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: A Tweet Is Worth 1,000 Words

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I’m supposed to write 2,000 words, though, so I’m only half done. What could this mean for us financially?

The Card

Persistent Petitioners is a card that has its rules text printed on it and since I posted a pic of the card, you can read all of the rules text. If you’re using a screen reader for some reason, that’s cool, thanks for patronizing our website. Persistent Petitioners taps for 1 to mill a player for 1, you can tap 4 untapped advisers to mill someone for 12 and, most importantly, there is no cap on the number of petitioners you can play in a deck. That rule has extended to EDH so you can play more than one copy, and lots of players do. The plan is to get a lot of these in play and mill everyone out, which can happen quickly. You only need 7 or 8 activations per player, fewer if they’re drawing greedily, and it’s easy to untap your side (though it was easier with Paradox Engine – R.I.P. in Peace, Doxy Boi).

While it makes sense that a card that needs to be purchased 30 cards at a time is selling well, I think it’s significant that no card sold better than this. 60 card casual players are helping this out a lot, it’s not just EDH, but I think it’s worth revisiting this card since I wrote about it when it was first spoiled. I’ll walk you through how I use EDHREC to look at what matters, while I’m at it since I basically show everyone how to do it one time and then never come back to it later and you could get lost if you haven’t read everything I’ve written the last 5 years. Let’s get going.

The $1.50 to $2 block seems a little cheap for this card. There aren’t collector boosters in this set which means everyone needed to come by their foils honestly. Since people foiling the deck would need to buy about 20 or 30 copies at a time, all of TCG Player’s inventory would be gone in about 2 decks’ worth if more people decided to pursue the deck, and at merely double the cost, it’s almost not worth it not to buy foil.

Petitioner is very difficult to reprint, the rest of the decks it’s in are usually pretty cheap and we have foils of similar cards to look at.

Rats has multiple foils printings versus just the one for Petitioners. Petitioners themselves might not be the worst buy right off the bat, especially in foil, which isn’t something I typically advocate. Let’s look at EDHREC for some more clues.

To get started, it’s as easy as typing the name of the card into the search bar.

That takes you to the page with some stats about the card. Since it’s not legendary, there’s no option to toggle between the card viewed as a commander or viewed as part of the 99, so just scroll down.

Below that is a list of all of the commanders that run the card. It’s ranked by percentage of elgibile decks that run it rather than raw number of inclusions, which I think is more instructive. 0.005% of Atraxa decks could run a card and have 10 instances of a card that’s in 100% of 9 decks. Sorting by percentage tells you the likelihood a deck runs a card, not which commander has more decks in the database. Both numbers matter, though, so note that while a higher percentage of Arcum Dagson decks run the card, it occurs more often in Grand Arbiter decks. Let’s look at both of those and Kami of the Crescent Moon for ideas.

Kami used to be much more expensive than it is and thanks to a Conspiracy printing, it’s more affordable. The advantages to Kami for your Petitioners deck is you draw more fodder and you subtly mill them by depleting their library in a way they don’t mind at first. Giving them stuff to beat you with isn’t terribly competitive, but this deck isn’t that.

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Looking at Kami of the Crescent Moon first (as a commander, not as a card), we see that it got some new cards that pertain to milling. Folio is one of the best mill cards ever created and if that made someone look into how to mill in EDH, that would bring them to the same pages we’re on and working backwards, we can figure out what else they might buy.

One last trick – Let’s take another look at the top part of the page.

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There are so many Petitioners builds of this deck, it’s listed under themes. Clicking that link takes you to a different page with cards specific to Petitioners builds. That’s going to be where we’ll find our specs.

Finally, let’s use our trick from a few weeks ago where we click the “layout button” on the right side,

change the lists to text and import the lists into a program to compare all 3 to see if there are common themes.

Arcane Denial3List A, List B, List C
Brainstorm3List A, List B, List C
Counterspell3List A, List B, List C
Dramatic Reversal3List A, List B, List C
Elixir of Immortality3List A, List B, List C
Fabricate3List A, List B, List C
Fellwar Stone3List A, List B, List C
Halimar Depths3List A, List B, List C
Intruder Alarm3List A, List B, List C
Lightning Greaves3List A, List B, List C
Mind Stone3List A, List B, List C
Mystical Tutor3List A, List B, List C
Negate3List A, List B, List C
Paradox Engine3List A, List B, List C
Persistent Petitioners3List A, List B, List C
Ponder3List A, List B, List C
Sol Ring3List A, List B, List C
Swan Song3List A, List B, List C
Thrumming Stone3List A, List B, List C

Paradox Engine is banned and some of these are staples, but some of these cards bear looking into.

Vannifar hype from a year ago is dying down but I am 100% a buyer on these when they bottom out and it appears they have. The overall trend is down but the price is fluctuating pretty rapidly. I like the other art better but as a spec, you can’t go wrong with this card.

Stone’s decline is another trend to watch. Petitioners made it spike last year and it’s unlikely the same card does it again but this spikes a lot as a result of a new card with the unlimited inclusion ability and it never goes back down to where it was. This is also a reprint candidate in a way Petitioners is not, not to mention Intruder Alarm.

Looking at cards in 2 of the 3 lists gives me more hits.

This is not a bulk rare and Standard clearly has nothing to do with it. Looping Petitioners or just playing every one you draw is an excellent source of “chip” mill.

This tanked after Petitioner hype died down but I think it could go back up as the result of something else. I doubt Petitioner makes this go up again, though, but it’s worth keeping track of unique, powerful, tribal effects.

Petitioner didn’t even cause the biggest spike in this card’s history so there’s no reason to think other cards couldn’t do it again. As this tanks, I’m ready to pounce.

All in all I think this analysis took me 15 minutes. Once you get better and don’t have to follow a guide to do it, you’ll be able to check quickly when you see an interesting tweet. I saw some cards that are likely to spike again as the result of a card with an ability like Petitioners’ being printed and having a gameplan ready for that rather than trying to figure out a whole decklist on the fly when you should be buying cards is what separates the quick from the dead. Be quick because you did the figuring out work ahead of time. That’s it for me. Until next year!

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.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Theros

Readers!

I don’t have a ton of price data to look at from the original Theros and it’s possible that such data would be fairly worthless to look at. I’m not going to say mtg Finance was in its infancy, because it wasn’t, but mtg Finance hadn’t figured out who to listen to and people ran out and bought a ton of copies of Mana Bloom because a YouTuber said it was a slam dunk. Those were weird times. I still hadn’t figured out that I only wanted to trade EDH cards with EDH players and I was still binder grinding the GP and SCG Open circuit. We’ve learned a lot since then.

Since mtg Finance was so weird back then, looking at what spiked on the basis of old Theros isn’t that instructive in my view. Unless you want to make money on Didgeridoo again, I don’t know of any lessons from then we can apply to now.

So where does that leave us? Shortest article in history? As much as I’d love to pull the ripcord and say “until next time” I think I’ll give you some value because that’s what I do. Besides, Theros wasn’t the only time Enchantments did stuff.

Image result for estrid mtg

Enter Estrid.

Printed in Commander 2018, Estrid was part of a Bant “Enchantments matter” deck that made a lot of cards pop and some never returned to normal. While new Theros is going to give us Black and Red cards and combinations thereof, we can still look at what happened in 2018 and extrapolate a bit. Is anything that returned to normal due a second spike? Are any of the Legendary creatures going to be any good? Are there current decks about to get a boost? I don’t know, but we do know what Estrid did, so let’s look at what Estrid did.

Enchanted Evening got a huge boost from sub -$5 to the stratosphere as a result of Estrid. A combination of the hype dying down and the printing in Mystery Boosters has attenuated the price a bit. I don’t know that it’s a good buy at its current price since it could still drop some as more Mystery Boosters are opened. It’s metrics aren’t bad, though.

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This is mostly in Tuvasa, Hanna and Estrid decks. A card that combos with this, however, didn’t get reprinted and may be due a second spike.

Cleansing Meditation with Enchanted Evening is a global wipe that people have known about for a long time but never really decided to play until Estrid. Meditation was gettable in bulk boxes for a long time and now that every copy is concentrated in the hands of dealers, and the buy price is very close to retail, this is poised to spike again imo. It will only take one commander that lets you play this combo and with Enchanted Evening being more affordable than it has been since 2017, I could see a run on Cleansing Meditation. I’m not buying these now, per se, but I am thinking about how quickly this could hit $5 again under the right conditions.

I don’t have much of an opinion about this card. I don’t like it personally. I will not the 25% price discrepency between TCG Player and Card Kingdom. Why is a market site with competition charging more for a reserved list card than a site where there is no competition? Doesn’t Card Kingdom always charge more? If I had to guess, I would say Card Kingdom is also more nimble when a card is tanking. TCG Player sellers race to the bottom but the market price is the last sold price and if the card isn’t selling well at its current price because that price is too much, it’s harder to move the market price whereas one person at CK can say “Let’s firesale these suckers” which is what I suspect happened here. The crypto money that was injected into Reserved List cards dried up and people realized the good times wouldn’t last forever. I don’t know if the buy-in price is great right now but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the fire sales reverse course at least.

Replenish, on the other hand, fell off a cliff but is already showing signs of life on the basis of Theros coming back. Rector is a slow, hard-to-use tutor but Replenishj dumps 30 Constellation triggers on the stack for 4 mana and is a force to be reckoned with. This may not hit $70 again, but I don’t think it’s going to plummet like it has been, and Card Kingdom doesn’t think so, either.

Get these while they’re still half price on TCG Player. If a card is $10 everywhere but TCG Player, it’s a $10 card that just doesn’t know it yet. TCG Player’s prices are usually the last to know because people leave the 1 copy with $3.99 shipping dregs for last and it looks like the card isn’t sold out when it actually is for all intents and purposes. This is a buy for under $7 right now.

Here’s another pretty significant price discrepancy. I suspect the TCG Player number is on its way up.

This peaked in 2019, well after Estrid’s printing, and I think it could flirt with $20 on CK again, soon. This is not even remotely fair or fun to play against as a Magic card and that’s worth noting.

Everything in the Estrid deck is here and while I think Red and Black getting left out is not ideal, Red and Black was more concerned with Minotaurs than Constellations last time around. We could also see renewed interest in Bruna decks as well as Uril, The Miststalker and maybe even Tuvasa on the basis of good new auras.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I’ll be keeping my finger on the pulse of Theros happenings and letting everyone know what matters to me. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: What I figured Out in 2019

Readers!

Rather than rehash picks from the last year or write some lame duck article about more picks from a set that came out like 4 months ago, I decided to comb through my articles from the last year and coalesce all the techniques I came up with that were new in 2019. There were quite a few, they were the result of doing this for 8 years and I basically mentioned them and then didn’t again. If I do this it will both serve as a revision guide so you don’t have to re-read everything I wrote for a whole year (you’re welcome to, I’d like to think it’s pleasant and informative to read my writing) and it will also serve as a handy reference for all of 2019’s new techniques. Let’s do it to it.

High Synergy AND Inclusion Indexing

From: Data> Not Data 1/22/19

The synergy score on EDHREC is a little mysterious and if you’re not sure what it means, it can be misleading. In the article, I gave the example of a lunatic who jams Sorrow’s Path into Atraxa giving Sorrow’s Path a high synergy score for Atraxa since every Sorrow’s Path in the database is in an Atraxa deck, but a low inclusion score because only one Atraxa deck ever has it. They’re not exactly opposites, though, because a high synergy and high inclusion means it’s a staple in the deck and most copies of the deck run it. A low synergy score is a format staple, a high one is a deck staple. Taking the two scores together, I identified cards I might have otherwise ignored, like this one.


Foils of Plunderer were $4 and now they’re sold out at $10, so I must have been onto something. Don’t just look at one score, try to find cards where both scores are high. If the deck is built a lot (Teysa was the #1 deck from that set eventually and still is – Sorry Vannifar), the card will pan out.

Reconciling EDH and Other Formats

From: Number Crunch: 3/5/19

The War of the Spark Mythic Edition was… fraught. I still have like 4 uncut sheets because they kept sending me bent ones and saying “Oh, my bad” and then sending me another bent one until I got bored. I sold one to someone to have it cut up and just kept the rest, unframed, just in tubes. If anyone wants to buy one, let me know, I have one good one.

The roll-out was botched but I wanted to see if we could predict the prices of the ‘walkers to see if it was worth it to buy, or at least see if there were any that were going to be over- or under-valued. I ranked the planeswalkers based on both EDHREC and MTG Top 8 rankings and averaged their rankings to see which had the best cross-format applicability then ranked them by price. Lo and behold, a few stinkers were immediately obvious but ultimately, it was a good buy.

That analysis wasn’t great for everything, but I imagine that technique of using data from both sites will come in handy again.

Big Discrepancies Between CK and TCG Player

From: The New Spread 3/19/19

EDHREC displays prices from two sites – TCG Player and Card Kingdom, right below the cards.

You will not be surprised to learn that TCG Player is almost always cheaper. Sometimes TCG Player is charging half as much. Those cards deserve a look because that means Card Kingdom is selling out of its smaller number of copies quickly and is repricing higher and TCG Player will take longer to sell out and adjust. Sometimes this process takes a long time.

Sometimes Card Kingdoms is cheaper, which bears looking into, also.

The technique here is to just train myself to notice these discrepancies and when you find one, check the price trajectory on MTG Price. Sometimes you’ll see what’s going on immediately, sometimes you won’t. Either way, you’ll notice things worth checking you didn’t notice before.

Relative Impact Of Popular Commanders

From: Not All Commanders Are Created Equal 7/16/19

Figuring out what goes in which deck is useful, but figuring out the contents of a deck no one is building is less useful than the decks everyone is building. I figured that if I compared the number of decks for each commander to the number of decks built for the most-built commander, you’d see which ones had more impact and which had less. That week, it was Yarok, so I figured out the relative build percentages of the other decks as a percentage of how much Yarok was built.

Didn’t make sense to dig too deep into Kethis if we didn’t figure out Kykar first, right? The colors were arbitrary but I think they illustrated my point well. I don’t do this every week but you could do it yourself in excel in 90 seconds and it helps to see which decks you should be looking at.

Waiting for Rotation

From: Wait and Rotate 9/11/19

The conventional wisdom used to hold that you could wait for rotation to buy EDH cards because Standard players who had the stranded in their binders would sell them for pennies at rotation just to make room for the next block’s cards. Prices haven’t been doing that for a while, and they haven’t been cheap when they’re in Standard and still in print, either, even if they’re not used in Standard at all. EDH is the #1 format driving finance these days and we need to look at rotation differently. I went back to the last rotation and looked at graphs to see what popular cards actually did and how we should have acted. If you read one article from me in 2019, it should be this one.

Cross-Deck Impact

From: Synergy 11/9/19 and Synergy 2: Synergy Harder 11/27/19

Using a few websites that compared large lists of cards and distilled a list of the cards that were in all lists, I compared a lot of decks to see which staple cards would appear in all of them. I used a non-intuitive EDHREC feature to get text lists of the decks to import them and crunched a lot of numbers quickly. It was quick and dirty at first but it yielded important results. Best of all, it’s a simple thing you all could do yourself easily.

Once we had the technique, we applied it to the Secret Lair packs coming out to see if there were cards in common among the new decks likely to be built when people go shiny new versions of older cards. Don’t read this without your nitroglycerine pills handy, but they were tribal cards. Still, this technique can be applied to comparing any number of any decks and it’s worth me having figured it out for you.

All in all, I had a prolific 2019. I developed a lot of new techniques rather than just coast on what has been working and you can refer back to this if you want a refresher or need to locate the full article where I explained the new techniques. Thanks for reading! We have a few more weeks of 2019 to go and I have more year-end wrap-ups as well as Theros speculation planned. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: It’s Happening

Readers,

We guessed last week that with the printing of the Secret Lair sets, we’d see an uptick in the popularity of some tribal cards and decks on the basis of people who didn’t have the decks built building them and people who had them built updating them. This week, we expect to see some of that conjecture borne out by data. Behold!

Ur-Dragon got 59 new decks last week and Arahbo got 47, vaulting both of the decks into the top 20 of the week. While it was cool to look at cards in common between the two decks, drilling down into the decks individually couldn’t hurt, either. Let’s do that, then.

Ur-Dragon

The new cards in this deck aren’t that surprising, and with the exception of the Henge and the Dragon, they’re “you’re playing 5 colors, you need this.”

Henge is basically a card you should really be trading for now. I don’t think a lot needs to be said about it other than that it’s quite good and there may never be a good time to buy it so you’re better off trading away cards that are very good in Standard and won’t quite impact anything beyond Standard. Trading $10 worth of Standard-only cards for $9 worth of Henges is worth it to me and the trade will look super lopsided in a half a year.

The Dragon makes even less sense. Look at the Instants and Sorceries in a typical Dargon deck using EDHREC’s Average Deck feature.

1 Crux of Fate
1 Cultivate
1 Earthquake
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Farseek
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth
1 Rampant Growth

1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Sarkhan’s Triumph
1 Swords to Plowshares

Is there anything worth rebuying here that makes you want to play a really basic dragon? I don’t think I’m cutting gas out of my list to make room for this. So far we’re striking out on interesting stuff, but people who didn’t have a deck and are now building one are going to move the needle more than people updating the decks to maybe put in a durdle dargon, so let’s move into the meat of the deck.

I really didn’t expect a card with multiple printings like this one to basically double in the years since it was last reprinted, but that’s a thing. It’s rebounded a lot better than some rares in the deck and while it’s too late to do anything, it’s worth noting.

Here’s another interesting thing to note.

This was touted in 2017 when the rest of the cycle seemed very strong in light of tribal decks being announced and it seemed like it would hit $10. It did, though it didn’t stay there. However, with this card being good in Dragons and Kittycats and Reaper King decks and any subsequent tribal sets, I think Steely Resolve is a pretty safe bet. While this was spiking off, I said in my 2017 article that I thought Cover of Darkness could get there. Was I right?

This turned out to be a MUCH better bet and it feels good to have called it. So you all know for later, how did I know? Well, that’s a secret.

OK, fine, I’ll tell you. Teach a man to fish an all that. EDHREC doesn’t just give you raw, context-less numbers, it gives you context if you know where to look, and I know where to look, and now so do you.

The bar at the top of EDHREC has dropdown menus and one of them says “sets” which takes you to a menu with every set. Find Onslaught.

Cover of Darkness is the 55th-most-played card from Onslaught and Steely Resolve is 63rd. It’s a very good set. Still, Cover gets played more despite there being seemingly more opportunities for Green cards and Steely Resolve granting Shroud seeming better. You can look at what players will do based on what you think or you can go by what the numbers are telling you and the numbers told me Cover was the way to go, but they also tell me Steely Resolve isn’t done. I rather like it at its current price.

Arahbo

Not much to say here other than that I like its growth plot and while it has plateaued a bit, that’s not accounting for any additional copies being needed for new Arahbo decks. Those new decks can get most of the stuff they need outside of the precon, but need this. This is tough to reprint and it’s associated with the cat deck because that’s the deck it came in, but it’s good in all of them.

Got a European hookup? These are less than a Euro on Magic Card Market. Don’t have a European hookup? Become a Pro Trader and make a friend in our Discord. Remember, Modern cards are doing very well in Europe and EDH cards do much better over here. Get out of tanking Modern staples and get a huge bonus flipping into good EDH stuff before everyone realizes how easy it is.

That does it for me. Thanks for reading, everyone. Until next time!

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