Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: Revisitation

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Readers,

When a commander from years back starts making moves, it’s important to look at why. Why do I bring this up?

Image result for are you serious? I just told you that zoolander

…A commander from years back started making moves. It’s not always clear whether the new decks registered are new decks or if they showed back up in the system because new cards made people update their lists, but it is worth it to look at what the new decks look like. New cards that make people update their lists could potentially illuminate new cards that weren’t in the deck before and help us predict two price increases for the price of one. A few new decks registered is a blip, but enough to make it to the front page? That’s significant, and we like to look at things that are significant.

The Deck

Can you tell from the picture? I could be talking about either Edgar Markov or Muldrotha, but today I want to talk about Edgar because it’s less of a “goodstuff” deck and more of a “these specific cards are clearly for this specific deck” and the effect of just that one commander will be more pronounced. Will it be enough to drive prices? Well, that’s what we’re here to determine.

The Impetus

These new cards from the Brawl decks and Throne of Eldraine were good enough to make people head to Archidekt or Deckstats and update their lists. It’s possible it also led to the creation of some new decks, but, either way, it’s worth discussing. Any of these cards alone probably warrant an update and considering Edgar is the 3rd most-built commander of the last 2 years, even a small percentage of people updating leads to a noticeable blip on the radar. So the real question becomes, is this merely an update or do any of these cards change the way the deck plays?

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The Way The Deck Plays

Not all of you play or even fully understand EDH and that’s fine. It’s my job to pay attention to that stuff, after all. I have you covered for the most part, but EDHREC does some work for you, too.

You may have seen me mention the filters in the top left by the card portrait on that card’s page. Those filters have titles that are in and of themselves informative. Don’t know how Edgar is built? Let’s check the filters.

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That’s a ton of info. Vampire Tribal, Lifegain, Aristocrats (provided you know what that means), sacrifice, +1/+1 counters and Madness are all very self-explanatory.

The cards that are in the “new cards” list all deserve an individual look, so let’s do that.

Duh. This card is basically the new Sol Ring, this is getting added to most decks. This isn’t going to tell us anything.

This isn’t just getting added to the madness builds, and it makes sense. Anje is a 3-drop Vampire that draws cards. You rummage but you still see new cards. Is it changing the way people build? It might. To see if there are cards paired with it that could impact the non-Madness lists, let’s look at Anje’s page as a non-Commander deck inclusion and see if anything pops up there that could also translate because if one cards gets added, the others are likely to as well.

The high synergy cards are cards that get played alongside Anje in non-Anje decks. The Doomed Necromancer is basically the only interesting card here and it’s likely played in non-Edgar decks that include Anje.

Look through this whole page if you want, there don’t appear to be any cards that are in a Vampire deck that get better when you can discard at will and there don’t appear to be any cards that get better when you can discard at will that would be good in a vampire deck. This is a dead end but it’s only our first card so let’s stay positive.

Idol just seems vaguely good. Edgar makes mad tokens and this can draw a card for you, which is actually pretty insane on a 2 mana artifact. Edgar may be the best deck for idol, and that’s something we can check.

Nooottttt even close. While it’s obvious Ghired is going to be number 1 because Idol was in the same precon and the “precon effect” stipulates that cards that are in a precon tend to stay in if they’re marginally good enough because people tend to subtract from precons and not build up from 0. They get the precon, take “bad” cards out and add cards based on the number of slots they have left. However, Idol is overperforming in Alela decks. Remember, this list is sorted by the percentage of decks that could use Idol and do and since Idol is an artifact, any deck could use it. Therefore decks that are built more are statistically going to be higher on the list unless the card is under-represented. A lower percentage of Edgar decks are running it than other, less-built commanders which means it’s underachieving slightly. It’s still very good in the deck but not all Edgar players like cards like this since Edgar is more of a casual commander and, say, Kykar and Sai aren’t.

I think, though, that the decks running Idol are worth looking at. In this list, you have Alela which is #3 this week, Edgar which is #7, Kykar which is #14, and Atla Palani which was top 5 for its first 3 weeks.

Idol is not really at its highest point right now, but it is in the top 10 cards in Commander 2019 in terms of value. How about in terms of adoption? Well, EDHREC has a page for that, too.

Idol is 43rd, in 3% of eligible decks, wedged between Sanctum of Eternity and Wall of Stolen Identity, 2 cards I’m positive you’re not familiar with.

I think the facts that Idol is a token card that keeps your hand full, Alela just got printed and the Naya deck wasn’t very interesting and was likely underbought all point to Idol having some long-term upside. At its current price of under $3, this seems like a good pickup. There are a lot of copies but any future deck that makes tokens will want this and it’s very unlikely it’s ever reprinted. One thing to remember – we’re sorting by percentage, here, and Idol is eligible for basically every deck ever built but it only works in decks that produce tokens and even then it has a higher deck inclusion percentage than Anje Falkenrath does. If you go by sheer number of inclusions, a metric that also matters, only 5 cards in the set are played more – Dockside Extortionist (duh), Ohran Frostfang, K’rrik, Sanctum of Eternity and Bone Miser. I think Idol is a $5 card fairly easily. I don’t know if a mere double-up is good enough finance-wise, but if you trade with people, this is solid. $5 may not even be the ceiling – this draws cards in non-Green decks.

Similarly, this draws cards and in aggressive decks that can dump their hand, this is basically an Underworld Connections that you can tap for mana. I don’t see a lot of reasons not to play any of the castles in basically any EDH deck and the Green one can get pretty absurd. Not much to say here- this doesn’t activate any other cards.

This is an interesting inclusion. Not a lot of people seem to be aware of this card or how it works in go-wide strategies and if people are already adding a mana rock in the form of Arcane Signet, it may be hard to find room for this. The fact that people are doing it in enough numbers to show up is telling. It may be difficult to figure out if this is overachieving in Edgar decks. However, in the set in general, Arcane Signet is in 10 times as many decks as Banner but it’s only in 3 times as many Edgar decks, which seems to imply Banner is overincluded in Edgar decks about 3 times the average. With Edgar being the third-most-built deck of the past 2 years, that’s a lot of copies relative to other cards.

Do I like the foils at $0.50? Not per se. There are a lot of copies out there.

So besides Idol, which I am very bullish on, what else from Edgar decks could go up?

Captivamp is basically at its floor from when it was first reprinted in the precon. The thing about this card is that 60 card casual players love it and they buy 4 at a time. I don’t think this is ever $12 again but I also don’t think $4.50 is correct or that it gets reprinted again.

If you don’t like the shape of that graph, take a look at the price of the foil with Channel Fireball prices in orange instead of Card Kingdom in Pink.

The foil is barely more than the non-foil because it was in a dirt-cheap precon from that era to give players the vampires they needed to play with the ones from Zendikar. I don’t typically like casual foils, but Channel Fireball has the price at basically its historical peak. However slightly, the buy price is also increasing.

This graph only tells half of the story. ABU is sold out at $9. CFB is sold out at $6.50. Troll has one at $11. Miniature Market has one at $7. I don’t know if it’s Modern or Pioneer or what doing this, but this card is disappearing online.

Take a look at Elenda the Dusk Rose while you’re at it – no one has that under $8 and Card Kingdom is currently charging $12.

That does it for me this week. I think even though people updating old lists doesn’t always translate to new copies of everything selling, we used the method to find cards we might not have found otherwise. Most people didn’t even know what Idol did but I think that was a gem and I wouldn’t have noticed Drana starting to dry up if we hadn’t drilled down here. You can develop your own methodology for checking EDHREC as long as you check it often. It updates daily and since the answers aren’t spoon-fed to you, you’re operating with knowledge not everyone has because you figured it out. Thanks for reading – until next time!

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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Unlocked Pro Trader: ThroneDH of EldraineDH

Readers!

Usually I take a look at a commander and drill down into their top cards, but a curious thing happened this week.

Between the usual suspects and a bunch of commanders we talked about months ago dominating the charts, as we’d expect at this point, I felt it was better to look at Throne as a set rather than an individual commander. There are likely to be some cards we want to look at for long-term, full-art and foils to think about and cross-format appeal to discuss. In short, let’s get super vague and talk about what “feels” “correct” because that’s what you pay us for. I’m good at this, I promise.

These are the top cards as commanders in the set, ranked. No surprises here, the top few sort of echo what we’ve seen in the top commanders overall with respect to the format as a whole. The new hotness is expected to make a splash and splash it did. The Top 5 here is all inside the Top 10 for the week. Eldraine is making an impact. However, the commanders aren’t really as interesting as the cards, but it was worth noting a few things.

Embry is nearly as popular here as it is in other formats. Kenrith and Embry have the most cross-format applicability, unless you count Brawl, which I don’t, because I don’t know how to count Brawl yet. But perhaps the commanders are only telling a small part of the story. In general, I tend to sort of gloss over commanders because unless they’re like, Atraxa, their price matters less than the cards they enable. We have spent a lot of time talking about the cards these commanders enable, but the rest of the stuff in the set seems to matter a lot.

Could EDH cards be underpriced because cards that don’t so much impact EDH especially are overpriced? Once Upon a Time and Oko are widely regarded as gigantic mistakes but they aren’t really that EDH-relevant, or are they?

Oko is the 24th-most-played card and Once Upon a Time is 101st – after Didn’t Say Please, Crashing Drawbridge and Revenge of Ravens. We can worry about cross-format applicability a bit, but clearly EDH has a few of its own ideas to an extent. Let’s look at a few.

Arcane Signet is #1, but with the card promised in draft packs of the new weird EDH draft set, the price is likely to plummet. We’re getting a re-supply of the Brawl decks these are exclusive to, so sell high while you still can. This is bound to be an EDH staple forever, but they’re already printing it way more than cards like Commander’s Sphere and Thought Vessel and if there is a Brawl deck every year or two, this will likely be in it. I say sell, this is hard to maintain value long-term with how aggressive they could be with printing it. I’m not saying they will, I’m saying nothing is stopping them and there are better places to park your money.

If you want somewhere to park money, look no farther than the #2 card. With a corollary in Bloom Tender, a $50 card, this seems slightly underpriced at $1. The reprint risk is medium, but I’d say the reprint risk is no higher than Bloom Tender, a card that has been shouting at the top of its lungs for a reprint for half a decade. This card would be a “wow, I can’t believe they printed this” card in any set but one where they printed a Green card that’s a better cantrip than Gitaxian Probe, a Green card that’s a better Planeswalker than anything named Jace or Teferi, a Snapcaster Mage that you can fetch with a Scalding Tarn and a Green creature with 17 abilities. This is pretty good and it’s not a $1 card in a just universe.

Why is this card still expensive? People are drafting this set every week and this card doesn’t seem to have much impact anywhere. Here’s a card I think is a decent corollary.

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The Immortal Sun has an interesting price trajectory. The Immortal Sun also made a splash in Standard, something that seems less likely for The Great Henge. Best case scenario this is the trajectory. Worst case, you can buy in even cheaper and watch EDH buoy the price right back up.

I think Mirrors are slept on, historically.

See what I mean? I am not saying for sure that Mirrormade is as good as Mirage Mirror, but I bet a lot of you didn’t even know Mirrage Mirror was a $5 card if you don’t follow EDH. Are people sleeping on The Magic Mirror? It’s ranked 38th in the set, so, maybe, mayne not. Mirrormade is outperforming modest expectations, though, so maybe take notice.

This card seems like the case study of what a lot of play in literally just EDH can do for a strong, non-mythic rare. I think this is going to see a ton of play and really impact EDH and I also think it can’t impact price. You’ll want some cross-format play or increased scarcity to see the price make moves less modest than the modest moves I expect from this card. This will be our base-line and barring cross-format applicability, don’t expect anything played less than this to go anywhere in price.

I continue to like Faeburrow Elder and awful lot and think it’s a steal at $1 or under and think the foils and full-art copies are obvious money. I also think I’m looking forward to knowing more about some ancillary product so I have new things to discuss next week. That does it for me. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Spamalot

Readers,

I alluded to Kenrith having some cards we cared about for Kenrith decks in an earlier article and if you want to refresh your memory, go for it, I’ll wait here. Kenrith looked a bit like a generic “WUBRG goodstuff deck” but if you monkey with the filters a bit, you can drill down a bit and see separate approaches begin to materialize and those different approaches are all individual axes that can all push growth while being under the umbrella of “Kenrith.” We can check what percentage of the total Kenrith decks are occupied by these side strategies and that’s good to know, especially if they could affect future cards.

Last article we talked about how Biomancer’s Familiar will never be able to grow just based on one EDH deck and how Training Grounds is likely to get a reprint and there isn’t much room for growth at its current price. There is another card I want to discuss, though, before we play with filters at all.

This is basically Heartstone’s time. It isn’t all Kenrith doing this, obviously, but the more commander cards they print with colorless activation costs, the better this card gets. The Premium fol version is pretty bad and while this is an uncommon, it’s an uncommon from Stronghold which means there are more copies of Throne of Eldraine borderless mythic rares than there are copies of this card. It’s up, you may even have these in bulk since they were $0.50 a year ago and this card isn’t getting worse. Kenrith could make this $5 and if not, some other card will very soon.

This is an ugly-ass foil but it’s worth noting that the price surge has been even more profound for the premium Slivers deck copies and they’re going to dry up faster since stock is lower. I think this could hit $10, especially if we all give it a little nudge. This may be the best money you can spend on the basis of Kenrith decks. I should have probably done this card last, you’re all going to just close this article and go buy out Coolstuff. Go read my articles while you’re over there.

Take My Picture Because I Won’t Remember

Still here? That’s great, thanks for sticking with it. I think there’s more than meets the eye to Kenrith decks and I want to show you how to navigate EDHREC a little bit to find more opportunities.

The top, left-hand portion of the page has this information and everything blue is clickable. We still have the same filters and those are all the way over on the right-hand side.

The advanced filter allows you to include or exclude certain cards or filter by price and that mostly isn’t necessary now that we include the “Cheap” and “Expensive” options in the “Budget” row on the left. Before, I would use the Advanced Filter to only pull up decks with Mana Crypt to see what the people for whom money is no object were up to, whether they were a baller or a theorycrafter. What’s more interesting than that, though, is using the tags. These tags are unique to each commander and they’re selected based on what people who submit decks consider their build to be.

Enough people are building Kenrith as a Wheels deck, which I might not have suspected (he’s a great reanimator, though) and a lot of people are using him as a 5 color Lands deck commander despite Golos, you know, existing. I guess people really like the idea of having Obelisk of Alara as their commander.

Group Hug and Politics decks are probably the same within like 5 or 7 cards but it’s worth looking at what those decks are. Kenrith is hardly the go-to when you think about Wheel decks, but Kenrith may be the best Group Hug Commander printed recently because unlike Kyanaios and Tiro, he’s 5 colors and his Black ability is very powerful. Kynaois and Tiro is likely better overall as a commander but that’s an old card, people like new cards. To see a completely new list of top cards, high synergy cards and category inclusions, just click either Group Hug or Politics and see what I saw.

Kynaois and Tiro is a really good inclusion in this deck and the rest of it looks like ways to make sure everyone can play lots of lands. Group Hug is a really weird way to play Magic and I don’t really understand the deck. One thing we can use EDHREC for in a case like this where the cards all baffle us is to check the synergy rating.

Want to know what Synergy is? Let’s take a sneak peek at a section of EDHREC’s EDH wiki that is coming soon.

What is “Synergy”? What is the “Signature Cards” section?

Synergy.png

Many cards across EDHREC will have a rating of synergy that will show up as a percentage that either has a + or a – in front of it. For example, this Eldrazi Displacer has a +75% synergy rating on the Rasputin Dreamweaver [link] page. 

Synergy rating is intended to show cards that are particularly important to the commander or theme you are currently viewing. This is opposed to just cards that are generally played in most decks that are popular because they are individually strong. We did this because we wanted to show what cards were interesting to a commander in the Signature Cards section at the top of the page. It gives a quick look at what cards define a deck, as opposed to just showing a bunch of cards like Cyclonic Rift and Sol Ring that aren’t interesting because they are in a bunch of decks.

Synergy score is calculated as: [% decks this card is in for commander/theme] – [% decks this card is in for color identity]

In the Eldrazi Displacer and Rasputin example, a +75% synergy score means that it’s seen way more than in other U/W decks. It’s calculated by taking the 86% of Rasputin decks it is in, then subtracting the 11% of other U/W decks it is in. Leaving us +75% synergy score, making it pretty clear this card is not generally popular in most U/W decks but particularly popular in Rasputin decks.

A high synergy score is indicative of the card being mostly used in those particular decks much more than in the average deck in those colors. It’s not a percentage, it’s a differential, so don’t let the percent sign fool you. If you look outside the high synergy cards, the synergy score can tell you the extent to which this deck is solely responsible for putting pressure on the price, and this score can help you evaluate your picks in other categories. Here’s an example of what I mean by that.

Magus of the Vineyard doesn’t seem like the strongest card to me because while it’s in half of the decks tagged “Group Hug” it’s also got a very high synergy score which means it’s mostly in this small handful of niche decks. Is it a good pickup under $1? Maybe, but we don’t know that based on just this info, we should click on the card and go to the card’s page.

This is pretty clearly a Group Hug card and since that strategy almost always involves Green, it might not be that bad a choice.

Only 1% of the total Green decks seems low, and 911 raw decks total seems low, also, and I don’t like this as a spec, but I like it more than I did just seeing it on the Group Hug page, so it’s always worth clicking on the card and seeing its data with more context.

Looking at the Group Hug cards, it’s pretty clear that most of the cards are Group Hug deck staples. There isn’t much that’s unique to Kenrith – every non-black card in the high synergy and top cards section is in the same section for K&T. I’m glad we looked, but I’m moving on to “Politics.”

“Politics” appears to be code for “Cards from Conspiracy” from what I can tell.

A full half of these cards have “Will of the Council” or “Council’s Dilemma” abilities, which is very narrow. Those cards aren’t played enough elsewhere to soak up supply and Politics decks are 15 of the 346 Kenrith decks registered so far, so these are very fringe cards.

I didn’t find much I like drilling down into Kenrith but I wanted to show you my search technique in case you wanted to apply it to other commanders.

Here, briefly since this has been a long piece that’s fruitless so far, is what I think is actionable.

This gets printed every 3 years and it shrugged off its 2016 reprinting in a big way. Tempt with Discovery was in the K&T deck, which was the second-worst-selling, but people inclined to play Kenrith likely already have a K&T deck. That’s not to say I don’t love this card at its current price because I really do. This just got reprinted and some sites have it above $5 already.

Strike Zone wants to sell you 2 copies of this card for $4 when it’s $6 everywhere else. Oblige them.

Coolstuff wants to sell you 1 foil copy of this card where its $24 everywhere else. Oblige them.

This card doesn’t see enough play. I don’t know if the price is wrong but it’s climbing to $10 some places and staying flat others. That’s usually a sign of an upcoming correction.

It’s time for this to begin its long recovery. It will never be “Oh snap, they UNBANNED THAT?” $20 again, but it can be more than $5. I think it’s at its floor.

That does it for me this week. Join me next week where I stop putting off looking at the other Brawl decks. Join me, won’t you? Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The Vold and The Beautiful

Readers,

We’re talking about Korvold this week because Alela won’t cede the top spot and we’ve talked about Alela specs just about to death. That said, is the #2 spot worth discussing? Is the #1 spot even worth discussing? Hard to say. It takes a lot of adoption to move the needle given it’s a 1-of format and Magic is more popular than ever. Korvold is very popular this month. Does that matter?

How Popular is Popular?

Alela is the #1 commander this week and has been for 3 weeks, since the Brawl decks came out. It’s tough to say whether that matters enough. Atraxa was the #1 deck for weeks and moved quite a lot of cards by virtue of the demand created when people built Atraxa decks. Was Atraxa being the #1 deck of the week for a few weeks the main indicator that this card was something special? No, I think this is.

Atraxa is the #1 card of the last 2 years.

How do we know if Alela, let alone Korvold is going to juice us enough to get us into Atraxa territory? Well, I don’t think it matters – I think what matters is total amount the cards are played. Is Korvold enough to make Grave Pact go up in price? Probably not, there are a lot of decks playing it and a few hundred more a month isn’t enough to push the needle per se. Is it enough to make Pitiless Plunderer go up in price? There are a lot of copies of an uncommon from a recent set. So what has upside in a world where Korvold made people realize they want to play these cards?

Is Korvold responsible for the price rebound for Revel in Riches? It’s in 40% of Korvold decks – is that enough? Is perception more important than reality? Real demand hardly matters if someone like me (or you) buys every copy speculatively and tries to sell the copies themselves, so is it a matter of a card being mentioned on a podcast or YouTube video sometimes? Hard to say, but we can drill down into Revel a bit.

Revel has been called a Black “staple” of EDH by many people but if you look at inclusions, it’s mostly a Teysa card, Teysa being a very popular commander. It’s still OK – it is a Top 20 Commander (20th) this month despite lots of commanders being printed since. EDHREC moved to sorting by percentage so while fewer Massacre Girl and and Grismold decks are being built, a huge percentage of them are using Revel. How meaningful is it, then, that Korvold is already 7th in terms of percentage inclusion? Well, availability is an issue and I think inclusion will go up with availability as more decks are released in November or when I come off the dozens of copies of each deck I’m too lazy to list on eBay (tweet and me and remind me to list those, time is running out). Even if only a third of Korvold decks run the card, 1/3 of 3,000 decks is still more than 75% of 811 decks like in the case of Admiral Beckett Brass. I think Revel in Riches is a card that belongs in most Black decks and even though the stats don’t currently agree, it’s Top 10 in a popular set so SOMEONE is playing it.

Revel is a $5 card in the near term and could crest $10 if it doesn’t catch a reprint. Sure, there are a lot of copies of it floating around, but there are a lot of copies of Aetherflux Reservoir, too.

Korvold Doin Thangs

Card Kingdom charges more than TCG Player does by virtue of Card Kingdom having a generous buiylist policy and getting a ton of sales irrespective of whether they’re the cheapest. TCG Player is a market where multiple people undercut each other. That said, I’m immediately suspicious when Card Kingdom is charging twice what TCG player is charging. If Card Kingdom is 50% more than TCG Player, Card Kingdom is charging too much. If Card Kingdom is 100% more than TCG Player, TCG Player is charging too little.

I liked this at $2 but considering Card Kingdom is getting $4+, those $3 copies on TCG Player are looking pretty good. This is a $5 card, and your LGS might have this priced wrong – some that I visited this month sure did.

This is a future “Wait, when did that become $10?” candidate. It gets some play in Legacy, could impact Pioneer and I am using it at FNM. It’s also a beast in EDH. It’s not quite a staple since it does something Green already does well but in certain decks, this is a monster. It goes and finds Nykthos and Cabal Coffers and for that reason alone this deserves a look. I think the fact that it’s beginning to sell out makes those $2.35 TCG Player copies super juicy-looking.

This keeps flirting with $2 and can’t maintain it. Does Korvold finally give it the push it needs? Maybe, maybe not. Those $4 foils sure look inviting, though.

This card seems to be underperforming, but is it?

12th in a strong set, but Woodland Bellower is only like $3 and it’s a mythic and Pyromancer’s Goggles is $5 on the basis of price memory. It’s hard to know if $1ish for Leap is correct, I suspect it’s not but who knows if enough people are buying to bear that out. It’s certainly the best in a Mazirek or Korvold deck.

This now costs less than Black Market and has significantly fewer copies out there. Is that correct?

It’s very correct. Never be afraid to put the cards up side-by-side like this to compare prices. There are more copies of Black Market but it’s played way more. Is Attrition underpriced? Probably. But Black Market is not the best comparison.

Compared with Painful Quandary, an Enchantment in roughly the same number of decks but with way fewer copies out there, Attrition appears to be overperforming. Still looking at the graph, the buy price and sell price are converging and the lower the spread gets, the better it looks. I think Attrition is in play.

That does it for me this week. I think Korvold is going to do things. Is it Atraxa? Nope, but it’s also going to get a second wave, soon and it’s easily the best Mazirek variant ever, giving us access to Red in a way that Shattergang Brothers only dreamed of. Drawing cards is good and this does that, so don’t sleep on Korvold. Until next time!

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