deck? Ezuri, Claw of Progress? Animar, Soul of Elements? Gisela, Blade of Goldnight? Whatever you decide to think about how to build, going through the motions of researching the deck is going to show you a lot of cards you should be paying attention to just as a matter of course. As far as theoretical exercises go, one that shows you a lot of data and leaves you with a decklist you could build if you wanted is pretty useful if you ask me. Until next time!

Brainstorm Brewery #171 – Corner Cases

Magic sure is funny. GP Atlanta was a Commander 2015 release party. Wizards doesn’t want MTG Goldfish providing MODO match data. Patrick Chapin is a corner case. It’s a weird children’s card game we play and weird stuff happens.

 

  • GP Atlanta recap
  • There was a middle part to this episode. I just re-listened and already forgot
  • MTG Goldfish ordered to not publish results?
  • How are the Commander 205 decks?
  • Pick of the Week is back!
  • Support our Patreon! DO IT. You know this cast makes you more than $1 a week
  • Need to contact us? Hit up BrainstormBrew@gmail.com

 

Contact Us!

Brainstorm Brewery Website – E-mail – Twitter Facebook RSS iTunes Stitcher

Ryan Bushard – E-mail – Twitter Facebook

Corbin Hosler – E-mail – Twitter Facebook MTGPrice

Jason E Alt – E-mail – Twitter FacebookMTGPrice

Marcel White – E-mail – Twitter