All posts by Jason Alt

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

Brainstormbrewery #246: Hour of Devastation Set Review

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Today we are joined by Phil DeLuca of the Commanderin’ podcast for the Hour of Devastation set review. Since this set looks to be much spicier in Commander than Standard, we invited Phil on to share his perspective. Also, DJ tells perhaps the worst joke in BSB history.
Douglas Johnson is our guest (@Rose0fthorns)
Phil DeLuca is our very special guest (@ketjak)
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7 Thoughts About Hour of Devastation in EDH

Hey, readers,

The Hour of Devastation is almost upon us and that means we get to wait around forever for EDH prices to move. The stuff that was going to move immediately already has – Solemnity was a massive earthquake that ripped through a swath of old Magic cards and made them suddenly valuable. Everything else could take a minute to move, which is probably a good thing because it gives us time to scoop cards up. Unlike previous sets, we’re not going to have to wait for card prices to plummet on our long-term holds because unlike with previous sets, this set isn’t worth jack and/or shit. Is redemption going to enforce a higher box price, forcing singles to take the hit? Are Masterpieces going to keep box prices low? Is this set just another Dragon’s Maze without the benefit of a Voice of Resurgence to keep the boxes at all worth buying? I don’t know how things will shake up, but what I do know is that it’s never been easier to buy our EDH cards right out of the gate. Let’s take a look at some thoughts I have had about this set and where it fits into EDH.

 

1)Solemnity isn’t done

Solemnity came along and made a bunch of prices go nuts. Lucky for you, I managed to predict a lot of them and if you read the article the same day it came out, you had a decent shot at getting some of the cards before they sold out and people started to cancel orders. Lucky for us, Solemnity interacts with a TON of cards and not all of them were mentioned or even all that obvious up front and there is still a chance to get in on a few of them.

Odyssey: Delaying Shield

Delaying Shield is like $0.70 currently and you straight don’t take damage with Shield and Solemnity out. This isn’t all that good without Solemity but it’s not all that bad, either. If you don’t draw your Solemnity, this is a card that lets you take damage as normal but also opt out of some of it if you choose to untap your mana and prevent some of it. Not only that, this prevents you from dying when everyone else dies so a lethal earthquake that would kill the table suddenly makes you the winner. Zedruu decks were running this already to take a ton of damage then donate the shield to let opponents deal with the consequences. This is fun in EDH, it’s cheap, it’s old so therefore scarce and it’s unfair with the most exciting card in the new set.

Solemnity decks are starting to shape up on EDHREC so take a look at the cards other people are running with it. While there’s not a ton populated yet, there’s stuff to learn. Zur is most likely the deck that benefits from this card. What other cards do Zur decks run? I don’t know, click on Zur and find out. EDHREC is still the best resource I have found for predicting price increases predicated on a card making another card better. And, before anyone accuses me of shilling super hard for EDHREC because I am employed by EDHREC, let me just say that it’s the other way around – I’m employed by EDHREC because of how hard I shilled for them before they even started paying me. If there were a better resource for what we do in this column, I’d use it. There isn’t. Go get the free money.

2)The Planeswalker decks are loaded

The set appears to be dumpster lasagna from a financial standpoint. The Masterpieces are hot and the set looks like it’s really balanced in terms of Limited (I have a feeling I’m going to take Deserts really hard in draft and ride that synergy wave) but that doesn’t really do much for the prices. Pre-sale data on TCGPlayer is super depressing.

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Of the 14 cards pre-selling above $3, 3 of them (Nicol Bolas the Deceiver, Nissa, Genesis Mage and Visage of Bolas) are in the Planeswalker packs. Combined, the 3 cards total $21 in pre-sale value. The Planeswalker decks are available for $23 combined from Miniature Market.  I’m not advocating buying at that price, but what I am saying is that there are 3 cards that people really like (or liked a few days to weeks ago when the Market Price was established – I bet those cards are cheaper now) and they don’t care that they’re not in boosters, they just want them to jam with. You think anyone is jamming an 8 mana Planeswalker in Standard? No chance. How about a bad mana rock that tutors for an 8 mana walker? No, this is casuals and EDH players establishing those pre-sale prices on those cards and making the rest of those planeswalker packs (each of which includes an Hour of Devastation booster pack) essentially free. People like Planeswalkers and this set has a lot of Planeswalkers and they aren’t all in boosters.

3)Obvious cards are too cheap

Mill is always a buy. Good mill even more-so. EDH players benefit from mill the least out of everyone (or so you’d think, but look at Phenax decks) but mill cards are always good financial decisions. This set has, basically, Mill Reflection and it’s like 30 cents.

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Hour of Devastation: Fraying Sanity

This card is really good for taking out one player. Even if you play this in EDH, this makes it really easy to kill one person quickly so you can use your Traumatize on everyone else. Alternatively, curse yourself and fill your graveyard with cards to use to kill them. This is already a bulk rare and this will not be a bulk rare long-term. This is a sicko mill card and it’s very, very obvious as a pickup but people don’t seem to want to worry about that until much later. If you end up with someone who trades at TCG Player value, out a terrible card like Nimble Obstructionist for 10 copies of this and you’ll be very happy in a year or two. Is it still the dreaded “value trading!(cue Wilhelm scream)” if you’re doing it based on the values from two years from now? There are plenty of other obvious cards that are bulk already and which you should be targeting.

Hour of Devastation: Hour of Promise

This one comes to mind, for example. Bulk is too cheap for this forever.

4)Gods could be too cheap

I have seen a lot of people excited about The Locust God and wheel effects. You may remember wheel effects from going up in price when Nekusar was spoiled and again when Leovold was spoiled. How many times am I going to be able to make money from Teferi’s Puzzle Box? Skullclamp, Windfall, Arjun, etc.

Image result for you got a stew baby

The Locust God is $6. Now I realize that in order to go up, this card will need to impact Standard, right? As much as it’s cool to Skullclamp your Locusts, or win with Purphoros, Skullclamp and Ashnod’s Altar (a pretty easy combo to assemble once you get Skullclamp going) we don’t have access to that in Standard. But do the guys truly need to be that good in Standard to maintain their current price? I only ask because this set seems like hot garbage, there are no cards over $20 and booster boxes are like $100 retail. If people stay away from the set because it’s hot garbage, scarcity will keep prices artificially medium. If they get high enough, it makes sense to buy boxes again and people will. But if people aren’t compelled by anything in the set, the value has to be somewhere and why not the Gods? $6 is already pretty reasonable and they could at the very least maintain some of their value if nothing else from the set jumps. I’m not saying invest, but I’m going to pay $6 for a copy of The Locust God now, build that hilarious deck and laugh at people and I doubt I’m going to look at the price of the God in 3 months and think I took a bath.

5)Read what EDH players are building

I was focused a lot on Solemnity shenanigans and brewing decks with lots of Gods in them for my Gathering Magic article so I didn’t really take a look at what people are doing with the rest of the set. Think about which cards will go into existing decks. Is there a card that’s going to go in Atraxa? There is?! Well that’s worth knowing.

Hour of Devastation: Djeru, With Eyes Open

I also recommend using EDHREC for a sort of reverse-engineering. Instead of typing in a God and seeing how to build it based on suggestions from the other decks in the database, start with a single card and see which generals want it. The cards in those decks are more and more attractive the better that commander is.

Hour of Devastation: Swarm Intelligence

Swarm Intelligence is a new card and I think it has potential, but I don’t know where. What do other people think?

There isn’t much consensus, yet, but I didn’t think about Narset when I first read Swarm Intelligence, but it makes a lot of sense. And since The Locust God seems to be coming up a lot, it doesn’t hurt to see which cards are going in that deck because while some people may scrap their Nekusar deck for cards to put in the deck, some won’t and that means they’ll need to buy cards they already have. A lot of cards in the Locust God deck are creeping up lately and it pays to check that. Without looking, how much is Chasm Skulker worth, knowing it was first in M15 and was just reprinted in Commander 2016? Bet you were off. Bet you’re glad you looked because if you’re like me, you have a bunch of them shits in a box somewhere.

6)Bad Standard sets can be good for EDH

Not always, though. Let’s look at every card in Dragon’s Maze worth above $1.

Gross. Mirko Vosk is under $1. Where is this pressure on prices coming from? It’s not like boxes are flooding the market. Still, even this is less bleak than it looks at first. Voice and Progenitor Mimic are low due to reprinting. Deadbridge Chant is a solid EDH card, as is Savageborn Hydra. With strong, powerful Standard cards like Varolz and Aetherling worth diddly, it seems like EDH is the only thing making these cards worth anything. This is the worst case scenario for Hour of Devastation – no good cards and therefore no value no matter what set redemption has to say about it. Let’s look at a set that’s closer to Hour of Devastation in terms of being disappointing for Standard but giving us lots of EDH cards.

M15 is much closer, if you ask me. We had a lot of cards that were good in Standard like Hornet Queen and painlands fall off a bit and EDH cards came in and picked up the slack. Chasm Skulker is between $2.50 and $3.50 after a reprint and was a bulk rare when the set was Standard legal. I think Hour of Devastation will force the EDH cards to take up value in the coming years, which is perfect because I think there are cards like Neheb that are up to the challenge. They’ll be overlooked for a minute, but not forever.

7)Look for more Solemnities

Anything that is a good card could be worth some money and if it gets better as people discover how to use it properly, it could be worth even more money. That’s base tier. The we have cards that are good in one deck the way Abandoned Sarcophagus will be good in a cycling deck, and that deck’s increased popularity could drive up some of the prices of the other cards in the deck. That’s mid tier stuff. The truly worthwhile cards are ones that bring up multiple different decks, interact in a stupid way with a lot of other cards and in general are going to go ham with lots of prices. That’s Solemnity. Could we have missed another Solemnity in the set? It’s possible. If there are cards in the set that I think could be potential top tier finance cards, they’re these.

Hour of Devastation: Razaketh, the Foulblooded

This not only could be the commander of his own deck, I think he goes in Athreos and Shirei-based Shadowborn Apostle decks and probably Kaalia decks. Are a bunch of people building Kaalia lately? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that Kaalia just became more affordable when it was jammed in the Commander Anthology set. Razaketh seems like it could make a bunch of other cards in other decks go up and I think it’s the closest thing we have to another Solemnity.

That’s all I have for you. 10 seconds before wrapping this up, I saw

so I bet you know what we’re going to talk about next week. Until then!

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The Crucible Reprint We Deserve, Not the One We Need

Wizards has gotten a little bit better about reprinting stuff before or just after the price goes nuts. It’s kind of impressive, really, when you think about it. If a card spikes like Goryo’s Vengeance did this week, Wizards can’t issue a reprint next week. They can’t do it next month. They probably can’t do it next year under a lot of circumstances. They simply aren’t as nimble as they would need to be becuase sets are planned far in advance. In the case of something like Modern or Eternal Masters, I suspect some last minute changes can be made but even then the cards are sent to the printer months in advance. Official WotC product isn’t a cigarette boat, it’s a huge oil tanker and if we know anything about oil tankers, it’s that they aren’t easy to turn and sometimes disasters happen. When WotC does nail a reprint of a card soon after the price really goes up, it almost seems like it was an accident given how difficult it is to see that far into the future.

You can add to that the fact that if a card isn’t reprinted when it needs to be and no reprint seems to be forthcoming anytime soon, that in and of itself is a reason for people to begin to hoard the card and for the price to go up. I write fairly often about cards that are either a do or die reprint in Commander sets – they get the reprint they need or the price is going to go out of control. We saw that with Phyrexian Altar and I think we’re going to see that with Patriarch’s Bidding. I was going to say the same of Mana Echoes, but people didn’t even bother waiting for Commander 2017 to be spoiled fully before they went out and bought Mana Echoes because I guess they think the Locust God is going to be much better than The Locust God probably is. I think a card in particular, Crucible of Worlds, is well outside of its “painless reprint window” meaning that its reprint options are so limited that anywhere it’s reprinted is bound to barely make a dent. Cards that cost as much as Crucible are basically reprintable as Masterpieces, which will do approximately both jack and shit for the price. Where else can you jam a card that costs more than $35? In a Commander deck with a $35 MSRP? Reprint avenues are super limited and the card might as well be on the Reserved List at this point.

 

But things are not always so bleak as they seem. Even though Hour of Devastation isn’t giving us Crucible of Worlds, we are getting a functional semi-reprint in the form of a card that is sort of similar. It’s not an artifact, it’s a green creature but what it lacks in being an artifact it makes up in being a Crucible of Worlds with feet. This is going to do two things in my estimation. First, it’s going to give decks running Crucible a second Crucible which will allow them to go a little deeper on their Crucible strategy. There aren’t a ton of decks not running green doing Crucible stuff – per EDHREC, the only generals with Crucible in the top 10 that aren’t green are Daretti and Oloro. Daretti wouldn’t run a non-artifact Crucible creature even if it were red and Oloro is for people who steal their neighbor’s wifi and cheat on their taxes so there’s no pleasing human garbage like that. We have a green card that can go in the mostly green decks that were running Crucible before, only this time you can find it with a green Sun’s Zenith or Worldly Tutor meaning there’s some upside. The second thing I expect this to do is put a Crucible of Worlds into the hands of people who cannot afford a Crucible of Worlds. It’s the most expensive card in a The Gitrog Monster deck, for example, and all of a sudden people who couldn’t afford to play the deck at all can suddenly make it happen. The card priced some strategies out completely and a budget alternative existing is great for Magic.

As always, I don’t have much of an opinion about the price of Ramunap Excavator itself because I don’t know what Standard and Modern are going to do and you don’t care what I think about something as hard to know as that. I stick to the easy, obvious money from EDH picks because I’ve learned that in this business it’s not worth it to pontificate about stuff you aren’t sure about because you want people to consider you an expert. Why bother trying to predict everything when all you’re going to do is get predictions wrong because you had no business making them in the first place. Rather than try to figure out the price of a card with changes to MODO redemption, a Standard banning every ban cycle, Modern and Frontier to contend with, shifting metagames in all formats and the rest of Hour of Devastation which could make the card better or worse in Standard, not to mention how this set will fit in with the block before and the block after it, why don’t we just look at what we know? What we know is kind of a lot, actually, so let’s see what is going to go up in price as a result of Crucible decks getting a second Crucible and poors getting their hands on their first Crucible.

Constant Mists – Below $4

I know this card basically already went up, but this is a very old card. It’s under $3 right now and with more people able to make a perpetual fog happen, it’s attractive to think about jamming these two cards together. Mists is getting concentrated in the hands of dealers as the buy price goes up and people beging rooting these out of collections. Being in green is especially helpful for this card because it can go in any deck that Ramunap Excavator can. Not everything that paired with Crucible will pair with Ramunap Excavator but green cards sure will and this is a green card.

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Squandered Resources – Below $6

You’ve probably already made your money on this, but there is a non-zero chance we could see a second spike. People who never had access to Crucible before now do and that could be big things for a card like this, and not only in The Gitrog Monster decks. We were all over this card at a quarter and buying in at $5 to sell at $7 isn’t as sexy, but if you want to play with this card, now is the time to buy before it potentially goes up again. Remember, this would be a second spike so the odds of someone ferreting out cheap copies to relist on TCG Player at the same price it sold out is less likely so if this card does go, it could potentially go pretty hard.

Green Sun’s Zenith – Below $7

Speaking of GSZ, this card is fresh off of a reprint and it’s banned in Modern which limits is price upside. It’s also Green Sun’s Zenith and it’s probably as cheap as it’s ever going to get. I imagine this card recovers organically from its last printing and I imagine additional upside from being able to tutor for a Crucible is going to help out. Grabble these up.

Dust Bowl – Below $12

A super underrated EDH card, Dust Bowl does not play even remotely fair when you have Crucible of Worlds. You’re not going to be able to lock someone down with this, Dust Bowl’s role is more to keep them off of lands like Gaea’s Cradle than it is to strand them with no lands at all. Super versatile, a great pairing with Crucible and Excavator and pretty cheap to buy into despite being from a block as long ago as Mercadian Masques, this card covers all bases. I’m excited about this.

World Breaker – Below $5

World Breaker is a card that while it doesn’t benefit directly from Excavator, appears in nearly every deck that Excavator is likely to be in. This is a bit of a stretch, maybe, but I’m exploring the possibility of correlative links being enough to drive price increases rather than causal ones. If Excavator makes Crucible decks better, it stands to reason more will be built and the cards that are in those decks will have upside. I could be super wrong about this, but I also think it’s pretty tough to lose if you can buy Eldrazi under $5, especially ones that are this good in EDH.

Next week, I hope our server migration is complete which will mean the return of price graphs. Thanks for sticking with us through this tumultuous time. Next week I should have my thoughts about the financial implications of Hour of Devastation as a whole on EDH and you’re not going to want to miss that. Until next week!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Hanna are you OK? Are you OK Hanna?

I was going to continue the “Things I learned” miniseries this week since it was a hit last week but today’s article in an emergency article and I want to get it out as quickly as possible since time is of the essence for some of these picks. I am mostly going to focus on one new card and the financial consequences of such. I mentioned Hanna in the title because that’s a deck I can see jamming this new combo, but Brago can’t be ruled or, nor can Grand Arbiter Augustin or Lavinia or any number of UW commanders. OK, let’s stop talking about talking about it and talk about it already.

Solemnity is a card that’s going to impact a lot. In Standard, it’s going to make it miserable to play Walking Ballista and that snek that gives stuff counters and… look, Standard is lame, I don’t care about the names of Standard cards. Here’s what could be a thing based on this card.

Decree of Silence

This card is under a buck and foils are around $7. This is the first card I thought of when I read Solemnity, so naturally this is where I am directing people first. The foil has more potential to pop, but Scourge is in pretty low supply and this card has real potential. A few decks were running it already, which is also good because people who brewed with it before will be aware of its power. I used to use Hex Parasite to remove counters but this is way better.  This is perhaps the best combo with Solemnity, but is far from the only one.

Phyrexian Unlife

Not requiring any blue, this card is even more flexible making damage turn into counters which can’t be applied to you. It’s not that much of a chore to pair Solemnity with blue cards, especially since a lot of the decks that want this combo will be Azorius. People ran Rest in Peace and Energy Field, for example, and the tutors to get that combo and the counters to protect it make Azorius the place to be. However, other color combinations love stupid combos like this and now they have one they can play. Phyrexian Unlife is basically hitting a second spike so expect fewer loose copies than usual.

Celestial Convergence

This is another Mono-White pick that I think is saucy. If you have Solemnity out, the player with the highest life total wins the game when you cast this. Hot damn. Decks were running this before, a little, but it’s a lot easier to cheat with cards that come into play with 0 counters and accumulate them rather than the other way around. Too many cumulative upkeep counters on Mystic Remora? Brago that $^#&. Since we couldn’t do that with this (Brago loads it up with counters, which is not cool) people weren’t bothering as much. This is a card that hasn’t spiked before so expect a lot of copies in dollar boxes at the LGS. This will take longer to climb than second spike cards like Phyrexian Unlife, so don’t fee like you missed the boat if other cards dry up faster.

Glacial Chasm

Speaking of Cumulative Upkeep counters, this card can’t get those anymore. Great googily moogily, do we have a lot of ways to not take any damage! Suddenly Azor’s Elecutors and Luminarch Ascension are looking even sexier. I like this already since The Gitrog Monster is a deck and they just printed a Crucible of Worlds with feet. This was good before, it’s extra good now. Solemnity is going to get us more advantage than Mystic Remora. Speaking of Mystic Remora,

Mystic Remora

Of all the cards with a Cumulative Upkeep, this was getting the most play before. This gets a lot better with Solemnity, obviously, so combine how it’s starting to creep up a bit with how good it is when it’s a Rhystic Study that no one pays mana for and you have a recipe for a pretty good card advantage stew. It’s stupid that all of these cards are in the same colors. Either they’re blue like Mystic Remora, or they’re white like

Sustaining Spirit

This is as risky as Phyrexian Unlife, basically requiring you to got to 0 life before this kicks in, you still don’t die and that’s good. This can lead to hilarious games with you dead and fighting counterspell wars over enchantment removal. Being dead to Krosan Grip is risky and this deck will be fun.

Elephant Grass

This card used to be fair. It’s worth less than a dollar as a fair card. What could this be worth as an unfair card? It’s Ghostly Prison with upside for a mana with Solemnity out, and that’s not bad for a card that’s already playable.

There are several decks likely to jam Solemnity shenanigans in them, and those cards have upside, too, if Solemnity decks take off.

Enlightened Tutor

Not that this was ever not a good pickup, but this could be a better pickup soon. It’s down from its historic high and this could be just the push it needs to make you glad you bought at the floor.

Plea for Guidance

Search for Solemnity and any combo piece? K. I’m down.

Hanna, Ship’s Navigator Judge Foil

This could be at its floor. If this starts to tail upward based on hype from Solemnity and its myriad cheaty combos, Hanna could be a buy at its current price. Watch it to see if it stays flat or heads down a bit more, though. I think it’s worth waiting a bit and paying a little extra for some assurance that the card is on the way up. This is the deck most likely to run Solemnity, although a lot of the cards likely to be in the new build are already run by Brago. Brago’s worth nothing, but hte EDHREC pages for both Hanna and Brago are required reading. There are a ton more specs on those pages.

I’m sure people are going to discover a ton more combos with Solemnity over the next day or two, so keep an eye on twitter for clues. If you’re a Pro Trader, congratulations on getting this a few days early – that could make all the difference on hot specs like these. Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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