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: Five Cards You Should Buy

Oof, what a day. I literally spent like 10 minutes on the title and this was the best thing I could come up with. To be clear, the part of my brain capable of looking at cards and deciding what is a good pick is intact, but the part of my brain where I words good doesn’t words good now. I’m not going full Kevin from The Office (the bad one that overstayed its welcome, not the British version that seems super racist if you go back and watch it now), but I’m potentially cutting some of my description of the cards. I think I found some specs that will make a good case for themselves and I can cut what is essentially ad copy. That said, I kind of wish I hadn’t done that article where I just showed 20 pictures because that would have been sweet to have this week but I don’t want to just rehash my old, great ideas like that. Who am I, The Office?

The thing is, I think the specs I have assembled mostly speak for themselves, so I can likely get away with letting them make the case for themselves. Oh, also I cheated and picked a playable Reserved List card that’s under $5, which is a thing that shouldn’t exist. Thinking about it now, that’s a silly lede to bury. Let’s just start this article off with a bang and talk about why a Reserved List card is $5 (I don’t know) and why it’s playable (I think I know). This will be sick.

Get it? It’s Oscar the Grouch. You know, from Zeitgeist. Old Grouchy over here has a pretty interesting ability, rewarding you for discarding cards, kind of, or at least breaking the parity of cards like Bottomless Pit. It isn’t just cards like that, which keep spiking because WotC hasn’t figured out that people hate cards like Tergrid. Here is what I DO like.

This card, which spiked to $17 because bitcoin got pricey, is suddenly applicable in a deck people might play. Copies are drying up to the extent that there were a lot of $5 copies of this card after buylist hit $15 a year ago. If you can get this under $20, you are buying a card that has demonstrated its ability to get to $20 for no reason and now you’re buying it for a reason. I don’t know how much Oskar gets built, but no one was playing Oskar in 2019, so…

Speaking of Discard outlets, this erstwhile $30 card is on the Reserved List as well. It’s not the $10 it was after the bitcoin buyers but it’s still a very playable RL card and it’s bonkers in Oskar, a deck that might very well get built. This is a Reserved List card that is insanely powerful and it’s under $30, I think this seems like an easy pickup.

Card Kingdom was charging more than everyone else for this card and now they’re sold out. I don’t know if there is a clearer signal that this card is on its way to $15. I love this as a pickup. One caveat – Attunement isn’t quite as powerful as Argothian Wurm or Herald of Serra and it’s not on the Reserved List meaning this will never be $50 because they’ll dump it in a secret lair or something, but snatching these for $8 is cheating and you know it.

Art notwithstanding, this is the most popular EDH deck commander right now.

Welp, I was going to talk about this last week, but I missed the boat. With a week between articles, sometimes cards get missed and I am not sure how to best handle that. If you have any ideas, hit me up in the Pro Trader Discord or on Twitter and let me know. I feel bad that I didn’t say anything in time on this despite having identified it, but there are so many other cards that it shouldn’t matter.

For whatever reason, people keep playing this card and it already demonstrated it can go to twice what it costs right now, and it’s in the most popular deck from the precons, I think this seems like a safe bet.

I think there are a lot of cards from the EDH decks that could make older cards go up and I can’t get to all of them now. I think you can look through the EDHREC pages yourself, fortunately, but if you don’t, I’ll be back next week with more gas. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Billy Mays Here

Readers!

Ever feel like this?

This is how I feel every time Wizards announces a new product. The ink isn’t even dry on New Capenna and already we have 5 EDH decks and they have started spoiling Baldur’s Gate cards. It’s a real grind even though sometimes if there is too much time between sets I don’t know what to write about. No chance of that happening here – we have a bunch of Commanders coming out at the exact same time as a bunch of other commanders. I used to do the “quick hits” article just to get the obvious stuff out of the way while we waited for the new cards, but the new cards are here, literally the same week, and quick hits are all we have time for. It sucks that I feel a bit like I am being waterboarded and can’t quite devote the same granularity to my analysis that I’d like, but Hasbro has decided that we need to give them money twice every month so I guess we do what Hasbro says or I have to get a real job. I don’t want to get a real job, I want to talk about New Capenna EDH precon cards.

There is a clear winner, and while the EDHREC scraper is busy picking up more decks and will display them tomorrow, today we have enough to call a clear winner, and it’s the Jund Blitz commander. Blitz is cool as a mechanic since it’s basically unique but it can make a bunch of cards that weren’t all that important before suddenly way cooler.

I don’t know if this card is bound for $20 or not, but if Henzie is this year’s Prosper, it’s a safe bet that this at least triples. We have precedent.

You gotta get in and get out quick, but the potential is there. Myth Unbound is a card that never really saw the play some people expected it to and while Stolen Strategy is a better card, we don’t need Myth to hit $20, we just need it to move, and it will. It won’t even take that much of a push.

This wall is pretty low, I think we’re in for some movement here for sure.

While we’re at it, other Delver is on the move and we could see that crest the $5 mark soon as well. I think there are a lot of copies but I also think it’s never been better than it is in this deck, which might end up being a significant player in EDH moving forward.

This card has basically plateaued and if paper Standard picks up because everyone is bored of Covid (they are where I live) then getting a mythic dargon that makes token for $4 is going to be a story you tell your grandkids about. It’s also perfect in this deck, which is currently the second-most-popular, if that means anything to you. It does to me.

The rest of the deck is mostly goodstuff and while it might be the Chain of Smog, Professor Onyx deck we’ve been waiting for, who even cares anymore?

Hit counters? Where have I seen those before?

Blue pip. Dammit. Etrata would be great in a Mari deck but Mari would be bad in an Etrata deck and also, an Etrata deck would be very, very bad. If there are more hit counters in the future, which is a soft maybe, both of these cards could matter?

Out of all of the Royal Assassin type cards, Kiku is the worst card and the best spec. Everything else is basically a bulk rare and liable to stay that way, but Kiku is from a set where we’ve see bulk rares hit $20 because of EDH if only in the near term. I don’t think this hits $20, but if enough people build Mari decks, Kiku is a player.

The wall seems lower than most but since Kiku isn’t a High Synergy or Top card, it’s going to see less play than most other assassins and it could really struggle to get there.

This is seriously a good commander to play just because everyone makes so much treasure that you could… well, die to decking, probably. If anyone can generate enough treasure to deck you, though, they’re going to win anyway, so it seems like this just draws a ton of cards whether you give them treasures or not.

The data is telling me that the showcase is the better spec, but I would not be caught dead with an AFR showcase card in my deck. I own multiple D&D PHBs from the 2nd edition/AD&D era, I’m not a snob. I understand the reference but this is just too ugly for me to jam in a deck. Card Kingdom wants $5 for this garbage, and with treasure being hot now, I bet they get it.

My gut tells me the better-looking version is the play, maybe even the foil.

The graph of the foil version is very similar. I think if you can get foils for $2, you’ll be happy later. Even the non-foils, which don’t turn into hyperbolic parabaloid potato crisps (they’re not allowed to call them chips for some reason but they can call them crisps? I read the headline and skimmed the article, what do you want from me, it was about Pringles).

There is a lot to like here, honestly. I’ll go more into detail on some of these commanders soon, but for now, I think this set, while super unwelcome, has some unique abilities? I don’t know, I literally haven’t even finished constructing my Prosper deck and they hit us with this BS? It’s too much, too soon. I advise you to do what I don’t do and focus on one thing you feel strongly about and go deep. I try to find a ton of hits because I have to, but you don’t, so don’t or you’ll be miserable. On that cheerful note, Magic is supposed to be fun so go play the stock market already you rascals. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Same as the Old Capenna

Readers!

New Capenna is here and however you feel about this set and the staggering amount of Italian stereotypes everyone is super fond of, we’ll have new cards to worry about in a few weeks. We’re getting 19 new Legendary creatures in New Capenna plus a bunch more in the EDH decks, all of which adds up to a pretty full docket. I am not touching the EDH deck cards unless they end up in the decks of the cards in the set because I am barely hanging on, mentally. In 3 weeks there will be another 2,000 cards I’m expected to know, and not only is the pace of products increasing, they’re going to jack the cost of packs up 11%. The IPCC says the world is on pace to be unlivable for humans, I bought the max on Street Fighter and Dracula Secret Lairs and I’m worried I might not have the wherewithal to see them and I literally just did this a few weeks ago and here we are again. You in the mood to read some finance tips yet? If you’d really rather invest in cardboard than water filters and ammunition, I guess you’re in luck because I really only know how to do one thing, and that’s identify potential for cards to increase in value.

Realistically, only the top 5 here really matter. Do I think this top 5 will be the final top 5? I don’t, but I also think that the guilds are so narrow and focused that there is probably a lot of overlap and we likely just need to pick one commander from each wedge or famiglia or whatever they’re calling them, and try to extrapolate which cards will matter for each strategy. I’m not positive this will work, but we’ll have enough data next week to get super granular anyway and everything I said this week will be forgotten already. Let’s drill down into some of these sumbitches, shall we? No wrong answers, let’s just look at some Magic cards.

I feel like I call out all of these cards every couple of weeks. I could tell you to buy Tendershoot Drayd for the tenth time, or we could look at these cards as a whole. It seems like lately, going wide in Naya colors is something design is focusing on and if these cards dodge reprints like they should, we’re in good shape. One card in particular I like right now is Dragonlair Spider.

A few very small reprints have managed to keep this in the bulkish region, but I wonder if we could make the price graph look more enticing by giving it the Ronald Reagan graph treatment.

Booya. If we’re going to let people use graphs to lie about trickle-down economics, I’m going to use one to make you think Dragonlair Spider is on an upward trajectory because, guess what, it is. I play Arasta in my decks but this is perfect for Jetmir decks and it eats Angels all day. I love this card and under $2, this seems like an easy double-up.

This is obviously trending down long-term, but it seems to have bottomed out. Not convinced?

I can lie with graphs all day.

The thing is, the buylist value is trending up alongside retail, so this could be starting to finally climb after bottoming out. This was always a solid card with no deck, and with it being a Mythic, there is opportunity here. The other high synergy cards are obvious or cards I called before, but these 2 seem poised to me.

This is a frankly bonkers set of high synergy cards.

The real question here is whether Amonkhet was long ago enough that a bulk rare could pop.

2 printings at non-mythic? Looks bad.

Welp

WELP.

OK, but there has to be something else we can buy into.

I think rotation from Standard, a thing that shouldn’t affect prices since no one plays paper Standard but which serves as a psychological impetus to see your “rotated” cards as worthless likely makes this go down more. Is there ANYTHING in this deck that is a good buy?

This isn’t in the Esper precon and I’m pretty sure it’s not in the Bant one, either, in which case this seems very good under $5 and still probably fine in the $5-$7 range, though acting fast eliminates the need to pay that much.

Much better.

*prolonged cartoon fart noise*

Discard is really boring and super hard to do in Commander. A lot of decks play out of their ‘yard a ton and you’re helping them, and if you’re milling people, you need to do 300 damage and 20 cards for 2 mana doesn’t seem as cool anymore. Still, 63 card unsleeved casual decks love discard and any help from this just helps those cards fulfill their destiny of being cards people are glad to sell for a buck on a buylist.

This is on a great trajectory but it’s still gettable under $5 and you should do that. Literally, any time a card is $9 on Card Kingdom and $5 on TCG Player, Card Kingdom is screaming at you that the card sells for $9 on their platform and you should pay attention.

You shouldn’t grab a falling knife (or do what I did and “trap” it like a soccer ball as a reflex) but this likely bottoms out around $2 and it’s very good in a deck with a Commander you want to keep casting that is a whopping 7 mana the first cast and uncastable after that. Be aware, this card is only good if they ever print another Red Commander again that’s either a lot of mana or has a good ETB effect, something that isn’t guaranteed.

I have no idea how to evaluate this pile. The thing about reprint risk for these Angels is that they could all get reprinted in the same deck. I don’t know, are any of these good specs?

Buying in at $2 would have been obviously better, but $4 doesn’t suck, either. This has flirted with $8 in the past. Is this propped up by Standard? I don’t think that’s a thing, but maybe? Either way, this card is actually absurd when you read what it does and buying in under $4 seems advisable.

I’ll have more data next week, but for now, thanks for reading and be sure to argue with me in the comments section or in the Pro Trader Discord server you can access by becoming a Pro Trader. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: All That Glitters

Readers!

It’s an exciting time to be involved in MtG Finance because everything is changing so rapidly that no one has any data. I don’t know how many times the cards I think will really be impactful in the format can and will be reprinted, and the effect of a Masters printing versus a Commander deck printing versus a Secret Lair printing versus The List are almost card-by-card rather than product-by-product. It’s easier than ever to predict what will matter as I get better at using EDHREC, but it’s no easier to predict what will get and stay expensive. What I plan to do today is talk about what likely gets expensive and I’ll leave deciding what will stay expensive (the harder part by far) up to you.

I know I like to talk about which commanders will matter, and we’ll have a lot of data to pore over next week, but for now, we have to take a look at one card that could signal that a new evergreen mechanic in Magic that could plague us for years to come. I want to talk about what to do about it and how that impacts us. Also, I don’t have, like, an easy thematic way to put this information in the article so I’ll put it here with no explanation other than that it’s a thing.

This card is broken.

It breaks quite a bit, but the 2 big ones I have seen are the new Ob Nixilis which is whatever, and Devoted Druid, which makes infinite mana with Luxior, or can use the infinite untaps to kill someone with a card like Viridian Longbow. Do you yank Viridian Longbow out of bulk?

Trick question, this shouldn’t be in your bulk.

I think Devoted Druid can’t maintain the price and if this combo does anything, it will be in a 60 card format with 4 Longbows, 4 Stoneforges, 4 Urza’s Sagas, etc. I think this is worth knowing about, and it’s likely Luxior breaks more cards the way the handle looks broken on the card (Is it mean to be bent like a fencing foil’s handle or did Rob Liefeld draw this?). Still, there are other places we should be looking. If Luxior isn’t the card to focus on today, what? I’m so glad I asked, here it is.

I will not be accepting any questions at this time.

Fine, OK, in case your hangug-isn’t seuneopeukkaji, this card says

Lands you control have “T: Create a Treasure token.”

and that is a pretty jacked up thing for a Magic card to say. Treasure has been a problem but now it seems like a mainstay. If it’s here to stay, let’s make some money.

First up, there are cards that win the game with Treasure, and they all matter, imo.

Card Kingdom thinks this card is worth $20. TCG Player says $12ish. Who will win? You will, when this is $25 and you paid $12.

Hot off a reprint, this is going to climb. It won’t be $30 ever again, likely, but I bet it’s not $5 either. If I could buy one card, it would be this one, slightly elevated reprint risk or no.

This got a reprint on The List which slowed it down a bit, but not enough. This is a $20 card again soon, bet on it. I mean, barring another reprint, so it’s basically a prop bet at this point since you need to bet on it going up AND not getting reprinted to hit. Sounds hard, but the only thing that’s easy to do in Vegas is apparently just cough up 9.5 mill in extra cap space to activate Mark Stone off of LTIR.

If you want to fight against treasure, or this card specifically, there are ways. Bulk rare ways.

Lol. This isn’t a bulk rare anymore and there are like 200 for sale on TCG Player, but if this shows up on Game Knights or some #$%^ it will be $30 tomorrow and wouldn’t you rather have $30 than an Invasion rare that only works with their help?

This is what a graph looks like when a card isn’t even worth listing on TCG Player. This is a true bulk rare. That’s good; cards where a seller would lose money unless they list it on TCG Player direct “sell out” quickly but are replaced by a wave of higher priced copies. You could be looking at $5 or so on these. It’s a risk but this can’t get any cheaper than bulk and it seems like it’s not much of a risk at all because you can always bulk these back out.

Second spikes are always harder and this is approaching $2 on TCG Player rapidly. Don’t get me started on the $15 foils.

Commander Collection: Green copies of this are $10 but I sort of think that’s because that’s all they’re worth. Gimme this art by Adam Rex any day. That said, more printings on this card than you might think, but they could all be headed to $20.

Ultimately, I think Smuggler’s Stash or whatever the card translates to suffers from some of the same problems as Nyxbloom Ancient and perhaps maindeck metagaming against it won’t be necessary, but we’re talking about the frenzy of prerelease speculation and while that’s a monthly occurrence now, it is still sometimes fun, briefly, to forget what a bad idea it is. If you like that kind of thing, here’s a roadmap. If you don’t like that kind of thing, just know that a roadmap isn’t going to protect you from poor financial decisions. That said, you made a good financial decision when you clicked on this article, so thanks for that. Until next time!

seuneopeukkaji
hangug-in