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

Unlocked Pro Trader: Can’t Keep Sol Ring In Stock

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Today I want to talk about a commander that has far less impact than another but is an interesting case study in cumulative effects. If a commander isn’t as splashy as others but demands finite resources already in use, will enough people build the new deck while keeping the old deck together that a deck with lower individual demand can surpass another deck due to the nature of cumulative demand? Can we even measure that? We can try!

It’s no surprise that this flappy girl is flapping into the top spot in decklists. It’s powerful, obvious and gives Boros something it never had – tools to deal with usually falling way behind in card advantage. The numbers bear this out.

Second place for the week before the card even comes out is pretty strong, I think you’ll agree with me there. However, there’s a commander that didn’t even make the list, coming it fewer than Alesha’s paltry 37 lists this week that I think is more of the same and therefore isn’t as exciting but which could be a real boost to cards that already spiked once.

Roalesk’s 8 entries aren’t setting the world on fire, but with a few unique twists on the classic Simic “Here’s some +1/+1 counters for your creatures, you ugly idiots” scheme that we’re all used to, this could be a deck people build and, more importantly, don’t cannibalize their other decks to do it. If there are cards that are in a greater variety of decks that are very different and less likely to be torn apart, isn’t that information worth having, also?

We can’t really quantify how many people aren’t tearing their decks apart, but what we can do is see how many copies of a given card they’d need if they built every similar deck. Do people do this? Yes. I have Vorel, Pir and Toothy, Kydele//Thrasios and I’m building Roalesk. I also have Riku and Maelstrom Wanderer. You know how many FNM Coiling Oracles that is? A lot. Me needing one Aurelia’s Fury ever is good to know but me needing 5 copies of Inexorable Tide is worth looking into as well.

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This is the first in a series where I start to set the record straight about EDHREC data. As the person who was the first one to use the data in MTG Finance analysis articles and also the person who feels compelled to clean up the mess when other writers use the data irresponsibly or capriciously. I’m not going into a ton of depth today but I will say that anyone who says “This card is in 4,000 decks on EDHREC” and leaves that out there like it means something probably don’t know what they’re doing, they just saw me work for 5 years developing an analytical method and summarized it as “say how many decks a card is in” which is flattering because at least they’re thinking of me. The raw number is almost meaningless on its own and I’m going to spend the rest of this series talking about how much more analysis goes into my picks than that throwaway bit of ex post facto justification.

If someone is a lunatic like me, how many decks are going to run their staples? I’m going to look at the Simic decks someone may have and if they have more than one, cards they’ll need spare copies of if they want to build Roalesk.

Fake FAQ Time

Q: What about people who proxy cards and keep one copy, jamming it only in the deck they’re playing at the time?

A: Don’t care, can’t measure that.

Q: What about people who take their decks apart?

A: Don’t care, can’t measure that.

Q: Why are you doing this if you can’t quantify it?

A: Do you think the number of people who will buy a new Doubling Season for Roalesk if they already have Pir and Toothy built is 0?

Q: … I guess not?

A: Are we good here?

Q: That wasn’t an answer, that was a question?

A: Oh, right. OK. We’re good here. Period.

Before I get into the stuff that’s in every Simic counters deck, I want to throw a few Roalesk-specific cards in so it’s enough like a normal article that you’re still glad you’re a Pro Trader getting this early.

Looking at CK prices, this is down from its all-time high, and wouldn’t you know it, that peak was when they printed Commander Anthology 2. Anthology really undermined the confidence in the price and it’s beginning to recover, especially buylist price with a potential arbitrage opportunity happening recently. Blade is a really good Roalesk card because the Legend rule gives you a ton of proliferate triggers and the ETB triggers are pretty sexy, too. In short, Roalesk is the best Blade of Selves deck in history. These aren’t going to be easy at all to reprint and if they dodge a printing in Commander 2020, which I think is likely, this is a $15 card. Easy double-up here at least if you can scoop the $5 copies.

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Roalesk is the best Blade of Selves deck ever which makes it the best Sage of Hours deck since Ezuri. Are you going to take Ezuri, a different deck that has its own unique quirks, apart to build this? You might, but I’m not going to and this demand could be cumulative if enough people don’t. Even if it’s 1% of Roalesk builders, it’s still more powerful than people using Aurelia’s Fury for the first and last time, and those people buying Fury are less likely to buy multiple copies for future decks the way Simic players have begun to become conditioned to.

I need to learn to have more faith in my picks that take a minute to get there. I used to look at the price of Regal Behemoth when it was like $1 every few weeks and it wasn’t moving and I said “I guess I missed on this one” and that was dumb. Behemoth got there. This will, too. After all IT’S IN 9307 DECKS ON EDHREC!!!!!!!111eleven

Now that I’ve written what amounts to an entire article, I need to quickly get to my thesis before your eyes glaze over.

When you look at a card on EDHREC, if you’re not sure what to look for, it’s easy to fixate on the number at the top of the page –

And ignore the numbers lower down on the same page.

It’s important to look at how the copies are distributed and whether someone is likely to take apart an old deck to make a new one. Someone who has a copy of Doubling Season in Pir and Toothy might just take that whole deck apart to build Roalesk but someone with doubling season in Rhys is unlikely to scrap the Rhys deck to build Atraxa. If a new deck is functionally different from the old one, the odds that someone will buy a second copy rather than repurposing the one they already have goes up.

Also, there is a bit of an age bias here. Players have had much longer to build Rhys than they have Roalesk so newer decks won’t show up on the top. It’s been a pretty long time since anyone built a new Marath deck, for example. The best bet if you’re going to look at the cumulative effect on similar decks is to manually go to each commander’s page. It takes a minute but it is worth it to gather the data we need.

Here’s Vorel and Ezuri.

Here’s Pir and Toothy and 118 more decks, almost half of the ones in the database.

Here’s Zegana.

Here’s Experiment Kraj.

A lot of these decks are pretty similar in build and it’s likely a lot of them were torn apart when a newer, more exciting +1/+1 counter commander came along.

Our experience with Doubling Season has shown us that there is quite a bit of demand across a lot of very similar decks and it pales in comparison to the demand from just Atraxa. If someone tears apart Experiment Kraj to build Roalesk, you’re not creating new demand for Doubling Season, but who’s tearing apart Atraxa for Roalesk? Or Trostani?

Doubling Season is a card that is more likely to experience renewed demands from the printing of Roalesk because a lot of Doubling Season’s copies are not in Simic decks. The opposite kind of card? How about the card I clicked on to get a list of all of the Simic +1/+1 counter decks because I knew it would be in all of them?

That’s right. I am talking about this buffy boi.

In 7,411 decks, you can see the distribution above if you zoom in. If you’re reading this on a phone like a lunatic, I’ll tell you that while Atraxa is #1 and the combined pile of Ezuri runs half as many copies but the rest of the decks are all pretty close in number. Master Biomancer is going in basically every Roalesk deck if the person is smart, but is anyone going to leave a very similar deck together to make Roalesk? They’re not tearing apart Animar or The Mimeoplasm, but Ezuri and Momir Vig are less safe. Bear that in mind when you look at the number of decks a card is in and think you get to stop there.

That does it for me this week. I’ll try and do another hybrid “Here’s how I used EDHREC for this new commander” and “Everyone else is using EDHREC data wrong” article. Join me, won’t you?

 

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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Brainstorm Brewery #335 Ice Cream!

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DJ (@Rose0fThorns), Jason (@jasonEalt), and Corbin (@CHosler88) fresh off the newly recorded wife cast (releasing to non patrons later this month) and are ready to talk about War for the Spark Spoilers, Springtime growth, Giveaways and Bolas.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The Next Big Thing

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It sure looks like the world of EDH finance is moving a lot faster than it used to. Back before I popularized the EDHREC method, we used to have weeks to months to wait for people to fine-tune their decks and while that’s still the case, we’re also seeing very, very early spikes in “obvious” cards for these decks. People used to not bother because most of the finance community thought EDH was for, to quote an mtg finance thought leader earlier on twitter, “filthy casuals.”

Everyone plays EDH these days and everyone who is successful at MtG finance these days recognizes that EDH is the primary price mover in Magic. It can’t always spike cards as hard as other formats but it certainly moves a wider array of prices, lends some cross-format applicability to the cards spiked by other formats and doesn’t rotate or have the kind of ban-risk other formats have. If we can get over the FOMO of seeing other people leap at cards like Aurelia’s Fury and just stick to our fundamentals, there is plenty of actual, sustainable, non-speculative money to be made. Aurelia’s Fury is going to spike hard because it’s obvious but it’s not likely to hold the price it peaks at because the amount of play it gets will be high but not as high as the hype.

Hype fades, let’s aim for sustainability.

Luckily the world of EDHREC data is moving a bit faster these days and we have a few lists to work with before the spoilers. It’s still early and people who are very early builders can skew the data a lot so it’s best to regard it with caution so I’m going to mostly ignore the numbers. What I’m aiming at is ideas right now – cards builders find that the average person who knows EDH players will want Feather, some lands, probably a Sol Ring and an Aurelia’s Fury but couldn’t fill in the rest of the list won’t be able to figure out. Let’s leverage our tools, shall we?

The set isn’t even spoiled and we have 11 Ilharg, the Raze Boar decks to look at. Ilharg could be this set’s Nikya, something the speculator community isn’t as keen on but which will end up being more popular than a deck they are more keen on. I think Feather is an exception in that it’s hype because the cards are obvious and also hype because the deck is just going to be fun and interesting to play – it’s Teysa Karlov and Vannifar in one. So what’s the set’s Nikya? Let’s look at what Ilharg has spiked already.

Blighty was already on its way up but this sort of cemented it. This card badly needs a reprint and unfortunately, during the time period it would have needed to have been noticed to get us a reprint anytime soon, its price was creeping up slowly (CK in pink, best industry buylist [probably also CK] in blue) and now it’s making a sprint for $100 like some giant monster just put it into play tapped and attacking for, you know, lethal.

Ilharg hype contributed to this move and while this card is “obvious” I think there’s more to uncover here and 11 decks may not tell us the proper ratios of inclusion but it can tell us what 11 people are going to buy and that number will grow every day.

I tend to avoid Legendary creatures because being a commander isn’t always enough in my view, but look at those numbers already. Neheb generates a ton of mana which makes him just as good in the 99 as he is in the command zone. Ilharg is a mana-hungry deck because if Ilharg goes down you need to cast those fatties and not only that, you can really get ahead by casting stuff on top of the freebie every turn. Neheb is at an all-time high but being a Legendary creature significantly lowers his reprint risk IMO so I think this is a pretty good play. You can’t make a ton buying in above $7 but I think the growth is significant and it’s unlikely to slow with a new Mono-Red fatties commander being printed.

Malignus is an odd mix of casual raw power and appeal, being old, being a mythic and not being that expensive. It doesn’t get played in a ton of decks but in the decks where it is played, it’s an all star. It’s up irrespective of Ilharg hype and I see it as a strong contender to move some more.

I hope this shows up in some decks but I also hope people look up how this works with Ilharg. It’s a big mana red deck and you can usually cast this from your hand and when you nuke all lands, you’re getting a free creature every combat and they can’t play spells. You wrap the game up quickly. I don’t know if this will catch on and it’s in like a quarter of those 11 decks but it’s a thing, at least.

See the blue line going above the pink one? That’s arbitrage, baby! That’s an arbitrage opportunity buying the card on Card Kingdom, one of the most expensive sites. This card will go up steadily until it’s reprinted, which may take a minute since it was only like $3 a year ago. This is free money but how much I don’t know. Specs that go from a quarter to $6 are sexier.

Finally a card that not only interacts with Ilharg in a pretty disgusting manner, it also shrugged off a commander deck reprinting (albeit very long ago) and is an artifact so it can go in a lot more decks than a red card giving you a lot of non-Ilharg chances to recoup. If this gets reprinted in a commander deck, it will likely be so good in that commander deck that loose copies are less likely to hit the market and you should be insulated a bit. Look at that growth since 2015 – a reprint is nothing but an opportunity to buy in at the bottom of a U-shaped graph, you know, my favorite thing.

That’s all for me, readers. Thanks for tuning in and remember, ignore FOMO and focus on the technique we developed here these last 5 years. Until next time!

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Brainstorm Brewery #333 Award Winning Podcast

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DJ (@Rose0fThorns), Jason (@jasonEalt), and Corbin (@CHosler88) have unlocked another award for the podcast trophy case and are ready to celebrate and patron Ben is here to do just that. They also discuss Legacy GPs, Giveaways, and the impact of London Mulligan.

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00:18 Award Winning

05:31 Inked Gaming Giveaway

09:08 Breaking Bulk

19:54 MSU losing

25:02 Emails

37:52 Legacy GP

48:00 Pick of the Week

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