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: Fuzzy Math

Readers!

I was pleased with how the Ikoriarticle and the article the week before about the one the week before about Theros turned out, but I couldn’t really find any other sets that felt “ripe.” In looking at how Ultimate Masters might be a good predictor of what we can expect for reprints in the upcoming Commander Legends 2, I realized that there isn’t always a clear reason prices are the way they are at a given point in time, but usually over time, things make sense. If card prices are going to go the way they’re going to go eventually, any metric we can use to identify the cards that are underpriced is useful.

I decided to try and see if we could use math to try and invent a new factor for determining if the card was correctly priced or not. It’s not going to be perfect and it may not be good, but if the metric picks out cards that “feel” underpriced, then we may be onto something. This is bound to be a deeply stupid exercise and considering I’ve already apologized twice for it in two paragraphs and have decided to power through and do it anyway, I may need to apologize a 3rd time later in the article. Also, you don’t have to like this or agree with it because all I ever wanted from this column was to make you think like I do about EDH singles and make up your own mind. You know what’s even less scientific than the stupid metric I’m going to make up? That’s right, when we look at the scores and say “Hmmm, that seems wrong” which is the exact method we’ve used up until now for everything else, a method you’re happy with because you keep reading this column. So let’s talk numbers.

This is going to be a very complicated mathematical algorithm to calculate something I am calling “DPI” or “Dollars per inclusion.” If you want to try and plug this calculation into Wolfram Alpha, here it is.

Image of the equation "M = Sum (over n from 0 to infinity) of M_0 / (n + 1)"

Wait, nevermind, that’s the equation from that episode of Futurama where they want to see how many copies of Bender they’re going to generate. The DPI calculation is as follows.

This is going to give us a number in dollars which we can leave in dollars, convert to cents, convert to Euro, or disregard entirely. Theoretically, imagine a card that is a mythic rare, has been printed 1 time and is in 10,000 decks on EDHREC and costs $2. The DPI on a card like that is 0.0002 which is a small number. If it cost $20, which is more reasonable, the DPI is 0.002, a whole order of magnitude higher. Theoretically, the smaller the DPI, the more “incorrect” the price seems.

To make the numbers even easier to work with, I’m going to express the number of decks in the number of thousands of decks, so a $2 card in 10,000 decks has a DPI of 0.2. If it’s in 897 decks, you use 0.897 because that’s how many thousands it’s in. We can scale the denominator however we want since we’re comparing the DPI to DPI calculated the same way for other cards and we’re just looking for a way to compare apples to apples. I think if we do this to cards whose prices “feel” correct as a baseline, we may start to notice that cards that feel incorrect pop out. Or maybe they don’t – I have no idea. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to give you the same 5 or 6 specs I do every article, let me have this.

One more caveat – we need to compare cards that it makes sense to compare. This is not useful for comparing an Uncommon to a Mythic, a card with 3 printings to a card with 1 or a box topper to a card from a free welcome deck. We’re going to want to compare cards that it makes sense to compare, otherwise what are we even doing? That said, I’ve wasted a lot of ink not showing you numbers, so let’s get going.

This is the first 8 cards in Modern Horizons 2 in terms of % inclusion in decks. There were a couple of issues I hadn’t anticipated, such as a $3 difference between CK and TCG Player on Voidwalker, or how truly ridiculous Ragavan would look. Remember, the lower the value, the more underpriced it probably is. You have to throw a few cards out – comparing commons or uncommons or mythics to rares makes no sense, so we’re left with just the rares. Then you throw out Ignoble Hierarch because its price is predicated on other formats than EDH (though it’s the highest % inclusion card in the set, due in some part to its 3 color identity where the other cards in the Top 8 are 1 or 2). At this point we’re comparing like… Esper Sentinel, Damn, Voidwalker and Yavimaya and, I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. I think this works a little better than I had anticipated. As long as you’re comparing a card to a comparable card, this works pretty well. I expected Yavimaya to have a low DPI which makes it appear underpriced relative to a card like Damn which is also mostly an EDH card. Despite Damn being half the price of Yavimaya, it has a higher DPI. Yavimaya “felt” underpriced to me, and I’m glad to see the numbers bear that out. It has the lowest DPI of all of the rare cards in the top 8 here, and it makes me pretty stoked to do this some more. Do we try and find low DPI uncommons to compare to Tireless Provisioner? Let’s try it!

I think this works. We would expect a really good card like Timeless Witness to have a better (lower) DPI than something like Ravenous Squirrel, and Liquimetal Torque’s DPI calculation seems to offset some of the bias that ranking it by % inclusion introduced. If we sorted cards by DPI, I suspect Torque would be the lowest uncommon Artifact in the set, but with cards under a dollar, it’s tough to see if that matters at all. Maybe only the lowest DPI uncommons in the set are worth looking at, maybe no uncommons are. All I know is that Tireless Provisioner is in twice as many decks as Timeless Witness and costs 7 times as much, and we didn’t need to invent a new metric to point out that seems fishy. Provisioner may be getting some help from outside of EDH, but I expected this metric to make Witness look attractive, it does, and it made me glad I have been picking up Torques already – a conclusion I came to by looking at the price of Liquimetal Coating.

Am I going to use this metric again? It’s possible – it would be fairly trivial to make an Excel sheet and import names, price and # of inclusions and calculate the DPI for whole sets at a time. Let’s look at DPI to see if anything else from Modern Horizons 2 looks ripe, or if we see something that makes me throw this whole stupid calculation out because, and I can’t stress this enough, this is a dumb thing I made up and it would be a relief if it didn’t work at all.

DPI = 1.22

Sanctum Weaver has a lower DPI than Yavimaya, which makes sense because while Yavimaya is underpriced still by a bit, it was one of the “chase” rares when the set dropped. Sanctum Weaver is relegated to mostly Enchantments decks while Yavimaya can go in anything, but we’re seeing a good value for the number of inclusions it has, especially on TCG Player where it’s basically half the price it is on Card Kingdom.

I thought Sanctum Weaver was underpriced before I even conceived of this dumb calculation so I wanted to ease into the article with this one up top, provided the numbers panned out (they have). I’m using CK prices, by the way, because one store that sells mostly EDH cards and has one person updating prices seems more stable than TCG Player where anything can happen. You could make the case for averaging CK and TCG Player, actually, and I might in the future.

DPI = 1.44

This is a little bit high but I also think it’s probably still a good buy. This graph is of the price of the Retro Frame, which I think may be the pick-up and which is dropping in price. When they’re abundant, players want the cheapest version, though, and I calculated DPI using the regular $4 copies with the normal frames for that reason. I wouldn’t play Profane Tutor but far be it from me to tell 2,757 people they’re wrong, especially if they can get something that is almost a Demonic Tutor for literally $2 on TCG Player.

DPI= 0.51

This is even more narrow than Sanctum Weaver, but relative to its price, it’s played a lot more. I think this is an excellent pick-up under a buck, though I worry about how long it will take for a Wizard or Shaman to come along to make this really worth playing in EDH. That said, this makes triggers double, and that’s pretty sick. I like this card a lot.

DPI= 0.29

This is where I start to get worried. The price is very low, but the number of inclusions is kind of low, too. Does this kind of calculation break down the smaller the numberator and denominator get? To check myself, I decided to compare this to another card in the same % of eligible decks but with a worse DPI.

The DPI of Priest of Fell Rites is 1.5, much “worse” than Resurgent Belief. But look at the graphs – Priest is on the way up while Belief is on the way down. I don’t like the shape of the Resurgent Belief graph but I do like how Priest is shaping up (that said, price is diverging from Buylist which isn’t always great). Cards under a buck aren’t super worth pulling your hair out over, maybe, but a card falling in price yet with a low DPI could be attractive if it keeps up its inclusion numbers. For the record, Resurgent Belief is in twice as many decks as Priest of Fell Rites, whose price appears to be buoyed by Modern, which means all that happened here was that I picked a bad card to compare to Resurgent Belief which is, and I can’t stress this enough, a $1 Replenish. Kinda.

DPI= 1.25

Sythis, on the other hand, has a lower DPI than Yavimaya, is trending up in price and could get some help from other formats. I think this card is a winner, the DPI value seems to bear it out and we don’t seem to be finding too many examples where it doesn’t.

In conclusion, I’m pretty sure I just started doing a calculation we’ve all been mentally doing without realizing it – weighing how much a card seems to be played versus how much it seems to cost and instantly deciding if something “seems” over- or under-priced. This isn’t as much a metric for giving us perfect information as it is a way to filter some of our biases. I might not have taken a second look at Harmonic Prodigy, for example, and would have missed out. I’ll do whole sets in a spreadsheet next time I dust this metric off, but for now, I think it worked out pretty well and when it didn’t, it seemed like there was another explanation for what was going on. That does it for me this week – until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader:The Ikoriarticle

Readers!

Last week I wrote about Theros: Beyond Death and promised that this week I’d write a very similar article about Ikoria. I think Ikoria is likely even more packed with value, both real and potential and I also think Ikoria had the misfortune of being overshadowed by Covid the most of any set. What in Ikoria still has some room to grow? What’s doing better in EDH than we expect? Join me as I write the same article as last week but this time about a different set, which makes it a completely different article, I promise. Let’s get started!

Ikoria gave us a ton of powerful cards, a ton of very hard to understand cards, some format staples, a sick cycle of cycling tri-lands that are fetchable(!) and some stuff for other formats that I didn’t care about even before no one played them in paper for 2 years. Focusing on EDH, the set is sort of bonkers.

Gross!

It wasn’t Ikoria that got us started with having 20+ legendary creatures every set, but Ikoria sure didn’t pull any punches, adding 10 companions on top of a more than adequate number of legends and giving us a Commander set on top of it all. I’ll focus on the Commander set in another installment, which is just as well since there are 22 creatures to talk about (Lutri was banned before the set was even legal). The order they’re in doesn’t matter a ton for finance reasons, but let’s look at what’s popular and what’s not….ular.

The only surprise for me in the Top 5 is Obosh getting nudged out by Illuna, a commander I have never seen played and forgot existed. Why don’t I have an Illuna deck – that card is really powerful. My personal bias aside, this is about what I expected. I think the Companions are under-performing a bit because you don’t need to run them as a commander if you can run them as a companion instead and make your own Kirkland brand partner combination. Is that a point worth making? I mean, maybe? But the relative popularity of the commanders is interesting even though it probably doesn’t impact any financial decisions we make since we identified what was likely to go up a year ago.

Prepare the be shocked even less by the next part.

If you bet anything other than 5 Triomes in the Top 5, you were metagaming, assuming by virtue of asking the question I was hinting that it was something other than the expected outcome. Of course the Triomes are number 1 through 5 with… I assume 5 bullets. You can’t be 1-5 with a bullet, can you? The point is, cards 1-5 with 1-5 bullets is the Triomes, which are just too good. I bought a LOT of them – showcase foil and non-foil mostly, hardly touching the set copies because they’re kinda meh. The problem I see is that I think there is a lot of reprint potential and we need to figure out when to get out. In fact, I think Ikoria has the most cards that “feel” reprintable to me of any set I’ve covered in these retrospectives. That could be a problem.

Ikoria is full of cycles and cycles are more attractive but harder to reprint, sometimes. Occasionally, a card in a cycle will get reprinted without the rest of the cards, in a commander deck or something else. The issue with Ikoria is that the cycles are 3-color which means the EDH deck it goes in has to be at least 3 colors and has to be exactly those three colors. That mitigates reprint risk significantly. I think if a card is especially reprintable, I’ll make a note, but I think we should consider the 3-color cards relatively safe enough that we can talk about them and their price over the next 2 years or so. Let’s begin.

In general, if you see a card that is selling on TCG Player for below Card Kingdom’s bulist price and the graph looks like this, that’s probably a safe place to park some moolah. If you buy the premise that the specific Mardu coloration can mitigate reprint risk, which is an educated guess at best, this feels solid.

Things get murkier when you add in the relatively anmeic growth on the extended version. EDH players seem less hype about these than players in other formats but I also think the prices are going to diverge eventually, and the extended border is even more attractive if it’s reprinted but with the regular border. In general, I like the extended borders, especially with the collector boosters relegating set foils to trash tier status. This already flirted with $12 for a minute and now it’s half that on TCG Player, I say rock and roll.

That said, to an extent, perception of price is more real than what the market is doing right now, and I think I can prove it.

These are much closer in the amount that they’re played than they are in price right now, and I think that’s due in large part to how good Bastion “seems” relative to Recon Mission. Bastion is being compared to cards like Zulaport Cutthroat while Reconnaissance Mission is being compared to cards whose prices seem based on scarcity rather than efficacy like Coastal Piracy. I don’t think being in 3,000 more decks means a card should cost 5 times as much and I don’t care who knows it? Which price is wrong? I don’t know, but they both seem reprintable, so maybe the foils are the place to be.

I think the foil lends some credibility to the conclusion that Bastion may be a bit overpriced, but I think they both go up from here. I don’t love buying uncommons from very recent sets, but I also think $5 was pretty reasonable from Bastion and though neither card will g et played outside of EDH, these are future sub-staples. I don’t call everything a staple, I think the top 100 cards in the format are staples and little else, but I think these are going to both be ubiquitous. Ubiquitous enough to get reprinted, but also enough to shake off a reprinting, especially in foil. I like Recon Mission under a buck a LOT.

This is going to approach $15 until it’s reprinted in my view. I don’t love buying in at $5.50 on a rare, especially one that could get reprinted, but this is a pretty harsh card for a precon and I expect that to mitigate the risk as much as 2 more colors would.

I’d say don’t hesitate to snap these off under $10. This card prevents people from playing their commander, which is mean against Pheldagriff decks but necessary against Food Chain decks, so mind your pod, I guess. The only cards in the set played more than this are the Triomes, 2 Ultimatae and a creature that can go in a 5 color deck and taps for WUBRG. This is going to be good forever* (*until they print a 1 mana 2/5 version of it next year.)

Remember, when you are looking at a set like Ikoria on EDHREC and it’s sorted by % inclusion, the mono-color cards are going to look way worse than the multicolored ones. A card like Ominous Seas which is in nearly 10,000 decks is way below a card like Whirlwind of Thought, which is in half as many.

Foils of this under a buck seems decent considering it’s part of a combo with Greater Good that could be one card away from being a whole deck archetype outside of EDH. I meant to just mention this card in passing but then I looked at the graph and I’m encouraged. This is the foil and I surprisingly think it has decent fundamentals. Don’t prioritize it, maybe, but I think its metrics are encouraging.

This promo is both at a historic low in price and stock at the same time and that doesn’t make much sense to me.

This is also in a low-stock, low-price situation and with how good this card is and how many times I’ve called it a buy in the past, I think anything under $15 is cheating. This is a very unfair card and I don’t know how reprintable it is.

I’m puzzled by the decline in price of this card, but it looks like a buck was its all-time low and it’s currently sitting at $2 which seems fine to me. If you can get these under $2, that HAS to be the floor. 4,000 decks isn’t a ton, but it’s in almost 10% of this last year’s Abzan decks and that’s a popular color combo, so I think this has potential going forward. I see this hitting $5 and staying there eventually.

Ikoria has a lot going on, and with the value spread out over the set, I think there isn’t a ton of pressure on any one card, which means the entire set can grow slowly together. That’s not as sexy as one card going up 1,000% overnight but it beats bad sets every time. It may be too late to buy Triomes, but Whirlwind of Thought, Genesis Ultimatum and Mythos of Snapdax are all under a buck, just waiting for the supply tipping point on TCG Player to tilt. Until then, I’ll be watching last year’s cards. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Theros Beyond Debt

Readers!

I know what you’re thinking – sweet title, right? What’s it mean? Well, it doesn’t mean anything, I literally just wanted to make a stupid pun about Theros Beyond Death and I used “debt” because it’s a word sometimes associated with finance. Not in any context I want to talk about, it’s just a money word and I made a pun that is more fun than it is accurate and I don’t have to impress you.

If you want to be mad at the dumb title, go ahead, but I’m positive you’re going to forgive me because I am about to make you think about a set you probably haven’t thought about in a while and maybe never even thought about as a set rather than as individual cards. Remember that thing I did with War of the Spark a while back? Well this week I’m doing it about Theros Beyond Death. Honestly, Ikoria is probably a better choice, but I’ll do that next week because I already wrote the title and the paragraph explaining the title and this paragraph where I referenced the paragraph where I explained the title and I don’t want to start over so here we go IT’S THEROS TIME BABEEEEEEEE.

Why Theros?

Theros Beyond Death is a set with a lot of cards that get played in EDH and it was the first full set with a ton of showcase cards meaning we can track how those cards are doing 18 months later to try and see what we can glean about the future of AFR Collector Boosters (I am so sorry if you bought AFR Collector Boosters) and other products that came out this year. I mean, maybe? All I know is that some of the cards from Theros that I thought we missed are still creeping up, so while an optimal buy-in isn’t in the cards at this point, I still want to go over the set. EDHREC sorts by % inclusion when you look at the set as a set, and that’s the order I will go in, even if some cards farther down on the list are played more on an absolute basis.

There are (jesus) 27 Legendary creatures in Theros which is just too many, but don’t worry, every set has 27 Legendary creatures now.

This is honestly super sad. Look at this. In the number one spot you have a boring, mono-White commander (#127 in the last 2 years, ranking behind commanders from a set that came out this month), in 3rd place you have an uncommon and only 3 of the commanders have more than 1,000 decks. This set is BAD for commanders. A lot of these creatures are good in the 99, so make them non-Legendary and give us fewer Legendary creatures, then.

I planned to spend a couple of paragraphs on this but honestly, it’s way worse than I thought. Please don’t pin me down and ask me to explain what I mean by “bad” beyond me just saying what all the numbers are – it just “feels” like a bad set for commanders and I will not be taking further questions at this time.

What’s good is that the set is full of good cards and I’m going to talk about them now.

This set is STACKED.

I am not making a proclamation about how I feel about these being around $200, but I will mention one more time that this set is lousy with value. Let’s play the hits before I go trolling for underpriced gems.

This is half of what it peaked at, and paltry play in paper played a part, but I also think it’s not unreasonable for EDH alone to make this a $15 card, barring a reprint. Insulated from reprint, though, is this.

The Extended art is worth far more than the foil, which is barely worth more than the non-foil. I didn’t want to say that this is exactly what would happen 18 months ago because I would have been guessing. An educated guess, sure, but a guess. What we’re seeing is the price of the extended art non-foil being basically double the set foil, but the prices not really diverging yet. The shape of the graphs are nearly identical, which is something else I wouldn’t have predicted. I think the Extended Art Foil will diverge from the non-foil more but I think the Extended art non-foil will diverge from the set non-foil, too, eventually. I don’t know when – 18 months in is a long time to wait if it’s going to happen but hasn’t yet. But Thassa’s Oracle is a cEDH card, so maybe we look at something that isn’t.

This is the regular version

Which is basically half of the cost of the Extended Art which is itself a third of the cost of the Extended Art foil. So the EA foil is 6 times the cost of the set non-foil while the set foil is basically the cost of the set non-foil. This is basically what we talked about 18 months ago but the crazy part is, the graphs are moving together on this card, too. OK, so we looked at a card played in a ton of formats including cEDH and a card that is a mythic, how about an EDH-specific non-mythic rare?

Shadowspear has quintupled in the last 18 months. How about the Extended Art?

Very similar overall graph trend. The thing with Shadowspear is that the Extended Art is not worth fully twice as much as the non-extended art and the EA foil is only double the EA non-foil. It seems like for a card to be truly juiced, you’ll need it to be mythic or playable outside of just EDH. Shadowspear is a bonkers card, btw, and it’s in 25,000 decks which is something I assumed but didn’t say to anyone which means I didn’t actually predict it.

I think the price on these 3 cards is more or less correct which is why I used them as a reference. I think there are some prices that are likely not correct, though, so let’s take a look.

This looks arbable (is that a word? Able to be arbitraged?) but I don’t trust those BL values. What I do think is that a card that everyone is ignoring because it is banned a lot matters a ton in EDH and we should be paying attention to it. 1 in every 8 decks containing Red built in the last 18 months runs this card, I think if it’s below $10, we can safely pick these up. There are as many copies of it as there are Shadowspear unless I missed some Event Deck or something, so it’s very reasonable to buy these at $5 and try to get out at the $20-$25 people want for Shadowspear, a card in fewer decks according to EDHREC.

This seems like it’s underpriced, to me.

The Extended Art has demonstrated the ability to go to $20 on the basis of help from other formats, something it could get in the future, and I think these are a pretty safe pickup.

These are twice as much on CK as they are on TCG Player and you know me, I tend to view CK’s stock as a bit of a canary in a coal mine. If they charge twice what TCG Player does and sell out, that’s a sign that EDH players are interested. CK wants $4 for the regular art and $6 for the EA, and that’s pretty reasonable considering this is in 15,000 decks in the last 18 months. It’s in 10,000 more decks than the next-most-played Intervention, Nylea’s. This card is flying under the radar outside of the people buying and building with this card and while White kinda sucks in EDH, this would still be a Top 15 card if we sorted by absolute inclusion rather than percentage of eligible deck inclusion. This is the real deal and it being gettable for $2 on TCG Player seems juicy to me.

For a moment in time, the Extended Art Woe Strider was worth 8 times what the regular art was. Even on non-mythic rares, the Extended Art can get pretty pricey. I really like the idea of targeting EA versions of non-mythics that are basically bulk rares because of a huge supply because the EA copies at least have a chance.

There is a GULF between $18 and $12. These are 50% more expensive on CK, which also only wants $20 for the Constellation version. This is a slam dunk, imo, especially at TCG prices.

The price has been consistent for 18 months, that’s not right and it’s going to correct eventually. The cheapest this ever got on CK was $12 and that’s what they are on TCG Player right now. Scoop these.

I think it’s possible there are more picks here, and feel free to peruse this entire list for more hits. I am looking forward to Ikoria next week, I feel like the pandemic overshadowed that set quite a bit and I think it’s juicier than just about any set since Kaladesh. Join me, won’t you? Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Grand Scheme

Readers !

I have mostly talked about how popular the AFR commanders are relative to each other, which is useful for determining the degree to which a new card from, say, Asmodeus is limited in its potential impact relative to a commander like Prosper or Volo. That is very useful (I think, otherwise why would I do it? Like, at this point am I trying to convince you or myself? How bad does it look that I’m trying to convince anyone of anything without anyone asking me to? Pull it together, Jason. Focus. You got this), because it lets us focus on the truly popular commanders first which have the potential to move cards, if not the farthest, at least the fastest.

The thing is, there are gaps, and without any context, it’s tough to know how big those gaps are. What do I mean by gaps? Why tell you when I can SHO-… whatever, here’s a picture to look at.

The gaps to which I’m referring are, for example, the gap between the 343 Prosper and 250 Volo decks. That’s a gap that could or could not matter. 100 decks seems like a lot, and relative to the number of Volo decks, it seems like it should be a lot. The difference between first and second place here is more decks than were built around Oswald Fiddlebender, a card that made people say “ZOMG BIRTHING POD FOR ARTIFACTS BAN INCOMING.” Still, we have been saying “Prosper is #1 and Volo is #2” (Volo was #3 last week; Tiamat fell off hard) without acknowledging how profound the gap might be. The gap between Prosper and Volo is half the amount of Volo decks there are. That seems like a lot. Is there a way to contextualize the gap? Well, it turns out there is, and it’s… kind of not pretty.

Lately I have mostly been looking at ranking the commanders by set because there is a new set every few weeks and I just want to see what’s moving relative to the other commanders in the set. If we have more time like we do now, it helps to plug in commanders from other sets, something you can do on this page. This is the top commanders of the last week, and you can do last 2 years and last month as well. Does checking the top commanders of the last week fill in the gaps between Prosper and Volo? It does! And the results sort of threw me for a loop.

If you look at the decks registered in the last 7 day period, the period where Tiamat went from second-most-built in AFR to 4th and Volo went to 2nd, Volo was NOT second overall that week. Prosper at 220 decks is #1 and Volo at 138 decks is… #13. More people buit Golos than Volo. I mean, more people built Ur-Dragon than Tiamat, which is in itself a pretty scathing indictment of the erstwhile #2 commander in AFR. More people built Ur-Dragon, Korvold and Kaalia than Tiamat last week. More people built Sythis, a commander that, and I can’t stress this enough, does not have a win condition (I wrote an article about it in case you care) than Volo. The gap between Prosper and Volo is ENORMOUS. You can fit an entire format in the gap between Prosper and Volo. More people built Anowon and Lathril, the precon commanders from Return to Return to Zendikar, than built Volo. Volo is not #2, Volo is #13. Volo is sucking the tailpipe of Atraxa, ATRAXA. Do you have a Atraxa deck? Cool, good for you, I’m not talking about you unless you saw AFR come out and said, “yeah, you know what? I’m going to need to build a precon commander from 11 years ago. I have some great insight on how to build the most popular commander of the decade today, in 2ktwenty-one.”

“But Jason,” you’re probably saying to yourself, “what about the new cards from AFR that are so good in Atraxa, people had to update their lists. They’re probably not new decks, they’re probably updates.” That’s a really good point, let’s look at those new cards.

Yeah, I don’t know if that’s the case.

I don’t bring up the decks between Prosper and Volo to say we should be digging into Osgir for potential specs, per se, but I did want to mention that when you pan out and look at the format, a lot of the “#1 commander in the set” commanders don’t make the list for the two years, or even the month.

Sweet, how did Extus do this month?

103rd, right above Marrow-Gnawer, a deck that got, what last month?

Sweet, very sweet. This is how much Extus, the #1 commander in Strixhaven was built in the last 30 days. Now, the set is older than 30 days old, and there are 1206 Extus decks total, good enough for a rank of 127th overall in the last 2 years, which isn’t shabby. So it’s 1st in the set, 102nd for the month, which is a huge drop-off, but then it’s 127th for the last two years, which is NOT much of a drop-off considering it’s only been a few months and some of the decks it beat out have had two years to get built.

Extus was built as much in two months as Kruphix was built in two years. Granted, it’s been a LONG time since Kruphix was new, but all context is worth looking at. If we’re interpreting the numbers the way I think they should be interpreted, people aren’t sleeping on Extus, it’s in the top 150 of all the decks we measure and it’s only been built for a couple of months, but it’s basically not being built anymore. It did 90% of the work it did to climb to the 127th spot the first month. Why did that happen? Put simply, there are too many products.

Before the set even came out, I brewed Extus Goblins, which isn’t revolutionary maybe, but it’s not a deck I saw anyone else brewing. Ask me how it’s performed on camera.

Not great bob! | Tv quotes, Mad men, Best tv

I didn’t even finish the deck because 5 sets have come out since Strixhaven back in… MAY. I have built two different decks since, neither of them Extus and I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it.

People have less time to build their decks with new ones coming out constantly. What does this throw off? I have no idea! But I am going to posit that the Extuses of the world have their staples languish a little bit while the Prospers of the world, er… well.. experience success (I’m not going to say prosper, I’m not a hack).

So let’s wrap this up with some specs, and let’s start off with one that sort of undermines my hypothesis a little bit and also makes me look like I don’t know what I’m doing.

Hell yeahhhhhh.

Twinning Staff is currently basically selling out because, despite being the 13th-most-built commander this month, it’s still a good card in a deck built the second most in a bad set. Twinning Staff HAD a lot of copies when I tweeted my tweet literally 48 hours ago and in that time, a bunch of copies vanished and I talked about this card on BSB. No one has even heard the episode yet. I thought I had time to bring up this exchange on the podcast and clue people in that I had noticed inventory was moving, but no. Twinning Staff is, in fact, good in Volo and enough Volo is getting built that a card from literally last year’s EDH precons is in play. That’s sort of the thesis of what I talk about every week but when someone asked about a card I hadn’t considered, I thought cards released in the last year had too much supply.

Could there be anything else in Volo that is just taking its sweet time going up?

With the exception of Twinning Staff which was at $2 and a million copies when I first started looking at Volo specs, this is all format staples. The high synergy cards aren’t much better.

This is all format staples. I wish I’d bought in harder on Spark Double a year ago, I wish I had bought in harder on Tendershoot Dryad two years ago but overall, this is $0.17 that will never be a dollar and cards that are expensive because every deck with Green printed in the last year wants Second Harvest and Beast Whisperer.

With so much garbage, it’s either excusable we overlooked Staff or inexcusable because everything else is so obviously bad. But like with Uba Mask, we have to dig deeper so let’s dig deeper.

I’m not just picking something to pick something – I legitimately don’t hate Syvlan Caryatid at its current price.

Caryatid has demonstrated it has the ability to get to $13 with some help from other formats. You know what else currently costs less than that $13 it got to at one point?

The Buy-a-box foil, something Ck no longer has NM copies of. Just sayin’. I like a former $13 at $6 for a unique foil promo, and I like the non-foil under $5 a lot. This seems like a card that Modern could make a real pick again.

This is already beginning to shake off its Double Masters reprinting. If you can get these under $5, it’s clearly on its way to $10, but another reprint likely spells doom. I am no longer a believer in the “some cards can shake off unlimited reprints” wisdom from 5 years ago.

If a card gets punched every year, there are only so many times it can get back to its feet.

This is done getting reprinted. It’s demonstrated its ability to hit $10 before and it has Beebles on the good art. This should be in more decks and thanks to Volo, it is. I think Cloudstone Curio is too high a buy-in but I like it for the same reasons – Curio is obviously better but Equilibrium is just fine and is a pet card of mine, as is…

Not that Trade Routes is a Volo pick, just sayin’.

I made fun of people for playing Realmwalker which is a bad, narrow version of this. “People shouldn’t play Realmwalker if they don’t play Vizier of the Menagerie.” Well maybe people are going to start playing Vizier, which they should do before they play Realmwalker. Vizier is better than it has performed lately, but it’s flirted with $10 before and I bet it gets there again, which makes those $5 copies pretty alluring.

I miss things and I have biases but I am not asking you to copy my picks, I am teaching you my method and I hope it works for you as well as it’s worked for me. EDH is real weird and with a new product every month, it’s tough to stay on top of it, but it’s worth it. The best time to buy cards was 1993, the best time to sell them is don’t sell them, they keep going up. Buy more copies than you need to play with and you’re like 75% of the way there (get it?). OK, I’m done this time, I promise. Until next time!