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: How to Make 40k Decks

Readers!
It’s that time again, the time where we have Warhammer 40K data but it doesn’t matter because they have announced Unfinity, Brother’s War, 5 new secret lairs and a $250 booster pack that very much violates the spirit of the Reserved List. We’d better look at 40k stuff now – it’s about to be pushed off of the “recent sets list” on EDHREC and it hasn’t even come out yet. 

Last week we didn’t have enough data but we seem to be all set this week, so let’s do that thing I always do but also always feel the need to introduce like you don’t already know what it is from me always doing it. That thing. Let’s do that.

Abbadon is still in the lead by quite a bit, still, which was to be expected. He’s been spoiled the longest and he was the only one we had data on for a while. Nothing has really changed with Abbadon, but let’s take a quick look at High Synergy cards.

Still suspend stuff and pingers. Pingers are also going to be useful for the next commander, too.

I talked about Abbadon and Starnzy 2 weeks ago, and if you didn’t read that article, I go into a bit more depth about why I like older foils. Ophidian Eye, for example, has 0 reprints and a $10 foil that’s pretty scarce. I think someone knew about these 40K cards a long time ago based on how all of the ping foils disappeared like 2 years after they printed Torbran. I like a lot of stuff that deals exactly 1 damage but at the rate they release new commanders, no one can really agree on a deck because by the time you get cards, they have announced 3 new sets. I prefer more stable stonks since Magic seems determined to jump the shark and I don’t know if I’ll have a job in a year.

Exhibit A

Every Demon is like $4 right now, similar to Dragons. If a good Demon tribal commander is printed, they all go up, even the OK ones and with 70 new Legendary creatures in every set, they’re going to have to resort to demon tribal sooner or later.

I have long been bullish on both versions of this, and it seems the markets are finally in accord. The fact that I said to buy it before it went up would suggest I sometimes know what the market will do, or every card goes up eventually. Either way, I urged people to pay $2 for the showcase version in the past and now Card Kingdom is asking $5. This card is profoundly good and people are finally noticing, though it may have taken a Demon that cares about Demons to get there.

That pic looks weird, it’s because it’s an NFC and I’m kind of in the zone typing right now so I’m not going to fix it, you’re just going to have to be OK with my miscut pic.

Too late to get these for $8 but you can get them before they’re $20. It’s on “The List” so that has helped, but not enough. I’m serious about paying $12-$15 for these if you’re quick.

This held fairly steady at $15 before it was reprinted. I’m perfectly OK snatching some $4 copies of this and watching the reverse J turn into a U like we like.

CK is just straight up getting $40 for this card and TCG is like $6 more than I paid. I am hodling on for dear life on these and I’d rather they see more play than not if I want to recoup on these. I bought at basically buylist at the time but that doesn’t help me much. I really expected these to go lower, but The List doesn’t add as many copies as you think it will.

This is kind of a boring deck if I’m being honest – it’s being built as Esper goodstuff control for the most part which means another Thoracle deck. Fun.

Kind of a steep drop with the number of decks, but the Stormlord is built 3 times as much as the Swarmlord, which no one saw coming. Not that anyone has touched this product yet.

Another problem with the product being obsolete is that people don’t have physical cards in their hands, so they don’t construct the decks with the physical cards they have, they construct using the precon list as a guide. This almost always results in them adding way more cards from the precon to their decklists than they’ll actually add when they build the deck for real, but by then no one is going to look at the EDHREC page for 20 sets ago. Stuff comes out too fast to go back for anything.

This could go up even more with people building Zur as a Saga deck, but honestly, if someone hasn’t built Zur yet, they’re not going to. Dominaria United feels forgotten already. This pace of products is entirely unsustainable and I think it will make or break Magic as a game and Magic as a career, but maybe I’m an old man yelling at clouds. We’ll find out sooner or later. Until next time.

Unlocked Pro Trader: While You Slept

Readers!

Something I haven’t done in a long time is look at the data for Top 100 most-included cards on EDHREC. And why would I? The top card is Sol Ring, there are a bunch of Signets, tutors, removal spells, Rampant Growths and a few spicy creatures like Dockside Extortionist. Everyone who has played even a single game of Commander can probably name all 100 cards, right. Right? Well, what if I told you that there are a lot of cards on the list that have been printed for the first time in the last two years, some of them that I have mentioned before and some I haven’t? Do I need to sell you on this concept, really? I got your click already, you’re hooked, I just need to not blow it by losing your interest. I’d prefer you got something out of this article, so I’m going to look at the EDHREC top 100 cards of the last week and show you which cards from 2021 and 2022 are heating up and whether or not I like them as specs. It’s happening, so be prepared to be surprised by a few of these – it wouldn’t be a whole entire article without a few curveballs, otherwise I’d just list all 100 cards and call it a day. Instead, I’m digging in the content mines without a circle of protection: black lung anywhere in sight. I do it for you, readers, so let’s see what I unearthed, shall we? That was rhetorical; we shall.

#25 – Ignoble Hierarch

There will come a certain point where a rare that is unlikely to get reprinted soon given its price trajectory over the year that’s in tens of thousands of decks will officially become so cheap that it’s absurd not to buy them. Silly me, I thought that point was $5. I bought some, not a ton, but some. The showcase versions is trash, but the old border version is very good-looking. If this is like $1 or $2 and it’s in a quarter of Jund decks moving forward, which seems ow considering it was in more than a quarter of jund decks this week.

28% isn’t a ton more than %25, but $3.39 is a hell of a lot cheaper than $10 so the popularity by way of discovered demand when the card becomes too cheap not to play should help that number increase beyond 28% as people build more Jund. This is in a ton of decks, it’s cheap, it’s getting help from Modern and it’s tough to reprint. At some point the fact that Modern Horizons two was absolutely bonkers and every pack was a winner will be outweighed by the sheer demand, provided people don’t abandon EDH in droves. It’s a fun format, it’s hard to see that happening.

#42 – Esper Sentinel

Esper Sentinel has 4 times the demand (OK, 3.72) of Ignoble Hierarch and commands 10 times the price. As the price for Hierarch sinks, the price for Sentinel really went nuts, peaking at twice what it is now. I still think this card is overpriced at $20 but it’s a little tough to reprint, also. I think rather than look at this card as a spec, I want to use it as a stick to measure what the ceiling for Ignoble likely is. If Esper Sentinel is $20 in 4x as many decks and can hold $20 (if this approaches $10 it becomes so buyable it immediately goes back above $15 in the frenzy) we can expect to get $5 minimum for Hierarch. The showcases are ugly and they’re everywhere but no product is perfect. I think Sentinel is a buy under $20 for any reason other than a reprint and cEDH ubiquity also plays a huge part in Sentinel’s inflated price, something Ignoble can’t quite claim. Neither can this next card, but being in a weird set is a big boost.

#46 Esika, God of the Tree

Coming in just a few spots behind Esper Sentinel this week is Esika, a mana fixing maven. With the multicolored decks coming out hard and fast and showing no signs of stopping, Esika is in under 10% of the 5 color decks released in the past two years, however…

This week she is in twice that ratio, meaning her use over time is trending up. This is a $15 card masquerading as an $8 card and I’m tired of pretending it’s not. Except this will be $15 on Card Kingdom in a few months and we’ll all wonder when it happened. Soon, I think.

This is also available in a very good-looking showcase version, which is kind of rare, really.

I love the showcase art, and while it’s not for everyone, it’s trending up sharply in price, which will happen because it’s the preferred version and the less-preferred version will lag behind. There is time to get in on both, though there’s more time for the plain jane version. I love both, honestly- these shake out to $15 and $20+ respectively fairly trivially in my opinion. I also like a few of the other Legendary creatures from Kaldheim because they bothered to make creatures that could go in the 99. At the time I thought they made too many Legendary creatures in Kaldheim but I’d give anything to go back to before we got literally 70 of them every 2 months.

#50 Damn

This is almost the same price as Ignoble Hierarch and is in twice as many decks. Which card is mispriced? I think perhaps Damn looks good given this comparison, especially given that it goes in more decks.

Both versions of this card look so slick it’s tough to choose a clear winner here. I don’t think you need to – this is played a ton – in 20% of all Orzhov-containing decks over both time periods, and I think it’s a little tougher to reprint than you might think. I like this a ton, especially the $4 EA copies on TCG Player given how they’re already 150% of that on CK.

#72 – An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Not a ton to say here. It’s so easy to get treasure tokens and so hard to get a 2/2 flier that everyone seems to just want to jam this over Swan Song because it’s a $1 uncommon. I don’t rally have an issue with this. Will its price go up? Yep. I don’t know how much, but this is becoming a bit of a staple and I’m all for it.

I doubt you regret snagging these under $2, there are way worse uncommons worth way more, recent ones, too. One problem with this is that it’s a “quiet” and unsexy staple and people tend to buy those one at a time for decks rather than in swaths for speculation purposes. It’s a them card, not an us card. But maybe we make it an us card and just buy the things, I don’t know. Could work.

#74 Void Rend

Speaking of quiet an unsexy, this little guy is chugging along at the $2 mark which is about where the Uncommon we just mentioned is. This is played the same proportion in absolute terms although the mono-Blue An Offer You Can’t Refuse is nearing the 40k mark already. Rares are a third as abundant as Uncommons and this is played a third as much. Will the prices go up together? It’s interesting, but also, good rare removal doesn’t stay under $2 for long and while this is held out of a lot of decks by its Esper color identity, it goes in quite a few by virtue of it being hard to think of an Esper deck that doesn’t want to point and belete a permanent, and being uncounterable matters quite a bit, too. In a head-to-head match, this beats An Offer You Can’t Refuse, and I’ll break the tie that way and you can’t stop me.

#92 Timeless Lotus

This is lava hot right now and, despite being a new card, is showing up in a lot of the 5 color decks. There was a 5 color precon and we’re in the middle of the mania surrounding that and I sort of feel like this is a clunky rock. I’ve advocated for Crystal Quarry before, however, so who knows who’s right? You don’t have to take my word for it, just look at how many people are playing the card. Check the percentage of usage for a few weeks – 35% is entirely unsustainable, and this card’s color identity keeps it out of a lot of decks, but we like Esika so why not like this, too? Morophon is a card, after all.

That does it for me this week! I’m running really close to the automatic cap where wordpress automatically cuts the article off, but before I go I just want to thank

Unlocked Pro Trader: How to Invest in Crypto

lith Rite

Readers! My attempt to game the headline analyzer algorithm are yielding some interesting results – this time I did a bit worse, 72%. I guess it’s better to make specific promises – “making 40k” than it is to tell people how to do things. Fair enough. The headline analyzer doesn’t think you want to be taught how to fish, it thinks you want fish spoonfed to you. I’m not going to do that, readers. It’s not because I respect your intelligence too much, far from it, I’m just not inclined to try and feed anyone fish with a spoon. I’m going to forkfeed these picks to you. That said, there isn’t a ton more data now than there was last week, and the EDHREC backend has gotten a little more complicated so we only have data from one deck. Let’s beat it to death and see if anything else comes rolling out of the corpse. Actually, no, I changed my mind mid-paragraph and rather than just erase that and write what I’m actually going to do, I’m going to leave all of it which will have the effect of showing you how my thought process works and also emphasize that this other thing is so important that I don’t want to risk forgetting about it. They made Necrotic Ooze a commander.

It doesn’t have the activated abilities of all creatures, but having the activated abilities of all Artifact Creatures is enough because you don’t need any creatures that aren’t artifacts.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but Phyrexian Devourer is very good with Necrotic Ooze effects and they’re going to come back into focus soon. Notice the Old Stickfingers bumps I warned about? The price has been cut in half, but since we have an even better Necrotic Ooze commander now, I figured why not just make a lot of money when this hits $30 again? Second spike, baby. Making money on this card is so much fun and I’ve done it so often I should send the Alliances design lead a gift basket. One of those edible arrangements or something. Something classy with a bunch of pineapple and shit. People love being thanked with a bunch of pineapple and honeydew melon but they don’t want to pay $45 plus delivery fees to get like 4 chocolate covered strawberries to be served to them at room temperature in front of all of their work colleagues. That’s where I’ll come in. Did I make you a bunch of money with this card in 2021? I bet I did. Is it absolutely going to happen again? Don’t answer here, that was a rhetorical question since this is an article and not a conversation. Let your chocolate covered pineapple wedges on skewers do the talking.

Second spikes feel like cheating. This bad boy snaked all the way back down to a buck fiddy, can it be $7.50 again? It will probably be more, try to have copies when that happens. I have no idea how much this mono-Black commander will get played, but it doesn’t have to get played at all, that’s the beautiful part.

Imagine this pic is accompanied by a fart noise sound effect that goes on so long it stops being funny then starts being funny again

Not great build metrics here, but the hype sure took these cards to the moon, even though they didn’t stay there very long, like people who went to the actual moon landing faked video in that California studio directed by Stanley Kubrick. Buy early and often, sell into hype always. If you miss your window, these specs will literally inevitably go up again. They’re not reprinting Phyrexian Devourer, nor are they likely to make a version of it that’s so much better that people will stop also playing Phrexian Devourer in a format that literally allows you to run 100 cards, especially given that Artifacts are not excluded from any of those decks on the basis of color identity.

Let’s see how the reprint impacted the price of Walking Ballista.

….K

Sure wish I had seen this coming 2 years ago, but it is down significantly from its peak, and the next bump goes higher. It likely takes a world event rather than a reprinting since it’s not just Triskelion that needs to go up but also Antiquities as a whole, but this is worth knowing.

Maybe Mirrodin foils are the play?

Anyway, this wasn’t even intended to be the main body of the article, but it was so interesting it got its own half an article. I like when stuff I talked about before happens again, even though I don’t remember which article I covered these cards in and it would be so painstaking to find it, it’s literally easier to repeat myself. Besides, maybe you didn’t read the last one, so enjoy the this one.

Moving on to our main topic which will be, at most, as big as this side topic and likely smaller, we have a deck with data on EDHREC, so that’s cool.

I don’t know if people like this dude or the Asstarts or however you pronounce that, but they seem to like the deck, so let’s see what goes in it.

If you’re like me, you looked at the High Synergy cards before you read the massive wall of text on this stupid wizard rectangle and right now you’re trying to mentally work backward to how this commander works looking at a bunch of weird Red Tims and suspend cards and the 5th best card in the “loyal” cycle. What in the world?

Oh, so those suspend cards just get cascaded into by any spell, basically. That’s pretty rad since you can control the exact amount of damage you deal.

Seems like this foil is always in play and with just one more impetus for it to go up and the fact that most Ravnica Allegiance foils have rolled themselves into tubes by now, the supply will only get lower.

Compare Spewer to this card that got a rarity downshift and still flirted with $2. Not bad. Alchemist is obviously a much better card, but, you know, still.

Compare this to a card I confidently paid $8 a copy for release week.

Uncommons that get played a lot can be worth money in foil, even if a deeply stupid deck is where they’re mostly played. Magic finance is fun which is why I never bothered to learn to trade stocks.

Really expected this to tank more, but I’ll take it.

I know foils are mostly trash these days, but the foil is the same price as the non-foil and that’s an opportunity for you to either bet on foil or non-foil or hedge your bets and do both and conduct some A/B testing of your own. There’s no wrong way to invest in Wizard triangles because if I admit there is a wrong way you’ll start remembering my past mistakes and holding them against me and you not doing that for a decade has allowed me to quit working in a stinky laboratory so don’t start now, I have no idea what any of the instruments are anymore and I’m too old to go to back to college.

This is a lot to think about, but I also feel like I barely scratched the surface of Abaddon (more like abadcard amirite) and you can certainly look more into what a pretty unremarkable Grixis spellslinger deck, a very old concept, it truly is if you want. Check my work, I welcome it. Ping me in the Pro Trader Discord server sometime, I’ll always respond to a DM from a Pro Trader, I love to chat, I just don’t love to follow the threads. Discord is actually a massive source of stress for me, but DMs make me happy and make my overall Discord experience a lot better, actually, so hit me up. I don’t bite, I promise. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: How to Make 40k

Readers!

Here I was making a stupid pun title about the 40k decks, little did I know what I was actually doing was striking a rich vein of SEO GOLD BABY! Check out my score from the WordPress “headline analyzer” feature that I swear is a real thing and that I swear I have tried to game multiple times.

Now THAT’S a headline! I’m learning the headline analyzer just wants to see how good a job you can do sounding like a tech bro. My articles aren’t for general consumption and you get them from our feed or from me on twitter, but I can’t help but try and game this thing. Gamers gonna game, right? At least that’s WotC’s theory – they think people who game 40K on a tabletop will want to buy the new 40K preconstructed decks, and that EDH players will want to pay $100 for a precon that’s all curly-ass foils of absolutely pushed Magic cards. Just dumb, broken stuff that will plague Commander for a decade. Remember the Brawl decks? Let me refresh your memory.

Cool format you’ve got there, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it! Like we print a bunch of obvious. pushed commanders that end up in the top 100 of the last 2 years. Is the top 100 a hard goal to reach? Well, for reference, we got 70 new Legendary creatures in Dominaria United alone. It’s safe to say putting 4 commanders in the top 62 is an indication something is wrong. They didn’t get people to play Brawl at all but they permanently changed the face of Commander, so that’s nice. Are these 40k Commanders on the same power level? No, of course not. They’re worse. Much, much worse.

Here are the decklists

This doesn’t seem so bad. Does it synergize with anything in the deck that seems troubling?

I’d say so. Great googily moogily this card is bonkers. Gruul Hydra decks are going to be all over this but now the decks have access to Blue for cards like, I don’t know, Inexorable Tide.

It’s not your job to care about how to use EDHREC so I’ll tell you briefly that I went to Themes on the top bar, then clicked the word “tribes” and scrolled down to hydras. We have a Temur Hydras deck to look at, we don’t even have to extrapolate from Gruul. The deck is Animar and it has a lot of info about how people likely tackle The Swarmlord.

This is pretty interesting.

It’s wild that someone took a look at this price graph and said “this needs a Double Double Masters reprint STAT” but what do I know? WotC won’t even return my emails. I’m not sure which is more insane, the decline from $40 to $4 or the fact that the Double Double Masters reprint at rare had basically no impact on the price. I think if this card hits $2, you brick them. It’s not a $40 Standard scourge, nor is it a bulk mythic (though it got a rarity downshift which is a terrifying signal about the future of Simic creatures).

These are very solid underlying metrics for a $4 card and insane metrics for a $2 one if you consider how few copies of an Eldraine mythic and a rare from a set with $100 booster packs are out there.

But I don’t know how much else plays nicely with The Swarmlord specifically. One card I’ve been talking about fiveever is still a decent spec imo.

Barring a reprint this is a $7-$10 card, especially with some help from The Swarmlord. I don’t know how this card is still so cheap but it’s approaching $3 on the buylist, which is more than retail was when I first started beating this drum. Slow and steady until a reprint knocks out legs out from under us, that’s how we like it.

This will be a very popular commander and basically everything that will be in the deck is on this page for Torbran that you can peruse at your convenience. I want to get to more than one precon today but I think I might not be able to. This deck will be three much fun.

With less turnaround time than before, WoTC is unlikely to let this stay at $8 but I don’t think they can stop it from reaching that number. Mystery Booster printing did very little, if CSI wants $3 for this, I say oblige them.

Yes, they are that cheap and are still available for now.

I honestly don’t hate these under $10. Secret Lair drop cards always seem to go up and I loved that terrible Dungeons and Dragons TV show even before I had played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time. It was reruns, calm down, I’m not even 40 yet.

Torbran made this foil POP. Does Card Kingdom only want $7?

Well, yes and no.

At this point, any foil from an old set that does 1 damage in Izzet colors is a potential Aether Sting, which is exciting.

I have these in my bulk foils for sure, I haven’t picked that stuff in like 5 years.

Some sort of haste tribal deck seems very cool, and it’s not just Ball Lightnings that would be impacted. Let’s look at the page for Ball Lightning and see if we can glean anything from what cards tend to get played alongside it.

Look at these for a bit (if the image is too small, here is the page) and tell me if you see what I see. Give up?

Ognis is basically haste tribal!

Check out the High Synergy cards for Dragon tribal!

Deathleaper is one of the most exciting creatures we’ve seen in a while, and here is a card I will be putting directly onto my biggest creature.

Omnath, Locus of Rage made this no longer a bulk rare, what can Deathleaper do for it?

There is a lot to unpack here and each deck likely gets its own article, but it’s never too early to think about new cards even though we still haven’t even scratched the surface of Dominaria United. I could do this all day but I hit my word cap which means your eyes glazed over 4 paragraphs ago. Sorry for that. I’ll be back next week with more hot tips and cool quips. Until next time!