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: Hot Specs for Cool Decks

Readers!

There are 2 new preconstructed decks revealed so far and I want to talk about both of them. If there are actually 5, you could get access to this article on Tuesday by becoming a Pro Trader, just saying. Early access to the articles is just one of the many benefits. I mean, this isn’t even me trying to pitch Pro Trader, this is just me uncomfortable that I only have 2 decks to talk about and you have information that I don’t about what’s in the other 3. I’ll talk about the rest of them next week – Tuesday if you found this paragraph charming, Thursday if you didn’t.

Lorehold and Prismari are revealed so far and I think despite RW usually being a pretty weak pairing, things seem different with this set. They used old, familiar color pairings but really did work to put a new twist on them – Lorehold is NOT Boros. This isn’t a combat-oriented precon, it’s leaning a bit into White’s “Archaeology” theme that hasn’t been explored much since like, Antiquities, and giving us some real value out of the graveyard in ways Boros never dreamed of. The precon also contains a very, very good reprint.

I don’t want to suck up to WotC too much (here; I ABSOLUTELY sucked up to them on Twitter and I’ll do it again) but this is a great reprint. What I won’t tweet is that they don’t deserve a ton of credit here because this was closer to $10 than $30 when they put the precon together to send off to the printer. It worked out for us, like it worked out in 2016 the first time this card was reprinted and sunk to below $5.

This won’t sink to $5 ever again and won’t ascend to $30, most likely, but there is still money to be made when this bottoms out. This should regain some value because it’s a bonkers card and it’s a Dargon and it steals ALL of their artifacts. Good God, this card is really good. Wherever this stops, buy it, it will go back up. This graph basically starts where it was reprinted and look at that curve.

There are some really solid reprints here beside Hellkite Tyrant, but I’m not sure too many of them have a chance to get back to their pre-reprint levels the way Tyrant will. There is one card I like, though.

This was also pretty reasonable when it was slated for the reprint but with the Elves shenanigans happening lately, this popped off in a big way. I think it’s likely this at least approaches the $20 it hit in 2019. This Lorehold deck could be the RW deck from Commander 2015 – it didn’t sell well but it was the surprise value winner a year later with Urza’s Incubator, Fiery Confluence, Blade of Selves and Gisela. We have seen $40 precon decks with one $50 card in them just this last year and it should be affordable to buy these decks and get your value back in basically 2 cards and have the rest of the deck be pure profit.

The new cards in the deck matter, too.

Tax is likely going to be a second Smothering Tithe rather than a new Smothering Tithe. With the other cards in the deck, it seems fairly likely that Monologue Tax’s price will be under $10.

Although it seems some people are eager not to make the same mistake they did when they underestimated Smothering Tithe. Where will Monologue Tax go if it’s half as good as Tithe?

And that’s with a reprint in the Brawl decks. Monologue Tax is no Smothering Tithe, but it’s close-ish and I think it’s not unreasonable to expect it in the $12-$15 range, but I bet it goes down before it goes up unless you find a presale price that’s cheaper than the ones that exist now. Be patient, let the feeding frenzy come and go and let everyone else test this in their decks.

The Prismari deck doesn’t have quite the same amount of bonkers reprint value, but it’s still pretty solid. OK, that’s misleading. This deck has like 0 value. Want to know the most expensive cards in the deck right now?

It could mean that the deck is bad and is always bad, but there is hope nestled among the new cards.

Everything in the deck costs a million mana, which is fine with Rousing Refrain being cast for free every once in a while. The real monster is the commander, though.

Preliminarily, take a look at Thousand-Year Storm which dodged a reprint in this deck, which is silly considering there are 2 $20+ cards in the Lorehold deck. I did get my Swarm Intelligence stonks spanked, though, but I deserve that, I guess. When the full deck is on EDHREC, I’ll have some cards to look at, but I have a few ideas based on looking around the net to see what people are building.

This is already on its way to the moon, or at least near-earth orbit with the parts of space shuttles and junked Soviet satellites. That’s pretty good, right? Buying in at $10 feels weird, but there are $8 or $9 copies available and I think this is $20 in a year barring intervention.

I bet you didn’t know this was going for this much. This is a beefier version of Young Pyromancer and EDH players are very aware of it even if some of the rest of us weren’t. This is on its way up and double triggering this seems cool.

Finally, a card that I need to show TCG Prices for because the graph on Card Kingdom is messed up.

This looks like a useless graph, but it’s actually not. Let me explain what is happening here. Mizzix was an $8 card that appeared to be going for $1 every few months. What happened there? Put simply, Card Kingdom doesn’t do a good job with their API that other sites scrape. When there are no copies of Mizzix listed, it doesn’t list the price it was going for when it sold out like it does for other cards because there is a $1 copy of the foil oversized card from the EDH decks in stock. We can see every time Mizzix sold out on Card Kingdom in the last few years. It happens quite a bit. That’s something worth knowing. This was selling out before it had a nuts deck like Veyran to go in.

Veyran also ends up in the 99 of decks like Kalamax, but I don’t know if that makes anything move. Kalamax is pretty popular already and I don’t know if adding Veyran to the 99 juices it at all. You can certainly look at Mizzix and Kalamax decks, though, to see if anything sticks out to you. I can’t catch everything, but I can teach you to fish. Go fish.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Preliminary Strixhaven THoughts

Readers!

There’s no getting off of Mr. Hogwarts’ Wild Ride, and with sexy Japanese alternate art versions of cards in Collector Boosters, potentially replacing the MS Paint alternate art cards that are already going to sling a lot of boosters, we’re in for a set that’s going to make some real waves. What waves in EDH, exactly? Well, it’s too early to tell for sure since all of the cards aren’t revealed and we don’t have any EDHREC data to parse yet, but I have some ideas about where to look first.

There are a few cards that are on their way to popping already, or have popped but they might be mispriced.

New evergreen keyword Ward introduced in MTG Strixhaven | Dot Esports

The Twincasters will be included in the EDH decks and since their revelation, people have been thinking about how they might be broken.

Helm was already on its way, but this didn’t hurt it at all. I would say the reprint risk is pretty low since these were already over $10 when the decks were being built. Still, even if Helm is reprinted, a steep growth curve like this ensures it will shake the reprinting off and you’ll be able to get out for more than you paid. I have a bunch of copies in the mail I plan to ship out before the decklists are finalized but if you’re feeling diamond-handsy you can always hodl and let me know how it goes.

Rite is down off of its peak and that spells profit possibilities. It spiked recently and calmed back down and that’s a perfect opportunity to grab copies before they go even higher. I’d say the next 6 months have way more opportunities for a new impetus for this card to go up than opportunities for a reprint, and since people are holding off, expecting a printing in the precon, you can be greedy while they’re being fearful.

Here’s a budget pick.

I don’t have any EDHREC data so, again, I’m speculating but I think this stuff likely matters.

Hofri is also pretty interesting.

Unlike with Adrix and Nev, it’s less obvious what will be good here. I read a couple of reddit threads where people were brewing, and if you’re not doing that, you really, really should.

Here is what could matter from Hofri, besides the obvious.

If Spirts end up being a thing at all, paying under $2 for a Kamigawa foil on this seems fine, especially with Card Kingdom selling out without anyone noticing.

Meanwhile this $5 foil never got a reprint. If Spirts are a big factor, other cards could be in play.

My inclination when someone tweets something I don’t agree with is to make sure my position is supported by data.

At first I was skeptical because I didn’t think just spirits being a thing would matter for Kykar since it seemed more likely people would build new spirits cards around new spirits commanders, which would be Lorehold and the decks couldn’t include Kykar, and would people really build Kykar? So I went looking.

I don’t know whether cards like Hofri Ghostforge are going to make more people build Kykar, but it turns out they never really stopped. Kykar is the 12th-most-built commander of the past 2 years. Here’s another thing.

Kykar is played half as much as a non-mythic that only costs twice as much as Kykar, and it’s played twice as much as a Mythic with the same number of printings that costs 3 times as much. For whatever reason, it looks like Kykar may be undervalued and even if Spirits in the new set don’t make Kykar do anything, the incongruity of a card being underpriced should do it on its own. Let’s look at the trajectory.

It’s hard to distinguish the moderate upswing it’s on right now from noise, but it could be on its way past $5 on Card Kingdom for good this time. How many copies are we talking about?

OK, then. Looks like my gut was wrong, and that’s why we always look at data.

Speaking of data, we’ll have more next week, and since the window on getting stuff is shrinking quite a bit from where it used to be, it doesn’t hurt to get updates from me more often than once a week in these articles, just sayin’. That does it for me, everyone. Until next time!

[/hide]

Unlocked Pro Trader: Let’s. Get. GRANULARRRRR

Readers!

We are in a weird limbo period where we have only had like 5 spoilers from the Hogwart’s set and it’s too late to do anything about the one relevant spec that has come from those spoilers.

It’s too long since Kaldheim, basically, there is nothing EDH-specific to say about Time Spiral Remastered and we don’t know enough about fantastic specs and where to buy them. I’m sure in the next few weeks will be full of specs that make you say “10 points to Hufflepuff Lorehold,” but until then, let’s look at something else.

The EDHREC programmers are very busy right now and when they’re not busy, they’re not super inclined to implement my proposed feature for a toggle between sorting by percentage inclusion and by absolute number of inclusions. I think that’s good and bad. It’s good-ish because it tends to weed lazy people out and buries decent specs, it’s bad because if you want to be not lazy, you have to do some digging. Well, you don’t have to do digging. I have to. Me. So I guess I’ll do it, then. Today, I want to get really granular to overexplain why I think some cards that have none of the things I like to look for in a spec could be good specs in the very long term.

Define “Very Long Term”

I was gonna, jeez. Literally don’t even give me time to hit the enter key to start a new paragraph and you’re already all over me.

I think some of the cards in Kaldheim are somewhat insulated from reprints. Set-specific keyword abilities are usually considered too confusing for inclusion in EDH precons, cards that start at a buck and go to $7 rarely end up on “the list” and is there even a third way to print cards? Kaldheim has some cards that I think are potentially hidden gems, and it has to do with the lack of sources for information. People are still making finance decisions based on their own flawed perceptions in year of our lord two thousand and twenty one and if someone like me who makes almost all of his decisions based on data can screw things up, imagine how bad people who don’t do that are doing.

I think there are a few cards from Kaldheim that are probably going to make some moves long-term, and I’m going to try and find historical corollaries to prove it lest I look like I’m guessing. This will be fun, promise.

This is what the top 90 cards in the set look like represented as posters for ants. I’m not trying to show you a specific card, I’m trying to prove a point about scale. Specifically, I am trying to prove a point about where Reflections of Litjara is in the Top 90. It’s here.

Middle of the pack when sorted by % inclusion. Hypothetically sorting by number of total decks doesn’t do it as many favors as that sorting would do for other cards, either – it’s hovering around 669 (nice) decks or 6% of the last 11k decks registered. However, I don’t think this is going to be “OMG hidden gem, overnight $10 card” spec, but rather a “crazy I still get these in bulk after it’s crept up to $1/$2/$3 “card. It’s a bulk rare version of Kindred Discovery and while Kindred Discovery is much better, that “much better” comes with a hefty $40 price tag. Not only that, I am not 100% convinced that people with the scratch to pony up forty bones for an EDH card won’t play Reflections in the same deck. We’re looking at a card that’s potentially going to see some use the next time a tribal set comes out and people go back through old cards to see what could go in their deck. I don’t know if you buy these now, but they’re going to bottom out and I like it, especially the extended border versions, at bulk-ish because they’re going to creep up.

As far as historical cards go, I’d compare this to something like Icon of Ancestry, not in terms of its price, but in terms of its trajectory.

Icon goes in a lot more decks than a Blue Enchantment does, obviously, but I think the trajectory should be similar. Besides, you’re not turning a $3 card into a $5 one, you’re turning bulk into better than bulk, and that’s very doable. Look at a card that is printed less but is also narrower.

Besides, even if you’re not convinced about Reflections, I have good news, I was just buttering you up for the grand finale.

See this bad boy? What if I told you that if we sorted by # of inclusions, he’s actually the 10th-most-played card in the set? When you open up EDHREC, it places him in the 3d or 4th row depending on your monitor, and that’s not generally where people go for the “top” cards in the set. 10th-most-played card and it’s a tutor on a stick? Granted, it’s tougher to use than some tutors, but if he lives, it’s reusable. You can also force someone else to tutor, making him a nice pairing with Opposition Agent.

I don’t have a great 1 to 1 comparison, but I would like you to peep this graph in particular.

Again, let’s not get too caught up in the numbers, but let’s take a look at the trend. Sidisi caught on after it went out of print and it’s been on a steady climb ever since. I don’t know if Varragoth can be equally ubiquitous, but I also don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that Varragoth will do some work.

It’s not quite a 1 to 1 comparison, again, but of the roughly 12,000 decks registered since Varragoth entered the system, Varragoth has been used in 6% of the Black-containing ones, the same percentage of total decks ever including Sidisi. I don’t know if we’ll be paying $13 at Card Kingdom for Varragoth ever, but I do think Varragoth is a very interesting card and I think it’s gone largely unnoticed.

And then there’s the thing that Sidisi doesn’t have – a super metal stylized version that costs basically the same as the set version. I think the foils and non-foils of this card will diverge from the regular version, making the showcase version a nice happy medium for people who don’t want to play the boring set version and don’t like foils. I expect an exponential price diversion, and the existence of the showcase version as a spec further insulates us from reprint risk given that the regular version, as tough to reprint as it may be with its Boast ability, is even tougher to reprint. These are all causes for celebration.

I spent a lot of time on two cards, but I wanted to prove I actually thought a lot about this. It’s weird speculating on in-print, non-mythic cards only played in one format, but if Sidisi can flirt with $15 on Card Kingdom, I don’t think it sucks to not dismiss Varragoth at 3, especially in a world where Opposition Agent and Rogue’s Passage exist.

That does it for me, folks. Join me next week where we’ll be talking about “totally not Harry Potter, you guys” the set. Be there. Until next time!

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!