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

Pro Trader: Minor Players

Readers,

Last week, whether because I went with the Top 4 commanders from the EDH decks or because I picked the face commanders, the result was the same. We looked at Prosper, Galea and Wulfgar and wanted to find cards and couldn’t from Sefris. We may have missed some good picks from the non-face commanders and we’ll get into that today, although the face commanders are still considerably more popular. Now, those cards have been known for longer, but they’re also still being built the most. Let’s look at where things were last week.

Prosper is the top, followed by Sefris, then Galea then Wulfgar. You can read, I know. Since you’re over here knowing stuff, do you think the Top 5 will be the same today as it was a week ago?

It’s close, but a few things happened. Prosper shot up to number 1, which means we’ll want to comb through for Prosper to see if we missed anything. Xanathar tanked, which feels bad to me personally because he’s my favorite commander in the set, but I get it. Vrondiss, a pretty medium-looking commander supplanted Minsc and Boo, a popular (I want to say Baldur’s Gate?) D&D character with a loveable pet, which is a great meme commander but maybe not the most playable? Finally, Klauth moved way up to the second row, which is positive. I don’t know if there is anything new there, but it’s worth a look. The docket for today is Prosper, Vrondiss, Klauth and if there is time, a few others. I have a feeling there is a lot to discuss, however.

First up, we have some news.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Dungeons And Drags

Readers!

Whoever gave this set the three letter Code AFR rather than DND did us all a real disservice if you ask me. How I feel about AFR being the code is about how I feel about AFR as a set and let me make one thing perfectly clear – I couldn’t be happier to be able to take a set off. I didn’t buy any sealed product, I need like 3 copies of Grazilaxx and that’s basically all I need for decks and I couldn’t be happier. Taking a set off as a builder and collector has been great, and not caring about ANY of these cards has made it so easy to look at data and not have that internal moment of struggle where the data is showing a card I like is under-performing and simply accepting that fact means accepting I evaluated a card wrong, then you have that Seymour Skinner moment.

Anyway, none of that this time. Just cold, hard data. And wouldn’t you know it, EDHREC got the EDH deck commanders added in with the rest of the set in a move I actually prefer to giving it its own page. I like to see how the DNDDH precon decks stack up against the rest of the set. While the full amount of data we’re going to get isn’t in yet which means the precon commanders could still improve relative to the non-precon commanders spoiled earlier, we are seeing trends at least right now. Let’s look at how the sets look next to one another.

Prosper has rocketed to an impressive second overall, Sefris, Galea and Wulfgar are jockeying for a Top-5 spot and Kalain, an uncommon, is already beating D and D fan favorites like Bruenor and Drizzt. If that sounds like complete nonsense to you, it does to me, too. Like, looking at the pictures helps, but every time I go on a podcast, I am very aware that I am just saying a bunch of names that I myself will forget in a few minutes. 42 new legendary creatures every couple of weeks is too much. Give EDH a break, seriously.

The huge dump of commanders sort of dilutes the impact of tier 2 commanders in my opinion, unless they’re putting pressure on the same cards as a tier 1 commander might, in which case they can’t hurt and can only help. Accordingly, I won’t spend too much time looking at commanders registered in 16 decks across 5 websites and will look at the stuff that really matters. Let’s look at the heavy hitters from D&DDH, shall we?

Live Short and Prosper

This is my exact $%^&. Of the high synergy cards in Prosper, 8 of them are in my Valki deck already. Am I making a new deck to run all of these cards again? Maybe not, but nothing is impossible. What IS possible is that Prosper being in a precon will encourage WAY more people to build with these kinds of cards than Valki being in a regular set and everyone hating it immediately because it ruined a bunch of formats its first week did. I still like Valki but people who never gave Valki a chance (or read all 98 lines of text on the front and back) will like Prosper more, I bet.

Last week I got a rare comment on an article, which was nice. I get more feedback about my writing in the Pro Trader Discord, a Discord community I can’t recommend enough. Phitt correctly identified Stolen Strategy as a card Prosper decks could get a lot of use out of and I want to frame this next paragraph as me agreeing with Phitt super hard rather than trying to call this one of my picks. I think it would have been a card I talked about this week when I saw the High Synergy (the ratio of how much the card is played in this one deck to how much it’s played in the format in general) cards in Prosper. Let’s talk about why Stolen Strategy rules.

There aren’t too many cards in Battlebond that are above $5 and Stolen Strategy is much harder to reprint, specifically in a future Commander product, than any of them. It’s already over-achieving for a non-Mythic, but there is more future upside for this card, I think. $10 before anything happens to knock it off of its current trajectory is a bet I’m willing to make. If you can scoop sub-$5 copies of Stolen Strategy, I would.

Back in February there was practically an arbitrage opportunity on this card, maybe due to Valki? Whatever it was, this card is basically always $3 buylist which means if you can get it for under $5, you’re buying below what the dealers who were paying $3 when this sold for $3 thought this would be selling for at retail at this point.

I was thinking about how many times Etali has been reprinted lately, and it made me reconsider my position on how reprintable Stolen Strategy is, but the conclusion that I came to ultimately was a little more nuanced. I don’t think Etali’s repeated reprinting is a signal that Stolen Strategy could get reprinted but rather it is a sign that Etali is how they prefer people do the kinds of things that Stolen Strategy does and not only will there not be a likely reprint, there will be increased future demand based on how well Stolen Strategy performs in a deck that already has Etali. Printing Prosper indicates they like this kind of effect so if decks like this proliferate, Stolen Strategy has a lot of chances to get noticed. Normally I don’t love recommending a $5 buy-in for a card that likely tops out at $10, but I think you can get them cheaper than $5 and they could go beyond $10. It’s only been a few years and they’re in vogue now more than ever.

Maybe the Pirate ship has sailed on copies of Revel in Riches, but I still think it goes up and the Mystery Booster printing didn’t do much to address price, merely supply, which I hope they think is sufficient. The reprint risk on this is medium but I do love this card and wish I’d bought in deeper around $1 like I considered doing.

Galea

This costs half on TCG Player what it does on CK. Historically, CK has had a good instinct for what will go up based on EDH and this card seems like no exception.

Two reprints in quick succession have taken this from a $12 card to a $4 one. Does this hit $12 again? Unmolested, I think it does. Despite high supply, there is also a ton of demand with more every day. As long as it’s cheaper than Stoneforge Mystic, also, EDH players see this as a Stoneforge they can realistically afford, which helps demand, also. All in all, I think this is a good buy below $4, which is attainable currently.

Wulfgar

Lannery storm is only going to get better with the concession by Wizards that treasure is here to stay as a mechanic. This is a $5 Ixalan foil and I like both the foil and non-foil right now.

Najeela made this card pop from like 50 pennies to 50 dimes in a short time, a second spike would be even better, especially if you can get in around a dollar. This card is too powerful in the right deck to not be a long-term gainer, especially if another deck like Najeela comes along.

I think it’s possible that the “face” commanders in the decks are over-represented a bit because people had more time to brew with them, but until we get data that proves that hypothesis, I’m going to stick to covering the most impactful commanders for now. The next week will answer some of our questions, so, until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Secret Handshake

Readers!

If you’re looking for a way to get a jump on the competition, might I recommend learning how to use your resources to their full potential? If you’re able to have access to information others don’t, you can make better informed decisions earlier, meaning you have an advantage of both time and a larger pool of available cards to try and get the best price from. By now, most people at least superficially know how to use EDHREC to look at the numbers and interpret them to the best of their ability. I see a lot more people using EDHREC data to reinforce their pre-conceived notions, which is not a thing I can easily teach them how not to do if they won’t read this column or listen to me filibuster for an hour on a podcast. If using EDHREC “wrong” is easier than using it “correctly” then hypothetically we all have an advantage if we figure out how to use it correctly. To that end, there is data on EDHREC right now that I bet more than a few of you are waiting on patiently. It’s there, it’s easy to access if you know you’re supposed to and I’ll show you exactly what it says and what I think it means. It’s never too late to figure out how to use a thing better, so let’s stop my meandering and focus in on the value, shall we?

NOW On EDHREC

Currently if you click on the “sets” dropdown, the latest set is Adventures in Forgotten Realms, but not the EDH precons. However, if you click on “All Sets” at the top (something that took me a while to figure out), the page it takes you to is maybe a little bit different…

Nope! Same thing here. Too bad, I was going to look and see what people are putting in the EDH precons to see if there were any specs there, but if there’s no data, there’s no data. OK, that’s it for me this week, everyone! Join me next week for another exciting article full of specs and edutainment.

You’re Still Here?

OK, I kind of promised I’d show you some harder-to-find data and if you insist, I’ll follow through. You see, while the pages for the sets are completed, EDHREC is scraping data for every deck we can find and sometimes that data doesn’t have a page built for it. So where does it go? Well, as it turns out, we build the pages for each commander before we build the overall page for the precon set because that’s easier to do as soon as the card is spoiled and we don’t know how the page will be organized. So the data has been scraped and pages built for each commander. So how do we get there?

The search bar at the top right part of the page.

Yes, it’s obvious, really, but how many people opened up EDHREC looking for the precon decks, didn’t find them, and closed the tab? Lots. If you can perservere where they gave up, you can get access to the information they wanted sometimes days or even weeks ahead of them. You will have to know the names of the commanders and check manually, but there are worse inconveniences to endure for access to complete data. Type in Galea or let me just link the page for you.

We did it! We are magically transported to the page. So is there anything juicy in this deck? Let’s explore together.

Hard to believe this ever flirted with $5. You see it now and think “Yeah, $10 is about right” and being about right now means it might not be the best time to buy in. It’s never hitting $32 again, and you’d need it to hit at least $20 to be glad you bought in now. I think $20 is actually doable if it dodges reprints. Let’s not forget to check the same place I’m getting the commanders’ names from to see if Hammer is in the deck before we make any proclamations about future reprints, though, shall we?

It’s not in there. I don’t think this is the least risky bet of all time, but I think hitting $20 is reasonable. Also, there is only one foil printing of hammer, so let’s look at that.

I… would not have predicted this shape. OK. So the buylist is about to converge with retail on the only foil version of a card that is going to be a shoo-in with upgraded copies of the precon about to release. I’m going to call this a pick-up officially. Again, I don’t know anything about foils so make up your own mind, but, come on. Look at that graph. This trend can’t continue.

I am going to be honest, I’m surprised Shikari recovered. It was buried in a value-dense cat precon and seemed like another bulk rare that got dealt a deathblow. Now it’s half of its pre-reprint price and basically to make money buying now, it would have to flirt with $9 again. We may have missed the boat on this one and we’ll have to use this as a data point when we examine precon reprintings and which cards can recover in a future installment.

The one juicy opportunity I see here is Counterbalance, a card currently plummenting and currently in one of every five Galea decks in the database. I think the supply is low enough that EDH can pick up the slack.

This is sort of an ugly wedge of the page to show off, but I did it for Galea and thought I might as well keep it up. Here’s Vrondiss’ page.

I am going to come 100% clean here – when the original Ixalan dino hype around this card died down and the card plummeted sub-$2, I sort of stopped paying attention. This is baseline at the pre-plummet price and it’s on its way up. This is due a second spike and without the cheap copies everyone hoovered up last time it popped, the supply is in the hands of dealers and it’s going to flirt with $10. Do we have time to make money?

Yes? Sure? If Citadel, a card in one deck that was 6 months and 12 expansion sets ago can maintain value, Pyrohemia, a second spiker, is in great shape.

Dragon’s Hoard is in the deck and is currently solidly $5 on Card Kingdom. If Hoard goes to bulk, do we see a return buying bulk copies of a card that quintupled in a 2 year period? I don’t hate it when it tanks, and M19 will have the only foil copies, something not getting reprinted.

The foil isn’t much more than the non-foil, maybe both deserve a look.

Here is Sefris’ page on EDHREC, although I’m sure you could find it yourself by now, right?

There is basically nothing I could find here. It’s all pretty standard reanimator stuff that’s evergreen good and then new cards, a lot of which are in the precon, to help you dungeon crawl. I think the dungeon thing is cool and a subgame that gets you value only you have access to is fine. I’ll likely build Sefris and keep the deck together, but I don’t see opportunity here.

Can you find Proper on your own? I’m sure by now you can – can you tell I’m weaning you off of my help? You might have attributed it to laziness or forgetfulness on my part, but, no, I wrote a whole paragraph which took longer than linking would have. I just want to teach you to fish.

Old? Low supply? Popped already so the dealers have most of the copies? Included in a majority of the registered copies of a new deck that hasn’t come out yet? Yeah, this hits all of the beats I like to see. I’m going to call this a buy, especially since it’s like $2 lower than the price it already established it was capable of hitting. The supply here is dwindling and I like it very much. I’m much more bearish on the $30 foils, but you knew that.

It seems like TCG Player is lagging behind and currently has robbers for half of what CK has them for. Take advantage.

Or kick it old school and save even more, provided you find enough underpriced cards in those sellers’ inventories to justify what is likely $10 for shipping.

Of everything we came across today, I like Uba Mask the most, but we’re not done delving into these decks. There is still the matter of the other decks possible from the precon, built around the new Legendary creatures in the decks. There isn’t a ton of data on those or time for me to write about it this week, but since no one will know how to access the lists except you, it can wait. That does it for me, until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Venture Into THe Dungeon

Readers!

This week, confronted with a set that has a lot of commanders but none that do anything new, I’m a bit stuck. In the past for this series, we have looked at how new commanders will make older cards go up in price as a new archetype makes previously less played cards played more. I thought I would have my work cut out for me, frankly, since there are like 900 new commanders in this set and they’ll all require new, unique builds with tons of opportunities to speculate. Is that really the case?

Ur-Dragon, Sen Triplets, Griselbrand, Thrasios, Tolsimir Wolfblood, Edric… None of this is new. Modern Horizons two gave us a bunch of tribal commanders so I guess buy Coat of Arms?

I think we’re going to have to really nitpick to find some specs here. I will do it because I want to, but I don’t think we can do a whole article about one commander anymore. Wizards doesn’t have original ideas for new commanders but they also want to make 10 times as many as they used to before, so of course they’re going to just recycle ideas, or make them hyper set-specific.

Why did 2 people build this deck? Are there more out there that EDHREC hasn’t scraped yet? One of these decks is probably Brian Canada, but who is the other lunatic?

The point is, we could look at what goes into a Hama Pashar deck, but even if there were hundreds of them, a lot of the cards involved will be in the D and D set and nowhere else, so anything older isn’t really going to pop as a result of people building it.

Instead of doing a deep dive on Tiamat (look at the Ur-Dragon page, it’s the same deck) or even Xanathar (everyone is bafflingly building a mill deck, I guess to optimize what one card you get?), I think I’m going to do a real shallow strafing run through everything to get the big hits out of the way first. We can get granular on Osawld Fiddlebender later, but I’d hate to make you wait 2 weeks for me to even mention something obvious that already popped while we were struggling to find anything to talk about for commanders with more decks. Let’s do a quick hits article and call it a day – I’m sure I’ll find enough that you care about.

It’s Birthing Pod for artifacts. While that means some obvious stuff will get played in this deck, some stuff that isn’t obvious goes in, too, and I think there is money to be made.

Doing this for years has taught me to notice when a card costs more on TCG Player than on Card Kingdom out of the corner of my eye and focus on the card before I even realize why I’m doing it. Not every instance checks out based on how the prices can sometimes be reported and not every instance shows you an opportunity to make money, but the cheaper version on CK is the foil from The List and that card is like $9 on TCG Player, so someone is wrong. CK should never be cheaper than TCG Player and when they are, something is going to get corrected.

I wish I had noticed the trend sooner. This is currently the third most expensive card in Nemesis after Moggcatcher and Kor Haven. This is worth less than Kor Haven, a card with multiple printings (not that this doesn’t have an FTV printing) that basically used to see EDH play. This shouldn’t be worth less than Kor Haven. It would have been nice to pay $2 on these, but I think these are fine at 8.

Wish I had gotten some foils of these before they hit $25. I think Liquimetal Coating was a card that was underplayed for reasons that included just one copy stranded somewhere in your deck wasn’t enough to bother building around. With the addition of Liquimetal Torque, you have twice as many copies, and you have a commander like Oswald that rewards you for playing them like no commander before. That’s a recipe for this hitting a few bucks.

Minsc, Beloved Ranger

It seems like there is a consensus on what the best creature to use Minsc’s ability on will be.

Two out of every three Minscketeers agrees- this is a Hulk deck. Hulk is a card not a ton of people like very much but it’s not illegal and people are going to jump at another chance for it to be relevant. Being able to sac this for 0 mana is solid.

Erstwhile $40 card dips to $21 and is beginning to show signs of recovery? I’m listening…

Erstwhile $9 foil with only 1 foil version over its 3 printings is relevant again? I’m listening. This didn’t drop to 0 on CK, they sold out of NM foil copies. CK doesn’t report the price of lower-than-NM conditions when NM sells out, so you need to check the site to make sure there are MP and worse copies available (there are) but this is selling out at $4 and that makes me think it could be $9 again with some help. Printing non-foil versions makes the foil better, not worse.

Gretchen Titchwillow

This is basically Thrasios, so “put a Training Grounds in the deck” isn’t new advice, but Training Grounds has been put on “The List” and maybe we should look at its graph.

Can you show me on the graph where this was added to The List and copies started becoming available? Gretchen won’t be the reason Training Grounds soon hits $50, but it did make us look up the price and now we’re convinced it will.

These commanders don’t represent a ton of new ground being broken in EDH. It’s possible that’s not really a thing anymore, though. Re-introducing an old mechanic in an EDH deck will likely move the needle on one or two specific cards from a specific block, but have the good old days of the printing of Teysa Karlov making people realize Massacre Wurm is broken passed us by? I don’t know, but I do know that I’ll be paying attention so you don’t have to. Until next time!