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: What’s On The Horizon?

Readers!

With the announcement of Modern Horizons 2 and my decision to abandon my tried-and-true method of not having to guess ever and delving into the uncharted waters of guessing like a COMPLETE IDIOT WHAT AM I DOING I decided to look at Modern Horizons 1 to tell us if we’re going to want to care about Modern Horizons 2. Will there be any relevant reprints? Will prices be impacted if there are? Will the splashy mythics matter in EDH or are those there to sell packs to Modern players? Will there be Modern played when this set comes out (no)? Let’s look at an old set and make pronouncements about a set that probably isn’t even done being printed, so I can get a bunch of stuff wrong and you can all go back to seeing me as human.

Let’s look at Modern Horizons and how much it actually mattered in EDH!

I am not so much astounded that there were only 8 commanders in the set as I am astounded that they would waste a slot in the set on a complete meme card like Ayula, and I’m more astounded that people are building it more than Hogaak. Hogaak is kind of a non-EDH commander but people still seem to be into it. I’m also astounded that people would rather do completely stupid, fun stuff with Siasy and especially Morophon than do dumb cEDH stuff with Urza. Urza was obvious, powerful, and led the way very early but it’s been overtaken by Sisay and Morophon. Why? Versatility. Urza was obvious and that spikes stuff in the near term, but the top commanders are the least obvious and those can be a double-edged sword. What’s going to spike more copies of a given card, 62 out of a possible 3,495 Sisay decks being built as Gods tribal or 2,614 Urza decks all being built as “Lol I win on turn 2” decks? If a deck has a lot of different builds that don’t have a ton of cards in common, it could end up that they’re less impactful than a streamlined commander. Yawgmoth is pushing way more copies of Nest of Scarabs than Sisay is pushing copies of Honden of Night’s Reach despite being built half as much. Very versatile commanders are always the ones that top the lists, but the less versatile, more focused commanders really push “staples” and that’s better in the long-run. I’d focus more on commanders like The First Sliver in the future than open-ended ones like Morophon. I mean, I will. I mean “I’d” as in “I would” as in “I would if I were you” as in “you should” but also know that I will, in case you don’t want to think about cards made for a format you don’t play released in a set for a format no one can play right now.

Despite boasting EDH cred, the cards that most impacted the format are largely what we’re seeing in most sets – lands and mana rocks. EDH doesn’t need the wheel reinvented with respect to our manabases every single set, but lately that seems to be mostly what people latch onto. I don’t see Good-Fortune Unicorn, Unsettled Mariner, Unbound Flourishing or the card they expected to really sell boosters, Serra the Benevolent, anywhere near the Top 25. The Talismans were long overdue, and Hall of Heliod’s Generosity had a ton of decks ready to slide right into, but the 15th-most-played card is a tryhard Legacy and Modern free counterspell that only hit EDH incidentally. They can design cards for the format, but they can’t make people care past a certain point, especially if they’re very narrow. Why does it matter if the cards are narrow or not, though? If they get played in 90% of the decks that can run them, aren’t they basically a staple, and isn’t that great? Well, yes and no.

Hall of Heliod’s Generosity is played in a staggering 10% of all decks that contain and can run White. If you look at Enchantment-heavy decks specifically, the number is much higher.

19,000 decks, and in nearly half of the registered Enchantment-heavy decks, even the ones that were printed before Hall was.

Those are really strong metrics. Sure, Hall is going to grow until it does something or gets another reprint, but the amount of supply out there loose butting up against with how much of the paper market is dominated by the format where Hall is king has made the graph look pretty disappointing. If Hall can’t do much in a year, we either have to wait much longer, which will really increase the reprint risk since it’s a longer hold, or it will never get there. The other rares above Hall on the list, Nurturing Peatland and Waterlogged Grove, are a similar sad story.

Maybe you see opportunity with a graph this shape, but all I see is a falling knife that I don’t want to grab. Grove and Peatland have the potential to get some help from other formats, a statement much less likely to apply to Hall of Heliod’s Generosity. Something tells me that Modern Horizons two is going to be a pretty bad set for EDH investing if these numbers are true.

Do I think anything from Modern Horizons One can get there given enough time, and if I do, which cards other than Hall can do it? If Hall can’t, nothing can, but if Hall can, what else could? … Just word salad with my prose today, get it together Jason.

This is a bulk rare that plays a lot better than people seem to want to give it credit for. I use this to rebuy Thieving Skydiver and Sower of Temptation, but this is just a really hard hitter that plays well outside of ninjitsu decks as well as it plays inside of them. This is a nice bulk to bucks pick and I know those are tough, and this has moderate reprint risk, but overall I think there’s money to be made here and so do dealers given the (slight) increase in buylist price.

This has flirted with $2 on CK and I think it can get there again. This is played almost exclusively in EDH to great effect and I think it’s a hidden gem. I think reprint risk is lowish and I think it’s another good bulk pick.

This is a very, very, very, very narrow card. People compared it to Doubling Season when it first came out but I think it’s not a card you compare to Doubling Season, I think it’s a card you compare unfavorably to Second Harvest. That said, the right deck coming along could pluck this from its relative obscurity. I think it’s basically at its floor, is nowhere close to begging for a reprint and is good in the right deck. Does that deck exist? Nah, but when it does, people who have copies of this will be in a position to make some quick cash and if you’re the person who likes to be holding things when they pop, this is the card for you. I don’t like this kind of spec, but I know some of you do.

The foil BARELY costs more than the non-foil, so if you’re betting on the non-foil to go up a little, you could be betting on the foil to go up 2 or 3 times a little if you’re really that confident. This went down to $12 and up to $35, and that’s worth noting, especially with Card Kingdom selling out of it.

All in all, I’m a little more bearish on Modern Horizons 2, a set that has had 0 cards printed so far and which we know nothing about. Is that wise? There are other places to invest, and we also know that anything EDH-relevant will spend a year declining in price before it shows any signs of life, so either bet on cards with cross-format applicability or wait for the cat to bounce. Next week I hope I have spoilers to look at, something. Save me from having to speculate on tribal decks based on that William Gibson’s Neuromancer Kamigawa set you know they’re making. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Time Spiral Recovered

Readers!

I know you don’t love baseless speculation and last week I speculated on a baseless basis based on – yeah, I’m done with this bit. If you didn’t like last week’s article, this is the opposite of last week’s in a way that you will like. If you did like last week’s article, this week’s article is the opposite of last week’s in a way you will probably still like. I’m going to make everyone happy except the people who liked that bit I was doing where I said different variations of “base” which I then abandoned midway through a sentence, but to those people I say, it’s better to have loved a weird comedic bit I was doing and lost than to have never loved one of my weird bits at all. For more base-based bits, google “Zero Wing meme” and relive the late 90s.

We have a set coming out called “Time Spiral: Remastered” which sounds and looks like a Masters set but which they swear isn’t a Masters set. It’s not a limited print run but it has some of the hallmarks of a Masters set. Splitting hairs matters very little – we are getting some meaningful reprints and some of the cards will be in a new border for the first time ever which is very exciting. So obviously, cards played in “Prestige” formats like Legacy and Vintage where people will spend real money to make the deck look as good as possible, are going to be in play. I don’t need to tell you that day 1 of the set being opened, foil old border Ponder will be money. However, some of the stuff will tank and its recovery depends very much on how much it’s played in EDH and how it’s used. I want to take a look at a few cards I think we should buy at their peak because they’re bound to rebound nicely.

When Iconic Masters came out, we identified a ton of cards that were bound to rebound very nicely and a lot of those predictions were borne out. In particular, strong EDH cards that, despite not being mythic, also didn’t have a ton of supply, really shrugged Iconic Masters off.

Look at Austere Command recover from that printing. It didn’t just recover, it crested above where it was before the reprinting. These sets can’t give us copies as fast as the format is growing and while the format can’t continue to grow unbound, we’re still seeing opportunities. I didn’t tell you about Austere Command at $10 on the way back up telling you it could hit $15 either, like I sometimes do (you still make money, sheesh), I told you about it when it was $10 on the way down, reminding you to get in at $7 or $8. Predicting what will recover and what won’t is a simple matter of looking at how and how much it’s used and EDHREC gives us all of the data we need. Why not take a look at Time Spiral Remastered through that lens? Here are some cards I think will recover.

While we used to call Eternal Witness the poster child for shrugging reprints off, too many printings has caused the price to lag from around $7 where it normally equilibrated to about $4. That said, the new art on the old border is going to be pretty popular and I think when that printing specifically bottoms out, you should consider buying. There aren’t many cards in the list of timeshifted cards that see more play than Eternal Witness – Farseek is the only one.

We might not see Eternal Witness’s Fifth Dawn printing recover, but the new one should be different enough that it will have its own price trajectory and I see it being a real gainer. Compare it to the FNM foil which is currently $50ish.

The new Solemn Simulacrum is novel enough that I think we can ignore the old price graphs. Despite Wizards attempting to keep this at like $2 by coming up with a ton of unique ways to reprint paranoid android four times a year, there is only one Jens art and seeing it with a brown border is going to make a segment of the population snap it up.

1 in every 5 EDH decks runs this card, and even if there is one in every box of Time Spiral Remastered, there will be a lot of demand, both from new decks and old ones. This has the potential to be a real money cards despite literal $1 copies of this card existing.

It’s not just the Time Shifted cards I like, however – the regular set has a ton of great reprints and I think the EDHy ones have some real upside once they bottom out.

I also think Beast Whisperer could see some upside with the new border given how much play it sees in EDH.

EDHREC is nice enough to rank all of the commanders for us to show us which ones get played the most, so take a look at that for sure.

Just click the link I provided to be taken to the site to peruse the whole list. I think maybe the new borders on some of the commanders will matter, but in general, I don’t look at commanders, I look at decks. Let’s scroll down a bit more where the cards in the set are ranked by percentage inclusion which is very helpful.

You can peruse the entire list yourself, but I think it’s worth diving into the greatest hits and talking about some cards that matter to me.

Looking at the rest of the set, it’s pretty clear that there isn’t much in Time Spiral Remastered that doesn’t have a new border that matters much in EDH or price-wise. Krosan Grip isn’t getting a new border but it’s a $2 card with six printings already. Aven Mindcenser is like a buck. Return to Dust is bulk. Damnation may be the first card worth looking at and when you sort by percent inclusion, Damnation is ranked 30th. Still, let’s take a look.

Despite being literally given away to people for playing FNM at one point, Damnation climbed to peak near $75 and stayed there until 2017 when Modern Masters kicked its feet out from under it. Despite hitting a low of $25, it rallied back to $50 where it’s mostly stayed. Damnation could get a lot cheaper but I expect it to rally back up to at least $40, maybe $50 again, meaning you could get in for easily half or less if you wait for prices to bottom out. Damnation barely needs help from other formats, but it will get that help regardless, making Damnation this set’s Austere Command. Expect a full price recovery and buy accordingly – Damnation seems like a sure bet, and the fact that it’s not in the top 20 cards in the set ranked by % inclusion doesn’t matter as much as you might think. It’s still in almost 24,000 decks and sees play in other formats. I’d have liked to see a classic border around this, but I’ll pay basically retail on these when they crater.

Look, I know I’m embarrassing both of us by putting this graph up here but we both know I basically have to. Don’t forget Sliver Legion will go up in price, basically no matter what you pay for it out of TSR boxes. You will make money here. I don’t know how much or over what time period, but it’s $50 pre-sale on Card Kingdom. I have to imagine this will be worth more than $50 in a year, two tops.

Saffi’s EDH inclusion is very modest, but if it gets any help from other formats, this could be a bulk rare that ends up worth a couple of bucks in a few years. Don’t bulk these out – the new art alone gives it a fighting chance.

All in all, I think the money is going to be made by Damnation and timeshifted staples versus anything else, so it’s worth it to buy expensive booster packs of the set imo.

This is a weird set – the most played cards are pretty cheap uncommons with lots of reprintings that could be very valuable with the time shifted border and the cards from Time Spiral proper aren’t really that interesting in EDH. That said, there are some very interesting cards here, and I recommend going to the TSR page on EDHREC to see how things are ranked and make your own conclusions. I have my opinions, but it’s your money and you should feel good about where you park it. That does it for me this week – thanks for reading. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Yer A Borin’ Spec, ‘arry

Readers!

Ready for another one of those easy, dumbdumb free money obvious, you-could-figure-this-out-yourself but even though that’s the case you don’t know all of the cards in EDH and therefore it’s still valuable for me to do it for you articles? I promised I’d do it, and with a bit of Strixhaven announced, I’m ready to scour EDHREC for a very specific kind of spec that will go up because Wizard and for no other reason.

A Bitter Legacy

On about July 18th, 2019, Wizards sent out invitations to content creators announcing Throne of Eldraine. It would be a fairy tale set, set in a fantasy kingdom containing gingerbread men and pumpkin carriages and an impish, mischevious planeswalker who used his capricious fairy magic to ruin every format. They didn’t get the T in “Fairy Tale” out of their mouths before the entire internet said “FAIRIES” and this happened.

First the hype spike, then the crash. The best time to buy Bitterblossom was January of 2019, so basically only people who already had copies made any money and everyone else bought, oh man, I can’t believe I just thought of this stupid joke during a paragraph about Throne of Eldraine – everyone else bought magic beans! Get it? GET IT? You don’t want to be the person buying Bitterblossom at $55 and feeling good that is goes to $65 in a week only to have to buylist it in shame for $33 a few weeks later or hold onto it for 2 years while it climbed back up. There are worse investments than Bitterblossom, but if you bought based on Throne of Eldraine you both bought and sold at the wrong times and that’s bad.

I don’t think Wizards will be much different. In fact, there’s already precedent.

What happened at the end of 2017?

1-x-MTG-Commander-2017-Arcane-Wizardry-Preconstructed-Decks-Brand-New

Inalla was a tash deck, Kess was basically only played by Legacy players and Alex Kessler and I made a ton of money buying Dominating Licids for the Mairsil deck that never materialized forcing me to hang onto them. Stonks, baby!

I think the thing about dumb, Wizards-based speculative spikes on the basis of Harry Potter generic Wizard school is that any spike will be a second spike because anyone who had money left over after they bought Card Kingdom out of Waiting in the Weeds bought Patron Wizard back in 2017 so all of the $0.50 hobby shop rare binder copies already got snapped up and buylisted to Channel Fireball at a GP. Prices won’t have to overcome as much inertia on the second pop, and it will take fewer copies getting picked up to make things go off.

I like the following cards that aren’t already in the stratosphere.

First stop, Azami, Lady of Scrolls’ page.

Not a ton surprising here, and although $10 on Patron Wizard looks rough, it’s trending DOWN, remember? If it was flirting with $15 recently, Strixhaven hype will intensify the closer we get to actual spoilers. Should a lot of the stuff popped when Strixhaven was announced? Supply started to move, but people were buying carefully and stealthily, trying to amass copies before prices shifted. The next wave of people who can’t think about Strixhaven because it’s Time Spiral Remastered spoiler season this week won’t be as canny and they’ll bowl right through the last few copies. Be sneaky if you’re going to try and buy now and sell to those people, imo. Patron Wizard at $10 doesn’t suck, especially since it hasn’t been below $10 since 2017.

Naru Meha had some natural gas going on. You may have some of these in bulk. This is mythic but there are still quite a few copies out there and despite it quadrupling already, I think the ceiling is closer to $10 than $5.

The foil looks even better. The slope of the growth curve is shallower, it’s down from an all-time high of $8 and it’s barely double the price of the non-foil. Foils as commanders sell better than Pringles that have to get shuffled into the deck and Naru is usually in the 99, although it’s possible, though not likely, she’ll get jammed in a Strixhaven deck or two. I really don’t think Wizards tribal will be great in Strixhaven any more than humans tribal was good in Dominaria since humans live in Dominaria, but I’ve been wrong before. The entire point of not writing articles like this is because I get to be wrong less the less I guess. Who cares what I think, we can what people who waited to long to start thinking about this think when they don’t have as much time to think as we have. Let them buy these from you and if they manage to make money, even if they make more money than you did, they incurred way more risk. Save 311% of the next guy, that’s what I always say. That said, the ceiling for foils is considerably higher than $10 if that’s the ceiling for non-foils, so a $6-$8 buy-in seems safe to me.

Sigil Tracer isn’t ONLY an Azami card so it’s been on an upward trajectory for other reasons, but since CFB has it for half of what CK has it for, I’d say there is opportunity still and CK is usually the first site to show fluctuations in EDH demand. That said, does CFB ACTUALLY have $4 copies or is their API garbage?

That answers that question…

These aren’t entirely gone under $8, so happy hunting! The card is just good irrespective of Strixhavenanigans, so you’re pretty safe buying in here even at its current price. This started climbing last summer, way before we knew about “Fantastic Cards and Where to Find Them” the set so this isn’t my fault, OK? I didn’t like this in May of 2020 and now I do. It’s fine. I’m not being defensive, YOU are being defensive! Look, buying in at $7 isn’t as good as buying in at $3 or $4, but also, you’re going to sell for more or just watch this card’s natural trajectory take it to $12 even if no one buys based on Strixhaven, so this is a win/also win but more scenario. I can’t notice everything that grows by 2% a month, damn.

Alchemist doesn’t synergize with Wizards, really, he just happens to be a Wizard. Is he good in Azami? I guess? But Strixhaven is giving us 2-color decks, probably with Dragons at the helm, no one is building an Azami deck with the 3 new mono-Blue Wizards cards from Strixhaven. Yes, I’m begging to have that paragraph clipped out and tweeted to me in a month. Whatever, Aphetto Alchemist is literally not stupider than Patron Wizard and I keep forgetting that. You probably have some of these you couldn’t buylist for a quarter a year ago, sell them in a few weeks.

More like PRICEspanner. No, wait, I can do better than that. More like PRICEsurger! No, no, no, let me think let me think let me think. More like SurgePRICER you know what, I don’t have to impress you, this card’s price fluctuates a lot and that’s worth knowing about. The current TCG Player price is its usual Card Kingdom floor price, so read into that anything you want.

Is There Anything On Kaza’s Page?

Besides a nasty computer virus labeled xXxLincolnParkCrawling.virusxXx? Remember Kazaa? Is that a reference you kids get?

Kazam!

TCG Market is more than Card Kingdom right now, and that’s suspicious. I think that means the price is about to move, that’s usually what that means.

I saved the best for last. $1 buy-in, low supply, demonstrated the ability to hit $4 on baseless Wizards speculation in the past, second spike which means it will be higher than the first spike, actually Wizard-synergistic, obvious as a pick-up to anyone who types “wizards” into scryfall. This is not going to be good, most likely, but this is the exact kind of card that we’re looking for in this article. Behold, your Bitterblossom. Go forth and let your collection blossom with these or it will be you who is bitter. There, there’s your Wizards article. Hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Until next time!

Pro Trader: The Next Tatyova

Readers!

This week, instead of giving you a bunch of picks and letting you figure out which one you want to buy, I’m going to… give you a bunch of picks and let you figure out which ones you want to buy. Yeah, halfway through that sentence I realized I actually was doing that thing, but with extra steps which is the best way to say you’re not doing something but actually do exactly the thing you said you weren’t. I thought I wasn’t going to do a normal article, and I’m not, but I realized that you can approach the rest of what I write the way you approach this one and have a very high success rate. So, rather than give you 5 picks I’m medium-to-high on, I’m going to give you a bunch of candidates for a future slam dunk and let you figure out what’s what. Sound complicated? It’s not, I promise. I’ll walk you through it.

As the title indicates, I want to talk about Tatyova, and, with any luck, figure out the next Tatyova while it’s still cheap. “But Tatyova is cheap” I can almost hear you thinking before you double check, glad you didn’t blurt it out for everyone to hear.

This is NOT cheap. This is an uncommon from a recent set that hit $3 AFTER it was printed in Mystery Boosters. Will there be another Tatyova ever again? Maybe, maybe not. I’m going to identify a few potential candidates and kick myself for not going deeper on foils when Dominaria just came out.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.